5 Study Tools You Need to Try for the Next School Year

Student Life

Imagine your teacher assigned a new test that's taking place a week from today. You decide that you're actually going to study this time and sit down after school with all your textbooks and notes around you but you just- can't. The prospect of flashcards and Cornell notes is just too much, so you end up scrolling through your phone until it's too late anyway. But it's OK, you have time to study tomorrow. And that's what you tell yourself all week. Until it's the evening before your test and you're up until 3 AM with handouts and crudely scribbled notes thrown around you in a mad studying frenzy. You'll try harder to study next time though, right?

If you relate to that situation, you're not alone. But there are plenty of tools out there that can help you to learn the material effectively and stay organized.

Categories

Starting off with a personal favorite, categories. If you have a lot of different things to do and don't know where to start, or classic to-do lists aren't your thing, this is for you.

This technique is kind of difficult to explain, so I'll use an example. First, you have to divide all the things you need to do into equal categories based on how much you want to do them or how much time each one will take. Then you roll a dice or use a random number generator to pick a thing from each category. In this situation, if I roll a 1, I would have to do my English essay, Cornell notes for history, cover my textbooks with paper bags, and go to the library. It helps if you do the hardest thing first, followed by the easiest, then the second hardest, the second easiest, and so on.

Worst: 1. English essay 2. Math textbook work 3. Study for chem

Second worst: 1. History Cornell notes 2. Spanish worksheet 3. Laundry

Okay: 1. Cover textbooks 2. Email Counselor 3. Water Plants

Good: 1. Go to the library 2. Walk the dog 3. Draw

Generally, what will happen is that you don't get so overwhelmed by the thought of doing all the things you don't want to do. If you have three major essays due around the same time, it's too much to think about all at once, so you end up paralyzed and don't do anything. But putting those three in a category makes you choose only one of them to focus on. Then you can take a break by doing the laundry, something you also don't want to do, but which seems like a good plan in comparison to this looming essay. This technique forces you to prioritize and makes tasks into more bite-sized chunks.

Notion

a screenshot of a desktop computer opened to a notion web page titled Home Base. On the left side bar there is a drop down menu with categories such as Journaling, personal goals, and calendar.

If you struggle with organization, and paper planners just aren't working for you, this app might help.

Notion is an organizational app that allows you to create folders, pages, calendars, lists, wikis, reminders, and a lot more. It was originally designed for project management, which is why so many of its features include opportunities for collaboration, but it works just as well as a personal app. You can create different pages for different parts of your life, and create subpages, tables, charts, or calendars within them. You can even link specific pages with friends or colleagues. It's great for using on the go, and it keeps every part of your life organized.

Notion is available on Mac, PC, Apple, and IOS.

Spaced Practice

study materials such as a brown folder and a notebook containing highlighted notes

Studying the material you need to learn for a test once might help you a little, but it won't do much in the long run. Spaced Practice is when you learn the material once in class, then study it the next day, again two days later, then a week later, and two weeks later. Although it sounds like a lot more work, studying like this is going to help you retain the information for significantly longer. When it's time for finals, you won't have to relearn anything, just refresh what you already know. Your future self will thank you.

Forest

A phone opened to the Forest app. The background is teal and a small circle is in the center with a cartoon green shrub. Underneath the circle a timer reads 29:58.

Forest is an app that helps you to stay off your phone or other electronic devices while you're supposed to be working. The app allows you to set timers, and while you work, you grow trees. If you try to exit the app while the timer is running, your tree will die. The more you work without distractions, the more trees you grow until you eventually have an entire forest.

Forest is partnered with Trees for the Future, and donates some of the money they earn from users spending virtual coins to grow real trees. Trees for the Future is an organization in Africa, South America, Mexico, and some parts of Asia that trains farmers to regenerate their land. They plant trees to create nutrient-rich soil so that farmers can grow fruits and vegetables for their communities. Their mission is to end world hunger while caring for the environment.

Teaching others

hands holding iPad show a green screen colored like a chalkboard with white math work written on it.

One of the best ways to learn is through teaching others. The idea is that you explain a topic you need to learn to a friend, a family member, or even a stuffed animal, and try to be as descriptive as possible. As you explain it, make a note each time you're not sure of something, or are missing a bit of information. When you're done teaching them, study the sections you weren't sure about.

This is a great way to identify gaps in your knowledge of a topic you need to learn. By explaining it to someone who knows nothing about it, you're forced to go in-depth and actually know the definitions of the words you're using.

This is my favorite way to study, and I've been successfully using it for years. If no one is around to teach, I'll sometimes opt to write out an explanation. This makes it easier to include drawings or diagrams if it's relevant.

Studying and doing homework can be hard to get back into after online classes and a long summer. Hopefully, some of these tools can help make the process easier for you.

Quinn Beck

Quinn is a sophomore in high school with a passion for writing and journalism. They enjoy reading, drawing, and crafting in their free-time.