ADD/ADHD

Tips for Academic Success

Finding the right routine:

Allowing enough time to get ready for class, study for an exam, or complete an assignment can be tricky.  The key is to always do what must be done first. This usually involves studying, reading, projects, and weekly homework assignments. Worry about what can be done later, after completing what needs to be done now. If you’re getting ready for a test, don’t check text messages, Snapchat, Instagram, YouTube, or start any Google internet searches. Enjoy the entertainment side of things after the task at hand is completed.  This strategy reduces a lot of stress that comes with doing things last minute: waiting to study the night before, starting your paper the week it’s due, working on your presentation the morning of, etc. 

Try to stick to a routine or tentative schedule.  This is because time management can be tough for some students. Mainly, because students overestimate the amount of time they have for a task and underestimate how much time it will take for them to do it. All of the student's professional meetings, such as counseling or tutoring, should be pre-arranged.  Most students do well with structure, so meeting at the same time and on the same day works best.

 

Staying focused:

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Students usually retain more information when they study in different locations. If possible, change the studying location from time to time. There are students that do better in a busy area – think of your local public library, the school’s library, Panera Bread, Starbucks, Barnes N Noble, worship center, community center, etc.  Then, there are other students that know they must have silence. These students may prefer a bedroom, basement, home office, private study room, even their home patio, or sun-room.  In case you didn't know, the best place to study is outside. So, try to change the study location when you can!  

You can put your phone across the room or in another room and leave it there.  If you want to check your messages from your friends, you have to get up and walk to it.  Students say that this significantly limits the amount of phone distractions.  If this is too hard for you, set the timer for 15  minutes, and work as hard as you can during that time.  When the timer goes off, get up, check your messages for one minute, and then get back to work.

Playing songs by your favorite artist is fine for routine assignments that do not require too much. However, music should not be played when intensely studying for a big exam. Playing music can negatively impact long-term retrieval.  

When students are having a tough time getting started with homework, it’s always a good idea to begin with an easy task, followed by a difficult one, and then an easy assignment again.  

 

Being organized:

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Record all school assignments on a calendar. You can use a tablet, laptop, smart phone, desktop, or a wall calendar. Record the final due date and then set incremental due dates and associated tasks to get it done on time. By week one, perhaps your topic and introduction should be completed. Then, going into the second week, start doing research on supporting points and arguments.  When large tasks, like a final paper or studying for a mid-term, are broken down into direct, manageable chunks, they are more likely to be completed on time. For instance, if a test is coming up on Friday, the student should record tasks like “complete 1-10 review problems on page 19” and “create flashcards for math steps,” etc. on Monday or Tuesday.  Being specific with your tasks can be far superior to simply jotting down a vague reminder like “study for my math test.”

Tasks that you record should be no more than 30-35 minutes.  When tasks end up taking longer, students are far more likely to procrastinate and avoid doing it altogether.  

Every student should schedule a “binder and backpack sweep” session to help stay organized. Set aside 30 minutes each week and conduct a clean out.  Sundays are perfect for doing this. This also lets the student plan ahead for the week – what’s due and when, starting a long-term assignment, and planning what to work on.  Enter the 30-minute clean sweep on your phone calendar, monthly planner, room calendar, or make sticky notes to remind yourself.

 

Reading and studying:

Active reading should be utilized when preparing for an exam.  Active reading includes writing notes in the margins and highlighting pertinent information.  As reading becomes more complex, these strategies help students to understand more advanced topics. 

Tips:
Read one section at a time.  After you’re done, go back and highlight the important information. The color of the highlighter does not matter at all. Yellow, blue, green, pink, or orange - just pick one!    

Use margin notes. Margin notes are another interactive way of studying. It’s better than just reading the information and moving along. In short phrases, summarize the main points in the margins of text books. Doing so, will help with retaining the information that was read.  

Engage in “self chat” at the end of each section.  The student should ask, “What did I just read here?” or “What’s the takeaway from this section?”  Self chat helps students comprehend what they are reading better.

If you are reading, try the SCAN strategy.  Simply put, before reading do the following:

S = Survey Headings and Turn Them into Questions
Find each heading, and change it into a question.
C = Capture the Captions and Visuals
Review pictures or charts and read the captions beside them.
A = Attack Boldface Words
Hone in on the terms in bold; read these words to gain an understanding of the main idea.
N = Note and Read the Chapter Questions
Check out the questions at the end of the chapter.

