Tutors Field Blog

Education Blog

Effective Ways to Study: Intentional Study Sessions

What are the most effective ways to study? Britt Cunningham (a professional English tutor and founder of Skills Beyond School) said “At my tutoring practice, I work with my students to develop life-long study and work habits that they can take forward into the rest of their lives. One of these practices is Intentional Study Sessions (ISS).”

What are Intentional Study Sessions?

Really, every study session should be an intentional one. But most students aren’t working in this mindset, and are missing the opportunity to work more efficiently and reduce stress. So what does an ISS mean, and what does it look like?

An ISS involves outlining specifically what you are going to achieve within a set time frame, and then do so. Many students sit down, open up their books and don’t even know how to begin tackling their tasks. ISS’s help work through this by breaking down all of the work you have to do into smaller, achievable tasks. And the best bit is the feeling of accomplishment and control once you do achieve them.

What does an ISS look like?

Demonstrating what an ISS looks like is best done with an example.
So, instead of sitting down, opening up your English essay task and thinking:‘Ok, today I am going to finish my practice essay!’ an ISS would look like this: ‘In the next thirty minutes I am going to break apart the essay question, develop a specific contention and write a detailed, structured plan outlining my main arguments.’ Do you see the difference? The initial thought process is one most

‘Ok, today I am going to finish my practice essay!’ an ISS would look like this: ‘In the next thirty minutes I am going to break apart the essay question, develop a specific contention and write a detailed, structured plan outlining my main arguments.’ Do you see the difference? The initial thought process is one most

an ISS would look like this: ‘In the next thirty minutes I am going to break apart the essay question, develop a specific contention and write a detailed, structured plan outlining my main arguments.’ Do you see the difference? The initial thought process is one most

‘In the next thirty minutes I am going to break apart the essay question, develop a specific contention and write a detailed, structured plan outlining my main arguments.’

Do you see the difference?

The initial thought process is one most students start with, but it is completely overwhelming, unstructured and direction-less. The time frame is ‘today’ which could be the next twelve hours! What a depressing thought! The task- ‘finish my practice essay’- is vague and isn’t breaking the task down to a step-by- step process leading to a feeling of overwhelm. The ISS mindset, however, involves a specific time frame- ‘thirty minutes’- which gives you structure, and an end point to work towards. This mindset also doesn’t involve the large task of completing a whole essay. It gives you three specific tasks to complete, all of which contribute to the process of writing your practice essay. After this thirty minute ISS, I would encourage my students to get up, move around, have a drink of water and come back to their study space. Then, set another intention for the next thirty minutes or an hour. In this

The ISS mindset, however, involves a specific time frame- ‘thirty minutes’- which gives you structure, and an end point to work towards. This mindset also doesn’t involve the large task of completing a whole essay. It gives you three specific tasks to complete, all of which contribute to the process of writing your practice essay. After this thirty minute ISS, I would encourage my students to get up, move around, have a drink of water and come back to their study space. Then, set another intention for the next thirty minutes or an hour. In this

After this thirty minute ISS, I would encourage my students to get up, move around, have a drink of water and come back to their study space. Then, set another intention for the next thirty minutes or an hour. In this example it might be: ‘In the next forty-five minutes I am going to use this contention and plan to write the body of my practice essay. I will use a timer and work as though I am in exam conditions.’ So, the task of ‘writing my practice essay today’ has been broken down to a

‘In the next forty-five minutes I am going to use this contention and plan to write the body of my practice essay. I will use a timer and work as though I am in exam conditions.’

So, the task of ‘writing my practice essay today’ has been broken down to a thirty minute session, followed by a forty-five minute session, each with logical and clearly outlined tasks which contribute to achieving the overall goal.

What are the benefits of doing Intentional Study Sessions?

There are a large number of benefits to working in this way, including:

– Teaching yourself to work to strict time frames
– The ability to consider how to break down a large assignment into small tasks
– Reduced stress as you only need to complete one smaller task at a time
– The ability to set and achieve goals
– Increased confidence as you achieve what you’ve outlined
– Working efficiently, creating greater time for other activities
– Increased discipline
– Increased ownership over your actions
– The ability to structure your entire day properly

These are all skills that you will find yourself using in the workplace, in university and in daily life. Why not start developing these habits now to maximize your time and effort?

To learn more about my goal-oriented tutoring practice, Skills Beyond School, head over to my website here or get in touch via email at brittcunningham25@gmail.com.

Britt Cunningham

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top