While different people have different study habits, there are some elementary study skills that are almost universally useful for learning. The nature of these skills varies based on the type of material one is trying to learn. For example, one must approach a math problem with a different method than one would use to memorize a significant amount of information without any problem-solving element. Over time, as one develops elementary study skills into habits, he will likely develop his own unique study habits. Developing these skills sets a firm foundation for developing better and more personalized study techniques.
One common goal in education is to memorize information, particularly in vocabulary courses, some science courses, and most language courses. One may, for instance, need to memorize a list of 20 words in a foreign language or definitions for a set of biological terms. One of the most elementary study skills for memorization is making lists of the terms to be memorized. The physical act of making the list often helps with memorization. Additionally, one can cover one side of the list, such as the biological terms, and quiz one's self by trying to remember the covered term that corresponds to the visible definitions on the list.
Another one of the elementary study skills for memorization involves the use of flashcards. A term or word in one's native language goes on one side of a note card and the definition or foreign word goes on the other side. To study with these cards, one looks at one side, such as the word in one's native language, and tries to recall the corresponding word in the foreign language.
Not all learning involves memorization, so there are also elementary study skills aimed at solving problems, such as those often encountered in mathematics or science. Prior to approaching a problem, one should take the time to get at least a modest grasp of the associated concepts. A chemistry problem about acids and bases, for instance, will make little sense to one who does not know what acids or bases are.
Of the many elementary study skills associated with problem solving, the most important and universally applicable is repetition and practice. By working through many practice problems, one minimizes the chance of encountering an unfamiliar type of problem. Practice is also important because it increases the speed with which one can work through the steps of a problem. This is particularly important on long tests with time limits.
Though it does not necessarily fall into the category of elementary study skills, taking advantage of all available resources can be the best way to achieve success. Teachers, bosses, job trainers, and friends can all provide valuable assistance. Other resources, such as the Internet, textbooks, and other books can help to clarify vague conceptual points or to break down a difficult step in a problem.