Study Habits to Get the Most Out of Your Classes
We’ve officially made it through the first two months of the new school year. But November marks the end of the first grading quarter for most schools. Usually the first report card of the school year boasts high grades for students because they come into September with motivation and energy to put their best foot forward when it comes to their study habits. Where students falter is during the second marking period.
Usually during the second marking period students’ grades tend to suffer. This is due to a combination of the changing seasons, longer breaks from school that interrupt academic momentum, and loosening up on study habits that got them good grades during the first cycle.
But the second marking period is not the time to dial down the intensity of your studies, especially if you’re planning on applying to top colleges and taking tough admissions tests like the SAT.
What can you do to master key concepts in your classes, build confidence in your studies, and beat the second cycle slump?
Read on to find out!
1. Practice the skills you learn in class at home.
You might believe that attending class is enough, and that after the school day is over, you can put your books away until tomorrow. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
In order to understand course concepts sufficiently, you must review your notes and/or practice skills outside of school. You don’t need to be studying for hours on end. We recommend that you set aside 20 minutes every day of uninterrupted study time after school where you apply the strategies or concepts learned in your classes to practice materials. You should also take this time to review, rewrite, and annotate your notes.
Rewriting and annotating notes helps you better understand information in your own words and makes sense of difficult topics. Plus, you can keep track of any questions you have about anything you don’t understand in order to ask the teacher during the next class.
2. Annotate your texts.
And on the subject of annotating notes, you should annotate all texts you encounter, whether it’s a short story for your English class or a word problem for Math.
Again, the benefit of annotating a text is that you are able to make sense of difficult topics, so that you can more easily use the information present to write papers, solve problems, or perform experiments.
“Talking to the text” through annotation teaches you to make the distinction between essential and non-essential information. Also, interacting with the text helps you build analysis skills as you are making judgements and meaning of quotes, words, and passages based on your opinions. You learn to see connections between a variety of texts or concepts.
At this point in your academic career, you’ve probably had a lot of experience with annotating. But in case you need a refresher, here is our basic overview of what to look out for when annotating texts:
- Details that are important to the outcome of a text
- Any information in a text that is confusing or difficult to understand
- Quotes or passages that you have a question about
- New or challenging vocabulary
- Quotes or passages that elicit an emotion from you as the reader
3. Read, read, read.
Did you know that students who read just 20 minutes a day, outside of school hours, are exposed to 1.8 million words a year and, on average, score in the 90th percentile on standardized tests?
We know the obvious benefits of reading, from improved comprehension skills to a more robust vocabulary. But reading helps you build focus, creativity, and writing skills. And reading fiction, specifically, has been proven to build empathy. So, not only does reading improve your classroom skills and increase your likelihood to score well on tough admissions tests like the SAT, but it also aids in improving social skills as well.
Looking for something to read? MEK’s got you covered. Check out our specially curated reading list that will help you boost your reading skills and even prepare for the SAT!
4. Develop a strong relationship with writing.
For most students, writing feels like a daunting task, especially essay writing. But the more you practice writing, the stronger your skills become.
You should practice writing every day through a variety of mediums in order to become more comfortable. Some good ways of introducing daily writing are through journaling, free writing, and writing prompts. These practices help you find your voice by allowing you to write without the restrictions of writing rules, thus making writing accessible and building your confidence.
5. Use your teacher as a resource.
Teachers are some of the most underutilized resources in the classroom.
Utilizing your teacher as a resource goes beyond just asking for extra help after school. Teacher feedback is one of the best tools for improving your skills. Whenever you receive feedback on your work, you should make a point to revise your work based on the feedback. Then, ask your teacher if they can look over the revision. Feedback is useful because it is individualized to your specific needs and can give you important information on how to improve.
Your teacher can also give you specific resources, materials, and practice exercises that you can use during your independent study sessions outside of class.
Together, these steps will help you build strong study habits that will lead to improved test scores, top grades, and strong reading and writing skills.
If you’re looking for a customized plan and one-on-one support in reaching your academic goals, MEK has the programs to guide you through your journey.
This spring, we are offering SAT Prep, Advanced Placement, and High School Honors programs designed to help you ace your courses, prepare for tough exams, and master the skills that build academic confidence in the classroom and beyond.
Sign up for one of our SAT Practice Test Events to get started!
We look forward to hearing from you! Contact us today!