Academic Success

A person's learning style is the way they process and remember information. We all learn by seeing (visual learning), hearing (auditory learning) and doing (tactile learning), but we also tend to learn BEST in just one of these styles.

To find out which learning style is YOUR strength, take the Learning Styles Quiz.

If your classes are stressing you out and your grades aren't looking so great, it's time to ask for a little help.

The best source of help is always your classroom facilitator, and setting up a meeting with him or her to ask some questions may just get you back on track. Many teachers can arrange a time to see you before school, after school, or during Flex Time. If you find that you need more help, finding a tutor is another great option for class help.

THS has a peer-to-peer tutoring program, which means you'll work with another learner to review coursework, get help studying, or answers to your course questions. Tutoring is available for all learners during Flex period. You can sign up to work with any tutor on any day - and you can choose to meet only once or you can come back as often as you like.

Getting Organized

Organization is one of the most important skills for a learner to develop. It helps you keep track of assignments, finish projects on time, and study efficiently. Also, being organized actually gives you free time; since you won't have to spend time looking for lost supplies or cramming for tests.

Here are some recommendations to get you organized and ready for success:

  • Use a different notebook (or section of your binder) for each class and make sure that papers are always put in the section for the right class.
  • Write your name and date on every paper you receive and in your notes.
  • Never "stuff" papers into your books or notebooks. When you get a paper, put it in the right section of your notebook, always putting the newest paper in front of older papers.
  • After you take a test in one of your classes, use a paper clip to bind together all of the papers in your notebook that were covered on that test. This way, you'll know that all of the new papers you put in are covering information for the next unit.
  • Every night, go through your binders and make sure all papers are in their correct places. While you're there, take the time to read over the information. This nightly review could save you study time later.
  • Create a study space at home that is quiet, well-lit, stocked with needed supplies, and free from distractions.
  • Keep your locker, bookbag, and study space neat by always putting things where they belong. Once a week, clear out any clutter that has piled up in these spaces and make sure you have your supplies well stocked.

Finding Motivation

Do you lack motivation to study, go to school, or learn? We all experience times when we don't feel like working hard, but self-motivation is an important skill that will serve you well in school, and in the workplace.

It's important that you learn what motivates you to learn and work hard, even if you don't like a specific subject, task, or facilitator. Sometimes it helps to view the task as obstacle you must overcome. Keep your focus on the end goal - getting the work done - then buckle down and see it through to the end.

Here are some other ways to increase your motivation to study.

  • Reward yourself for studying. For example, after a successful study session, treat yourself to a snack, time to text your friends, or an episode of your favorite show.
  • Study with your friends. Have fun, but make sure the focus is on studying.
  • Remind yourself of your long-term goals. What do you want for yourself beyond high school? What skills or lessons can you take away from a difficult task that will help you in the future?
  • Eliminate distractions. This might be a good time to silence your phone, turn off the tv and really focus on what you need to do. When you aren't motivated, distractions become excuses for avoiding work.
  • Try to develop interest in what you have to study. Is there any aspect of the topic you find interesting? What more would you want to know. Is it a topic that would interest a friend, can you study with them?
  • Take breaks. When you feel that you need to take a break, try to stop at a point where you are at something that is easy for you. This will make it easier for you to resume studying after your break.
  • Establish reasonable goals for a study session. You probably won't get very far if you look at your study session as "mission impossible."
  • Just do it. Once you do, you will feel a lot better than if you are worried about getting it done.

Managing Your Time

Ever feel overwhelmed by the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day and you have so much to get done? Learning how to prioritize your time well now will pay off in better grades, less stress and, ultimately, more time for the fun stuff!

Here are a few tips...

  • Use a daily planner. Each day write everything that you need to do AND how much time it will likely take to get it done.
  • Write daily and weekly to do lists. They help you to prioritize tasks and it's satisfying to cross something off your list when it's complete.
  • Plan a specific time to study each night. Devote that time to doing homework, writing papers, reading and studying for tests. Make sure others know that this is your time to study and ask them to not interrupt unless absolutely necessary.
  • Tackle the hard stuff first. When it's time to complete assignments or study, most difficult work should be done first, then move on to the easier tasks.
  • Study a little at a time. Spend a few minutes every night reviewing your notes for each class. This daily review will save you hours and hours of cramming right before a test, and the more familiar you are with the material, the more successful you'll be.
  • Prep for tomorrow. Packing your backpack, laying out clothes, or preparing your lunch the night before saves you time in the morning, and when you aren't rushing to get out the door, your stress levels are lower and you start the day on a positive note.

