Youth Menu

    How to Make School a Conscious Effort

    Darrin Lythgoe

    Use these ideas to help you stay awake and alert during class.

    Have you ever struggled to stay awake in class? It’s not a pleasant feeling, especially if you suddenly realize you missed something important. If it seems to happen a lot, the answer may include making school a higher priority. In any case, the following strategy will certainly lead to long-lasting results. Start today! Your education—and your future—may depend on it

    Prepare Physically

    • Get plenty of sleep. No matter how many times you’ve heard it, it’s still true. It’s even scriptural (see D&C 88:124).
    • Follow a regular sleep pattern. Getting ten hours one night and three the next may leave your body confused as well as tired, so work out a steady schedule and stick to it.
    • Eat healthy meals, especially before and during school. It’s hard for your mind to pay attention if your body is weak, hungry, or both.
    • If you need glasses, wear them. It’s easier to focus mentally when you can focus visually.

    Know Your Stuff

    • Do your homework on time. Teachers give homework to help you learn the subject matter and prepare for the next class, so don’t take it lightly. Going to class unprepared is a little like trying to eat an apple without any teeth.
    • Go beyond the assignment. If you have time, a little extra reading or studying on the topic may help you get a lot more comfortable with it.
    • Teach it to someone else. If you can explain math to a friend or Shakespeare to your dad, you should be able to understand well enough to follow your own teachers.
    • Study in groups. Talking it over with a few classmates after school will give you access to their insights as well as your own.
    • If you’re still lost, get additional help. Talk to the teacher or ask a friend who seems to understand. If labs or teaching assistants are available, make use of them.

    Get Involved

    • If possible, sit in front where you can see and hear clearly. Like concerts and sporting events, school is more interesting close up.
    • Sit up straight. You will pay better attention, and your body won’t be so prone to thinking it’s nap time. And hey, good posture can’t be bad for you, right?
    • Concentrate on what’s being taught. If the teacher uses a textbook, bring it to class and follow along. Don’t let your mind wander.
    • Form your own opinions. Do you agree with the facts as they are being presented? How would you debate or defend them?
    • Ask questions, make comments, and express your opinions. By interacting with teachers and other students, you will gain a lot more than mere consciousness.
    • Take thorough notes. Write constantly, organizing as you go. With your hands and mind active, your eyes will find it easier to stay open.

    Last Resorts

    • Hold your feet six inches off the floor.
    • Take your shoes off for a while.
    • Glance around the room occasionally (but keep your mind on the subject).
    • Ask a friend to poke you if you start to drift off.


    Some methods for staying awake in class aren’t such hot ideas. Here are a few you should definitely avoid.

    • Don’t take drugs of any kind to stay awake. They can be addicting, and they’re not in harmony with the Word of Wisdom. Habits like this can be dangerous—and expensive.
    • Don’t eat junk food for energy. Sugar can give you a short boost, but when it fades you may be even more drowsy. And then there’s tooth decay …
    • No all-nighters. The knowledge you gain by staying up all night cramming may be eclipsed by your inability to do anything the next day. If you start your studying a few days earlier, the night before won’t seem so frightening.

    Error in form submission. Make sure all field are filled out properly and try again.

    1000 characters remaining

    Share your experience

    or Cancel