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Study Tips

Study Tips for Success

Genius isn’t inspiration; it’s perspiration.   Albert Einstein


With these words, Einstein dispels the myth that some people are naturally brighter than others and he affirms that academic success is the result of hard work.  While this may not be comforting to some, it should inspire hope that anyone can achieve success by conscientiously working at it.  One might ask, “Are there any methods that can help one do better in school?” and happily the answer is “Yes!”

 Following is a brief overview of methods that are tried and true over many years.

  • Adequate sleep is essential.  Most teens do not get enough sleep and it carries    over as lower performance in school.  Late night cram sessions can be detrimental as they deprive the brain of needed rest.

  • Proper nutrition.  Avoid junk food and too much caffeine.  Eat breakfast every day.  This is essential.

  • Exercise regularly.  New brain growth occurs with exercise.

  •  Have a special area in the home dedicated to study.  It should be set up with all the necessary equipment needed for study: a computer or laptop, printer, adequate lighting, pencils, pen, paper and a calculator.  It should be quiet and free of distractions.

  •  Learn when you study the best.  It could be right after school or early evening after supper.

 Learning can be broken into three essential strands:  Acquisition, Storage and Retrieval.


After reading new material, paraphrase it in your own words.  Ask yourself after each paragraph,

What was this about?

When did this happen?

Who is this about?

Where did this happen?

Why did this happen?

How did this happen?

What is the deeper meaning of this paragraph?  (Very useful for literature)

Of course, depending on what you are reading, not all of these questions will be pertinent.  These are the guiding questions.  Reading out loud can also be helpful, as it involves more brain activity.  Remember to look up any new vocabulary words.  Use visual imagery to imagine what you are reading about.  Try to make pictures in your mind of the characters or information being presented. 

Take good notes in class.  It can be helpful to compare your notes with another student’s to seeing if you are recording the main points.  You can develop your own shorthand in order to take notes more quickly.  There are some methods that can be very helpful such as Cornell notetaking or Concept Mapping.  Ask your teacher which might work best in a particular class.

Make sure you understand any charts, graphs, maps or pictures in the book.  Ask for help if you do not.  Use the glossary, index and vocabulary sections in your textbook.

Remember, Repetition is the mother of all learning.  That’s why we all know the alphabet, but not necessarily all the elements in the periodic table. 

You can study with another person, only if you know you will seriously use the time together for learning alone.


Use mnemonics such as HOMES to learn the names of the Great Lakes: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior and acrostics such as “My Very Excellent Mother Just Served Us Nine Pizzas.”  The first letter of each word helps us recall the planets in order of distance from the sun.

Use jingles such as “I before E except after C, or when sounded as A as in neighbor and weigh.”

Color Code essential information such as the Pythagorean Theorem.

Try to connect information with common objects or people.  People in your family can be connected with characters in a novel.  The brain tends to remember what is different from the ordinary, so you could even make some comical comparisons.

Use a filing system that works for you so you can easily retrieve information.  For example, use your IPAD to store notes in Notability.

Use flashcards.  These work very well with vocabulary and formulas.


When taking a test, read the directions before answering any questions.  Answer the easiest questions first and then go back to the harder ones.  Pace yourself, look at the clock occasionally so you can make good use of your time.  Proofread everything before turning it in. 

Before turning in a paper, ask a knowledgeable person to proof read it for grammar, style and spelling.  There is no reason to lose point for careless errors. 

Ask yourself if there are any connections you can make between different subject areas such as Math and Science.  For example, “Is there a connection between Punnett Squares and Probability Theory?”  Remember, all knowledge is connected.

Some other helpful hints for success:

            Always seek help when you don’t understand.

            Don’t procrastinate.  Use good time management skills.

            Check Renweb often to see if you are missing any work.  It is better to turn in something and earn a low grade, rather than turning in nothing and getting an F.

            Use a planner to record all assignments and dates of projects, tests and quizzes.    

            Always do your homework.  It reinforces what you learned in class.

Finally, realize that your attitude is what will have the greatest effect on the outcome of your life.  If you believe you can, you will.  NEVER GIVE UP.

Following is the background of a famous person.  Can you guess who it is?

            At age 21, he failed in a business venture.  He did not give up.

            At 22, he lost his first bid to become a State Legislator.  He did not give up.  He tried again.

            At 23, he failed in his second business venture.

            At 25, his girlfriend died.

            At 26, he suffered a nervous breakdown.  He picked himself up again.

            At 28, he tried for Congress and he failed in politics again.

            At 30, he tried again and lost.

            At 33, he lost again.

            At 38, he lost again.

            At 45, he lost the race for the Senate.

            At 46, he lost the race for the Vice-Presidency.

            At 49, he lost the race for the Senate again.  BUT, he did not give up.

            At 50, he became the President of the united States.

 He was Abraham Lincoln.

 Finally, read as much as you possibly can.  Read novels, biographies, non-fiction, articles and textbooks.  If you don’t read, you won’t think.  Always be open to new ideas.  Keep an open mind, not an empty one.