I’ve put these tips together based on experience with students I’ve worked with over the years. Those students who are successful generally follow some if not all of these. And incidentally, these habits are not simply related to studying, but to an overall approach to life that contributes positively to academic and professional excellence.
1. Be an active and frequent reader.
Reading builds your vocabulary, enhances your critical thinking skills and exposes you to a wide range of viewpoints and ideas that you won’t find in other areas, especially if you read the classics and books written in the past. The media and contemporary writing can sometimes be limited by a modern context and viewpoint.
2. Figure out what your ideal learning style is.
Some people are visual learners while some do better with an auditory approach. I’ve seen some students in history for example, who couldn’t remember the sequence of historical events if they’d only read about it. But if they’d heard a lecture or podcast, they found it a lot easier to recall and make sense of.
3. Get organized.
If you organize your materials as you proceed through a course, you will retrieve information with greater ease later. Organization also helps you psychologically – you’ll feel like you’re in control of what’s going on. Chaos usually breeds more chaos and this can create a lot of problems over the semester.
4. Draft papers.
Never turn in the first draft of a paper – always leave time to re-work it before your professor sees it. Virginia Woolf used to insist on seven drafts, and most people don’t have her writing skills. The other nice thing about developing the habit of writing drafts is that it makes it harder to procrastinate!
5. Exercise regularly.
Exercise keeps you fit, physically and mentally. It also helps reduce stress as the semester wears on or, if you’re a business person, when things at the office get hectic. Students who stay in shape tend to have better stress-management skills and suffer less at difficult times in the semester.