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Good Student Study Habits for High School Students

Good Student Study Habits for High School Students

Students must learn to study effectively to improve their grades in school. However, strong study habits are only attainable when students understand their learning styles and implement healthy practices.

As an educator or administrator, how can you support good studying practices for students? This guide explores the various study methods that exist, how your students can find the right studying habits and tips for applying them effectively. 

The Importance of Studying Before Tests 

Implementing the right study strategies is critical for building confidence and boosting performance on tests and exams. Here are three reasons why studying is good for students: 

1. Improves Feelings of Preparedness 

According to studies, test anxiety can negatively impact a student's performance on tests. Test anxiety often happens when students feel less prepared. One way to reduce its occurrence is by improving the student's perception of preparedness. Taking practice tests helps students gain exposure to the material and become familiar with its contents and structure. 

This allows them to have more confidence while studying, as they feel more sure that they are studying the right content. Improved preparedness is essential for ensuring students are focused and can work with a clear mind on the test day. 

2. Promotes Long-Term Learning 

When students continually study over a longer period, it enhances their ability to retain information. Some students use the cramming study method, which involves learning multiple topics in a short duration.

In some cases, this may prove ineffective because the brain is forced to work harder to recall past information. In contrast, long-term studying avoids overworking the brain. It makes it easier to form connections between past learning topics and new ones. 

3. Supports Consistent Improvement

Three high school students study in a classroom.

Students who consistently study are typically more likely to see continued growth and improvement. It becomes easier for them to recall past study topics and learn new information each time they approach the same or similar practice tests and study material. This allows them to perform better on tests and exams. 

Different Types of Study Methods 

All students are different and may have varying study strategies that help them absorb information effectively. Here are some different study methods to account for when teaching students to incorporate study habits that work for them:

1. Active Learning 

Active learning engages the brain through thinking, investigating and discussing educational topics. You can encourage students to practice this learning and studying method by having them answer questions, solve issues and apply concepts to real-life situations. They can actively learn through group discussions, creating concept maps and explaining their understanding to others. 

The key here is to ensure students understand why they're learning the information given to them. Show them how their learning topics will affect them in real life and what critical life skills they'll gain from it. 

2. Note-Taking and Reviewing 

Some students retain information best by taking notes while the teacher is giving a lesson. This is a valuable method for those who forget information quickly after first hearing it, especially when educators are moving through a topic fast.

The actual writing and taking of notes can be extremely beneficial for absorbing and retaining the information. Research found that students had a 34% likelihood of remembering key information if they wrote it down in their notes. Meanwhile, information not recorded in notes only had a 5% chance of being remembered.

This method is most effective when incorporated daily. For instance, after a student returns home from school, they might review their notes to ensure they are organized and correct. They can also use this time to highlight key points, apply post-it notes and color code topics for easier retention. 

3. Reading and Active Recall 

A teacher points to a student who is raising their hand in a classroom.

When students read through class material while studying, the process should be accompanied by other effective practices for retaining information. This strategy is similar to active learning and is called “active recall.” This technique can involve answering practice questions, using flashcards and taking quizzes to test students and actively retrieve information from their memory. 

This method offers a great way to strengthen neural connections and enhance retention. It also helps students deepen their understanding of class material and identify which areas require more attention.

An effective method for reading and studying involves getting a general overview of the material by reading the title, introductory paragraphs and all headings. Students can then skim study materials for the key ideas and practice the four R's — read, recall, reflect and review. 

4. Spaced Repetition 

Spaced repetition is an excellent study habit for improving long-term retention. Rather than trying to understand multiple topics in one study session, students space out their learning over a long period. 

Doing so allows them to continuously review the same topics while adding new ones to reinforce their knowledge and improve retention. Students can execute this method by starting weeks before the exam and breaking up their studying into shorter, more frequent sessions. 

5. Interleaving 

Interleaving is a special study technique that explores different topics during a study session. This effective habit can improve students' engagement throughout study sessions, enhance memory retention and boost their understanding of connections between different pieces of information. 

For example, interleaving might include alternating between different types of math problems for a math exam or different historical events for a history exam. Doing so will help students better distinguish the difference between topics. They can also explore how history topics relate to one another to deepen their understanding. 

