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Best Study Tips from Top Students

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Hi guys,

I am interested in what your study strategies and tips are for succeeding in university. Even if you are in high school, I am curious to know about things that have been effective for you that can also be applied later on in life. Any lessons you learned? Stories with morals to them?

Thanks in advance.
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53 replies
 
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No fap rule until all homework is done.
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same
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Study smart. Compared to my friends in university who study all day long and stress themselves out, I study much less and have a higher GPA. Depends on program, what are you looking to go into?

For social sciences and humanities- lectures are mostly useless, always attend tutorials. Work hard on your essays, get them proofread, and don't procrastinate and you should be good.

For sciences and engineering however, you need to be at the top of your game everyday or you'll fall behind.
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Whoops better start in grade 12.
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There are few main things that have helped me fully concentrate while studying or doing homework...

1. Classical Music: I made a playlist on youtube with the best classical music from composers such as Mozart, Beethoven, Bach, ect.. and just listen to it non stop while I'm doing homework or studying, it really helps me focus.

2. Noise Cancelling headphones: It blocks out all the background noise and allows me to focus on the task at hand while still listening to music.

3. Focal Filter or Self Control: These are apps I use to block certain websites like facebook, tumblr, or twitter for a certain amount of time. The only way to unblock the site is to wait for the time you set to run out, or restart your computer. Just google site blocker apps and a variety options should pop up. It prevents me from going on sites that keep me distracted.

4. BREAKS: Every hour or so I have a 10-20 minute break. I dance, walk around, get a snack, drink some water, ect.. Breaks are important to keep your mind fresh while studying for long periods of time.

5. Turn off your phone and tablet: Those blocker apps I listed above only work for the computer and since I don't do research on a tablet or phone, I get rid of the problem altogether by turning them off and shoving them in a drawer.

6. CLEAN work environment: Before I start homework or studying, I try to give myself some time to clean my room throughly. Dusting, vacuuming, organizing, you name it. It keeps my thoughts organized because the environment around me is clean.

UPDATED (some other tips I remembered)
I apologize if some of these tips are already listed below but I felt the need to add on to this post! :)

7. Change your work environment: I'm constantly studying/ doing homework in my bedroom and the atmosphere can get tiresome after a while. Make the time to go out the the library, or a coffee shop! A new environment can really boost your motivation to work or study and improve your mood. (Plus some coffee wouldn't hurt)

8. Study sessions in small groups: Before a test I have found it SUPER beneficial to go back and forth with classmates and quiz each other, the information stays with me easier than when I am quizzing myself alone.
But if you don't have a group to study with, practice tests are also very helpful! That way you can figure out what material you know well and what material you should focus on more before the test.

9. Planner/Apps: Most high schools give out planners to students so TAKE ADVANTAGE OF IT!!! Use the calendar and the weekly section to write down future assignments/tests and homework for the night. Another option is using Apps! I currently use an app called myHomework and its PERFECT for reminding me about assignments and tests ect.. you can customize the notifications, classes, assignments and the importance of them based on your needs and you can even see your homework right in the notification centre on your phone (for iphone users it least) Its super handy!

I hope these tips help some of you guys! Goodluck with studying! :D
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thankyou those are some great tips :)
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Oh man im not the only one, i dont listen to music alot, but when i listen to classical music, im able to study/do homework for longer than 30 minutes without feeling like I wanna do anything else on earth instead of studying/doing homework. Also, thanks for the tips, I might pick out a few and use them to help get myself to where I wanna be
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Yes, I use classical music! They have a great playlist on songza.
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I can be a procrastinate cleaner... But I compleatly agree, your tips are fantastic! All of my scholer friends follow these!
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Amazing! I never knew site blocking apps existed...Thank u!
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Work/study during the day, then your evenings will be free to hangout or do whatever. Also make sure to go out and party at least once a week. It will help you build relationships and become more social, something that is more important than having a ridiculous GPA. It will also relieve stress, which is great for many obvious reasons.

Get a white board and put down everything that needs to be done. Erase stuff when it is complete. This gives you a sense of accomplishment, making you want to do more work. Also, having a big list in front of you can make you feel bad when sitting around watching Netflix, so it helps in that aspect.
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Lists, lists, and more lists.

