The transition from middle school to high school can be especially tough on students. Students aren't ready for social and organizational changes or simply are not used to the increased academic rigor. However, developing suitable studying habits early can help ease the transition. Here are 3 study habits you need for your freshman year of high school.
1) Find a proper studying environment
- What Makes A Good Studying Environment?
- Avoid Studying In Your Bed
- Find A Quiet Space
- Keep Your Space Organized
2) Dont cram; revise throughout the week
- What is cramming?
- Why is cramming so bad for you?
- How to avoid cramming
- Pay attention during class
- Review your notes right away
- Make a study schedule
- Start early
3) Take breaks
- Benefits of taking breaks
- How to incorporate breaks into your study sessions
1) Find a proper studying environment
Your surroundings can affect the way you study and can interfere with your ability to retain information. Students surrounded by a positive learning environment are often more motivated, engaged and have a higher learning ability. Elements that facilitate a more effective learning experience include lighting, supplies, comfortable seating, and few distractions.
What makes a good study environment?
A good study environment is not overly comfortable, distracting, or unorganized. While a study environment needs to be comfortable enough for you to spend hours studying in, a study environment must not pose a risk of falling asleep, becoming unfocused, or causing poor posture. Study environments need to be quiet spaces where it is easy to focus. Study environments have to be organized and free of clutter.
Avoid Studying in your bed
"The comfort of warm covers, soft pillows, and putting off responsibility by pressing ‘Snooze’ are highly persuasive on their own, but even more so when compared to focusing on your homework." ~ Brian Robben
It is best to avoid studying in bed, since most people tend to associate their beds with comfort and sleep. This association can lead to the brain becoming lazy, potentially falling asleep. It is also important to note that studying in bed can be excessively uncomfortable.
After long periods, blood flow cannot properly reach the brain, and optimal brain function cannot be achieved. Slouching is also likely to occur due to a lack of lumbar support. While studying in bed, your neck can bend too sharply, affecting your posture and causing pain.
For this reason, students should opt for a flat, solid work surface. For example, studying at a desk isn’t overly comfortable, limiting the risk of poor posture or the possibility of falling asleep. A spacious desk can be incredibly beneficial, since everything necessary for studying can be found in the same area.
Find a quiet space
"No matter how 'background' the music may be and how little we notice it, the brain is still processing sound signals. Almost all research in this area has shown that problem solving and memory recall tasks are performed better in silence than with any kind of background noise." ~ King's Christian College
Finding a quiet study space is also essential to maintaining concentration. While studying, the brain is trying to complete the difficult task of processing new information. Any sudden noise such as vacuuming, sneezing, or roadwork can easily have a detrimental effect on concentration.
The brain is suddenly interrupted and has to regain focus. Staying in a loud environment throughout an entire study session makes it extremely difficult to grasp new information and truly study effectively.
Although it is still not ideal, playing gentle background music to mask the distracting sounds is somewhat beneficial. However, gentle background music can still be distracting, making it difficult for the brain to process new information. Since the brain works best when it is completely quiet, students should invest in noise-canceling headphones for increased focus.
Keep your space organized
"Being organized is particularly important since it helps them learn how to prioritize activities, set and achieve goals and reduce stress." ~ Skooler
Being organized leads to success and an organized studying environment is no different. As mentioned previously, anything can distract the brain and interrupt concentration. For this reason, stopping a study session to look for certain supplies can be just as detrimental as obnoxious sounds.
To prevent further distraction, students should carefully plan out their study sessions and prepare all of their materials beforehand. It is also important to have an organized study space and appropriate storage for study materials. Being disorganized can lead to assignments being completed incorrectly and poor time management skills. Those who struggle with time management are more likely to experience stress, sleep deprivation, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues.
To prevent disorganization, students should invest in either a real calendar or use online calendars. To effectively use a calendar, students should focus on prioritization and organization through color coding and time blocking.
Students should also focus on decluttering their study space by investing in school & office supplies. Trash cans, labels, file trays, cabinets, and folders can help maximize the amount of space available while maintaining it neat and organized.
2) Don't Cram; revise throughout the week
Cramming is usually used by those who don't enjoy studying. This ineffective method makes it easy to procrastinate because the fear of failure does not affect you currently. However, it becomes harder and harder to ignore this fear, to the point that you become overwhelmed shortly before the test. Cramming allows you to be unproductive and gives you the satisfaction of relaxation when, in reality, it would be better to use that relaxation time for actual studying.