6. Visual Aids 

Visual aids offer an excellent way to help students understand and remember complex topics. They are any visual representation of information that allows students to establish the connections between various pieces of information. Examples include mind maps, diagrams, graphs, labeled illustrations and videos. These visual aids organize the information into an easy-to-understand format that highlights key information and links concepts and ideas. 

Visual aids are especially helpful for those who gain a better understanding through demonstrations rather than simply reading through topics or listening to the teacher. They can also keep visual learners engaged, stimulating thinking and other cognitive capabilities.

Visual aids can improve learning by up to 400%.

In fact, research shows that using visual aids in the classroom may improve learning by up to 400%, and visual learning methods are 83% more effective than text alone. These findings have helped educators approach the goal of enhancing student engagement in and out of the classroom.

7. Elaboration 

Some students need a thorough understanding of topics to stay engaged and retain the information effectively. To do so, they must expand on the information they learned to remember important details.

For instance, they may ask questions, explain concepts in their own words or make connections with other pieces of knowledge to elaborate on their study topic. The aim is to look at a topic from various perspectives to deepen their knowledge and make learning more meaningful. 

8. Teaching Others 

For some students, explaining their understanding of a topic to other students can help them strengthen their knowledge of the subject. This method can help identify what topics the speaker understands clearly and which ones need more attention in study sessions going forward. 

If, as a teacher, you notice students who prefer to study this way, you may encourage them to share their understanding with the rest of the class, only interjecting to correct information and elaborate on certain points of information. 

This strategy may also help those who prefer to listen to material and take notes. Students who prefer elaboration may use this opportunity to ask critical questions that can help them expand on information. You may also encourage these students to form study groups for effective learning outside of class. 

How to Find the Right Studying Habit for Your Students 

The study strategy examples above are only effective when they work for the student. Here are some ways you can build up study skills for high school students, working with them to find habits that help them perform well academically as individuals:

1. Set Clear Goals 

A high school girl writes on the classroom whiteboard.

Goal setting offers a great way for students to build up their motivation to study well and perform well during exams. Encourage students to set clear goals that are specific, realistic and measurable. This method may either focus on a goal to achieve with every study session or for an academic term. 

It's important to break down larger goals into smaller, more achievable goals that allow students to see their progress and feel a sense of accomplishment after each study session. This is a great way to enhance their engagement with study material and improve their perseverance and productivity. 

2. Experiment With the Different Learning Styles 

All students have a particular learning style that works best for them. Some may be unaware of their learning styles and how to go about them. Teach them about the different learning styles. Encourage them to play around with them to find their ideal technique.

There are visual learners, kinesthetic learners, auditory learners and those who prefer to read and write. Visual learners have a clearer understanding of visual representations of information. Kinesthetic learners understand topics better through a hands-on approach, like actively tackling math problems using the techniques they learned to practice and understand information. Auditory learners gain an understanding through listening and discussing study material. 

Finding their ideal learning style will help them create more enjoyable study techniques. It will also ensure they develop healthier study habits that allow them to grasp concepts more efficiently. 

3. Implement Effective Time Management  

Encourage students to manage their time more effectively. Proper time management can help students reduce stress and better manage different tasks. Students can improve their time management by planning out their day and week in detail. 

For instance, they can use student planners to outline classes, schoolwork deadlines, after-school sports, downtimes and study sessions. These should also include time allocations for each and an indication of their urgency. For example, students could color code tasks based on their urgency and importance or create a prioritization bar for each task. This will improve students' efficiency and prioritization plans. 

4. Create a Distraction-Free Environment

Create a distraction-free environment to improve high school study habits.

A student's study environment can significantly affect their ability to understand and retain information. Educate students about the steps they can take to create a study environment that promotes focus and engagement with study materials. 

Firstly, they should designate a space primarily for studying, such as a particular desk or area of their house. This will program their brain to concentrate when they sit down in that area. Additionally, they should keep their study space clutter-free so their attention remains on their study material. 

Most importantly, to ensure the environment is distraction-free, they must turn off notifications, put devices on “Do Not Disturb” mode, mute their devices, use website blockers or turn off smart devices completely. The only materials students should have in this area include notebooks, textbooks, additional study materials, writing instruments, water and any snacks that might help them boost concentration. 

5. Practice Self-Care 

Students need to maintain their mental and physical well-being to study effectively and discover the best study habits for them. Remind students that self-care activities are just as important as their study schedule. Encourage them to prioritize activities like adequate sleep, relaxation time, healthy eating and regular exercise. 

