Math, Writing Labs Boost Study Skills Freshmen at Cardinal Ritter Prep Use Flashcards, Music, the Clock

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Freshmen at Cardinal Ritter College Prep are gaining greater study skills by making flashcards, changing their study surroundings, becoming more organized and managing their time more efficiently.

These are some of the skills they are learning in math and writing labs. Many of the freshmen say that after completing the first semester, they already are seeing improvements in their study habits. As a result, some are making better grades in other subjects as well.

Each day, freshmen spend about 20 minutes in a math lab and another 20 minutes in a writing lab to learn the skills that will help them study better. A 3-by-5-inch index card, for example, can be the key to success for some students, say math lab teacher Tom Cope and writing skills teacher Sandy Reid. "Flashcards break information down into smaller bits and help students organize that information better," says Reid. She encourages students to make flashcards for vocabulary as well as spelling words. Some students colorcode those cards according to the parts of speech, says Reid. In math, Cope says students make flashcards for algebraic rules, formulas and practice problems. The study-skills labs are a full-year requirement for all Cardinal Ritter freshmen, many of whom begin the year without knowing how to study effectively, teachers say. The labs "lay a good foundation and put everyone on the same playing field," says Cope. Students agree. Freshman Shaun Jones says he began the year by earning Cs and Bs but now is earning some As. Shaun says that by using flashcards for vocabulary, spelling and practice problems in math, he is learning how to study better. He has expanded the use of flashcards for studying in his religion, social studies and science classes. "I like to flip through them at lunch time," Shaun says about his flashcards. He's also learned that a good study environment is critical to keeping himself focused. "You need to study in an area where there's a lot of light but not a lot of noise," says Shaun. "I used to study with the TV, but what I really did was only study during commercials. …