High School

The High School Study Guide for Teens with ADHD

High school demands top-notch study strategies, time-management tools, and organization skills. Use thsese ideas to overcome common ADHD challenges with taking notes, completing projects, acing exams, and more.

Students taking notes from a teacher, a good way to manage ADHD in high school.
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Use This Note-Taking Strategy

This special note-taking strategy can help students manage ADHD in high school and stay focused. During lectures, start by writing the date and topic at the top of your notes. Then, use the BROIL system to pick out important ideas:

B=anything the teacher writes on the Board;
R=anything the teacher Repeats;
O=anything the teacher mentions will be On the test;
I=anything the teacher says is important;
L=anything that is in a List.

A student reviews notes helping to manage the symptoms of ADHD in high school.
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Review Your Notes Now, Not Later

While taking notes, circle words and ideas that need clarification. (If you have a 504 accommodation plan, you might be able to get a note-taker to supplement the notes you take in class.) After class, compare your notes with others, and look up the ideas you circled. Read your notes again in the evening — reviewing notes on the day you take them can double the amount of information you retain.

Highlighting and planning can help with difficult assignments and managing ADHD in high school.
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Read with a Plan

When taking notes from a book, start by reviewing the table of contents, index, caption, and appendix pages for charts, glossary, and reference pages. Use large sticky notes to summarize pages in books, then post them on a mirror as a study guide before a test.

ADHD in high school can be difficult to manage at the best of times.
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Talk to Your Teachers

Discuss with your teacher about how you can modify assignments to ensure success. Discuss classroom accommodations ahead of time (or as you get them), to make sure that you have everything you need to boost your learning curve.

A student uses textbook supplements to study more efficiently, while helping to address ADHD in high school.
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Use the Textbook Supplements

See if there are any supplemental materials online that complement your textbook. When listening to lectures, write down any references or resources mentioned by your teacher, and check them out after class. Get to know the librarian, and talk to her as soon as a long-term project is assigned.

A student creates a plan for tackling a big project, helping to address his ADHD in high school.
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Create a Game Plan for Big Projects

For larger projects, take a few moments before you begin to map out a game plan. Include goals, action plans, resources, time allotments, and time for breaks. If you’re not sure how to approach a project, ask your teacher for suggestions, and see if you can see samples of finished projects from former classes.

A study group reviewing their notes and improving their odds of retaining that information, a good strategy for controlling ADHD in high school.
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Teach to Remember

Studies show that, from worst to best, the odds of retaining information break down in the following way: lecture, 5% effective; reading, 10%; audiovisual, 20%; demonstration, 30%; discussion, 50%; practice by doing, 75%; teaching to others, 90%. Find a classmate to teach the material to and return the favor. Or start a study group, and take turns teaching to the others.

A student making a planner for her work, allowing her to remain organized and manage her ADHD in high school.
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Stay Ahead of Work

Mark your calendar with completion dates, and set false deadlines to help you stay ahead. Keep yourself accountable to others by synching your electronic calendar with your parents’ or study partner’s. Talk to your teacher, and schedule times to show her sections of your work to make sure you stay on track.

A student studies math by doing practice problems, a good strategy for dealing with the symptoms of ADHD in high school
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Master Math

In order to succeed in math, try the following:

  • Keep a file of math concepts and rules, along with specific examples of each.
  • For practice problems, label each step of the process, and leave space between the steps so you can see where you went astray.
  • For tests, write down formulas you think you may need right away, so you don’t forget them later.
A student uses technology to help her study, improving her efficiency and mitigating the symptoms of ADHD in high school.
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Make Friends with Technology

Take a picture of the lecture notes or assignments on the board before you leave class. Set alarms on your cell phone, and send yourself reminder emails or texts with information you need to remember. Use voice-to-text programs like Dragon Naturally Speaking, Evernote, and Mac voice-to-text features to expand on concepts in your books or during lectures.

Girl with ADHD eating a healthy breakfast
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Make Good (Food) Choices

Prep your brain for learning by loading up on foods rich in protein (to help sustain alertness), omega-3 fatty acids (to increase brain function and memory), and complex carbohydrates (to avoid blood sugar spikes and crashes). Even if you’re in a rush, don’t skip breakfast — eating breakfast has been linked to better classroom performance, increased concentration, and improved problem-solving skills.