The key to developing resilience is to take full responsibility for your life. This means that you refuse to blame others for anything that’s going on in your life. No blaming your teachers, parents or friends. No blaming the school principal or the government. No playing the victim. When you take this approach toward your student life, you’ll see that there’s always something you can do to improve the situation.
Few students can maintain a consistent level of concentration and drive if they lack a sense of purpose. If students feel as if their school life is just about striving to get straight A’s, they will likely run out of steam. How can you develop a sense of purpose? Think about…
Students often lose motivation when they focus too much on achievement and too little on contribution. After all, the aim of education is to become equipped with skills and knowledge so that you can help others. When students lose sight of this, they sometimes feel as if school is meaningless. To keep things in perspective, find simple ways to contribute in your capacity as a student, e.g. volunteering, fundraising, solving problems in your school, serving the underprivileged. These types of activities will teach you to have a heart of service and humility. They’ll empower you as you discover how to do better in school and life.
Cramming for tests is always a bad idea. It won’t enable you to achieve long-term success at school. I recommend that you set a reminder on your phone (or make a note in your planner) one to two weeks before every scheduled test, so that you’ll start preparing for the test. For big exams, I recommend that you start studying four weeks in advance or more. This study tip is a vital one for students to implement.
It isn’t practical to do too many practice exams under exam conditions, because it’s time-consuming. But before every exam, I recommend that you do at least two to three practice exams under exam conditions. This will help you to prepare adequately, and will train you to deal with the time pressure of the exam too.
Don’t assume that just because you’ve read the notes and looked through some examples that you understand the material well. For all you know, you might have been daydreaming during those study sessions. What else should you do to be a good student, if reading your notes doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get better grades? Test yourself periodically. Do plenty of practice questions and keep a list of the mistakes you’ve made, so that you won’t repeat those mistakes in the exam.
Memory techniques are powerful ways to learn information more quickly. Here are some of the most useful ones I’ve come across:
Many students share with me that their mindset toward studying is that they’ll “study hard”. This might sound good, but it actually means that they don’t have a specific objective or plan. They’re interested in attaining success at school and getting good grades, but they’re not clear about what positive actions they’re going to take in particular. This vague approach isn’t the one that effective students take toward their academics. For each study session, set a clear objective as to what you intend to achieve. This might be to read through a set of notes thoroughly or complete 30 multiple-choice questions.
This is a follow-up to Tip #4. In addition to having a regular weekly schedule that you stick to, it’s important to be consistent about your study time. The more consistent you are, the less likely it is that you’ll need to feel “inspired” to get down to work. On the contrary, you’ll get down to work out of habit and routine. This is crucial if you want to manage your time as a student effectively.
Just as important as keeping a to-do list is keeping a “done” list. Write down all the things you’ve accomplished at the end of each day. This will help to remind you that you’ve indeed been productive, even if you don’t feel so. In the long run, keeping a “done” list will help you to stay positive and motivated.