Whether you’re a Freshman having to face midterms and finals for the first time or a Junior balancing between SAT prep and research projects, school can easily become overwhelming. It’s easy to fall behind in Chemistry, and even easier when you still don’t understand last semester’s material. So, here are some study tips that are sure to help you get your grades up.
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1. Focus On Understanding, Not Memorizing
This is the most important tip. When you memorize facts and numbers, it’s easy to forget all that information right after an exam. However, when you have a deep understanding of the subject, those concepts stay with you and help you understand more abstract ideas.
In fact, the Scientific American reported on this idea, explaining that when math teachers place importance on memorization and speed, this actually hinders a students’ ability to perform well. Take it from mathematician Laurent Schwartz, who according to the article, believes that “what is important is to deeply understand things and their relations to each other. This is where intelligence lies. The fact of being quick or slow isn’t really relevant.”
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2. Don’t Make Excuses
“My teacher doesn’t like me”, “I’ve never been good at math”, “School’s just never really been my thing”.
Here’s the thing. Everyone learns a different way.
When you consistently perform poorly in a subject, it’s easy to believe that you just aren’t good at it, and you never will be. But that is a HUGE misconception. Sit back and ask yourself why you are doing poorly in that one history class you loathe. Is it hard to follow what your teacher is saying in class? Do you find yourself zoning out when reading the textbook? Do you have difficulty remembering names and dates? These things don’t mean that you will never get an A in history. It just means you have a different learning style, and you need to adjust your study habits.
- If you have trouble following the lecture, read ahead. Then you will have a better understanding of the material beforehand, and it will be easier to follow along. Also, take down notes during class. This will force you to listen more carefully to what your teacher is saying.
- If you zone out when reading the textbook, try to figure out why. Sometimes when you read something you have trouble understanding, you start thinking about something else and then realize you have no clue what you just spent the last ten minutes reading. Keep a dictionary with you at all times so you can look up words you don’t understand. Google events and terms you’re not familiar with. Re-read paragraphs if you still feel like you don’t understand what you just read.
- If you have trouble memorizing names and dates, try using notecards. Start a week before an exam so that you aren’t overwhelmed with all of the information. Try memorizing five notecards every night right before bed. The next day, add five more, and so on.
3. Change Your Attitude
School sometimes puts too much emphasis on percentages, scores, and AP credits. But it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. You are there to learn. You’re there to improve your writing so you can one day write a great novel. You’re there to study physics so that you can be part of the team that will eventually send someone to Mars. You’re there to study different languages and cultures for when you finally get to travel the world. Don’t let the stress of getting a certain score on an exam overshadow your passions and interests. There’s no such thing as “not being a good learner”.
4. Focus On Progress, Not Perfection
You may never be the top student in your Chemistry class. And no matter how much you study, there will always be that one student in Biology that gets a higher score than you even though they barely opened their textbook all year. And that’s okay. Dispel the myth that school is a competition. You are there to become the best version of yourself. That’s it. All you should concern yourself with is becoming more knowledgable, open-minded and motivated than you were the year before. Because learning doesn’t end when school does, and if you get into this mindset now, you will find yourself on a path to a seriously successful future.
Now go finish the rest of the school year with a bang!
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