How to Improve Your Academic Skills for Teenagers

Set goals as a way to stay motivated and focused.
... Photodisc/Photodisc/Getty Images

Learning study and time management skills will maximize your ability to progress academically. Similar to subjects like math or English, study skills must be learned and practiced. Getting a head start as a teenager will enable you to make the most of your studies in high school and college. Start by assessing your comfort level with basic skills such as note taking, test taking and time management skills. Next, create an organizational plan that will help you master the core aspects of a high achieving student.

1 Note Taking

When you are taking notes, listen for main themes that emerge during the classroom lecture. Fill in other salient points under each topic. Don’t try to write down everything your teacher says. Instead, after class, review your notes and fill in the details. Compare your notes to the information in your textbook. You may also want to form a study group with your peers to compare information. Finally, rewrite your notes and use a highlighter to emphasize the most important information. This will help you retain the information from the lecture.

2 Test Taking

If you followed the note taking steps above, you already have a head start on studying for a test. If your teacher gives you a study guide, compare the information with your class notes. Next, create flash cards. Create questions based on your notes and content tips from your teacher. Quiz yourself and study with a buddy. If you are preparing for an essay test, write out your answers in advance. The process of expressing the information in writing will further solidify comprehension of the material. The key to effective preparation is to work in advance. Waiting until the last minute will lead to lower scores and a higher stress levels. Finally, get a good night’s sleep and eat breakfast the day of your exam and you are sure to experience success.

3 Time Management

Effective time management strategies are key to developing solid academic skills. If you are going to have enough time to study, be involved at school and have fun, you will need to create a schedule and stick to it. Use a daily planner and a calendar to chart your tests and assignments. Estimate the amount of time you will need to complete these tasks and schedule study time several days in advance of the due dates. Make sure you schedule time to have fun, too. If you are well balanced, you are more likely to be productive.

4 Study Hygiene

Creating the right environment for studying is critical if you are trying to improve your academic skills. For example, create a place at home that is just for studying. Only you know the conditions that are best for you when you are trying to focus, so make sure it suits your needs. Study every day at the same time so that it becomes a routine part of your day. If you sit down for a marathon study session, give yourself a break every hour so that you can rejuvenate. Maintaining the right study conditions will help you reach your goals.

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years. She has numerous publications with Talico, Inc., DynaTEAM Consulting, Inc. and Kinect Education Group.