The three ‘Cardinal’ rules represent the trunks of the studying tree, if you will.
They are an essential part of studying 101.
Their application will provide a sound foundation on which your child can begin building their study skills’ repertoire.
Cardinal rule #1: Identify what you need to know
A trap that a lot of students fall into is believing that they need to study everything under the sun.
An efficient studier knows that the best thing they can do is sort out what topics are central to the subject and make sure they understand those really well.
When your child sits down to study they need to consciously identify what they need to know.
Examiners are looking for understanding, not waffle, so it’s far better that your child understands the core topics and can communicate their understanding, than spend valuable time and energy studying everything not very well.
Cardinal rule #2: Practice and repeat
Your child will not be able to learn the huge amount of information that their high school curriculum demands if they don’t practice throughout the year. Practice and repetition are key to being able to retain a large amount of information.
Any musician or top athlete knows you can’t expect to perform well on finals day if you haven’t done the leg work leading up to it.
Studying is no different.
This means always completing homework, always handing in assignments on time, and studying for practice exams even though they ‘don’t count’. It doesn’t matter whether the subject is essay- or number-orientated, practice and repetition are a must.
Cardinal #3: Study to understand
Finally, every time your child sits down to study they should be aiming to understand what they’re studying, as opposed to rote learn it.
I think this quote can sum this up better than I can – “If you study to remember you’ll forget, but if you study to understand you’ll remember”. Perhaps this is not terribly profound but it’s 100% true.
This rule ties in with rule #1; your child should be consciously studying for the topics that they need to know, and be making sure when they do that they’re really taking in what they’re studying, not merely glazing over the surface not retaining the information.
So – those are the trunks of the studying tree. The branches we’ll talk about some other time. For now though if your child starts applying these ‘Cardinal’ rules to their studies they’ll certainly be on the right track.