Tip 1. Organise a study place
When preparing to study, you need to ensure that you have an organised study place.
Your study space should be quiet and comfortable. It should make you feel happy and inspired.
Try decorating it with some pictures or objects that represent you and make you feel happy.
Try to set up your study space away from any distractions, such as siblings, pets, TV, your phone and video games. An organised study space gives you the best chance for success!
Tip 2. Study every day
This is the best advice we can give you!
Rather than leaving all your study to the last minute (the night before – cramming does not work), have a regular time each evening that you spend studying each subject just a little bit.
10 minutes for each subject each day will add up to 50 minutes of study for each subject each week.
This is a fabulous habit to get into. It helps you to continually understand and review content as you are learning it. From a psychological perspective, the more you see and interact with content, the more likely you are to remember it.
At Year 7, you should spend 1 hour studying a night. At Year 8, this is 1 hour 15 mins, and at Year 9, this is 1 hour 30 mins.
The easiest way to do this is to have a schedule that you stick to everyday. You could aim to spend 10 minutes for each subject you had each day.
Tip 3. Plan your time
It helps you to have a plan in motion so you can make the most of your study time. This also helps you to stay motivated and free from distractions.
Firstly: make to do lists! Break your tasks into chunks and also ensure you set time limits for tasks. Example: spend 30 minutes on maths questions and then move to 30 minutes on science worksheet.
Set alarms to help you stay on track, or use a kitchen timer.
Make a to do list at the start of each study session. Spend 5 minutes at the start of each session organising and planning what you need to complete.
Use a wall/month/week planner – put due dates and test dates on the planner so you know what is coming up.
Time – think about what time works best for you to study. For some people, starting studying as soon as you get home is the best so you can keep the momentum going from the day. For others, perhaps a 30-minute break when you get home will help to kick start your motivation. You need to find what time works best for you and stick to it. Don’t stay up late studying; it is best to also have a regular sleep schedule.
Use page 36 in your planner to build a schedule:
Start with the things you do every day, such as walking home, eating dinner. Block out these times.
Add in weekly commitments, such as soccer training or orchestra
Fill study time around these – aiming for 1-1.5 hours each week day
Add in your guilt free time off
Tip 4. Take breaks
Studying can be tiring. It is really important that you are taking regular breaks during revision, especially if you are feeling stressed or tired. Working too long on one task without taking a break to refresh yourself can actually decrease your performance.
Work for 40 minutes, take a break for 10 minutes.
Also consider using the “Pomodoro Technique” – named after the famous Italian tomato-shaped kitchen timer.
Set 40-minute timer
Work for 40 minutes
Take 10-minute break
Taking 5 minutes to sit on your phone/computer isn’t really giving your mind a break. Make sure you are standing up and getting away from your desk/study space.
Going for a short walk can really help your mind and your body refresh. Try going for a walk, having a stretch, playing with the dog or even just sitting outside for 5-10 minutes.
Tip 5. Ask for help
If you are stuck on anything, or something in your revision materials does not make sense\, ASK FOR HELP. Your teachers are working each day to help you understand the content. That is a big part of their job.
We are more than happy to spend some extra time with you, or with you and some friends, outside of class to help you understand. You just need to use your initiative and ask. Sometimes teachers may offer outside of class time study/revision sessions before exams. Take them up on these opportunities because they will really help you. Or they will help with your motivation to sit down and study, even if you don’t have any questions. Sitting in the classroom environment might help you to concentrate without distractions.
You can also ask friends in the same class or the same year level if they understand certain topics. When they help you with something, it will also help them to revise for the test.
Try keeping a list of all the questions that you have and taking these to your teacher – you’ll feel great as you tick them off!
It’s really common to fall down a “learning pit” when you're studying, where everything feels too hard and overwhelming.
The best way to get out of a learning pit is asking for help – that’s what your teachers are here for!
Tip 6. Stay focused during study time
This one is easier said than done. When you are studying, you need to do your best to use your time effectively. That way, you will stick to your schedule, and be able to finish revision/homework on time, which leaves you with time for other activities.
It can help to have something in your study space that reminds you why you are working so hard. Perhaps it's goals to go to university or get into a certain career.
The more you stay on task, the faster you will finish your work. Crossing things off a to-do list is a great way to stay motivated – maybe write a to do list on a mini-whiteboard in your study space.
If you can be effective with your time you will have more time for activities you love like watching Netflix or playing video games. Plus, you can show your parents how much you have done. You have earned some well-deserved relaxation and guilt-free time off.
You may wish to use an app or a timer to help you stay focused.
Beware of in-task procrastination – such as spending time choosing a font, a border or checking your emails. Do the work first, and make it pretty later!
Tip 7. No distractions
This goes hand-in-hand with staying focused, but it is so important! We are all guilty of spending too long on our devices.
Move your phone/iPad out of the room or out of sight. If you need to put it on do not disturb mode, DO IT. It is extremely tempting to pick up your phone for something quickly and get lost in a YouTube/Instagram/Tik Tok void for endless hours.
Out of sight – out of mind. Leave your phone somewhere safe where it is not in your line of sight and turn it onto do not disturb (having it in your pocked vibrating wont help you forget it is there).
Consider using an app like “Forest”, which encourages you to not use your phone! This app allows you to set a timer that will allow a virtual tree to grow, but only while you don’t access other apps on your phone.
Procrastinating is easy. Staying motivated is not, but by removing the device, you will be a million times more likely to complete your homework/revision without distraction (a million X statistic not scientifically fact checked).
Procrastination is the biggest barrier to effective study. We like to use the Nike trademarked quote ‘Just Do It’ – because it is the only way to be effective. Motivation doesn’t just appear, you need to find it.
Tip 8. Pair these tips with physical health
One of the most important by far: prioritise your health. You are so important, and your brain can only function optimally if your body is in check.
We work as one big homeostatic machine, meaning our body works very hard to keep everything in check for us, but it needs help.
These are three extremely important aspects of your physical, mental and emotional health.
Nutrition – eat good foods. That doesn’t mean you can’t have yummy treats. You can! But make sure you are fuelling your body with healthy fruit and veg, lean proteins and complex carbohydrates. The energy from good food is what repairs and builds our cells!
SLEEEEEPPPP. I don’t know what it is about teenagers thinking they can survive and thrive off 5 hours of sleep. YOU CANNOT! It’s not cool to stay up all night and be exhausted in the morning. Start creating a good sleep routine now. You need at least 8 hours of sleep, which means if you have to be up at 7am, the absolute latest you should be up is 11pm. If you can have anywhere from 8-10 hours' sleep, you need to be doing it! At your age, your body is doing so much growing. Sleep is vital! Trust me.
Lucky last – physical activity! Get off the couch, get out of bed and move your body, in whatever way you enjoy doing it. Going for walks or jogs, skateboarding or riding bikes, even dancing around in the kitchen when no one is home. You need to be active each and every day. Not for hours and hours, but for 30-60 minutes. This might be two 15-minute walks, or a little bodyweight workout.
Walking is the best form of exercise for your mind and your body – get some fresh air. Even if you don’t want to initially, you will feel 100% better after doing it!