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11 Tips for High School Success

High school demands better study skills, time-management tools, and organization skills in order to succeed. Use these tips to master your classes.

by Jill Murphy and Cynthia Enfinger

Use This Note-Taking Strategy

During lectures, start by writing the date and topic at the top of your notes. Then, use the BROIL system to pick out important ideas:

B=anything the teacher writes on the Board;
R=anything the teacher Repeats;
O=anything the teacher mentions will be On the test;
I=anything the teacher says is important;
L=anything that is in a List.

Review Your Notes Now, Not Later

While taking notes, circle words and ideas that need clarification. (If you have a 504 accommodation plan, you might be able to get a note-taker to supplement the notes you take in class.) After class, compare your notes with others, and look up the ideas you circled. Read your notes again in the evening -- reviewing notes on the day you take them can double the amount of information you retain. 

Read with a Plan

When taking notes from a book, start by reviewing the table of contents, index, caption, and appendix pages for charts, glossary, and reference pages. Use large sticky notes to summarize pages in books, then post them on a mirror as a study guide before a test.

Talk to Your Teachers

Discuss with your teacher about how you can modify assignments to ensure success. Discuss classroom accommodations ahead of time (or as you get them), to make sure that you have everything you need to boost your learning curve.

Use the Textbook Supplements

See if there are any supplemental materials online that complement your textbook. When listening to lectures, write down any references or resources mentioned by your teacher, and check them out after class. Get to know the librarian, and talk to her as soon as a long-term project is assigned.

Create a Game Plan for Big Projects

For larger projects, take a few moments before you begin to map out a game plan. Include goals, action plans, resources, time allotments, and time for breaks. If you’re not sure how to approach a project, ask your teacher for suggestions, and see if you can see samples of finished projects from former classes.

Teach to Remember

Studies show that, from worst to best, the odds of retaining information break down in the following way: lecture, 5% effective; reading, 10%; audiovisual, 20%; demonstration, 30%; discussion, 50%; practice by doing, 75%; teaching to others, 90%. Find a classmate to teach the material to and return the favor. Or start a study group, and take turns teaching to the others.

Stay Ahead of Work

Mark your calendar with completion dates, and set false deadlines to help you stay ahead. Keep yourself accountable to others by synching your electronic calendar with your parents’ or study partner’s. Talk to your teacher, and schedule times to show her sections of your work to make sure you stay on track.

Master Math

In order to succeed in math, try the following:

>> Keep a file of math concepts and rules, along with specific examples of each.

>> For practice problems, label each step of the process, and leave space between the steps so you can see where you went astray.

>> For tests, write down formulas you think you may need right away, so you don’t forget them later.

Make Friends with Technology

Take a picture of the lecture notes or assignments on the board before you leave class. Set alarms on your cell phone, and send yourself reminder emails or texts with information you need to remember. Use voice-to-text programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking, Evernote, and Mac voice-to-text features to expand on concepts in your books or during lectures.

Make Good (Food) Choices

Prep your brain for learning by loading up on foods rich in protein (to help sustain alertness), omega-3 fatty acids (to increase brain function and memory), and complex carbohydrates (to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes). Even if you’re in a rush, don’t skip breakfast -- eating breakfast has been linked to better classroom performance, increased concentration, and improved problem-solving skills.

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