The 2020/2021 school year will highlight one important skill that students need to master – how to study effectively.


Covid-19 is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. Some colleges have already announced that students will have reduced face to face lectures with up to two thirds of their lectures being delivered online.

This means that students need to be able to self-motivate and study effectively.  The novelty factor of studying at home and having Zoom lessons has worn off. Facing into September, with wet and cold weather coupled with dark afternoons and night drawing in earlier makes ‘home-schooling’ a different prospect to what it was in March.

There is a difference between homework and studying.  Homework is something that you ‘do for the teacher’ while studying is an investment in yourself.  Studying requires discipline as it is not prescribed by a teacher, you must sacrifice some of your free time to do it.

Organisation V Study Effectively

Lots of energy can be expended into so called studying. Much of it going into organisation. Study timetables are drawn up, desks are arranged and rearranged. Lots of folders and highlighters give the illusion of studying.

In my experience students find that their carefully drawn up timetables tend to be too rigid and overly ambitious, while too much stationery creates a sense of overwhelm. Flexibility is key. Start off with one revision folder, with subject dividers.  As your notes grow, split them into two folders, then three and so on.  The feeling of accomplishment will be so much greater with one fat folder rather than six semi empty ones.

But all of this is incidental.  The most important element needed to study effectively is knowing how to learn!


You would think that we all know instinctively how to learn and in many ways it feels like we do, but learning is a skill.  We are born with two innate fears – the fear of loud noises and a fear of falling. Both were required for survival in prehistory. We learn everything else and much of what we learn we pick up naturally from others, like our first language and how to walk.

And then we go to school. And we learn about lots of things except how to learn.  There is an assumption that every child will learn in the same way and at the same pace. In primary school at lot of emphasis is on learning things off by heart – poems, multiplication tables, spellings. In secondary school, subjects are still taught to pass exams. Teachers give revision notes to students to learn, in order to pass exams. Then in third level education, be it in colleges or apprenticeships, students can struggle to self-motivate to learn, when what they have to learn is not prescribed for them.

Knowing How to Learn

Effective studying is knowing how to learn, when to learn, how to make your own revision notes and finally revising.  It is not about cramming. It is about steadily going back over what you have already learned and easily imprinting it into your long-term memory because you understand it. Consistency is key and if you find that you don’t understand something that you are revising, it gives ample opportunity to ask the teacher for help well before the exam.

Being able to study effectively is a skill that can be easily learned but it needs to be taught. I am a firm believer that effective study fits into the student’s lifestyle and meets their individual needs.

To learn more about how Hummingbird Learning Centre can help with the study skills needed for effective learning in the 2020/2021 academic year, contact Elaine on 087-2996054 or through their website

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