School, exams and studying have all been around for longer than any of us. So, why try to discover the best habits of high performing students by ourselves when our MWNS teachers have compiled a list of tricks for us!
This list compiles the top ten habits we have observed in our high performing high school students over the past 20 years!
We hope this list provides you with insights and useful tips to implement these habits into your study.
1. Avoid cramming
It can be tempting to try to finish all of your studying in one session, especially when you have a long to-do list waiting, or if you are busy with other things in life.
The problem is that cramming doesn’t work as well as you think.
It only uses your short-term memory, and your brain gets rid of that as soon as it thinks it doesn’t need that information anymore.
Essentially, you feel like you’re learning, but it doesn’t really sink in. You’ll end up losing about 80% of what you studied, if not more.
Implementation: Instead of cramming, revise regularly and over a long period of time.
In Maths, this could be in the form of working on questions, reading through your notes, or creating new revision notes that you can then review.
This is important because it allows you to better remember the content taught. Try to make your revision time a regular time each night so that it becomes a good habit.
2. Remove distractions
By checking a single notification on your phone, you can prevent the last two minutes of learnt content from entering your memory! These distractions, especially frequent distractions, can severely impact your productivity as well as memory retention.
Implementation: Remove the distractions as much as possible.
This may include placing your phone in a drawer in the other room, placing your laptop on ‘do not disturb’ so notifications don’t appear in the corner or studying in an environment where friends and familiar cannot frequently interrupt.
If you improve the quality of the time you study, can quantity of time you need to study.
3. Discover your study style
When you begin studying beyond your allocated homework, you will need to discover your personal study style.
The top performing students conduct this research early on in their high school journey.
This means they have perfected their study pattern and style way before they enter their final years of school.
Your study style includes knowing:
- the time of the day you are most productive
- how long you can study for before needing a break
- what note-making style allows you to retain the most information
- whether you need some assistance through tutoring to help work through your weaker topics
- how long before an exam you need to start completing past papers
Implementation: Play around with the suggestions above to help you decide how you study best. For example, try studying in 30 minutes intervals before slowly bumping it up to an hour.
Once you’re done with your short burst, take a break and come back to the material later.
This gives your mind a chance to transfer the material to long-term memory. It also helps to digest the material and keep it longer.
4. Create a study plan
To help structure your study, try to create a plan so that you know what you’re doing before you do it. Nothing is worse than wasting your time trying to figure out what you should be doing instead of actually doing the work!
By scheduling what you’re going to study in a logical manner, you can prioritise time for assignments and exam revision.
Implementation: You can purchase a physical diary or weekly planner to plan yourself.
There are also some great online sites and free apps which help students organise their study time.
Whichever method you choose, it is important to create a to-do list and convert this list into a weekly or fortnightly plan which ensures you will have time study for each subject evenly without overwhelming yourself.
By creating this plan, it can also help you take time off study to exercise and see your friends without causing you to feel guilty or stressed that you won’t have enough time to study, because you have already allocated all your tasks to a particular time.
5. Summarise what was taught
School notes can sometimes be very long and detailed – just think of a school textbook!
Therefore, it is super important that you summarise these notes into the most important elements and write these summaries in your own words.
For Maths, this could be in the form of writing concepts in your own words, and drawing mind maps/diagrams. This is important because it forces you to think about what was taught.
For English, this could be writing the analysis your teacher gave you in your own words or creating your own analysis of quotes in a text.
Implementation: To make this a habit, try summarising every topic that you’ve been taught as soon as you’re done with it. This will mean that it’s fresh in your mind and when you come back to it later, you can refresh your understanding. Decide on whether you type, write or use palm cards to write your exam summary notes.
Palm cards can be good for testing yourself, however, can become quite tedious as you become older and you are required to learn more, leading to giant piles of palm cards. We recommend typing or writing pages of notes and limiting yourself to 5-10 pages of notes per subject.
Important note: don’t just write the important bits, write the ideas/formulas/tricks that you often forget and constantly need to remember right before an exam!
