Achieving consistently good grades at school, university or college takes hard work, careful planning and a smart study strategy.
If your goal is academic excellence, make sure you follow our secret study tips. None of these is rocket science – and unfortunately, there's no real substitute for good, old-fashioned hard work – but you may find that these techniques help make the difference.
Be alert and engaged during lectures, and half the battle is already won because you'll remember the content that was covered. Make notes, ask questions and if you’re having difficulty understanding a concept, request a detailed explanation.
Similarly, be fully engaged when you're studying. Too many students confuse just reading over content (or making copious, neatly written notes) with learning.
To really get material into your head, you have to work with it – read it out loud to yourself, write it out more than once, present and look at it in different ways if that helps you. It can also be helpful to write about a subject, concept or idea in your own words.
Ask and answer the question ‘why’, and search for relevant facts and figures on the internet. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it is to retain information if you get involved instead of just trying to "learn" passively.
The best students study everywhere.
Physical exercise improves memory, focuses the brain and enhances thinking skills. Straight-A students often mentally review content or listen to recorded information as they jog, hike or work out in the gym.
Also consider hitting the books in "empty" time, like the time you spend waiting for your lift to arrive, standing in a queue or waiting before classes start. You could make good use of travel time by installing a voice recording app on your mobile device, and recording the information you need to remember to ace that mid-year exam.
Particular facts you're struggling to remember? Stick study notes on the bathroom mirror, and refer to them as you carry out your daily ablutions.
If you want to be a high achiever, you have to get your priorities straight. Books take precedence over social media, BFFs and TV.
Top students view studying as business, and business trumps leisure activities. Set aside specific hours in your day to learn, and don’t let anything or anyone disrupt your study time.
Make it fun
At least to an extent, try and have fun when you study. Set yourself challenges and see how you do. Create your own flashcards, graphs and diagrams as revision resources. And, if it's properly relevant, make use of interactive learning software, like audio, videos, quizzes and online tests.
Put on some background music to create a more relaxed ambience. If you are having difficulty remembering information, try substituting the lyrics of your favourite rock, house or rap tune with the facts and figures you need to retain.
Revising old exam papers is a practice worth its weight in gold. Another is actually compiling your own test questions and answering them. This is a great study technique. You need an in-depth knowledge of the subject matter to pose proper questions, and good recall of relevant information to answer them.
Testing yourself frequently strengthens the brain’s associations with new material, and improves long-term retention. It also gives you valuable feedback about which areas need more revision.
Get a study buddy
Studying with a friend can have real benefits – provided you really study, that is! It’s fun, you can compare notes and ideas, set quizzes for each other, and have in-depth discussions about specific areas of study. You’ll have the benefit of two brains working together to solve problems and retain facts.
If you’re a bit of a procrastinator, having a study buddy can help. The other person may compel you to learn. There’s also nothing wrong with a bit of stiff competition to get things moving along.
Keep it short and sweet
Study in short, mentally sharp bursts and you’ll cover a lot more ground. Focussing for hours on one topic tends to yield diminishing returns – the longer you sit there, the less you take in and the less alert you become.
The best way to achieve your study goals is to draw up a timetable, and allocate no more than an hour to each study session on a particular topic, with breaks in between. The brain needs variety and stimulation to perform at its peak.
The SpaceBox team wishes all students across the country good luck with the exams next term. Don't panic, do your best and study hard, and we're sure you'll get great results!