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Study Tips for High School

To piggyback on an overused metaphor, high school is an entirely new (academic) ballgame.  Older and wiser, you shed your middle school self and slowly begin to acquire new freedoms.  With these freedoms come greater expectations.  Teachers will challenge you more and they’ll definitely assign a heavier workload.  As if that wasn’t daunting enough, from the get-go, the grades you earn will affect and shape your college applications.  We have total confidence that you can rise to the occasion and succeed.  However, just to make sure you start off on the right foot, here are a few study (and survival) tips.

Take notes during class.

Sometimes, it can take a lot of willpower to keep yourself from staring out the window and daydreaming.  By taking notes, you’ll be sure to maintain focus.  Your attention will be on the teacher and the discussion at hand.  Your notes will also be a great study tool.  And, as an added bonus, if you review them at night (even briefly), you’ll find yourself ahead of the curve when there’s a test on the horizon. 

Don’t wait until the last minute to study.

Sure, you’re a math whiz or a history buff.  However, that doesn’t mean you can expect to glide by whenever there’s a test.  No matter how intelligent or intellectual you are, preparation is always key.  Cramming can lead to stress and anxiety (and, even on occasion, self-doubt).  Give yourself ample time so you can face the exam with confidence and knock it out of the park.

Try and avoid doing homework in front of the television.

We know homework seems much more pleasant when The Simpsons (or another preferred show) is on in the background.  However, by doing your work in front of the television, you’re likely not giving your full attention to the assignment.  You are also more prone to making careless errors and producing sloppy work.  Additionally, homework is meant to reinforce concepts you learn in the classroom.  You are less likely to retain the information if you’re distracted by the latest crime scene on Law & Order.

Become intimate with the art of time management. 

Your high school life will probably seem hectic.  Between homework, extracurricular activities and maintaining a social life, you’ll have a lot to juggle.  Therefore, procrastination will be your enemy.  Start gauging how long it takes you to complete different types of assignments.  Pay attention to the duration of a soccer practice or a student government session (and how frequently they meet).  When you understand the amount of time and dedication required, you’ll start to recognize the best way to organize your schedule.  And you will realize what you can (and can’t) take on. 

Take a break.

Yes, hard work and diligence are important (and necessary for success).  However, you can’t continually grind away; that’s not good for your mental health.  Take some time after school to walk away from your textbooks and relax.  Then, when you sit down to tackle your homework, you’ll do so with fresh eyes and a renewed focus.  You’re also more likely to produce stronger work and finish more quickly. 

Find a classroom buddy.

Try making (or identifying) a friend in all of your classes.  You can use each other as a “go to” person if you accidentally forget what the homework assignment is or if you’re struggling with a concept.  Additionally, you can become study buddies and help each other prepare for tests.  And, of course, you can practice your impressions of your teachers for each other.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

From time to time, we all struggle mastering a task, an assignment or a concept.  Don’t simply throw up your arms in defeat or ignore the problem; nip it in the proverbial bud.  Rather than risk additional struggle and falling behind, ask for help.  It doesn’t matter if you approach a teacher, a parent or a trusted friend.  They will appreciate your courage and your desire to learn.  Moreover, you are likely to discover you do have what it takes to conquer the material.  And who knows – you might start viewing that particular subject with interest and excitement rather than dread.

Set goals.

It’s important to set specific goals for yourself.  Goals provide instant motivation.  They push you to achieve and to work harder.  And they leave you feeling a sense of accomplishment after you’ve completed them.  However, it is important that you set realistic goals for yourself.  If you set your sights on something too easy and obvious, the satisfaction you feel will be negligible.  And if you establish unrealistic expectations for yourself, you’re likely to end up feeling frustrated and disillusioned. 

Find a comfortable place to study.

When it comes to homework and studying, it’s important to find a place where you can spread out and relax.  You want to choose a location that’s quiet and comfortable and absent of any distractions.  After all, you want to put all of your energy towards your assignments, not worrying about whether or not you will have sustained back problems from the chair in which you’re sitting. 

There’s no question – high school can be tough.  However, if you follow these basic rules, you will discover that not only will you stay on top of your workload, you will likely excel. 



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Don Munce