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Top 10 Tips for Academic Success

By: Meilan Solly

10. Study with friends.

Friends are a great resource because they can offer tips, study help, and more. Form a study group and use this time to quiz each other, get help on topics you’re unclear on, and learn from others’ study styles. Just make sure you don’t get distracted, or else you might be better off studying alone.

9. Enroll in classes you can handle.

The older you get, the more pressure there is. All your peers are taking an insane amount of AP classes, and you’re worried you won’t be able to keep up. You shouldn’t be, however, because you need to focus on taking classes you will do well in rather than ones which are considered prestigious. Someone who takes 5 AP’s and gets C’s in all of them will look worse than a person who takes 2 and maintains straight A’s. Find a good balance between hard and easy classes, and remember that colleges take lots of factors into account, such as how busy you are with extracurriculars and leadership positions.

8. Take strong notes.

Everyone’s note-taking style is different. Some people like outlines; others prefer graphic notes full of bubble maps and drawings. No matter which way you take notes, make sure you’re including as much essential information as possible. This doesn’t mean you should write down every single word on your teachers’ PowerPoints, however. Learn to summarize and use abbreviations such as “pol.” for political, “govt.” for government, and “econ.” for economy. Just make sure you remember what your abbreviations stand for. Follow these steps and soon you’ll be set for college, where teachers don’t wait for you to finish before they go to the next slide.

7. Create study guides, flash cards, or other study tools.

Studying for quizzes and tests is something of an art. Most people have a set way they like to study because they know it works for them. This can be anything from re-writing notes to making 300 flashcards. In case you don’t know how to study effectively, consider the following: Take information from various sources, including notes, textbooks, worksheets, and study aid books such as Barron’s. Synthesize the information into one cohesive study guide that can serve as a general outline of everything you need to know. Another option is to use Quizlet, an online service that lets you create electronic flash cards which you can then study through fun games like Scatter. Quizlet also comes as an app, so it’s great for studying on-the-go. There are endless possibilities when it comes to studying; you just have to find what your best fit is.

6. Stay organized.

Organization is one key to success not just in school but in life. You can’t do well in classes unless you can easily find all the information you need, right? When teachers hand you a stack of papers that haven’t been hole punched, don’t stuff them into your binder pocket and leave them there. Instead, take the time to hole punch them yourself and put them in the correct tabs. If your teacher has a hole punch in their room, try to hole punch papers as soon as you get them. Also, consider using an organizational system. Have A Day and B Day binders, one giant folder with pockets for all your classes, or whatever else you can think of. Remember that organizing your papers is only part of being organized. You also have to keep track of important due dates and more, so make the most of your agenda and monthly calendars.

5. Maximize study time.

It can be hard to find time to study, especially with sports and clubs. However, if you follow a few simple guidelines for all your study sessions, you will be able to maximize their potential every time. Find a spot in your house that is far away from distractions. Leave your phone behind, and only use a computer if you need it for homework. Make sure you have all necessary materials, including pens, pencils, and paper. If you come to the session with a clear idea of what you want to accomplish, you will likely do just that.

4. Relax.

When you have a lot of assignments due, it can be very overwhelming. You worry about how you will finish everything, and you start to panic. At times like these, it is best to simply take a break. You won’t accomplish anything if you’re extremely stressed, so just take a 10 to 15 minutes and use it to do something fun: watch TV, read a book, go for a walk…whatever makes you feel relaxed and ready to tackle your work.

3. Set goals.
Setting goals is an important step in most endeavors because it is always good to have something to strive towards. Set long-term goals like getting all A’s for a quarter, but also work on short-term goals such as acing an upcoming quiz. As part of setting goals, make a to-do list complete with deadlines and checkmark boxes. Once you accomplish a goal and are able to cross it off your list, you will feel accomplished and ready to move on to your next task.
2. Don’t procrastinate.

Procrastination goes hand in hand with both stress and failure. Stress comes from having to pull an all-nighter because you didn’t start a project until the day before it was due, and failure is a result of your shoddy workmanship. While leaving a project until the day it’s due may seem like a good plan at first, it is much better to start working on things as soon as you find out about them. This means less stress down the road and an easier workload overall. Split your project into parts and work on them a little bit at a time, or spend a whole day working on your project just so you can say you finished it. No matter what you do, however, do NOT leave anything until the last minute.

1. Be proactive.

Most of the students whom you label as “smart” are probably not succeeding in school simply because they’re geniuses. They work hard and, most importantly, are proactive. High-achieving students learn about a task and immediately start working on it. They ask teachers for help if they don’t understand something, and they set out to make changes they wish to see rather than what for someone else to do so. Being proactive is a quality that will take you far in life, as it is kind of an amalgamation of all the tips listed above.

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