6 Things A Highly Effective Student Does Well
You may never be the smartest student when it comes to “book learning” or IQ, but you can definitely forge a life for yourself in the classroom and beyond that goes beyond the natural gifts of others. To do so, you have to first realize where your strengths lie, and that, yes, even though some people in class may seem like they were “just born with it,” you were born with something as well — and with the right amount of drive, you can develop “It” into a tool for success.
Once you know what your strength is — be it an ability to do research, a propensity for math, a love of reading and writing — apply these principles of becoming a highly effective student, and you’ll never want for the opportunities that lead to success.
1. Plan Your Study Time
The most highly effective students realize that cramming and natural intelligence will only take them so far. They know that at a certain point, they will be “called” on the things they don’t know, and it’ll take something more than blind luck to rise to the occasion. If you want to be successful in life, then you need to not only plan when you study, but what you study and how you study. This is where knowing your strengths really comes in handy. By having self awareness about what you do well and what you don’t do well, you can adjust the amount of time that you spend on each subject, spending longer where you need it the most. This tip also requires you to determine under what conditions you get the most out of your study time. Do you work better in complete silence or with ambient music? (Don’t say you work better listening to the stuff on popular radio. No one does; you’re fooling yourself if you think otherwise.)
2. Set Specific Goals for Your Study Time
The goal of attending class is to get you up to speed on that one particular subject that the class is about. The goal of your study time should be created in a like manner. You must know what you’re about to study before actually sitting down to do it. You should also know what it is about the subject that you hope to accomplish. Don’t just say that you plan to study algebra for an hour. Say, “I plan to learn the concepts behind quadratic functions, to the point that I can work the most difficult book problems by the end of the study session.” This is just an example, and you may not accomplish your goal, but you will be much closer to accomplishing it through the simple act of detailing what you’re about to do.
3. Be As Regimented with Study Sessions As You Can
In weightlifting, it’s said that you should change up your routine every few weeks to keep the body off balance. Keep it from getting comfortable, in other words, so that it is always in a state of breaking down and building up. Everything happens faster through this process, and it’ll get you to your goals sooner rather than later. This mindset CAN work for studying, but you should not let it serve as an excuse to put off or delay current and future study sessions. Seriously, some people can use this as an excuse FOR procrastination. When that happens, it’s gone too far. Feel free to shake up the study cycle — as in WHEN and HOW you study — every couple of weeks, but during those periods of time, be regimented about the sessions themselves. Do them at the same times every day as your schedule will permit for the same length of time.
4. Review Notes Before Beginning a New Assignment
I know what some may be thinking here. “Forget that! I hate reading classics and bestsellers, much less my own messy handwriting. I’ll just figure it out as I go along.” While it may seem like an extra time investment on the front end to reread your previous notes, it will help you figure things out more quickly as you work through your next assignment, making all concepts fresh and easy to follow and preventing the dreaded need to go back and review a specific part of your notes or assigned reading whenever you get stumped. Definitely a time hack rather than a time waster, and you avoid it at your own expense!
5. Make Time for Review Even During Your Downtime
This goes along with the previous item of reviewing notes before the beginning of each new assignment. While you may want to completely shut out the school world on Saturdays and Sundays, I would suggest rethinking that decision. By making 30 or even 15 minutes to review notes and class materials of a subject you’re having difficulty with, you can save hours of free time during the week and make those Mondays a little easier to handle.
6. Eliminate Distractions
This tip is particularly difficult because distractions can take many forms. For example, your study partners can be too distracting for you to get the most out of your work. If that’s the case, work alone as much as possible. If you can’t get out of it — such as in group work — be the leader, who says, “I don’t want to get an F on this, guys, and I’m not doing all the work. Let’s focus.” Follow through on that every time you have to say it, and you won’t have to say it often. Aside from that, there may be other distractions hiding right under your nose. Say you study in your room because that’s where you can go for peace and quiet away from the rest of the family. Well, what do you do when you look up and see the flatscreen television set, the Xbox One, the PS4, or whatever other cool things you have in your room? What about your smartphone and the incessant buzzing of text messages? That can be a major distraction anywhere you turn — the bedroom, the coffee shop, the kitchen table, the study (if you have one). It’s not enough to go somewhere to get away from the distractions. You have to also be mindful of what they are and have the resolve to confront them with Force of Will.
Performing your best in class, on exams, and in nationally recognized standardized testing requires that you do more than rely on your natural born talents. Those are good places to start, but you also need to be ready to “hack” your time and resources to get the most out of your study time. By putting these “hacks” together with your talent and passion, you are capable of competing with anyone on any scale — global or otherwise.