Students from grade school through a doctoral level program and beyond make use of study skills. This is a broad term that applies to tools and strategies used to make learning more efficient, organized, and successful. Techniques used for organizing study time, methods used for assimilating the information, and test preparation can be included within the purview of study skills.
Just as each individual person learns differently, each person studies differently as well. As a result, organizing how, when, and where to study is one of the first, and most important, of the study skills. Some people, for example, study better in groups versus studying alone, while others prefer to engage professional help by studying with a tutor. Likewise, some people are morning people and absorb information better over coffee while others get more out of a late-night session. Managing time and scheduling study sessions are where study habits begin.
There are a number of different ways in which a person may learn information. Two of the most common learning styles are visual and auditory; visual learners pick up items that they can see the easiest, while auditory learners absorb more by hearing the information. There are, not surprisingly, a variety of study skills based on the different ways in which people learn. For those who learn best by visual cues, flashcards and videos may be helpful in addition to taking notes and re-reading them. Auditory learners may wish to tape record lectures and play them back during study sessions.
Memorization "tricks" are frequently used study skills. Mnemonics are some of the most commonly used devices to help remember voluminous information. A mnemonic is generally a short phrase or word which is used to help remember a longer list. For example, the phrase "My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas" is a mnemonic device used to remember the order of the planets — Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Acronyms, which use the first letters of a series of words, also work to help someone remember things, such as "HOMES" for the five Great Lakes in the United States — Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
How a person studies for a test is another set of important study skills. Understanding information is important, but being able to access the information when it's test time is equally important. Outlines, flashcards, and group question-and-answer sessions are popular methods for test preparation. Strategies used when taking a test also fall within the area of study habits. Underlining key words, re-reading the question, and ruling out unlikely answers are all strategies that a person may employ when actually taking a test.