Do you think of yourself as a smart student?
If you’re like most students, you probably feel as if you take a while to grasp new concepts.
Or that you don’t perform up to expectations because of exam stress.
I know… It seems as if successful students are born smart. No matter what else is going on in their personal lives or extracurricular activities, they always get good grades.
I was a straight-A student throughout my academic career, but I’ll be the first to declare that grades aren’t everything. Grades are only one part of your education.
I’ve come to realise that successful students aren’t more intelligent than other students.
They’re just more disciplined and focused, and they’ve developed winning habits.
So even if you don’t feel as if you’re a smart student, don’t worry.
In this article, I’m going to share with you how to be successful in school, even if you don’t think of yourself as a good student. (Download the free bonus below to learn 10 bonus tips too!)
1. Rely on systems, not motivation
Students who do well in school don’t wait until they’re in the mood to study before they get down to work.
Neither do they wait until they feel motivated before they start preparing for an exam.
Instead, successful students rely on systems to ensure that they get the work done, even when they don’t feel like it.
(Keep on reading to find out what some of these systems are.)
2. Review any new information you’ve learned on the same day
This daily review won’t take long to complete, but it’s a vital step that ensures you stay on top of the material.
Applying this tip will also help you to move the information to your long-term memory more quickly.
3. Write everything down
To be an effective student, write everything down.
This includes homework to be completed, test and exam dates, project deadlines, competition dates, school and family events, etc.
Don’t assume that you’ll be able to remember anything; write it all down to stay organised.
This tip might sound extreme, but life only gets busier as you get older. So this tip will serve you well for the rest of your life.
4. Create a rough weekly schedule
It’s impossible to follow a schedule down to the minute, but it’s still helpful to create a schedule.
Write down your rough weekly schedule based on your recurring commitments, e.g. school, extracurricular actitivies, family and social events, religious activities.
Then block out regular time each week for homework and studying.
For example, your rough weekly schedule might state that you’ll do work on:
- Monday, Wednesday and Friday: 7pm to 9:30pm
- Tuesday and Thursday: 4pm to 7pm
- Saturday and Sunday: 2pm to 5pm
5. Get rid of distractions before they become distractions
The biggest obstacle to doing well in school is distractions.
To overcome distractions, you can’t depend on willpower. Few of us have the willpower necessary to fight off all the distractions that surround us in this digital era.
Here are some ways to eliminate distractions before they become distractions:
- Turn off notifications on your phone/tablet
- Delete all the apps that distract you
- Put your phone/tablet in another room before you start work
- Set a really, really long password to unlock your phone/tablet
- Restrict your Internet access
- Have only one tab open in your browser at any one time
- Find an accountability partner as you make these changes
6. Develop good posture
Good posture improves your mood, and also enhances your memory and learning.
So sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, and lift up your chin – and you’ll perform better in school.
For more tips on improving your posture, check out this detailed article.
7. Don’t multitask
It’s a fact: There’s no such thing as multitasking.
Whenever you’re multitasking, you’re actually just switching between tasks. This reduces your studying efficiency.
So don’t multitask when you’re studying or doing your homework. Instead, focus on one task at a time, and you’ll find that you’ll get more done in less time.
8. Cultivate the belief that intelligence isn’t a fixed trait
Research has proven that students who believe that they can become smarter actually do become smarter.
Belief is that powerful.
In other words, intelligence is a trait that you can develop over time.
Don’t ever label yourself as “dumb” or “not academically inclined”, because with the right mindset you can become more intelligent.
9. Work in short blocks of time
I’ve found that most students can’t maintain a high level of focus for more than 45 minutes at a go.
As such, I generally recommend working in 30- to 45-minute blocks, followed by a 5- to 10-minute break.
Working in shorter blocks of time is more effective for the majority of students, rather than struggling to focus for a couple of hours straight.
10. Exercise regularly
Regular exercise helps you to remember information better, enhances your concentration, and makes you more creative.
This is in addition to the other health benefits of exercise.
What does this mean for students who want to be successful in school?
Make exercise a fixed part of your weekly routine. Exercise three to four times a week, for at least 20 to 30 minutes each time.