How to adopt good study habits to help you excel

Updated: May 16



1. Get organised


When you’ve got a mountain of revision to get through, the last thing you want is to waste time looking for your notes. Before you even get started, spend some time organising your work using ring binders and notebooks. When learning new topics in class or by watching an online tutorial, it’s helpful to write the date and topic on the top of your page. It’ll make it easier to find your notes when you need them.


2. Understand your learning style


We all absorb and understand information differently. Some of us are better listeners, while others prefer visual aids. In order to get the best from your study sessions you’ll need to identify what type of learner you are. This is a really useful test that takes just a couple of minutes: click here. Once you have done this, there are also some useful study techniques that can help you.



3. Designated study area


One of the most important reasons for having this is that it improves concentration and sharpens the mind. If you sit in the kitchen or on your bed, you’re likely to find distractions or get interrupted by other people at home.


4. Study timetable


This is very important as it helps to maximise and prioritise your subjects and topics in order of urgency and importance. It will ensure you cover everything and you’ll be less likely to forget a topic. A timetable will improve your time management, increase efficiency and will help with your organisational skills in general.




5. Positive frame of mind


When we are in a positive head space, our brain is around 31% more productive than when it is in a negative, neutral or stressed state. (link to https://executive-coaching.co.uk/ecc-articles/can-positive-thinking-really-impact-our-performance/) This isn’t necessarily surprising, considering that positive thinking generally makes us feel happier and more relaxed, which can make it easier to concentrate. While a positive attitude is no guarantee for success, it can certainly improve academic performance for students who struggle in certain subjects.


6. Active listening


Do you ever find that you doze off in class and you can’t recall what on earth your teacher was talking about? Well, that’s because there is a difference between hearing and listening. Just because you hear something, doesn’t mean you understand it. Active listening means you mindfully hear and attempt to understand the meaning of words spoken by another. Active listening can help you to gain more in-depth information when your teacher or tutor speaks, and most importantly, can help to avoid any misunderstanding and misinformation.



7. Active reading


It’s a similar concept with reading. Before you start reading, ask yourself some questions. What’s the topic? What do you know about it? Then, identify and look up any unfamiliar words. Try to understand the main themes of the reading, and make notes in the margins instead of highlighting. (Have you ever revisited your notes to find you’ve almost highlighted half of the page?! That’s a waste of time…) Write questions that you then research the answers to. Create diagrams or visual aids to help understand the ideas, and try to understand what each paragraph says. You should be able to summarise a paragraph in one sentence. One of the best ways to check if you’ve absorbed the information is to test what you’ve learned on someone else!


8. Sleep


We’re all aware that eight hours of sleep is the optimal target. We know that sleeping too long makes us lethargic, and not enough sleep impedes our ability to concentrate. It’s more difficult to take in new information after disturbed or less sleep, but what may sound surprising is that it’s also important to get a good night’s sleep after learning something new. This is because it helps to process and retain the information after it’s been learned.


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