Study Tips & Tricks
Studying is very similar to organization: everybody has different methods. Some people swear by flashcards while others only use outlines. Finding what method works best for you requires a lot of trial and time. During each of my four years of high school I adopted a new method of studying until I eventually found what works for me.
Going into my freshman year of high school I had no idea how to study, mostly because I had never needed to; so I showed up to school with a couple of notebooks and a pen or two. I soon found out I was under-suplied. My english teacher saw how unprepared I was so told me to get a binder for all of my classes and showed me how to organize it. There were five sections in each of my binders: Notes, Homework, Handouts, Graded Assignments, and Extra Paper. Binders were a good stepping stone for me in my first year of high school, but as the years went on I realized I needed more.
I decided to continue using binders into my sophomore year, but in addition to my binder organization I added the use of an academic planner. I decided to assign each of my courses a different color, (chem-red, geometry-purple, history-yellow, and so on). Each class got a color-specific binder, pen and highlighter. I color coded my planner with the same code of colors. Marking down each and every assignment, due date and any extra instructions showed me exactly what I needed to do each night, and gave me a little jolt of excitement each time I got to cross off something I had completed. I could go on and on about my current love for planners, but I'll save that for another post.
I call junior year "The Year of the Flashcards." I still used binders, but only brought them to school for two of my classes: Biology 2 and U.S. History. (for my other classes I brought in notebooks and kept binders at home with old notes for future reference (i.e. finals).) I started using flashcards for my biology class because of the tons of vocabulary I had to memorize, but my use of flashcards slowly changed to become a major part of my study technique. I started drawing diagrams and breaking down different sections of my notes onto their own flashcard. It made studying easier because I focused on specific sections at a time, and writing all of the information again onto flashcards was a study technique in itself.
*quick tip: if you're thinking about using flashcards buy the 5x7 size, they are much better for fitting lots of information and larger diagrams
Senior year is when I finally realized exactly what worked for me. I used my planner religiously, I brought a folder with roughly 10-15 pages of filler paper to each of my classes, and kept binders at home (color coded of course). In class I took down the notes exactly how the teacher had them written on the board and/or projector, and added any additional comments they may have had. I copied any diagrams there were directly onto the filler paper. When I got home each night I would type my handwritten notes, print them out, put them in my folder for the next class, and put the filler paper with my original notes into the binder. When a specific unit or topic in class ended I would transfer the typed notes into the binder as well. Re-writing my notes really helped me understand the information; and having all of the past information I learned, typed neatly (because sometimes I can't read my handwriting) helped me when I had to study for mid-terms or finals because I had accumulated and entire study guide over the course of the term.
What works for me may not work of you, but if you feel like what you're doing now isn't working there's no harm in trying something new, or incorporating a new technique. You just might find exactly what you need.