Would it be too strong of a statement to say that I hate school? Probably. But I really, really dislike it. This feeling runs opposite to a specific goal I have which was to maintain a 4.0 in high school (didn’t quite make it) and to do the same in college. This does not come easy. I have to study and I mean a lot. School is hard for me and I think I spend more time studying than a lot of my friends.
Chances are that you already know what techniques work best for you but I thought I would share some of the things I have learned over my high school years that have really helped me out so I have put together some studying tips for teens. Since I don’t love school or studying for exams I want to make the time I do study as productive as possible so I can keep it short and do the things I want to focus on for the rest of the day!
I know. Really, I know. Every single study tip article ever written always seems to start with this one. I thought I would go ahead and mention it and get it over with. Obviously you need to eliminate distractions. For me that means I try to focus intently on what I’m studying 25 minutes at a time. After 25 minutes I take a short 5 minute break and then start again. This is called the Pomodoro Technique and is a time management tool I use every single day.
That said teenagers eliminate distractions in different ways. Some of us study best in our rooms, some at a desk, some sitting on their bed, and sometimes going to the library is a great way to study. Going to the library is difficult for me because the other people and their conversations distract me. If I do go to the library I listen to music because it’s easier for me to tune out the music than the people. For the most part I study at home because it works best for me.
Unless you have to work in a group I find that studying alone is best. If my friend is at the table with me chances are I’m going to want to talk with them instead of focusing on what I need to be doing. Other people find that a study group helps them to focus. It just depends on you and your personality I guess.
Take notes and make flashcards
Taking notes in class or while you are reading your textbook will really help you retain the information. It will also help you focus on the lecture and learn as much as possible while you are sitting there in class. If the teacher or professor gives you a study guide you might want to take notes on it. One of the things I do that helps me the most is to take my notes, the study guide and the textbook and make flashcards.
My process is to listen in class and try to understand everything, read the textbook and try to understand, then take all of that and make flashcards that I can simply memorize. This makes it possible for me to understand what I am studying (so it makes a difference in my life) and allows me to memorize the facts which normally helps me to do really well on the exam.
Start studying immediately
My brother is an amazing learner. He can listen to a lecture, read the material once, and ace the test. Every. single. time. I try to not be bitter… but I’m just not like this. I cannot wait until the last minute, study something once, and do well on a test. It makes a huge difference for me to study a little bit along and along. Once I’ve read the chapter, taken notes and made my flash cards I normally just rely on my flashcards to study for the exam. Every day I take at least one pomodoro (25 minutes) to review the flashcards I have already studied and one pomodoro to learn the new flashcards I have made. The last few days before the test I just use my flashcards.
If you can cram the day before a test my hat is off to you. I just can’t do it and the stress it would cause isn’t worth it. When I study in advance I walk into the exam feeling somewhat confident I will do well.
When I took high school Chemistry I was miserable. So much math. Anyway. Let’s just say it was the hardest class I took in high school. My teacher, Mr. Arnold, told us at the beginning of the year he was available outside of class to help us. He gave us his personal phone number and everything. From the first week or so I struggled to understand the concepts. So I called him. And I kept calling him for the entire year. I think I called him every week.
Once I asked him if I was a bother to him and told him that it was embarrassing to have to call for an explanation and extra help every week. He said he really wanted us to contact him and get the help we needed. He also confirmed that I was the only person in the class calling and asking for help (awesome…) but that I was the only one with a grade higher than a C. Being a little embarrassed about asking a lot of questions is better than getting a bad grade in my opinion.
And if you are wondering, yes, Chemistry (along with Algebra II) ruined my 4.0 for high school…
All the other things
It seems obvious but things like getting enough sleep the night before, eating a good breakfast and such will make the test go better. But lets be honest. These things don’t always happen. Going to bed late the day before a test isn’t going to kill you if you are well prepared.
Have you found a good study method that works for you? Please share!