Back-to-School Time: 12 Study Tips for Success in the New Year
Try these study tips and get the brain boost you need
By Ralph Hardin
We’re a few days into the 2018-2019 school year, and by now, hopefully the kids have figured out where their teacher’s room is, learned their locker combinations, and gotten back on the “school’s in” bedtime schedule.
But with those old routines come some old habits, especially when it comes to studying and doing homework. Well, students, with the new year, now is the time to break out of your same-old homework habits.
The experts at the Princeton Review have compiled a list of 12 Back-to-School Study Tips that parents and students from pre-K to college can use to maximize learning and minimize frustration this school year.
1. Change up your study space.
A clean 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 students a change of scenery which can prompt their brains to retain information better.
2. Use a school planner.
Keeping a calendar helps you plan ahead — but students these days have more going on than just homework assignments! Make sure you’re keeping track of sports, band or other extracurricular activities.
Older students will want to plan school assignments around, work, ACT dates and social commitments.
3. Start small on large projects.
If there’s a big assignment looming, like a research paper, keep students motivated to complete a piece of the project every day. Write one paragraph each night, or work five algebra problems from your problem set at a time, and then take a break.
4. Stay 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.
5. Get into a routine.
When is the best time to focus on homework and other assignments? Find the time of day that works best for your family. While this can change from day-today, depending on your schedule, having a designated “homework time” makes planning easier and develops healthy habits.
6. Limit screen time.
A study on workplace distractions found that it takes workers an average of 15 minutes to return to what they were working on preinterruption. The same holds true for school work.
Whether it’s turning off the TV, closing the laptop or putting down the cell phone, getting your student’s eyes off the screen helps them concentrate on the homework tasks at hand.
7. Get real.
When you’re looking at the homework you have to get done tonight, be realistic about how long things actually take. Gauging that reading a history chapter will take an hour and writing a response will take another 30 minutes, for example, will help you plan how you spend your time.
8. Use class time wisely.
Is your teacher finished lecturing, but you still have 10 minutes of class left?
Get a jump on your chemistry homework while it’s still fresh in your mind. Or use the time to ask your teacher about concepts that were fuzzy the first time.
9. Review material each night to make sure you've got it.
Take some time each day to go over material for upcoming quizzes and tests. Parents or siblings can help with reviews. Verbally going over questions and answers aloud can often trigger better retention.
10. Don’t let a bad grade keep you down.
A rough start to the semester doesn’t have to sink your GPA. These days, grades can usually be tracked online through the school. Parents may want to find a tutor for subjects in which students are struggling. Teachers will usually offer to spend extra time with students who request additional instruction time.
11. Make a friend in every class.
Find a few people you can contact from each of your classes if you have a homework question or had to miss class (and do the same for them!). Then when it comes time to study for exams, you'll already have a study group.
12. Don’t overload. It’s important to find a balance in life for school and other interests. Sports, music, work and other outof- class activities can easily overwhelm a student trying to stay on top of school work. Know how much is too much and when to say a student has too much on his or her plate.
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