Skills Toolbox

Study Skills Toolbox

One of the most important classes you can take BEFORE going to school is a study skills class. However, since most of you are currently enrolled in the most important class of your life, Financial Literacy, I want to provide a list of important study skills.

1. Make Each Class Your Priority: Whatever class you're in, act like it's your favorite subject in the whole-wide world. This has two purposes, one, mental blocks that you have will be eliminated, which will make it easier to learn the subject. Second, the class is probably your teacher's favorite subject. Treating their favorite subject like it's your favorite subject will encourage the instructor to be more helpful with your struggles in the class. (How to Win Friends and Influence People)

2. The "Magic T": this is a seating choice (were provided or requested) that has you sitting on the front two rows and/or the middle two columns of a classroom. The "T" shape of seats that is created tend to have higher scores than the students in the back two corners of the room. If you have a teacher who likes seating charts, ask for a seat in the Magic T and explain why you would like that seat.

3. Learning Takes Effort: You know that kid in class who seems to know everything already and the A comes easily. Well, every class is going to have a few. But it's not going to be the same kid in every class. While some kids are simply "smarter," nothing is better than simple, honest to goodness, hard work. You will have to read, re-read, and highlight the information. It will take time and effort, but, in this case brawn can beat brains, you just have to beat the course into submission.

How many tests have you taken where you read the question then try to find the answer that best fits the question? That is NOT knowledge, that is guessing. True learning is reading a portion of the question to find the main idea then searching for the answer among a list of wrong choices. If your thinking about the answer you don't know the question.

4. Ask your teacher to explain how the course is organized: When are assignments due, how to turn them in, how the tests factor into your grade, tips on studying for tests, and the best resources for vocabulary lists that will be on the tests. Understand the "mechanics" of how the course is designed.

5. Your cell phone? You know, that little black box of failure. TURN IT OFF!!! Distractions have always been a part of school. Playing with sticks, passing notes, beepers, cell phones, texting, smart phones. Guess what else has always been a part of school, Failing. Maybe there's a correlation here?

6. Preview the material before coming to class: Know what you are going to learn before you learn it. The art of public speaking dictates that you "tell your audience what your going to tell them, you tell them, and then you tell them what you told them." Reading over the material before you come to class covers the tell them what you're going to tell them part.

7. Participate in class discussions and activities: This reinforces the first concept of treating each class as your favorite. This also helps you to be engaged in the second part of public speaking, being told.

8. Come to school to be at school: One company famously stated on a sign above the employee entrance "welcome to work, leave your issues at the door." While this is a rather callous statement, the underlying concept is true. Life can be hard, we often make choices that make it harder. Welcome to school, leave your outside worries at the door and enjoy the time afforded to you to learn.

9. Outside of Class: Plan time each evening for homework/study: Make it a dedicated part of your day. This covers the third part, being told what you were told. No, don't overload your study time with eight different classes. Complete homework/study a little bit every day. Try and complete work during the week so you can take the weekends off. You need this time to recharge and prepare to hit it hard the next week. (Remember: school is prep for real-life. Do you really intend to work on work during the weekends? You will be working some late-nights, putting in 60 hours a week; but as adults we all try to keep our weekends free!)


1. What is your cell phone?

2. How do you feel about the statement "the smart get smarter"?

3. Write a goal for each of the 9 items on how you could improve on each.


Lecture Guide

PowerPoint: Class Orientation

Teachers Pay Teachers Files