In your classroom, always:
Take to class what you need,
don't take anything that would be a distraction. Have your book, notebook,
paper, pens, pencils, and calculator. Avoid wasting precious class time
having to borrow supplies. Make your bathroom stop between classes. You
may be required to take a lot of notes. Abbreviate words and write your
notes in an outline form. Write down the key words, draw illustrations.
Jot down extra notes in the margins or between the lines for clarification.
If a point is emphasized by the teacher, highlight it. During class, don't
get bogged down trying to write down every spoken word or complete sentences.
At the end of the class period, use your planner to write down test dates,
project due dates, and homework assignments. Organize your after
school study times and activities.
After class organize and/or recopy your notes (see below). If your not sure what was said or what something means during class time, raise your hand and ask for a repeat, definition or clarification. If you don't ask during class, go to tutorials or make an appointment for help.
In your lab classes, listen carefully and read the instructions thoroughly. You may be in a class with 30 or more students and the teacher's time with each student is very limited. Be focused on the task. I'll ask, "did you read the instructions?" If not, I will move on to those that genuinely need assistance. Always follow all safety procedures! Be courteous, clean up your lab area when your are finished. The teacher can't clean 30 areas between classes.
In the classroom, stay focused and keep the thinking hat on! The teachers notice! They can see who is paying attention and who isn't. This is about your attitude in the classroom. Always have a good attitude! Teachers greatly appreciate good attitude! Conduct yourself on the job as though you want a good letter of recommendation passed on to your next employer (college).
How is your homework/study environment? Establish your sacred study domain. This will be your area for studying, nothing else, no socializing, TV or other distractions. Have a spot in your room, closet, or basement. Sit up in a comfortable chair and stay away from the bed. Being too relaxed dulls your sensory intake. Have a clear desk space to spread out papers and books. Have good lighting, poor lighting makes your eyes tired and reduces your ability to stay focused on the task(s). Harsh lighting, well, the glare off of the page is harsh and tiring. Is background music a must have? Try classical! You might even learn to like it. Past studies suggest studying to classical music is best for brain stimulation. Keep the Beetles, industrial, techno, and heavy metal CDs in the drawer. ... until you are finished ... Chase off cats, dogs, little siblings, aliens, turn off the TV, phone, Internet chat room, ham radio, shut down Quake II and put a towel over the pet rattlesnake to keep him quiet. Hang a "DO NOT DISTURB" or "DO NOT ENTER" sign on the door. Keep your favorite tea, milk, water, or fruit juice nearby. Avoid caffeinated drinks, they are diuretic. This is your private time to focus on homework.
Start with the hardest (math, foreign language), get the tough stuff out of the way while you have the mindset to get the work done. Then the easier work, well, it will be easier to do. When the homework is finished, read ahead for a few minutes. For some subjects, when you study a chapter, constructing a brief outline helps tremendously. You might not understand everything you read, but then in class, clarity and understanding of the material will come quicker by being prepared.
During your distraction free time read through your notes once. Read the notes again. Read them through one more time then spend a few minutes thinking about what you have read (study tip). As you read, write down key words, then close the book/notes and next to the key word, write down the meaning and include an example (study tip). While reading short stories, plays, or novels in English, create a flow chart (study tip) for the characters and events in the story line. Keep glancing at the flow chart to keep your memory fresh on facts and situations in the reading material. The more times you read over the material, the more likely the information will be committed to your long term memory. Even though you may not have a quiz or an exam the next day, each daily review session commits more information to memory.
Do you have day dreaming or mind wondering problems? I (the author) sure do when I am working! Break the day dream by standing up for a good stretch, walk around the room, sit back down and go to work. If you day dream, think to your self, "I should stand and stretch," and that will snap you back into concentration.
Parents: Get involved, check out your child's study habits. Is he/she really studying when he/she goes off to his/her sacred study domain? Grab their notes and ask them questions over the material. Check to make sure all homework is completed. Check to make sure every math problem is completed. If necessary, plant the child in the kitchen chair while dinner is being prepared and have them read notes, and terms aloud. Have them use a planner. Each day for each class period, the student writes down the classroom assignment, the teacher will sign it at the end of the period, and you (parent) check it that night. Use a reward system. The reward system in my classroom is a good grade! Making good grades is all about time-management and work ethic. Teach these concepts to your child. It will make a life long difference.
