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Archive for the ‘Study Skills’ Category

6 Strategies to Complete Your Summer Reading On Time

Wednesday, June 28th, 2017

Summer reading strategies

It’s already the middle of the summer. Do you know where your summer reading books are?

If you answered “no,” don’t worry. While you don’t want to put your summer reading off until the day before school starts, there is still enough time to not only get your reading done, but also really remember what you’ve read so you can be prepared to talk about the book on the first day of class.

Here are a few strategies you can try to get your summer reading finished and truly understand what the book is about:

  1. Set Weekly Reading Goals
    OK, let’s say you have a 300-page book you need to finish by Aug. 27. Instead of trying to read everything at the last minute, break the book up into manageable chunks. Divide up the number of pages by the number of weeks left in the summer and then mark your calendar with how many pages you’ll need to read each week in order to be finished by the due date. You can even set a reminder on your phone to alert you to when you need to start reading. Tackling a little bit at a time will make it so much easier!
  2. Read the Book with a Friend
    Instead of struggling through a book on your own, why not read it with a friend? You can either form a book club with a couple people and meet to talk about it when you’ve finished, or find one friend reading the same book and check in with them about it each week. Not only will this keep you accountable for reading, but you’ll have someone to discuss with when that one character does something really shocking.
  3. Tell Your Family About the Book
    While this might not be as much fun as talking with someone else who is also reading the book, telling your family about what you’ve read is a great way to make sure you have understood and remembered it. Give your family a summary of what is going on when you’re at dinner, or tell them some things that surprised you as you were reading.
  4. Annotate Your Book
    Struggling to remember what you just read? Try annotating your book — highlighting or underlining sentences, writing down notes in the margins or using Post-it notes to mark interesting passages. Be sure to mark down any places where you have a question or read something that surprised or interested you, as well as passages that reminded you of something in your own life, in another book or in society. Sure, it may seem like a chore, but learning how to take notes effectively is essential as you tackle more and more difficult books.
  5. Make Up Study Questions
    Want to really impress your teacher when you get back from summer break? Think about some study questions that your teacher might ask about the book, such as ones that might spark a debate or lead to further discussion. It’s a great way of getting yourself to think more deeply about the book and get yourself prepared for an in-class discussion.
  6. Keep a Vocabulary Journal
    When you come across a word you don’t know as you’re reading, jot it down in a notebook or on your phone. Then when you’re finished with the chapter, go back and look up the definition of each word. Not only will this give you a better understanding of the text, but you’ll also be strengthening your vocabulary, which will be a big benefit when it comes to taking standardized tests.



Posted in time-management | Comments are closed

Trade in your post-its for a 3-part to do list

Monday, May 15th, 2017

Life gets overwhelming when you have a whole bunch of tasks you could be doing or “should” be doing. This mental to do list takes up a lot of brain space that could be devoted to actually getting stuff done.

A long to do list can also be stressful because it’s hard to decide where to focus. By choosing to do one thing, you are automatically choosing not to do the other things, which creates stress about whether those other things will ever get done.

And as the cartoon below illustrates, Post-its are great, but they’re probably not gonna get the job done.

Strategy: a new kind of to do list

The folks at Mission Control Productivity have a method of making to do lists that could be life-changing. Just follow these steps:

Step One: Brain dump. Just write down everything you have to do or want to do, from the little nit-picky tasks to big lifelong goals.

Step Two: Rewrite the items from the brain dump, putting them into one of three lists:

  • List A: Things you will do in the next 2 weeks.
  • List B: Things you will do between 2 weeks and 6 months from now.
  • List C: Things you will not do until 6 months from now or beyond.

Step Three: Put the items from List A into existence. That means write in your calendar or assignment notebook when you will actually do each and every thing on that list.

Step Four: Any time a new task or goal comes to mind, write it on the appropriate list.

Step Five: Every two weeks, revisit the lists. Move things from list B over to List A.

Why it works

This system is powerful because you can rest easy knowing everything has been addressed and everything will get done. All you have to do is follow what your calendar says to do.

You can stay focused and stop wasting precious energy trying to remember things that you are not working on right now.

Tip: include everything

Don’t be shy about the brain dump in step one. Include everything, from all aspects of your life: academic, personal, and social. Include conversations you need to have, chores you need to do, steps you need to take toward your goals.

Everything from cleaning your room, to thanking your aunt for the birthday gift she sent in the mail, to writing an outline of an essay due in English, to going in to see your math teacher for extra help; all of it should be included.

Recommended Viewing

Check out this quick video from ASAP Science about scientifically researched techniques for improving productivity.


Posted in executive functioning, organization, productivity, Study Skills, time-management | Comments are closed

Win the Study Game

Friday, December 4th, 2015

ready set go image

Have you ever thought of studying as a game? Some of the most successful students are not necessarily those with the greatest natural ability or intelligence in any given subject area; they’re the ones who know how to “do school.”

If you were to think of studying as a game, you might say that these students have learned the rules and perfected the strategies. And that they are playing to WIN. This month we look at how you can make final exam preparation into a game you can win.

Reward Yourself

One way to stay focused is to set a short term goal and then reward yourself when you meet it. Decide ahead of time what the reward will be so you have something to look forward to. The goal might be something like…

  • 60 minutes of uninterrupted study time with no phone, internet, or other electronic distractions
  • reviewing a stack of flashcards until you know every word in the stack
  • reading one chapter or section of a textbook

When you’ve won the little “game” you set up for yourself, make sure to enjoy the reward. It might be talking to a friend, watching an episode of your favorite show, or having a snack.


increase arrow bar graph

Break Your Own Record

Some people do best when they strive to surpass their own prior achievements. If that appeals to you, try this little game.

Make a list of five habits or activities that you know will make you a more successful student. This might include things like…

  • reviewing notes after class
  • rereading textbook chapters
  • making or studying flashcards
  • visiting a teacher to ask for help
  • contacting a classmate to ask for help

Then record how many times you do these habits in a week. Maybe in the first week you do 3 of these habits one time each. The next week you can strive to surpass that record and go for 4 habits one time each. And the next week try for all 5 habits, or strive to do some of the habits more than once in a given week.

students working

Start a Friendly Competition

It never hurts to invite some classmates into your study games. Try creating a friendly competition that will motivate you to get your work done. Once you find a friend who wants to enter your competition, propose a goal you both want to strive for and a prize that the winner will receive.

Your goal could be studying a certain number of hours in a day, memorizing a certain amount of information that will be on an exam, or earning a certain grade on a practice test.

Enjoy your Success

Don’t worry about bragging. If you have set a goal for yourself and reached it, it’s worth sharing your success with at least one other person. Find someone who will appreciate that you are playing to win the study “game.” Tell that person about the game you set up for yourself, and then celebrate what you’ve accomplished.



Posted in Study Skills, Tips Tags: , , , | Comments are closed