If you don't keep track of everything you've got to do, inevitably you'll lose track of a few things and get zeros that you really shouldn't have gotten. I make sure to keep countdown clocks on my desktop for every single assignment or test I have coming up in the next few months, so I know which things to prioritize. It makes things much less overwhelming when each big task is really just a little box you need to check off.
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The most effective technique for me as a procrastinator is to mislabel my calender. I plan my assignments using a giant wall calender (so that a week looks like a limited 7 days and not an abstract "oh I still have a week"), and I put assignments on the wrong time. This works best if you do it for exactly one week before, because otherwise your mind will go "no, it can't be due on Tues, nothing for that class is ever due then". That way, I work towards an early deadline, but without stressing over it because I am still aware that it isn't due quite yet.
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And then you start to assume everything on your calendar is put a week ahead...
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In order to stay on top of my assignments, I make a list in agenda of everything I need to get done and then crossing items off gives me a sense of accomplishment. I usually start homework at the same time every day (unless I have a project, etc), this makes me feel like I'm on a schedule and I work better in the afternoon/evening anyways. No music because its distracting and i make sure to skip questions if I don't understand them instead of stressing out, talk to the teacher the next day, and then revisit troublesome questions.
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I don't honestly know what's wrong with me. I am pretty smart but it's only when I focus. Sometimes I'll read a book and start thinking of something else while reading. Then i'll get angry at my self for thinking why i was thinking something else while reading, and by then ill finish the page and not even remember what i read. Any help? I dont have any condition or something lol
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This happens to me. I find that the first like 20 minutes or so I struggle to get myself to focus and not a lot of actual work gets done, but I just fight through it and once I'm in the zone I can get a lot done. Its getting started thats the issue. Best advice I'd say is just persevere through that and the focus will come.
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Yeah, I also find classical music really helpful now, also try to predict what the answer will be and think about numbers I find it really helpful.  Also read more, now that I read it helps me focus, hope I helped !!
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Same! But I found this method useful:
Start from the easiest task then you'll gradually put yourself into that "concentrating zone".
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The best way for me to study is to do tons of practice questions, write and re-write study notes and then teach the material to a friend who's in the same class (<- most useful method). If you can't successfully teach someone the material, then you don't know it well enough. And chances are, the questions you have or the things you're unable to explain will probably be on the test so it really helps to show you what you still need to go over more :)
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Organization.

Being organized is key. I used to write out all of my notes, and I'd often lose a few before the test, and then, as you can probably guess, I'd perform horribly on that portion of the test. Now, I bring my laptop to school and I organize all of my notes into folders, and then into subfolders. Everyone's always asking me to send them my notes, but eh, sometimes my "Internet's down". I've seen my average go from 82% to 91% in 6 months, and it's all because of organization.

Also, I have a question for those who use music to study: How can you guys concentrate with music? I can listen to music when working on homework, but when I study, music is the last thing I want to hear!

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Don't listen to anything with words in it, if you find even instrumental music distracting try nature spa type recordings as background noise
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Why would you lie to people and say your "internet's down" when people ask for help? Just seems unnecessarily mean. 

One day you're going to be too sick to attend class, or have a family emergency, or have a bad breakup and feel like just lying in bed all day. Wouldn't you want someone to share their notes in that instance too? What comes around goes around.
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Sorry, I poorly communicated what I was trying to say. I don't withhold my notes from people who miss class and need them, I withhold them from people who sit beside me and choose not to copy notes, because they assume that I will give them mine. 

I'm trying to help the OP, so clearly I'm not too selfish to offer assistance. I'm not worried about things coming around to bite me, because I help whenever I can. I just don't help people who are 100% capable of doing things without my help. 

I sit in class, pay attention, and takes notes all day, and then my peers ask me for my notes, because they were too busy texting all class. Would you help someone who's not making an effort to help themselves? If yes, then I guess you're a better person than I am! 

