Calgary Board of Education

Study Skills

How to be Successful in High School

  • Get right amount of sleep each night (8 hours)
    • Shut off electronics 1 hour before bed
  • Attend every class, every day, on time
  • Pay attention, put away electronics in class
  • Do assigned work, fully and completely
  • Hand in all assignments
  • Ask questions if you don’t understand
  • Access your accommodations if you are eligible
  • Review lessons each night (20 minutes should be enough)
    • Say it out loud or read it to someone else
  • Study at same place and time each night
  • Stay organized
  • Study Tips

  • Test Preparation Tips

  • Test Taking Tips

  • Reducing Test Taking Anxiety

  • Resources for Parents of Students with Exceptional Needs

Students with better study methods and strategies score higher on their exams.


Everyone is different. Different methods work for different people; the following are only suggestions on improving upon your current studying techniques.
  • It is best to review the material right after class when it's still fresh in your memory.
  • Don't try to do all your studying the night before the test. Instead space out your studying, review class materials at least several times a week, focusing on one topic at a time.
  • Have all of your study material in front of you: lecture notes, course textbooks, study guides and any other relevant material.
  • Find a comfortable and quiet place to study with good lighting and little distractions (try avoiding your own bed; it is very tempting to just lie down and take a nap).
  • Start out by studying the most important information.
  • Learn the general concepts first, don't worry about learning the details until you have learned the main ideas.
  • Take notes and write down a summary of the important ideas as you read through your study material.
  • Take short breaks frequently. Your memory retains the information that you study at the beginning and the end better than what you study in the middle.
  • Space out your studying, you'll learn more by studying a little every day instead of waiting to cram at the last minute. By studying every day, the material will stay in your long-term memory but if you try to study at the last moment, the material will only reside in your short-term memory that you'll easily forget.
  • Make sure that you understand the material well, don't just read through the material and try to memorize everything.
  • If you choose to study in a group, only study with others who are serious about the test.
  • Test yourself or have someone test you on the material to find out what your weak and strong areas are. You can use the review questions at the end of each chapter, practice tests that the teacher may give out or other pertinent materials.
  • Listening to relaxing music such as classical or jazz on a low volume can relieve some of the boredom of studying.
  • Don't study later than the time you usually go to sleep, you may fall asleep or be tempted to go to sleep, instead try studying in the afternoon or early evening. If you are a morning person try studying in the morning.

  • Preparation for your first test should begin on the first day of class; this includes:
    • paying attention during class
    • taking good notes
    • studying
    • completing homework assignments
    • reviewing study materials on a regular basis
  • Budget your time, make sure you have sufficient time to study so that you are well prepared for the test.
  • Go to review sessions, pay attention to hints that the instructor may give about the test. Take notes and ask questions about items you may be confused about.
  • Ask the instructor to specify the areas that will be emphasized on the test.
  • Make sure you go to the class right before the test; it's another prime time for the instructor to give out more hints or the format of the test.
  • Go over any material from practice tests, HW's, sample problems, review material, the textbook, class notes...
  • Eat before a test. Having food in your stomach will give you energy and help you focus but avoid heavy foods which can make you groggy.
  • Don't try to pull an all nighter. Get at least 3 hours of sleep before the test (normally 8 hours of sleep a night is recommended but if you are short on time, get at least 3 hours so that you'll be well rested enough to focus during the test).
  • Put the main ideas/information/formulas onto a sheet that can be quickly reviewed many times, this makes it easier to retain the key concepts that will be on the test.
  • Show up at least 5 minutes before the test start time.
  • Set your alarm and have a backup alarm set as well.
  • Go to the bathroom before walking into the exam room. You don't want to waste anytime worrying about your bodily needs during the test.

  • Bring at least two pens/pencils with good erasers, a calculator with enough batteries and any other resources that your instructor allows you to.
  • Bring a watch to the test so that you can better pace yourself.
  • Keep a positive attitude throughout the whole test and try to stay relaxed. If you start to feel nervous take a few deep breaths to relax.
  • Keep your eyes on your own paper, you don't want to appear to be cheating and cause unnecessary trouble for yourself.
  • When you first receive your test, do a quick survey of the entire test so that you know how to efficiently budget your time.
  • Do the easiest problems first. Don't stay on a problem that you are stuck on, especially when time is a factor.
  • Do the problems that have the greatest point values first.
  • Pace yourself, don't rush . Read the entire question and pay attention to the details.
  • Ask the instructor for clarification if you don't understand what they are asking for on the test.
  • Write legibly. If the grader can't read what you wrote, they'll most likely mark it wrong.
  • Always read the whole question carefully. Don't make assumptions about what the question might be.
  • If you don't know an answer, skip it. Go on with the rest of the test and come back to it later. Other parts of the test may have some information that will help you out with that question.
  • Don't worry if others finish before you. Focus on the test in front of you.
  • If you have time left when you are finished, look over your test. Make sure that you have answered all the questions. Only change an answer if you misread or misinterpreted the question because the first answer that you put is usually the correct one. Watch out for careless mistakes and proofread your essay and/or short answer questions.
  • Double check to make sure that you put your first and last name on the test.

