Introduction: Hi! I’m Annie, I recently graduated as valedictorian of a class of almost 700, and I’m about to be a freshman at Johns Hopkins (go blue jays!!). High school was some of the best and worst moments of my life, and looking back, there are so many things that I wish I’d done and things that made me successful, so I wanted to share them! Of course, disclaimer, these tips may not apply to everyone!
(These tips generally apply to all classes, but if you have a specific subject you want tips on, I’ve taken these AP courses: european history, world history, us gov’t, macroeconomics, lang, lit, calc ab, chemistry, physics 1, physics c, environmental science, art: drawing, biology, human geography, chinese, and art history. Feel free to message me!)
College applications are a crapshoot- I can’t begin to tell you the number of incredible, brilliant people with extraordinary, international level achievements that got denied at top schools in favor of those lacking those accomplishments. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean those who got in don’t have qualities that earned them a spot, it just speaks to the unpredictable nature of the college application process. When deans of admission at top schools openly say they could reject all admitted students and build the same exemplary class from the waitlist, or that they have enough qualified applicants to fill 3 or 4 classes with, there’s a certain amount of luck involved. Therefore I urge all rising seniors to go into this process realizing that the odds are not in your favor. I went into the process with too much blind hope, too confident in my ability to be that lucky 1 in 10 (or less) that would gain admission, and I was sorely disappointed. So that leads me to my next tip…
Don’t do things just for your college application- Those slim acceptance rates are the exact reason I urge you not to join things solely for how good they look on a college application. It seems counterintuitive; wouldn’t they give you a better chance of acceptance? However, my point is not to dissuade you from extracurriculars, but rather to commit to ones that genuinely make you happy. As I wrote above, the process is so competitive that even international achievements may mean rejection, so don’t waste your high school experience by dedicating so much time and effort to something that you feel obligated to do.
Try everything your freshman and sophomore year- My biggest regret is not joining clubs where my passions lie simply because I was too lazy or scared of things like public speaking my freshman year. It’s much more intimidating to join as upperclassmen, and you may not be able to participate at all the levels/in all the ways people who have dedicated 3-4 years can. Even if you don’t think its for you (like debate for me because of my fear of public speaking), I urge you to expand your horizons and push yourself out of your comfort zone. Many clubs give you great opportunities to build leadership, public speaking, etc. skills and to find your passions.
Know both sides of the flashcard- I learned this tip from my organic chemistry class, and I’d never though about how useful it is. For example, if you’re memorizing polyatomic ions, it’s extremely important that you know both the formula and the name, as either version may show up on the exam. Not doing this also makes the weaknesses in your memorization evident- whenever I study vocab, I tend to glance at the side with the term and only memorize the definition. This meant that when I was given only the definitions, I couldn’t remember the word they defined, because I was so used to being given the vocab word and responding with the definition.
The first lecture of the unit is one of the most important for STEM classes- I know the beginning of the unit can often seem like the perfect time to tune out, as it goes over information you’ve previously learned or the easiest material of the topic, but it often forms the foundation for everything else in the unit.For example, the first lecture on a stoichiometry unit will probably teach you dimensional analysis, a skill integral to calculating molecular or empirical formulas, moles or grams of a substance, etc.
Buy/sell books secondhand- Everyone knows how expensive college textbooks are, but between SAT and AP prep books, and books for English, high school books can cost quite a bit of money too. Unless they redesigned the exam recently, you absolutely don’t need the newest edition of the review book, so buy from upperclassmen and then sell it to underclassmen the following year.
Learn to self study- Unless you’re really lucky, you’re guaranteed to have a teacher who doesn’t teach, teaches badly, or whose teaching style just doesn’t work for you. Personally, I find that self learning, especially if I’m struggling because resources such as textbooks and online explanations, and videos seem to contradict, really helps me understand the topic throughly. In AP bio, my teacher had us create claymation videos on the processes of cellular respiration and photosynthesis independently. It was incredibly frustrating and confusing because all the resources described the cycles in varying degrees of details, but I felt like I genuinely understood the topic, instead of having been spoon-fed the information and memorizing it. Obviously, this method isn’t very efficient for frequent use, but the key is to try to understand the material independently instead of going to the teacher the moment you hit a snag.
