Ah, studying. What a great thing. What an enjoyable thing to do. Definitely awesome. Definitely a whirlwind of emotions, at the very least.
Personally, I go through many stages when it comes to studying.
Stage one: denial. "Do I really HAVE to study tonight ... or can I put it off until tomorrow ...?"
Stage two: anger. "Why do I always have a test on Friday?!"
Stage three: acceptance. "I guess I will study one or two pages..."
Yeah. The process is not always fun. Or exciting. Or enjoyable.
But the question is: does studying HAVE to be enjoyable to be efficient?
I don't think so. I rarely find actual happiness in studying. Even if the subject I am studying is something that comes natural to me, I don't really find myself enjoying it.
So what can we do, then?
First - let's agree that studying should not be a cramming session. Cramming sessions are super stressful, and probably not even very efficient. When you cram, you're relying on your short-term memory instincts to kick in. Sure, you'll remember the topics for the test tomorrow ... but for the final in two months? You'll probably have to cram for that too at some point.
Instead, let's embrace studying as a process that takes time. The best studying is when you have AMPLE and sufficient time to study the entire breadth of the subject you are tested or quizzed on. That means you have enough time to understand the material, as well as to answer any additional questions that arise from your studying.
For example, let's take the SAT. The SAT is one of the kinds of tests where you really DON'T want to have to take again. After all, it's quite expensive, and matters somewhat to college applications (I would think, at least.) It is also extremely time consuming - to study for the SAT ... or the ACT ... or the SAT Subject II tests ... or any recommended/required standardized testing.
For the SAT, I suggest you study a few months in advance if possible. One month COULD be enough for you to study a good amount. Still, I studied for the SAT for all of summer before taking the test at the end of August, and then early October. I was sufficiently prepared and I was able to score at a level I expected.
Now let's use an example of a test you have in two weeks. Start studying now, or as soon as possible. Go over your notes everyday. Go over them until they are engrained in your mind. Do all the practice problems. Once, twice. Do the practice test or quiz (if applicable). Set a time each day to review. Truly review. And I mean it: review. I always had a hard time with math tests, so I set aside a time each day to go over the material for the next day, as well as the material on the upcoming test.
Put away all distractions. Give yourself rewards. In fact, some of my Tips for Time Management is extremely applicable for Studying.
Now let's move onto studying methods.
I think the best way to study is to actually do practice tests. Try to get your hands on some practice problems and worksheets that closely mimic test day. You can find a lot of materials online. I also recommend asking your teacher for help. After all, they WANT you to succeed, and it never hurts to try!
Another useful tip is to find out early what methods of studying WORK for you.
Is it writing down notes? Is it doing practice problems? Is it recounting the information to a sibling, friend, parent? Is it watching instructional videos on Youtube? Is it writing study guides?
Sometimes studying methods differ for the type of test you will take.
For my business-oriented competitions, I wrote lengthy study guides. I also used Quizlet for memorization. It worked for me most of the time.
For the SAT/ACT/SAT II/Etc., the most important studying component was taking practice tests. Especially Collegeboard/Approved and official practice tests. Khanacademy has many SAT practice tests. I know CrackSAT and CrackACT also offer many resources and tests.
For the driving test, you need to read the manual and understand each part. This is basically memorization.
For your history test, you need to read the textbook and memorize the vocabulary words. Somehow, you need to understand the history behind the section in a personal way. Usually for history I read my notes and watch Youtube videos focused on the appropriate subject.
Math is extra problems. Same with science for me. But it is definitely different for everyone.
So I recommend that you FIND out what works for you and then build upon that. Make your studying method(s) foolproof. Make it beautiful. Make it feel less like a chore. Even make it enjoyable if you can!
Anyways, I hope these tips helped. They have gotten me so far through high school (and I am at least 3/4ths done!)
If you have any questions, please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or clarification. We would love to talk with you.
Best of luck, and thank you for reading. Until next time!