Studying Tips and Tricks

Eva Ledesma, an 11th grader at Segerstrom, diligently studies for her math class by solving problems in her notebook.

Eva Ledesma, an 11th grader at Segerstrom, diligently studies for her math class by solving problems in her notebook.

Avery Ngo

It is understood that the arrival of an upcoming school year coincides with the construction of new goals, study plans, and habits. Similar to our New Year’s Resolutions, in the face of passion and anticipation that comes along with the first few days of school, we have the aplomb to believe that we will earn that A in Calculus, 5 on the AP Chemistry Exam, or a high score on the SAT. We tend to build goals without knowing how we can accomplish them, which sets up a foundation for failure before the school year even begins.

Part of the key to becoming an A student is to become a student who effectively utilizes his or her time by employing certain studying strategies and techniques. Of course grit and a strong work ethic is a salient factor in this as well, but forming a comprehensive study plan can give you the motivation and tools you need to succeed.

There are several tips and tricks that can improve how you study.

The first is recording and listening to notes taken in class. Reading through your notes out loud is already an invaluable studying method, so recording yourself with your phone while doing so wastes no time. Listen to this recording when you are in the car, waiting for your next class, cooking for your siblings, or even when you exercise; this strategy is especially useful for students with many extracurriculars or activities. It is absolutely essential that you understand the material, and consistently immersing yourself in the topic of study will be helpful.

In order to ensure you are applying your time correctly, plan out your day to every minute. Here is a link to a template on Google Sheets that might help you plan your day in 30 minute increments. Take a few minutes each night or after school to plan out how long you intend to spend on each subject. For example, from 3:30 to 4:30, you might do your math homework, from 4:30 to 6:30 you might study for AP World History, but, from 7:00 to 8:00, you might exercise. Do not forget to do this on weekends as well. If you use this technique properly, you will almost never waste time and your procrastinating habits will end.

A quick trick to help you stay on this schedule is to give your parents or friends a copy of it, so they can hold you accountable.

That being said, it is quite impossible to simply study all day. This is why it is important to study in 30-45 minute intervals, with 15 minute breaks in between. Put away your phone when you study, and use it during those breaks instead. You will find yourself so much more productive.

Let’s talk about how to study for individual tests.

It is scientifically proven that if you spray perfume on the back of your hand while you are studying and then spray it on before the test, you are more likely to remember the material. Multiple studies have proven you will associate the smell of your perfume with the information studied. Consequently, when you smell the perfume during the test, you will be much more likely to remember what you studied. However, please keep in mind that you should use a different kind of perfume for every exam, so you do not get the information mixed up.

Another helpful tip for studying for tests is to memorize an outline of notes before the test. Once you take the test, immediately copy the outline on the back of the exam or on a scratch piece of paper. Simply refer to it for information when answering questions. The actual outline should contain important vocabulary terms, as well as pictures and diagrams to help you remember important information. Do not overdo the outline- you will never be able to memorize it. Instead, only record what is necessary.

This leads me to my next tip: ask your teachers what topics you need to know to do well on the test. If the teacher is purposefully vague, ask students from previous years what was covered on the exams to get a better sense of what you will be tested on.

A strategy you should always do before any exam, especially if it is an AP, Subject, SAT, or ACT test, is find copies of old tests online. Reddit and Facebook are excellent sources for previous tests. Find a quiet spot and take a practice test like it was the real one. You will be much better prepared.

Speaking of places to study, it can often be hard to find one, especially if you have younger siblings. A recommendation is to go to a nearby coffee shop, restaurant, or library. You would be surprised to see how productive you can be when working outside of home.

However, it ultimately boils down to how much you want to succeed. Utilize these strategies to the best of your ability, and develop a study plan that best works for you. Take the advice given, and make this year the best one it can possibly be.