Who doesn’t want to get higher grades in school? Every student (or parent) wants to do better in school but sometimes does not have a clue.
Here are the principles that have worked with many students:
• Sit close to the teacher. Studies show that those who sit closer to the teacher or lecturer gets the most attention. Moreover, the closer you are to your teacher, the more you will be encouraged to listen to her. You’ll be able to see the blackboard better and hear words more clearly.
Sit in an invisible “T” area in front of the teacher, which comprises the area in front of her and to her closest right and left sides.
• Take good notes. According to a Chinese proverb, the slightest ink on paper is better than the most retentive memory. If the teacher draws a diagram, says a key phrase, then be sure to jot this down.
If your teacher tells a joke, you can also note this down because the joke can remind you about the lesson. After your class, it’s best to take a quick read of your notes, while your memory of the lesson is still fresh.
• Don’t be afraid to ask questions. By participating in class, you will be emotionally invested in the day’s lesson. And since our memory is closely tied to our emotions, this will help you remember your lesson more.
• Talk to teachers after class. If there’s something you didn’t understand from the lesson, you can ask your teacher to clarify. I’m sure the teacher won’t get mad and she will even appreciate your initiative.
• Eat a healthy breakfast. Studies show that students who ate breakfast received higher test scores and had better concentration and memory retention compared to those who skipped breakfast. They were also more alert and creative.
• Do some exercise. By getting up and moving around, you will improve the circulation of blood in your body, including your brain.
• Get enough sleep. You need at least six to eight hours of sleep every day so you can function well. It’s a bad idea to cram and stay up late the night before the exam. Start and finish your review early so you’ll be fresh and focused when the test comes.
• Consider brain food and vitamins. Yes, there is such a thing. You can eat an ounce of nuts a day, which are filled with good oils and can increase your brain’s serotonin levels. Oily fish, like sardines, tilapia, salmon and catfish, are filled with omega-3, which are good for the brain, too.
If you want a vitamin, some studies show that taking a multivitamin, vitamin B complex or Omega-3 fish oil supplements may help your memory, too.
• Set a goal for yourself. It’s nice to have small goals for yourself. If your previous grade is a 75, then your next goal is to get an 80, and so on.
Don’t aim for a 95 right away or you might get disappointed. When a student sets a goal, he is prepared to sacrifice more to reach his goal.
• Do research. For difficult topics, learn how to use the internet wisely and search for references in the library. You can also ask a relative to help you out.
• Get into a daily routine. If you study a little bit every day, then you won’t have to cram (studying at the last minute) before the exam. Write a time schedule if you like.
For example, you can allot 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. for math, then after a 30 minute dinner break, 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for science. Set an early study period before your exam.
• Study in a quiet place. Turn off your cell phone, iPod, internet and television when studying. These little distractions will make it harder for you to focus. You will only end up watching TV and forgetting your lesson. Study first, play later.
• Choose positive friends. If you hang out with diligent students then you are more likely to imbibe their good habits. However, if you keep company with friends who don’t study, then your grades might suffer, too.
• Make study guides for tests. My college teacher at the University of the Philippines used to tell us that the key to good learning is to have clear, concise and indexed notes.
Make short bullet points or summaries of your lesson and write these down. File these notes in a folder or box, so when the time for exams comes, you can readily review your notes.
• Employ memory tricks. Use mnemonics, which use the first letter of each word to be memorized. You can also use drawings and figures to help you remember.
• Group study for special cases. Before a big exam, it can sometimes be helpful to study in groups of three to seven people.
Everyone can study a certain lesson and take the time to share notes and teach each other. Of course, there are students who study better alone. Find out what suits you best.
• During exams, learn to budget your time. If you are given an hour to finish an exam, allot 30 minutes for the first half and 30 minutes for the second half. Skip difficult questions and go back to it later. Answer the easy questions first to help boost your confidence.
• Pray. There’s no harm in praying before your exams. It’ll calm you down and give you peace of mind. Faced with a test, just do your best and leave the rest to God.