Skip to main content

These are the study skills your teen needs to master now to be ready for college

Study habits don’t just happen overnight, they are skills students develop over time, and important ones at that. By learning how to study effectively when they’re still teenagers, your kids will have an easier time transitioning to the heavier and more intense workload in college, and they’ll retain more of what they learn in high school.

Studying is different for everyone though, and what works for one person may not work for someone else. Learning styles vary and working to discover their unique learning style will help your teens succeed both in school and later in life.

Teen studying from a book

How should a teen study?

There’s no right or wrong way to study — what works best is different for everyone. Each person has a different learning style or a way they learn and retain information most effectively. Visual learners learn best by watching, whether it’s a YouTube video of someone performing a skill or reading information straight from a book or screen. Tactile learners learn best by touching things and experiencing new information while in motion. Auditory learners retain information most successfully by hearing it or repeating it out loud.

Study strategies for high school students

Since every person learns differently, optimizing your teen’s study skills for their learning style is important.

Study methods for visual learners

Visual learners learn by seeing, so writing things down or recopying notes is a smart strategy. Focusing on people’s faces or mouths during a lecture and studying alone in a calm and peaceful environment to cut down on visual distractions is also important.

Study methods for tactile learners

Recopying notes is effective for tactile learners as well as visual learners. Tactile learners also benefit from pacing or walking while studying and having something to touch or squeeze as they go over notes and information.

Study methods for auditory learners

Auditory learners absorb information most effectively when they hear it. Teens studying together and discussing concepts back and forth is a great way to retain information. Auditory learners also benefit from reciting information or reading notes out loud. Recording lectures and relistening is an effective way for auditory learners to get the most out of lectures and classes.

Teenager taking notes from a book to study

How much does the average teenager study?

According to data compiled by the University of Michigan, most teens spend an average of 4 hours per week on homework, but this obviously varies by a student’s individual aptitude and other factors, including environment and economic situation.

There’s no hard-and-fast rule regarding how many hours per week teens need to study to achieve their academic goals, but it’s important for teens to maintain balance in their schedules. Making time for physical activity or sports, time with friends and family, and time for self-care and relaxation are important, especially today — modern teens are more stressed than ever and have stress levels that rival, and in some cases, go beyond adult stress levels.

Though some research shows homework isn’t necessary, the jury is still out and most high school teachers still assign homework daily. If your teen seems to be spending hours and hours each day on homework, it might be time to investigate. Is the workload too much? Are they behind and playing catch up? Are they actually doing their homework or are they using study time to check social media? Are their physical needs met — are they comfortable, not hungry, not thirsty?

While there’s no consensus on how much a teen should study, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, so be sure your teen has time to relax and unwind each day.

How can teens concentrate on their studies?

It’s easy to become distracted while studying, even for adults. To help your teen concentrate on studying, it’s important to provide a calm, distraction-free environment. Subtle background noise like ocean sounds or static white noise can also help cover ambient noise that might be distracting. While some teenagers study best with a friend, others prefer solitude.

Comfortable seating and natural or low light can keep your teen from fidgeting and shifting around during study sessions, which can mean longer stretches of studying with fewer interruptions. Providing nutritious and accessible snacks and drinks can help keep your teen comfortable and give them the calories they need to keep going and not be distracted by hunger.

Learn what kind of study habits your teen has and find out if they need to hone those skills or learn new ones, so they can master them now to be ready for college.

Editors' Recommendations