10 Habits of Highly Effective Students

4The key to becoming an effective student is learning how to study smarter, not harder. This becomes more and more true as you advance in your education. An hour or two of studying a day is usually sufficient to make it through high school with satisfactory grades, but when college arrives, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get all your studying in if you don’t know how to study smarter.

While some students are able to breeze through school with minimal effort, this is the exception. The vast majority of successful students achieve their success by developing and applying effective study habits. The following are the top 10 study habits employed by highly successful students. So if you want to become a succesful student, don’t get discouraged, don’t give up, just work to develop each of the study habits below and you’ll see your grades go up, your knowledge increase, and your ability to learn and assimilate information improve.
1. Don’t attempt to cram all your studying into one session.
Ever find yourself up late at night expending more energy trying to keep your eyelids open than you are studying? If so, it’s time for a change. Successful students typically space their work out over shorter periods of time and rarely try to cram all of their studying into just one or two sessions. If you want to become a successful student then you need to learn to be consistent in your studies and to have regular, yet shorter, study periods.

2. Plan when you’re going to study.
Successful students schedule specific times throughout the week when they are going to study — and then they stick with their schedule. Students who study sporadically and whimsically typically do not perform as well as students who have a set study schedule. Even if you’re all caught up with your studies, creating a weekly routine, where you set aside a period of time a few days a week, to review your courses will ensure you develop habits that will enable you to succeed in your education long term.

3. Study at the same time.
Not only is it important that you plan when you’re going to study, it’s important you create a consistent, daily study routine. When you study at the same time each day and each week, you’re studying will become a regular part of your life. You’ll be mentally and emotionally more prepared for each study session and each study session will become more productive. If you have to change your schedule from time to time due to unexpected events, that’s okay, but get back on your routine as soon as the event has passed.

4. Each study time should have a specific goal.
Simply studying without direction is not effective. You need to know exactly what you need to accomplish during each study session. Before you start studying, set a study session goal that supports your overall academic goal (i.e. memorize 30 vocabulary words in order to ace the vocabulary section on an upcoming Spanish test.)

5. Never procrasitinate your planned study session.
It’s very easy, and common, to put off your study session because of lack of interest in the subject, because you have other things you need to get done, or just because the assignment is hard. Successful students DO NOT procrastinate studying. If you procrastinate your study session, your studying will become much less effective and you may not get everything accomplished that you need to. Procrastination also leads to rushing, and rushing is the number one cause of errors.

6. Start with the most difficult subject first.
As your most diffult assignment or subject will require the most effort and mental energy, you should start with it first. Once you’ve completed the most difficult work, it will be much easier to complete the rest of your work. Believe it or not, starting with the most difficult subject will greatly improve the effectiveness of your study sessions, and your academic performance.

7. Always review your notes before starting an assigment.
Obviously, before you can review your notes you must first have notes to review. Always make sure to take good notes in class. Before you start each study session, and before you start a particular assignment, review your notes thoroughly to make sure you know how to complete the assignment correctly. Reviewing your notes before each study session will help you remember important subject matter learned during the day, and make sure studying targeted and effective.

8. Make sure you’re not distracted while you’re studying.
Everyone gets distracted by something. Maybe it’s the TV. Or your family. Or maybe it’s too quite. Some people actually study better with a little background noise. When you’re distracted while you’re studying you (1) loose your train of thought and (2) you’re unable to focus — both of which will lead to very ineffective studying. Before you start studying find a place where you won’t be disturbed or distracted. Some people this is a quite cubical in the recesses of the library.

9. Use study groups effectively.
Ever heard the phrase “two heads are better than one”? Well this can be especially true when it comes to studying. Working in groups enables you to (1) get help from others when you’re struggling to understand a concept, (2) complete assignments more quickly, and (3) teach others whereby helping both the other students and yourselve to internalize the subject matter. However, study groups can become very ineffective if they’re not structured and if groups members come unprepared. Effective students use study groups effectively.

10. Review your notes, schoolwork and other class materials over the weekend.
Successful students review what they’ve learned during the week over the weekend. This way they’re well prepared to continue learning new concepts that build upon previous coursework and knowledge acquired the previous week.


10Assessing cooperative learning activities presents a challenge for this educator. For each project, Lee gives a group grade, a daily grade, and an individual grade for group work. In setting up the groups, Lee randomly shuffles the students. Because she uses group assignments often, students know they will be in a different group very shortly, which cuts down on complaints.

“Each day of the group work, I have a roster with the groups listed. I spend the entire period just watching the groups within the class,” said Lee. “At each observation, I make short notations about how individuals are doing. I use a code so I can just jot numbers.

“The students have to really know what the procedure is for a project, or you repeatedly restate instructions and have no time for observation,” Lee added. “Each child starts out with 10 daily points, and I add or subtract points to this total, depending on the behavior I see. After a couple of months, this is not really necessary in most classes.”

A group grade depends on a finished presentation or project, according to the established objectives. Lee develops individual grades, which receive the greatest emphasis in scoring, from confidential “brag” sheets she gives out at the end of a project. Each student explains his or her role in the activity and the individual strengths he or she displayed. The students rate their work on a scale of 1 to 10 and explain what they did to merit the grade. The students also rate the others in the group on the same scale and write similar explanations.

“I find that students are incredibly honest in both the self-evaluations and the evaluations of their peers,” Lee said. “In the three years I’ve been using this method, only one student abused it in an effort to get another in trouble. Because I had brag sheets from the entire group, it was easy to see what was going on and to adjust for it.”

Lee’s grading method reassures the hardworking students that their efforts will be rewarded, even if the group grade isn’t what they might hope for. The less-motivated students also learn quickly that they need to contribute if they want a desirable grade. Before the implementation of this grading system, some of Lee’s students treated group work as a holiday, suggesting that one of the motivated kids would do their job to make sure that the group got the A.


Aimee McCracken, who teaches in the public school system in Perry, Ohio, has a unique method of creating groups for cooperative-learning activities in her third-grade class.

“I cut apart comic strips and pass them out to my students,” explained McCracken. “They must walk around the room to find the rest of their comic strips, which creates a team. This activity is an easy way to create groups. The kids think it’s fun, so there are no complaints!”

According to McCracken, cooperative learning is a wonderful way for students to work together in teams. “Students see the importance of understanding one another’s views and feelings,” she explained. “They learn that working with others is not always easy but has numerous benefits. I work with students to help them understand that each person has his or her own way of doing things.

“When the students are part of the workforce, they will have to listen and learn from others as well as share their own opinions,” added McCracken. “This is great preparation for the ‘real world’!”

McCracken says that cooperative learning is essential in her inclusion classroom. She believes that the experience benefits all students– not just those with special needs. Through cooperative learning activities, students become teachers and instruct one another. Children who need challenge must think of creative ways to teach other students, and those who need guidance are more comfortable because the lessons are coming from their peers. McCracken has observed that students seem to feel secure and are not reluctant to share their feelings with others in the classroom.