Study Skills and Tips for Dyslexia & Neurodiversity

Being dyslexic does not mean that you are not as clever as other people, only that you learn in a different way and that is okay. Being dyslexic simply means that you take a little longer to process and retain information. This is why you may be allowed extra time for exams.

You may have to over-learn or over-study things until you know them perfectly in order to retain the information. Try and avoid studying at the last minute.

One of the best things you can do is figure out your optimum learning style. This may be specialist to each subject or be consistent across all.

Visual or spatial learners supposedly retain information best by viewing pictures or images and respond well to colours and mind maps. According to the theory, kinaesthetic learners are all about doing things physically.

Role-playing, using things like flashcards or carrying out the action physically can help them learn things better. Aural or auditory-musical learners should retain the most information after hearing it.

Social or interpersonal learners are meant to work best when they participate in study activities with other people such as quizzing each other or having a study group. Solitary, or intrapersonal learners supposedly work best alone. Making notes and reciting them back are useful activities when studying by yourself.

Verbal, or linguistic learners are supposed to respond well to written or spoken words, using tools like rhymes and acronyms. Logical, or mathematical learners use logic and structures in order to learn effectively.

You can take a quiz to discover your dominant learning style and read about more targeted study methods for you in another blog linked here.

Some general study tips that can help you out:

  • Make use of different colour folders for each subject.
  • Use sticky notes to summarise your notes (a very short sentence or drawing might help you).
  • Check and work on what time of day you work best.
  • Make a list of what distracts you and how you can prevent each.
  • Study in small chunks. Little and often works much better than prolonged study sessions. Try working in short 10 to 20-minute bursts.
  • If you don't understand your notes, Google may be your best friend to get a simple answer.
  • What extra exam arrangements can I get?
  • Extra time
  • A reader
  • A scribe
  • Use of an exam reading pen, a word processor or assistive software
  • Exam papers printed on coloured paper
  • Supervised rest breaks
  • A separate room to take the test is away from the large exam hall

If an exam/assessment is upcoming, try one of these recommendations each day in the lead-up to it.

  • Revision needs to be active rather than passive in order to be more effective.
  • Summarise a passage read in 15 words.
  • Make a spider diagram.
  • Think of 3-5 real-life examples of what has been read.
  • Decide which is the best example.
  • List 50 mini-questions about the subject.
  • Write answers in the mini questions.
  • Write a study plan for the week ahead.
  • Keep a reflective study journal.
  • Sum up the three most important points of a lesson/chapter.
  • What is the most important of the three points and why?
  • Make a wall chart or large plan and link aspects together.
  • Decide which is the best book and why.
  • Which section of the book is most interesting or useful? Why?
  • Disagree with everything, read and explain why. Argue your case.
  • Invent titles for essays or reports and spend 5 minutes writing a plan.
  • List the key points for one aspect of the studies.
  • Draw a picture or symbol for each point.
  • Discuss your ideas/difficulties.
  • Contribute to an online chat/discussion or start one.
  • Write the main points of an essay/answer on cards/sticky notes and move them around to explore different structures.
  • Teaching topics to others is a great way to learn. Make a PowerPoint presentation about the topic and teach it to someone else.
  • Create podcasts using voice memos on your phone and then listen back to them on the bus or walking into school.
  • Use the app "Chegg flashcards" and randomly test yourself anywhere, anytime.
  • Good old-fashioned revision cards work better on the move.
  • Create big, colourful posters or a mind map for each topic.
  • Revise different subjects in different rooms of the house. Visualise the room to trigger your memory in the exam.
  • Invent mnemonics (big elephants always understand small elephants for spelling) for factual terms or even spellings.
  • Create acronyms to synthesise information in just one word.
  • Write out notes a few times, condensing them down each time to fewer and fewer words that will trigger a memory of the subject.
  • If an assessment includes a presentation, practice in front of someone you know, in the mirror or on video.
  • If an assessment includes a practical component, use role-play as an effective way of putting knowledge into practice before the practical examination.

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Great tutor for English. Neurodiversity and second language. Ages 7-99

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