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Author Topic: High School -- Grades  (Read 12903 times)
Yuki-onna
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« Topic Start: February 19, 2008, 06:35:22 am »

Well I'm having a problem in high school, and half my grades are slipping below the "A" belt, and one is on the borderline of a "C".   Tongue

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study. How do you guys study, prepare for tests, and overall do your best in classes. Have any tips in memorization?

Thank you  Wink
« Last Edit: February 19, 2008, 08:05:45 am by RandallS, Reason: Subject Normal Cased » Logged

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« Reply #1: February 19, 2008, 08:10:02 am »

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study.

It's been a long time since I was in high school, but when I was not really able to master the topics (plural -- as in most of them as opposed to some one thing I just wasn't good at), it was always because I had lost track of what was really important: getting good grades. I was spending too much time on things other than studying and paying attention in class.

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« Reply #2: February 19, 2008, 10:49:55 am »

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study. How do you guys study, prepare for tests, and overall do your best in classes. Have any tips in memorization?

This is not uncommon in high school - especially about half way through.

There's a combination of reasons why:

* Some people with previously high grades didn't necessarily develop really good study skills. The skills they had may not be suitable for more advanced or challenging material - or for topics which are not as intuitive for them.

* In later high school, you often start taking more classes that really are challenging, and that encourage different ways of thinking. Some people do really well at swapping between modes. Other people either have trouble swapping, or have one or two courses that just are always going to be harder for them.

(I spent my 11th grade year with a high C+ in physics, because of a combination of previous math experience - I had less than most of my class - and because some of the approaches to the topic just weren't the way I learned best. I worked *really* hard on that class, far harder than my English and historiy classes where I had As. I did fine on the achievement test, and I can still discuss the theory behind it intelligently, but I had a horrible time with problem sets and labs.)

* Teachers sometimes have different standards later in high school than earlier in your education - they often want you to start going beyond simply giving back what they've told you, and want further analysis or your own thoughts to be included in new ways. It takes time and practice to learn how to do this (but it's a really useful and necessary skill for all sorts of reasons.)

* Every so often, you hit teachers who either you don't mesh with (for example, they use a teaching style that is very different from your preferred learning style), or who grade unusually harshly for your school. Chances are, you'd know if this were true for you - but working on the previous things in this list will help if this one is also true.

So how do you deal with it? Having some idea which of these it is will help you get started. For example, if you're getting lots of comments back on your assignments that say "Give me more analysis", that'd be a sign that your teachers are looking for something more than you're giving them.

A good place to start is to ask your teachers for help - they can give you the best idea of where to focus on improving your grades. They may also have suggestions for resources.

If your problem is in remembering material (like for tests), ask if they can suggest study skills resources or see if there are other people in your class (who are interested in doing well and have compatible study approaches) you could study with. The school I work at has someone who helps teach study skills, as well as peer tutors for some subjects.

If it's a learning style issue, see what you can do to put material in a learning style that's most compatible for you. For example, if you have a teacher who uses a very visual style (lots of diagrams, for example), and you have a more kinesthetic one (feeling and space), you might try 'acting out' the diagram and seeing how it works, or moving pieces (stones, pieces of candy, whatever) around that represent the numbers you're working with. If you learn things related to music easily, you might try coming up with chants or tunes that help remind you of what you're learning. (Think the ABC song!)

(Former teenager, but I work in a high school library: I see a lot of people figuring out how they learn.)
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« Reply #3: February 23, 2008, 08:40:58 pm »

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study. How do you guys study, prepare for tests, and overall do your best in classes. Have any tips in memorization?

I suppose a lot of it is what you're studying. Some memorization techniques work better for different subjects.

What I do for foreign languages, or any type of vocab, is that I write the fact I'm going to memorize over and over and over saying it my head each time rhythmically. Then, on the test, I'll remember the rhythm and the sound of what I was repeating and get it right.

Then there's always mnemonic devices, that I use in math and science, but once you have too many of those it gets ridiculous. Also, if it's definitions, write it out in your own words.

This doesn't work for me, but some people remember things by giving what you're memorizing a picture in your mind.

You could also associate what you're remembering with things from your own life. I use this on a couple facts per test, but I mostly rely on the first two strategies.

And of course, there's always flashcards. Which I hate, but some people can't live without them.

You could also type up your notes from class when you get home, being sure to expand them with every single tiny step you need to remember from a process in paragraph form, maybe with detailed illustrations of what teachers put on the board, bolded text, italics, and everything. You could even include pics on the internet for like, science courses and things, if you can't draw it. (i did this f'ex while i was studying cell structure, atomic structure, and things like that.)

Some of these are *bound* to work for you, trust me. My GPA would be *nothing* right now without these.
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« Reply #4: February 24, 2008, 03:52:48 am »

Well I'm having a problem in high school, and half my grades are slipping below the "A" belt, and one is on the borderline of a "C".   Tongue

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study. How do you guys study, prepare for tests, and overall do your best in classes. Have any tips in memorization?

