Study Skills for High School Students
Learning how to study effectively and efficiently is skill that often eludes high school students. As a teacher I observed that many students do poorly on tests because understand how to study or what to study. An important part of teaching is help students learn how to learn. There several mistakes common I have observed in my students. I have provided some suggestions for avoiding these mistakes.
Study smarter. Be prepared, don’t cram. Students often underestimate the time it will take to prepare for a test. These students wait until the last minute to prepare and attempt to learn an entire chapter or even semester in one or two days. Break the material into smaller chunks and review 15-20 minutes daily. Also, find out what study methods work best for you. There are different types of learning styles. Most teachers are auditory and/or visual learners, that means they learn by hearing and seeing. People have a tendency to teach the methods that work best for themselves. Students, especially those who do poorly in school, may be tactical/kinestic learners. Tactical/kinestic learners best by doing and moving. Discovering your primary learning style can help you chose the best methods for studying.
Get organized. Set up a system of either a single notebook or individual notebooks for each class. The notebook should contain notes from the class, graded assignments, tests, quizzes, etc. Material from daily assignments and quizzes often appear on tests.
Know your schedule and plan for assignments. Get a plan book and record the due dates for exams and project. I use assignment sheets that are either based on units or grading periods. That way my students have all assignments in advance. Learning to follow assignment sheets and be responsible for completing work on time is important for success in college. In college professors hand out a syllabus at the beginning of the semester and may not mention an assignment or exam until it is due. Students are expected to read the syllabus and be responsible for completing work on time.
Learn to take notes. As a high school teacher I have most students do not understand how to take notes. Students will either attempt to record every word in a lecture or write down almost nothing. Learn to pick out what is important. Also, use highlighters to color code notes. Learn to listen for clues as to what is important and might be on a test. If teacher repeats something more than once that is a clue it is important. Note taking is another skill that is vital for college success that unfortunately many high school students do not learn.
Study environment. Find a place to study where you can study the best. You need an environment that is free of distractions but where feel comfortable. Some people prefer to study in a brightly light room and sitting at table or desk. Personally, I find libraries distracting because they are too quite and every little noise I hear distracts me. Sitting in front of the TV or lying down on my bed is not contusive to learning either. What I discovered playing music especially with headphones or running a fan can help filter distractions. If you use headphones be sure to keep the music low. Also, I good pair of headphones that cover the ears not the in-the ear kind can reduce distractions. Before you start studying get a glass or bottle of water and a healthy snack. Having those things available can reduce interruptions in studying.
Establish a study time. Research has found that marathon study sessions are not as effective study sessions with built in breaks. Set a timer and study for 45 minutes to an hour. Then take break for 10-15 minutes to do something active. Be sure to set a timer so that your 15 minute break does not turn into a longer break. When break time is over, go back to studying.
Learning how to learn and becoming an independent learner are important for success in college and life. Unfortunately, many high school students do not make the connection between class and life time skills. Hopefully, the suggestions I have provided can help you improve your study skills.