Keep your backpack/binders/notebooks reasonably organized- When teachers ask for homework to be passed up and you have to dig through mountains of papers in your backpack, not only is that super stressful, but a lot of teachers won’t let you turn it in after they have already collected all the papers. I was definitely guilty of being lazy and just stuffing papers, once I got them, into my backpack instead of taking a few seconds to slide them into a binder, and as a result I got 0s on lots of homework because either I couldn’t find it at the time or because everything was so messy I didn’t remember there was homework. Try to have some sort of organization system going on or at least a homework folder, because those 0s add up and can be the difference between an 89 and 90.
You’re gonna get senioritis, badly, and that’s ok- I’ve always been the type of person who did every homework assignment and was very focused on grades, so the idea that I would completely let myself ago seemed absurd to me. Don’t underestimate what senior year does to you. I can honestly count on one hand the econ worksheets that I actually turned in during senior year, and I made my first B in a grading period during the spring. I was very stressed about how awful my grades were, but unable to muster the energy to do anything about it. And you know what, it’s ok. It’s senior year, you can give yourself a break. Yes, your senior grades are still important for college applications, so don’t go from straight A’s to straight C’s, but for the most part, all the hard work is behind you. Do keep in mind that these habits may haunt you when you’re a college freshman. I haven’t started classes yet, but based on how little I studied for the math placement exam for my college, senioitis doesn’t magically end when you graduate, so don’t let it get completely out of control during the year.
Learn how to do math without a calculator- If you take either of the AP Calculuses or the SAT, you need to master this skill because there are sections of the exams that are strictly non-calculator. Beyond that, when you get to calculus, you’ll be introduced to complicated concepts, where not being able to multiply by hand will drag you down.
Keep old notes- Not only for finals, but some topics are very interdisciplinary, like biochemistry, so it’s very important that you have a working knowledge of both biology and chemistry. As you take advanced classes, such as for me, taking physics c after physics 1, it will be assumed that you have completely mastered the basics, and they will be skipped or referenced very quickly. It is very useful to look at notes on the basics, which provide the foundation for the advanced material you learn.
Invest in a whiteboard- Whenever I was learning about processes or cycles, from the Krebs cycle to organic chemistry mechanisms, it was really useful to practice drawing the steps over and over again. Then when it came to the test, I could do a brain dump and draw out the information as a reference.
Understand formulas instead of blindly memorizing- This basically has physics and calculus written all over it. In physics, you should be given formula charts during exams, and in any case, something like F=ma isn’t terribly hard to memorize. The problem comes when there are a multitude of formulas that are derived from one of the fundamental equations. Of course, deriving from scratch each time is incredibly tedious, but I want to dissuade you from simply memorizing it or storing it on your calculator, because that means you probably don’t understand the physics behind it. What makes physics so difficult and different from any other subject you’ve taken is that every problem will have a slightly different scenario that tests your understanding of the physics behind it.
Use all the time given to you during tests- I know I hate looking back through my test because I just get so bored halfway through, but missing points because of silly mistakes is honestly the most frustrating thing ever when you had plenty of time to check. Depending on if I have time, I like to cover my original work and resolve the question. If checking answers is not your thing, try slowing now when you first see each question, and checking your work briefly each step.
Form study groups- Talking about something, especially teaching it to someone, always helped me remember something so much better than reading it on paper. It’s also so important to have second interpretations of the information you’re studying to ensure that you don’t make a huge misconception.
AP students: released/practice exams are your best friend- Obviously, they’re the best resources for studying for the AP exam, but they’re also a great tool for a hint at what your teacher’s tests may look like. AP teachers have access to tons of College Board material and will often use questions directly from old exams.
If you start getting confused during a lecture- Many times this is because I didn’t pay attention during the very beginning, so I’m missing that important foundation I talked about in the previous tip. Of course, I typically wouldn’t recommend doing things other than listening to what is currently being taught, but in this case, I would just get more confused and it’s a waste of time. So I discretely go back to my previous notes and focus on understanding them.
The most stressful part of schoolwork is just thinking about your assignments- There’s always specific period of time that threatens to kill me- a week where I had two competitions simultaneously, in cities 3 hours apart. When you’re taking 7 AP classes at the same time, just reading over your to-do list will make you want to cry. Even on a normal day, as I go to classes throughout the day and my list of homework gets longer and longer, it makes me so stressed to where I’m planning out how to finish everything and I’m no longer listening in class. It overwhelmed me so much that I just wanted to take a nap and avoid school. But every single time, stressing about the work I have is 1000x worse than sitting down and actually going through each task. I find that what had seemed impossible before was very doable, and many times I even finished early enough to relax before bed. Keep a positive mindset, don’t underestimate your abilities, and have the discipline to start working immediately on the hardest days, and you’ll be fine. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the workload that is able to be handled by one person can work for another, and things like mental illnesses are things I have no experience in, so this is definitely just something that worked for me and is not applicable to everyone.
