Study Skills & Tips

  • How well do you know yourself? 

    Think about your study habits as you answer these questions. 

    1.   What is the best time for me to study?  _________

    How much time do I spend studying right now?  ____________

     How much time do I need every day to study?   ____________

     Here’s how I can change my study time ______________________________________________


     2:  Where and how do I study now? 

          Quiet room _____   Radio on ______   TV on _______

          Take a break ______   I don’t take any breaks ________

          How would I study the best? 

          By myself in my room ______    Where the family can help ______    Where it’s quiet  _____ 

    Here’s how I can change my study habits ____________________________________________


    3:  What subjects are easy for me?  ______________________________________________

    What subjects are hardest or me? _____________________________________________

    Here’s what I can do to make my hardest subjects easier ________________________________


    4:   Do I use a calendar/planner to plan my study time?  _______

    Here’s what I can do to change ____________________________________________________


    5:   Do I ask for help when I need it?


    Here’s what I can do to change ____________________________________________________


     Organizing at Home

    Turn off the TV and turn on your thinking power!

     Choose a place to study

          Find a spot that’s comfortable

          Study in the same place everyday.

    Choose a time to study

          Pick a time when you’re most alert.

          Study EVERY DAY

    Plan how long to study

          Study at least 90 minutes every day.

          Study in short bursts, and then relax.

    Gather your equipment

          Get the supplies and references

          Keep your supplies in one place

          Make files of class work

    Find a Study Buddy

          Choose a friend or classmate to help you

          Ask for help when you need it: Parents, Teachers or Homework Hotline 

    Turn off the TV and Turn on your Thinking Power! 

          Lots of teens think they can play The Study Game with only a few minutes preparation. Or they put off homework till it’s too late, and then skip it completely.  Why? Television. Too much TV watching is a big problem for many students today.  It can keep even the brightest people from doing well in school.  Don’t kid yourself! You can’t do your best thinking with the TV on. If you try, you’ll pay the penalty in poorer work. It’s the biggest favor you can do…for you!

          Now that the TV’s off, what else can you do at home to prepare for better grades?


    Choose a Place to Study

          Find a spot that’s comfortable.  Music is okay-but only at a low level in the background.  Study in the same place every day. Get in condition and it’s easy to follow this new habit.


    Choose a Time to Study

          Pick a time when you’re most alert to study. Maybe you like to get your homework done as soon as you get home from school. Great! Maybe you’d rather relax for a while and study after dinner.  That’s fine too. The point is to choose a time, then make the most of it. Study every day. It’s the mental workout that keeps you in condition and on top of your game.

    Plan How Long to Study

          Set aside between 30 (5th grade) and 90 minutes (9th grade) of study time every day. You may need more time, depending on your classes.  Sometimes you’ll have to study longer because of papers, projects or tests. You may feel that others study much less. But others may not have your goal of getting great grades!

          Study in short bursts of about 20-30 minutes each.  You remember things best from the beginning and end of each study session.  So take breaks often to stretch, get a glass of water, a healthy snack, etc.  It helps relieve the ‘brain drain”. 


    Gather your Equipment

          No athlete functions without the right equipment. Get a dictionary, atlas, almanac, pens and pencils.  Get a typewriter if you can. Your parents may help with supplies. Check used bookstores and office supply stores for bargains. Keep all your supplies in one place where they’re ready to go to work. Make files. Don’t throw away any coursework until a class is over. Keep all returned homework, quizzes and other papers. Use this material for review before tests.


    Find a Study Buddy

          Choose a friend or classmate to help you with drills (language, vocabulary, etc.)

          Ask a classmate who gets good grades for help in a subject that’s hard for you. Exchange phone numbers so you can get assignments when you are out sick or need help on an assignment.

    Physical conditioning

          Eat balanced snacks

          Exercise every day

          Get plenty of sleep

    Visualize success. Think neat and complete

          Don’t rush

          Write clearly and accurately

    Do the hard stuff first.  Use problem-solving techniques.

          Understand what you’re supposed to do.

          Re-read all the instructions. Review class notes

          Say the problem out loud.

          Ask for help

    Mental conditioning

          Acronyms. Rhyming. Association. Repetition

          Lack of concentration can hurt your grades in many other areas of school besides reading. Is your mind wandering during class discussions – or worse yet, quizzes or tests? 

          It takes a lot of concentration to put your game plan into action. And doing better in school calls for some good strategic thinking. 

          The first step in improving concentration is getting in shape – and that means your mind and your body. With the right balance of mental and physical conditioning, you can perform at your best.

    Physical Conditioning

          Let’s look at the physical side first. Nutritious food, regular exercise and plenty of rest keep your body (and your brain!) in top shape.

          Don’t skip meals. Always eat breakfast, even it it’s just toast or fruit. It’s important to eat something. How can you do your best in class with an empty stomach and a brain that’s low on fuel?

          Don’t depend on sugar-loaded candy and soft drinks (refined carbohydrates) for energy when you’re tired. Switch to fruits, vegetables and whole grains (natural carbohydrates) for snacks and meals.

          Get some exercise every day. It relieves stress and makes your body function better…including your brain!

          Get plenty of sleep. If you’re sleepy in class, how much will you hear or remember? Plan to do your homework so you can get to bed early and feel rested in the morning.

    Mind Over Matter

          Positive thinking is a big part of conditioning too.  Keep your spirits up. Be enthusiastic.

          Practice seeing yourself turning in homework on time. Picture yourself passing a test or working an algebra problem with ease. See yourself winning that scholarship or award. Believe you can make the grade.

    Think Neat and Complete

          Don’t sabotage yourself by being careless or sloppy!  Rushing can cost you a penalty you’ll regret.

