Here is a little secret that teachers know: not everyone is naturally good at every subject. But the other thing that teachers know is that with proper study techniques, you can improve your grades in almost any subject, including those you do not have a natural aptitude for. It takes hard work and practice, but you can get there. Here are some tips you can use to maximize the time you use to study.
- The most important thing is to have a dedicated study area. Choose somewhere that has few distractions. Sitting in the living room with your family talking loudly and with the tv on is not a great place to study. A desk or table in a quiet area is best but sometimes life forces you to be a little more creative. Sit up straight and be prepared to work when you are in your study area.
- Prepare mentally for the task at hand. Having the mindset that you are there to work will help you stay focused. Believe in yourself. Remind yourself that practice makes perfect. Know that it might take a few tries but that you will be able to understand the material.
- Have all of the materials you need—such as books, pens, paper, and other related items—ready and within arm’s reach before you start studying. Being organized in this way prevents you from wasting time looking for things you need or running around gathering things you have forgotten. One thing you should leave out of your study area is your cellphone. If you cannot turn it off while you are studying, put it on mute or in “do not disturb” mode so that your family can contact you in an emergency. Handle everything else either before or after you study. If it is distracting you, don’t bring it.
- Try different strategies to see what works best for you. Some people have to re-write their notes. Other students do better with reading texts, highlighting relevant passages, and focusing their attention on studying those. Sometimes, mnemonic devices help. A mnemonic device is a memorization technique that can help you retain information. An example of one of these devices helped you learn the order of colors in a rainbow: ROY G BIV. Flashcards can be especially helpful when trying to memorize new words and their meanings. For math and science, practice problems often are the most effective way to learn thematerial. Different study techniques might work for different subjects. Give things a try and see what works for you. The more you know about how you learn will make your study time more efficient and successful.
- Study with a partner or a group. Choose someone (or people) you can work with and won’t distract you easily. They need to be as invested as you are in studying or else one person will feel like they are doing all the work. Sometimes having another (or several) pairs of eyes on what you’re doing wrong can help you avoid mistakes. They may also be able to explain the material to you in a way that you haven’t heard before, which might help you understand it better.
These are the ways that I tell all of my students to study and to do their homework. I hope you have found ideas here that will be useful to you as you study and do your schoolwork. Good luck and happy studying!