Resources & Tips to Succeed, Test Taking Strategies, Organization
HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATION REQUIREMENTS
- Visit the SDUHSD website to review High School Graduation Requirements, including information about the California High School Exit Exam.
- Each student's individual progress toward fulfilling graduation requirements can be monitored through the Aeries Portal by accessing Graduation Status under the Grades menu.
- Please review a Sample 4-Year Plan that meets graduation requirements. Here is a blank 4-Year Plan Template for you to fill in.
Tutoring/ Resources & Tips to succeed
Free After School Tutoring
Math will offer tutoring every Tuesday- in the math quad- open door with the bright sign- after school until 3:30 pm.
Science will offer tutoring every Wednesday- science 600 quad- after school until 3:30 pm.
- Spanish Resources: click on the Spanish level and semester I or II.
- Math Resources: click on the course name under high school courses on the left side.
For assistance with any other subjects, please see your teacher directly. Many teachers offer support during a set time or day.
Note: Counselors and teachers are *not* able to make recommendations for outside assistance with regard to tutoring, study skills, organization assistance, etc. See below for suggestions.
If a student/parent has a concern with a class, it is always recommended that the student/parent reach out to the teacher directly by email or phone before contacting the counselor. By talking to the specific teacher, often times, a concern or question can be answered or solved quickly.
Are you struggling in any of your classes?
Doing More at School…..
1. Get organized. You could be struggling because you can't keep up with your assignments and are missing grades. This will bring your overall average down. When you have multiple classes, your notes and handouts can get kind of mixed up. This can lead to you to miss information, which can cause you to fail a class. Make a folder for the class you are struggling in. Keep the necessary notes and worksheets together in a color folder so you never lose papers. Put any papers from that class into the folder every day. This way, you won't miss anything and can keep up with the classwork.
- If you are more organized, you will be more efficient when you study. Not having to flip through tons of papers scattered throughout your bags will help you streamline the process and have more time to study on the material that is giving you trouble.
2. Go to every class on time every day. Missing class often is a major cause of poor grades. You get behind and cannot catch up. If you miss school or class often, you will not know what the teacher wants you to learn. You also won't understand their expectations for assignments and tests. This can cause a low or failing grade. Even missing one class can hurt you because you will miss a lot of necessary information for upcoming tests. This will not help you bring up your grade.
- If you have to miss class for an illness or school event, make sure you get notes from a fellow classmate. Try to find someone who takes really extensive notes so you will be sure to get any necessary information that you missed while you weren't there. Also, make sure to follow up with your teacher.
3. Pay attention in class. Getting distracted can cause you to fall behind in class and fail assignments. In order to pull your grade up, you have to pay attention in class. Just because you are in class doesn't mean you are mentally present in class. Make sure your mind is present in class. You need to be ready to learn and retain the information. This will help you do better on future assignments, which will bring up your grade.
- Make sure you ask questions in class. Whenever your teacher is going over something that you don't quite understand, ask them, "Can you go over that again? I didn't understand it." If you don't, you might get behind and miss a lot of important information that is needed for the next test.
- The more engaged you are during the class session, the more focused you will be on the material. This will help you be more prepared for the assignments and make better grades on them, which will help you get a higher grade.
4. Take good notes. You may be having a hard time in class because you don't know the information needed to pass the assignments in the class. When your teacher talks about the material in class, write it down. Try to mark or indicate which concepts are discussed more than others because those are the ones you are likely to be tested on. If your teacher tells you that something is going to be on the test, mark that in your notes so you know to study that area extra hard.
- Don't stress about the structure or handwriting of your notes. Just get all the information down so you can refer back to it later. As long as you can understand them when you study, you'll be fine.
- If you find your mind wanders when you write notes, try writing them in cool colors or changing colors every few sentences. This will keep your mind engaged on the material and also make your notes look more interesting when you review them later.
