Updated: Apr 29
Have you ever heard the quote “We are what we repeatedly do. Success is not an action but a habit”? Well when it comes to studying and getting good grades, it cannot be more true! Studying well for one or two days is not going to help you get to that A+. What really counts are the effective study habits you pick up and stick to.
Effective study habits can take a lot of resilience to form, but when you’ve formed them, studying becomes much easier and more effective. Here are a few effective study habits that top students have. 12 effective study habits that will boost your grades:
Take 5 minutes to plan your study
One of the most important effective study habits to form is good and constant planning. The reality is that by being organised, you will not only open up more time for doing things you enjoy, but you won’t forget about that assignment or submit your essay late (again). Every day, before you start your study, you should write down a list of everything that you need to do that day. This will help you to prioritise (discussed below) your tasks and make sure you’re spending the right amount of time on the right tasks. You’ll also know when you’ve finished all the tasks for the day and can start relaxing!
If you need any guidance planning your study, you can subscribe to the High School Hints email list to gain access to the Free Stuff Library which contains heaps of free printables!
Have an up to date to-do list
In addition to having a list of what you need to do that day, you should also have a list of everything you need to do. Update it every time you get a new task. That test that’s in 2 weeks? Write it down. The maths homework due tomorrow? Write that down as well.
Next to the task, write down when it’s due- this will help you to avoid those last-minute stress sessions! You’ll always know when your next assignment is due and won’t forget to hand in any essays. This study planner has a handy prioritised to-do list page – it makes it really easy to stay on top of things.
Learn how to prioritise
Prioritising is great when it comes to saving time. After you’ve written down everything that you have to do and their respective due dates, give each one a score out of 10. 1 being “Most important” and 10 being “Least important”.
Take into consideration not only when the task is due but also things like:
How long is it going to take to complete?
How much stress is it causing me?
Does it count towards my final grade?
Then, do the tasks in order from 1 to 10 (two or more tasks can have the same number!). This will ensure that you’re doing the most important tasks first and not doing anything at the last minute!
Always know when your next assessment is
This point sort of goes hand in hand with the previous points, but it still deserves a section of its own!
Usually, you should get an assessment timetable for each one of your subjects at the start of the term. The first thing you should do with this information is write the due date into a personal planner or your calendar. Then, for each assessment, write a little reminder a few weeks before it’s due to remind yourself that it is there. Planning your term like this can really help you stay organised.
Write it down as soon as you hear of it
If you don’t get an assessment timetable at the start of the term, write the assessment due dates in your personal planner as soon as you are informed of them! You tend to forget about those assignments that you “swear you’ll remember” very quickly.
The same goes for any assigned homework or readings- write it down so that you don’t forget. And write it down the second you hear of it! Get in the effective study habit of always writing tasks down when you are informed of them.
Wake up early
Procrastination sneaks up on all of us! One minute you’re working well and the next you’re busy cleaning your (already clean) room or scrolling through Facebook. One of the best ways to tackle procrastination is to just start! Wake up early and do your work before you can even begin thinking about procrastinating. When it starts to cross your mind, hopefully, you’ve finished most of your important tasks already! This is an effective study habit to have and you’ll probably work more productively- just make sure to still get enough sleep!
Well, how do you wake up early without wanting to go right back to sleep? Here’s a really helpful infographic that I found on Fitandfrenzy!
Do the task you’re avoiding first
There’s always that one task that you’re avoiding. It’s probably the one causing you the most stress or the one that takes the most effort to complete. Do this task first. Often, this one task is causing you to procrastinate on all of your other tasks as well. When you’ve completed it, you’ll feel much less stressed and ready to tackle the easier tasks!
Understand why you are procrastinating and find the solution
Broadly speaking, there are 3 types of procrastinators: the overwhelmed procrastinator, the “It’s just boring” procrastinator and the “There’s no point” procrastinator. Here are some common fixes to the three types of procrastinating:
The overwhelmed procrastinator avoids doing tasks because it all just seems too much. They don’t know where to start, so just avoid starting at all.
The solution: Break down your large tasks into smaller, more achievable tasks. Tackle the small tasks individually until the entire task is completed.
“It’s just boring” Procrastinator
These procrastinators are fully capable of doing the work and know which steps to take, but they find the task so boring that they avoid doing it for as long as possible.
The solution: Try to study in a study group with friends. You’ll probably find the task to be a bit more interesting with your friends around. Just make sure to stay on track- study groups can turn into social gathering very quickly if you’re not careful!
“There’s no point” Procrastinator
The “There’s no point” procrastinator honestly doesn’t see a point in completing the task at hand.
The solution: Get a goal and write it down. Understand why you want to reach that goal and how your current task fits into the bigger picture. Pretty soon you’ll see a point in doing the task. Need help setting goals?
Here's a little infographic to sum all of that up:
Effective Study techniques
Don’t study for longer than an hour
Get in the habit of not pushing yourself too far while studying. You may feel productive for those 2 hours, but after this very long study session, you’ll probably either convince yourself that you’ve done enough or be too tired to do any more study.
Instead, try studying for between 30 minutes and an hour. This will ensure that you’re concentrating to the best of your ability the entire time and not getting distracted. In other words, you’ll start studying more efficiently.
In the end, studying efficiently will be better for your grades than super long study sessions ever would have been.
Don’t look at your phone
You knew this one already, but I’ll just remind you again. A US study found that when not looking at a mobile phone during studying:
You’ll recall information better
You’ll be more effective at note-taking
You’ll score higher in tests
Of course, this is very generalised and results will be different for every student, but if you find yourself getting distracted by your phone while studying, just turn it off for the 40 minutes that you’re studying- you can turn it back on in your break time!
Keep up the motivation
Plan your study around other activities
Motivation is a big issue for many high school students and that’s why you need to constantly evaluate how you are feeling and if your motivation levels are slipping. It's difficult to put effective study habits into action when you can't find the motivation to do it! A good way of keeping motivated is to plan your study around your other activities. Here is an example of how to make a study plan that is formed around other plans:
Step 1: Draw up a study timetable and fill in other activities
Step 2: Find time for study
Step 3: Use these times as a guide, not a rulebook.
Don’t be afraid to change things around if your plans change. Maybe you finish your study early and have more time for TV. Or maybe you find yourself needing some more time to study. Just change the schedule a little bit!
Look after yourself
Understand that no one can study all day every day and that it’s not going to help you get good grades. Keep in touch with yourself and how you are feeling. Feeling burnt out and not ready to study? Take the day off and see if you can squeeze in the study on another day. Feeling very productive one day? Do tomorrow’s work as well so that you can have an off day! One of the most important effective study habits is to learn how to look after yourself first and your grades second.
If you need any extra motivation to look after yourself and do the best for yourself, check out this great infographic I found on the Custom Writing Blog. It provides 24 healthy habits and how they will help you.