Make sure you have the basics covered. Your honest answer to each of these questions will probably pin-point any problems. Develop a routine and stick with it--that's the trick. Underneath these questions you'll find detailed info on each of the basics. Take control of your education.

  • Do you GO TO CLASS every day?
  • Do you PARTICIPATE in class every day?
  • Do you TAKE GOOD NOTES everyday?
  • Do you complete your HOMEWORK everyday?
  • Do you REVIEW for every quiz and test?
  • Do you always GET HELP when you need it?

Here's the breakdown.....


BE THERE. Everyday, period. Being sick is the only legitimate reason to not be at school. Every class you miss is 85 minutes of info you'll be expected to know when that test or quiz comes.

BE ON TIME. Be in your seat when the bell rings. Save the chatter for lunch or after school - remember why you are in the building in the first place.

BE PREPARED for class. Get in the habit of bringing your notebook, textbooks, pens, calculator, etc. and being ready to rock. Don't waste your time or your teacher's.

MAKE-UP is key (and we're not talking lipstick and eye-liner here!). If missed a class you MUST see your teacher asap to get notes, assignments, and/or make-up any tests or quizzes.

BTW: Blowing make-up work off is the BIGGEST reason kids fail courses!


ANSWER questions in class. If you're not 100% of the answer, take a guess now and then. Your teachers will appreciate you taking a risk.

ASK questions when you don't understand. Chances are that you aren't the only one in your class wondering what's going on. Too shy? Ask your teacher during a quiet moment in class, right after class, or email your teacher, whatever-- just DON'T WAIT!

VOLUNTEER if your teacher needs help, like running an errand, leading a group or just reading something out loud.

DON'T participate in social conversations, fooling around, teasing, etc. Save that stuff for after school.

  1. Cut down on the amount you write down, just capture the important ideas and vocab words. Don't use complete sentences and abbreviate wherever possible. The object is to break the info into the smallest bite-sized bits that you can.
  2. If you aren't sure, show your notes to your teacher now and then to make sure you're getting down all the info correctly. Be sure you are getting the info that you're going to be tested on--bad notes equal bad grades!
  3. Question Generate: At home, break out the notes you took during the day and apply the following steps:
    1. FOLD an empty notebook page in half lengthwise.
    2. BREAK the info into the smallest bite-sized bits that you can, if you haven't done so already. Skip the complete sentences - think ideas and/or phrases.
    3. CRACK each bit into a question and an answer.
    4. WRITE DOWN the questions on the left side of the fold and write
      down the answers directly across on the right side of the fold.
    5. QUIZ YOURSELF EVERY DAY on the notes you took by covering up the answers and asking yourself the questions. Go over each one till you get it right, then look at the answers and quiz yourself on the questions. Got to do it BOTH ways for the best results. Then go over all the notes you took since the last test and study the same way - it won't take long at all if you hit them every day. Cramming the night before a test is
    6. BAD--DAILY REPETITION IS THE KEY! You'll spend less time studying and get better grades---REALLY!
  4. After you get the hang of generating questions from your notes you're ready for the biggest, most time-saving step: INSTEAD if taking regular notes, start generating questions and answers in class! Fold your paper and go for it. Then the only thing you need to do after class (besides homework) is quiz yourself on the questions. See Mr. Heilshorn if you need some help with this. It takes some time to get used to but once you do you'll find this is the best way to kick major academic butt, period.
  1. Find your ideal place* to study. If home is too chaotic go to the library or stay at school.
  2. Find your ideal time* to do homework and stick with it.
    *The BEST time and place is right after school in your teacher's room!
  3. Decide what to study and how much/how long you will study.
  4. Do the hard stuff first.
  5. Study for 50 minutes and then TAKE A BREAK for 10 minutes.
    Eat/drink something healthy (no sugar!) Repeat as necessary.
  6. If you're getting really bored or tired, switch subjects. Stop if
    you can't be productive and come back to it later.
  7. Look over any memorization stuff just before you fall asleep at
  8. Study with a friend or a group. Quiz each other, compare notes
    and try to predict quiz/test questions. (1-8 from UNC CAPS

- ALWAYS write something down, even if you don't know exactly what you're doing. Check your notes, check the book, ask your brother or sister or mom or dad, call your friends and get some help--do whatcha gotta do but don't give up! Give it your best shot 'cause a wrong answer is better than no answer at all.

- If it's a reading assignment TAKE NOTES. Figure out what's important and get it into your notebook, just like you're taking notes in class. It's about the who, what where, when, how and why. Taking notes will also help keep you awake if you're a dozer. . . See how they do at Dartmouth.


By following the previous steps (taking good notes, asking questions, daily reviews) you are on your way to better test grades already. Here are some more suggestions:

  1. GET THE SCOOP on the test as far in advance as possible. You need to know exactly what material will be on it, what type of test it will be, how it will be graded, and how much it counts towards your final grade.
  2. SPREAD OUT your study time over several days for short periods of time. Cramming it all in the night before is a waste of time. You're better off getting a good night's sleep.
  3. TIME and PLACE are important, as with homework. Stick to the quite place and try not to study when you are hungry or sleepy.
  4. SET GOALS for each study session. For example, if your test is on three chapters, do four study sessions: one chapter each for the first three and then a review on the fourth.
  5. SKIP THE SILENT READING! Merely "reading it over" is a waste of time. If you must read, read out loud and in you own words. It has been proven to boost grades every time.
  6. MIX IT UP! Interact with the material by use flash cards, make up your own test, question generate, study with a friend or a group, outline your notes, make a timeline with dates, etc. This is the stuff that will help you remember things for the test.
  7. GET HELP if you get confused or find your missing some notes or information. Your teacher can't read minds so don't be shy - GO FOR IT. Remember, they get paid to help YOU.
  8. REPETITION IS KEY! Studying for 1 hour for 4 days will always help you more than studying for 4 hours the night before the test - really!
  9. CORRECT CORRECT CORRECT all quizzes and tests! Make sure you know the right answers to anything you got wrong so you can study from them.
  • Ask questions in class. You won't earn credit for being shy, promise.
  • Go over your notes and/or re-read the chapter and take notes.
  • Meet with your teacher outside of class, like before or after school or during lunch if they're available.
  • Make an appointment to see your guidance counselor.
  • Ask a classmate (you want to do it in class, get permission). Otherwise ask outside of class. College kids get great results from study groups - organize one with your classmates.
  • Ask a family member: a brother or sister or mother or father or grandma or granddad. You might be surprised what they know.

So you did your homework, congratulations. Guess what? It was all for nothing.

That's right, it was all for nothing UNLESS you corrected it all. During class the next day stay focused and find out what you did right and what you did wrong. Make sure you know how to do it ALL the right way.

Didn't get it all in class? Stay after school or come before school and meet with your teacher. Get your questions answered and you're outta there.

Now the really hard part: saving stuff. Unless you've got it all together in binder, keep a separate file for each of your classes and put all your corrected homework, classwork, quizzes and tests in it. The more you save, the more you have to study from, and the better you're gonna do in each class.