Concepts like combing your hair and standing in a line to go to lunch were very foreign to me when I started school. I remember being a slow reader and having a hard time paying attention.
By the time I entered high school, I was not only doing well but also taking honors courses. If I can do well in school, then there’s hope for you, too. Let me share some tips that worked for me.
Adjust – After your first round of tests, try to figure out where the test questions came from. Do you need to take better notes? Do you need to read the book more closely? Adjust your study approach.
Behave – Many people choose education as a career because they want to change the world for the better. They genuinely want you to reach your potential. Don’t ruin that for them. More importantly, don’t ruin your opportunity.
Clues – Think of your toughest classes as role playing games. Ask the teacher and more experienced players what will be on the final challenge (exam). Look for clues in the teacher’s lessons. Study the grade-level curriculum and textbook. No cheat codes!
Downtime – Use the downtime before a teacher begins class to quickly review the homework or reading assignment to remind yourself of key points. You don’t want to be caught off guard.
Exhibits – Establishing connections between the classroom and real world helps the material sink in. Consider going to an art gallery, history museum or science exhibit to enhance what your teacher tells you.
Flashcards – Making flashcards helps when you have to memorize vocabulary or dates. It’s more effective than just going down a list, because the questions come at you randomly.
Guidance counselors – Get to know your guidance counselors. They can point out good scholarship opportunities.
Help – When a teacher offers extra help before or after school, it doesn’t hurt to put in the extra practice. In these one-on-one sessions, the teacher can adjust a lesson based on what confuses you.
Interests – Take note of the topics that interest you most in class. They could give you a glimpse into your future.
Jump ahead – If you dread the teacher calling on you in the middle of class, then I recommend reading ahead in the textbook. Having a little bit of background heading into a new chapter also helps you understand concepts better.
Keep focused – It’s easy to let your mind race and wander in class, but you’ve got to stay focused on what the teacher is saying. Let your mind wander when on the school bus or working out.
Limitations – Knowing your limitations can help you make adjustments in your study habits to get better grades. If you get distracted easily, you may want to sit up front. If you have a bad memory, study a little bit every day.
Mood – Need a brain hack to get you in the mood to study or write a paper. Listen to a song that gets you in a flow. I’ve written many stories listening to Bear McCreary’s “Passacaglia.”
Notes – Taking notes is one way to stay actively engaged during lectures (and avoid falling asleep). It wouldn’t hurt to ask teachers for tips on how to take more effective notes in their classes.
Organize – Take a few minutes every Sunday night to reorganize your backpack. Organize loose sheets of paper so you’re not fumbling around trying to find something.
Projects – If you can master the art of breaking a large class project into pieces and working on a little bit of the project each day, you will experience less stress and have more time to hang out with friends the night or weekend before it’s due.
Questions – Don’t settle for memorizing material for the test. Try to understand it. If you have a question, there’s a good chance someone else has the same question. But if you’re shy, try email or ask between classes.
Record – If you have trouble focusing in a lecture-based class, you may want to record the teacher (with their permission). Treat the lecture like a podcast. Listen to it on the ride home or when you’re doing homework.
Search – You may not have all the answers, but having the ability to find them can be just as effective in the real world. Know how to use search engines like Google, as well as social media sites, to find information.
Tests – Taking a sample SAT test may prevent you from feeling intimidated when you first encounter one of those bulky word problems on the real thing.
Unstoppable – Superheroes face hardship at the beginning of the film. Show the teacher you won’t let a low test score stop you. Become unstoppable by studying harder, paying better attention, participating in class and taking advantage of extra tutoring.
Visualize – Visualize how your newfound knowledge in math, computer applications or that business elective could help you in your desired career path.
Why – Sometimes understanding why something is being taught and how it relates to our lives gives a lesson more significance. Just make sure you ask this in a respectful and sincere way so teachers don’t assume you’re trying to one-up them.
Xeriscape – I don’t know what this means either. Don’t gloss over weird words. Look them up.
YouTube – Find a YouTube video that brings physics down to earth or makes subjects you’re struggling with easier to learn. Motivational videos could help you get in the right mindset to study or write.
Zeal – You either see the glass half empty or half full. Try to view school as free training opportunity to better prepare you to make your parents proud, prove the haters wrong and live a more fulfilling life.