Tips and Tricks for the New Semester

By Amanda Bertsch

Finals are over, and you know what that means: a new semester. In every class, you now have a clean slate. Here’s how to make the most of it:

  1. Get organized: The new semester is a perfect time to clean up that messy folder or disastrous locker. Start small by getting a folder (or cleaning out an old one!). Put things you need to keep at school in one side, and things you can take home or throw out on the other. Empty this side every time you leave school. Some students also find having a separate folder for homework helpful.
  2. Take notes: This may seem boring or useless, but it is extremely useful. Take notes in every class, even if you think you don’t need to, and bring them home. If you can, make copies and stick them up around your room. Every time you see one, you’ll be reminded of your classes and what you need to study.
  3. Teach an empty room: Pretend that you’re a teacher, and students are coming to you for help. Do a mock lecture and you’ll find that you understand the information much better as well.
  4. Set aside study time: Procrastination can be hard to beat. Pick a time, and every night during that time, make it a habit to study or work on a long-term project. Even if you can only spare ten or fifteen minutes, this little bit every night will add up and prevent stressful all-nighters before major deadlines.
  5. Memorize your house: There’s no place you know better than where you live, right? Walk through your house with your notes for a class, and assign each room some information. For example, the kitchen could be where you put the specific heat capacity of water. Practice this walkthrough every night for a week or so. When the test comes, you’ll be able to mentally go through the house and remember the information you need.
  6. Communicate with your teachers: This is a big one. Many students fail to get help from their teachers because they aren’t comfortable with admitting that they don’t understand a subject. Get to know your teachers, and don’t be worried if you have to ask them for help. It’s what they’re here for!
  7. Get tutored: Often, there are tutors available for your class. Mu Alpha Theta has math tutoring every day before and after school (usually in Ms. Mezeske’s room), and NEHS will edit any essays or writing at nehs@tricityprep.org. Tutoring for other subjects is available as well, especially in science. Talk to your teachers or members of honor societies about where and when to get help.
  8. Start a study group: When you’re studying with other people, it’s much harder to justify skipping your homework. Get together with a few friends and hold each other responsible for your study habits.
  9. Set small goals: Sure, you want to get better grades, get into that one college, or manage your time better. Those are all excellent intentions, but they’re very vague. What kind of grade is “better”? Instead, set small, concrete goals. Maybe you want to finish your English essay by Tuesday, or do your math homework before dinner. Make achievable goals, and you’ll continue to feel motivated as you work on accomplishing them.
  10. Take breaks: Studying for two hours may seem like a good idea at the time, but it’ll leave you numb and exhausted later. For every hour or half-hour that you spend on schoolwork, take ten or fifteen minutes and go do something physical. Get outside, take the dog for a walk, dance around the room, or do whatever you need to. Get your blood flowing, and you’ll feel more energized to get back to work.
  11. Give yourself a bedtime: Pretend you’re in elementary school again and assign a bedtime. Even if it’s eleven (or later!), having a specific time at which you close the books and go to bed will help you get more sleep. All-nighters help no one, especially not on the night before a test.
  12. Don’t get discouraged: Contrary to common belief, one bad grade isn’t everything. You’ll make some mistakes in every semester. Instead of seeing this as a huge setback, look at it as a learning experience. Any bad grades give you a chance to evaluate your habits and see areas to improve.
  13. Have some fun: As cliché as this sounds, it’s very true; school shouldn’t be all work. Balance out your day by hanging out with friends, playing sports, or doing some other activity that you enjoy. Doing something that you find fun will help lower your stress level and may even improve your concentration during class!

With these tips, hopefully your next semester will be a success! For advice on studying or on schoolwork in general, email denobis@tricityprep.org and we’ll respond on this site.

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