Tips on How To Become a Better Studier

Become a Better Studier

Guest blog post by Emily R.

Have you ever studied so hard for an exam, but still didn’t receive the grade that you wanted? Have you stressed out and crammed for an exam the night before? I think most of us have. However, I have some tips and tricks for you that may transform your study habits and may even cause an improvement in your test grades!

Tip #1: Studying starts in class
While sitting in class, be sure to ask questions about anything that seems confusing. If asking questions in front of your class seems a little too daunting, feel free to stay after class and ask the teacher before leaving. When you understand a topic in class, it will be easier to remember it outside of class. Try to focus on everything that the teacher is saying and take down great notes. If it helps, you can put your notes into your own words before writing them down. This can help you understand what the topic is about when you review it a couple of weeks later.

Pro Tip: Bring a highlighter or a bright colored pen and star or circle any piece of information that the teacher says is important, or that may be on the test. This will help you prioritize which sections to study when it comes time to review.

Tip #2: Figure out what helps you learn
There are dozens of different studying techniques; however, not all of them work for everybody. For example, some students have blank notebooks at home and use them to rewrite the notes they took earlier that day in class. This not only enforces the material, but it also shows you clearly what you remember and what you need to work on. Another great studying technique is to make index cards with all of the information you need to know. This is because quizzing yourself is a very efficient studying technique. You can also try making an outline of your textbook readings, watching online videos, or even buying an audio book about the topic and listening to it. Try out some techniques and find which one fits you the best.

Pro Tip: To make a sufficient outline, you can read your notes and the textbook and write down general ideas about each topic with bullet points of anything you deem important. Then, underneath each section, write down a few practice questions regarding the topic of the section. This will help you see how the things you are reading about, are applied to possible test questions.

Tip #3: Make practice tests
Throughout my college career, nothing has helped me more in figuring out exactly what I knew and what I didn’t know, than self-made practice tests. All you need to do is create a practice test out of any sample questions, homework problems, or textbook questions, and put them on some paper without the answers. You can make a couple of tests with different questions in a random order, and then, once you feel confident in the amount you’ve studied, take a practice test and see what you need to work on. Any of the questions you get wrong, you can put on a final practice test to see if you have mastered them by the end of your studying.

Tip #4: Give yourself two weeks
Giving yourself two weeks to study may seem excessive, but allowing yourself to spread out your studying has been shown to help students retain information. Focus on what’s hard for you, but don’t forget to review what is easy, as well. Study a couple of sections every night instead of everything at once. This way, by the time the test gets closer, you’ll be able to review everything you know instead of having to cram the night before your exam. Giving yourself two weeks also allows for you to take any necessary breaks in between. Don’t let too much time pass between studying sessions, but feel free to take a day off if you need to. It is important to let yourself rest in order to focus and stay calm on your test day.

Pro Tip: Find out how many topics are going to be on the test and create a general guide as to which topics you want to cover on which days. This will help you pace your studying correctly. For example, if I had 4 chapters to cover, I would try to split it up so that I spend one week on the first two chapters, and another week on the last two. Keep in mind the length and the level of difficulty of each chapter in order to plan sufficiently. Leave yourself a day or two before the exam in order to do an overview instead of forcing yourself to learn more material.

Tip #5: Give and receive necessary help
You should not feel ashamed to go to extra help or office hours in order to really spend some one-on-one time with your professor and to ask some questions. In high school and in college, office hours, or after school assistance, is a huge help when it comes to reviewing for a test. Go whenever you get stuck on a topic, and also once you feel like you’re almost done studying. This will allow you to ask any final questions that you’ve come up with over the course of your studying. When you’re done getting help and feel confident about the upcoming exam, you should offer your services to peers and other classmates! If someone has a question on a topic, try to teach them about it in the way that you understand it. Nothing enforces ideas and information more than trying to explain it to those who don’t fully understand it. You’ll be doing a great service to others and to yourself!

I hope that these tips have helped you learn a little bit more about effectively studying. Thank you so much for reading and good luck on your upcoming exams!

Why is high school GPA important to colleges?

To help parents understand these changes and how they affect the college application process, Curvebreakers presents this second installment in our 3-part College Application Series:

How does high school GPA influence colleges’ acceptance decisions?

Our chart shows that GPA makes up approximately 30% of a college’s acceptance decision – the same as the SAT/ACT score. It is possible – and more common than you may think – for a student with a high GPA to only perform at an average level on the SAT. The opposite is also true. An average student can do very well on the SAT. Test-taking is a skill in and of itself, and how much time you spend preparing for the SAT/ACT often has a significant impact on a student’s test score, just as time studying and preparing will have a positive impact on a student’s GPA.

Colleges look at a student’s GPA side-by-side with the SAT/ACT scores. If they see high test scores, but only an average GPA, it may leave them wondering – why the discrepancy? In this situation, a low to average GPA is often an indication that a student hasn’t put in the required effort to realize their academic potential. Do colleges want to take a gamble on a student who has the ability to do well but may not work hard in college? How can you prove them otherwise? In this situation, it is all about GPA trend. An upward trend in GPA is greatly beneficial to a student who has a lower GPA than he or she would ideally want. Schools love to see students improving as they get closer to college.

What about the reverse situation – an above average GPA and only a so-so SAT or ACT score? Fortunately, there are many opportunities to re-take the SAT and ACT exams throughout the year. Even if you’re unable to bring up your score, Colleges might give you the benefit of the doubt that the GPA is more reflective of your ability and performance. After all, the GPA is reflective of your long-term academic performance. Also, you have the option of applying test optional to many schools. Although this may seem like the most attractive option, scholarships for test optional students are currently few and far between.

Besides GPA, there is also the concept of “academic rigor.” A Strong GPA in “easy” classes may be weighed less favorably when compared to a student who takes all AP’s and college level courses in 11th and 12th grade. That said, it is a balancing act to make sure your GPA and Course Rigor are both strong.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start improving your GPA. It’s extremely important in the college admissions game, and if you wait until late junior or senior year to start making changes, you may have missed out on an opportunity to impress.

Next up – Part 3: The College Application – It’s not all about GPA & Test Scores

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