Student reading a book and taking notes

Study Effectively: Advice From a BCA Senior

Study Effectively: Advice From a BCA Senior

School can be a challenge for even the brightest of students. As a senior at Bergen County Academies, I’ve learned that keeping up with coursework often requires a tremendous amount of effort. After all, it’s not always easy to balance work between so many classes at the same time, especially those as different from each other as English and math, or history and physics. 

But with the right mindset and study habits, anyone can improve their grades and unlock their academic potential. Here are 7 tips (based on experience) that will help you ace the school year!

1. Study with Others

Don’t struggle alone! If you ever find yourself confused about a problem or concept, don’t be afraid to ask your peers. And in the age of social media, doing so has never been easier.

Simply reach out and create a group chat with others in your class as a question-and-answer forum. On the weekends, try to meet up with some people for a study session at a local library or Starbucks. It’s great to be part of a group of friends who can help each other with schoolwork and encourage each other to improve. 

2. Make a Schedule

Let’s face it: most people procrastinate. The ones who don’t are typically the highest achievers in school and in whatever field they eventually decide to pursue.

Use a planner to keep a record of homework and important events for each day. List all of your due dates for tests and long-term projects on a calendar. Create a daily schedule by designating specific times of each day to different tasks. It’s perfectly fine to relax and take breaks, but just make sure you’re being productive for most of the day. 

3. Ask and Answer Questions

Almost all teachers will tell you that the most successful students are the ones who ask the most questions. Be inquisitive! Most teachers are more than happy to answer your questions and clarify confusing concepts for you. If you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to go for extra help during office hours or seek outside tutoring help.

In class, also make sure to participate in discussions and stay involved as much as possible. Doing so will ensure that you don’t lose focus or interest during the lesson, so you’ll be able to remember and understand concepts better. 

4. Practice Makes Perfect

The key to scoring well on difficult assessments is knowing how to think critically and problem-solve, rather than just memorizing and regurgitating information.

In studying for a difficult test, begin by reading over your notes to make sure you’re familiar with the material covered in class. Next, make a study guide of the key concepts and re-explain them to yourself or someone else to ensure that you fully understand them. Finally and most importantly, make sure you spend enough time solving practice problems.

Find a relevant set of questions from your textbook or the internet and try to complete them within a time limit. Simulating exam conditions will help you become more comfortable with general test-taking environments, a skill that will carry over into high school, college, and beyond. 

5. Don’t Cram the Night Before

Right before the day of an important exam or presentation, don’t burn the midnight oil to cram! A few extra hours of sleep is more beneficial than a stressful late-night study session (which may in turn, even cause you to not sleep well).

Always try to begin studying a few days before the exam, perhaps in smaller time intervals. Once you have a solid understanding of the material, doing a general review on the night before will surely help. But try not to procrastinate and save everything for the last minute. For more insight into how to break bad studying habits, read this blog.

6. Study Ahead of Time

If you’ve been following the previous four tips, you should be keeping up in your classes and on top of things for the most part. That’s great!

Now, try to go beyond by spending some time anticipating and preparing for future lessons. Read ahead in your textbook or find online courses to help. Staying ahead of the curve will make the rest of the year so much more effortless. And perhaps studying advanced material will even inspire more interest in the topic at hand. 

7. Lastly, Have a Positive Mindset

Attitude is everything when it comes to academics. Those who claim to hate school and complain about how classes are useless typically happen to score the lowest. The best students, on the other hand, are the ones who are inquisitive and genuinely excited to learn something new each day.

After all, life is all about the pursuit of knowledge. We live in a day and age with more educational opportunities than ever before in history, so try to be appreciative and embrace the journey!

To Sum it Up

If you struggle with studying, I recommend starting off with these seven tips to get you on track. Don’t forget — studying is not a talent. Studying is a skill that can be acquired when the right kind of time and effort are committed by the student. Wherever you are in your school career, it’s never too late to establish good study habits. Don’t ever think that it’s “not for me”!

After all, lifelong learning is essential in the fast-paced world we now live in. Following these studying tips will not only help you achieve success in school, but also foster positive habits that will help you live a productive lifestyle overall.

Good luck to you!

Applying to BCA? MEK’s 25-year BCA Prep program has consistently guided students toward acceptance into BCA. In 2022, 1 in 5 newly admitted BCA students were an MEK student!

Alex W.

Alex W. is an alumni of MEK Review's BCA Prep and SAT Prep programs. He also graduated from the prestigious Bergen County Academies in the Academy for the Advancement of Science and Technology (AAST). Currently, he is pursing a STEM degree at the University of Michigan - Ann Arbor.


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