Grades have always been important to me. Well, to be honest, grades were more important to my parents when I was younger. Now that I’m in college, grades are even more of a priority in my life because I know that doing well could make a difference in the type of job I might get later in life. And yes, teens do care about their future and most of us want to make good grades. This means focusing on really learning and memorizing the material and committing some serious time to studying. I also want to be efficient and use my study time well.
I often need reminders on what works and what doesn’t when I’m learning or relearning a new subject. Luckily, with a lot of trial and error and a whole lot of work, I have discovered a few essential studying tips that have really improved both my grades and my effort.
Top 6 Studying Tips for Teens
We’ve all heard the phrase “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. It may sound lame, but it’s true – especially on study-heavy days near midterms and finals. Eating a healthy, filling breakfast will not only keep your stomach from rumbling loudly during class, but it will keep your mind alert and awake so that you can absorb all the information you need.
However, all the food in the world will not replace a good night’s sleep. Without a solid 8-10 hours, we’re keeping our brain from relaxing and recharging from all that information we’re stuffing in it during our study sessions. Of course, if I’m gearing up for a big exam I usually feel like I don’t sleep all that well the night before. Sigh.
Put Down that Phone
It’s so easy that we often forget it – studying with distractions just doesn’t work. I know, you can roll your eyes at me because you’ve been told it enough times. But it doesn’t have to be a total ban on your phone or the internet.
Instead, try the Pomodoro Technique in which you give yourself short play time (such a 5-10 minutes) in between stretches of study time. You can also make it simple by just changing up where you study to places like the library or an empty classroom where you just don’t have access to your guilty pleasures.
Ask for Help
I’ll admit that I’m not the most outgoing person when it comes to raising my hand in class. That’s why I love it when my teachers offer outside of class help where I can get answers without the pressure. I don’t feel like a burden or an embarrassment, and I actually think my teachers like that I am going out of my way to get the information I need. I’ve also learned that making a good grade is a lot more important than what people think about me asking a lot of questions.
We all have different learning styles. For example, my brother is a great listener and never needs to put in extra time to study. On the other hand, I need to really immerse myself in what I am trying to learn. Putting it off until the day before means that it doesn’t really stick with me. For finals, where it’s an accumulation of what I learned, that can be deadly.
Instead, I know that the best way to study is to just put a little time in every day to making sure the material sticks. That 20 minutes of studying pays off in the long run when I’m not cramming later.
Taking notes isn’t exactly fun, but it’s essential when you have a teacher who gives big lectures or tests based off of the book. Still, having notebooks full of notes isn’t that helpful to me.
Instead, I break them down into flashcards that I can easily memorize! Flashcards are one of the best ways to learn facts and figures (as well as new languages). Simply take your notes and highlight the most important parts, and then translate them into questions you may see on the quiz. For example, if you’re learning the Periodic Table of Elements, make a flashcard with the question: “What is AS” and the answer “Arsenic” on the back.
Bring Along a Friend (or Not)
Finally, you need to know yourself when deciding how you will study. I prefer to study alone to avoid other people distracting me. I’ve seen study groups really work though. Here’s the trick: the group has to actually want to study. Don’t just go with your best friend because she’s in your class. Instead, try organizing a group with like-minded individuals or with classmates who have different strengths (like a good note taker or someone who reads and summarizes quickly).
Studying doesn’t have to be a chore if you do it right and often. By knowing what works for you and maximizing your time, you can get the dirty work done so you can focus on life outside the textbook.