How to Study

Do you know how to study?  
Most middle school students struggle with this so you are not alone if you find studying hard. 
It would be great if there was a magic formula that instantly gives every student the perfect study method that works for them.
However, one of the best "side effects" of going through school is learning how to learn, and this journey is NOT the same for everyone.  

Here are some tips to help you discover what works for you...

#1 Complete Daily Work
It is hard to avoid work in class/home and then expect to do well on the assessment.
This also helps to earn points for the final grade. 
#2 Participate in class
Answering questions in class and getting involved in discussions helps with the retention of the material.
For those that prefer not to speak in class, answer questions mentally instead of sitting there waiting for someone else to respond. 
#3 Organization
Make sure you are using your assignment book and organizing your papers.
It is hard to study when you don't have anything to study from.
See Mr. P during Advisory if you need Folder Surgery.
#4 Repetition and Rereading
Repeat it over and over and over and over and over.
Sounds a lot like work.

Nonfiction reading can be more difficult than flying through a novel.
Sometimes it takes a second or third reading of the material to grasp it.
THINKING about the concepts and FOCUSING on the important terms helps as well. 

Completing worksheets without reading gets your homework done, but that method is a good way to miss a lot of important concepts. 
#5 Flash Cards
Test yourself or have someone quiz you.
Use index cards or try Quizlet with adult supervision.
Note: the ones posted on this site do not cover every concept on the test. 
All students will make paper flash cards for Bacteria to Plants Chapter 2. 
Tip from Louisa: cut flash cards in half if you write small & neat or you have large index cards. 
#6 Take Notes & Interact with Info
Sometimes just writing down the information helps to remember it.
Using strategies to CONNECT with nonfiction reading might help with recall as well. 

Here are some techniques we will explore this year...
   * Close Notes (fill-in-the-blanks): many sections
   * Worksheets (answering questions, matching, definitions, etc.): many sections
   * Cornell Notes Chapter 4 in Cells and Heredity
   * Charts: Genetic disorders, parts of a cell, and others 
   * Analogy: take notes in different locations like in VFMS cell school analogy
   * SQ3R: Chapter 1 in Bacteria to Plants 
   * Flash Cards: Chapter 2 in Bacteria to Plants 
   * Outlining: Chapter 3 in Bacteria to Plants
   * Drawing: creating visuals to help remember concepts
   * 3-2-1: when reading write 3 important ideas, 2 interesting things, and 1 question you still have.
   * The Protege Effect: Teach someone what you learned
   * In your own words: rewrite definitions and explanations
#7 Advisory
See teachers for extra help during advisory.
This is also a great time to reread and study.
#8 Avoid Cramming
Study a little every night or during advisory when you have less work to complete.
Trying to memorize a lot of material the night before might get you through a test/quiz but will you remember it after that?
Focusing on a smaller set of information can be less overwhelming.
#9 Location, Location, Location
Where do you complete homework and study?
Some students need peace and quiet, others prefer calm music or a busy kitchen with noise.
Try the Sound Sleeping tool for relaxing sounds.
Find your happy place by experimenting with different areas and the time of day to find what works best for YOU.
Yes, you might have to put down the iPad and turn off the TV.  

#10 Outside Resources: Be a Self-Directed Learner
Still confused?  Missed something in class?  Want more information?
The internet has an incredible amount of resources that might provide you with simpler explanations, videos, and extensions beyond what we go over.
Reliable animations like Brain Pop can be helpful with understanding complex concepts. 
Khan Academy is another great resource.
Be careful with Youtube! Make sure you are on reliable sites (remember the tree octopus). 
You could probably find a ton of websites and videos about HOW TO STUDY. 
Check out the ONLINE TEXT. 
Don't forget about those old fashion things in the library called B.O.O.K.S
#11 Be Efficient
Many families have busy schedules.

Find yourself in the car a lot going to practices? 
Have to wait for your brother to finish a music lesson after school? 
Extra time in advisory?

Use those times to review material. 

If you are overbooked with activities outside of school and can't keep up with your studies, you might have to think about what you want to focus on. 
#12 Review Jeopardy
When we have a Review Day (such as Science Jeopardy), it is a very good idea to reflect the entire period.
Attempt to answer every question, even when it is not your group's turn.
Most of the test questions from the game appear on the test is some form.
Feel free to write down a term/concept if you are unfamiliar or make a mental note to study that later. 
#13 Positive Attitude
At the top it says "Don't know how to study?"
How about "I don't want to study"?
Not many people would choose studying over a lot of other after school activities. 
You are perfectly sane if you don't like to study. You may not like to eat fruits and vegetables, brush your teeth, or go to bed at a reasonable hour either, but they are very important to your health.
Look for fun ways to study and avoid waiting to the last minute when it is more stressful.  

Change your mindset and self-talk as well.

Instead of focusing on being nervous. Tell yourself you are excited.  

Do not say things like: "I am terrible at taking tests" or "I am going to fail this."

Change it to something like: "Test taking might not be my strength, but I am going to do my best."

#14 Reminders about Study Guides & Flashcards
It is a good idea to focus on the study guide in the packet.
The online flashcards posted for each section will help with a lot of the terms.  
However, neither will cover 100% of the material on the test.

Observe the content on study guides as you will not always get a study guide in your future classes.


#15 Music
There are students that claim that can't memorize and then belt out every lyric of their favorite songs.
Mr. Parr is a genius with taking modern day songs and changing the words to help students remember important concepts. Or make your own!

Sometimes listening to music might help with staying calm and focused.
    Try or this one:  

#16 Mnemonics
Use a sentence or word to memorize a list of terms.
The Great Lakes: homes 
PEMDAS: Please excuse my dear aunt sally: 
Order of the Planets: My very energetic mother just served us nachos
Classification Taxonomy: Do kings play chess on fine glass stools

#17 Visualization 
Try to associate concepts with mental pictures or .

#18 Association
Connect a concept with something you are familiar with (example: we compared a cell and its parts with the school building).

#19 Test Yourself
Not all classes will give out study guides or list of concepts you should know.
When they do, make sure you know all of it.
Have a friend, sibling, parent, etc. ask you something from the list to see if you know the concept.

You can also do this in math.  Make up 1-2 problems that are similar for every page or worksheet in your unit.

#20 With great power comes great responsibility
The number one thing that middle schoolers like compared to elementary is the FREEDOM.
Conestoga students say the same thing about entering high school: even MORE freedom.
However, it also comes with a lot more responsibility, too.
Concepts get harder and just sitting in class is probably not enough to absorb everything you need to know.

IMPORTANT NOTE:  Don't Panic! It's just a test.
It is important to always try your best, but keep in mind that no college or employer is going to look at your middle school grades.
You will be fine if you get a grade that is lower than expected as long as you learn from it and strive to improve next time.
REFLECT on how you prepared. Continue doing what works and change what does not.

Overwhelmed?  Try breathing IN and OUT to the rhythm of this shape.

Rome was not built in a day and discovering what study methods work for you won't happen overnight either.