Originally Posted: Apr 9, 2019
Last Updated: Oct 14, 2020
As a student, it’s likely your goal to get good grades. And it takes a lot of planning and organization to do well in school and ace your classes. Mastering organization and focus now will help you achieve academic excellence. It’ll also serve you in meeting career goals later. Here are seven habits that’ll help you conquer your studies and excel in school.
1. Plan when you’re going to study
To be a successful student, you should plan specific times during the week when you want to study. Instead of allowing distractions to get in the way, stick to your study schedule. Even if your class schedule is crazy, develop a weekly routine in which you focus on specific courses. This will help you create positive study habits. You can also form valuable study patterns for the future if you review your coursework on a regular basis. The goal is for these habits to continue throughout your education.
Related: Secrets to Successful Studying
2. Take excellent notes
Depending on a professor’s pace, sometimes it’s hard to take notes on everything you hear and see in class. It’s vital to only write down the main points and what you consider essential. Cues to listen for include if the professor repeats certain points or says something obvious such as “write this down.” Also, try to figure out what your notetaking style is. If you're a visual learner, it might be worth your time to draw some pictures and diagrams. You should be able to figure out fairly quickly if diagrams or more detailed notes help you perform better on exams.
3. Establish a study zone
Set up a study zone so you’ll know exactly where to go when it’s time to study. Think about what type of place you work in best; some people prefer quiet places, while others may need some background noise. Figure out what works best for you.If there’s too much activity going on in your dorm room or apartment, for example, it’s a good idea to find another place where you can focus. You could head to the library or a coffee shop near campus to escape the noise.
In addition to establishing the ideal study space, you should bring useful supplies. Don’t forget your:
- Other supplies for specific projects
You should also think about what type of lighting is best. It may seem like a trivial matter, but selecting the ideal lighting to maximize your energy will help you study longer. Not to mention, the right type of lighting will also preserve your eyesight.
4. Take breaks and get enough sleep
It may sound like common sense to rest your brain, but you’d be surprised how many students forget to take breaks. Unfortunately, if you forgo resting and sleeping, eventually you’re going to exhaust yourself. Exhausted students tend to not fare well in class and in some cases may even fail a course. To make sure you’re an outstanding student, you need to pace yourself. Studying for six hours straight isn’t reasonable. Taking short breaks to get a cup of coffee, meet up with a friend, or breathe in some fresh air will do you a world of good.
5. Take advantage of your professors
Some students don’t take advantage of their professors’ office hours, which is a big mistake. If you have any questions before a test, quiz, or about anything really, the professor is there to help. Don’t be afraid: your professor won’t bite. Most are happy to meet with their students and want you to succeed in class. They also might be willing to look at your notes or first draft of a paper to give you feedback as to what you’re missing or should focus on more.
Related: Video: All Things Office Hours
6. Stay organized
Being organized is easier said than done, but unless you take the time to get organized, it’ll be much harder to get in the zone and accomplish tasks on time. Here are a few tips:
- Remember exactly where you put each course’s books, notebooks, and other supplies.
- Keep all your class materials in one area as opposed to having everything scattered.
- Throughout the semester, sort through your notes, exams, and projects and figure out which are critical for upcoming exams.
- Get an accordion file and assign each section to one of your classes.
- Keep a large binder for each class so you can easily access schoolwork.
7. Don’t put off studying
It’s easy to get distracted and not get to your studies, but if you don’t make enough time to study, you’re not going to excel at school. You may feel tempted to forgo studying due to many reasons, such as:
- You’re not interested in the subject
- You don’t like your professor
- The class is taxing, which makes it challenging to muster up enough energy to review the material.
- You have a class partner who you’d prefer to take on the majority of the work because they’re good at the subject.
- You’re exhausted from all your other courses.
If you continue to procrastinate, over time you’ll be less likely to stick to a schedule. Procrastination can also cause you to rush, which means you’ll likely make more errors. Follow through and stick to a study schedule and you won’t have to worry about the consequences.
Related: Top 10 Tips to Avoid Procrastination
Getting straight A’s in college can be tough, but if anyone can make it happen, it’s you. You should stay dedicated to your studies and do your best to succeed at school, but many students flourish by taking breaks and enjoying life too. Do everything in moderation, and you’ll enjoy your college years while adequately studying. Remember, you deserve to perform well and thrive inside and outside of the classroom.
For more help acing all your classes in high school and college, check out our Majors and Academics section.