More Tips for Acing the School Year (for Dummies)


By Thamar Jones
Do you ever feel like the smart ones in your class were just born that way? No matter what else is going on in their personal lives, they always get good grades, while for you, it is a struggle. The reality is that they may just be more disciplined and focused, and/or they may have worked to develop winning habits.
Intelligence is a trait that you can develop over time with the right mindset. So even if you don’t feel like the brightest of the bunch, here are the remaining tips on how you can become more successful in school by relying on systems instead of motivation which can be fleeting and temperamental. Keep on reading to find out what some of these systems are.
21. Manage your stress. Students who don’t manage their stress well are more likely to experience performance anxiety and get worse grades. To manage your stress levels: Perform deep breathing exercises, listen to music, spend time with friends on a regular basis, exercise, read a book, keep a gratitude journal, take a few minutes to reflect at the end of each day.
22. Do and submit your homework on time. This tip might sound like common sense, but a large proportion of the students I work with don’t do this. Make it a non-negotiable to submit your homework on time, and give a good effort for each assignment. This is the foundation of doing well in school.
23. Challenge yourself. Taking it one step further, don’t just do the assigned homework. Challenge yourself and do extra questions that require deep thinking. Look for online resources. Learn information that’s outside the syllabus. This will help you to see the wonder and beauty in all that you’re learning. You’ll also be reminded that getting better is its own reward.
24. Make time to relax. Doing well in school isn’t about getting good grades and outperforming your classmates. It’s about leading a balanced life that’s focused on contributing to others. To lead a balanced life, it’s important to set aside time for relaxation. Block out time for relaxation in your weekly schedule to ensure that you don’t burn out.
25. Have a specific plan or objective for each study session. For each study session, set a clear objective as to what you intend to achieve. This might be to read through a set of notes thoroughly or complete 30 multiple-choice questions.
26. Test yourself periodically. Don’t assume that just because you’ve read the notes and looked through some examples that you understand the material well. Test yourself periodically. Do plenty of practice questions and keep a list of the mistakes you’ve made, so that you won’t repeat those mistakes in the exam.
27. Find ways to help others and contribute. Students often lose motivation when they focus too much on achievement and too little on contribution. After all, the aim of education is to become equipped with skills and knowledge so that you can help others. When students lose sight of this, they sometimes feel as if school is meaningless. To keep things in perspective, find small ways to contribute in your capacity as a student, e.g. volunteering, fundraising and solving problems in your school.
28. Develop a sense of purpose. Few students can maintain a consistent level of concentration and drive if they lack a sense of purpose. If students feel as if their school life is just about striving to get straight A’s, they will likely run out of steam. How can you develop a sense of purpose?
Think about… What values you want to live by. What long-term goals would be meaningful to you? How would you contribute to the good of others? What are your duties and responsibilities? What relationships would you like to nurture? What kind of person would you like to become?
As you reflect on these aspects of your life, you’ll have a clearer idea about how your academic pursuits fit into the bigger picture. This clarity will help you to be more successful in school.
29. Hang out with people who are motivated and focused. No matter how much we’d like to think that we’re immune to peer pressure, we’re most definitely not. Peer pressure affects people of all ages. This means that we must be intentional about the people we surround ourselves with. Do you hang out with people who are pessimistic? Are they always complaining? Do they pursue excellence, or do they try to find shortcuts? Spend time with people who are positive, motivated, focused, kind, generous and hardworking. You’ll find yourself developing those traits as the days and weeks go by.
30. Analyze the mistakes you make in tests and exams
It might not be a pleasant experience, but I encourage you to go through every mistake you make in tests and exams. Analyze why you made each mistake. Ask yourself questions such as:
Was the mistake due to carelessness? Did I forget a key fact? Did I have a poor understanding of a certain concept? How can I make certain that I won’t repeat the mistake? What do I need to do to be better prepared for future tests? This analysis will help you to make continual progress in your academics.
Bonus: Keep a “done” list. Just as important as keeping a to-do list is keeping a “done” list. Write down all the things you’ve accomplished at the end of each day. This will help to remind you that you’ve indeed been productive, even if you don’t feel so. In the long run, keeping a “done” list will help you to stay positive and motivated.
Don’t try to remember to do things; make it impossible to forget. Some examples of these “things” might be: projects, studying for tests, bringing your textbook to school, bringing your calculator to a math test; the list goes on. To be successful in school, don’t just try to remember to do these things. Rather, make it impossible to forget to do these things. There’s a huge difference between these two approaches.
To make it impossible to forget to do something, you might need to stick a Post-it note on the front door. Or set an alarm. Or create a daily reminder to check your calendar or planner. As you adopt this approach, you’ll become a more reliable and effective student!
If you apply all the tips in this article, you will become a better student. Implement one or two tips in the coming week, and get some like-minded friends to join you. As you gain momentum, implement more tips as the weeks go by. You’ll soon find that you’re becoming a more successful student who’s leading a more balanced life too. Wishing you all the best – I’m excited about this journey you’re about to embark on!