By giving their brains and bodies to rest and nourishment they need, they foster a well-rested mind that can stay focused and alert when required. They can also absorb and retain information more effectively. 

6. Practice Task Prioritization and Organization Skills 

Knowing which tasks and practices to prioritize is essential for effective studying. Teach your students to improve their task prioritization and organizational skills by emphasizing the value of using time effectively. Tell them to reevaluate their to-do list and consider when particular exams or tests will be. 

Students should schedule their study durations and the order of tasks on their schedule based on the closeness of particular exams and their current knowledge of learning topics. They should also consider what will work best for them. For instance, while some students may feel better tackling easy tasks first, others may prefer finishing harder ones first. 

7. Form Study Groups 

A group of four high school students study at the library.

In some cases, students might find the right studying habits by studying with others. This activity gives students the opportunity to practice various study habits, such as teaching others, listening, reading, writing, elaborating and asking questions.

With various students working together, they can validate and expand their knowledge. This is particularly effective if any member of the group needs clarification on something taught in the classroom. Some students may also find this more engaging, helping them stay focused throughout study sessions. 

High School Study Tips 

In addition to the practices above, other techniques can help improve the studying experience. Here are additional ways to improve study habits, which you can reinforce in the classroom:

1. Be Prepared for Class and Attend Regularly 

Remind students that preparations for exams begin in the classroom. It starts with being prepared for class and attending regularly. This means getting to class on time to avoid missing key information and always bringing writing instruments, notebooks and textbooks. 

Encourage them to keep their classroom desks organized and always have their books ready to take quick notes or highlight key information. It may help to regularly pack their bags for the next day at night. They can also review the latest class notes the night before attending those classes. 

2. Stay Focused During Class Hours 

Concentration during class hours is crucial for an effective study session. As an educator, you can take many steps to ensure students stay focused. Use strategies for keeping students engaged, such as incorporating brain breaks to regulate their attention, creating experiential learning opportunities and turning learning activities like quizzes into games. 

3. Review Class and Study Notes Daily 

A high school teacher helps two students with their assignment in a classroom.

Rather than reviewing class notes before an exam, encourage students to review their notes daily after school to ensure they have a solid understanding of what they learned. If they need further elaboration, they can simply ask their teacher the following day when the information is still fresh. Students may even compare their notes with other classmates' to ensure they recorded information correctly. 

4. Enhance Motivation With Rewards 

Incentivize your students with rewards for their hard work. Both educators and students themselves can implement this tip. For example, you can motivate students to study for a short weekly test and reward those who pass with a snack or a few minutes of extra recess time. 

You can also teach students the importance of self-motivation through personal rewards after a study session. For instance, if a student completes a particular amount of time studying or finally understands a learning topic, they can reward themselves with their favorite snack, a walk around the neighborhood or an episode of a show they're watching. 

5. Stay Committed 

Remind students that when they start with a particular goal and begin practicing a study habit, they need to see it through to the end. This is the only way to establish whether a specific study habit works for them. Encourage them to stay the course, do their best throughout and remain consistent for the best results. 

6. Assign Schoolwork With Care

A high school students completes their homework at a table.

Consider how the schoolwork assigned to students to complete at home will affect their mental and physical health. When students receive various schoolwork to complete for different subjects, they may need to rush through study sessions and retain less information than they would have otherwise. It may help to extend deadlines or create time during class hours to complete assignments. 

7. Take Regular Breaks 

Encourage students to take breaks during their study sessions. Breaks are essential to ensure a student's brain can keep up with the information it receives. As an example, students may practice taking hour-long study sessions and 15-minute breaks in between or 30-minute study sessions with five-minute breaks in between. They can then form their ideal study routine based on the method that improves and maintains their energy levels best. 

8. Ask Questions 

Encourage your students to ask for help, whether they need a fresh explanation or an answer to a small misunderstanding. They can ask their educators, study group members or friends. This ensures that they stay on the right track while studying. 

Browse High School Student Planners From Success by Design 

By trying out different study habits in high school, students can find methods that help them excel in tests and exams. Fortunately, educators can usher students in the right direction in many ways. Get students started by providing them with actionable planners.

At Success by Design, we design high school student planners to encourage organizing, planning and executing schoolwork and study sessions more effectively. To help your students improve task prioritization and organizational skills, contact our friendly team to find the ideal planner today.

A high school student writes in their student planner.

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