Get studying tips

Get into a routine.

When will you make the time to do your homework every day? Find the time of day that works best for you (this can change day-to-day, depending on your schedule!), and make a plan to hit the books.

School supplies (alone) don’t make you organized.

Come up with a system and keep to it. Do you keep one big binder for all your classes with color-coded tabs? Or do you prefer to keep separate notebooks and a folder for handouts? Keep the system simple—if it’s too fancy or complicated, you are less likely to keep it up everyday.

Start small.

If you’ve got a big assignment looming, like a research paper, stay motivated by completing a piece of the project every few days. Write one paragraph each night. Or, do 5 algebra problems from your problem set at a time, and then take a break.

Track more than HW in your school planner.

Keeping a calendar helps you plan ahead—but you’ve got more going on than just homework assignments! Make sure you’re marking your extracurricular, work, and social commitments, too. (Tests, band practice, away games, SAT dates, half-days and holidays are just a few examples of reminders for your planner.)

You don’t need ONE study space.

A well-stocked desk in a quiet place at home is key, but sometimes you need variety. Coffee shops, libraries, parks, or even just moving to the kitchen table will give you a change of scenery which can prompt your brain to retain information better.

Make sure you know the practical details about your exam

For example:

  • Where will it be held?
  • What time does it start, and when do you need to get there?
  • If you have to travel some distance, what time will you need to leave?
  • What do you need to take with you? Also make sure that you know what to do if something goes wrong. You might, for example, be ill on the day, or get held up on the journey, and you need to know who to contact.

Know your exam

Make sure that you have looked at past papers. This will ensure that you are prepared for the type of exam you will be sitting, whether multiple choice, short answer or essay. Know what you are expected to do: for example, how many questions from each section will you have to answer? Of course, you still have to read the instructions on the paper itself, and make sure that they are the same, but this will help you to feel comfortable with what will be expected. Even more important, make sure that you have practised the right type of questions, and know what will be expected of a ‘good’ and ‘bad’ answer.

Take regular breaks

You cannot work solidly for 8 hours. In fact, it is very hard to work in a concentrated way for more than about an hour. You may find that some days you can do more, but mostly, one to one and a half hours is likely to be your limit before you need a break. Take 10 minutes periodically to go and get a drink and walk around a bit.

Vary your locations

Changing the location in which you study—for example, your room, the library at school or college, a quiet café, or someone else’s house—is also good. Research has found that this can help to improve memory retention. It is not clear why, but the suggestion is that the brain makes connections between the background and what you are studying: more different connections makes things easier to remember.

Learn to Say ‘No

Sometimes you need to just say, “No.” This could be in response to new projects that you don’t have the time or energy to complete. This will more commonly be in response to friends and family who want you to do non-urgent and non-important things with them. Most importantly, you’ll need to learn how to say no to yourself. This will be the case when you get the sudden urges to drop all of your work and go play some video games. You’ll have to learn to say no to yourself so that you can stay focused on what’s important.