Many parents and students come to our office asking for tutoring sessions to build high school study skills, especially those that found future college study skills.
For obvious reasons, this is a very important topic for students who are trying to become independent learners. Nearly all students need to meet the challenge of gaining enough academic confidence to leave high school for college, first jobs or training programs.
As tutors at ATT, we try to customize study skill lessons to each student's unique needs, However, there are common tips that apply to most students. Here are a few!
USE A PLANNER...as a memory and organizational aid
This tip is an important nod to organizational skills. Be sure to enter your test dates, assignment due dates, and extracurriculars into your planner so you will be less likely to forget about them. As you complete the assignments you can cross them off your planner--this usually feels really satisfying! And it should, you are making progress toward your larger goals. Some students use paper planners with dates and days-of-the-week laid out to enter itemized task lists. Other students use digital calendars and planners. Either can work; there is no magically perfect planner. Successful students use either or combinations of both. The point is that you should use a planner that is easily accessible, that you won't easily lose and that you can easily check in with each day.
Initially using a planner can feel like a burden, another task on top of all you homework, test prep, extracurriculars, etc. So don't make using it a huge project. Keep it simple at first. You can get more sophisticated in your planning as you learn to use it and make it part of your basic list of mastered study habits.
Basic planner use includes entering major test dates and daily homework lists. As you get used to using it, you may want to also mark off specific times that you will devote to do test prep and other academic tasks. I have seen very artful (and useful) student planners that are color coded and quite detailed in terms of their lists and sublists for tasks, sometimes planned down the minute. However, this level of precision is not necessary for most students. Get as detailed as needed to meet your goals.
MAKE STUDY LISTS...to prep for tests effectively
Not all high school tests are the same, so test prep has to make sense for the exam at hand. When you are planning out your study time for an upcoming test, first write out the list of steps for your own study plan. A typical list with approximate completion times might look like this:
Take pre-test from teacher (20 minutes)
Read assigned chapter (30 minutes)
Go through class notes (10 minutes)
Complete review guide (30 minutes)
Take practice quiz (10 minutes)
If needed, meet with teacher for extra help on tough ideas
Some tests (vocabulary tests, for example) require mere memorization to do well. Other tests require mastery of concepts and problem solving methods (such as math and physics tests). Still others require absorbing floods of complex information and making sense of it enough to answer various kinds of questions, from multiple choice to essay prompts (biology, history and literature for example).
The basic advice here is START your prep EARLY enough to get the grade you are aiming for. If you are pretty good at memorizing basic lists of information, an hour with flash cards might be enough. For your math final, some several hours might be needed to recall and master all the ideas and problem solving methods.
Try to anticipate what questions your teacher will ask and seek the answers ahead of time. Many effective students get really good at predicting what kinds of questions teachers will ask on a test and prepare accordingly.
GET HELP...seek out teachers, parents, counselors, study partners, tutors and online supports
From your teacher--and all the other adult supports In your academic life--to all the online learning aids, there are a lot of potential resources that can help you with homework and test prep. Seeking help when you need it is actually a study skill! If your teacher has available office hours, make an appointment to review the hard ideas. Bug your teacher for extra practice problems and practice quizzes with answer keys. Use your school's student help center if is has one. Form or join a study group in your class. Ask your parents or guardians for help if they know the topic well.
FIND GOOD STUDY SPACES AND DON'T SKIP SLEEP...hide your phone & avoid cramming
This tip is self-explanatory. Most students know exactly what I mean but this tip and agree. To really absorb information and do quality homework generally requires focus and energy. Phones (distractions) and cramming (procrastination) erode focus and energy. Try to build good study habits that are founded on planning ahead of time and efficient planned study steps.
More study skills and tips to come!
Good luck with your course work!