Have you ever stopped to wonder what sets successful students apart from average students?
Why is it that some students who are totally dedicated and study all the time simply “get by,” while others, who don’t appear to put in nearly the effort, do exceptionally well? Is it possible that sheer genetics and IQ are the backdrop of a successful student or is it something else?
The truth is, success in school oftentimes isn’t determined as much by intelligence as it is by implementing effective study habits.
Studying is a compilation of learned skills including time management, prioritization, organization, self-discipline, concentration and, let’s not forget, the desire to succeed. The key to developing smart study habits is to find what specifically works for you. What works for one student may not necessarily work for another.
According to Colleen Jones, owner of an Atlanta-based tutoring firm that specializes in tutoring high school students, “Once students begin to develop effective study habits, learning and studying will yield far better results.”
Here are a few super-smart study habits any student can start implementing today:
Organization and staying on top of your assignments and upcoming tests can influence your confidence and self-esteem. Take the time to ensure all notes, assignments, and upcoming test dates are kept in a file on your laptop or in a notebook. Organizing everything by date will ensure you never miss a deadline.
Adopt a Study Routine
The most successful students don’t simply study when they feel like it – they have a plan. Establish a study timetable and stick to it. If you know you have an upcoming test, plan ahead by studying a little every evening so you don’t have to cram the night before. If possible, use time during the school day to complete homework. Take into consideration your best time of concentration. For example, if you’re a morning person, it might be best to study before school when you’re most alert.
Many teachers have a class calendar available to students so students know in advance what topics will be covered in the coming weeks. Take the time to review those topics so you have an understanding of what will be covered and, if time allows, get a jump start and begin reviewing the material ahead of time.
When it comes to developing good study habits, focus is key. While in class, pay close attention, take good notes, and sit near the front, if possible. Complete every assignment on time and, because students oftentimes rush through their homework, it’s always a good idea to give your answers a quick review to ensure accuracy.
Use Class / Teacher Resources
Nearly every teacher offers resources to assist students. Take full advantage of what is offered. Test review study guides (offered mainly in middle and high school) are a great way to ensure you have a grasp of the material before a test. Utilize all teacher supplied notes as well as past graded homework as a review before tests.
Determine What Study “Tricks” Work for You
Everyone learns differently. If memorization of material is required, many students use mnemonic strategies such as songs, letter play or “sounds like” words to help them study. For other students, note cards are the key. Write facts that are especially difficult to remember on a notecard and refer to them often prior to a test to help absorb the material.
It’s awfully hard to maintain your focus if you’re sitting in front of the television, listening to your favorite tunes or you can hear the “ding” of texts coming in on your phone. Whether it’s the library, your bedroom or the kitchen table, eliminate distractions by turning off your phone, the television, and music which will help you maintain your concentration while you study.
Don’t Forget to Take Breaks
Nearly every student has felt the pressure of a night jam-packed with homework and studying. On these evenings, it’s important to take a break from time to time to walk around, stretch or go for a quick jog. This helps to fight fatigue, and energize your body and your brain.
Waiting until the last minute and cramming for a test for six hours straight is not only exhausting, it won’t serve you well when it comes to learning the material for the long term. Emerging research shows that sleep deprivation impedes learning. So, if sleep is sacrificed in order to cram, students may be losing any advantage of the extra study time.
Ask for Help If You Need It
Even the most well-prepared, dedicated students struggle from time to time. Ask for help before it’s too late in the semester. The sooner you reach out for help from your teacher, a tutor or a friend who knows the material, the sooner you’ll improve your understanding and avoid falling behind. As with any other goal, the desire to adopt healthy study habits requires determination and persistence. Don’t give up. Once mastered, effective study habits will become a life-long skill.
“Students can become scholars. Good study habits enable students to become creative and competent problem solvers, and to be fearless in the search for answers to their questions.” ~ Colleen Jones
More About Colleen Jones: Colleen has been tutoring students professionally for more than six years. She’s a certified high school math teacher in Georgia and is also a volunteer tutor at North Fulton Community Charities GED program and at Alpharetta (GA) High School working with high-risk students.