7 Study Habits of Successful Students



Maximize the efficiency of your study time to provide yourself with ample rest, recovery, and brain power!

Isabella Espinosa, Assistant Stem Editor

As high school students, studying often consumes large amounts of our time. It can cause exhaustion, stress, and restlessness when done in a surplus. Having to study after a full day of activities is a daunting task that often leads to the symptoms stated above. However, there are various simple hacks to maximize the efficiency of your study time, to provide yourself with ample rest, recovery, and brain power! 

Upon writing this article, I stumbled upon an article by Quanta Magazine called “To Remember, We Must Actively Forget”. The obvious nature of this phrase prompted me to understand why studying exists in the first place. Without forgetting a concept, we have no motivation nor desire to re-learn it or re-plant it within our brains. The article goes on to explain how the brain attempts to absorb as much information as it can upfront, but ends up forgetting a large portion in the long-term. And how when we can’t seem to remember something it’s due to a decay of connections between neurons that contain that specific memory. So in short, without consistently recalling or reviewing these memories or pieces of information, the connections between the neurons that first established them weaken and eventually dissipate. So, the theme of this article revolves around the title that “To Remember, We Must Actively Forget”. 

1. Determine your ideal study environment: 

Whether it be the library, a classroom, your bedroom, or the outdoors, the key to unlocking your study success is by choosing an environment that is best suited to your needs. Some key traits to consider are: 

  • Do you work well in groups, pairs, individually, or a combination? 
  • Can you maximize your focus and concentration in a quiet space or a noisy one?
  • Does playing music aid in your motivation or cause more distraction?
  • What are some environmental factors that make you easily distracted and unmotivated?

The area in which you study and learn may seem unimportant, but it can impact your ability to focus and participate effectively in lessons or self-study. 

2. Repetition and consistency: 

The age old phrase “practice makes perfect” couldn’t be more true in relation to building strong study habits. Without practicing concepts, memory retention won’t be at its peak. Tools such as flashcards & Quizlet, practice problems, and interestingly enough homework all encompass how “practice makes perfect”. Furthermore, using these tools on the daily promotes effective memory retention. The benefit behind doing practice everyday is that it doesn’t have to be done for extended periods of time, rather it can be done for as little as 10 minutes depending on the subject at hand.

3. Balance quality & quantity: 

A bag of M&M’s vs 2 gourmet chocolate truffles or 5 Gildan t-shirts vs 1 organic cotton blouse, the list goes on. The important distinction between quality over quantity can be described as value vs volume. The value of your studying describes your level of concentration and effectiveness, while the volume relates to how much you’re studying. Both concepts are vital to structuring an effective study routine, because they combine repetition and concentration. When talking about quality, focus on your level of focus, detail, and specificity. This means, determine effective methods that will help condense your study time, such as: spending 30 minutes completing practice problems, rather than 1 hour reading over notes. For quantity, hone in on the amount of time you spend reviewing certain material. Quantity encompasses time spent studying and the amount of information that was reviewed. Think, reading over a textbook chapter or notes. Understanding the important distinction between concentration and count can elevate your studying. For optimal success, attempt to balance the two methods by reading oer material, then following that by practicing and repeating the concepts that you just read over. This helps solidify the information, as well as apply your skills in a shorter burst of time. 

4. Active VS Passive studying:

Knowing the differences between active and passive studying can make the biggest impact on how effective your study-time is. Active studying includes, writing notes, practicing concepts, and rehearsing presentations or test-taking. Passive studying includes reading over text and watching lectures. Active studying tends to be more effective for memory retention, while passive studying comes with the expectation that information will be absorbed like a sponge from simply reading or listening to information. This isn’t always true, however when active study methods such as note-taking are paired with passive methods such as listening to lectures, an ideal outcome can be achieved. It may seem easier to utilize passive studying, but active studying presents better results and success. 

5. Utilizing free time:

Nothing’s worse than having a list of homework tasks to complete on the weekends and especially on breaks. But, those moments when you have the opportunity to get ahead on future assignments or deadlines can be the most impactful in regards to managing your workload. This doesn’t have to mean spending your whole weekend preparing and completing assignments, but it could mean spending a couple hours or minutes catching up on work to make the following week a little easier and free of stress. It’s tempting to spend any free time you may get to sit in bed all day and simply relax. Although, there is nothing wrong with giving yourself well-deserved rest, a small portion of that time could be used completing the tasks mentioned above. It’s easier to think of how you’re feeling in the moment, rather than anticipating how you’ll feel in the upcoming week as your work piles up. 

6. Get adequate rest and recovery:

Sleep, there never seems to be enough to go around, especially when your schedule is stacked full of homework, activities, and appointments. There’s nothing wrong with being a busy, productive person, but prioritizing your schedule over getting valuable sleep and rest will minimize your performance in all of the above. Going to bed early to have a more productive day is much more beneficial than staying up late and exhausting yourself to finish an assignment. Considering the long-term effects of such study habits shouldn’t be ignored, but rather addressed as a major issue and matched with a solution. Solutions could mean, creating a more productive planning system,  prioritizing certain work, and being aware of the work you need to complete. Being the student who only gets 3 hours of sleep, who’s wired on coffee and energy drinks shouldn’t be glorified. Without proper sleep, your physiological and cognitive health will begin to decline and diminish. Sometimes these circumstances are preventable, but prioritizing sleep and rest is a vital part of  keeping your mental and physical health in check.

7. Take time to connect and share your thoughts with others:

By now, it’s known that social interaction and connection are vital to our well-being. But, they are even more relevant to our success in school. Having the ability to engage and connect with your peers will optimize your learning ability and provide an external source of motivation. This could include: creating study groups, completing group projects, or simply holding discussions about academic content that interests you. School is a central part of our life and there’s no shame in wanting to share it with your friends and family. Taking time to establish connections inside and outside of school are vital to your success and mental health, so it’s important to remember that school shouldn’t always take precedence over relationships when there can be an easier solution.


Works Cited

Chawla, Dalmeet Singh. “To Remember, the Brain Must Actively Forget.” Quanta Magazine, 24 July

2018, www.quantamagazine.org/to-remember-the-brain-must-actively-forget-20180724/.