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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources
How to Study Like a Pro in 8 Steps

How to Study Like a Pro in 8 Steps

We often receive calls from parents asking for ideas to help their children improve their study skills.

While each person has a favorite way to study, these ideas have been successful for many students.

Underlining or Highlighting

Underlining or highlighting is a great way to study important points. Highlighters are special pens with see-through ink, available in many different colors.

It is a great way to emphasize and study important facts.

Checkmark Pages

When reading for a book report, keep in mind the points or topics you are to write about, and highlight or note where examples appear in the novel.

For instance, if you are supposed to write about how the character cared about other people, put a color-coded checkmark in the upper right hand corner on a page that gives a good example of how he cared, such as visiting his grandmother.

If you are supposed to write about the same character’s willingness to teach others about his Faith, use a different colored highlighter to make a check on the page where he leaves the football game early to attend Mass.

Be sure that you don’t underline or highlight so much that it is useless.

Consider underlining or highlighting when you read it the SECOND time; that way you will realize exactly which are the most important points or examples.

Taking Notes

Take notes for research reports. Usually students use 3″ x 5″ cards when taking notes. By coding the cards with the title or author’s name, and also coding the subject, there is flexibility in using cards.

For instance, if your topic is “The Battles of the Civil War,” you might read several different books which have information about the Battle of Bull Run. Each card should have “Bull Run” on top.

Then when you write the report, you can gather together all the Bull Run cards. (Note-taking applications are also available for your computer, which may make indexing and tracking easier for some students.)

SQ3R (Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review).

Researchers have found that the SQ3R method is the most effective method of studying.


This means you need to survey or skim through the whole chapter or lesson.

Look over the headings, the subheadings, the pictures, the maps, the graphs, and whatever else is in the chapter, without actually reading the text.

Take the time to read the questions at the end of each chapter. The author believes that the answers to the Review Questions tell you the important points to remember.

These items are likely to be on the chapter test.


This means to turn the headings and subheadings into questions.

If the heading is “Causes of the Civil War,” then you ask the question to yourself: What are the causes of the Civil War? You know that this section will answer that question.

These questions could be written in your outline.

Read Aloud

Read the chapter aloud, carefully and thoughtfully, checking the Chapter Review questions as you read.

Consider reading the chapter to one of your brothers or sisters, or another family member or relative. Be thorough in your reading; look up words in the dictionary, always by your side, if you do not know the meanings.

Think about the outline you make when you want to write a report. You choose three main topics, which would be A, B, and C in your outline.

Then you put two or three examples beneath those sections. When the author wrote the book you are studying, he or she probably did the same thing.

Some authors include the outline at the beginning of the chapter, which can help you to study the important points and show you how ideas are related.

However, if the author did not include an outline, be sure to write one yourself for studying the chapter. An outline for study purposes is invaluable. If you don’t have an outline, you cannot study properly.


Since most people learn best if they hear information as well as read it, it is a good idea to recite aloud the ideas for each section or subdivision.

This should be done without looking at the book. If you cannot recite the information, go back and read it again.


Usually a textbook has review questions at the end of each section or chapter.

Review should be done each day before reading the next assignment. Review should be done at the end of each week, and just before taking a test.

If at all possible, your studies should be done each day. Please note, however, that Math and English must be done each day so that previous concepts are not forgotten.

Both of these subjects depend on your remembering and being able to use what you have previously learned.

If you need help, the best persons to ask are your parents. They care about you more than anyone else in the world.

They will help you to learn how to study and help you while you study. Remember that you are part of a team, the family team.

If you need help, your teammates in your family will help you.

I hope that you all find in your homes an atmosphere of real love. But I also wish to invite you to establish, and always maintain, a relationship of great and true affection with your parents; they are your first friends. To a large extent, your life in the future depends on how you are today in harmony with, and cherish respect for, those who begot you and brought you up. – Pope John Paul II.

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