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Having Trouble Focusing on Studying?

As much as parents would love their children to simply sit down and study, it unfortunately rarely works out that way. Part of the problem could be your student does not know how to study (it is not always due to a mental imbalance!). Not knowing how to study can cause frustration and boredom, which translates to fights and misconceptions with parents. It is therefore important for your student to find the most beneficial way to study his/her material.

Here are some tips I have picked up along my own journey through school and personal experiences:

1. Flash cards of key terms, definitions, equations, etc. Although most students prefer to make flashcards to quiz themselves and each other, don't push this technique! Like everything else, flashcards are not for everyone. Students sometimes tend to memorize the order the answers are in, rather than the actual answers themselves; be sure to constantly mix up the flashcards when studying to ensure this does not happen.

2. When reading textbooks, pay attention to bolded words and figures (especially in science!). College is all about extracting the key concepts from texts, and most high school teachers will do the same to prepare you.

3. Have a parent or friend quiz you.

4. Explain the material to a parent or friend. If you can explain the material without it in front of you, that is a sure sign you have mastered it!

5. Chew gum, drink water, or hold an object in your hand while you study. For those of us (like myself) that get bored while studying, keeping another part of your body busy while studying helps fight off that boredom.

6. Keep background noise to a minimum. While having some background noise can make you feel less lonely while studying, too much noise can make your brain compromise what you are reading to pay attention to what you are hearing. Retention of studied material will decrease as noise increases.

7. Location! Find a comfortable spot to study.

8. Do NOT wait until the night before an exam to study. This will increase your stress level thus inhibiting the amount of material retained. Cramming only allows you to retain material short term (who wants to learn material more than once if you don't have to?).

9. Study for a set amount of time, at a time, with small breaks in between. Sitting down for three hours straight to study is not for everyone. Figure out the amount of time you can sit down and study (whether it be a hour, half hour, or ten minutes) and take a few minute break in between. This will help you keep focus.

10. Study examples done in class and handouts you have been given for the material. The majority of your tests will most likely be based off of material you have worked with in class and for homework.

11. Highlight important terms and phrases in your texts or handouts. Terms and phrases that appear repeatedly, or that your teacher emphasizes tend to be the most important.

12. After reading a paragraph, summarize in your own words what the text was about. Taking notes while reading a chapter helps your brain to process what is being read even further. Not only are you reading the material, but you are also writing it down giving you double exposure to the material. Reading out loud will give you triple exposure.

13. Make (personal) associations with the material that will help you to recall the material later on.

I hope these tips help you as much as they have helped me. Parents, always encourage your children to do well and to develop good study habits. Always seek advice from your individual teachers as well; they will be able to tell you what to focus on for tests. Study skills are a skill that you will have and apply for the rest of your life. Afterall, we don't want to have to remember every single sentence in everything we read for the rest of our lives!

If you have any questions or comments please do not hesitate to share!


Stephanie C.

Pre-Medicine Student for Science and English Tutoring