So many students know the pain of putting in a lot of work and still falling short when it comes to papers and tests. You may be wondering what you’re doing wrong.
It can be helpful to know that most problems studying boil down to three main factors:
- Difficulty understanding core concepts of subject material
- A distracting or disorganized study environment
- Difficulty entering a productive study mindset
For difficulty with core concepts, we recommend connecting with someone who can support you one-on-one. If you didn’t learn it in a class or in reviewing your notes, it probably isn’t going to sink in this time. We usually encourage students to approach teachers after school for help. If that isn’t possible, you might consider working in a study group with more advanced students.
If neither of these strategies work, connect with a tutor who can help you master the basics of the subject you are having trouble with. Individualized attention can boost your confidence and help you cultivate new approaches to challenging subjects.
The other two main areas–study environment and study mindset–require more individualized and targeted help. There are many types of learners, as this study from the University of Michigan illustrates, and each type needs a different kind of attention.
Still, there are certain strategies that are useful for all learning types. You might consider beginning by asking yourself a few questions:
Can I read my notes? Good note-taking is crucial for academic success. If you can’t understand your own notes, or if you’re taking down wrong information, it will be difficult for you to study effectively.
Do I know what I’ll be tested on? Often, students concentrate on minor concepts as if they were major concepts, and the reverse. Before your next big test, make sure you review the major topics that are listed on the syllabus. Recall which points your teacher and textbook emphasized.
Am I an active, careful reader? Reading is critical to academic success. Active readers will take margin notes, review each major point in a text, and research concepts and words they don’t know or understand.
Am I organized? Do I have a plan? If you frequently lose important papers and notes, if you forget assignments, if you don’t know due dates or test dates, you’re in for trouble.
So start by considering these basic points. If you want to learn more, visit the academic coaching section of our blog. Here you’ll find many articles and tips on time management, paper writing, study skills, and more. Feel free to contact us if you want an individual consultation.