5. Hand in any missing work. If you have any work that you forgot to hand in, submit it as soon as possible. Your teacher may accept any late papers, though you may not get full credit for whatever you handed in late.
- Get a planner to write down when certain works are due. This may help prevent you from forgetting any work, which would bring down your grade.
6. Take your learning further. One reason you have been struggling may be because you only understand the content in certain situations. You need to be able to apply whatever you are learning to the larger picture. If you only understand the information in one way, you cannot translate it to other situations. This will cause you to miss questions on exams and do poorly on papers because you can't think critically about the information.
7. Talk to your teacher. You might be struggling because you don't respond well to a certain teaching method. If you are having trouble with a teacher, let them know that you aren't responding to the way they are teaching something. They may be able to help you understand it in a different way. You should also talk to them if you just don't understand the material overall. Find out when they are available and ask for a meeting with them. Ask them questions such as, "I am having a hard time understanding the information in this class. Can you help me understand?" They are the authority on the subject and can help you with the material that is giving you a hard time.
- They can also help you come up with ways to study for the next exam or ideas for your next paper. They also may be able to give you more notes or readings that will help you figure it out.
- Make sure you don't depend on your teacher to provide you with a step by step guide on what is on the exams. You need to show effort and understanding or you could fail other classes in the future.
8. Ask about extra credit. A good way to bring your grade up is to do extra credit assignments. This can give you more points on an assignment that you failed. It can also give you an extra grade that will help bring up your overall average. Ask your teacher "Is there any way to do an extra credit assignment? I have been working hard to bring my grade up and I would like a little help." If they see you are serious about bringing your grade up, they might be more inclined to give you an extra credit assignment to help bring up your failing grade.
- You can also ask if there is a way to redo an assignment, especially if you understand the concepts better now. You can ask your teacher, "I had a hard time on the last assignment we got back. I understand it much better now that I have gotten some help and studied more. Is there a way that I can redo it?"
9. Attend after school tutoring/or see your teacher during non-class time. Attend free after school tutoring. The advantage is that students that are studying the same material are there to help you work through the assignments and learn the materials. The major benefit of this is that they are on the same level as you and are working on the same assignments. This will make it easier for them to help you with the questions you have.
- If you are intimidated by your teacher, you may be more comfortable asking for help from your peer. Try asking them, "Can you help me understand this material? I'm failing but trying to bring my grade up." You can also ask them any questions that you have about your upcoming assignments.
10. Know the weight of assignments. Some teachers/departments make a test worth more than homework. In some classes, all points are the same. You can tell this by looking in Aeries on the computer and seeing if there are percentages at the bottom next to the different categories (ie: tests, homework, classwork)
Doing More at home…..
1. Make a plan. You may be having a hard time due to poor time management. In order to change your grade, you need to introduce more effective time management skills into your life. If you want to bring up your grade, you need to work hard to get all your work done and still have time to study. To do this, lay out the assignments in all of your classes for the rest of the semester. Also lay out any other obligations, such as work, after school activities, or social engagements. Mark each event on the calendar starting with the most important. This should be the work for the class you are failing. Then fill in the rest. This way, you will know exactly what you need to do and how long you have to do it.
- If you have overlap, you may need to sacrifice some obligations. Being over-committed to projects can cause you to fail. You can't skip assignments in other classes, but if it is a school activity or social engagement, you may not be able to do it if you are serious about bringing up your grade.
- If your work overlaps too much, try to rearrange your schedule with your boss. Explain what the problem is and see if anyone would be willing to switch shifts with you.
2. Do your homework. Since homework is often graded, you should be doing every bit of homework to ensure that grade is as high as possible. It is also one of the best ways to stay current with the material you are learning in class is to do your homework. Don't let it pile up. If you get backed up, you will miss needed information for tests and other assignments. The more backed up you are, the less new material you will understand. This could be the reason you failed assignments in the past. You also will learn the information as it comes and not have to worry as much about cramming to learn all the information for the test the night before.
