5 Study Skills High Schoolers Need to Ace Exams and Prepare for College!
1. Fortress of Focus
High school students that learn early how to protect their time and have boundaries around their study time have been super successful in their classes, and this good habit transfers to college with them. They may not be able to take their doggie to college with them, but they can take their fortress of focus! Daily, students (and adults!) should set aside a specific, purposeful, habitual time of day where almost nothing can interrupt their study time. Even if there is no test the next day, spend this time preparing for future exams. There is always a list to memorize or research to be done. This does away with cramming information into the brain just to do well on a test, it actually helps it to stick. If there is absolutely nothing that needs to be studied, this is an opportune time to listen to personal growth podcasts or read a book to better yourself. There will never be a lack of informative material to learn from in the world. The fortress must be distraction free. If phones are a distraction, this must be a phone-free time. If music helps, then add music to the fortress, but be honest and evaluate if it is actually helping you, or if you just are bored without it and it truly is a distraction. The student must decide for him or herself what a personal fortress looks like; for a fortress is for one person’s growth and betterment. And be non-metaphorical about it. Actually visualize walls around your study time, a full moat with no drawbridge; no one can interrupt your time, and you can’t get out of your study time. Embrace the solitude and learn!
Often in high school, there are 37 things to do after school and teachers don’t always communicate with one another; it will often happen that you head to baseball practice right after the bell rings, get home in time for dinner, and then have 5 tests to study for, on top of homework in 3 classes. This can be overwhelming, but the solution is available. Keep a planner and write down everything that comes up throughout the day. Baseball should already be pre-written in there, as well as any other obligations you already knew about, like asking your sweetie to prom! When the bell rings, take 3 minutes to open your day planner while standing at your locker, number the obligations in order of priority, and then follow that order, not moving to the next thing until the previous thing is checked off! How to decide what order the numbers should go? First, the classes with the lowest grades should have highest priority. Prom invitations can wait a few hours if you have a chem test to nail. If you have a 99% in English and a 75% in math, your English class should be studied for, but not more than or before math. Prioritize based on the results you need to achieve. If you are having a conflict with home matters and school, seek help from a parent. Parents need to help set a student up for success; if grandma’s 90th birthday party is Wednesday night, and you have a big test on Thursday the family needs to help on Monday and Tuesday night with studying or making the home a productive learning environment on those two days so you can hug grandma endlessly without worrying about being unprepared the next day.
3. Protect the Temple
Your body, you know, the one that houses your brain and vital learning organs, is the only one you’ve got! Physically pushing yourself to the limit and not providing your brain house with vital nutrients, water, and sleep is asking for a poor functioning physical environment. Eating too little, or too many processed foods, or foods full of sugar, or caffeinated drinks, or alcoholic beverages, all lead to slower and less clear brain function. Dehydrated brain and body cells are not receptive to new learning material because they go into freak out panic mode and work on just staying healthy. Same with less sleep. Your body will start to focus entirely on restoring itself if you deprive it of sleep and will stop seeking anything that is not rest. To be the best high school student, you must care for your physical self.
4. Arm Yourself With Knowledge
Look further than the book or the study guide that your teacher requires. The more you know about your exam or class content, the more knowledgable you will be. Your teacher is a source of content, and your own research is a source of content. Think bigger than the test. Dive below the surface of the basic information required of you and turn yourself into an expert on the content. Ask questions. Seek more. Think beyond the textbook. Train yourself to be a learner, not just a taker of tests. Entering college as a thinker will be forever beneficial to you.
5. Be In Control, Don’t Be Controlled
You are not a pawn in a game. You are the master of your day. Behave in a way that keeps you in control of your circumstance. Your teacher may assign an assignment or exam, but you are in control of how you approach and address the assignment. If you wait until the last minute to attack it, you will not be in control of it, but it will have you by the tail. Stay ahead of the race and keep your mind alert and ahead. This will help you determine how to balance everything else, and you will rarely have to pull all nighters or miss fun events if you are in the lead.