Best of luck with high school! If you have any questions, feel free to send me an ask!
Okay. So #studyblrs get real isn’t trying to offend anyone. I’ve gotten some anon messages that are really rude and I’ve just straight up deleted them.
#studyblrs get real is just that, we’re getting real. I’ve rewritten my notes to be aesthetically pleasing one time. Uno. Ein. Yeah that’s the only languages I know one in.
The studyblr aesthetic isn’t most people’s real life studies methods. It’s some people’s, and I want to congratulate those who manage to keep the aesthetic up.
But honestly, it’s not real life. Real life is being up at 2 AM, surrounded by four empty cups, Rice Krispies Treat wrappers, and a pizza box with just pizza crust in it, and grease marks on your paper. Real life is not having time to make these AMAZING and GORGEOUS notes, because you’re studying for the grade, NOT the notes.
People say you just need to “study” to be a studyblr, but why is it only the MUJIs, the Mildliners, and the Staedtlers get reblogged? Why doesn’t the pictures of sloppy, coffee stained notes get reblogged? The rain drenched crinkled notes that don’t get rewritten. The notes with more scribbles than legible writing.
Underneath is why I think that #studyblrs get real needs to become popular, and fast, which has been taken from what I said in a conversation with @universi-tea where the idea for #studyblrs get real came up.
Teens that are growing up may not know what they’re facing, because aesthetic studyblr makes it look like sunshine and lollipops.
“I’ve been through things that will commonly happen. I’ve been rejected by my dream school, and I’ve cried at 4 AM in the morning because my fourth SAT scores weren’t high enough to meet requirements after months of studying. I’ve taken AP classes. I’ve graduated.
Your high school/college/university experience may have been different, but mine was a rude awakening and I’m trying to prevent others from crashing and burning like I did. I was an all A student in high school, even with AP classes. I graduated fifth in my class with 25 credits from AP scores, in which my school only offered seven AP classes.
My first test in uni was a 38 in Business Calculus. A fucking 38 out of 100. I remember it very vividly (Thursday night, and the Blacklist was on.) It was like someone was trying play a joke on me because I had NEVER gotten that low of a test grade before. I remember looking at my scores, and the sense of dread settling into the pit of my stomach. I cried, and then called my old AP Bio teacher (idk why now that I think about it) I had a panic attack, and I was by myself (lived alone.) Those two are very dangerous. My next test score was a 51. Rinse, and repeat.
Do you know how worthless I felt? How long my mom yelled at me after I called her? How my friends reacted when they found out? I went and had a four hour conversation with the professor, who told me that this was the most common thing he saw in a class with freshmen in it. That they come thinking that they’re prepared and they are by no means prepared. I had to go to tutoring. For every single class but one. This was so fucking embarrassing. I had gone from the tutor in HS to the tutored in Uni.
My best friend went to the North Carolina School of Math and Science. Extremely prestigious, and extremely hard. “It’s like taking uni classes when you’re 16, 17, and 18, but you don’t get credit for them as college classes.” I’ve known my best friend since I was 10-ish. She’s the most level headed, and the smartest person I know. She calls me frequently, crying, because the work load. She spent a whole week with me trying to get over one failing grade.
This embarrassment, this shame and lack of self worth I experienced in uni is something I NEVER want ANYONE to experience. I’m trying to prevent these people younger than I am from feeling this way, because I had sunk into a depression because of grades. Grades that could’ve been prevented, had I known the truth.
Sure, the studyblr aesthetic may work in some people’s lives, but in college/uni, you’re being pulled in so many directions. I don’t know of a single person in any of my classes that have gorgeous notes. Hell, I don’t know anyone who can even afford to buy nice planners, or buy fresh fruit. Being “a broke college student” is entirely legit.
But all this aside, if you’ve managed to live out the studyblr aesthetic in university and keep up your grades, you better be DAMN proud of yourself. I’m not trying to make anyone mad. This is the reality most of us experience. It’s the honest truth, and I had to find out the hard way. I just don’t want anyone else to find out the hard way, either.“
• My Physics teacher once sent a couple of hundred volts through his dick thanks to some poorly placed wiring in a practical.