- If you have questions as you do your homework, it helps to jot them down as they come. That way, you can ask your teacher as soon as you see them and figure out what you don't understand.
- Try to start your homework soon after you get home from school. Homework is typically a large part of your grade, so you want to make sure you complete it. Plus, the earlier you do it, the more engaged and awake you will be. If you wait to right before you go to sleep to do it, you will likely be more distracted and tired, which will cause you to do subpar work and retain less information.
3. Study hard. The only way to bring up a poor grade is to make better grades on the other assignments. This starts with studying at home. You can't learn the information if you don't study it, so try to commit time each night to studying. Turn off distractions such as phones, laptops, TVs, or music. The more focused you are, the more work you will get done and the more information you will retain.
- When you read for class, make notes about the readings as you do them. This way, you won't have to redo the readings later when it is time for the exam. This may take a little more time as you go, but you will be ready when exam time comes. This will help you make a better grade.
- About two weeks before a test, start to review your materials. Read and reread your notes. Make yourself flash cards of the material. If you find that you are having problem spots on certain topics, spend extra time on those sections.
4. Start assignments right away. People sometimes struggle/fail because they get stuck on one assignment. Once they get stuck, they put off the work and don't revisit it until it is too late. Procrastination is not an option when you are trying to bring up your grades. When your teacher hands out an assignment, start on it right away. If you wait to the last minute, you are not going to be putting 100% into your work and you will not get a good grade. This will also help you if you get stuck on an assignment. Once you get stuck, you can ask for help from a classmate or your teacher.
- If you have a paper, start your research right away. You will be able to find more in depth research. This will allow you to make much better arguments if you are ready with scholarship on your topic. Also focus on scholarly sources. The better information you have, the better your paper will be.
- If you have a project, start working on the components of it as soon as possible. The more hard work you put into an assignment, the better your grade will be.
5. Create a study group. When a test is coming up, find some people from your class that you can study with. Each of you can help each other study and engage with the material better than you can on your own. Prepare material before you meet and then, when you come together, be prepared to quiz each other, go over problem areas, and review the material most likely to be on the test.
- Try to include someone who is passing the class you are failing. They are more likely to understand the information. They will also be able to answer questions you have.
- You can make games out of the material you need to cover to make it fun and more engaging. Try using a board game and flashcards to mix up how you learn the materials.
6. Get enough rest. You may be struggling in your class because you are too sleepy and drowsy to pay attention in class. You may also do poorly on assignments because you are too tired to devote your full attention to them. Getting enough sleep is necessary for concentration and information retention. If you are sleepy throughout class, you are less likely to take notes or retain the information given in lectures. Try to get 7-8 hours a night so you will be rested for the next day.
- This will also help you feel better once you get home the next day as well, which will help you keep up with studying and homework for the class.
Test Taking Strategies
Strategic Test Taking- Before, During, and After the Exam
Getting A’s on exams is rarely due to luck. Achieving good grades takes long-term planning, preparation, discipline and practice. Here are some basic strategies for better test performance. Try them out!
Before the Exam:
- Know what the exam will cover. Collect study materials, such as class notes, old exams, the study guide.
- Allow enough time, preferable a week, to review your study materials and to create study tools.
- In general, students perform better on exams if they prepare as it if were an essay exams.
- For better memory recall, get a good night's rest the night before; avoid marathon or all-night study sessions.
- Don't forget to eat! Include proteins and avoid excessive amounts of sugar and caffeine.
- Be confident in your ability to do well! Use positive self-talk.
During the Exam:
- Ignore or avoid other test-takers; their anxiety may be contagious.
- Sit in your usual seat, but site where you can avoid distractions, such as people leaving.
- Bring all necessary materials, i.e. pencils, pens, a watch, calculator, scratch paper, etc...
- Know exactly how long you have to complete the exam.
