Strategies for Success


Description: Description: Description: Description: Description:

As individuals we all learn differently, for example some of us learn

better visually while others need both audiovisual aids.

This guide will only give suggestions, in no particular order, about how you

can better your learning and/or studying skills.

This is by no means conclusive and if these suggestions do not work for you;

try something else, ask for other

suggestions, and/or research other ideas.


Also See Tutoring Schedule and Handouts




Note-Taking Guide



Homework Guide


Exam-Taking Guide





Mr. B’s Philosophy




General Study Hints



Increase Your Memory

(.pdf document)



Suggestions for Parents




Strategies for Success: Note-Taking Guide


Taking notes in class is one of the most effective ways to understand the material being presented in class. Unless you have a photographic mind, you will need to learn this important skill.


  1. Come to class prepared. Always bring enough paper and a writing instrument of your choice to class.


  2. Start a new page for each new class. Also, put the date on the top of the first page. This way you will know where the notes for each class begin, which will help you keep the material organized. Consider keeping your  notes organized in their own binder.


  3. Don’t try to write down every word your teacher says. You will not be able to, even if you can write very fast. More importantly, in trying to do so, you will miss the overall point your teacher is trying to make.


  4. Write down the big ideas. Listen for facts, connections, and main ideas. This may take a while to get used to,  because you will need to divide your attention between listening to the teacher (or other students) and writing your notes. Don’t get frustrated. In time, this will become easier.


  5. Use abbreviations for commonly occurring names and words. You can develop your own abbreviations, as long as you don’t forget what they stand for. For example, in a lecture on Einstein, you might write his name out the first time, and then abbreviate it as "E" throughout the rest of your notes. Long words such as endoplasmic reticulum can become "ER". Develop your own system and stick to it, once it works.


  6. Leave lots of room on the page. When writing, leave ample space between ideas. This is like pausing before you begin a new sentence. Your notes will much easier to read, and you’ll have space to add information later on, if needed. Don’t try to cram everything onto one piece of paper.


  7. Use diagrams and pictures where necessary. Sometimes it is helpful to draw pictures that illustrate the connections between ideas, sequences, or events. Don’t be afraid to draw pictures that will help you understand the material.


  8. Write down corresponding page numbers from your textbook. Teachers often use the textbook to refer to ideas you’re learning in class. Recording the page number of corresponding ideas and homework assignments can come in handy later on.


  9. Review your notes for accuracy. It’s a good idea to look over your notes sometime after class for accuracy and completeness. Consider doing this just before doing your homework to get yourself back in the mindset of the material.


10. Obtain notes for missed classes. Sometimes it’s necessary to miss class, but that shouldn’t stop you from getting notes for it. Consider forming a partnership with another student at the beginning of class on whom you can rely (and who can rely on you) for notes when a class is missed. Your teacher may also be willing to share his or her notes with you.


Strategies for Success: Homework Guide


You can improve your performance in classes by ensuring that homework is understood and completed.


1. Find an appropriate and consistent environment for study. This place should be quiet, and have adequate lighting and a desk or writing surface. If possible, use this place as a study area exclusively. Avoid distractions such as TV, stereo, cell phone, internet, video games, etc.


2. Set up a routine. Set up a homework routine for the same time daily, if possible. This will let your parents know that you have expectations with regards to homework. It will also help you develop a habit of completing schoolwork at the same time and place daily.


3. Have your parents help prepare an area for work. Stock your homework center with the appropriate supplies, such as a dictionary, thesaurus, textbooks, pencils, paper, calculators, etc.


4. Set little goals for yourself. Set short-range goals prior to beginning homework. For example, "1) Review the concept of slope, 2) Complete the assigned math homework, and 3) Write a thesis statement for my essay." Take short breaks between assignments for different classes.


5. Get organized and don’t procrastinate. Use of a daily planner and find someone to demonstrate how to use it to organize assignments, extra-curricular activities, and other commitments. Keep a three-ring notebook for each subject taken.


6. Monitor your own progress. Touch base with your teacher and make sure you have completed all the work. Try keeping your own grades in a notebook. Be aware of what needs to be accomplished each night and check to see that it is done, if necessary. Avoid having your parents or teachers having to hover over you throughout the year.


7. Confirm that your homework is or was done correctly.  Don’t wait until class starts, go ask your teacher for help well before class so that you and your teacher can discuss your answers appropriately.


Strategies for Success: Exam-Taking Guide


If you were to prepare for a test the way you might prepare for a big game, you’d probably make a game plan. OK, so the test probably isn’t nearly as much fun as a game, but your goal is the same; develop a plan to win. Being a “bad” test taker is not an excuse to do not do well.  Often poor test takes don’t prepare or prepare correctly to take an exam.


