A Toolkit for School Success: 15 Study Tips for Students with ADHD
7. Identify your best study environment. Where do you do your best work? For many students with ADHD an ideal space is quiet and distraction-free, Dietzel said. (A library, for instance.) For others, some background noise or music works better. When cutting down on distractions, get creative. If you need to work on the computer, use a program that blocks the Internet for a certain amount of time.
Dietzel also finds that “some high school students do better with working in a common area,” such as the kitchen when mom and dad are preparing dinner. This might have to do with being “within proximity of people who are task-oriented.”
8. Consider your style when setting a schedule. Some people like having a fairly full schedule of activities because it keeps them organized. For others, this is stressful, and they need to cut out tasks instead. Consider what you prefer. But remember that your schedule should give you enough time to get adequate sleep (vital to school and life success!), be active and socialize with friends.
9. Take mini-breaks. People with ADHD have difficulty sustaining their attention for long periods of time, so taking short breaks is important. When you sense yourself losing focus (like if you have no idea what you’ve been reading for the last minute), take a five-minute break.
10. Exercise. Many studies suggest that physical activity is beneficial for boosting brain function. Research also has shown that engaging in physical activity before a study session is helpful for ADHD. For instance, you might take a 15-minute walk before researching your paper, Dietzel said. Another idea is to make your mini-breaks active.
11. Improve a weak working memory with special techniques. One of the best (and easiest) ways to improve your memory is to write everything down, Dietzel said. To truly grasp and retain information, you also might need to highlight passages, have sticky notes in book margins, make notes as you’re reading or reread information. Some students need to read one paragraph at a time, and summarize the facts on sticky notes.
Anther method is memory tricks or mnemonics, a valuable technique to memorize random facts. (Think of the mnemonic HOMES, which has helped many students ace their geography tests.) Thinking of information visually also helps strengthen memory. Dietzel gave the example of students keeping track of characters in a large family by picturing each one in their head, “almost like a movie.”
12. Don’t ignore other symptoms. People with ADHD are at greater risk for anxiety and depression. Stress can trigger these symptoms, which may be at an all-time high in high school and college. Not surprisingly, anyone with “elevated anxiety can’t study well or recall what they know no matter how well they study,” Dietzel said. So it’s important to get these symptoms treated.
13. Use timers and alarms. Some people with ADHD “don’t have a good sense for the passage of time.” When it comes to scheduling a study session, they may have no clue how much time to block out. To keep track, use a timer and ask a friend to call you. Also, use alarms to remind you of upcoming activities.
14. Have a place for items. Are you frequently losing your syllabus, keys or backpack? Have a designated place for these items. For instance, Dietzel said, if you lose your syllabi every semester, make it a habit to put them in the same notebook. It’s one less thing to think about — and possibly misplace.
15. Don’t hesitate to ask for help. As Dietzel said, “Don’t put your head in the sand, and hope it’ll be OK.” Every student has strengths and weaknesses, and getting help in challenging areas is a smart way to succeed in school. This might mean talking to your parents, getting a tutor or seeing a psychologist or coach who specializes in ADHD. (Seeing a psychologist is important for treating ADHD in general.) Most schools also have writing labs, tutorials and other tools and services to help students.
Remember that the goal is to find tools and techniques that work best for you. Try these out, and stick with the most effective strategies.
Tartakovsky, M. (2013). A Toolkit for School Success: 15 Study Tips for Students with ADHD. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 25, 2015, from http://psychcentral.com/lib/a-toolkit-for-school-success-15-study-tips-for-students-with-adhd/0009398