Good Study Habits and Positive Mentality in High School

If you are one of those students who are handling a heavy workload you should follow these tips since working with a heavy course load requires more time and proper planning. Even if you are extremely efficient, you will have less time for extracurricular activities, recreational or not. This means a higher risk of burnout, which more or less could damage your motivation and overall productivity in the long run. You know you are at risk of burnout if you have taken on a full course load of 5 AP classes during your junior year and this can prove to be a notoriously difficult task. Some classes are much easier like Statistics for example vs. Calculus AB/BC. There is a lot you need to do the first semester of each year in high school but this is true especially during the junior year since that is the time when you will have the highest load of AP/H classes. If you are in junior year, you should factor in preparation for ACT/SAT/PSAT. For more on that visit voicedblog.com

Here is how to start: 

  • – Find your comfort zone and get used to the expectations of teachers and all the due dates.
  • – Find the right group of friends you can depend on and figure out which clubs or organizations to join.
  • – Establish good study habits that will allow you to take on the heavy course load; socializing and exercise should be factored in as well. This is one of the most important years in high school but it is also the toughest.
  • – Don’t forget that you are in high school not only to study but also to make some memories (this will take time from your daily schedule too.)
  • – Factor in the fact that each class translates into 2-3 hours of homework outside of class. Which is in total 45-60 hours of your 84 waking hours (12 a day) when you are not taking time to do basic maintenance tasks like eating, showering, commuting, or attending clubs and volunteering.
  • – Consider how difficult the courses that you are taking are, and if you’re with an easier workload begin to seriously prepare for the SAT subject tests. By doing most of the AP load this year, the future ‘you’ may thank you for making senior year easier.
  • – Quality over quantity of study: the more efficient and focused you remain the higher the chances of preserving quality in your work, which in return translates into higher retention, better grades, and desired SAT subject scores at the end.
  • – Familiarize yourself with the material BEFORE the lecture, a common time to do this is the weekend before. This is so that the lecture is more of a review session for you. Taking notes during a lecture about something you know nothing about is not efficient, as you have to later figure out what your lecture notes even mean.
  • – There is no magic to making the knowledge last. Just follow the steps mentioned here.
  • – Sacrifice one weekend a month to study for the subject that doesn’t come naturally to you.
  • – Study ahead! Take notes and go a couple of chapters. This will pay off, guaranteed. Review regularly, right after the class, and write questions in the margins. True understanding is the result of reviewing what you have learned several times instead of cramming. This is difficult if you have too many classes (for example, you should do the reading before a class, take notes during the class, sit down and reorganize right after the school day, review in one week, in one month, etc.)Textbooks are useful, but teachers usually test on what they emphasized, that’s what your notes are for. Teachers will often say in class. “This chapter will not be on the test”, or “study these concepts”.
  • – Pay full attention in class and take attentive notes so that you make more connections when you’re reviewing the material, which you should do at least once a week if you can’t manage to do it every day.

What is burnout and how to recognize it? Burnout is chronic emotional and physical exhaustion. The earlier you recognize these symptoms the easier it is to make changes to alleviate stress.

  • – Do NOT stay up late night after night. Establish routine and don’t work after 10:00 PM. Take full advantage of a free period (if you have one) to organize your upcoming projects or simply to schedule your day to avoid procrastination.
  • – Balance involvement with extracurriculars. You might want to join a ton of clubs due to the large variety. Realize that you’ll be in high school for 4 years, you do not have to do them all at the same time but once you find your passion, pursue it. If you are a President of one club, stick to that.
  • – Have fun! Sounds silly, but taking a study break to visit a friend or to exercise releases positive energy that will allow you to hit the books harder. A good way to do this is to simultaneously work on a recreational physical skill that you enjoy. This way you exercise, learn a skill (dance is a great way) and have fun all in a few hours.

Study Habits:

  • – Teachers want ALL students to succeed but more so the students they like. Make yourself likable by connecting with your teachers and asking questions.
  • – Perception is part of how you’re judged and when you’re in high school and later in college, the teachers and the professors are the judge and jury in your trial.
  • – Active reading: Read the table of contents, graphs, and pictures first, then read the chapter, this way you have a general idea of the logical progression of the book, which enhances comprehension.
  • – Be an active reader who continually asks questions that lead to a full understanding of the author’s message. Note the questions down in the margins of your notebook. For more help with AP English Language and Composition or any English language, classes visit VoicED.
  • – During classes that involve more of factual information and less of conceptual type learning: Focus on facts themselves rather than how many there are.
  • – For fact/memorization type classes, taking notes might not be the most efficient way of learning due to how rapidly information is presented.
  • – Do not fall behind in classes. Pay attention and make sure you understand everything during the class. If not, do some reading or ask your teacher. Seek to achieve understanding IMMEDIATELY (WITHIN 48 HOURS), you don’t want to realize on finals week that you don’t understand ⅓ of the material.
  • – Go to office hours. Make sure you are free during your teachers’ office hours for harder classes that are comprehension based. Memorization classes are entirely up to you.
  • – Make sure you have legitimate questions that do not waste time, or they will begin to dislike you for wasting their time. If you ask good questions, they will begin to know you as the student who goes to office hours a lot, and if you make the effort, you may gain a valuable resource for a good letter of recommendation and recommend you for internships in the future.
  • – Your cell phone is your real enemy. Do not place it next to you while working. If you think an important call is coming, leave your phone out of reach but in the hearing range. You do not need to instantly reply to messages. Anyone who gets mad at you for not responding instantly even after you explain that you are working is not worth being your friend (this advice is for friends and not family.)

