Keep an Organizer. Being organized is the most fundamental key to managing your education. Start using either a paper or electronic planner to keep track
Being organized is the most fundamental key to managing your education. Start using either a paper or electronic planner to keep track of homework assignments, test dates, and estimated study time for each quarter, semester, or trimester. Determine how much time each subject will require outside of class and be sure to pencil in what you need and review the planner daily so deadlines don’t sneak up on you. For students who may be getting parental help, having a planner will help the whole family know and work around your schedule.
A planner will also help you review your schedule and divide your study time in a manageable way over several weeks or days. By focusing on a little work over a longer period of time you can review and prepare with a lot less stress than if you were cramming a day or two, or even the night, before. Stress is proven to deter from effective memorization. Avoid stress by doing a little at a time, and remember that a little really does go a long way.
Make the Most of Class Time.
There’s an old saying that 99% of success is simply showing up. You can reduce your study time and learn more efficiently by making your class time really count. Be sure to go to class and make the very most of the time there by being alert and engaged, listening carefully to what the teacher expects you to know, and taking careful notes. If you don’t understand something ask questions, a lot of questions, during class. Your teacher may be able to clarify something in a few minutes that might take you an hour of reading to figure out on your own. It also helps to sit up front so you can be sure not to miss a thing, particularly in larger classes.
Take Good Notes.
Part of making the most out of class is taking detailed and organized notes of all that is covered in class. If you are taking notes by hand make it fun; use different colored pens, highlighters, and a ruler to really draw attention to the key points of the lesson as you go along. And don’t stop there. Review your notes every evening so they have a chance to really sink in.
You can apply the same methods that you use during your note taking to your reading. Engage in your reading and make highlighting key points fun. Use colored markers and highlighters to pinpoint the most important parts of your reading. Summarize what you need to remember in the margins of your reading in words that make sense to you. If you’re working electronically, get in the habit of summarizing your reading in a few sentences or paragraphs so you can be sure that you understand what you’ve read and know what to go back to refresh your memory.
Eliminate All Distractions.
It’s not uncommon for people to study with the tv on in the background or with their cell phones on their desks, but this only prolongs the amount of time spent studying and makes the quality of your focus plunge. Study in a quiet space with your cell phone off, free of any distractions, and you’ll have a better chance of remembering what you’re trying to learn. You’ll also have to spend less time studying. If you get bored studying in the same space all the time, studies now show that switching your study spot can also be helpful.
Join a Study Group.
Another way to avoid boredom while studying is to become part of a study group. This can alleviate some of the isolation people can feel when studying difficult subjects alone for hours and also help you make a commitment to spending the time you need in one area. You may find it helpful to divide up note taking amongst different members or talk about different interpretations of the work in order to grasp different meanings. Like making the most of class, participating in a study group could save you time by working collaboratively instead of alone.
Study the Hardest Subject First.
It’s human nature to want to avoid those topics and situations that we find the most difficult, but focusing on your very hardest topic first, while you have the most energy, is the best strategy for your time. It’s likely that your hardest topic is also giving you the most stress, stress that can be alleviated only through spending some time mastering the topic, so get it out of the way first when you have the best focus.
Study During the Day.
Although it’s tempting to take a long break after the school day ends, it’s actually best to take a short break for a snack or a little diversion and then head back to your studying while the sun is still out, if possible. Just as it’s best to tackle the hardest work first, it’s best to do the bulk of your homework during the day, during class breaks or right after school because you’ll have the most energy and focus.
An additional bonus in getting the bulk of your studying done during the day is that you won’t miss out on one of the most important things you can do to make sure your brain stores all the newly learned information into your long-term memory: sleep. Whether it’s an afternoon nap after a study session or a good night’s sleep after a day of learning, proper sleep allows your mind to process and store new information and prepare you for a new day of learning. Never underestimate the power of sleep in achieving academic success!
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