We asked our regular contributors through e-mail What are some study tips for high school students who are struggling and want to improve? We got many interesting responses. Here are some of them. We have just copied and pasted their responses, not editing them in any way.
1. This helps me:
- When I’m trying to learn something, I pretend that I am teaching someone and for some reason, this helps.
Write notes down, there’s something about reading notes written down by yourself and it stays longer in your memory.
Treat it like a job. Hit the books Monday through Friday 9-5. Work in the library, not your room or apartment. Don’t miss a class. Work ahead during that 40 hours. This method worked wonders for me and I never had to stay up late trying to cram stuff.
2. If you use flashcards; start with two or three and slowly add in more to the deck once you’ve mastered a few.
I used to think flashcards didn’t work because I’d sit there with a deck of 50 wondering why I couldn’t remember any when I got back to the beginning. Maybe this is obvious for some people but was a life-changing moment for me when a high school teacher recommended…like oh…duh!
3. Reading tips:
Don’t highlight for the sake of highlighting without giving a reason. At the end of every text, you highlight, write a short sentence explaining why you’re highlighting that part. Two or three key words work also.
At the end of every chapter in the textbook, write a summary of it that is at least a page long. If the chapter is broken into a lot of sections, write half a page for each section. Reading the summaries will help when test time comes, and you can reuse the summaries in your essays if applicable.
Write your introduction last. It sounds crazy, but this allows you to restructure the essay if you see it’s not flowing correctly.
Use an outline or a brainstorm map. Even if it’s only a couple of words, seeing your paper “in the flesh” even in the embryonic stage helps.
Use the voice recorder app on your phone if you get an idea for your paper or project and can’t write it down at that moment. You’re gonna forget it if you leave it for later.
If you’re not doing it already, write your papers in Google Docs. It saves per keystroke, so you don’t have to worry about losing work if your computer crashes.
Proofread your work by READING it out loud if you can’t have someone proofread it for you. You’ll catch a lot of errors this way instead of just using your eyes. If you don’t pay for printing, then print out a copy and go over it manually.
45/15 – 45 mins of work for every 15 mins of rest. Start with this and reduce it the closer you get finishing your paper/task–30/30, 15/45, etc. I use 15 min intervals, use whatever you want.
Start by doing your easier HWs first and scale upwards towards the hardest. The easier HWs will get you in the groove quicker than tackling the harder one(s) will. Going for the harder problems first already has you at a disadvantage and will discourage you from doing work.
4. Study in short bursts. I remember a psych prof. in college saying it’s been proven that after 20-30 minutes of studying your brain starts to retain less and less information. So study for 20-30 minutes, take a quick 10-minute break, then go back to studying.
5. Place your phone in another room while studying.
6. Don’t procrastinate or take a “break” before doing your work. The second you get assigned homework start it immediately after school. This one might be obvious but it’s something that helps me out. This is not exactly a study tip, but if you don’t understand ANYTHING no matter how stupid, never shy away from asking a teacher.
7. #1 mistake I made in high school was assuming that my teachers were always good at dispensing content in an understandable way. There’s so much variance.
Depending on your teacher:
Plague your teacher with questions before/after class. They’re (hopefully) there to help you.
Take notes during class. Take a picture of the board if you need to. If your teacher goes off slideshows, get copies of each lecture.
Supplement your teacher’s lectures with lectures on the internet. There’s almost always someone online who’s figured out a better way to divulge the info than your teacher.
If your teacher is confusing or going too fast, let them know, maybe multiple times. They might not realize.
Look into private tutoring. Maybe your school offers it, or your teacher would be willing to help, or something online. A good tutor analyzes what you know so they can teach at your level.
Get enough sleep and eat right. Keep your brain running at high efficiency for efficient studying.
8. Stop being so worried about it right now you can fix it far easier than you think.
9. A change of scenery does wonders. No matter how amazing your desk at home is, studying in the library is way more productive due to social pressure and your brain knowing that you’re here to study.
10. Don’t study in your bed. Go somewhere else to study (desk, library, school) and don’t be afraid to ask your teacher or academic counselor what they think you should do. Most teachers are always willing to help students who show they care.