          Write clearly. A neatly written essay test usually gets a higher grade than the same test written sloppily.  Avoid messy cross-outs, margin scribbles, etc.

          Write numbers accurately and plainly in subjects like math. Line up columns when you copy a problem so you’ll get the right answer and your teacher can see it without having to guess!

    Try These Problem-Solving Techniques

          Be sure you understand what you’re supposed to do. (Here’s where writing your assignments can really pay off.)

          Re-read all instructions in your Assignment Log.

          Review class notes. Your teacher may have given you the formula or example you need to solve the problem.

          Say the problem out loud. Hearing and seeing a question or problem often helps clear the way to a solution. Try working the problem backward. Sometimes it helps to go back over every step [of a problem]. See if you left something out.

          Ask a parent or a study buddy for help if you still can’t solve the problem. Call a homework hotline if one’s available.  

    Use the SQ3R method


                Quickly skim the assignment

                Read headings, captions, etc.


                Ask what you want to learn.

                Ask questions teachers might ask.


                Stay busy. Take notes

                Look up words you don’t know


                Answer the question you asked.

                Say the answers out loud.


                Look over what you’ve read

                Relate class notes to your reading


          Reading takes up more homework time than anything else.  Bo-o-oring, some people might say.  Sure, if we’re just moving our eyes back and forth across the page, doing nothing else.  No wonder lots of people fall asleep, even with a good book! But reading doesn’t have to be tedious or dull.

          What can you do? Try active reading.

          Active reading gives you the edge.  It keeps you alert and helps even not-so-favorite subjects come alive. So you can step up to the challenge when it’s time to right a paper or take a test and give it everything you got.

          The key is concentration. This means focusing on what you’re doing, getting “inside” the material you’re reading, keeping your eyes on the ball.


    Your textbook: The Silent Coach

          What’s in a textbook? Take a look. Your book is one of your most important study aids. So spend a few minutes getting acquainted with the books for all your subjects.  It’s well worth your time.

          Title Page:  What is this book about?

          Introduction: This is a note to readers. Skim this section. What do the editors say about using this book?

          Table of contents: How is the book organized? What’s in it? What part are you most interested in?

          Index: The quickest way to find the page where your book discusses a specific event, person, place, idea, organization, etc.

          Glossary or vocabulary: This is the first place to look for the definition of an unfamiliar word used in your book. If you don’t find it here, go to a dictionary.

          Appendixes. Maps, charts, lists:  See what’s there. These special tools at the back of your book can be a big help as you study.

    Warm Up Before Reading

          Your brain is an organ just like your heart and it works best after a warm-up. So when you’ve looked over your book and you’re about to start reading, try this:  Think about the subject you’re getting ready to read.

          Visualize. Studying about the Civil War? Imagine what the soldiers and civilians wore. Picture what you already know about that period. Now you’re ready to step up to serve with a tried-and-true method of active reading.


    Don’t Like to Read?

          Get ready to change that! It’s easy to make reading interesting and fun when you read about what you like.

          What are your hobbies? Do you enjoy football or fashion? Rock music or rock collecting? Camping or cross-stitch? Whatever your interests, there’s plenty of reading material available. 

          Go to the library. Check your local magazine stand or bookstore. Borrow reading materials from friends. Read Newspapers, Magazines and Books!

          You can often use your “fun” reading for schoolwork too. The articles you’ve been reading about your favorite quarterback could be the basis of an essay for language arts. The historical novel you’re reading could be the subject for a social studies book report.


    Everything You Read Makes You a Better Reader! 

    7 Ways to Organize Your Materials


    Have you ever left your homework at school?  Have you ever lost a book?  Well, keep reading:  You’ll find seven helpful ways to organize your materials…so you don’t forget! 


    1. Use an assignment notebook?  Jaguar Planner? It’s great for:
      • Writing down each homework assignment
      • Remembering which books to take home
      • Remembering to do all your homework


    Choose a color or special design for each subject. Use one color or design on each notebook, textbook, and work book for that subject. Then, all your books for English will look the same; all your books for Math will look the same, etc.

  • If you choose a special design for each subject, cover your textbook with brown grocery bag paper.  Draw the design for that subject on the cover.  Also write the subject name on the brown cover, such as ENGLISH.  Draw the same design on that subjects’ notebook and workbook and label them.
  • If you choose a color for each subject, cover your textbook and workbook with colored paper.  Make your notebook the same color.  If you don’t have colored paper, use brown grocery bag paper.  Then, use markers to give you the color you chose.   

    1. Do you keep your papers your teachers return to you?  These papers can really help you.
      • They can help you review for tests.
      • They can help you write reports.
      • Put them in subject folders that are coded the same as your other books.
      • File the papers by date.


    7 Ways to Organize Your Materials (cont.)



    1. How do you carry your books to school?
      • If you use a back pack or book bag, clean it out every day.  That way, you won’t lose your books or your homework.
      • If you don’t use a backpack, make sure loose papers are in your notebooks before you go outside.  Books are heavy enough without chasing after papers in the wind!


    1. Do you have identifying information on your books?
      • Label your books, notebooks, workbooks, assignment notebook, folders, and your backpack with:

    a)     Your name

    b)     The name of the book

    c)     The name of the class

    d)     The period you have the class

    e)     The name of the teacher

    f)      The room where the class meets.


    1. Can you find things in your locker?  The codes on your books will help.  Here are some other tips. 
      • Keep your locker as neat as possibly by throwing junk away each day.
      • If you share a locker, decide which part is yours.  Then you can keep all your books and materials together.
      • Use grocery bags, plastic bags, or small cartons to organize your part of a shared locker. 
      • Loose paper, pens, books, and folders can turn your locker into a jumbled mess