Sorry for the misunderstanding. 
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I totally agree with this post. Being organized and putting in effort in all of your work, are very important. For a science course, I raised my percentage from 89% to 97% within 4 months, partly because I tried harder, and because my teacher would have test every week, as well as assignments due every day.
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Learn things on your own because you will remember it better. I used this through high school and got 90s with minimal effort. So instead of waiting for the teacher to teach a certain concept try to learn it by yourself
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Great tips, guys!
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Lay off the weed. Everything will pretty much fall in place.
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On the weekends I find that my best study technique is to get up at my normal time I wake up for school at (6:30). Do my usual morning routine and then start the studying in the morning. Then, exercise at lunch time and have the whole afternoon off. 

As for studying at school I find I study a lot better when I am in a school environment like the library or a student study space. There are less distractions like there are at home so you are forced to get your work done. 
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I love making lists and highlighting things that I've finished. I also finish projects/essays a few days in advance. That way, I can come back and edit it more and not be stressed about it. 

Sometimes I just don't want to do anything. Like I say that I want to finish something on a weekend and then don't end up doing it. The only way I can overcome that is to force myself to do it and then I get into the grove and don't want to stop doing my work. Anyone else struggling with this? 
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Experiencing this right now... the only solution to this is to force yourself to do it, or tell yourself that if you don't do it now there will be bad consequences. It's really about self regulation and control.
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Yeah I totally agree! I am trying so hard to change my horrible habits for university. 
I get home after school and spend most of the time on my computer doing stupid stuff and then maybe start my homework at like 8 pm
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Organization and time management are critical, but rare skills. 

For me, I create a mental schedule in my head. It's similar to cracking a puzzle; figuring out how I need to structure my time, where subjects I need to study/do projects fall into place based off of deadlines, and the time I think it will take to complete.

Good thing for me, I review every class I have once when I eat lunch (all my morning classes) and after school (morning + afternoon). Any homework I do during review of that subject, and if there is a heavy application-based unit or subject, I practice it! Already, the knowledge is secured in my brain at this point. So when a test comes up, I am doing pure review, tying up the loose ends. Only pulled an all-nighter once (for a group project) and marks have been high.

And I sort out all my sheets, all the internet resources into one place. This helps in terms of time (I don't search for papers and resources that are scattered in many different sources) and it helps for midterms and exams (I have everything in one place, I don't miss/forget certain sheets etc.).
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what a great thread full of gems!!
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In terms of supplies, what do you guys use? 5 subject spiral notebook or binder for each class?
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I like to use a notebook per subject. If I do a 5 subject notebook, I end up running out of sheets for each subject in each section, causing me to start writing elsewhere and having sheets here and sheets there. It's much more efficient and organized when I started using 1 notebook per subject. For the handout intensive courses, I also use a small binder. 

Or just use your computer to take notes, much faster and neater that way. 
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I prefer using a single subject notebook for each of my classes (well, the ones that require one, like Science, Math, Social Studies, English, and French). I also use a 1.5 inch binder for each class, except for electives, for which I use a 1 inch binder, if absolutely necessary. Anyway, I end up having a ton of binders, but it helps me be WAY more organized than the kids who think they're "smart" and decide to load all their school work into one large 3 inch binder. I also find 5 subject notebooks a teeny bit small for all my subjects and excessive amount of notes.
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I like to get textbooks (library kijiji friends school online) and find course outlines online then really through do some practice work and take notes so i have a basic understanding of what the teacher is talking about before we learn it
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as some people mentioned.... study smarter; not harder... Also, We all know you could do something really fast or quicker than other people/ vice versa... but it's more important on the quality of work you produce because that's what really matters
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Don't smoke cigarettes. Try to avoid weed too, but if you must smoke it, do it very infrequently. Drink only on special occasions after all your other commitments are done. I can't stress this enough. Drugs and drama are the two biggest factors that mess up intelligent high schoolers.
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Truest crap. Literally what happened to me. Lay off the drugs and you feel so much better and more motivated. Weed helps me sleep mostly but it really wasn't worth all the grogginess and lack of concentration during class. I'm off it now completely and my panels are up to 95s
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1. Wake up early.  I know it's a pain initially, but I find that I work best in the morning when there are less distractions, noises, and things on my mind.  Every day I wake up at 6, read over some of my notes, get ready, review for upcoming tests, then go to school.  
2. Keep a planner.  The night before, I'll list any events or tests I have the following day and what homework or studying I need to do.  I won't go to sleep until I finish everything on my list.  
3. Make review packages.  It's so much easier to review from an organized, compressed version of your notes (I type mine out) than sorting through pages and pages of notes you rushed to write down during a lecture.  Plus I find that rewriting/retyping my notes is really good for memorization.
4. I find humanities subjects the hardest to study for.  For History/Social Studies, I write down key events and a write-up about them (causes, important people, effects, etc.) and compile them into a giant timeline.  I also make profiles for important people, and use flashcards that have sample test questions.  
5. Everybody has different learning styles (auditory, visual, tactile, etc.) so not everybody studies the same.  Figure out what type of learner you are and research and find strategies that work best.
6. Take advantage of help.  Ask your teacher if you have any questions, go in for tutorials or extra-help, ask people to review your essay, organize study groups.  Also watch online videos (Khan Academy, Crash Course, etc.)
7. I agree with the above posters, do not get involved with the wrong crowd.  Last year inn grade 9, I became friends with people who partied and didn't really try in school.  I was unhappy and my grades fell.  Luckily I snapped out of it, found better friends, and got more involved in extracurricular activities.  This year I won top academic student.  Have fun but just remember the consequences.  

