10 Habits of Highly Effective Students
The key to becoming an effective student is learning how to study smarter, not harder. This becomes more and truer as you advance in your education. An hour or two of studying a day is usually sufficient to make it through high school with satisfactory grades, but when college arrives, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all your studying in if you don’t know how to study smarter.
While some students can breeze through school with minimal effort, this is the exception. The vast majority of successful students achieve their success by developing and applying effective study habits. The following are the top 10 study habits employed by highly successful students. So if you want to become a successful student, don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, work to develop each of the study habits below, and you’ll see your grades go up your knowledge increase, and your ability to learn and assimilate information improve.
1. Don’t attempt to cram all your studying into one session.
Ever find yourself up late at night, expending more energy trying to keep your eyelids open than you are studying? If so, it’s time for a change. Successful students typically space their work out over shorter periods and rarely try to cram all of their studying into just one or two sessions. If you want to become a successful student, then you need to learn to be consistent in your studies and to have regular yet shorter study periods.
2. Plan when you’re going to study.
Successful students schedule specific times throughout the week when they are going to study — and then they stick with their schedule. Students who study sporadically and whimsically typically do not perform as well as students who have a set study schedule. Even if you’re all caught up with your studies, creating a weekly routine, where you set aside a period a few days a week, to review your courses will ensure you develop habits that will enable you to succeed in your education long term.
3. Study at the same time.
Not only is it essential that you plan when you’re going to study, but it’s also necessary you create a consistent, daily study routine. When you study at the same time each day and each week, you’re studying will become a regular part of your life. You’ll be mentally and emotionally more prepared for each study session, and each study session will become more productive. If you have to change your schedule from time to time due to unexpected events, that’s okay, but get back on your routine as soon as the event has passed.
4. Each study time should have a specific goal.
Only studying without direction is not sufficient. You need to know precisely what you need to accomplish during each study session. Before you start studying, set a study session goal that supports your overall academic goal (i.e., memorize 30 vocabulary words to ace the vocabulary section on an upcoming Spanish test.)
5. Never delay your planned study session.
It’s effortless, and common, to put off your study session because of lack of interest in the subject because you have other things you need to get done, or just because the assignment is hard. Successful students DO NOT procrastinate studying. If you delay your study session, your studying will become much less effective, and you may not get everything accomplished that you need to. Procrastination also leads to rushing, and rushing is the number one cause of errors.
6. Start with the most difficult subject first.
As your most challenging assignment or subject will require the most effort and mental energy, you should start with it first. Once you’ve completed the most challenging work, it will be much easier to complete the rest of your work. Believe it or not, starting with the most challenging subject will significantly improve the effectiveness of your study sessions and your academic performance.
7. Always review your notes before starting an assignment.
Before you can review your notes, you must first have records to review. Always make sure to take the right notes in class. Before you start each study session, and before you start a particular assignment, review your records thoroughly to make sure you know how to complete the assignment correctly. Reviewing your notes before each study session will help you remember important subject matter learned during the day, and make sure your studying is targeted and productive.
8. Make sure you’re not distracted while you’re studying.
Everyone gets distracted by something. Maybe it’s the TV. Or perhaps it’s your family. Or perhaps it’s just too quiet. Some people study better with a little background noise. When you’re distracted while studying, you (1) lose your train of thought, and (2) are unable to focus — both of which will lead to very ineffective studying. Before you start studying, find a place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. For some people, this is a quiet cubical in the recesses of the library. For others it is in a common area where there is a little background noise.
9. Use study groups effectively.
Ever heard the phrase, “two heads are better than one?” Well, this can be especially true when it comes to studying. Working in groups enables you to (1) get help from others when you’re struggling to understand a concept, (2) complete assignments more quickly, and (3) teach others, thereby helping both the other students and yourself to internalize the subject matter. However, study groups can become very ineffective if they’re not structured and if group members come unprepared. Capable students use study groups effectively. It is also worth hiring a tutor at home so that your studying is well structured and supported by the expert in the field.
10. Review your notes, schoolwork, and other class materials over the weekend.
Successful students review what they’ve learned during the week over the weekend. This way, they’re well prepared to continue learning new concepts that build upon previous coursework and knowledge acquired the last week.
We’re confident that if you’ll develop the habits outlined above that you’ll see a significant improvement in your academic success.