• In Year 8, we spent an entire maths lesson talking about the pros and cons of CPR and other methods of keeping a person alive.
• We discovered that rubbing a calculator cover against a lab worktop makes a horrible screeching noise, and then used this to scare the everloving shit out of our Chem teacher, who threatened us all with detentions for the rest of the week.
• I used to think my old Bio teacher was boring, but the amount she laughed at our discussion on wizard sex in a genetics lesson changed my mind.
• We had to learn a chemistry mnemonic themed around Minions, and the worst thing is that I can still remember it vividly.
My bio teacher who helped set up our two new players came up to me and my friend at the end of class. (K is the teacher and I’m A)
K: What even is your campaign? It’s such a mess.
A: It is a mess but we’re having fun.
K: (after further grumbling) This is why your generation shouldn’t play d&d.
We all know that we make mistakes and learn from them, only know success if we have experienced failure and all that, but how can we actually proactively learn from our errors? As exam time nears, there is no better time to fix up all those slips than now, so here are some ways I like to learn from my errors:
1. Blooper books
Basically a notebook you use to record your mistakes so that when you have some time, you can flip through and see what you shouldn’t do ever again! (I bought a pack of five Muji books for about $5 - yay bargains - perfect for me to have one for each subject).
You can lay it out however you like, but my ones are ordered according to the test that my mistake appeared in, so as soon as I get a test/sac/worksheet back, I go ahead and fill it in.
You can either write the whole question with the correct solution in, or a self-reminder not to do a certain thing. In my languages ones, I also put in some vocab or some grammar that I tend to forget.
2. Vocab cards
A specific place where you can record the vocabulary you always forget and carry around with you anywhere to revise them.
Whilst some people like using flashcard apps, I prefer having physical cards, especially these vocab cards I got in a pack of 4 from Daiso, since if I’ve got them in my pocket I’m more likely to pick them up, but I might get distracted by other things on my phone.
3. Exam sheets
During exam time, we’ll all be doing countless numbers of practice exams, so if your blooper books get too full, I like having separate sheets of reminders/mistakes I made in that exam.
It can be a loose leaf of paper stapled to the front cover of the exam, or if you don’t like having loose leaves flying around, you can have a separate book just for practice exams.
If you want a more specific version, last year my bio teacher made these exam sheets that include the score of each section and the topic each question goes under, so that you can see more clearly where you can see which topics you need more work on!
I hope that helped you all! Feel free to add any of your own suggestions!
I’m combining multiple stories that may be up already idk.
So this is all based off Kahoot.
One game of Kahoot for Biology, I was A. Ham, no one got it for a while and would ask: Who a ham? A hamilton? Alexander hamilton? Now being in theatre i have an ok poker face. The only two people who knew it was me was my best friend and another friend (know i consider everyone at my school a friend if I'e talked to them at least twice). However our biology teacher kept looking at me so I think he knew too.
Now to another Kahoot. Said friend who knew I was A. Ham, I was A. Burr today, was A. Ham and each time someone new joined the game, no matter what, A. Ham and A. Burr were always together.
New Kahoot, I was Maria Reynolds and my friend, who had been Rekt the past two Kahoots, became King Rekt III. Only theatre kids and those who knew Hamilton ever knew who it was.
Still convinced my Bio teacher knew it was us while the rest of the class was confused.
SAT testing day, my 3rd period was playing Kahoot and I went as A. Ham. I was winning as top three until we did the Canada one. I live in Texas. One student who wasn’t even playing said he was A. Ham. Only my friends I was close to knew. I told the teachers after class tho.
The A. Burr vs A. Ham kahoot was that day to.
One of my other friends came up to me in the middle of the kahoot just to tell me he knew from 3rd period that I was either A. Ham or A. Burr. (He still doesnt know)
so today there was this fly on the ground and he couldn’t fly so I scooped him up w a piece of paper and carried him to bio class and he just chilled out with me. my professor was like “is that a fly??” And I was like “ya he’s my new pet” and he just like, nodded. and then he went into the back room and came out with a big plastic fly model and sat it on my desk. so me and my fly buddies just chilled out the whole class and my professor would not stop laughing at me.
TLDR; I had a fly for a pet and now my bio teacher calls me fly girl and I’m the resident class weirdo