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There may be more than five skills you need to become an excellent student, but the fact is that if you have not nailed the following 5 study skills, you will likely never become one. These skills can form the wall that blocks you from getting better, or the springboard that launches you into success

1. Smart reading

You need to learn how to read quickly and how to skim read. Luckily, by using the Internet you have already become a proficient skim reader. When you use Google, you may open several tabs at once. You cannot honestly claim you have read every single page from top to bottom before clicking off it. What you tend to do is skim the page very quickly to get the main idea, and then decide whether to click off or remain and use the page. That is a form of skim reading and it comes in very handy when you are researching.

Learning how to read quickly is not as difficult as it sounds. The hardest part is convincing yourself that you can understand text if it is read faster. If you run your finger across each word as you read, you will notice that you read at a certain rate. If you speed up the rate at which your finger moves across the sentences, then you have increased your reading speed. If you still find it difficult to read the text at a faster rate, try speed-reading tools such as Spreeder or Readspeeder.

2. Be organised

The clear message so far is that good organisation is the key to being a successful student. You have to trust me when I tell you that an organised approach to your studies will mean that you will have to work less over the coming year. With better organisation you will be on top of things from day one and won’t have to cram come exam time. I know it sounds too easy, but it really is the secret to success.

I have found the best approach to be one which breaks your goals up into three different types: short, medium and long-term. A great way for students to describe these would be as daily, weekly and term goals. You can record these in your study planner, with daily goals being quite detailed and term goals being more general and giving you an overall understanding of your studies:


Your daily plan can hold a day by day account of yourassignments andareas of study. The best time to prepare your study plan is in the evening time, when you have finished studying and know what needs to be done the following day, so make a to-do list or list of short-term goals for the next day then.
Your weekly plan can be used to give you an overall plan for the week, a list of approaching tests and tasks to be achieved over the seven days.
Your term calendar gives you a broad view of your semester and helps you to plan ahead. Use this to mark all school assignments, tests, and activities (along with due dates) so that you don’t overlook them by mistake.

3. Test preparation

It sounds like cheating, but the best way to prepare for a test is to practise at home. Most subjects and disciplines have test questions on the Internet that you can practise with. The aim is not to memorize the questions with the hope that they will appear on your test. The aim is to practise your exam technique and to learn what areas you are weak in. You can use the BrainCog resource, for example, to create online tests, exams or quizzes.

Set a time limit for home testing so you can find out how much time you need for different kinds of tasks, and how stressed you get when have limited time on testing.


4. Time management

Time management is not a skill we are usually taught growing up, so developing an organised approach to your studies is an opportunity to learn how to work more efficiently.

Good time management;

What is the most valuable resource you have as you work towards your exams this year? Why, time of course! You only have so much of it and sometimes it feels like it just flies by. Come exam time, students often wonder where all of the time went. Then, at other times, it feels like the day will never end. The important thing to remember is that there are 24 hours in every day and that is the same for everyone. Because no student has more time than another, sometimes good time management can make all the difference in achieving great exam results. This is another skill which we are not taught as we grow up, but now it’s time for you to learn how to control your time – and how to spend it wisely. If you can achieve this, you will be able to make sure that the time you spend studying gives you the maximum amount of learning possible.
Although it may sometimes feel like a waste of time, you will actually gain huge time savings when you take a few minutes to plan out your day.

5. Learning Instead of Memorizing

Work towards learning concepts over memorizing textbooks. There is little you can learn in most cases from memorizing textbooks, but if you work to understand the principles and concepts of a subject, you give yourself an understanding and true learning as a result. In order to work on this skill, you will probably need to memorize at first to train your brain. Once you start relating the concepts to your own life, you will begin to understand (instead of memorize) the main valuable issues.

Rewards and a reminder:

It is a good idea to build rewards into your timetable to act as a motivator. These could include an hour’s relaxation for writing an essay or a day off once a month for a good grade or for finishing an assignment. Just don’t go overboard
Remember the saying: “Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.”

By Isaac Adedeji.

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