Test anxiety is when a student excessively worries about doing well on a test.

This can become a major hindrance on test performance and cause extreme nervousness and memory lapses among other symptoms. The following are tips on reducing test taking anxiety:

  • Being well prepared for the test is the best way to reduce test taking anxiety.
  • Space out your studying over a few days or weeks and continually review class material. Don't try to learn everything the night before.
  • Try to maintain a positive attitude while preparing for the test and during the test.
  • Exercising for a few days before the test will help reduce stress.
  • Get a good night's sleep before the test.
  • Show up to class early so you won't have to worry about being late.
  • Chew gum (if allowed) during the test to help relieve test anxiety.
  • Stay relaxed, if you begin to get nervous take a few deep breaths slowly to relax yourself and then get back to work.
  • Read the directions slowly and carefully.
  • If you don't understand the directions on the test, ask the teacher to explain it to you.
  • Skim through the test so that you have a good idea how to pace yourself.
  • Write down important formulas, facts, definitions and/or keywords in the margin first so you won't worry about forgetting them.
  • Do the simple questions first to help build up your confidence for the harder questions.
  • Don't worry about how fast other people finish their test; just concentrate on your own test.
  • If you don't know an answer to a question skip it for the time being (come back to it later if you have time), and remember that you don't have to always get every question right to do well on the test.
  • Focus on the question at hand. Don't let your mind wander on other things.
  • If you're still experiencing extreme test anxiety after following these tips, seek help from your school counselor.

http://testtakingtips.com/study/index.htm

Controlling Procrastination

Procrastination is putting off or avoiding doing something that you must do. It is natural to procrastinate occasionally. However, excessive procrastination can result in guilt feelings about not doing a task when it should be done. It can also cause anxiety since the task still needs to be done. Further, excessive procrastination can cause poor performance if you try to complete a task with little time remaining. In short, excessive procrastination can interfere with your school and personal success.

Twenty things you can do to control procrastination.

  1. Reward yourself when you complete a task on time. You can surf the Internet, have some ice cream, or do anything else that is a positive reinforcer for you.
  2. Prioritize the tasks you have to do. Putting tasks in priority order will avoid the problem of trying to decide where to begin.
  3. Work on tasks at the times you work best. Some students can get things going in the morning, while other students may be more comfortable working in the evening.
  4. Don’t try to finish everything at once. Break tasks into smaller, more manageable parts.
  5. Work with a study group. The momentum of the other group members will carry you with them.
  6. Carefully schedule what you have to do. Stick to your schedule.
  7. Establish reasonable standards for completing a task. Striving for perfection can stop you from completing the task.
  8. Set specific goals and track your progress toward their accomplishment. This will help you avoid the feeling that the work before you is endless.
  9. Establish a comfortable place in which to do your work. You will be more inclined to do your work if your workspace is peaceful and inviting.
  10. Work for short periods of time. Set a timer for 15 minutes and take a short break when it goes off.
  11. Create a “to do” list at the start of each day. Keep the list to a reasonable length. Cross off each thing to do as you accomplish it.
  12. Don’t sit around thinking about what you have to do. Stop thinking and start doing.
  13. If there is a particular task that you dread doing, force yourself to face it. Once you complete this task, your other tasks will seem like “a walk in the park.”
  14. Think about all of the benefits of completing a task. Use these thoughts as motivators.
  15. Use visual reminders of what you have to do. Post-it notes placed in prominent places (e.g., refrigerator door, computer screen, and mirror) will remind you that something needs to be done.
  16. Organize your workspace. Spending a lot of time “looking” for what you need to do a task is a classic form of procrastination.
  17. Use peer pressure. This works for Weight Watchers and can work for you. Identify a friend to whom you are accountable for getting your work done.
  18. Focus on starting a task rather than finishing it. Bring your focus from the future to the right now.
  19. Don’t make too much of a task. Overvaluing a task can make you highly anxious. Anxiety can block your performance.
  20. Identify the ways in which you procrastinate. Take direct steps to eliminate these.

http://www.how-to-study.com/study-skills/en/controlling-procrastination.asp

Students who have been assessed by a psychologist or medical doctor and diagnosed with issues that may interfere with their ability to learn, can access accommodations in their classes and for their exams as per their professional’s recommendations.  These may include extra time for assignments and test to access to assistive technologies.
These students will also have their learning supported through an Individual Program Plan (IPP).  In September and February parents, students and homeroom teachers are to meet to go through the IPP and any other supports that may be helpful to assist the student.
Some helpful websites for parents may include:

Learning Disabilities Association of Canada http://www.ldac-acta.ca/ 
  www.ldonline.org
Learning Disabilities Association of Canada (LDAC) LDAA-CC
Children and Adults with Attention Deficit Disorders Canada CHADD Canada
  Calgary Learning Centre
Related links: http://www.ldonline.org/
  http://www.ldac-taac.ca/
ADHD http://www.chaddcanada.org/
Positive Behaviour Supports for Children http://www.pbsc.info/family/
Handbook for Parents of Children with Special Needs (2003) http://www.education.alberta.ca/media/448939/Learning.pdf