Saturday, January 27, 2018

How to Actually Study

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By: Avery B.
     “Don’t forget to study for your test!” Those seven words seem to be every teacher’s favorite phrase, and I guarantee you’re going to hear it sometime this school year. But how do you actually study? Many classes never show you how, counting on you to just instinctively know how to be ready for a test. This leaves many students stumbling around in the dark, hoping that rereading their notes for the 50th time will get them a 100%. Never fear, the Lime Green Giraffe is here! We’ve compiled a guide of the best study tips and tricks to help you ace this school year and let you be the most successful student you can be.  First off, the goal of studying isn’t to cram all night just to get a good grade on a test the next day. Rather, it’s to make sure you truly understand the information you need to know. As you get into middle school and especially in high school, many of the concepts you are tested on are connected. That’s why it’s important to put the time in to understand the material now, so you don’t have more problems further down the road.  Before you ever crack open a textbook or beginning leafing through your notes, it’s important to make sure that your study space is prepared. Eat a little something before your study session, have a drink nearby, check that all the supplies you need is nearby. Don’t give yourself any reason to get up and wander off, as that will break your concentration and won’t help you study to your best ability. If you need to, put on music or ambient sound in the background, whatever will help you focus best. Another important thing is to remove all distractions, especially your phone and the internet. The pull of social media is hard to resist, we all get it, but soon five minutes has turned into an hour and you’ve lost all the time you could’ve been using to ace that math test. One of the best policies is to turn your phone on do not disturb and place it in a separate area altogether. Out of sight, out of mind! If you’re struggling to remove yourself from distractions, you could even use them as a reward, such as a five-minute break for every 30 minutes of homework. Warning – this only works if you hold yourself to it. It could quickly change back into a distraction! 

      It’s crucial to keep track of your assignments and tests to make sure you’re prepared and turn everything in on time. Some people like using agendas and planners, others use physical or digital calendars, and some students even use reminders on their phone. Find what works for you and stick to it. Whenever you see that a test or quiz is coming up, it’s better to start studying a few days or even a week in advance. This will give you time to make sure you fully understand the information, instead of cramming everything at the last minute. It will also make you more confident and less stressed going into the assessment, which is always a plus! Also, studying in small increments, such as 45 minutes to an hour, will help you remain focused without melting your brain. Pulling all-nighters or several hour study sessions will only make your brain tired and listless, which isn’t helpful when you are trying to prepare for a test.  Alright, now the stuff I know everyone is eager to hear – the actual strategies for studying! Now, not everything works the same for everyone, but these are a few effective ways to study that many students find useful. One of the best go-to study habits is making flashcards, whether physical or digital. They’re especially helpful with vocabulary. Not only can you use the flashcards you make to repeatedly practice, but by making the flashcards you are also going over your notes and refreshing your mind. Another strategy is creating a study guide or retaking notes to review the material you need to learn. There have been several published studies citing that physically writing information is one of the best ways to remember it.   In addition to flashcards or rewriting your notes, one of the most valuable things to do is to take practice quizzes or even do practice problems. This makes sure that you fully understand the concepts and haven’t just memorized them. Especially in terms of math and foreign language – not all the problems will always have the same format, so you need to be able to apply what you learn in a variety of situations. It’s easy to simply google practice problems or quizzes, and even if you only spend a short amount of time on it, it’s incredibly useful.  Another way to study is to have a study session with some of your friends. Youcan quiz each other, do practice problems together, and discuss concepts you’re confused with. However, be careful that they don’t become another distraction! Make sure you will actually get work done or else it won’t be a smart use of your time.

     The best policy to remember is if you are confused, go ahead and ask for help. You can contact friends, older students, teachers, or even find instructional videos online. As a bonus, most teachers see students who ask for help and put in extra work as extremely dedicated and hard-working. It’s never a bad thing to get on a teacher’s good side!  Remember, none of these tips will be useful unless you are motivated. Sure, outside pressure from your parents, teachers, and even classmates can encourage you to study, but if you don’t care, it’s not going to matter what you do. It’s crucial to be invested in your own success, no one can take your tests for you!   I hope you find some of these tips helpful. School can be overwhelming for even the most organized and prepared students. However, armed with your expert study habits, I just know you’re going to do great! 

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