Before the Exam: (see General Study Hints and Guides)


1. Prepare for the exam by studying for the type of exam given. If it is a multiple choice exam, create flash cards that help you memorize the material. If you must write an essay; create outlines that help you see the relationships in the material.

2. Don’t wait until the night of the exam.  Studies show that reviewing the material on a daily or every other day bases will help you retain the information better. Waiting to study 2-3 weeks of material the night before an exam  can develop anxiety. Plus, you won’t have the opportunity to talk to your teacher about concepts or terms that you’re unclear about.  “Cramming” usually does not help with your long term memory.

3. Take advantage of the teacher’s tutoring or study sessions. Getting one on one instruction can make a world of difference and going to study sessions may help narrow down the information to be tested. Proper preparation may help reduce anxiety.

4. Get a good night’s rest prior to the test day. Also, eat a healthy breakfast or lunch on the day of the exam (don’t over-eat!).


When You Begin:


1. Take a deep breath to relax. Anxiety may reduce your confidence and be an obstacle to doing your best.

2. Preview the whole test briefly before you begin. This will help get you warmed up to take the exam and allow you to note the way the exam is organized.

3. Find out how much time you have to take the test and how much each section is worth.  Allocate your time accordingly. Don’t spend the whole test on a section that is worth say only 10 points if the exam is worth 120 points.

4. Read the directions for each section. 


During the Test:


1. Always read the directions before you work on a section. By reading the directions, it will allow you to make clear decision on what to do and how to do them.  Look for key words such as “and”, “or”, “explain”; a lot of times these words are used to add a second or third part to the question. Failing to read directions can cause you to completely misjudge what the test is asking.

2. Ask your instructor to explain directions you don’t understand. It is also important to mention that if a question is unclear; ask your instructor to clarify if they can.

3. Divide and conquer! Answer the easy questions first to build confidence. This will also allow you to rack up as many points as possible right from the start. However, always be sure to mark the questions you don’t answer right away so you can go back to them.

4. Pace yourself. Check the time to make sure you’re pacing yourself appropriately.

5. When in doubt, guess. You at least have a chance that you might guess correctly. “Never” leave a question unanswered even if you have to guess, it might be correct or earn you at least a few points.  An unanswered question will be a “zero”.

6. Don’t let others distract you. Focus only on your own exam. If others are writing and you aren’t, don’t panic. If others finish before you do, try not to get nervous.

7. Use any extra time to first make sure you’ve answered all the questions. Then, go over the more difficult questions and read them a second time. Read essays carefully for accuracy first and grammar second.

8. Don’t change your initial answer unless you have a good reason to do so; research indicates that 3 out of 4 times a first choice was probably correct.


Strategies for Success: General Study Hints and Guides


Everyone learns differently, some more than others.  Some don’t have to study, some know that they have to study, and some are not sure how to study. You have to find out what works for you, now and in your future endeavors.  Remember, not all ideas work and you may have to find new or try other ideas to suit your own needs.


   1. Don’t be absent from class and be attentive while is class. Attendance is very important because it allows you to stay on top of assignments, information, lectures, activities, exams, projects, etc. Get good night rests and eating healthy  helps.  Ask questions and participating in class will keep the lesson more interesting.


   2. Be prepared before going to class. Have all necessary materials for class such as; pencils/pens, paper, folders, texts, and assignments. Try your best to stay organized.


   3. Correctly do the class work that is assigned to you. Keeping up with daily reading and work assignments will prevent you from falling behind and having to constantly be catching up. By doing the work it will keep you on your toes in the event the teacher asks you a question or gives a quiz. Plus, this allows you to ask the teacher questions if something is unclear instead of waiting the night before a test when you wouldn’t have the opportunity to ask the question(s). Also, understand not everything is graded, the works you do is to help you in the long run (ie chapter exam).


   4. Write it all down during lecture. Take good notes (never recopy), make note cards, and write down questions and ask them as soon as possible.  If you “doodle” in your notes, it’s alright, the picture might remind you of a concept during an exam.


   5. Attend study sessions if they are offered. Either class sessions or classmate sessions.  You may have forgotten something or you may have a question that someone at the session can answer.


   6. Communicate with your teacher.  For whatever reason you’re not sure of a concept, assignment, lesson, etc…; go talk to your teacher.  Schedule a time to meet for tutoring, teachers are happy to meet your needs if you’re sincere and independently responsible for your studies. Remember the teacher general teaches to 25 brains in the classroom, if they can focus on just 1 brain (yours) the process of helping is a lot easier for both participants.


