Struggling in school? Feel overloaded with homework, classwork, reading, quizzes and exams? Here are 11 tips to start the school year off strong!


1. Pay attention.


This may seem obvious, but it actually works. Pay attention when your teacher or professor talks, even if it seems like they're talking about the most insignificant of things. Many times teachers will put small, seemingly insignificant details on assessments just to see if you were paying attention. You could gain (or lose) a few extra points, which could mean the difference between a C and a B or a B and an A.

2. Expect the worst.

I've found this technique to be very helpful — basically, expect the worst, and everything will turn out better. The summer before sophomore year of high school, I was panicking, because I was going to take my first AP classes the coming school year. I had taken none in freshmen year, and I was about to take three. I kept on imagining scenarios in which I received failing grades on every assignment I turned in or when I was laboring hours and hours on endless homework. I expected these classes to be hard. Faced with that mindset, I walked into school expecting the worst — only to find that these classes weren't as hard as I imagined and that some were even interesting.

3. Exercise

You may think exercising is a waste of time, especially when you could be finishing homework or hanging out with friends, but it actually saves time. How? Exercise over time is proven to make you feel more energetic and healthy. That way, you won't feel tired all the time and might (not promising anything, though) perform better on tests or quizzes.

4. Study every day!


Even if you don't have any exams or quizzes the next day, find the time to study a little bit of everything. It will help you retain more information, and on AP exams, it will help so that you don't have to cram everything in the night before.

5. Take a break.

For every 30 to 45 minutes of doing homework, take a five- or 10-minute break. This break allows you to refocus and take your mind off work. You can eat a snack, or close your eyes. Taking a break prevents you from tiring out your brain and helps you to re-concentrate.

6. Be prepared.


This one is also a no-brainer, but be prepared — not only in bringing all supplies to class but also in terms of knowing the material. You never know when the teacher will give the class an unexpected quiz.

7. Ask questions!

If you don't understand something, ask questions. I used to not pay attention in class; then when my teacher asked the class if anyone had questions, I wouldn't raise my hand. The first few quizzes in that class were all below 80. But as soon as I started to pay attention and asked the teacher whenever I didn't understand anything, I grasped the concept faster and better.

8. Study right before sleeping.

Studies have shown that studying right before going to bed is helpful. You remember and retain information better, and your memory will drastically improve.

9. Review notes the day of the test.

Whenever you have time during the day of the test, whether it be during a free period or lunch, review your notes. That way you have the information fresh. However, keep in mind that reviewing notes the day of the test does not mean studying the day of the test. You should have studied the night before (at least a little), and reviewing the notes only means reading over them to keep the information fresh.

10. Don't procrastinate.

We're all guilty of procrastination. "I'll just do it tomorrow, it's not even due until Thursday." Then, on Wednesday night — frantically trying to finish. Procrastination isn't good. Plan your schedule so you will have additional time to start what you need to finish, and don't leave it all to do the night before. Some extra incentives of not procrastinating are extra time, more sleep and less stress!

11. Keep track of time.

This applies not only to homework but also to quizzes, exams and tests. Plan out mentally or physically how long each subject's homework will take you (and don't forget breaks). I also try to plan what time go to sleep and when to wake up, so make sure to take that into account too. On tests, exams, quizzes and even the SAT, know how much time you have, and if you're stuck on a problem, skip it and come back to it later. Who knows? Maybe the next few problems will give the answer to the one you didn't know.