4 Ways to Work Ahead in School

Although it’s tempting to spend winter break – and any other bits of downtime you might have throughout the school year – relaxing and not worrying about academics, working ahead on some classwork would benefit you in the long-run. This doesn’t imply by any means that you need to devote every bit of free time to these activities, but implementing just a few strategies here and there to ensure you are always prepared could put you in a solid position for success later on. Here are a few suggestions: 

1. Complete reading assignments in advance

Certain instructors prefer that you read about a topic prior to the associated lecture, while others request that you complete such assignments after the topic has been introduced in class. For courses in which you are provided a list of readings in advance, it is advantageous to complete the assignments before the corresponding class. Doing so will allow you to familiarize yourself with the subject, increase your comfort level in lecture, and foresee which aspects of the topic will be most challenging for you. If you have finished the reading beforehand, you will be able to focus your efforts on comprehending the most difficult parts of the topic the day it is examined in class. You will also know which questions you should ask the teacher. Never underestimate the benefits of having extra time to think about these readings. Here are some great tips on how to interpret a reading assignment that you may find useful.

2. Re-read and re-write course notes

Class notes are often recorded in a frenzied manner. You may find that the notes you wrote during lecture seemed perfectly logical at the time, but outside the context of the lesson, you discover they no longer make sense to you. Your notes may even be illegible because you had insufficient time to jot them down. For these reasons, it is very wise to review class notes the same day you take them. Do not wait until the evening before a test to look them over! By this point, you will have probably forgotten many details of the lectures, and you will not have adequate time to decipher what you recorded. You may also want to take a look at this study tip on how to organize your notes. If necessary, re-write your notes within 24 hours of the class. Copying your notes in a more understandable manner will save you valuable study time later. The other benefit is that you will be reviewing the subject matter during the process of re-writing. When you must study the same topic for your midterm and final, you will be very pleased with yourself for ensuring your notes are simple to understand the first time. 

3. Reach out to teachers and take advantage of extra assistance

Additional help is perhaps the most underrated form of test preparation. Reviewing for an exam can be overwhelming – you don’t always realize the bulk of information you’ve covered. Extra help sessions are frequently held and typically focus on the most important aspects of the topics involved on upcoming tests. These opportunities are a fantastic method to concentrate on the most difficult and/or significant content of a unit. Look at upcoming schedules and determine when and where you will attend one of these gatherings. Your attendance could mean the difference between two whole letter grades on an exam! A teacher won’t usually devote a great deal of time to discussing a topic that you will not eventually be tested on, so you should be able to gauge what the assessments will contain. Attending an extra help session is hardly ever an experience that a student regrets. You may even want to consider consulting a tutor to help you as well, or even just sending the teacher an email or attending their office hours is a step in the right direction as well.

4. Pose multiple questions

Asking questions is a superlative learning style. You should never feel embarrassed about asking for clarification in or outside of class, whether it’s because you truly don’t understand or because you enjoy a subject and wish to discover more about it. Make sure you return to school ready to inquire about any concept you feel necessary! Asking questions demonstrates that you can think critically and have a desire to learn. It also increases your participation grade. While you may not remember every word an instructor utters during lecture, you’re very likely to recall the questions that you asked and the answers that you received. Teachers love to see their students speak up and inquire; it encourages other students to participate, and it creates an atmosphere conducive to learning.