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TOP 10 STUDY TIPS FROM A TUTOR - Alexander Offord

It's that time of the school year! Assignments are piling up and tests and exams are rapidly approaching. In lieu of this stressful time for students, we asked Alexander Offord one of our in house tutors to write out his TOP 10 STUDY TIPS...


"A deadline sneaking up on you? Eight pages of math homework but all you want to do is curl up on the sofa and watch Netflix? Can't think of a thesis for your latest English paper?

We've all been there. Dealing with the stress, time management, and a general lack of enthusiasm for schoolwork is a natural part of beign a student at times. Not every assignment is going to be jump-up-and-down exciting, an sometimes the pressure can get to you.

Never fear: there is hope. Here are 10 study tips that have helped me time and time again. They won't make your homework magically disapear, but if you follow them, they WILL reduce your stress levels, maximize your work effiiency and improve your grades. So challenge yourself: see you if you can incorporate all ten tips into your study life.

1. Don't Procrastinate.

Okay, this on's probaby the hardest for most people to bend their minds around. I used to be a HUGE procrastinator - I would come home after class, laze around on the couch and just do my own thing for a few hours. Next thing I know it's 9 or 10pm - way too late to do my homework. AH well, I'll just do it tomorrow...and tomorrow...and tomorrow.

Believe me when I tell you: this is probably the number one cause of stress in school life. Staring at a blank piece of paper can be daunting, but if you force yourself to do your homework as soon as you get home from school, or do your major project the weekend before it's due, it'll make your life a whole lot easier. After all, what's the point of free time if you're just worrying about some assignment you still have to do? Get it done early, and the rest of the time is all yours.

2. Work in sprints, not marathons.

Sometimes we feel that when we're working, we have to sit down at a table and get the whole thing done at once. The problem with this is that it actually just makes our heads get fuzzy and tired, and when we put pressure on ourselves to get a project or study session done in one go - we add to our overall stress.

Instead of marathon study-sessions, try sprinting. Make a deal with yourself: half an hour of studying and you get a 10 minute break to check email, have a snack, whatever. Then go back and study for another half an hour, and so on. Keep track of your time on a stopwatch or phone - you may even find that when it's break time you don't want to stop yet.

Keep up this habit and soon you'll find that you're able to train yourself to work longer and longer without a break. Try it!

3. Unplug from the Internet.

The internet can be an amazing tool - but it's talso the world's largest distraction. Unless you're doing work that requires the internet for research, turn it off. Put your computer under a sofa cushion, turn your wi-fi router off, anything - just keep it away! The more you can save your internet use for break time, and not study time, the fewer distractions you'll have.

4. Find the perfect workspace.

Girl reading in library

Where you work is just as important as how you work. Too often, I see students who do their homework in bed, listening to music. Human brains are very habit-oriented. Because you sleep in your bed, your brain is trained to associate that area with sleep - thus, if you work in your bed, you're more likely to feel sleepier, sooner.

Instead, try working in a place your brain associates with"work". This can be the kitchen table, or even a local cafe. If you work well at your bedroom desk that can be a good option as well. Try a couple of different options and see what works best for you. Some people prefer quiet - others need a bit of white noise. There is no "right" or "wrong" with noise level - just make sure you're giving yourself what you need to work! The key is this - once you find the right space, make sure you study there consistently so your brain really learns that when you are there - it's time to work!

5. Take notes in your own words.

This seems like an obvious tip, but it is one that is often done incorrectly. When I say " in your own words," I don't mean just paraphrasing what your teacher says. I mean really translating it into whatever weird, personal language makes sense to you. This can involve slang, song lyrics your own personal made-up language if need be! Remember that these are YOUR notes and people learn in different ways, do what works for you.

6. Keep a calendar.

The internet has made it easy to fill out a calendar, and get weekly or daily reminders of what assignments are due and when. The best way to use your time effectively is to know which projects you need to make a priority. Make a habit of adding projects and due dates to your calendar AS SOON AS THEY ARE ASSIGNED. That way there is no chance that you will forget to do it later!

7. When you don't know - ask.

This is harder than it sounds. Sometimes we feel like the teacher doesn't like us. Sometimes we feel embarasssed admitting we don't understand a concept or assignment...but remember that teachers are there to help YOU. Their job is to help you when you need it so that you can succeed in school and in life. If you do well - that means they are doing their job well! With that in mind, don't be embarassed to ask for help. The more you ask, the more comfortable and willing your teacher will be the next time you need help.

In fact, this is a documented psychological phenomenon, called the "Franklin Effect". The best way to make someone "like you" when you think they don't, is to ask them a favour. When they help you with something, it makes their subconscious brain go, "Hey, I just helped that person - I guess it means I like them."

So the best thing you can do for yourself in class and out is to ask your teacher for any help that you may need.

8. Break big projects into little ones.

Got a huge project due in a few weeks? Rather than try to get it all done in one go, use the time efficiently. For example:

  • Week 1: Do all research and make notes

  • Week 2: Write an outline

  • Week 3: Write the first half

  • Week 4: Write the second half and edit

9. Stay active.

This one may seem a little weird but it is very important. Exercise releases endorphins into your brain, which makes you feel happier, more energized and helps you think more clearly. So if you're really struggling with homework - take a break and get physical. Go for a run, play a sport with your friends, or even go for a walk outside. I guarantee you'll come back to your desk feeling refreshed and ready to tackle the work.

10. Sleep.

The importance of a good night's sleep cannot be overstated! Nothing on this list is much help to you unless you're getting a good night's sleep. As studies consistently show, the number 1 best thing you can do to improve your grades is to get a good amount of rest, especially before a test or exam. So don't stay up late cramming - that's not going to do you any good. Instead, plan ahead, study smart (using this list as your guide), and go to bed at a reasonable time. You'll thank yourself and the results will be clear on your next quiz score, exam mark and report card!"

Thanks for these tips Alexander! If you're interested in getting private tutoring with any of our phenomenal tutors, email us at

Take Care and Study Smart!

xo The Summerhill Club.

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