The person who studies the most for a test sometimes does not receive the highest grade on the test. Surprised? You shouldn’t be – it’s often about how you study rather than how much you study. It’s about using time wisely – studying smarter, not harder. When students learn effective study tips and get into a routine that includes effective study habits, their grades will improve. This is because they start to learn for the long-term rather than the short-term (they remember a concept because they understand it instead of remembering a concept because they studied the definition for hours. See our blog about memorization vs. understanding for more information).
We’ve discussed some tips to help your child transition from middle school to high school socially, but I’d like to focus on the academic side of it all. As students transition from middle school to high school, tests become more frequent and stakes get higher. Because of this, high schoolers should begin to learn better study tips and habits. Below is a quick list of study habits and tips you, as a high school student, can use to help improve your grades and learning. If you are a parent of a high school student, I encourage you to relay these habits to your child, or even ask him or her to read these 5 study tips
Tip 1. Set a Study Schedule.
The first rule of effective studying is no cramming! If you know you have a test coming up, set a realisticschedule. Study a little each day so that you’re not reading or studying for hours the night before a major test. Learning is not an overnight process—you really have to commit some amount of time to it each day.
Buying a planner or a fun wall-calendar is an effective way to commit to a schedule. Writing your study schedule in a planner will make you more accountable and help you stick to the plan. If you know you have a test in 2 weeks, you should write down what chapters you want to study each day. My suggestion? Study the hardest concepts or chapters first so that it is not only out of the way, but also if you have more questions about it, you have time to ask your teacher (don’t ask a question you have about the test 5 minutes before the test starts!).
Studying at the same time each day will also help you commit to a schedule. Soon, it will become routine, and it won’t be so hard to begin to study. You’ll feel prepared mentally to start studying (that’s the biggest challenge!). Also, find a time when you feel your brain is the sharpest. Everyone has a different time of day that works best, so you may need to switch up the timeslot a few times before finding the right time of day (for me, personally, it’s after I exercise and eat dinner).
You could use this habit for much more than just studying: writing essays, completing big assignments, or even a personal project or two you may have. Setting a schedule helps you with proper time management, and that is something that will help you with so much more than just school.
Tip 2. Get and Stay Organized.
This goes along with the idea of a planner, but keeping your scheduling organized as well as your notes for that class is a major part of studying. If you spend most of your allotted time looking for notes from Chapter 4, are you really studying Chapter 4? Probably not. I suggest having a binder and notebook for each class, or, at the very least, keeping a tab for each class. I like to mark important pages in my notebook or pages that I may want to ask my teacher later with Washi Tape, but it’s up to you. The colors and the fun patterns help me organize the pages and pages of notes that I end up writing.
It’s also important to organize your notes when you’re writing them. Don’t write down what your teacher is saying verbatim—instead, paraphrase it in your own words. If you can’t do that, then that means you should raise your hand and ask a question because you did not understand what he or she said. Bullet points help as well as little symbols for yourself (i.e. mark a star next to something that is really important and your teacher keeps repeating). You can also use colored pens to mark down ideas or show a different chapter. Try not to get too caught up in this while you’re taking notes though—you may miss something your teacher says!
The more organized you are during the quarter, the easier it will be to study later. This is a great study habit to get into, and it will help you in college, too!
Tip 3. Learn as You Go.
Many concepts in high school build on each other, so it’s important that you learn the first concept before moving on to the second. If you have questions, mark them as you go when you’re taking notes (maybe with a question mark) and ask your teacher later. I’m sure your teacher would love to see you actively involved in the class, and he or she may even offer to help you further during lunch or after school.
It may also be beneficial to review your notes if you have time after school. This will help you review some information while it’s still fresh in your mind. Also, if you have homework, do it. First, homework should be easy points, but also, it’s practice for the test. What you see on your homework, you’ll most likely see on the test.
If you learn and solidify a concept as you go, studying for a test will be less of a daunting task. Instead of learninga concept when you study, you’ll be reviewing it, which is exactly what your teacher intended.
Tip 4. Be Consistent.
Another good study habit to follow is to be consistent. Whether it be where you study, how you study, how you take notes, etc., it’s important to find what works and stick to it. The effective study habits will eventually become routine as you stay constant, and it will be a routine that you will be able to maintain throughout the school year.
One idea to keep consistency is to create a personal study space. You could create a cozy spot in your room to study or buy a desk and fill it with things you would need during study time. You could even go to the library and find a spot to study. When you find a place that works for you, use that area for when you study until it becomes a habit.
Tip 5. Take Breaks.
Finally, a great study habit is to take breaks! This may seem a little counter-productive, but it’s really not. Breaks allow your mind to relax and focus on something else so that it can refocus later. When you feel yourself zoning out after a long studying session, you should take a break. The best break activity is to do something a little physical, whether it be a quick run, walk around the neighborhood, yoga exercises, or a quick chore, etc. Just standing up and moving around a bit will help your body relax and get your mind off of studying.
Make sure these breaks are only about 15 minutes, and your studying is about an hour. A timer always helps. Set your timer for one hour, and then for 15 minutes, so you can do something else. The timer will allow you to focus your mind on the task at hand.
Take breaks to relieve stress, but don’t take too many breaks! The goal with this study habit is to keep your mind focused and clear.
Remember, study smart, not hard! Quality trumps quantity when it comes to studying. Follow these study tips and habits, and you should see your test scores improve.
Are there any study habits or tips that work for you and that I have not mentioned? Let us know in the comments!
Author: Becky Adams, Curriculum Manager at A Grade Ahead.