Study Skills - Iowa College Access Network - ICAN

Study Skills

In middle school, you have harder classes and more responsibility than before. You are also setting the learning patterns that you'll use for the rest of your life. (You will be learning long after you finish school.)

So how do you study? Do you think you're doing well, or could you improve? Use these tips to make the most of your time.

Take Notes

As you read assignments and listen to teachers, write down the most important points. If you have trouble deciding what's important, try:

  • Making questions out of titles and subtitles and writing down the answers.
  • Reading captions, callouts and bolded words.
  • Writing answers to end-of-chapter and end-of-unit questions.
  • Noting anything that your teacher repeats or says will be on the test.

Get Organized

Keep your notes, class handouts, study guides and project information for each class together. Use a planner or organizer to plan study time by working backward from the test date.

Find Your Spot

Set aside a comfortable, well-lit and quiet place to study. Make sure you have room to spread books and papers out and keep supplies nearby.

Keep an Open Mind

Thinking a subject is difficult makes it harder to understand. Try to focus on the work instead. Even if something doesn't make sense at first, let your mind work on the problem without thinking about how difficult it is.

Be Active

It's hard to absorb information by just reading it over and over (especially if you're really not that interested in it). To really learn new things:

  • Work practice problems for math and science.
  • Answer the end-of-chapter questions even if your teacher didn't assign them.
  • Create practice essay questions and outline the answers.
  • Draw pictures, charts and maps of the information.
  • Make study cards.
  • Highlight important points in your notes and handouts.
  • Use sticky notes to write down thoughts and mark passages in textbooks.
  • Explain the information to someone else like a parent or a sibling. If they understand what you're saying, you probably know the material. If they don't, their questions will tell you what you need to work on.

Buddy Up

Find a study partner or two and go over your homework together. Remember to focus on the subject! If you find yourself getting distracted, talk about other things a few minutes out of every hour, then get back to work.

Know Your Stuff

Find a few methods that help you memorize information. Some common tricks include:

  • Listing terms on one half of a sheet of paper and their definitions on the other half. Read over it several times, then cover up one side and see how much you can remember.
  • Making flash cards. Put the question or term on one side and the answer or definition on the reverse. You can use a partner or quiz yourself.
  • Using acronyms. You know what these are – like Roy G. Biv for the colors of the rainbow. Making up your own can be a lot of fun (and useful).

 

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