Strengthening Study Habits

Completing one year in school is always an exciting moment for students, but it can also be quite stressful when peering into the near future.  Advancing to the next grade can present many challenges, including how to adapt to changes in learning strategies.  We recommend that students learn how to prioritize their workload, become flexible with adopting different studying methods if their current ones are not efficient, and overall enjoy surpassing the challenges their new academic environments may bring.  By doing so, students will be able to take the most out of their learning without it taking the most out of them!

Ever feel that your classes are going too fast for you?

Does the workload just seem to pile up?  Do exams scare you because of the vast amount of information you are expected to know?

If you answered “Yes” to any of those questions, don’t worry.  You’re not alone!  Most students in the upper levels of junior high or high school sometimes find it difficult to adapt to the changes in workload in their classes.  Participating in advanced level courses can also add to the stress of how to deal with everything.

Luckily, there are strategies to help you cope with changes in your learning environment and they all begin with the same step: learn how to change yourself.

The Adapting Skill

If it’s cold outside, you wear a sweater.  If it is pouring down rain, you instinctively go for an umbrella to keep yourself dry.  Believe it or not, you have trained yourself to adapt quickly to changes in your surroundings even without thinking about it too much.  The same can be said about memory and study habits.  When workload increases dramatically or studying techniques fail to work, people learn how to change them until they find efficient solutions.  For the majority of students, this adapting skill is learned and strengthened through a span of several years, even through college life.  Whether you are in junior or high school, focusing on strengthening that skill right now can prove to become an invaluable tool for future use. 

How to Change?

Now that you know about this secretive yet powerful tool within you, how can you use it for your advantage?  Well, as with any skill you begin to form, the beginning can be somewhat challenging.  First and foremost, you have to make an analysis of your study and learning techniques and environments.  Ask yourself: What am I struggling with?  Where do I need to see improvement?  What study/learning methods are working/not working for me?  How am I managing my time?

One of the greatest challenges for students is to acknowledge their weaknesses and take action towards correcting them.  For example, if your studying habits from 7th grade are not helping you in your current classes in 9th grade, take action towards a change.  Investigate different study methods- note cards, outlines, PowerPoint key points, study groups.  This takes time and effort but the results of discovering effective study techniques will be worth it.

Which way is the right way?

There is not one proven method of studying that has proven to work for everyone, and this is because everyone is so different.  Some people can read a book once and understand it well while others require creating outlines of key points to refresh their memory.  In any case, you can determine how well your studying is working for you by seeing your efficiency in class and time.  If you feel like you need a change, ask others how they study and begin to investigate.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

–          For novels or books with sections, read quickly then go over and highlight key points, characters, or events. It is not usually recommended to highlight on the first read because most people tend to highlight the entire text.  Instead, skim it once or twice then go back in detail to extract the valuable information.

–          Always make summaries at the end of class.  Once a class is over, it’s tempting to throw your binder in your backpack and forget about it until the next time you use it.  It has been shown that making short summaries of what you learned in classes at the end of each period significantly helps you remember the information more quickly and accurately.

–          Review your notes daily.  Usually tired after a long day of classes?  A long break when you return home is always well deserved, but try to go over your notes at the end of each day for every class.  Especially for classes such as history or biology, continual daily review of “units” of information will help take off some of the pressure of learning massive amounts of details for exams.

–          Take your own notes.  Some classes may offer great study guides, but sadly, some do not. If you find yourself not clearly understanding a topic discussed in class, take the time to look over that information on your own.  Make your own outlines or condensed notes.  This can help clarify some details that may have been missing in the lecture but were described in your book.

Test and Teach Yourself

Finally, learn how to test and teach yourself.  Most students have the mindset that if they did poorly in a class, it’s because they had a bad teacher, and vice versa.  Even though your teacher definitely influences your learning, they do not determine your outcome.  You do.  You are your own best teacher.  By learning how to teach yourself to extract and understand information from books, classes, or review sessions, you set yourself up for success.  In college and in your future career, you won’t have people always telling you how and where to find information.  Learning how to adapt quickly and doing this on your own at an early age gives you a serious advantage.  In this journey of learning, don’t forget that teachers are still a valuable resource as guiders.  Don’t forget to take advantage of their presence and ask for help or advice on how to strengthen your studying and learning skills if you wish to improve them.

Recommendations

  1. Do an analysis of your studying and learning skills
  2. Modify your studying techniques until an efficient one is found
  3. Ask others, especially teachers, for guidance on how to strengthen study habits
  4. Learn to teach yourself

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