Academic skills are a collection of study habits, learning strategies, and time management tools that help students learn and absorb school lessons. For most students, learning is about much more than access to information. Teachers often include academic skills in their lessons in order for students to really master certain concepts. These skills not only benefit the students when it comes time to take tests, but can also help in the future: solid study skills are essential for college success, for instance, and learning to balance multiple demands at once is valuable to many different career paths.
Core Skill Areas
Education around the world tends to focus on five primary areas: language arts, including reading and writing; mathematics; science; history; and technological literacy. Academic skills go hand in hand with these core subjects, giving students the tools they need to deeply learn the key lessons of each discipline.
Importance to Early Schooling
Students are typically exposed to academic skills from a very early age, often without even realizing it. The practice of daily homework, for instance, helps elementary students learn how to manage their time. Reading and discussing a book chapter by chapter emphasizes the importance of breaking large assignments into smaller, more digestible chunks, and keeping a daily journal of thoughts or a lab notebook during a semester of chemistry reinforces the notion of note taking and self-review.
In most cases, academic skills are organizational in nature. Students must learn to organize their time, their notes, and their study habits in order to effectively progress through a class.
Research is also a major component. Effective research skills do not come naturally to most students, and must be honed and refined over time. Elementary research projects that center on current events or class field trips pave the way for more advanced high school projects, college research papers, and even graduate thesis work.
Computer Literacy as an Educational Cornerstone
Technology is playing an increasingly pivotal role in education, which makes learning how to work with computers an essential learning skill. Most major research databases are online, and the Internet also provides a wealth of information on most any topic imaginable. Students who learn how to navigate these sources, as well as how to sort reputable information from illegitimate sites, are the best prepared to succeed in a world that is ever more computer-centric.
Computer skills are often taught at the elementary level through exercises like WebQuests or Internet scavenger hunts. Older students may take research courses that focus on maximizing computer tools for academic purposes. More and more, assignments in all disciplines incorporate word processing, web posting, and Internet research in order to help emphasize these skills.
Impact on Test Scores
While class participation and daily assignments are important parts of academic learning, the bulk of a student’s grade is generally assessed based on test performance. Academic skills are particularly important when it comes to studying for exams. Simply mastering the material is not usually enough: students must also demonstrate that they can synthesize information, draw their own conclusions, and apply lessons learned to new scenarios. All of this requires some sort of academic skill set.
Doing well on exams is also important when it comes to life after school. Standardized tests are used throughout the world as a means of assessing students’ aptitude for college or university admissions. Graduate programs typically make use of entrance exams, too. Students who have learned how to study and concentrate for long periods of time are poised to score the best on these sorts of tests.
Perfecting Study Skills in College
For many students, the academic skills needed to get through high school are slightly different than those needed to conquer the challenges of university life. College offers students a lot of new freedoms, both personally and academically. In order to help students adjust to these changes, many universities sponsor Academic Resource Centers focused specifically on academic skill acquisition. These centers typically employ tutors and counselors who can help students come up with study plans, chart out time management schemes, and balance competing demands.
Mastering good habits in the classroom can also have profound effects on life after graduation. Much of what it takes to succeed in school is also required to succeed on the job. Time management, personal discipline, and the ability to complete multiple tasks simultaneously are all keys to good work ethic, and are the building blocks of most required job skills.