Thank you  Wink
Lots of good advice here already. As Jenett said, the best is to go at first to your teachers, because they know you better than we and also what they expect of you.

If you can't remember things because they are unstructured or you have the feeling of loosing the overview make a mind map with all the keywords.

If you can't write down many keywords or can't link a keyword to the others it's a good indicator that you haven't got the 'red thread' of all the stuff you've had in class yet. Then look through your notes and try to find one or a couple of keywords as result of every lesson (some lessons will just repeat though).

When you have your mind map full of bubbles and arrows take a fresh sheet of paper, a big one at best, and give the whole thing a structure that is easy to overview, like a tree, a house, a circle, anything that would work for the topic and not look like a chaotic mess. If you have a more abstract setting (unlike tree or house) use different bubble shapes or icons/symbols for different keywords. It should also to some point satisfy your sense of beauty, because you'll remember the structure better then, but you don't have to be artistically inclined to use that technique. Then hang it up somewhere you see it a couple of times.

That's how I often learn. Which subjects do you have problems with? Not all techniques work the same on different subjects.
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« Reply #5: February 24, 2008, 05:04:11 pm »

Well I'm having a problem in high school, and half my grades are slipping below the "A" belt, and one is on the borderline of a "C".   Tongue

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study. How do you guys study, prepare for tests, and overall do your best in classes. Have any tips in memorization?

Thank you  Wink

My study habits were always rotten, but one piece of advice I can give you is to get a good night's sleep. It helps the brain function all around. Also, I'd say studying for a short time every day is way better than a huge cram session the day before the exam. For anything other than straight name/date lists, I suggest you go for familiarization rather than memorization: turn it over in your brain, make bad puns about it, imagine setting it to music in a youtube video, whatever, until you know this stuff like your friends and not just like your friends' phone numbers. I find for both science concepts and artwork, knowing the back story really helps me remember what things are. (unfortunately, I ended up remembering art the same way I do people: "hey, I know you, you're ... uh ... whatsisface.")

When it comes to English class and other text-based stuff, I'd say ... practice. For every hour of required reading you do, read other stuff (fun stuff) for two hours. Doesn't matter what. Yeah, I know ... but the more you read, the faster and easier you'll read, and you'll learn grammar, punctuation and composition just through example. I know I never learned any language skills in high school english; it all came from the novels I devoured.
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« Reply #6: February 24, 2008, 06:53:28 pm »

Well I'm having a problem in high school, and half my grades are slipping below the "A" belt, and one is on the borderline of a "C".   Tongue

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study. How do you guys study, prepare for tests, and overall do your best in classes. Have any tips in memorization?

Thank you  Wink


Hey there, for English I recommend really familiarising yourself with the texts you have to learn.  Reread it numerous times, begin to look at themes, motifs, writing structure and remember key quotes from the text.  Always ask why the writer does something and pay attention to things that stand out, look at the way the text is written as well.

If you can, in an essay based exam, spend 5 mins planning what to write- i.e. writing intro with one or two lines what you are going to say, using key words from the question, and then write point 1- with one or two words, point two… conclusion-writing down the key words from the question and a few words about your conclusion.  Do not just dive in to the question. 

By planning, you are showing the examiner that you are structuring your essay; it quickly demonstrates that you are thinking about what is being asked and it keeps you to the point of the question rather than rambling on.  There is less chance of you misreading a question.  No matter how simple a question may seem, always always read it carefully.

 In multiple choice exams, in questions that you don’t know the answers to, eliminate the answers that clearly seem wrong i.e. D) all of the above.  That way you can increase the probability of you getting the right answer.

If you can, ask your teachers to lend you some past papers.  That is a must!  It helps you get used to a type of exam, what questions are common and likely to be asked.  It gives the advantage that you can test yourself under exam conditions to help give you practise in completing it under the time and ideally double checking your work.

I help remember things through visualisation, especially when I was doing things like biology.  It helps you to understand what is going on.  I did this in things like theoretical experiments that I would be questioned about but never did. 

Associate key concepts, dates, people with words or objects, no matter how silly or rude, think up silly scenarios like others have suggested. It helps! It helped me in history which is really just a big soap opera.

 Repeating things out loud can be helpful as is writing out a text book answer using your own words.
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« Reply #7: February 25, 2008, 11:27:46 am »

My study habits were always rotten, but one piece of advice I can give you is to get a good night's sleep. It helps the brain function all around.

Sleeping and obtaining the REM state (that is, dreaming) actually serves to move the events of the previous day from short-term memory into long-term memory.  Even a power-nap in the afternoon may be enough to suffice.

