Refresh Your Study Skills

It’s hard to believe school is starting in less than a month. Time feels both compressed and incredibly sped up in a world where the normal markers of time – a summer internship, hanging out with friends, only seeing parents when they come home from work – are largely absent.

But soon students will have to get back into groove of school. Many parents, even those with the most academically inclined and well-organized students, know this may be especially challenging this year, given the quick pivot to remote learning last March and the fact that learning is likely to look different this fall – many school districts and independent schools have announced either full-time remote learning or some sort of hybrid schedule for the fall.

But for high school seniors (and juniors), there is no time to waste. While college admissions deans issued a statement in June reassuring students that they understand the extraordinary uniqueness of the current situation, colleges will, nonetheless, be looking at students’ grades when making admission decisions.

In fact, fall semester senior year grades may be more important than ever for two reasons. First, many students did not get spring 2020 grades, and even those who did had anything but a “normal” semester. Colleges may want the benefit of fall 2020 grades to fully assess students’ transcripts. Second, many students will be unable to submit standardized test scores, which means that even more emphasis will be placed on assessing students’ transcripts (which have always been the best predictor of college success).

Luckily, good study skills and strategies can help students jump back into the routine of school. Research out of Global Cognition, a think tank dedicated to “understanding thinking skills and how they can be improved,” notes that “students who get good grades simply use essential study skills and strategies.” They recommend five study skills that can help “accelerate” learning: students should (1) ask “why” questions when they learn something new – this helps students integrate new information with what they already know; (2) explain what they are learning to themselves – this helps students identify what they don’t understand; (3) test their mastery of what they are learning with flash cards, online tests or questions in their textbooks; (4) give themselves time to study – what they call distributive practice; and (5) mix up what they are studying – what they call interleaving practice  – for example, when studying math, students should switch between different types of problem sets – because this gives them practice recognizing different kinds of problems when it comes time to taking a tests.

Global Cognition’s “21 Study Tips: Learn the Strategies that Set Top Students Apart” can be found here:https://www.globalcognition.org/21-study-tips/.