- Listen carefully to any verbal instructions.
- When you are given the test, take a deep breath, RELAX and read the directions carefully.
- Review the entire test before starting to answer any questions.
- Set up a schedule and budget your time. Be aware of how many points each answer is worth.
- Answer the easiest questions first.
- Change your answer only if you're absolutely sure that your second choice is correct.
After the Exam:
- Review the exam and count the points. Could the teacher have made a mistake in grading or calculating error?
- Identify if you missed questions because you couldn't remember it during the test, if it was something you had never studied, or if it was a careless error such as a misplaced decimal.
- Analyze the test-taking strategies your used. What worked? What did not? Did you start preparing early enough, or could you have started studying for the exam earlier?
- Use this information to decide how you'll approach your next exam.
- Be gentle with yourself and give yourself credit for what you did right!
thinktank.arizona.eduNugent Building, Park Student Union, Rec Center
tips to help students get and stay Organized
Life as a student is busy. There’s so much going on. If you’re not organized and you feel like you’re not on top of things, stress can build up. You might end up working late and sleeping less to try to catch up, but this isn’t a good habit. Getting organized for school is all about developing good habits and systems.
30 simple tips that will help students to become organized, productive, and effective
1. Develop a routine
Consistency is the key to student success. So write down your general weekly schedule and create a routine.
Include things like when you’ll do your homework, when you’ll review the things you’ve learned, when you’ll exercise, and so on.
It’s not possible to stick to a routine 100% of the time, but at least set up the framework to keep you focused and on track.
2. Set rules for yourself
Set some very specific rules for yourself. These could be things like “complete all projects and assignments at least two days before they are due” or “start studying for tests at least one week in advance”.
Review your rules once a month and adjust them if necessary.
3. Write everything down
No one has a perfect memory, and trying to remember everything is stressful. So make a habit of writing down all your events, meetings, ideas, and things you need to do.
When you write everything down, you’ll be less anxious because you won’t be relying on your brain as a storage device.
4. Create your own deadline that is before the actual deadline
Create your own deadlines and put them in your planner or calendar. Having your own deadline reduces stress for you as a student. You’ll also be more likely to submit your best work.
Don’t treat the actual deadline as the deadline. Set your own deadline one or two days before, and plan accordingly.
5. Work on one task at a time; don’t multitask
Multitasking seems like a good idea because you can pretend that you’re working twice as hard. We all get bored of the tasks we’re working on, so jumping about seems more fun.
The problem is that it doesn’t result in the best outcomes.
Here’s what I recommend: Take a scrap piece of paper and write down the task you’re working on right now, e.g. Math assignment, questions 1 to 5.
Put that scrap piece of paper on your study table, to serve as a reminder for you to stay focused on the task at hand.
6. Use apps or websites to help with organization
Use the 'remind' feature on your smart phone to remind you of things you need to do at home or at school. You can set this for a certain day and time. Another good practice is to use the 'notes' app to keep track of HW, upcoming tests, etc.
7. Use a planner
I recommend that you put the planner on your desk once you get to class and leave it there throughout the school day. This makes it more likely that you’ll use it because it’s right in front of you.
If you leave your planner in your backpack, you may feel like it’s too troublesome to take it out to use.
Put everything in your planner: homework, test and exam dates, family events, social events, etc. This way, you’ll be far more organized.
If you’re allowed to use your phone or computer in class, then you can use Google Calendar, Google Keep, or MyStudyLife instead of a hard copy planner.
8. Declutter once a week
At the end of each week, look through all the papers, notes, brochures, and other things you’ve accumulated. Recycle or throw away all the things you don’t need.
Clutter attracts clutter. So if you declutter once a week, you’ll be more likely to stay organized in general. You’ll also find it easier to stay focused.
9. Put sticky notes on the front door to help you remember things
You can use this tip for things you don’t want to forget, such as bringing an extra T-shirt to school or asking your parents to sign a consent form.