What is cramming?
Cramming refers to the action of trying to stuff large amounts of information, usually in very little time, into your short-term memory in order to prepare for an upcoming exam.
Why is cramming so bad for you?
Trying to stuff large amounts of information in a limited time slot puts too much stress on the brain, pushing it beyond its limits. When the brain is overworked, feelings of frustration, anxiety, and fatigue begin to increase. The brain needs some time to relax and focus, making it unsustainable to cram.
Cramming also makes it difficult to completely capture the entirety of the information necessary to do well in an exam. Since people usually begin cramming a day or two before their exam, they do not have enough time to revise everything or rush through important topics. Students who rush through concepts or topics are more likely to make mistakes during the exam or completely misinterpret questions.
It is also important to note that those who cram usually go to bed late as they try to finish studying. Many even pull an all-nighter, which makes them tired and unfocused during the exam.
How to avoid cramming
Although it seems tempting to cram before a big exam and get a rest now, doing so will hurt you and your grades. Cramming before an exam makes you feel guilty about how well you could've done if you had put in the effort earlier. Avoiding cramming is something that starts from the very beginning. First, you have to pay attention during class, review what you have learned, make a study schedule, and start studying early.
Pay attention during class
Being attentive during a lecture is beneficial, since studying becomes easier. Becoming an active listener in the classroom helps build a basic foundation for learning. Once that foundation is built, students can capture new information easily and expand their knowledge.
If there is no seating chart, try to sit in an area near the front with few distractions. Sitting towards the back makes it easy to become distracted and watch other students instead of the teacher. Sitting near your friends is also not the best option, since you are more tempted to talk and be disruptive when, in reality, you should be paying attention.
Your phone is also a distraction; turning off your phone will help you focus solely on the lecture and gather more information.
Students should also participate in class discussions and ask questions. Participating in these class discussions can help you gain new insight, comprehension and improve your memory.
Participating in class can also be done by taking notes. Taking notes forces you to pay attention and helps you learn. There are various methods of how to take notes. However, the most effective way to take notes is summarizing what you hear and breaking it down in an understandable way.
Review your notes right away
After taking notes and paying attention during a lecture, review your notes as soon as possible. This can be done by adding to your notes, writing questions about your notes, or creating a summary. Reviewing your notes can increase your ability to recall information easily since knowledge is being transferred from short-term memory to long-term memory. By revisiting your notes often, you are making the content easier to study in the future.
Make a study schedule
Shortly after an important test is announced, you should make a study schedule and plan out when you will review certain topics. Start by breaking down the material into manageable “chunks” that you can review without stress.
A common mistake many make while creating a study schedule is not including various breaks throughout. This can lead to exhaustion and even guilt if the break takes too long. To avoid making this mistake, opt for a realistic schedule based on clear and specific goals that can be attained.
Plan to start 7-10 days before an exam to maximize your study time. It is best to spend 1-3 hours studying for each class, remembering to listen to your body and know when to stop.
Include a review day towards the end of your study schedule to help you bring all of the information together and feel more confident.
Don’t wait until the last minute to study, instead, utilize all of your resources and start early. With better planning, the amount of stress associated with the test is reduced, which makes it easier to retain information. Starting early also makes it possible for you to get a better grade, since you have a better understanding of the material and have reviewed it thoroughly and effectively.
3) Take Breaks
Many consider taking breaks to be a bad thing since it stops productivity when, in reality, that is simply not the case. While studying, it is easy to ignore your body and keep pushing through to meet a goal. Skipping breaks can lead to faster burnout and higher stress levels. Experiencing burnout can make it hard to take in information and is not effective.
Benefits of taking breaks
After a study session, taking breaks helps the brain unwind and recharge. Breaks present themselves as opportunities to be more present, try new things, explore, or simply relax. Taking breaks also increases focus and improves productivity while relieving stress and anxiety. Staying working may seem like the best thing to do, but it can negatively impact long-term performance and mental health.
How to incorporate breaks into your study sessions
Before your study session, create a break list and write down multiple things you could do on your breaks. This could include going for a walk, reading, napping, exercising, watching your favorite show/movie, etc. Making a list beforehand will help you decide what to do quickly that way you can spend more time on break.
Finding a proper studying environment, not cramming, and taking breaks throughout study sessions can help ease the transition from middle school to high school. All of these study habits help increase productivity while decreasing stress and will help you study effectively.