School is in session, and that means homework!
Sometimes school comes easily, and sometimes you have to work at it...
Ms. Bethany to the rescue!!! So pull out those spirals, multicolored pens, and highlighters, because I'm going to teach you how to study (spoiler alert: it's not very fun, but it will make your school life easier).
Before we get started, storytime!
I am not naturally smart. School was pretty easy for me until I got to high school, and then my friends seemed to just "get it" without paying super close attention or spending a lot of time on homework. But I had to. Math, especially, didn't come easily to me. And I hated English class despite reading. I /really/ didn't understand how the teacher read a paragraph and seemed to get something different from what the words on the page said. But then I had a wonderful teacher for pre-AP World History in 10th grade, and she required that we read the history textbook (gasp!) at home and take notes. She would read our notes (homework) and give us feedback on them. Over the following six years of high school and college, I honed those note-taking skills and became an expert study-er that I was able to graduate in the top 10% in high school and graduate from college with honors.
Come closer, and I share my secrets with you!
Step 1: Actually read the assignments (textbook, articles, English-class novel, whatever it may be). Yes, it can be boring.
Reward yourself if it's super terrible! For example, if you have to read 10 chapters of A Tale of Two Cities, after every other chapter, watch 30 minutes of tv or scroll through Reddit for 10 minutes or take an ice cream break or whatever makes you happy.
And don't wait until the night before its due to get started. If you have one week to read those ten chapters, break it up! Read two chapters a night, AND that leaves an extra night to go to your bestie's basketball game AND an extra night off as "insurance" in case that one teacher gives you a mountain of homework due the next day.
During Step 1: Take summary notes of whatever you're reading. Take summary notes in one color ink throughout the entire year. Then, when your teacher is lecturing, add to your summary notes by highlighting what the teacher says, especially when they talk about it a lot. In a different color ink than what you took your summary notes in (I like to use a fun color, like purple or green) add in the margins and in other white space tidbits that your professor goes into more detail than what you have written in your summary notes. Add these tidbits in your summary notes where you've already written about what the textbook says about that topics.
Using a color of ink that is different from what you took your summary notes in will give you a visual clue that it’s important because what the professor discusses in class is generally important to the overall objective of the lesson.
When you actually summarize what you’re reading, you’re synthesizing the content, which means you’re engaging with it (rather than just copying it word-for-word). And when you engage with the information, you’re more likely to internalize it and remember it.
Step 2: By going to class with the textbook assignment already read, you’re, essentially, getting a review of something you’ve already learned. And if your teacher starts talking about something else, you’ll have more brain “capacity” to focus on just the new information than trying to take in /all/ the information they are sharing.
Step 3: Study for the test by going back and re-reading your summary notes instead of having to worry about reading the whole textbook the night before.
Everyone takes notes a little differently, so try different things until you figure out what works for you!
Teaching someone else the content is also a really good way to make sure you understand. If you have a friend or peer in a class, ask if you can compare and contrast notes --like talk it out with them, don’t just swap notebooks and see what they wrote. If that’s not the case, ask a roommate, family member, friend, or even a pet! if you can explain xyz concept to them. By saying it aloud, you’re having to think about how you’ve internalized the information so that you can share it with someone else in a way that they can understand. (This also works when you’re proofreading an essay you’ve written!).
And, lastly, actually keep up with the reading and homework throughout the term. Don’t leave everything to the last minute. When you do a little bit every day, you’re not overwhelming your brain, and you have to concentrate on remembering it over the term, so you’re also more likely to remember it long-term. If the class is an elective, then long-term remembering isn’t super important, but if you’re taking a Shakespeare class and you’re going to be a high school English teacher, you’ll want to remember it all (or be able to reference it at the drop of a hat, which good summary notes can help you do!)
Good luck! If you need more help, ask for Ms. Bethany and the Information Desk, and she can help you became an expert study-er!