Put a sticky note on the front door. The note can have just the key word written on it, like “T-shirt” or “Form”. This will make it almost guaranteed that you’ll remember.
10. Keep one notebook and one binder for each subject
Take all your notes for one subject in one notebook. When you run out of space, start a new notebook. Label each notebook clearly, e.g. History Notebook 1, History Notebook 2. This will make it easy for you to find the information you need in the future.
Doing this will help you to be organized.
I discourage you from taking notes on loose sheets of paper. I also discourage you from using only one notebook, in which you take notes across all your different subjects.
Make a habit of keeping one binder for each subject and filing your assignments and printed notes according to type. File all your assignments together in sequential order, followed by your printed notes, which should also be filed together in sequential order.
11. Bring an accordion folder to school every day
This accordion folder is for your daily use.
Create one section of the accordion folder for each subject, and label each section clearly.
I recommend reserving the front section for incomplete homework, so the homework will be easy to find.
12. Do filing once a week
At the end of each week, transfer all the printed notes, assignments, etc. from the accordion folder to the respective subject’s binder.
Doing this weekly is a good practice, to ensure that your accordion folder doesn’t get too full or messy.
13. Do five minutes of daily planning each day
Before you start doing your homework or studying for a test, look at your planner first. Take note of all upcoming deadlines, and think about your schedule for the rest of the day.
Then you can decide what specific tasks to work on for the day. Doing daily planning will ensure that you’re always working on the most important tasks, and that you don’t leave anything out.
14. Learn to say no
If you want to be an organized, effective student, you can’t say yes to everything – there will always be trade-offs you’ll need to make.
So decide on the boundaries you want to set for yourself. Decide how many times you’ll go out with your friends each week, how many days each week you’ll devote to extracurricular activities, and what your priorities are.
Then practice saying no to protect these boundaries. And don’t feel guilty when you say no! Remember, it’s not about being a busy student; it’s about being an effective student.
15. Block out time in your schedule for the things that matter most
Blocking out time in your schedule is critical. If you don’t do this, other things which are less important will fill your schedule.
In your calendar or planner, block out time for things like family events, religious activities, volunteering, and studying.
Then honor these commitments and stick to your schedule as much as possible.
16. Break down big tasks into smaller tasks
Breaking down big tasks and projects makes them seem less overwhelming and more manageable. Doing this also makes it clearer what your specific next step or task is, so you’ll be less likely to procrastinate.
Here’s an example. Rather than telling yourself that you need to work on your history essay, break it down into smaller tasks like:
- Read 10 articles on the topic for research
- Write outline
- Write introduction
- Write main point #1
- Write main point #2
- Write main point #3
- Write conclusion
- Proofread the essay
- Adjust the formatting, layout, etc. of the essay
- Submit essay
17. Once a week, review the upcoming events in your planner/calendar
Each week, take a few minutes to see what important events and deadlines are coming up over the next month. This will help to ensure that you don’t overlook any important projects, tests, or assignments.
Reviewing your schedule helps you to stay on top of things. It also keeps you calm and in control, and allows you to adjust your daily and weekly priorities.
18. If a task takes two minutes or less to do, do it immediately
The “two-minute rule” was popularized by productivity expert David Allen. When you follow this rule, small tasks don’t pile up and become overwhelming.
Things like texting a friend, sending your classmate some information via email, or asking your parents to sign a consent form are all quick tasks that take less than two minutes to complete.
When you do these tasks immediately, you’ll feel a sense of achievement too.
19. Clear your desk at the end of each day
This only takes a minute to do and prevents clutter from building up. I recommend doing this when you’re done with your homework or studying for the day.
It will make it easier for you to find what you need when you next sit down to work. In addition, when you have a neat desk, you’ll feel more motivated to study.
20. Develop a specific plan for every upcoming test and exam
Don’t just tell yourself that you’ll study hard for the test or exam. That’s too vague, and you may feel as if you’re never prepared enough.
