Study Tips By Subject
Exam time is rolling in… and if you’re like any other student you’re probs caught between knowing you need to study and wanting to watch Netflix, right?! In a conundrum about whether you should write notes, do practise questions, or just try and memorise the content? Luckily for you, GIE blogger Bella has compiled her top three study tips for each type of subject (and it applies to all year levels)!
1. Do LOTS and LOTS of practise questions...regularly!
Unlike other subjects, in maths, you truly learn by doing. I find that doing a small amount of maths each day is much better than trying to cram 3 chapters into your brain a week before the exam. Try and set aside 20-30 minutes each day to do practise questions and stick by it.
2. Write a formula sheet and make flashcards
Generally, written notes aren’t that helpful for maths because it’s about the numbers rather than the concepts. That said, there are a bunch of formulae you’ll need to memorise. This can be boring and difficult so make it more fun by creating flashcards to test yourself on the bus and break it up a bit more.
3. Avoid studying from past papers until you understand the content fully
Past papers are a great resource for testing yourself...but you shouldn’t rely on them to teach yourself the content. There are so many other resources like textbooks and online which should be your first point of contact.
CHEMISTRY AND PHYSICS
1. Start by writing notes
Whilst these subjects are quite math-heavy, there are still a lot of concepts which are important to understand and often help with the calculations. Leave space in your notes for handwritten formulae and annotations.
2. Spend time understanding the concepts
It can often be tempting to just wrote learn material without fully understanding where it comes from. However, this often means that if you’re given a question you haven’t memorised, you’ll struggle to apply your knowledge. Overcome this by taking the time to understand WHY certain phenomena occur.
3. Use online resources for memorisation and questions
There are loads of awesome online question banks which will test your knowledge. You can also use websites like quizlet to compile questions and terms.
BIOLOGY, GEOGRAPHY AND EARTH SCIENCES
1. Start by writing notes (and early!)
Notes are a great way to refresh yourself with the content whilst summarising and condensing information. They help you to distinguish between what’s important information and what’s more redundant. Starting early is important as it allows you time to process the content and you can read over them regularly.
2. Practise the skills
A lot of questions will ask you to do practical things like make a graph or draw a diagram. Practise doing this with all of your content...not just the practise questions given. Make a list of what things each skill must include, for examples if you’re graphing things, you’ll need axes titles, a graph title, a legend etc.
3. Create a flow chart
Flow charts are a great way to see how specific facts or ideas link to overall topics and concepts. They’re also a great way to summarise loads of content and draw links, which will come in handy during exams.
ECONOMICS, BUSINESS AND LEGAL STUDIES
1. Explain concepts to other people
Sometimes you know an idea but turning your knowledge into words can be super difficult. Try and explain concepts to your friends and family...you’ll quickly realise which ones you’re still a bit fuzzy on and struggle to explain.
2. Identify the key components of terms or quotes
These subjects all require a fair amount of memorisation, be it of terms, topics or evidence for long responses. When memorising definitions word-for-word, it can be super helpful to identify 3-4 keywords which differentiate the idea and spend more time on remembering these.
3. Read widely in the news and online
All of these subjects have some sort of long response component which will require you to draw upon a diverse range of knowledge and topics. Try and prepare interesting and diverse case studies based on recent events or current affairs.
1. Create a TEE table for your texts
TEE stands for Technique, Example and Effect and this is how you should be analysing your texts. By listing techniques, writing down an example and thinking about the effect, you allow yourself to understand the topic better whilst compiling a list of quotes to remember.
2. Do practise essays
Essays are one of those things where you can really only learn by doing. Doing lots of practise essays related to different themes and topics is super important, regardless of whether you’re preparing for the HSC or in junior high school.
3. Practise adapting your essays to different types of questions
You don’t know what the actual essay question is going to be but you probably have some essays/essay ideas which you want to use. Ask your teacher or work with classmates to create a list of questions about a text and then figure out ways to adapt your essay ideas to fit the new question.
1. Learn your vocab
I learnt two languages throughout high school and I’m currently learning another. As much as I hate to say it, memorising vocabulary is a really important part of learning a language. Online resources like quizlet are a great way to memorise words!
2. Set yourself a daily goal
I find memorising loads of new words daunting and not particularly interesting. How do I overcome this? Set yourself a daily goal like “10 words per day” and set a time to do it. Also, try and refresh the words you learnt the day before so they stick.
3. Practise speaking to people
I’ll admit that this is useless if you’re learning a dead language like Latin. But if you are learning a spoken language then speaking can often be the hardest skill to master. Try and find a group of people learning the language or people who are native speakers and organise some time to have a chat.
HUMANITIES (HISTORY, RELIGIOUS STUDIES)
1. Summarise your summaries
These subjects have enough content to drown in and each topic could be a subject in its own right. From experience, I’ve found that the best way to condense and summarise content is by making summaries of summaries of summaries of... you get the idea. For each iteration, pick out the most important content and condense your notes to the vitals.
2. Create tests and flashcards to memorise facts
This one’s a bit of a given but memorising facts, dates and names is a big part of these subjects. Create (or look online) for some basic quizzes so you can identify what facts you’re struggling to remember. Then make flashcards and test yourself with friends.
3. Write practise essays
Whilst the humanities have a lot of content, arguably the most important skill you learn from them is how to critically analyse sources and form your own judgements. This is what the essays test so try and practise as many as possible.
PRACTICAL SUBJECTS (ART, DANCE, DESIGN AND TECH, DRAMA)
1. Start your major works early
I won’t lie to you, I haven’t taken a creative arts subject since Year 8 (and I’m at uni now!). But, I enjoy doing textiles at home and I am involved in a couple of hands-on projects so I have some idea about what’s going on. These subjects all require a LOT of time and physical work so starting early is key to getting your major works done without having a daily panic attack.
2. Link the content to your own work and the world around you
Sometimes the content taught in these courses can seem quite abstract or separate from the practical components. Try and think about what you’ve learnt when ideating on your projects or reading about events/news related to your field.
3. Incorporate the content when you’re discussing your major work
You’re probably doing one of these subjects because you love the practical side (AKA creating stuff). Sadly, the theoretical content is equally important. A lot of the marks for your major work are associated with how you incorporate the theory into your design and ideas so make sure you highlight how you’ve done this (and actually do it!).