how to be a good student

How to Be a Good Student: 4 Ways to Stay Ahead

If you’re always wondering how to be a good student, read on. 

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It’s the same story every school year. When you head back to school, you’re all gung-ho and highly motivated to get better grades this year. You’re actually off to a good start in the first few months – you always know the right answer when your teacher calls your name, you get higher scores in your tests, and even your essays are candidates for a Pulitzer (in your lofty opinion).

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But then, when you get to the middle of the year and up to the end, you start losing steam. You feel overwhelmed by the volume of schoolwork and don’t know which homework or project to do first. Your once high test scores dropped back down to average or passing. Your essays and research papers are reduced to unreadable scribbles.

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With the start of the next school year coming up in January in Australia, you may be wondering how you can stop falling behind on your schoolwork, so that you can make good on your goal of getting good grades.

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Well, you need not look elsewhere. Here are the key tips on how to be a good student and always stay ahead with your schoolwork.

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how to be a good student

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1) Have an Organized Task Management System

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In this tip, your calendar or planner is your best friend. At the beginning of the school year, your teacher will hand out a syllabus or outline of the topics to study in the year ahead. Included in the outline are dates for essay/paper submissions and tests. Put all of this information in your calendar/planner so that you don’t forget these important dates.

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If you are given additional homework to do, just simply add it to your planner. Or you can use apps like Gmail Tasks or Todoist. I recommend highlighting homework or tasks that need to be done asap so that you don’t forget or overlook them through the number of reminders you may have in your planner. Test dates should be written in all caps preferably with a pentel pen and highlighted a different color so that it stands out in your planner.

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It is very important that you review your schedule regularly, preferably on a weekly basis. Every Sunday afternoon or early Monday morning before going to school, see what urgent tasks need to be done while, at the same time, keeping aware of future due dates for projects that you need to start working on right now. Set a daily goal for the things you intend to get done for the day.

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At the end of each day, cross out all accomplished tasks. Check what tasks you have not completed and make room for it in your schedule in the coming days.

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2) Break Down Tasks into Manageable Chunks and Always Begin Them Early

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There are times when you are assigned homework which you thought is easy and would take less than an hour to complete. When you start doing it though, you discover that it took an hour or even more to get done. Needless to say, you have wasted a lot of time working on a particular homework when you should already be doing another assignment.

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For pre-scheduled assignments

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Let me give you an example. You are assigned to read the chapter on global warming in your science book. Then you are required to submit an essay on the chapter at the end of the week. You can break down your tasks for the essay in the following way:

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  • Monday: Read Chapter 23 Global Warming. Do additional research in the library on global warming.
  • Tuesday: Write the essay introduction.
  • Wednesday: Write the body of the essay.
  • Thursday: Write the conclusion of the essay. Do final corrections and edits on the essay.
  • Friday: Do a final check on the essay. Submit to the teacher.

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By doing your essay in this manner, you will not be intimidated by the volume of work and not get overwhelmed when all other schoolwork piles up before the essay’s due date.

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For tests

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Two to three weeks before an exam, check out your textbook and class notes to see what you will need to review. If the test will comprise three chapters, break these chapters up into sections (together with their corresponding notes). Assign a section and its notes for each day. On the day before the test, do a final read-through of the chapter and your notes.

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Make it a point to check up on previous sections if there are points that are not clear to you. You may want to make flash cards, not only to help you remember certain information, but also to help you quiz yourself on what you know and what topics you need to review more carefully.

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What if you’re given an assignment that you need to submit or a pop quiz that you need to prepare for the next day? During your lunch break (or any break during classes), review your notes and list down the topics that you want to write about in your essay. If there are points that need to be clarified, consider going to the library to check other sources. If it’s a pop quiz you need to prepare for the next day, spend your break time getting your notes in order. For both of these instances, starting to work early on the essay/test when you still have a clear memory of the lesson will help you to remember the things you have learned in class. It will also help avoid the need to re-familiarize yourself with the topics.

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how to be a good student

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3) Work Every Day

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As the school year progresses, you will observe your task management system getting disorganized as the schoolwork piles up. The volume of work gets so overwhelming that you no longer trust what you have written down in your planner. As a result, you start relying on your exhausted brain to remember the tasks that you need to do.

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The problem here is that you are over utilizing your brain and memory for task management processes which are better placed on paper or in an app. Instead, your brainpower is not being put to good use in the stuff that matters, such as studying and analyzing the things you’ve learned in class.

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To overcome this problem what you need to do is perform a small task every day, even if it’s writing a couple of sentences in that essay or solving a math problem. This is practically the reason why I suggested breaking down schoolwork into manageable chunks to begin with. As you do small but daily work, you prevent slumps from happening. The problem with slumps is that the longer the period of time that you don’t work, the more difficult it will be to go back to your regular working rhythm. By doing smaller, manageable work every day, you churn out schoolwork of better quality. Hence, you will experience less stress compared to when you dump all tasks into a single day to complete.

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4) Overcome Resistance to Starting Schoolwork

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This is a problem that most students have. The three tips that were mentioned above are intended to fulfill this fourth and final tip.

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Needless to say, procrastinating prevents you from churning out quality schoolwork that can get you good grades. Waiting until the last minute to finish an essay or research paper or study for a test also causes panic and a lot of stress.

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Having a good task management system is important to starting any schoolwork. Make it a habit to work every day on small, manageable chunks of assignments and studies.

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You now know how to be a good student. It is very important that you focus yourself on completing small schoolwork milestones on a daily basis. You be less stressed out and achieve better quality results in your assignments and tests.

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