If you want to stand out from the competition and get into the college of your dreams, you must dedicate extra hours to sharpening your study skills. Strong study skills can help you drastically improve your GPA and set you apart from your peers. Developing study habits now will also make you a more attractive college candidate and help you get into the college of your dreams. While the college application review process is holistic in that it looks at all parts of your application, it’s hard to separate yourself from the competition without a strong GPA and stellar grades.
You’re in high school, and your time is limited. Between exams, classes, studying, extracurricular, family responsibilities, and more, we know you’re stretched for time, and it can be a true challenge trying to make it all fit. This is where time management really comes into play. Our Crimson team consistently sees that students who organize their time succeed. Consider trying a time management app like FocusMe.
We recommend using a daily planner to plan out your days. Whether that’s a virtual calendar such as Google calendar or a physical planner that travels everywhere with you, use it and stick to it as best you can. Schedule in your free time, test prep hours, everything you can think of.
As you’re studying, also try out the Pomodoro Technique, which helps you break down large tasks into smaller blocks of work, so it’s more manageable, and you’re rewarded with breaks. This way, you’re able to visualize how each day’s hours get spent, and you’ll find a sense of accomplishment ticking each of those tasks off. Make sure you’re budgeting in time for adequate sleep! Without the right amount of sleep, you won’t accomplish your tasks as efficiently.
Take time to reevaluate your to-do list. What’s the most pressing item there, and which ones can wait? Is it more important to prepare for your AP US History exam on Friday or complete your Honors Literature essay due in two weeks? Since you have your daily planner dialed in (ideally a few weeks ahead of time), you should be able to look ahead at what’s coming and figure out what needs to be tackled first. Some students work best by getting the harder tasks out of the way first, creating a sense of accomplishment, and lightening the load going forward. Some students prefer tackling easy tasks first, so they’re able to cross off a few things on their long list quickly. Figure out which system works best for you and stick to it. The most important thing is that you look at your upcoming tasks holistically and figure out what needs to be handled first.
We’re all familiar with being in class, feeling like we understand a concept, then returning home to tackle our homework, feeling lost on the same material. This is where diligent and organized note taking comes into play. Not only does note taking help you review class material after first hearing it, but the actual writing and taking notes of what you’re hearing will help you absorb and hold onto more of it rather than the information flowing in one ear and out the other. Of course, it can be hard to keep really organized notes when the teacher is moving quickly in class. This is why Crimson recommends reviewing your notes each night. Go through and highlight key points, color code particular topics, add post it notes to areas you know you need more clarity on. Your notes are your surest guide to success in your classes.
Top Skills to Prepare for College
Think you have what it takes to get into a top university? Check out our free college admissions calculator
In order to succeed, make sure your study space is set up to your liking. Clear off all of your distractions, have all of the materials you need: think textbooks, notebooks, highlighters, your favorite snack, etc. If your desk is disorganized, it can be difficult to focus on what really matters. We recommend having a study space separate from where you like to relax or sleep. This way, when it’s time to work, you come to your study space, and when it’s time to relax, you’re able to disconnect from your work and recharge.
Provide yourself rewards for your hard work. Did you bust out three hours of studying for that upcoming test? Treat yourself and allow your brain to recharge. Maybe that means a walk around the neighborhood, eating your favorite snack, or watching a favorite show. Just make sure you come back to your work when you need to. Remember your long-term goals and why each of these small tasks really matters. Small successes add up to your overall goals. Keep the long game in the back of your mind while you focus on bite-size tasks that will get you there. Don’t forget to reward yourself for the small wins along the way to keep yourself motivated and charging forward.
What happens when you get stuck on a concept you don’t fully understand, and you’re stuck at home without access to your teacher? This is where study groups can really come in handy. Forming study groups with a few classmates will help reinforce concepts, allow everyone to talk through questions, and really solidify your understanding. Reviewing aloud can immensely help students absorb the material and make sure they fully grasp it. It’s also a great opportunity to help out other classmates while you continue reviewing the material. It can also break up the monotony of studying for hours on end alone. We’re all for teamwork at Crimson!
Interested in how to ace your SAT? Check out these SAT study hacks shared by experts. These tips can be transferred to any subject. Still looking for more tips? Try this blog from Ivy League graduates on How to Get Good Grades.