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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

Study Skills Online Course

Success in Seton Home Study School depends on how well you know HOW to study. On the Seton website, we have a free online study skills course, specifically geared for students in grades 7 through 12.

With good study habits, students will find schoolwork much easier, will obtain better grades, will learn more quickly and with less effort, and in homeschooling, will progress to the next grade more quickly.

In a speech by Pope John Paul II, His Holiness made the following remarks to a group of high school students: “[High school] is a time of preparation, so that the more serious your commitment in carrying out your duties today, the more certain and fruitful will be the exercise of the mission entrusted to you tomorrow. Apply yourselves, therefore, to study with great industry.”

High school is a time of great opportunity. It is a time when learning should be your main focus. You have few outside responsibilities. Like the knights of old, you have been given only a few years to train yourself for the great things you will accomplish later in life.

As with any training, how you do your studying is important. There are more efficient uses of time; there are better ways to organize and plan. Not only the time you spend studying, but how you spend the time studying can determine the level of success.


A poor attitude will get you nowhere. If you have negative feelings about yourself, if you think you cannot do well, that is exactly what will happen. If you think positively, if you believe in yourself because God made you, because He loves you, and because you realize that God has important plans for you for the future, then you will do better.

Keep trying to accomplish your goals. So many times a person thinks things should come easily. But that is not God’s plan. St. Paul said that life is supposed to be like a race, with many obstacles to overcome. Paul was proud of his “hurdles,” his sufferings in shipwrecks and his times in prison, because he realized they were obstacles to be overcome in order to win the race, to win the ultimate heavenly goal. We should look on our studies as hurdles to proudly overcome when reaching our goals, both in this world and for the eternal goal.

Set Short Term Goals

While you know your long term goal is graduation, and mid-term goal is finishing up this year with good grades, you need to focus on short term goals even more. You need to focus on the goals for this month, this week, today. Each day, you should have goals for just one day. Each day you accomplish your daily goals, you know you are one step closer to accomplishing your weekly goals. Each weekly goal completed moves you closer to accomplishing your monthly goals.

Think out your plan of steps before you do anything. Loading up on books or scouting around on the internet will be wasting time, and you will become discouraged. When your dad plans a vacation trip across the country, he doesn’t just load everyone in the car and start driving. He takes a week or two weeks just to plan which roads to take. You need to do the same. Take the time to plan ahead. Planning is a vital first step. If you don’t have a plan, you will not reach your goal, especially if your goal is to do a good job!

If you have a report due on a certain date, or if you want to finish up a high school course by a certain date, the first step is to get out your calendar. Mark the date on your calendar when you want to have your report or course finished. Count back how many days or weeks you have to accomplish your goal. Be sure to not count days you know you cannot work on your lessons. Be realistic. Set a date that gives you some extra days in case you become sick.


Studying is done best when you are by yourself. It is a personal and sometimes seemingly lonely task. You need to develop the ability to concentrate, which cannot be done with distractions by other people, with vocal music in the background, or with younger brothers and sisters playing nearby. Eating and talking to your friends on the phone or useless time on the computer are absolutely disastrous during study time.

Try to find a quiet but fairly comfortable place to study. Your study area should be yours. It can be a quiet corner of your bedroom. It cannot be a room with distractions.

Organize Your Study Area

Select and arrange a permanent work surface. A desk with a smooth clean surface, and drawers or space for your supplies, is important. Be sure the surface area is sufficient so you can spread out your textbook and notebook and set up your computer. Spend time organizing everything in and on your desk. You will be more happy to do your schoolwork if you have a desk that is yours and if it is suitable for your own studying.

Keep your study area organized. Be sure you have all the supplies or materials you need in your study area, especially a dictionary and a thesaurus. Do not have things in your study area which might distract you. Don’t keep your smart phone nearby. Don’t eat in your study area.

SQ3R Study Method

Studies have shown that the SQ3R method is an effective method of studying.

Survey: Survey or look over the whole chapter or lesson: the headings, the subheadings, the pictures, the maps, the graphs, the end of chapter Review Questions.

Question: Turn the section headings and subheadings into questions. If the heading is “Causes of the Civil War,” then out loud ask yourself: “What are the causes of the Civil War?”

Read: Read the text out loud, carefully and thoughtfully, thinking about the chapter Review Questions. Be thorough in your reading; look up words in the dictionary. Write a very brief outline as you read, using only single words.

Recite: Recite out loud so you are hearing the ideas for each section. Try it later without looking at the book. If you cannot recite the information, go back and read it again.

Review: Usually a textbook has Review Questions at the end of each chapter. Review should be done each day as well as at the end of each week, and before taking a test.


If you need help, the best people to ask are your own parents. They care about you more than anyone else in the world. They will help you learn how to study, and help you while you study. You are part of a team, the family team. Seton is part of your team as well. Never hesitate to call or e-mail a counselor if you are having difficulties.

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