Academic Tutor: Back to School

Posted by Andrew Jungclaus on 8/20/13 8:33 AM

study skills

There’s no more denying it – summer is just about up.  And within the next few weeks, everyone will be headed back to school, from middle school students to all of us doctoral candidates.  But no matter what grade or class you’re prepping for, whether it’s AP US History or Algebra II, this is the time to get a jump on the year ahead and make sure that you’re as ready as can be. 

These are a few of the crucial homework help tricks to being prepared for all sorts of academic situations that I give to my academic tutoring students in New York City.

1. Get Organized – Best practices for organization are something that’s different for every student – for some it’s color-coded highlighters, for others it’s separate back packs for different days of the week.  But it’s always safe to start by labelling a folder or binder for each class so that you have something to keep tests, quizzes, and handouts in.  I know, this might sound obvious, but this basic level of organization is one of the keys to staying on top of the work that will start snowballing toward you as school gears up.  Plus, having these filing systems set up before school starts will provide a huge confidence boost going into a new setting. 

2. Get Scheduled – I still recommend most middle and high school students to use an old-fashioned paper assignment book (it’s just easier to see what’s coming up sometimes) but with great task management apps for phones and computers – everything from Google Calendar to Producteev – there’s no excuse not to have your time well organized.  At this point in the summer, you can get a jump on your planning by blocking out your class schedule a few weeks at a time.  And looking more long-term, it’s also not a bad idea to get a sense of what standardized tests you’ll want to take during the coming year.  While the SAT might be offered more regularly, most AP tests are only available once a year, and it’s important to stay ahead of registration dates.  And while you’re planning your test taking calendar, it’s always wise to leave yourself at least three solid months of regular test prep sessions – so mark them down.  

3. Take a calculated risk on your first assignment – This isn’t to say hand in four pages of gibberish for your first essay, but your first assignment for a new teacher should be looked at as an opportunity to better understand what they look for (and what they don’t) in grading.  If you heard your English teacher is fond of creative submissions, try one out.  Or if your history teacher is known for her Anglophilia, don’t forget to include a few facts about the English crown.  Style can be just as important as content in many classroom settings, and the first few assignments are typically safe opportunities to test the waters.  

So take charge of the term ahead and do all you can ahead of time to make sure that it’s a seamless transition into high school academics next school year.  With a solid organization system in place now, you’ll find yourself with half the stress as the year pushes on.

Tags: study skills, homework help, middle school, high school, parents