Time Management

  • – Have a master action list that you check frequently. Decide on your main purpose. Is it getting into a specific college? Is it to get a scholarship? Or, perhaps it is to win a Science or a Math Olympiad? Defining your purpose will give you energy and motivation when times get tough. It will also create a perspective for you which can be very motivational. Your purpose will ultimately determine the depth of your engagement in a specific activity.
  • – Stay organized to avoid cramming later.
  • – Make a plan on how to divide your time between all classes.
  • – Find your most productive hours and make sure you only use them for studying or homework.
  • – Start the day by thinking about each class or a task one at a time. Thinking about the entire day at once will overwhelm you. Eating the whole whale is counterproductive.
  • – Instead of wasting time looking at your phone or checking social media the moment you get up, say your affirmations or control your mind into positive talk.
  • – Split tasks into manageable chunks (work for small set intervals of time and take breaks when you manage your time.)
  • – Split essays into 3-day chunks or more. Day 1:consider what you want to convey, outline the essay. Day 2:write for a set amount of time, 2 or 3 hours. Day 3: write for the same set amount of time 2 or 3 hours, finish the essay. If you did not sidetrack, other than short breaks (preferably not social media checks), you should be done by the third or fourth day but aim for finishing by the third day. For essays that require research, do so on the first day of the assignment as it will allow you to mull over the content even if you are not actively writing. Familiarity is the key.

Create a priority list :

  • – To make sure the things you are spending time on make sense create a priority list of tasks. For more on that make sure to use the app College Admissions Prep.
  • – Save a time slot every day for studying.
  • – Once you set time for a specific subject or a task it will become a habit. This is especially applicable to spending time on mastering subjects during the weekend.
  • – When you form this habit, studying will seem like the natural thing to do at that time slot each day.

Get organized:

  • – Make sure you never have to search for things or have to clean up for hours your backpack, folders, or even your documents folder.
  • – Set a daily habit to clean 5 minutes a day. Organize your files (color code so you can find things without wasting time. You should do additional research on your own about this.  Exercise
  • – Running and moderate endurance workouts lead to the most neurogenesis in the brain according to this research. If you are no longer taking P.E. and you do not do any other sports, practice this at least twice a week, though preferably once every two days. Ideally, practicing some sort of recreational physical activity like rock climbing or martial arts. That way, you develop a fun/practical skill while working out at the same time.


  • – Perseverance and diligence are key qualities. The number one strategy that leads to good grades and success overall is perseverance. There is no shortcut to developing mastery and no amount of technology is going to substitute for hard work and perseverance. You have to keep up your performance for the duration of the semester and the year.
  • – Remain curious as this will be the driving force behind your motivation.
  • – Interest in a subject will always translate into better performance and certainly will lead to you enjoying the subject more while in the class possibly even for the rest of your life. Some subjects naturally come easy to some and that is a sure sign of what your talents and interests are.
  • – Oftentimes with perseverance and many hours spent on a subject matter, you will develop mastery and that will lead to a continuous interest in that subject, which in turn will manifest as a talent and a passion. Avoid labeling yourself as “I am not good at math” or “I cannot write.” Your interest in a subject is predetermined by how you look at it. Thinking of a subject creates a mental image, an abstraction of what you think the subject is about. Without investing time and work, that kind of perception is oversimplified and most likely wrong.

How to successfully read a book and organized material:

  • – Preview the book. Read cover, intro, table of contents, skim chapters. It helps to familiarize structure. Is this book worth reading?
  • – Decide the purpose and depth of reading.
  • – Go through titles, subtitles, pictures, build familiarity with chapter and helps me put details in the right context later.
  • – Quick read first: This fills in the details of the context you build in the previous step while giving you a glimpse of which might be the important ideas.
  • – Reread to highlight important ideas and record these ideas.
  • – Create a book map after reading the entire book; follow by creating a book summary. The first part of the summary is a book map. A book map maps the structure of the book, this is usually less detailed than the table of contents, too many details here distract from the big picture
  • – Write the ideas from each chapter.
  • – Remember, the goal is to get ideas so you can focus on them. Write these ideas down to internalize them.
  • – Write down the main themes of the book. This can be a separate list of main ideas/themes from the book, this will be the most important ones from your earlier notes.
  • – Annotate the book and take notes on the side.
  • – Underline key passages and star favorite quotes.
  • – Create a Commonplace Book or a Journal for inspiration, quotes, ideas in a portfolio or on flashcards.
  • – Dig into references and sources for further studies when interested.
  • – Devote time to reflect on what you’ve read.

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