If you’ve ever heard the expression “work smarter, not harder” but have no idea what that really means, here’s a hint: study habits.
Yes, a lot of what we call exam success comes down to good study habits. Those who have good study habits have more success when it comes to getting the work done, and see better results in their tests. But what exactly are good study habits?
The good news is you don’t have to look any further – we have put together a list of study habits used by 600+ point students, so you just know they’re effective. Incorporate these study habits into your life, and you’ll be on your own way to 625!
1. Creating A Study Plan
You may have heard this one before, and you may be rolling your eyes, but it is a study habit of all the best students to make a study plan.
One of the main complaints of students who are having trouble studying is that they don’t know where to start. The answer is simple: plan out what you’re going to do!
We talk a lot about study planning in some of our blogs, and it really is so simple. All you have to do to implement this study habit is write down a couple of goals (i.e. to do an exam question on Adrienne Rich between 5.30pm and 6.20pm) and put it somewhere you can’t avoid it.
As you get used to the idea of making plans, you can plan further into the future and get super organised. But for now, if there’s one study habit you need, it’s planning!
We’ve actually made a study plan to help you study. Check out our study plan templates here!
2. Setting Time-Bound Goal
Students work better and have more focus when they set themselves a time-bound goal. Also, as you set those time goals and get the relevant work done, you’ll feel like you have really accomplished something when you tick work off your study plan.
Giving yourself a time goal means allocating a specific amount of time to the completion of a specific task, which can look different depending on the student and how long they are able to devote to studying one single topic.
Sometimes students are able to study for 2 hours at one time, and others find it difficult to sit still in 40-minute classes. Every student is different, so finding the amount of time that suits you is a really important if you want to study effectively.
We find that the study habit of the best students is to work in blocks of 20-30 minutes with a short break after each session. We actually wrote a whole blog about the 20 minute study rule, check it out to learn how top students allocate their study time!
3. Starting Early In The Morning
It’s important to note that everyone works at all different hours of the day. Some are early birds and others are night owls.
However, as school has a structured timetable, it can be helpful to continue working in that structure because students are already used to it. Studies have actually shown that we are most productive between 10am and 2pm.
It is the study habit of our 600+ point students to start studying close to the time school starts, at around 9am. Believe it or not, your focus is sharpest at this time!
4. Breaking It Down By Topic
Have you ever heard the expression “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.”
This expression is actually a pretty good study habit when you think about it. Subjects are easier to study in bite-sized chunks. It’s much less daunting and more effective to choose a topic within a subject, than trying to study the whole curriculum.
There’s a good reason why 625 students aren’t burned out by the end of the year – they’re pacing themselves. Exam prep is a marathon, not a sprint!
For example with Maths, if you want to study Trigonometry, which is a big part of the maths curriculum, our study tip would be to set a goal to have it studied in 2 weeks. On week 1, start by answering questions from sections from the chapter in the book and, then, in week 2, look at exam papers. This is the best way to study the book content and then test whether you have mastered the relevant skills!
5. Using Exam Papers
Like we said, using exam papers is the best way to see if you understand a topic or not.
They will show you exactly what you know, what you don’t know, and what you need to improve on.
By using exam papers, you also become more familiar with the exam format and style and be more prepared to answer anything on exam day! All the top students do this to avoid any time wasting once the paper is set down in front of them!
6. Removing Tempting Distractions
Another good study habit is to try to make sure you study in a spot that is quiet and far from loud noises and other distractions. And yes, that does include the internet.
With all the apps and websites instantly available to us on our mobile phones and other electronic devices, sometimes students find it hard to fully concentrate on their study in the presence of technology.
That said, we do have a few tips to help you avoid falling into technological temptation:
- Put your phone behind you, or away from your desk, and put it on silent.
- Try using study and productivity apps, such as Forest, which help you to stay focused and present during study.
- Have only necessary tabs open, and by necessary, we mean sites that will actually help you study. For example, if you don’t use Youtube to study, don’t have it open – you’ll just end up watching something totally irrelevant and wasting your time!
7. Taking Breaks
Taking breaks is as important a study habit as any of the rest. It gives you a chance to regain your focus for the next study session.
Don’t think for a second that students who have achieved the points for medicine, engineering, and law aren’t looking after their mental health too. You won’t survive until the exams unless you look after yourself too!
Going outside for 10 minutes and getting a bit of fresh air can help you clear your mind. Talking to friends or family can give you a boost of energy to jump back into your study again.
As the day moves into the evening, you have less energy to focus on studying, so that time can be used to take a break and unwind completely.
Having a bottle or a glass of water next to you while you work is an important study habit often neglected.
It can be easy to forget to drink water, but if you can take a sip of water every time you start to read a page or an article, then you’ll have no trouble staying hydrated. A hydrated brain will be like a sponge – able to soak up new information easily!
Keep your water topped up during your breaks. Bring your bottle or glass with you to the kitchen and fill it up every time you finish it. It’s pretty difficult to drink too much water, all it will do is keep you energised, focused (and maybe have you running to the bathroom from time to time!)
9. Eating Well
Although not as important a study habit as drinking water, food is crucial to study success. Feeding your body with the right fuel will increase the amount of energy your body has and will help your focus last for longer.
This is extremely important as students use up so much energy when studying – far more than you would think. You need the right food to then replenish your energy levels for the rest of the day, and even the week – especially in the lead-up to exams!
Top students are like athletes, they need fuel for their muscle – their brain!
10. Exercising During The Week
Speaking of students being like athletes, did you know that most top-performing students in Ireland also play a sport?
It’s not just your mammy telling you to “go outside for a walk” – it’s one of the best study habits too!
Exercise, although tiring, gives you a break from school work and study and energy to continue studying effectively long term. Exercising sharpens our minds and increases our stamina, which is what we need when sitting exams.
Not only do exams mentally drain us, but they physically drain us too, so our bodies need to be looked after as well.
Try out these study habits and let us know by messaging us on our social media if any of them work for you. Best of luck with your study journey! 😉
Book an online Maths grind here with us, Breakthrough Maths!
T.J – CEO of Breakthrough Maths.