A Study Strategy for Greater Success


People seem to like to set goals. A popular time to set them may be in January when the new year begins; others often set goals according to the start of each new school year. Working with students, I often ask them about their goals. Serious athletes may want to excel in a sport and tell me they want to make it to the Olympics. Less-serious athletes may think more locally and just hope to earn a place on the junior varsity team at school. Still other students may think of the new school year as a time to put new habits in place so they can achieve academically. Academic goals may not be as fun to think about as the athletic ones, or as much fun to work toward, but they do matter, and do make a difference.

Michael Jordan, former basketball player for the Chicago Bulls, once said,

" Some people want it to happen, some people wish it would happen, others make it happen."

There's a lot of truth to that saying; after all, you don't just snap your fingers to achieve a goal. With sports, no one expects to show up at the soccer game and just become the star of the team; they go to practices, listen to the coach, implement suggestions, and, after practice, spend extra time on their own practicing, practicing, and practicing some more. That's the only way they'll even stand a chance of getting better at the game.

The same can be said of academic gains. If you do the same things you've always done, you'll end up with the same level of achievement. If you set a new goal, you're going to have to do something new in order to achieve it. Will it be easy? Not always, but the first step is always the hardest step to take.

Try adding a strategy involving a note card system to your daily plan, and see what differences you realize:

  • Have a stack of note cards/index cards and highlighters available. You get to choose the size.

  • At the end of each school day, look at every handout, reading assignment, vocabulary list, or any other type of information you were given or assigned by your teacher; highlight the important notes. Do not highlight whole sentences or paragraphs; just mark the important words.
  • After you have highlighted the information, start making study cards for yourself. On one side of the card write the topic, and on the other side, in bullet format, write 3-4 notes that are important to know about that topic. Again, do not write in complete sentences.
  • Make a note card for every piece of information you need to learn, whether it's from spelling, vocabulary, or notes from a textbook or worksheet.
  • When you are finished, review all of your note cards, and start to memorize each one. You might draw a picture to help you remember the information; or maybe you prefer letters from some of the words and making an acronym. Another name for this type of hint is a mnemonic device. Like ROY G BIV stands for each of the colors on a rainbow. Or HOMES gives you a clue to the names of all the Great Lakes. Try to make some type of mnemonic device for each note card.
  • The next night, make new note cards for the information you were taught at school that day, review the old cards, and memorize the new ones each night.
  • Does it sound like a lot of work? Only if you take a break and let all the work build up.

    And when you need to study for the next test? Imagine that! You only need to review!!

    Try it. Once you get the hang of it, it will cut your work time in half, and your grades will go up, up, UP!

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