   7. Manage your time.  For example, even though an assignment was not given in class take some time (10 min., 20 min., 30 min., etc...) to review what you went over that day.  This will generate questions that you can ask the teacher the next day and/or make you more familiar with the material so that studying for the test will not be a totally new experience. Don't procrastinate and get assignments done, study for the test early; if you have any questions ask them now. Study “nearly” every day. Don’t wait until the “night of”. 


   8. Know the vocabulary in order to speak the topic. A lot of times, certain subjects are like (or are) a foreign language. In order to speak the language to have to know the terms. Daily review, relating personal experiences or the use of analogies can help.


   9. Try teaching others. Sometimes you learn if you teach it.  While studying for a quiz or test; literally try teaching the topic to a friend or family member. “Discuss” with them what you've learned and even try asking them questions.  Review the answers with them while looking at your notes or text. In other words, you be the teacher. This can help reduce anxiety or embarrassment because you’ve been in the class and have all the answers.


  10. Don’t try to multitask.  Being distracted by TV, cell phones, electronic games, lyrical music, internet, etc… can actually cause you not to concentrate and focus on your studies. Find a quiet area to study without being bothered by outside influences.  After you study, then reward yourself with music, TV, texting, internet, etc…


  11. Only study items that you don’t understand.  There is really no need to study items or concepts that you’re already familiar with.  It takes extra time and can give you a false sense of security that you know all the information.  Concentrate on what you don’t know.


  12.  Try memory techniques. Use mnemonics, chunking, or the “memory palace”. (see hndout/link on Memory)



Strategies for Success: Suggestions for Parents


Young people are developing emotionally, intellectually, and physically. Parents can help their child be successful students by encouraging them in the following suggested ways:


  1. Create a quiet space for homework to be completed. A place free from disruption and fully stocked with supplies is ideal. Do not have your child multi-task by studying “and” listening to music, texting, watching TV.


  2. Communicate with your child. Ask about their homework, and what large projects and tests are upcoming. Also, stay in touch with school. Attend parent-teacher conferences, ask for periodical updates on your child’s progress by contacting the school or educator, be involved with activities at the school. Show an interest in your child’s education.


  3. Play with your child.  Your child should be a best friend of-a-sorts. Do some things that they like to do even though you rather do something else and put time aside to be with them and/or their school friends. By doing so, you’ll develop a bond and get to know your child’s lifestyle.


  4. Remember that intrinsic motivation leads to greater creativity. Allow your child to try a variety of activities (clubs, sports, activities) in order to find their true interests.


  5. Encourage your child to keep trying when faced with a challenge. Remind your child that teachers and counselors are available to provide extra help both academically or emotionally. Do not belittle topics such as math or writing because your child is having difficulty with the topics.


  6. Tell your child to seek help if they need it.  Teachers are happy to meet student request for tutoring or mentoring.  Often, a one-on-one meeting can make a world of difference in learning due to the individual attention. Teachers can set up times for tutoring (ie. just before an exam) in accordance to the students schedule for more flexibility.


  7. Encourage your child to read. If your child wants to improve their scores on standardized tests, reading helps. The best way to improve reading comprehension and vocabulary is to read a lot.


  8. Help your child to set realistic goals and work toward them systematically. Also, no matter what the goal (making a sports team, improving academic grades, or learning a new skill) remind children that the journey is as important as attaining the goal.


  9. Help with their understanding. Be there to assist them with their homework or studying.  If the subject is unclear, ask your child to explain the topic, communicate with the teacher (phone, email, notes) to help understand the concept, or even use online internet resources.


10. Praise your adolescent for their contributions to family, school, and community. This conveys a belief in their accomplishments and helps to build a positive self-image.


11. Participate in parent conferences. It is interesting that parents and guardians stream to parent conferences, meetings, PTO’s, etc… while their child is in elementary or middle school; however, once the child is in high school that participation stops.  Is it because parents are getting tired, parents are overwhelmed, parents are making their child more responsible for their actions?  Never the excuse, a representative from the family should always attend conferences to primarily stay in communication with the teacher.  From elementary to high school (and perhaps after graduation), children still need some form of guidance and support.


12. Be aware of the bad habits. Children today have a lot of opportunity to develop habits that are counter- productive if taken to the extreme: ie. poor diets, lack of exercise, video gaming, TV, late nights, etc…  It is tough to manage such habits, but don’t give up trying to lower or totally avoid lifestyles that can distract from their studies and future plans.





Mr. B’s Philosophy



You Only Fail if You Give Up Trying




















Guides and suggestive information for students, teachers, and parents. Retrieved from


How parent can help their middle or high school child. Retrieved from http://www.