Cramming puts the information into short-term memory, which gives us quick recall of the facts.  However, there's not a whole lot of space available in short-term memory, so stuff gets bumped out.  Long-term memory doesn't have the speediest recall, but basically once it's there, it's there, we just have to figure out ways to access the more obscure facts.  (This is where creating mneumonic devices really helps!)

Basically, NEVER pull an all-nighter when studying for an exam!

I have different methods for studying depending on what the test is going to be like and what I am expected to do.  Cramming just before the test is great for recognization (word matching, multiple choice, vocabulary).  However, for synthesis (essays, short answers), I read the text and my notes in the days leading up to the test and make sure I get a good night's sleep in the day before the exam.

For best results, I recommend doing both.  Read and re-read to make sure you truly understand the concepts, get some good sleep, then cram the vocabulary and definitions in the hours before the test.
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« Reply #8: February 26, 2008, 03:07:58 am »

My study habits were always rotten, but one piece of advice I can give you is to get a good night's sleep.
Good advice and easy to do! *thumbs up* (If you're not a case of bad-exam nerves.)

Best is you go quickly through your notes again directly before sleeping, because the info gets better memorized then. If you learn on the afternoon, watch an exciting movie in the evening and go straight to bed after that, the first thing you remember on the next morning will be the exciting movie...  Roll Eyes
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« Reply #9: February 26, 2008, 08:51:51 am »

Sleeping and obtaining the REM state (that is, dreaming) actually serves to move the events of the previous day from short-term memory into long-term memory.  Even a power-nap in the afternoon may be enough to suffice.

Cramming puts the information into short-term memory, which gives us quick recall of the facts.  However, there's not a whole lot of space available in short-term memory, so stuff gets bumped out.  Long-term memory doesn't have the speediest recall, but basically once it's there, it's there, we just have to figure out ways to access the more obscure facts.  (This is where creating mneumonic devices really helps!)

Sleep doesn't do anything towards moving info from short into long-term memory.  What most folks refer to as "short-term" or "working" memory only lasts a few seconds, so the idea that you could move substantial amounts of information from short-term memory to long-term memory as you sleep really doesn't make sense.  Sleeping does prevent new information from being acquired and interfering with old information, so studying right before you go to bed the night before an exam makes sense. 

Also, short-term memory doesn't really work quite like you described.  There isn't any difference in the recall speed between short and long-term, and "space" isn't so much an issue as decay rate. 

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« Reply #10: February 26, 2008, 02:36:56 pm »

Sleep doesn't do anything towards moving info from short into long-term memory. 
I just described it in the dumbed-down "I'm not a scientist" way it was described to me in this one class I took.

Below is a website that lists abstracts of several research reports that describe the role of sleep in memory:
http://www.memory-key.com/NatureofMemory/sleep_news.htm

The site also includes links to the full-text journal articles, however many (if not all) require a subscription to view.
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« Reply #11: February 26, 2008, 05:26:52 pm »

Sleep doesn't do anything towards moving info from short into long-term memory. [snip] Sleeping does prevent new information from being acquired and interfering with old information, so studying right before you go to bed the night before an exam makes sense. 

However it works, it does. It's an obvious helper for me if I study right before going to sleep. I know a lot of people don't recommend it since there's a danger of putting down the book and snoozing, but I find that I have to put in almost zero effort to memorization if I simply sleep after studies.
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« Reply #12: February 26, 2008, 05:29:26 pm »

I just described it in the dumbed-down "I'm not a scientist" way it was described to me in this one class I took.

Whoever described it to you that way didn't do a very good job of explaining the role and content of short-term memory. 

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« Reply #13: February 27, 2008, 01:12:55 am »

It's been a long time since I was in high school, but when I was not really able to master the topics (plural -- as in most of them as opposed to some one thing I just wasn't good at), it was always because I had lost track of what was really important: getting good grades. I was spending too much time on things other than studying and paying attention in class.

Randall, I agree with you that keeping ones priorities straight should help with grades.  I know this is my problem.  I work nearly full time and and I hang out with my friends whenever I get a chance.  Basically, I leave myself no time to study.  My transcript shows the results: 100% A's the first 1 1/2 years of college, then *gasp* a B, and now (in my 3rd year), 50% A's and 50% B's.  My JPA is dropping, because I find it incredibly hard to concentrate on academics.     
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« Reply #14: February 28, 2008, 05:47:10 am »

Well I'm having a problem in high school, and half my grades are slipping below the "A" belt, and one is on the borderline of a "C".   Tongue

I can't seem to really master the topics, and I want some tips on how to study. How do you guys study, prepare for tests, and overall do your best in classes. Have any tips in memorization?

Thank you  Wink

Summaries! Cheesy Making summaries can be very helpful when you have to learn large quantities of texts. And by 'making' summaries, I don't mean 'steal a random one from a random website' (though more reading on a subject cán be helpful and fun) or 'log in on msn and use a summary your classmate made'. Making a summary is half the studying. I use this way of learning often for history and biology tests.

Hope this was of any help.
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