10 Habits of Highly Successful Students

What do successful students know that others don’t? Contrary to what you might think, the secret to their perfect score is in the how and not in the what. It’s these 10 habits that truly make the difference between an A and a B.

1. Set Fake Deadlines & Due Dates

There’s nothing quite like a deadline fast approaching to light a fire under your butt. So then why not use this productivity trigger to your advantage? Successful students set earlier due dates than the ones requested by their professors. This technique not only prevents them from submitting assignments late or pulling all-nighters to study last minute; but it also gives them time to perfect whatever they do. This tweaking period is what can change that A into an A+.

“ Successful people aren’t born that way. They become successful by establishing the habit of doing things unsuccessful people don’t like to do.”

(William Thackeray)

2. Listen with Intent

Guess what? Not only do you have to show up to your classes, but you also have to actively listen to your professors. Successful students listen with the intent to extract information or any hints that can help them ace their exams. They come to their lectures ready to hunt for clues, and you should too. The secret to mastering this skill is to come to class prepared and also knowing how to read your teachers’ body language.

3. Study on the Daily

Making studying part of your daily routine is probably one of the best decisions you will ever make as a student. Consistency & daily study sessions are truly the secret to straight A’s. Even something as simple as re-reading your notes when you get home from school can help you retain the material faster.

4. Break the Automation Loop Frequently

At least once per semester, you drop the ball and fall behind on everything. You get lost in the daily grind and completely lose sight of the big picture. Successful student snap out of that “same ish different day” loop by frequently looking ahead. This habit allows them to effectively adjust their strategy as they go along. On top of that, knowing what they’re preparing for acts as a strong motivator. To put it simply, spend one hour every Sunday looking at your upcoming week/month. Visually remind yourself of what’s to come, consciously think of what you have to do, and where you need to go.

5. Cultivate Skills that Matter

Your grades are not the only thing that matters. To get into the graduate program or the career of your dreams, you also need to develop professional skills outside of school. Public speaking, time management, emotional intelligence, and problem solving are just a few examples of such aptitudes. To acquired them, simply make it a habit to include extra-curricular activities into your schedule.

6. Build an Academic Network

Another habit of successful students is getting to know their teachers and their peers. They stay after class, meet with their professors during their office hours, and they also tend to do their homework with friends in the college library. In other words, top students have a solid network at school to help them, support them, and to just have fun with them!

7. Actively Trim their Notes

This means that after every lecture or chapter completed, skilled students go over their notes immediately to extract key information. (Thinking critically and actively about the material you just learned helps you to remember it better.) They then transfer it to a study guide which will act as their primary reference document when studying for an upcoming exam. Doing this frequently reduces the amount of stuff to review before a test.

8. Practice like There’s No Tomorrow

Admit it, you knew this one didn’t you? Although the habit is pretty straightforward, few of us really do it. After learning a new formula, try some practice problems to make sure you know how to solve them on your own. After reading a chapter, don’t skip the practice questions at the end! Do them. Frequent practice helps you master the material, and also gives you the opportunity to spot your weaknesses early on.

9. Have a Study Formula they Swear by

The 5 Step Study Plan and the Funnel Method are both examples of formulas that I personally use to study for exams. Successful students don’t reinvent the wheel every time they have to prepare for a test. Instead, they focus on perfecting their study formula overtime. They have a few key steps that they automatically resort to. Steps that have been applied and tested, steps that they know would lead them to those As, every single time.

10. Take an Active Approach to Failure

Finally, having a good relationship with failure is critical to any student’s academic success. To fail means to improve. Seeing failure as a symbol of your willingness to try is what will help you take an active approach when facing a challenge. Got a bad grade on a quiz? Instead of beating yourself up, figure out what grade you need to get on your next exam to still obtain an overall A in your class. Ask to see that failed midterm, so that you can improve your study strategy for the final. And most importantly, remember that failure is not fatal. You’ve gone through worse, and you will get through this too.