YES! It feels good to be finished with all that work. Reward yourself. Go play! Grab the bike, kayak, canoe, running shoes, tennis racket, roller blades, skateboard, weights, and a friend. Stick Pink Floyd's "The Wall" record, tape, CD, MP3 into the player. After working the mind, work the body and socialize. You will sleep better and feel better to start over tomorrow (after breakfast).
Tomorrow or the next day is the exam, create your study schedule. Retire to your established study area ( see above), remove the distractions (also see above). It is said that the first 10 minutes and last 10 minutes of a study session are the most productive. Study hard for 30 minutes then take a short break for juice or water while thinking about what you read, then study more. Stay focused. Other than just reading the material over and over, write down key words on paper while reading (study tip). Go back and define those key words by incorporating examples. Some of my best students make flash cards (study tip). Flash cards are excellent for any subject that requires a lot of memorization of vocabulary words. Print the term or question on one side of an index card, print the definition or answer on the other side. Use different colors for each side. Start making the cards at the beginning of the unit. Just simply writing the data onto the cards helps to reinforce the material. Look at the cards yourself, get help from a parent or sibling. Best yet, work with a friend that has the same teacher. While working with someone, schemes can be developed to help learn and remember the difficult terms and concepts (you want the material in your long-term memory). Learning and remembering dramatically increases when you explain the term or concept to someone (study tip). Do this with your study buddy. Choose a study buddy that will be an asset to staying focused on the task of exam preparation. Remember, you can never be too prepared for your exam. Over study!
All of us are very busy, always on the go. If you're riding in the car with the family going to dinner, or you're on the bus going to school or to an activity, keep your notes or flash cards in your pocket, pull them out for a quick review session. Boring date ... pull out the notes ...
Reading it, writing it, hearing it, and talking about it, different students have different learning styles and one of these will work best for you. As you start your high school studies, experiment with different methods of learning. You will find a system that is best for you.
It is time to focus on the test, give the test a quick overview. What kind of questions are on the test? Multiple choice? Fill in the blank? True/False? Essay? Try to anticipate the type of questions that will be on the test. Glance at the time, don't spend so much time on any one question that you can't finish in the allotted time. Most teachers will not give you the opportunity to finish at a later time.
Pick a section and go to work. Answer the easier questions first and come back to the more difficult questions that you may not be quite sure about how to answer.
Multiple choice questions - Read all the choices carefully and pick the best choice. If you aren't sure of the correct answer, use what you do know to eliminate incorrect choices to enhance your chances of picking the right one.
True/False - Look at every word and work through the statement. These types of questions can be especially tricky.
Fill in the blank - Either you know it or you don't. This type of question requires a lot more study time because the right answer is not there. Flash cards is the best method to prepare for a fill-in-the-blank exam.
Short answer essay questions - These questions usually require 1 to 4 or 5 complete sentences in a single paragraph. Jot down a few key words, organize your thoughts and write down your answer. Be sure to cover all parts of the question.
Long answer essay questions - Answer these questions with a minimum of three paragraphs. The first paragraph is your introduction with a topic sentence. It will be a lead-in into the main body of the essay. The next several paragraphs will demonstrate your knowledge of the subject. In these paragraphs you will state the facts and perform your analysis. Using examples is a great way to support your answer/analysis. The last paragraph is your conclusion. Make your concluding statements in this paragraph. For this type of question, organize an outline before you start writing. Answer all parts of the question with complete sentences.
Are you finished? Don't blast through the test as fast as you can just to get it over with. Tests count a major portion of your grade in your classes. Go through the test again to see if there is something you forgot or a question you overlooked. Think carefully about changing the answer of a question, especially multiple choice questions. Most times your first choice is the correct choice. Every answer counts, especially correct ones!
* "We will be the last one here so everyone has a chance to visit with us." This is the work ethic of the Texas A&M admissions officers at college night. If it were not for this, I would not have had the opportunity to chat with them.