Finding the best study methods in high school that work for you can make your life less stressful and help you to improve your results. Here’s a list of 9 smart study tips to try right now.
Study the day before a test of exam of course; you can even go through your flash cards just before you head in to sit your test.
Just don’t leave all of your studying until the last minute.
It could be a great investment of your time to work on a study schedule where you go over material you’ve learned at different times throughout the year. It doesn’t have to be hard – each time you learn a new topic, put a reminder in your calendar to go over the material 4, 8, 12 and 16 weeks down the track, for example.
If you read something, you’ll learn a bit about it, and you might even remember some of that information for a short time too.
If you re-read that material, you might remember a little bit more.
For most of us, that won’t be enough to consolidate our learning. Imagine looking at a car engine and a mechanic pointing out all the parts; it might make sense and you could walk away thinking you know what’s what. But imagine if you actually built an engine from start to finish; you’d certainly know a whole lot more.
To achieve a deeper level of understanding with studying, research says we should answer questions. This study tip allows you to test and apply your knowledge more than simply just reading.
Perhaps you could answer old exam questions, write your own questions and swap them with a study buddy, or ask your teacher to write you a few questions based on the topics you’ve covered.
It’ll also show you where you need to do a bit more learning before you go into your exams.
Practise makes perfect
Okay, not necessarily perfect, but better.
Say you wanted to play the guitar. You were taught everything by reading and listening to other people telling you how to play it. Then at your first concert you’re expected to pick up a guitar for the very first time and play it perfectly – sounds ridiculous right? Realistically you need to practise what you’ve learnt lots of times before you’re expected to get it right.
Why not treat your tests and exams the same way? Before you get in there you could:
- Incorporate past practise tests into your study schedule
- Write your own flash cards with questions on one side and answers on the other
- Test yourself often, or have other people test you on the information
- Ask your teachers to write you some example exam questions too
Mixing it up can boost your learning
When you’re planning a study schedule, it certainly makes life easier to put in a block to study each topic you’ve learned and leave it at that.
But imagine that you’re learning to play tennis, and for the first 4 months all you do is learn forehand. Next you learn backhand. Then finally you’re onto learning volleys. This style of learning is called “blocking” because you learn in large blocks. Sure, you’ll get all the skills, but a) it could be kind of boring and b) it’s not reflective of what an actual tennis game involves.
There’s another learning technique called “interleaving”, which lots of studies have suggested can produce much better and longer-lasting benefits. This is where you switch between related topics, training your brain to not only learn the information but making connections between it all too.
Not convinced? In one study, Year 7 students were given homework sheets using either the blocking or interleaving methods. When they were tested one day later, the students trained with interleaving scored 25% better. When they were tested one month later, the interleaving advantage grew to a massive 76%.
So when you’re planning your study schedule (including your homework), you could try mixing things up a little to see if it helps you to study better too.
Mistakes can help you learn too
Everyone makes mistakes, especially when you’re learning new things.
You can turn your mistakes into a learning tool.
Want to know how?
- You could test yourself before you start revising. That way you’ll see how much knowledge you’ve retained and how much you’ve understood the topic. Then you can focus your revising on areas where you need the most help.
- Keep time in your study plan to go over material and check for mistakes. Understanding where you went wrong and how to make your answers right is a great way of focusing in on your problem areas.
- When you do homework, tests, or mock exams at school, go over any mistakes and see if you can get the right answers. Ask your teacher to check your answer over if you’re still not sure – and if you’re struggling, ask them to help you out.
Make it visual
Textbooks and notes – all those words. Sometimes they just make your eyes swim, and you lose concentration as well as understanding.
You could try using the diagrams, graphs and other visual material as a basis for your revision. Then add notes or create your own visual aids to help you expand your learning.
You could even have a go at sketchnoting – and you don’t have to be great at drawing to have a go. Check out this video for some ideas on how to get started:
If you look at a long list of facts and figures and try to remember them all, it can be pretty tricky.
But if you dig a little deeper and give those facts and figures some more context, it could make them easier for you to remember later on.
The simplest way of doing this is to look at new information and ask questions about it. They don’t have to be lengthy or tricky questions to answer either. Check out this video for some examples of how to apply this study technique:
Think of examples
Combining new information with things that you already know can increase your understanding, which means you’re learning better, but it also means you’re more likely to remember it for longer too.
Using examples is another way of elaborating on information and helps you to understand and retain it more successfully.
If you’re struggling to come up with your own examples, imagine you are explaining the topic to a five-year-old using explanations that they could identify with. That could help you to get the ball rolling.
Use apps as study aids
You could look at apps that might help you to study – it’s best not to rely on them altogether, but maybe you could use them to help you change things up, provide quizzes, or test you on your knowledge.
Here’s a few that could help you to get started:
- Khan Academy
- ARC Maths App
- Accomplish Reading
(It’s a good idea to speak to your parents and let them know about the apps you’re using too).
Find more Study Tips
If you’d like to keep searching for new study tips and ideas, check out our dedicated Study Tips page.