Top High School Study Tips and Habits

High School Study Tips

Are you prepping for the next big exam? Maybe that PSAT practice class has you stressed out? Whether it’s a final exam or a pop quiz, studying will always get you a better score. The human brain can only retain so much knowledge, and reviewing will keep the content fresh.

Even if studying isn’t your favorite thing in the world, it can help get you into a good university. Top schools want to see diligent students who can score high on multiple choice tests. There are only so many entrance positions for students, and the race can get competitive. Some great studying tips will give you an edge.

Studying doesn’t have to be boring. It’s not always about sitting at your desk and burying your face in a book until the late hours of the night. With the right advice and motivation, studying can be just as fun as any of your other activities.

Studying Statistics (Why You Should Study)

If you don’t believe us about studying, then you might be a part of the 6.6% of students who only revisit their notes the night before the exam. However, if you’re a part of the 60.4% that reviews at least a month before the exam, then you probably know exactly what we’re talking about.

Sure, some students have a natural gift and don’t need to study at all. They will tell you that they score better when they put some time into revision. In a study from Stanford, researchers found that students who had organized study schedules graded 3.45 points higher than those who didn’t.

Not everyone knows where to begin with studying. About 25% of students have never been taught proper study skills. If anything, they might have been a part of the 43% of students who have learned to write and plan an essay. But studying goes beyond that. 34.2% of university students say their biggest regret is that they didn’t study enough when in college.

Without adequate study skills, students become unmotivated. For example, note-taking is a valuable skill that isn’t actively monitored or taught. 1 in 4 women take notes, and only 1 in 10 men do. This is alarming because most humans forget about 40% of new information less than 24 hours after learning it.

Of those who take notes, only 59% are organized, and 2.1% can barely understand what they wrote down. If self-motivation is getting you down, you’re not alone. Only 7% of students have been taught self-motivation skills, while just 11% have learned skills to deal with stress management.

Top Study Tips and Habits for Highschoolers

It’s time to close this gap! Read our top study tips and habits below so you can flourish in your classroom.

Note Taking

Note-taking is the focal point of your study regime. It will be the place you go for your intel. There are several tips about note-taking you should be aware of.

Know Relevant Information When It Comes Up

Some students prefer to write down everything the teacher says. This method can result in a lot of clutter and useless information to sift through. Instead, you should know how to identify relevant information when it arises.

Fortunately for you, high school teachers are very transparent about this. The teacher will often say, “this will be on the test,” or “this is important.” Use these phrases and key triggers so you can write them down.

In some cases, teachers will give guided note handouts. You can use these worksheets as a model for your notes. Keep track of the information they entail. If there are always years and dates on the note sheets in your history class, then you should probably write that information down when it’s mentioned.

Keep Everything Organized

Organizing your notebook chronologically might seem like a good idea, but it can make it challenging to find information. If you don’t remember the exact date you learned something, then it can get lost to the sands of time. There are other ways to organize a notebook that are more effective.

First of all, make sure you have one notebook for each subject. Having physics on one page and art history on another won’t do you much good. Next, try to divide subjects into the types of information you need to remember.

For a language class, you can divide your notebook into a grammar and vocabulary section. You can use one portion of the book to write down new words and another section for important grammar rules.

You can even set aside pages specifically for studying. If your notebook isn’t very organized, then you can take an hour to skim through it and dig out all the relevant information for your exam. Then reproduce that information on a new page, so it’s more available to you.

Highlight the Textbook or Take Pictures

The fees for defacing school property are high. If you can buy your own copy of the book, then you should. Manipulating a textbook and making notes in the margins is one of the best ways to study. How many times have you opened up to an exam chapter because you have to reread the whole thing?

With this method, you can highlight all the critical information in the chapter. Then you just go back and read that information instead of pouring through the book paragraph by paragraph.

School textbooks aren’t cheap, so you can also use your smartphone. Take pictures of essential pages, then use a photo editor to highlight the key sentences. You can even draw pictures, add important links, and group information together in a folder.


The next important part of studying is maintaining a schedule. Cramming can get the job done, but it’s a lot better to do it regularly as you’ll retain the information better. Think about your brain as a muscle. If you wanted to grow your bicep, would you work it out once a week or just lift 1000 pounds 20 times right before a weightlifting competition?

Studying and Sleep Coincide

Your brain doesn’t function as well when it’s tired. Studies have shown that individuals who are better rested can keep information in their brains for longer periods. That’s why it’s not effective to stay up until 2 a.m. every night with your nose in a textbook.

Instead, you should try to study during the day or in the early evening. Specialists say the peak time to study is around 12:41 p.m. Most high schoolers are already in school and learning at that time so just try to focus on not staying up late.

Study at the Same Times

Like any other activity, studying benefits from regularity. If you study around the same time every day or week, your brain will learn to expect that activity. It will function better during this time, and it will be easier to transition from relaxed to focused.

We recommend picking a time with little distractions. Hunger is a significant inhibitor of studying, so a full belly will go a long way. Also, try to keep in mind the activities of other members of your household. If you know your sibling likes to play loud video games in the evening, you might be better off studying in the late afternoon.

Useful Studying Strategies

Now you know how to prepare for studying. Let’s learn about some of the best studying methods.

Note or Flashcards

Flashcards are one of the oldest methods for studying. They remain popular to this day for their preparation simplicity and their effectiveness. Put a clue or a piece of information on a notecard with the answer on the back. Then try to remember the answer without flipping the card.

Like any notes, it’s important to keep your flashcards organized. They get shuffled pretty easily in a folder, so we recommend putting them on a key ring. Use a hole puncher to put a hole in the upper corner of all the cards, then place them on the ring in your preferred order.

Study With a Friend or Group

As long as you can stay focused, studying with a friend is an excellent way to remember information. You can quiz each other and use one another as a resource for dissecting complex concepts and information.

If you’re the type to treat a study date more like a hangout sesh, then you might benefit better from a group. Your school probably organized study groups and clubs for interested students. If not, you can always start your own.

In a group, it’s more likely for students to maintain focus and have a better balance of diligent individuals.

Wrap Up

Ultimately, studying is a part of the education experience. You will spend a large amount of your time in school learning information which you have to remember. Your brain isn’t designed to remember every single thing that enters it, so revision is inevitable.

With these strategies and routines, you can better set yourself up for this process. Keeping organized and helpful notes will turn a two-hour review session into a brief 30 minutes. Maintaining your sleep schedule and study hours will also help.

Finally, using these strategies will make studying more fun for you. We wish you luck with all your exams. Enjoy school!

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Michelle Tsou

Contributor at ExamCave. Michelle graduated with a BA in English from Portland State University. She hopes to one day run her own test-prep organization.