Five Study Skills Middle Schoolers Need to Acquire and Refine

By Dr. Raymond Huntington

In middle school, it becomes more important than ever for students to know how to study. The foundation for this is laid in elementary school, but in middle school, expectations are higher, and teachers want students to be independent learners who take responsibility for their own learning. 

What are some of the middle school study skills your student should be cultivating as they move toward high school? Here are five of the most essential: 

  • Time management/creating a study schedule - Time management is a skill that new middle school students have not always mastered. Encourage your child to use their planner or homework app to keep track of all of their work. When it comes to upcoming quizzes and tests, they should always plan ahead. That means developing a study plan well in advance. Remind your child that spaced out study sessions have been proven to be much more effective than fewer, longer study sessions. Encourage your child during middle school to develop a consistent study schedule. Tips:
    • Work backward from tests/quizzes when creating a schedule
    • Prioritize hardest and soonest tests/quizzes
    • Incorporate study time every day leading up to tests/quizzes around other responsibilities and school hours
  • Visual aids - Even students who learn effectively by reading and listening can benefit from visual aids such as diagrams, charts, flashcards, lists, visual memory devices and diagrams. When there are opportunities for your child to incorporate visual study tools, do so.
  • Practice tests - Not every teacher will offer or use practice tests as a way for students to get prepared for the real thing, but if your student ever does have access to mock exams or can ask the teacher for any, these are useful. Another idea: have your child create their own practice tests. They can use their detailed notes and textbook to create test questions. Some texts even include summary questions at the end of chapters.
  • Taking quality notesNote taking is new for most middle school students. Writing down what a teacher says isn’t enough, however. Your child needs to learn how to take useful notes that will help them prepare well for quizzes and tests. Help your child develop this skill. Talk with their teachers about effective methods, whether they recommend the Cornell note-taking method or have other note-taking tips. Your child’s notes should: 
    • Summarize important concepts
    • Call out key terms and information that jogs their memory for more details
    • Record essential concepts they should study more deeply
  • Organization - For many new middle school students, organization is a big challenge. Never before have these students had to keep track of so many separate materials for separate classes. Help your middle schooler create an organizational system that keeps track of all physical items like handouts and syllabi as well as any electronic files. While organization is not exactly a study skill, being organized helps students minimize wasted time and stress so that when they do sit down to study, they can easily access what they need and get focused. 

Lastly, it is wise to get your child help in middle school when they struggle with studying or homework. If your child seems to lack discipline or tools to study effectively, you must address these issues sooner than later. Middle school is a big transition period for students and a time to help them become more independent. Honing those study skills is an important part of that. Huntington can help! Call us at 1-800 CAN LEARN to learn how.