Most students could improve their study habits (and possibly their grades) by implementing small changes. The problem is most students don’t know where to start. Most parents rely on what worked for them way back when. Teachers often don’t have the time to teach study skills or simply don’t know what’s most effective.

I’m fortunate enough to do a weekly podcast (The College Prep Podcast) with a nationally recognized study skills expert, Gretchen Wegner. Gretchen’s work is based on brain science and years of working with struggling students and their frustrated families. I keep learning new strategies and approaches– even if I sometimes doubt their effectiveness at first.

Today I want to share a variety of study skills tips, ideas, and strategies with you. You might want to save or bookmark this so you can try one thing at a time and come back when you are ready to add another approach to your arsenal.

If you want to learn more about working with Gretchen, visit her website. I recommend you start with her “Anti-Boring Approach to Studying Course” which you can fine [HERE.] If you want to try before you buy, she has a free preview [HERE.]

Click on the episode titles to hear them from our website or look them up on your favorite podcasting platform. You can find “The College Prep Podcast” on iTunes, Stitcher, Google Play, and most common podcasting sites.

203: Don’t Overlook These Seven Surprising Study Techniques

Sometimes small study tweaks can make a difference.

In this episode, Gretchen outlines seven small study techniques that can are easy to integrate into your homework time, and can help you be better prepped for tests.

We’re listing them here, though you’ll want to tune in to understand exactly how to integrate them into your study routine. They are:

  1. Take 3-minutes to quiz yourself before every assignment.
  2. Don’t use Google Translate to do your language homework, but do use it to assess yourself after you’re done
  3. Eliminate silly mistakes on math tests by doing a “speed practice” when doing homework
  4. Check your homework every night using
  5. Use blue tape to put flashcards up around your house, so that you can study when you’re walking to and from different rooms
  6. Draw a picture next to information that you’re having trouble remembering
  7. Make a quizzable study tool before each chapter test and save those tools for the final.

252: Two Straightforward Steps to Taking Great Notes

Too often educators teach specific note taking strategies like Cornell Notes without teaching students WHY they work.

Tune in to hear Gretchen outline a straightforward approach to helping take better notes.

Specifically, she discusses:

  • Review the Study Cycle, which summarizes the three steps the brain needs to learn
  • Understand where good note taking fits into the Study Cycle (hint: encoding!)
  • Discuss the two steps to note-taking
  • Learn tips for how to put each of these steps into practice.

At one point in this episode, Gretchen references the excellent graphic organizers at

256: 6+ Ways to Study for Tests in Five Minute Bursts

Students often worry that studying effectively for tests will take more time than they have!

In this episode, Gretchen takes a deep dive into retrieval practice, which is arguably the most important things students can do when studying.

Specifically she explores simple ways to do retrieval practice:

  • Before class or reading,
  • Right after class,
  • While you are doing already assigned pieces of homework
  • In addition to your homework

292: 15+ Anti-Boring Ways to Study for Exams

Study Smorgasbord! Gretchen lists more than 15 anti-boring strategies students can choose from as they prepare for exams, to make sure that they’re practicing retrieval and encoding in new ways.

Tune in to learn:

  • The 3 most important steps any student needs to take in order to study effectively
  • 6+ ways to teach yourself information that you don’t already know
  • 9+ ways to quiz yourself to see what you know and don’t know
  • How to save time by doing both at the same time, picking encoding practices that also serve as retrieval practices.

194: Research Reveals the Three Best Ways to Teach, Learn, and Study

What does research teach us about the best ways for teachers to teach and students to study?

Guest experts Yana Weinstein and Megan Sumeracki, otherwise known as The Learning Scientists, school us on what research shows is is the best ways to learn, including some surprising myths about what doesn’t work.

Together with Gretchen and Megan, they discuss:

  • The hilarious way that the Learning Scientists podcast got started
  • Stories from the classroom of what students at the college level struggle with in regards to learning
  • The three most effective strategies for learning, based on a research study from the NCTQ, which include retrieval, spaced practice, and dual coding.
  • Why intuition is sometimes misleading when someone is trying to figure out how to study
  • And more!

Here is the link for a cool way to use flashcards to do elaborative interrogation, which was mentioned at the end of the episode.

320: Help Students Rely Less on Nagging and More On Themselves

In this mini-episode (11 minutes)

Gretchen shares one of her favorite ways to get students to start thinking about reminder systems.

This includes a brainstorm where you guide students through the following:

  • Make a list of ways they can remind themselves to follow through on tasks
  • Discuss the pros of each reminder system, thinking through what kinds of reminders they might work for
  • Discuss the cons of each reminder system, thinking through what kinds of reminders this system might NOT work for

The rest of the newsletter focuses on ACT and SAT issues for this school year. If you don’t have a current junior, you can skip the rest.