Academic coaching Washington DC

High School Students: 6 Ways to Get Motivated

Whether you're studying for exams, preparing for the ACT/SAT, or trying to get a few college applications done, getting motivated can be incredibly difficult. With summer vacation starting, every time you sit down to start your work, you end up daydreaming about swimming, camping, skating, and just hanging out in the sun.

So, how do you keep up with your work? How do you finish strong? Here are six things you can do to stay academically motivated:

1. Make a to-do list

The first thing you should do is make a to-do list. Just write down everything you need to get done and everything you need to do to make sure those things get done. For example, if you are trying to work up the motivation to study for an exam, your to-do list might look something like this:

Complete review packet

Re-read chapters as needed

Review past tests and quizzes

Make notecards of important material

Putting all these things under the larger umbrella of "studying" may lead you to feel overwhelmed with all the work you have to do. Making a list of smaller to-dos will help you digest your task more easily.

2. Set goals

Once you have made your to-do list, it is important to set goals. Goals remind you of what you are working toward and why. Try to set a goal for each of the following areas:

Preparation

Result

Deeper Desire

In the case of studying for an exam, your goals might look like this:

Preparation goal: Complete all items on my to-do list. Study for 1 hour every day during the two weeks leading up to the exam.

Result goal: Receive a 92% or higher on the exam. Achieve an A in the class.

Deeper desire goal: Be accepted into my desired college.

Your preparation goal should be directly related to the task you need to get motivated for. In the instance of studying for an exam, this would be the actual studying itself. So, your goal is to complete all the to-do list items and to study for 1 hour every day leading up to the exam.

Your result goal should be related to the consequences of your efforts. In this case, you are getting motivated and studying for the exam because you want to get a 92% or higher on the exam and receive an A in the class.

Lastly, the deeper desire goal should be your number one reason for being motivated. In this case, why do you want to study, and why do you want an A? The answer could be that you want to make sure you get into your top college.

If you set goals on all three of these levels, you should constantly be reminded of what you need to do and why you need to do it. With your "deeper desire" at the forefront of your mind, you should have no problem pushing through periods of discouragement.

3. Set rewards

A great way to boost your motivation is to set rewards for yourself. Tell yourself that if you study for an hour, you can watch 30 minutes of your favorite Netflix series (just don't end up binge watching it). Or if you finish three college applications during the week, you can treat yourself to something nice on the weekend.

If you need a little help with this, see if your parents will make a deal with you. That way, they are in charge of the reward and will hold you accountable for your actions.

4. Plot your progress

Sometimes it isn't the motivation to start that is the issue, but the motivation to keep going. How many times have you been midway through an assignment only to end up playing video games and having to finish it the next day?

If you want to make sure you stay motivated throughout your work, plot your progress. Being aware of how much you have done will give you a sense of accomplishment that may just be enough to push you through your work.

5. Make it fun

One of the easiest ways to get motivated is to find a way to make your work fun. It seems impossible to make filling out applications or studying for a test fun, but there are ways. For example, filling out college applications with friends makes the work go by a lot faster. Instead of dreading the work, you look forward to talking to your friends and getting their opinions. As for studying, instead of quizzing yourself, why not grab a few classmates and play trivia!

If you can find a way to enjoy your work, you won't need motivation – or, rather, your motivation will be the enjoyment you get from doing it.

One last tip...

Take a break! Remember that sometimes you don't need more motivation; you just need a little break! If you've been working for an hour or so, take twenty minutes to relax and recharge! Watch a YouTube video, get up and run around, take a weird Buzzfeed quiz, do whatever you feel like. You'll come back to your work with a new attitude and a refreshed mind.

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.

Contact us and you can start working with a tutor on active reading strategies!