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Making the Grade: 10 Smart Study Tips for Students

Encourage Effective Study Breaks
Learning to take breathers is just as important as learning how to hit the books. "Teenagers get burnt out with homework after two hours because they're interspersing studying with Facebook and texting 'breaks,'" Van Petten says. "This is draining because children aren't stepping away from their computers at all." Real downtime (i.e., away from cell phones and other glowing screens) helps the brain recharge. Allow your child to take time off every half-hour. Depending on how long he's studied, breaks should be between 5 and 25 minutes—anything more and he'll have a hard time getting back to work. A good respite can be eating a small, healthy snack, taking a walk around the block or listening to music.

Remind Them to Read Directions
Every teacher will tell you that students miss easy points on tests simply by not following instructions. While your teen is solving homework problems, have him explain the directions for each question set in his own words. If you put together a practice test, insert a random direction into one question, like, "write your name on the bottom left hand corner of the page."

Support Your Teen's Study Time
And ask your family to do so, too. "Make sure there are no 'rewards' that studying will cause your child to miss out on," says Van Petten. "For example, if American Idol is on that night and your child has to study, record it and wait until the next day so the whole family can watch together."

Help Kids Learn from Mistakes
"It's one thing for students to understand why they got something wrong, but a totally different thing for them to remember that and apply it to other questions," says Brondo. Help your child create a "wrong question journal" where she can record and work through concepts that give her trouble. Purchase a notebook and have her divide it into sections for each subject. After she gets back any graded work, encourage her to jot down the problems she got wrong and figure out the correct answers. Remind your child to review her notes often.