6. Find extra questions to practise on
You should always be practising, as much as you can, practice questions for all of your subjects. This is by far one of the most effective study methods because it gives you practical experience.
Implementation: In Maths, homework questions are significantly easier than exam questions, because they are designed to help students understand the concepts.
So we recommend you find exam practice questions specifically. You can also work on the extension questions towards the end of a set of questions. This is because exams will require you to apply what you already know in complex ways.
For English, practice, as often as you can, writing out essays, especially on topics that you’re not 100% confident on.
This will include using different quotes and analysis in different parts of the essay. Also focus on writing your essay or creative piece in the time allocated to ensure you can write quickly, accurately and under pressure.
7. Focus on area(s) of weakness
Once you’ve worked on practice questions, you will know very quickly which areas you’re not totally familiar with. It’s important to make your study targeted because that means it will be more efficient.
As tempting as it is, don’t avoid what you struggle with!
Avoiding topics that you’re not so confident in won’t make you more confident in that topic. Only by targeting those areas of weakness will you make them strengths.
Implementation: As you work through a topic or when you receive your exam notification, split the content into strengths and weaknesses and work on these separately.
For your strengths, you want to be completing challenge questions, practice exam questions and word problems with time restraints.
For your weaknesses, you want to be going back to your class notes before starting with the most basic of questions/concepts and slowly building up to the more challenging exam style questions.
8. Find a study partner or group
Learning can be lonely. To help your discipline and motivation when studying, it’s best to find a study buddy who will help keep you accountable.
Implementation: Reach out to someone in your class and see if they’re interested in putting together a study group or studying together.
More often than not, people are very keen to study together since the benefits are so obvious. Working around others helps keep you focused and reduces the draw of distractions like your phone. You can also get help remembering due dates if you’re in a study group and you can have difficult concepts and topics explained to you by your peers. Often, people in study groups can ask each other questions, read each other’s papers, and bounce ideas off of one another. All of this becomes possible when you work with other people on your study.
9. Stay mentally and physically healthy
When you take on studying on top of other responsibilities, it’s easy to work yourself to a point where you’re not sleeping enough and not eating healthfully.
You might even be spending all of your time sitting in front of a screen.
If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t possibly perform at your best.
Implementation: Take time to rest, exercise, eat healthy food, and do things you enjoy.
Even if it means you spend less time studying, you’ll be more productive and the results will be better. You can set yourself a time limit of how long you want to spend studying each day and try stick to this each day. When setting this time limit, it’s important to allocate time for exercise, rest and socialising, so be realistic.
10. Keep a record of progress
To help stay motivated through the whole process, you can keep a diary or a record of your study.
By recording your progress, it’s easier to see how much you’ve progressed and this will fill you with determination when it matters most.
Do this with both your studying habits and the actual results you get on assignments and exams.
If you’ve followed the tips in this list really closely, you’ll see a concrete improvement in your marks and it will motivate you to study even harder!
Implementation: The best way to do this would be to tick or highlight your study schedule when you actually complete the work you planned to complete. This will be an easy way for you to review your progress, see if your schedule is realistic, if you are constantly avoiding a subject that you need to focus on or perhaps you have some time you can better utilise.
We hope this list provides you with a starting point and foundation for you to study like a high performing student. Hopefully you will learn what study schedule and style works best for you and perfect this before your HSC. As always, if you would like some help studying or discovering your study style, our MWNS English and Maths tutors would love to help.
Would you benefit from some extra assistance with your schoolwork?
Reach out to find out how we can help
At MWNS, we offer high school tutoring in Maths and English to ensure students understand their schoolwork, meeting the requirements set out by NESA and achieving grades they are proud of. All our Maths and English tutors tailor their lessons to the individual needs of our students. By working at a pace that suits and benefits each child, we are able to maximise their learning in an enjoyable environment.
Our Maths and English tutoring is available in centre (Central Coast Tutoring, Eastern Suburbs Tutoring, Inner West Tutoring, Northern Beaches Tutoring, South Sydney Tutoring, Sutherland Shire Tutoring) and online. Whether you are looking for a Maths tutor or an English tutor, MWNS is able to help build your child’s confidence.