Achieving success in school isn't always easy, but it is doable if you put your mind to it. Step one is improving your study skills. Although many of this week's study skill sites are written by university counselors, their sound advice is equally applicable to middle and high-school students.
"There is no secret to being a good student -- all it takes is a lot of hard work!" To ensure your hard work is productive, dive into these three great articles from Information Please: Taking Notes, Reading Textbooks, Studying for Tests. I was never taught study skills (am I showing my age here?) but as I read this advice, I did recognize a few tactics from my own arsenal. For example, I always browse through a book (or textbook) before reading it. Getting an overview of the material first increases retention.
Peter Canavan, a Florida teacher and guidance counselor, divides his recommendations into ten sections. In addition to listening and reading comprehension, How to Study includes three sections on using index cards for learning vocabulary (make your own flash cards), writing a research paper (use one for each bibliographic source) and public speaking (write a single idea on each card.) Even in these days of electronic information, the versatile index card survives and thrives.
The appeal of top ten lists is universal, and the Ten Traps of Studying doesn't disappoint. Here's one I remember from college: "I'm Gonna Stay Up All Night 'til I Get This." Unfortunately exhaustion takes its toll both physically and mentally, and recall improves when study time is spread out over time (not crammed into a single session.) Whenever you study, remember to take plenty of breaks; the experts seem to agree on ten minutes every hour.
The Study Skills Package from University of Waterloo offers tips in nine study topics: learning and remembering, time management, listening and note taking, reading, concentration, preparing for exams, cramming, taking exams, and sleeping. At first I was surprised by that last category, but as I thought about it, it made perfect sense. Sleep is important, and it can be something that students try to skimp on. One word of advice: don't.
Best Virginia Tech clicks are the five Online Study Skills Workshops (including Seven Strategies for Improving Test Performance) which are self-paced slide shows that pop up in their own windows. I suggest starting with the Study Skills Inventory. After answering thirty-two questions on a sliding scale from "Very true" to "Not true at all," you'll be directed to various sections of the site (such as articles on time management or note taking) based on your own weaknesses.