After a full day at school, are you involved in other activities (sports, clubs, etc) or do you have a part-time job? Although it is possible to find the right mix of schoolwork and other activities, finding time to complete your homework assignments and studying for exams can be challenging and requires good study habits. The most important step in any homework assignment, school project or Independent Study Unit (ISU) is being prepared from the start. Having good study habits and scheduling your time correctly can help save you time in the end.
Homework Assignments Basic Tips
- Designate a certain area - find the place in your home that you feel comfortable to do your work
- Have all the supplies you need close at hand
- Eliminate as much distraction as possible – turn off the T.V., radio or computer
- Pick a time and stick to it – don’t procrastinate
- Get on top of the situation before there is a problem – ask for help! See our project tips on how to pick a topic, etc.
- If you need help in a certain subject area, check the websites by subject list or the library databases.
- Record the dates of your tests or exams in your agenda
- Organize all the materials you will need to study
- Keep up-to-date on your assignments
- Review notes from class each day so that the information doesn’t pile up
- Talk to your instructors a few days before the exam or test if you have any questions
- Take short breaks of 5-10 minutes if you have to study for a long period of time
- Study sitting at a desk or table – studying in a bed or comfy chair may make you too drowsy
- Ask someone to quiz you on what you have studied
- Don’t skip breakfast because hunger will interfere with your concentration
- Arrive early so you will have some time to relax
- Look over the entire test when it is handed out
- Pay close attention to the directions given on the test
- For multiple choice questions, try to answer the question before reading the choices. If you’re right one of the choices will match your answer
- Try the easy questions first because sometimes answers become clearer after you take a second look
- If you have to skip a question, be sure to mark it so you remember to come back to it. You don’t want to leave any questions blank
- Stay positive and keep concentrating on the answers you do know
- Be sure to leave some time to read over your answers
- Remember the better you study, the better you will do on your test
Research Projects and Independent Study Units (ISU)
Research projects take more organization and planning than standard homework assignments.
Choosing a topic
- If you are not assigned a topic, choose one that is of interest to you.
- Before finalizing your choice, visit the library to see how much information is available on your topic. A search on the library catalogue can suggest books, subject DVDs or other information sources
- If your topic is very new, you may not be able to find much printed material on it. See if there are any online resources, including databases, encyclopedias, or Internet sites that may be helpful
- If your topic is too broad, try to narrow it down by focusing on one aspect. You could concentrate on a certain time period or key individual
- A topic that is too narrow in scope may not provide enough material to support your point of view. Searching the catalogue or online databases can provide other titles or terms that might help to broaden your focus
Writing the paper
- If your essay involves the development of an argument, include a thesis statement that defines the main point you are trying to make and how you plan to prove it.
- Prepare an outline that organizes the facts, examples and points you wish to make to support your thesis
- Make notes as you read about your topic, and keep track of the sources you use
- Write a first draft, putting the information into your own words. If you wish to quote an author in your essay, put quotations marks around the sentence and note the source
- Revise and proof read your work, checking grammar, spelling, and punctuation. Prepare a final copy and include a bibliography using the citation format specified by your teacher
- Take some time when choosing your independent studies unit (ISU) topic. Choose something that personally interests you. Do some preliminary research to make sure that there’s enough information on your topic to help you.
- If your topic is controversial, you will need material on different viewpoints to present a balanced overview of the topic. For a well-rounded presentation of a topic, use both current and historical information sources.
- Canadian and world issues - For information on issues such as poverty, war, history, social science, or current events, another good resource is CBC’s News in Review series of DVDs. Each one hour DVD covers 4 topics and includes a resource guide. The resource guides are also available online. Older recordings are in VHS format.
- Know what type of sources you need before looking for information. Getting the right type of source from the start will eliminate work later.
- Use a variety of current, quality sources to help support your research.
Independent Novel Study Suggestions
- Consider both classic and contemporary novels. Depending on your assignment, a memoir or biography might be a good choice as well. Most importantly, your reading interests should determine your final choice.
- While reading, try to think about the important underlying issues or themes with which the novel is concerned. Examples of themes include: coming of age, the insanity of war, censorship, racism, and good versus evil.
- Literary Criticism Sources - If you are looking for literary criticisms or require background materials on a work of literature, there are several online databases, eBooks, reference and book titles that provide this type of information.
To learn more about study styles and techniques, check out the Study Guides and Strategies website.