Study Habits That Can Improve Grades and Performance

Student working at desk in library
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It is never too late to develop great study habits. If you're starting a new school year, or you just want to improve your grades and school performance, take a look at this list of good habits and start making some changes in your routine. You'll find that it does not take that long to form a new habit.

01
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Write Down Every Assignment

The most logical place to write down your assignments in a ​planner, but you might prefer to keep a to-do list in a simple notebook or in your smartphone notepad. It doesn't really matter what tool you use, but it is essential to your success that you write down every single assignment, due date, test date, and task.

02
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Remember to Bring Your Homework to School

It sounds simple enough, but many F's come from students forgetting to bring a perfectly good paper to school. To avoid forgetting your homework, establish a strong homework routine with a special homework station where you work each night. Get in the habit of putting your homework where it belongs right after you finish it, whether this is in a special folder on your desk or in your backpack. Prepare every night before bed.

03
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Communicate With Your Teacher

Every successful relationship is built upon clear communication. A student-teacher relationship is no different. Miscommunication is another one of those factors that can cause bad grades, despite good efforts on your part. At the end of the day, make sure you understand every assignment that's expected of you. Imagine getting a bad grade on a five-page paper because you didn't understand the difference between an expository essay and a personal essay.

Be sure to ask questions and find out what format you should use when you write a paper or what type of questions might appear on your history exam. The more questions you ask, the more prepared you'll be.

04
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Organize With Color

Devise your own color-coding system to keep your assignments and your thoughts organized. Select a single color for each class (like science or history) and use that color for your folder, highlighters, sticky notes, and pens. Color-coding is also a tool to use when conducting research. For example, always keep several colors of sticky flags on hand when you're reading a book for school. Assign a specific color for every topic of interest. Place a flag on a page containing information that you will need to study or to cite.

05
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Establish a Home Study Zone

Create a specified study place. After all, if you can’t concentrate, you certainly can’t expect to learn very well. Students are different: Some need a completely quiet room free from interruptions when they study, but others actually study better when listening to quiet music in the background or taking several breaks.

Find a place to study that fits your specific personality and learning style. Then stock your study space with school supplies that will help you avoid last-minute interruptions to go find needed materials.

06
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Prepare Yourself for Test Days

You know that it's important to study for tests, but there are other things you should consider in addition to the actual material that the exam will cover. For example, you might show up for the test and find the room is freezing cold. For many students, this would cause enough of a distraction to interrupt concentration. That leads to bad choices and incorrect answers. Plan ahead for heat or cold by layering your clothing.

Or you might be the kind of test-taker who spends so much time on one essay question that you don't have enough time to finish the exam. Prevent this problem by bringing a watch and being mindful of time management.

07
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Know Your Learning Style

Many students struggle in a subject without understanding why. Sometimes this is because they don't understand how to study in a way that matches their brain style. Auditory learners, for example, are those who learn best through hearing things. Visual learners, by contrast, retain more information when they use visual aids, and tactile learners benefit by doing hands-on projects.

Examine and evaluate your learning style and decide how you can improve your study habits by tapping into your personal strengths.

08
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Take Fabulous Notes

There are a few tricks to taking fabulous notes that really help when it comes to studying. If you are a visual person, make as many doodles on your paper as you can—useful doodles, that is. As soon as you realize that one topic relates to another, comes before another, is the opposite of another, or has any kind of connection to another, draw a picture that makes sense to you. Sometimes the information will not sink in until and unless you see it in an image.

There are also certain code words to look for in a lecture that can indicate that your teacher is giving you the relevance or the context of an event. Learn to recognize keywords and phrases that your teacher deems important.

09
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Conquer Procrastination

When you procrastinate, you're gambling that nothing will go wrong at the last minute—but in the real world, things do go wrong. Imagine it's the night before a final exam and you have a flat tire, an allergy attack, a lost book, or a family emergency that keeps you from studying. At some point, you will pay a big price for putting things off.

Battle procrastination by recognizing the feisty little voice that lives inside of you. It tells you that it would be more fun to play a game, eat, or watch TV when you know better. Don’t listen to that voice. Instead, conquer the task at hand without delay.

10
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Take Care of Yourself

Some of your personal habits might be affecting your grades. Are you feeling tired, achy, or bored when it comes to homework time? You can change your grades by practicing a few healthy homework habits. Change the way you feel by taking better care of your mind and your body.

For example, between text messaging, playing video games, surfing the internet, and using social media, students are using their hand muscles in new ways, and they're growing increasingly susceptible to the hazards of repetitive stress injury. Find out how to avoid pain in your hands and neck by learning about ergonomics and changing the way you sit at your computer.