Students who excel at both classroom and standardized tests such as the SAT and ACT aren’t necessarily those who study longest. High-achieving students take charge of their own learning and ask for help when they’re stuck, according to a 2017 study of 414 college students.
Those who asked instructors for help during office hours were more likely to get A’s, but fewer than 1 in 5 students did so, says the study by Elena Bray Speth, an associate professor of biology, and Amanda Sebesta, a doctoral candidate, both at St. Louis University in Missouri.
Students who formed study groups and quizzed each other weekly on material presented in class posted higher grades than those who used other study techniques, says a 2015 study of 144 students.
At home, Mr. Johnson suggests making copies of teachers’ study questions and having students try to answer them as if they were taking a test.
Students who completed a 15-minute online exercise 7 to 10 days before an exam that prompted them to anticipate what would be on the test, name the resources they’d use to study, and explain how and when they’d use them, had average scores one-third of a letter grade higher on the exam compared with students who didn’t do the exercise, according to a 2017 study of 361 college students led by Patricia Chen, a former Stanford University researcher and assistant professor of psychology at the National University of Singapore.
Many teachers in middle and high school try to teach good study habits, but the lessons often don’t stick unless students are highly motivated to try them-for example, when they’re afraid of getting a bad grade in class, or scoring poorly on high-stakes tests such as the ACT or SAT. When her daughter Deja was still young, Christina Kirk began to encourage her to identify major concepts in her notes and use retrieval practice when she studied.