Study Habits to Develop Before College

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Highlighting and Typing Notes Can Actually Hurt More Than Help

The key to good grades is studying the material so that students understand the concepts and can apply them in the classroom. However, many students don’t practice effective study methods in high school, causing them to either memorize and forget information, or not fully grasp the concepts. These bad study habits can roll over into college – making the transition into a college course load even more difficult.

Good study habits can lead to good grades – which is important because colleges look at all four years of grades when evaluating applications You don’t want a few bad marks to hurt your chances of admission at your top-choice college. That’s why it’s important to understand why you may be getting less than stellar grades – and many times poor study tactics is the culprit.

Now is the time for high school students to hone their study skills so that they’ll be able to independently tackle their work and achieve great grades on campus. These study tips will not only help students succeed in the college classroom – they’ll also help them throughout the rest of high school.

Here are some good study habits for students to develop now:

Take notes the old fashioned way. Whether you’re allowed to have laptops in class, or just type your own notes while doing homework, it’s suggested you switch over to writing information down on paper. A recent Princeton University study found that students who take handwritten notes are more likely to learn and retain the information. Researches also found that “laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

Aside from the notes themselves, using a laptop in the classroom or at home during study time can also leave students tempted to engage in non school-related tasks. Many studies have illustrated the negative effects of multitasking in the classroom, yet another reason to leave your laptop at home.

Shut off to your mobile phone. Texting during class is not only seen as rude but it can also affect the quality of your learning. Studies over the years have found that texting in class can result in lower grades. A 2012 study found that undergraduate students who texted or used Facebook more frequent in class had lower overall semester GPAs.

Another study undergraduate students—half of whom could text during class and half of whom could not—noted that “the quiz scores of texting students were significantly lower than the exam scores of non-texting students.” Additionally, “[these] results are similar to the results found by neuroscientists on the brain’s ability to retain and effectively retrieve information under dual tasks conditions.”

Basically, our brains can’t do two intellectual tasks at once – carry on a text conversation and pay attention in class or effectively study. So when it comes time to study for that big exam, shut off your phone and leave it in another room.

Put away the highlighter. This classic studying technique isn’t actually a great method. Summarizing an Association for Psychological Science report from 2013, Time Magazine notes, “Some research even indicates that highlighting can get in the way of learning; because it draws attention to individual facts, it may hamper the process of making connections and drawing inferences.”

Instead of turning your books and notes neon-yellow first read through everything once with out highlighting, underlining, or taking notes. Then, read through a second time, taking notes as you go along. It’s okay to highlight a passage or phrase here and there, but incorporate it into your note taking – don’t just study the highlighted portion word for word. Find out how it connects to the overall concepts and integrate it into your notes.

Practice and study over time. The same study also notes that studying in multiple sessions, rather than all at once (no all-nighters) is more effective study strategy. It takes time to process and understand information, and absorbing it in small chunks over a long period of time will help you remember and perform better. After all, your brain can only absorb so much at once.

Practice testing, even just in the form of flashcards, is also a beneficial strategy as it forces you to recall and process the information – the same thing you’ll need to do on an actual test.

Some of the no-no’s—such as taking notes on a laptop or covering your textbook in yellow highlighter—may be part of your current study routine, but don’t worry, there is still time to change your habits before college starts! What good and bad techniques would you add to our list?

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