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7 Savvy Habits to Help You Become a Highly Effective Student

Want to become a highly effective student with better grades and less stress at school? Check out these seven smart habits you should develop.

At some point in their academic career, most high students will discover that some methods and routines just don’t work for them anymore. As you mature as a student and enroll in more difficult classes, you’ll probably need to modify your habits inside and outside the classroom. Read on to discover some tried-and-true habits of highly effective students that can help you pinpoint academic issues and resolve any poor behavioral patterns.

1. Planning ahead

Students with effective study habits don’t wait until the last minute to work on long-term projects or study for major exams. Instead, they analyze their schedule and begin working on days they aren’t busy with other schoolwork or extracurriculars. Doing this will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed by multiple due dates or a long list of assignments to complete.

Related: 4 Techniques to Improve Your Time Management

2. Writing strong notes

Few people love taking notes, but efficient students take good notes in class to ensure they actually remember the material after they leave the classroom. According to neuropsychologist Audrey Van der Meer from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, handwritten notes have been shown to improve memorization, giving the brain more “‘hooks’ to hang your memories on.” Upgrading and organizing your notes will reduce how much you need to study and allow you to look back at your notes easily if you forget key concepts or details.

3. Prioritizing assignments and tests successfully

Almost all high schoolers have felt the immense pressure and stress that multiple exams and assignments during the same week can bring. To manage your anxiety and perform your best, you must be able to prioritize your time and focus on studying where it will have the most impact on your grade. Efficient students know themselves and can choose which assignments need their full attention at the moment and which ones don’t.

4. Utilizing your own test-taking strategies

Personal test-taking strategies are an important weapon every successful high schooler should have in their arsenal. Especially on long and/or timed tests, it’s important to tackle exams or essays in an organized, methodical manner. Different students and subjects require different methods, but learning what works for you as a student (and what doesn’t) will improve your overall grades and reduce test anxiety. If you don’t know where to start, some general tips include completing easier questions first, using a framework like TEES or RACE to structure written responses, and pausing between reading questions and answering them to let what you’ve read really sink in.

Related: Top Tips for Students to Get Good Grades in High School and College

5. Not letting a bad grade get you down

Too often students become demoralized by one bad grade or a few mistakes and stop putting the proper effort into a class. But it’s important to address any issues that led to a poor score or grade without becoming “scarred” or overtly critical toward yourself. Good students are human and make mistakes too, but their resilience allows them to bounce back easily and maintain a healthier attitude about grades.

6. Learning from mistakes and fixing gaps in your knowledge

Effective students never just ignore mistakes they’ve made on homework or tests. On the contrary, they thoroughly analyze the content they misunderstood to prevent similar errors in the future. It’s always best to address concepts you struggled with before moving on to another topic so you won’t have to cram for a final or review assignment later in a course.

7. Maintaining a healthy school-life balance

Some students can excel by prioritizing academics above all else, but truly efficient high schoolers maintain healthy boundaries between their schoolwork and personal life. Sometimes you have to sacrifice your personal time, but trying to make time for yourself each day will improve your mental state and increase your productivity during the time you are working.

Related: How to Make Time for Yourself and Your Hobbies With a Busy School Schedule

It isn’t easy to reflect on your flaws and grow as a student, but taking the time to work on habits that are bringing you down is well worth the effort. The skills you develop in high school will continue to be useful in college and beyond. If you’re struggling, ask another student, tutor, teacher, or trusted adult for help managing your workload. No matter how studious or put together they may seem, no high schooler succeeds without guidance, support, and advice from others.

Wondering how you can develop good time management and academic skills? Check out Our Best Advice for Homework, Studying, and Tests for specific strategies!

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About Hunter Maguire

Hunter Maguire is a rising sophomore at Garden City High School in New York. He is a straight-A student, eager to learn and excel in all academic subjects, and is taking three AP courses this school year. Hunter is interested in social justice and environmental issues, reading up on related topics, and participating in the environmental club at his school. His other hobbies include running, genealogy research, creative writing, and discussing literature.


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