Studying: Advice from seniors

Incentive Breaks: With an average attention span of eight seconds, it’s hard to spend a solid chunk of time slaving over an essay or that 50 pages of reading in the APUSH book. Instead, chunk up your studying time by setting incentives. For every 10 pages you read in the APUSH book, take a break to eat a cookie or watch a bit of Netflix. You could get fancy and create a system like senior Madeline McCarthy. McCarthy has two separate jars labeled “to do” and “incentives.” incentives

“I put all my homework or school stuff in the ‘to do’ jar and everything else I want to do in the ‘incentive’ jar,” she said. “I pull out a paper from the ‘to do’ jar and then once I complete it I pull out an incentive and get to do that, too, like ‘Eat a slice of cake.’”

Creating little rewards along the way can make tackling a weekend of homework a lot easier.

To doMake checklists: When the homework load piles up, try writing it all down in a checklist. Senior Katherine Richter makes checklists daily. “There is something so relieving about putting everything on paper,” she said. “It makes all the abstract future stress into something more concrete. Trying to keep up with everything in your mind gets overwhelming.” Not only will checklists help keep you on track, but once you have finished everything, you have the added bonus of getting to cross off all of your hard work.

Time yourself: It’s easy to let that “quick five minute Facebook break” manifest into an hour of online activity. To prevent drawing out the time it takes to complete an assignment, set a time limit. A time limit will push you to work harder and more efficiently and will also help prepare you for the pressure of timed testing, a common academic nuisance. If working against the clock can help cut down your homework time, why not do it?

calenderKeep a calendar/ agenda: When you forgot about that math homework due, the old “I left it at home” will not fly anymore. When the year progresses and assignments multiply, the key to success will be organization. Senior Jenna Hanes strongly recommends using an agenda daily. “Setting a calendar forces you to think about the fact that something is due and about the amount of time you have between when you write it down and when it needs to be turned it,” she said. “Just the fact that you wrote it down in the first place provides a framework of how much time you have to procrastinate.” Although procrastination is NOT recommended, using a calendar will help you prioritize what needs to be tackled first.

Tea: When the late nights role in and you need an extra boost of energy, tea is the perfect companion. Unlike coffee, which can leave you feeling jittery and can upset both sleeping patterns and the digestive system, tea can provide that needed caffeine boost while being gentler on body. Studies have shown that the chemical properties of green tea in particular boost memory.

Maximize School Time: It’s easy to let that extra five minutes of class time or that “not really a class” class time turn into a social opportunity, but if you’re looking for more of a social life outside of school, think differently next time you find yourself with free time in school. Although five minutes may not seem like much, if you use this time productively, it can shave off a good portion of work at home. Miriam Moorekeish is a supporter of this tactic.

So, next time you finish your class work early, take your teacher’s advice and start on the homework. Your future self will thank you.

Illustrations by Duo-Wei Yang