Math Study Tips

  1. Use your toolkit. Add notes and examples to it throughout the unit. Then re-read it each day for a few days before the test. The more time you spend with your toolkit before the test, the more familiar with the material you will become.
  2. Listen for hints from your facilitators. If they say something often, or hint that it may be on the test, then it will most likely be on the test. Mark those problems with a star, highlight them, or add notes next to them. Then make sure you understand these key concepts.
  3. Learn from the challenging practice questions. Tricky homework problems and previous quiz questions will sometimes appear on tests. Review the problems that gave you the most trouble as part of your test prep. If you're still stuck on a concept, ask for another explanation.
  4. Find out why things work and how they are connected. It is not enough to know the steps to a problem. It is more important to know why certain strategies work better than others, and to be able to identify similar problems and apply what you know. If you can't explain the why - it may be time to ask for help.
  5. Make your own study guide. Make sure you know any vocabulary terms or special direction words. Also make sure you know how to graph or diagram a problem. Can you show your work?
  6. If test anxiety is a problem, make a practice test. Pick challenging homework problems, skill builders, and problems from previous quizzes, give yourself a time limit, and take your practice exam. Check them, or have a parent or friend check them.
  7. Practice positive self-talk. Make sure your inner voice is encouraging, not negative.
  8. Take a deep breath. If you find yourself getting anxious during a quiz or test, try to relax. Breathe in and out through your nose, stay positive, and get back to work.
  9. Pace yourself. Spend more time on the questions that are worth more points. Show your work and do not take shortcuts. Remember, you can underline and highlight directions and any text and come back to questions you aren't sure about later. If you have time left, check your work.
  10. Be thorough. Read the directions, show your work, label answers and check graphs. Don't let these simple mistakes cost you points.
  11. Know yourself. We each experience tests differently. If you need to chew gum, do it. If you need to work stuff out on scratch paper, do it If you need to use color to label things, do it. If you like to use graph paper instead of the grids on the test, do it.

Online Resources

Would it help to have someone explain a lesson again - with a slightly different approach? There are great resources online that can help with math skills.

  • Khan Academy has video tutorials of a wide variety of math (and other) concepts.
  • MathVids has videos of a large variety of math concepts. This site also has a neat feature where you can click on "see videos like this one" in a box to the right of the video you're watching, in the case that you want to learn more after watching that video.
  • MathPrep is another video tutorial site. You can either search for a topic or scroll through a list.
  • IXL provides practice problems in basic mathematics skills up through Algebra.

Memory Boosters

Use your senses

  • Write out the information that you need to remember, organizing it as well as you can.
  • Read the information out loud.
  • Walk around as you read and study.
  • In your mind (or on paper), create pictures or charts of the information that you're trying to remember.
  • Let your mind wander, if the new information that you're studying reminds you of things that you already know (create a "hook" between the new info and the old info).

Study right before you go to sleep

  • Your brain will continue to process information, even as you sleep!

Create a study sheet or flash cards

  • Write down all important facts, formulas, dates and details in this one place, so you don't have to go back to other notes and textbooks repeatedly. Review these tools in small sessions, giving yourself plenty of time to prepare for a test.

Study, and study again.

  • It's true - most times, you need to hear something multiple times before it sticks. Keep with it.


Mnemonics can help you to remember the details!

Mnemonic strategies are memory aids that help our brains to remember facts. Here are a few to try:

Acronyms - Make up words from the initials of longer words. Examples include:

  • PEMDAS - the sequence in solving or evaluating math equations (Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction)
  • HOMES - the names of the five Great Lakes (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)
  • ROY G. BIV - the colors of the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet)

Acrostic - Create a sentence or poem that uses the first letter of each word that you want to remember. Some examples are:

  • Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally - the sequence in solving or evaluating math equations (PEMDAS: Parenthesis, Exponents, Multiplication, Division, Addition, Subtraction)
  • Every Good Boy Does Fine - the names of the lines on the treble clef (E, G, B, D, F)

Chunking - Arranging information into groups of items that go together. For example:

  • To remember the number 946328175, group it: 946 - 328 - 175
  • To recall the 50 states, group them by first letter (T = Texas, Tennessee)

Rhymes - Create a rhyme or song to remember information. Examples include:

  • Thirty days hath September, April, June, and November
  • Days of the week song (to the tune from "The Addams Family")

Pictures - Creating a mental images of the information that needs to be remembered. For example:

  • To remember Shirley Temple's name, you might picture her "curly" (rhymes with Shirley) hair around her temples.

Stories - Create a story out of an event or details that you need to memorize. You can even make a story where each word or idea you have to remember cues the next idea you need to recall. Some examples are:

  • To remember the words Napoleon, ear, door, and Germany, picture Napoleon with his ear to a door listening to people talk about Germany.
  • Think of yourself as being a colonist taking part in the Boston Tea Party. What is happening? Who is there? What do you feel? What has happened to make you feel this way?
  • Imagine yourself as a doctor researching diseases, looking at cells under a microscope and identifying each part of the cell.

Familiar Locations - Think of somewhere that you have spent a lot of time in and know well. Imagine yourself walking through the location, selecting clearly defined places--the door, sofa, refrigerator, shelf, etc. Imagine yourself putting the items that you need to remember into each of these places by walking through this location in a direct path. For example:

  • If you need to remember George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Richard Nixon, you could imagine walking up to the door of your location and seeing a dollar bill stuck in the door (George Washington); when you open the door, imagine that Thomas Jefferson is reclining on the sofa, and Richard Nixon is eating out of the refrigerator.

