For most high-school students, the largest barrier to academic success is not their level of intelligence. Instead, it comes from a variety of other problems including a lack of interest in what you are learning and/or problems with your time management and study habits. The result can be a feeling of hopelessness and a lack of motivation to honestly assess what you could be doing differently. Luckily, your peers have a few suggestions of ways you can become more invested in what you are learning and more productive in how you are learning it.
There are undoubtedly classes in your schedule that are boring. This may be because you are not interested in the material, or perhaps the teacher is not very exciting or charismatic. Regardless of the specifics, here is one suggestion that will help you to pay more attention in class; make a habit of asking at least one question in every class. In order to ask a question, you have to be paying attention to what the teacher is saying. Try and make it into a fun game where you come up with questions that require the teacher to do some thinking as well.
In addition to asking questions, another way to stay focused in class is to answer questions. According to most students, the reason they shy away from answering questions is not because they don’t know the answer. Rather, they are afraid of looking foolish in front of their peers. Abraham Lincoln once said “better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt”. While this may be true in some situations; for a student it is exactly the opposite. Even if your answer is wrong, you are made aware of the right answer and you are more likely to retain the information. If you are right it gives you increased confidence while you are taking tests.
If you are shy and do not feel comfortable asking or answering questions in front of the class, there are other strategies that you can employ. Write down the questions that the teacher and students are asking, as well as the answers to those questions. Pay particular attention to the questions that no one seems to know, as these may be difficult questions on future tests. When it comes time to study for tests, write these questions and answers on index cards and quiz yourself. Also think about studying in a group setting with other students. (Choose the ones that are asking and answering questions)
Lastly, go over your notes every night before you go to sleep; even if its only for ten or fifteen minutes. Research suggests that information you are exposed to in the last hour before sleep has a greater chance to stay embedded in your memory. Scientists are still trying to understand the neurological reasons behind this effect. However, don’t you always remember the last thing you did before you went to sleep, while other details of the day are much harder to grasp?
These strategies can have a strong impact on your ability to retain information and your subsequent academic performance. However, they must coincide with a genuine desire and motivation to improve. If you are committed to applying these strategies on a consistent basis, you should definitely see results.