Based off the book ‘How to Become a Straight-A Student’ by Cal Newport
LGT has always had a significant interest in understanding what makes top scoring students so successful in their studies and what strategies do they use to balance their social life with their education. Newport, author of ‘How to Become a Straight-A Student’, details the real experiences, methods, and practices of Straight-A students from top universities such as Harvard.
Below we will summarise some of LGT’s favourite techniques listed in Newport’s book. We do however recommend going out there and purchasing the actual book to gain a more detailed understanding about maximising study efficiency, while also maintaining personal hobbies as well as friendships and extracurricular activities.
1. Manage your Time in Five Minutes a Day
One of the most important things to do before even beginning to study is to make sure you know what you want and need to focus on. It is important for students to always be jotting down on a to-do list any tasks they must complete (there is nothing more satisfying than crossing off a completed task). Also, this makes sure that you keep track of what needs to be completed before the end of the day.
Additionally, make sure that you are updating your calendar with any upcoming SACS or assessment dates. This will enable you to become proactive and enhance your awareness of your weekly schedule instead of trying to remember important dates in your head.
2. Attention Span
It is important that students are aware of the limits to their attention span. Usually, we can be productive for around 30-45 minutes before the mind becomes drained and unfocused. Now that you’re aware of this make sure you set up a study routine that optimises the time you dedicate to studying — do not force yourself to focus!! If you are unable to concentrate on the work, then step away from your desk and do something completely distinct from your studying which shifts your focus for several minutes. This technique will limit the time you waste trying to force yourself to focus — if your body is telling you it needs a break, listen.
A final tip is realising how to understand the material you are learning in class. A few suggestions offered by top-scoring students includes the;
a) ‘Review & Explain’ method: This technique implies reviewing your course work and then trying to explain it to someone, something or even to yourself in the mirror.
b) ‘Quiz & Recall’: This is basically doing as many practice questions as possible. One of the most important study strategies is, once you come to a stage where you have a grasp on the material, you begin applying it.
If you don’t have any practice questions, then create some yourself. Trust us, you don’t have to study at Harvard to know that applying your knowledge is one of the most important study techniques. You will be tackling exams at the end of your school year so the most efficient way to consolidate your knowledge is to begin working with the material you will be examined on from now.
When you quiz yourself, you are automatically recalling course material through applying that knowledge on paper.