Study Skills Needed for Academic Success


On any given school night, a common question parents ask their teenagers is: “Do you have any homework?” or “Have you studied yet?” What those parents should be asking, is: “Does my child know how to study?” Unfortunately the answer is often no, yet having strong study skills are the key to academic success-whether in middle school, high school, or college.

What often happens in the middle and high school classroom is that a teacher tells students that they need to take notes. After the pens and paper come out, the teacher usually tells the students what to write down. Some students get it, some don’t. The students are given a reading assignment to go along with their notes, and sometime later there is a test. The teacher usually does some type of review before the test, but basically the student is on his own to study. Maybe he never read the assignment; maybe he only half listened during the note taking; maybe he only half listened during the review. When he sits down to study, he doesn’t have what he needs, probably gets bored, and calls it a night. That does not bode well for how he will do on the test.

It doesn’t matter what the subject is, if the student does not understand, or even care, about the correlation between good study skills and good grades, he or she will probably end up a mediocre student at best. And if they want to go to college, keep in mind that a student without good study skills can sink very quickly. Parents should know that college professors must assume that the student comes to class fully aware of the importance of good note taking, effective reading, and paying attention. Those that have those skills succeed in college; those that don’t struggle.

The problem, of course, is getting your teenager motivated enough to learn good study techniques and then use them. That is not easy and parents will need to be creative in their efforts to get their teenagers to see the value. If that teenager plans to go to college, be ready to explain to her that reading, note taking, and studying are everyday chores in college-the better prepared she is now, the more likely she will do well in college.

Some middle and high schools do offer classes that teach study skills. One example is a program called AVID – Advancement Via Individual Determination. In AVID classes, students learn how to take notes, read for content, study, and organize themselves. It would be worth a call to the counselor’s office to see what your teenager’s school offers if you feel he does not know how to study.

One effective study method can be self taught-if you can convince your student it is worth the effort. SQR3 (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, Review) uses five clear steps to studying:


  1. First survey, or scan, the whole document. Pay attention to titles and subtitles, to graphs and books for tweens charts, to bold or italic text.
  2. Question what you’ve just surveyed. What questions come to mind with each subtitle or chart? What does that italic test make you wonder?
  3. Then thoroughly read each section one at a time, looking for answers to your questions.
  4. Next recite the answers to your questions out loud – speaking the answers helps you remember the information.Then write down the answer.
  5. After you have read and recited each section, do a final review of all your notes, questions, and answers. Make a list of the main points.


Using this method, or some variation of it, would give any student an excellent set of study notes, plus confidence in his or her knowledge-and put that student on the path to academic success.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *