Study Strategies

A lot of students struggle with studying their first year in middle school.  Now, though, is the time to start building good study habits that will take students to the end of high school and beyond.  On this is a list of tips to help students start learning how to study.  At the bottom of this page you will also find documents that can be downloaded and printed out that detail tried-and-true study strategies.  You will also find subject-specific study strategies on the core classes pages - Language Arts, Math, Science, and Social Studies.

The main thing to remember is that studying is an active process.  You have to engage your brain and think about what you are doing.  "You get what you give."  That saying applies to studying, among other things.  If you put a lot of effort into studying, completing your homework and class assignments, into asking questions, and really trying to understand the material, then you will be rewarded with good grades and a firm grasp of the material.  If you just go through the motions, then you will not receive the full benefit of the education being provided for you.

A NOTE:  It may be a good idea for upcoming students to try these strategies at home over the summer.  They may use them on articles found on the internet, magazine/journal articles, novels, and pretty much anything they can read.  It they practice over they summer, they will at least have a small grasp of how to use these techniques - which will become stronger with practice.

The first action involved in studying is setting up your study area. This is very important.  Your study area is where you are going to be spending a lot of time during the school year. Follow these guidelines to get the best study area for you!

Guideline #1: Pick the Place

Your study area needs to be quiet and free from distractions.  Talking on the phone, watching TV, or listening to the radio are not good activities to do while trying to study.

A kitchen table, a desk, anywhere will be fine as long as it has a flat surface that you can write on and good light to see what you are reading and writing.

Guideline #2: Organize the Area

Make sure your area is free of clutter. A mess will only slow you down.  Don't forget, you want to study well to get good grades but you want to get it completed in a timely manner so that you will have some free time!

Guideline #3: Stock the Area

Some of the following items are not really necessary, but they are useful.  Really all you need is pens/pencils, paper, good light, a surface to write on, your school books/notes/handouts, and an engaged brain.

Have a study box by your area to keep most of your materials in.  Put pens, pencils, white-out, colored pencils, paper, and construction paper in it.  This way you will always have the materials you need to get the job done!

A trashcan is useful to keep the clutter to a minimum.

Dictionaries, a thesaurus and a calculator are all useful items that can help you actively study.

Extra folders to put old notes in.  Remember one folder for one class; don't mix up the notes for your classes!

Letter trays to help organize the folders.

Guideline #4: Set up a Study Chart

You may want to grab a piece of paper or a dry-erase board and write down all your class assignments and upcoming tests/quizzes.  Place the paper or board somewhere in your study area where you be sure to see it!  Cross off items as you complete them.  You will be surprised at the sense of accomplishment you will feel when you get an assignment completed and crossed off!

A study chart will also help you manage your time.  You can see what assignments you need to complete or tests/quizzes you need to study for that are coming up.  This is extremely useful as a lot of students have extracurricular activities that take up their evening hours.  If you play a sport/dance/gymnastic/or anything else that takes time, you will need to manage your time to get everything done.

Guideline #5: Set up your Daily Schedule

Once your study area is set up, now you need to decide when you are going to study.  Studying nightly is recommended, even if you have no written work.  You should be studying recent notes from all of your classes every night.  Start with planning a time that is one hour long and not too far from the time you get home from school.  The sooner you get it done, the sooner you have some free time!!


Now that you have your study area set up, you have to know what to do in it!  These three strategies are the most important for students to know how to do.  At the bottom of this page there are other strategies that can be downloaded and printed but they are all really variations of these three.

These strategies do not have to be done solely at home.  They can be used in class too.

Study Strategy #1:  THIEVES

This is a good strategy to use for all nonfiction texts.  It works well for all core classes.  It is a strategy that you use BEFORE you read the assigned chapter/section/pages.

Before you read, look for the following things and take notes on them:

T  look at the title; what can you tell about the text before you read it just from the title?

H  look at all the headings; what information is under each heading?

introduction; read the introduction; what information did you learn from it?

E  look at every first paragraph; that is usually where the main idea sentences are located.

What are the main ideas of what you are about to read?

V  look at the visuals (pictures) and vocabulary words; What can you tell from the pictures?

  What words are important to know before you read?  What are their definitions?

E  look at the end-of-chapter questions; what information are you expected to find out from

  the reading?

S after you read summarize the information the chapter/section/pages contained.


This strategy is useful in all classes, as already stated, and it will be taught to all students the first few weeks of school in their language arts classes.  Students should be able to do this strategy easily after they practice it.

Study Strategy #2:  Making Notes From the Texts

After you have previewed what you are supposed to read and taken down notes of what you have previewed, it is now time to read the selection.  Read your assigned pages. Stop frequently (usually after each paragraph) to make notes on any main ideas in that paragraph.  Next to each note you write down, also write down the page number and paragraph where you got the information.  This will help you later in the event you need to quickly find the information.

A note: research has suggested that you need to read something a minimum of three times before you truly grasp the full meaning of the text.

Students will be taught the Cornell Notes format in which to take notes.  This will be done within the first few weeks of school.

Study Strategy #3: Making Quizzes From Notes/Textbooks

After you have previewed, read, and taken notes from your assigned reading selection, it is now time to make sure you know the information.  Take the important information from your notes - main ideas, vocabulary words, important people (basically the Who, What, Where, When, and Why) - and make questions about them on a separate sheet of paper.  Go get a drink of water or a quick walk around the house.  When you get back to your study area, see how many questions you can answer.  Now check the answers against your notes and the reading selection.  The ones you got wrong need to be studied more.  You can make flashcards on this information to help you do that.  Once you have studied the information more, maybe on a different night, retake your quiz.


Click on the documents below to download and print.

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