High School: Studying

Want to do well on your tests? Read this article for a couple of helpful tips.

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Tests in high school are typically both high-point and high-stress. Studying for them is critical and sometimes difficult. These five tips will give some study tips and rules to follow when studying for these tests.

  1. Study selectively.

Studying is important, but you don’t need to study for every test and quiz. Often, attending class will be enough. There’s no point in wasting time reviewing materials you already know, so don’t study if you don’t need to. If you aren’t sure whether or not you should study, then it’s better to play it safe. Reviewing your notes can be worth the time. Once you’ve decided if you need to study, estimate how much time you’ll need for it. How many points is the test worth? What percentage of your grade? How difficult will it be? Study hard for difficult tests or high-point tests and don’t mind low-point and easy tests. If you have more than one test to study for (I’m looking at you, finals), prioritize to make sure you get your most important tests studied for.

In short: if you don’t need to study, don’t. If you do, decide the time the test is worth.

2. Make charts or flashcards.

There are a few different kinds of study strategies you can use. Charts is one of these. Venn Diagrams, Flow Charts and the like can be very helpful. If you happen to be a visual learner, consider creating a chart to speed up the studying process. Charts are also good if you need to compare and contrast two different things on the exam, as you can create a column for each.

The other specific strategy I recommend is flashcards, a personal favorite of mine. For vocabulary tests, create flashcards and use them. If you don’t have notecards, I personally recommend Quizlet, an online flashcard-maker. You’ll likely have to go through a set multiple times to completely understand all of the terms, but flashcards are significantly more effective than simply reading over notes and vocabulary words.

In short: to speed up studying, utilize flashcards and charts.

3. If you have trouble remembering, create jingles and rhymes. 

There are some words that are just hard to remember. These are the terms that you review over and over again but for some reason won’t stick in your head. One of these for me was the abbreviation for Lead: Pb, something I had to learn when our science class was memorizing the periodic table. I kept forgetting it. I was able to remember it, however, after one of my classmates said, “I always remember lead is Pb by thinking Pb and lead sandwich”. From then on, it was easy to keep in mind. Jingles, rhymes, and acronyms can help you remember certain words. It’s likely that you’ve heard of PEMDAS, or Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. This acronym is a great way to remember the order of operations in math.

In short: for words hard to remember, use jingles, rhymes, and more.

4. Be sure of what the test is on before you take it. 

This may be the most important principle to preparing for a test. Have you ever had a moment where you looked down at your test and thought “when have we learned this?” I’m betting most high school students have. Be sure to write down any topics the teacher says will be on the test and keep a keen eye and ear out for what the test will be on.

If you don’t know what it’s on, ask a friend to see if they know. If that fails, try asking the teacher about what’s on the test and about the format. In a worse case scenario, review all the notes you have and use all the resources available to prepare for any contingency. Pay special attention to areas emphasized in class, things covered recently. It’s important to know what’s on the test to prepare for it.

In short: figure out what’s on the test to get the best score.

5. Before the test, get some rest. 

Be careful not to get too caught up studying the night before. It’s best you start studying early in the night or the previous day to avoid having to stay up late. Don’t drink coffee the night before a test; it will keep you awake through the night. If it’s absolutely necessary that you stay up late to finish studying for a test the next day, do what you have to, but be careful with this. High test scores are typically linked with more sleep. If you can go to sleep and study, do both.

If you don’t get enough sleep the night before the test, drink some coffee to try and gain energy or take a nap. Drink lots of water and eat something sugary before the test. It’s best to sleep to avoid these troubles.

In short: sleep = good.


That’s all I have about preparing for tests. Go forth and do well on all your tests. Follow these tips and read my blog next week to get more tips, this time on College Prep.

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