Know Yourself: Return to School VI: Study Skills 1

Returning to School VI

by Owen Fourie

Study Skills: Part One

Know Yourself and Be Interested

Try googling “study skills” and you’ll find so much available on the Internet that it becomes too much. The information is there, but you have to be selective. Choose a few resources and quickly whittle it down to one that you think will be useful and stick to it.

Courses in study skills may be found in high schools and universities.

Although there seems to be a general conception that such courses are boring—and they could very well be, depending on the instructor—it is necessary to learn how to study.

In this article and the following three, I shall briefly touch on the essential points that you need to know and use. This is not intended to replace a dedicated study skills course, but it will give you an overview of what you need to focus on as you develop good study habits.

Remember that our point is to equip Generation Z students and others who are stuck in the system to be both prepared and pioneering students. You need study skills particularly to teach yourself and to advance in your own learning.

In what follows, you will, perhaps, encounter a perspective that is not commonly found in study skills courses.

Acquire study skills

  • While study skills may be required or offered as a separate course, you have to learn how to adapt these skills to each subject.
  • Each discipline has its own requirements and method of approach. You would not study a history course in the same way as you would study mathematics. A course in philosophy and the study of a foreign language would require different approaches.
  • At the outset of each course, be sure to get the teacher’s or lecturer’s guidance regarding how that course should be studied. Ask, if it is not plainly stated.
  • Part of the teaching process is to guide students in the art of learning.
  • As part of the learning process, you should receive this guidance and apply it practically as you study that particular course.

Know yourself and develop your own system

  • It is useful to know how your brain is wired. In the previous article, this was mentioned and is repeated here for your convenience:
  • The personal online assessment that can be done at this link will give you some idea of how your brain is wired. It is a useful exercise that should help you to understand your own thought processes and actions:

  • Discover your particular learning method. Are you an auditory learner, a visual learner, a kinesthetic learner, or are you aware of a combination of two or more of these? There is a test at this link to enable you to find out:

  • Aim to develop a combination of these learning methods: hearing, seeing, and using your hands (auditory, visual, and kinesthetic).
  • Develop a personal system. Do not feel that you must follow a given way of learning.
  • Know yourself.
  • Experiment to find out what is best for you and what suits your way of thinking and doing.
  • Get rid of things that waste your time and don’t help you to make progress.

Be interested

  • An enormous stumbling-block to successful studying is the lack of interest in any subject. You might find that you have to take certain required courses in which you have no interest.
  • Having an interest in a subject is vital if you are to study it successfully.
  • You can develop an interest in it by seeing the interrelationship of all things.
  • Dismiss superficial thinking and realize that somewhere, somehow, this particular subject relates in some way to a special interest of yours.
  • Let’s say, for example, that you are an aspiring fiction writer. One of the best preparations to be a fiction writer is to be exposed to anything and everything in life and to see life’s interconnectedness.
  • Even if a subject appears to be irrelevant to you, it has come into your life because there is something useful in it for you.
  • If you are absolutely convinced that a particular subject is indeed irrelevant to you and that it is being forced on you and that you have the option to change it, do so if it can be replaced by something in which you do have an interest.

In the next article, we’ll consider being organized and ordering your way of life to your advantage.


What have you found to be useful in a study skills course? What have you found to be irksome in study skills? Your comments, observations, and questions are welcome.

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