Instead, develop a plan. Write down what resources you’re going to use, how many practice questions or exam papers you intend to do, how many times you plan to read the notes, and so on.
Write all the steps down on a sheet of paper and create a rough timeline as well. When you’ve completed everything on your plan, you’ll know that you’re well prepared.
21. Create a conducive environment at home for studying
If you want to be an effective student, you need to have the right environment to work. You need all the necessary materials, stationery, paper and study tools. You also need a suitable table and lamp.
And if you want to be productive, you definitely shouldn’t study on your bed!
22. Before you start work, eliminate all distractions
Take a moment and think about the distractions you typically face when you’re trying to study. Common ones include text messages, notifications on your phone, social media, YouTube, books, and magazines.
Remove these distractions before you get to work. Put your phone in another room, turn off Internet access on your computer, and put the books and magazines at the other end of the room.
23. Use a stopwatch or timer
When you want to be productive, use a timer to help you focus. Using a timer adds a sense of urgency.
Try working in blocks of 30 to 40 minutes, followed by a short break. If you’re up for it, set a timer for your breaks too, so that you don’t take a 45-minute break when you only intended to take a 10-minute break.
24. Double-check that you’ve completed all the homework that’s due the next day
Set a recurring reminder so that you’ll do this every school day in the mid-afternoon.
This will prevent you from scrambling at the last minute or pulling an all-nighter just to get the assignment done.
25. Every day, review all the new information you learned in school earlier that day
A quick review of the key concepts should only take you about 20 minutes.
Doing this helps to ensure understanding, so you stay on top of the material.
If you really can’t do this review on the same day, do it the following day while the information is still fresh in your mind.
26. Keep an ongoing list of the questions you have about the class material
As you read your notes and the textbook, keep a list of the things you don’t understand and the questions you have. As soon as you’re able to, ask your teachers about the items on your list.
If you do this consistently, you won’t need to spend so much time studying for tests and exams, because you already understand the information.
27. Every school night, pack your backpack for the following day
This way, you won’t have to scramble in the morning to pack. Set a reminder on your phone or put a Post-It note on your desk to ensure that you do this every school night.
Create a checklist for the things you need to remember to bring to school, and put the checklist somewhere accessible.
28. Wake up a little bit earlier each morning so you don’t have to rush
For most students, waking up 5 to 10 minutes earlier is enough to avoid the unnecessary stress of rushing in the morning.
When you rush, you often forget things – which means that your day doesn’t start well. So go to bed early, get at least eight hours of sleep every night, and set your alarm so you wake up a bit earlier.
I recommend that you put the alarm clock at the other end of the room, so you won’t be tempted to snooze. I also recommend using the Alarmy app if you use your phone as an alarm clock. It’s the best alarm clock app I’ve ever used!
29. Every school night, pick out the clothes you’re going to wear the following day
If you wear a school uniform to go to school, then this is easy. But it still saves you time.
Take your school uniform or the clothes you’ll wear the following day, and hang them somewhere easily accessible, like on the door knob of your room door.
This only takes you a minute to do, but makes the morning that much less stressful.
30. Make your bed every morning
This is a small victory to start the day.
It sets the tone for the day and will help you to be more productive overall.
Even this US Navy admiral recommends this simple tip as a way of improving your motivation and focus.
This is a detailed article that might leave you feeling overwhelmed, especially if you’re not already an organized student.
So take one step at a time. Start by identifying which areas you need to work on, and then prioritize them.
Adopt one new habit in the coming week. Once you’re comfortable with that habit, adopt one more.
Review this article periodically. Each time you do, identify another area to work on.
Remember that no one is perfect. Your journey as a student – and in life, too – is always about progress, not perfection.
Start making progress toward becoming an organized and focused student today!
Updated on August 16, 2018 By Daniel Wong