Keywords (for foreign language vocabulary) - Think of a key word in English that sounds like the foreign word that you need to remember. Then, think of an image which involves the key word with the English meaning of the foreign word. An example:

  • Consider the Spanish word "cabina" which means "phone booth." For the English keyword, you might think of "cab in a ... ." You could then invent an image of a cab trying to fit in a phone booth. When you see the word "cabina" on the test, you should be able to recall the image of the cab and you should be able to retrieve the definition "phone booth."

Online Resources

Take Tests Like a Pro

Whether you're at school, working to get your driver's license, hoping to gain a certification, or training at work, tests are a part of everyday life. Learning proper study and test taking strategies can help prepare you for these assessments, help to ease anxiety, and ensure success.

  • Keep a positive attitude. Prepare, and believe in your ability to do well.
  • Make a study plan. As soon as you know there is a test coming, start to prepare. Find out what material you will be tested over, and make a study guide.
  • Study a little each night. Your brain can only absorb so much at one time. Using a test-prep strategy that works best for your learning style.
  • Review one last time. This shouldn't be a cramming session, only a quick review of your study guide and notes, as you've been studying and are familiar with the material.
  • Eat a good breakfast. Your brain needs fuel to work its best. Be sure to leave yourself enough time to get to school so you aren't frantically rushing before the test.
  • Be your own cheerleader. As you work your way through the test, give yourself a little mental pep talk to encourage you to stay calm and do your best.
  • Read carefully and follow all directions. Misreading a word can change the entire meaning of the question, and missing a step can mean lost points.
  • Manage your time. Scan through the test quickly before starting. Answering the easy questions first can be a time saver and a confidence builder. Plus, it saves more time in the end for you to focus on the hard stuff.
  • Stay calm. If you get stuck on a question, don't get worried or frustrated. Reread the question to make sure you understand it, and then try to solve it the best way you know how. If you're still stuck, circle it and move on. You can come back to it later. Still not sure? Review your options and make the best guess you can.
  • Keep it neat! If your 4s look like 9s, or your Ts look like Fs, it could mean missed points. Be sure that your writing is legible and that you fully erase your mistakes. Fill bubbles completely, if taking a test that will be electronically scored.
  • Review your work. Take time to go back to review the test, making sure that you didn't skip an answer or misunderstand the directions.
  • Check out Improving your Test-Taking Skills to learn more helpful test-taking strategies.

Tips for True/False Questions:
  • Some true/false questions can be tricky. For a question to be true, it must be entirely true. If any part of the statement is false, then mark it false!
  • Look for these words as clues for a false statement: all, always, none, every, only, never.
  • A statement is usually true if it uses one of these words: many, most, some, few, usually, often, sometimes, less.
  • Answer every question. You have a 50% chance of getting it right!
  • Write clearly. Be sure the teacher can tell the difference between your "F" and your "T".
  • For more ideas, check out this site:

Tips for Matching Questions:
  • Use a process of elimination to answer the questions.
  • Do the ones you know first and cross them off.
  • Then do the best you can with the ones that are left.

Tips for Multiple Choice Questions:
  • Read questions carefully.
  • Before looking at the possible answers, try to form the answer in your mind.
  • If you don't know the answer after reading the choices, cross off the choices you are wrong. Pick the sensible one that remains.
  • If you have no idea, guess! You have some chance of getting it right, so try!

Tips for Short Answer Questions:
  • If you do not know the exact answer, but do know some related material, write down what you do know. You may get partial credit.
  • If you don't know the answer, guess (unless your teacher tells you not to).
  • Use the other words in the sentences to determine what word or words go in the blank. Try to make a reasonable guess.

Tips for Essay Questions:
  • Answer the easy questions first and then write an answer for every question.
  • Check the amount of time allowed and leave enough time for each essay question.
  • Essay questions have clue words. You will do better if you know what these words are asking:
    • Compare - Show how things are alike. Emphasize similarities.
    • Contrast - show how two things are different.
    • Define - Give the meaning of an idea. Be clear and concise.
    • Describe - Write detailed information, usually in narrative form.
    • Discuss - Give details of an idea and explain the good and bad of each.
    • Explain - Tell the "how" and "why" about a topic.
    • Illustrate - Explain by giving examples.
    • List - Write things down and number them.
    • Outline - A brief, organized description of the main ideas.
    • State - Describe the main points as clearly as possible.
    • Summarize - Give a short list and explanation of the main ideas.
  • Before you start the essay, organize your thoughts on scrap paper:
    • Jot down all of the main points/ideas that answer the question.
    • Put main points/ideas in order of importance…then begin!
  • As you write:
    • Restate the question as your opening sentence.
    • Use transitional sentences to connect ideas. Use connecting words such as like, first, second, next, in addition to, therefore, etc.
    • Support your answer with specific examples and details.
    • Write a concluding sentence or paragraph to summarize your ideas.
  • For more ideas, check this out: