There’s not many people around who would consider studying to be one of their favorite pastimes. However, it’s a necessary evil, and high school is a great time to experiment with study techniques to find out what works for you and what improves your productivity. If you struggle with studying and have a hard time preparing for tests and quizzes – or even just completing homework assignments – here are some good places to start.

Motivation is a huge way to immediately impact your studying routines. Motivating yourself is completely individualized, and when it comes down to it, you will have to figure out how you can trigger your desire to do well in school on your own. Some people get excited to study when they have new, clean stationary and writing utensils. Others thrive on community support – there are entire groups on social media, Tumblr in particular, devoted to sharing tips and tricks and resources.

“To stay motivated, I think about how happy I will be to get a great grade on something,” Jenna Griffith, a junior and member of AVID, said. Once you’ve found your motivation, you can move on to staying focused.

There are several ways to do this – first and foremost, you should try to do anything you need to do as soon as you get home from school. Taking a nap first is probably not a good idea: chances are, you’ll wake up and feel too groggy to concentrate on anything. To keep yourself from burning out while studying, try the Pomodoro Technique. It suggests that you work better when you do so in twenty-five minute cycles with small breaks in between. is a free way to test the technique and see if it works for you. Griffith also recommends studying in a “semi-quiet environment with maybe some music.”

Organization is also key to staying focused. Studies show that people are more productive when they don’t have to worry about clutter. This means keeping your desk clean, even if the rest of your bedroom is trashed. Even if you don’t notice a difference at first, you will start studying more effectively. You will also need to keep track of your assignments, whether that be by writing them down in a planner or using an application like Evernote to keep everything in one place.

If worse comes to worst, and you still find yourself getting distracted while you’re trying to study, there are programs like Cold Turkey (for computers) and Forest: Stay Focused (for smart phones) that prevent you from getting on websites that could potentially get you off track.

Now that you’re studying, you need studying techniques.

“It really depends on the class/subject. For my math-related classes, I learn best by doing problems to get the steps and ways to solve the problems memorized. But when it comes to the classes where I have to memorize things, like English and history, I definitely go to notes and flashcards. It also helps that I’m in AVID with all the techniques like [Cornell Notes] that we use,” Griffin said.

In the end, it’s up to you. A simple search on Google will yield thousands of different ways to memorize, learn, or retain information while studying. So do some research. Create a routine that’s unique to your classes and needs. Have fun with it; your grades will thank you!

Study Hall is a series of stories on how to improve your academic performance in selected subjects based on interviews with teachers and students who’ve taken that class. Click here to read more stories in this series.