Shaping the Learner

Study Advice for Students

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Home School Organizational Skills & Study Tips

School Organizational Skills & Study Tips

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Concentrating on homework can be difficult for many people.

Good organization and study skills are crucial to maximizing your potential as a student. Whether you're in 4th grade or graduate school, knowing the secrets to taking notes, studying and managing your time makes learning easier. Not everyone will be able to learn using the same techniques. Take the time to find out what works best for you.

Taking Notes

Always carry a notebook to class.
The first step to increasing your effectiveness as a learner is to make sure you are studying the right information. This starts in the classroom with note-taking. Don't copy word-for-word from the text book. Your notes should only highlight the main points. Make sure to include samples and real-world examples. For math you should complete two to three problems in your notebook, with comments on each step. For science, you should translate any technical words into terms you understand. Your notes are for you; if you were teaching this information to someone else, how would you word it?

Asking Questions

Label your notes carefully to avoid confusion later.
Clarify any confusion in class. You may not have access to the necessary information and books when you are at home. Don't be afraid to ask your teacher to explain or demonstrate anything that is unclear. Include these questions/answers in your notebook. Your teacher is there to teach you, but they aren't mind readers. Be in charge of your own class experience.

Preparing the Night Before

Don't bring unnecessary items to school; it'll just weigh you down.
Prepare for school the night before. Make sure all of your writing utensils, tools, books and notes are in your backpack. If you have project materials to carry with you (posters, displays, models) set them against the front door or load them into your car the night before. Many people also find that having an outfit laid out and brown bag lunch prepared saves time getting ready. The less you have to worry about the morning of class the better.


Many schools provide students with simple agendas.
With doctor's appointments, sports, extracurriculars and travel time, there's already too few hours in the day. Adding homework and school projects to the equation makes scheduling an indispensable part of your organizational toolbox. Plan the coming week on Sunday. Make sure that you have listed all of your appointments and deadlines on your calendar or agenda. Google calendar is a free and easy way to track your family's schedules. Be sure to leave space for recreational activities.

Divide and Conquer

When time is tight, the best way to tackle large projects is piece-by-piece. Whether you have to read a book or design a model rocket, make a list of the steps you need to take to complete the project. Look at your calendar and set smaller due dates to help guide your progress. For example, if you have to read a 100-page book in 10 days, read 10 pages a day.

Work Zone

Set up an area of your house as your work zone. This will be where you go to study and do homework. Make sure that everyone you live with knows where your study zone is, so they can avoid disturbing you. Remove distractions from your work area such as televisions, radios and toys. Try to study around the same time everyday; if it is a habit , you'll be less likely to put it off.


Use your notebook to guide your studying. As you have already summarized the lesson, you will save time flipping through the text book looking for material. Outline the concepts you need to learn and focus on one at a time. If you get stuck, move on to the next topic, but be sure to try to tackle the problem again. Write down any questions you have, so that you can consult with the teacher later. Whether you have a test or not, spend some time---about 30 minutes---every night reviewing your day's lessons. Talking with a parent about what you learned at school is a great way to improve your retention.


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