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Reading Strategies: Academic Coaching Specialist - Washington DC, Northern VA, Charlotte NC, Richmond VA

There is a host of tools at the student's disposal for interacting with what we are reading. The concept is known as active reading and it will work to increase comprehension and retention of information. Try out some of the strategies below. 

BEFORE YOU READ:
•    Z – Sweep:  Performing a Z-Sweep will help you understand what lies ahead. Move your hand from the left to the right under the first line, then back around through the body of the text, and then finish with a sweep from left to right at the bottom. Read the first sentence, glance or sweep through the body, and then read the last one or two sentences. By using this strategy, you can gain a cross-section of what you are about to read. 

•    SCAN:  This strategy significantly improves text book reading comprehension in middle and high school students.
S = Survey Headings and Turn Them into Questions
Find each bold heading, and turn it into a question. For example, if the heading is The War of 1812, you should think, “What happened in The War of 1812?”
C = Capture the Captions and Visuals
Glance at the pictures or diagrams and read each caption.
A = Attack Boldface Words
Be sure to focus on the terms in bold. Quickly read these words for an understanding of the main vocabulary words.
N = Note and Read the Chapter Questions
This is perhaps the most important pre-reading strategy. Read the review questions at the end of the section first. This will help with the main idea behind the passage.

AS YOU READ OR AFTER YOU READ:
•    Highlighting:  Using color helps to increase attention.  Highlight the main points and be careful not to become “highlighter crazy”.  Highlight the main points after you read a section.  As yourself, “What’s the main point of the paragraph I just read?”

•    Margin Notes:  Questions or comments jotted in the margins next to important paragraphs provide visual cues.  Writing down quick notes as you read really helps with retention.  Furthermore, when you go back over the book before finals, all the main ideas will be there for you. 

•    Summary Writing:  Summarizing information is time-consuming, but it is the best way to be sure that you understand and remember what you read.  You can write brief summaries at the end of each chapter or at the bottom of your 2-column notes.  If you write a summary within 24 hours of taking notes or reading, you’re much more likely to retain the information.

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How to Organize Your Homework Assignments

Organizing your homework is a great way to improve your grades. One successful way to do this is to incorporate a color coding system into your homework routine.

Here are the steps: 

1. Get a set of inexpensive supplies arranged by color. 
You may want to start with a pack of colored highlighters, then find folders, notes, and various stickers to match them. 
•    Folders
•    Sticky notes
•    Highlighters
•    Round stickers
•    Labels
•    Flags

2. Select a different color for each class. For example, you may want to use the following system: 
•    Orange=US History
•    Green=Algebra
•    Red=Chemistry
•    Yellow=English
•    Blue=Health
•    Pink=Marketing

3. Create a connection between the color and the class. Here's a good starting suggestion, you might relate the color green to money or plant life. This may make you think about math subjects or biology class. Try to relate a few colors to some of your classes. The connection will be clear in your mind after a few days. 

4. Pocket folders: Use each folder to keep track of homework for each class. The type of folder isn't important; just use the type that is best for you. Sometimes your teacher will recommend a specific folder. 

5. Notes work well when it comes to researching articles. You can note down book and article titles, phrases, passages, comments, and such, to use in your paper, including bibliographical citations. Keep standard manila notes if you can't carry multiple packages of colored sticky notes. Use different colored pens in order to keep track of each class. 

6. Flags are for marking pages or reading assignments. Place a colored flag at the beginning and ending pages for each assignment. You can also use flags for marking dates in your organizer. Place a flag on a date when an assignment is due. You can use different colors for your various classes. You'll have an everyday reminder that a due date is approaching. 

7. Highlighters should be used when reviewing your notes. During a lecture, take notes like you usually do and be sure to include the date in your notebook. Once you get home, look over and highlight using different colors. You can breakdown the colors by subject, information type, or relevance. If your papers get jumbled up (or never get put into your classroom folder) you can recognize them by the highlights. 

8. Round stickers are great for your wall calendar. Be sure to keep a calendar in your room or in the kitchen, and place a color-coded sticker on the day that an assignment is due. For instance, on the day you receive a research paper assignment in history class, you should place an orange sticker on the due date. This way, everyone can see an important day approaching, even at a glance.

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