Least effective study techniques: highlighting, rereading, summarizing, keyword mnemonics, creating mental pictures for reminders.
Moderately effective study techniques: using "why" to make connections between material, making your own explanations for problems while learning material, mixing different kinds of problems or material in study sessions.
Highly effective study techniques: practice testing (flashcards, doing problems or questions at the end of each chapter, taking sample exams), studying material over a number of relatively short sessions.

Here are some tips I found online given from an MIT graduate:
1. Coverage - The first step in learning anything deeply, is to get a general sense of what you need to learn.For a class, this means watching lectures or reading textbooks. For self-learning it might mean reading several books on the topic and doing research. Take sparse notes while reading, or do a one-paragraph summary after you read each major section.
2. Practice - Practice problems should be used to highlight areas you need to develop a better intuition for. Non-technical subjects, ones where you mostly need to understand concepts, not solve problems, can often get away with minimal practice problem work. In these subjects, you’re better off spending more time on the third phase, developing insight.
3. Insight - THE FEYNMAN TECHNIQUE
The technique is simple:
a)Get a piece of paper
b) Write at the top the idea or process you want to understand
c)Explain the idea, as if you were teaching it to someone else What’s crucial is that the third step will likely repeat some areas of the idea you already understand. However, eventually you’ll reach a stopping point where you can’t explain. That’s the precise gap in your understanding that you need to fill.
For Formulas - Formulas should be understood, not just memorized. So when you see a formula, but can’t understand how it works, try walking through each part with a Feyman. Most intuitions about an idea break down into one of the following types: 
 a)Analogies – You understand an idea by correctly recognizing an important similarity between it and an easier-to-understand idea. 
 b)Visualizations – Abstract ideas often become useful intuitions when we can form a mental picture of them. Even if the picture is just an incomplete representation of a larger, and more varied, idea. 
 c) Simplifications – A famous scientist once said that if you couldn’t explain something to your grandmother, you don’t fully understand it. Simplification is the art of strengthening those connections between basic components and complex ideas.
(sorry it's messy)

Hope this helps!
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May I ask what grade you are going into or university and program? You seem like a stellar student! Thanks for all the tips!
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Thank you!  I am going into grade 11.
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Insight is probably the most helpful one. I actually never think of ding that. I just read textbooks but i forget everything on tests. I wish I could really show how much I know to my teachers. Kinda of a mediocre student here, but I really do love school and I want to try harder every year.
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Read ahead in the textbook :)  then when you learn it in class it makes sense, and reviewing for the test is super easy!
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Hi, I am taking the Community Service Worker (CSW).  I want to work with abused children and youth that struggle with day-to-day life. I will also help to teach coping skills. I absolutely love and have passion for this job and the kids!! I'll be done soon and graduate in October, 2016
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Besides reading the textbook, reviewing teacher notes and most importantly concentrating in class...I make notes (an outline) of what I have learned so far, and then mark the points of where I need to focus upon (like where I am weak in understanding the concepts)
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