Secrets to Successful Studying

How to Maximize Your Study Habits

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Secrets to Successful Studying

Trey Ecker (12,) Taylor Rohleen (11,) and Kelly Hazlett (12) summarizing their feelings about upcoming midterms.

Trey Ecker (12,) Taylor Rohleen (11,) and Kelly Hazlett (12) summarizing their feelings about upcoming midterms.

Photo Credit Kira Downs

Trey Ecker (12,) Taylor Rohleen (11,) and Kelly Hazlett (12) summarizing their feelings about upcoming midterms.

Photo Credit Kira Downs

Photo Credit Kira Downs

Trey Ecker (12,) Taylor Rohleen (11,) and Kelly Hazlett (12) summarizing their feelings about upcoming midterms.

Kira Downs, Section Editor

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With midterms and the end of the first semester encroaching, studying can become an increasingly vital skill. Luckily, there are a variety of tried and true tips for each class that can maximize your studying and make it as efficient and rewarding as possible.

Here are some general tips to take note of for any class:

  • Take advantage of all materials provided to you. Your teachers don’t give you textbooks, homework, and worksheets for no reason.
  • In AP classes, the exam’s main goal will not be simply to test your memorization of facts, but rather to see how well you can make connections between different concepts. Make sure you have a deep enough understanding of the subject to draw these conclusions.
  • Have an organized study space with minimal distractions.
  • Studying in groups with people you trust to stay on task can provide you with different perspectives and knowledge.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for help! Teachers will always be willing to help you if you come in before or after school, and tutors are always available for any topic.
  • Space your learning out over a long period of time- last minute cramming never ends well.

Because each class has different objectives, different strategies can work best for each kind. Here are some of my preferred methods for each class:


For English classes, especially AP Language or AP Literature, certain methods prove to be more effective in learning and applying the required material. One tip that cannot be emphasized enough is to not only read the assigned texts, but to truly analyze what you are reading. Annotating texts and learning to identify various syntax, diction, and tone vocabulary terms is a skill that will allow you to decipher deeper meanings that you can then apply to your own writing. Figure out how to distinguish your anaphora from your aposiopesis, your apostrophe from your epistrophe, and your verbal concentration from your nominal, then identify each in your reading.

Furthermore, it’s not a secret that the best writers are the best readers. A solid base of knowledge in literature and history facilitates the process of  making connections, understanding allusions, and bridging information together. Essays on both the AP Language and AP Literature exams require you to either construct an argument or explore a theme based solely on your prior knowledge, and having a wide variety of literary examples at your mental disposal can be the key to strengthening your essays.

When it comes to timed essays, if your teacher has a rewrite policy, make rewrites your best friend. Editing your own work ingrains your areas for improvement in your mind, and actually going through the process of correcting and enhancing your writing skills can lead to improved writing the first time around.


In mathematics based courses such as geometry, algebra, calculus, statistics, and physics, you can memorize as many formulas as you please, but there is no way around it- you have to do your homework. Formulas and definitions will do you no good without repeated practice of employing them to solve problems on a daily basis. Similarly, one of the most effective ways to study for a math test is by completing practice tests, many of which will be available in your textbook, and checking your answers.

If you are struggling with a topic in a math class, working through problems with a teacher, tutor, or parent can supply you with a new perspective or method on how to approach something. The three most important things in math classes are: practice, practice, and practice, with any materials available to you.

Science/Social Studies

Because science and social studies classes are often more rooted in memorization than application through problem solving, note taking and traditional out of the book studying are invaluable skills. Different note taking techniques work for different people, and there is certainly no scarcity of options. Viable options include Cornell notes, chapter outlines, mind maps, flashcards, foldables, and color coding. From personal experience, I have learned that making my notes look aesthetically pleasing always motivates me to study and improves my retention, so don’t shy away from the colorful highlighters and pens at the store.

Your assigned textbook will most definitely be a helpful resource, but the sheer volume of information covered in just one chapter can often be daunting and too much to absorb through just reading. In this case, test prep and review books can break the information down into much more accessible forms. Princeton Review and Barron’s are two of the most common books, and they supply ample information in a form that allows for efficient studying of basically any topic, including biology, chemistry, U.S. history, world history, psychology, and everything in between. To maximize the benefit of these books, breaking out the highlighter and pen to annotate, make connections, and fill in the gaps in the margins provided is an excellent way to actively read and absorb information. Barron’s also offers sets of 500+ flashcards on different topics, which will equip you a quick review method.

For more auditory or visual learners, online videos and podcasts can be an entertaining way to learn. John and Hank Green’s Crash Course Youtube channel has been a longtime favorite of history and science teachers, and for good reason. Bozeman Science also offers a helpful rundown of challenging topics, along with innumerable other study channels. If you have a long drive, or need background noise while doing something, listening to a podcast on a topic you’re studying will provide a unique way to learn the details of your subject.


Learning the ins and outs of a foreign language, usually Spanish or Latin for Satellite students, can be an intimidating task, but one that can be accomplished through proper studying. Having a thorough understanding of the grammar and syntax rules of the language will always be a solid foundation upon which to build your knowledge, so committing various conjugations and declensions to memory is a great place to start. Quick Study offers handy laminated guides for grammar, conjugations, vocabulary and more for languages that, in my personal experience, have proven to be incredibly helpful.

Once you have the basics of grammar down, application through translation and speaking will solidify your fluency. In Latin especially, most coursework is derived from translations of famous ancient Roman texts, and exercising your translation ability makes sight translations and reading a more approachable task. There are vast online libraries of writing in any language from famous authors that will challenge your skills.

If you want to take your learning beyond the language itself, familiarizing yourself with the culture and history of societies that speak your target language can deepen your understanding. For Latin students, attending forums and JCL competitions is the best way to further your passion for the language.

The golden rule in studying is that there is no golden rule; different methods work for different people. By trying different methods and putting in the time and effort, you will most certainly see the payoff you desire in your grades.