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secret study tips to become topper

10 Secret Study Tips to Become a Topper (2024)

Imagine you are sitting in your class, feeling nervous about a test. You look around and see most of the students are having a similar experience as yourself. However, you notice some who are sitting casually as if the test is nothing.

You instantly know who they are—the toppers—a set of students who are confident enough in their capabilities and know they will ace the test no matter how difficult the questions are.

You and I have thought of becoming a topper at least once in school. However, to be recognized as one of the best in a class is easier said than done.

Therefore, are there any secret study tips to become a topper, or do you have to be born a genius to become one?

The answer is no!

We didn’t just read textbooks, and we cracked the code! We interrogated real college toppers (A-crushers, mind you!) for their secret study weapons.

In this guide, I will share 10 secret study tips that can assist you in becoming a topper if you follow them regularly.

Tip – 1: Set Clear Goals and Priorities

You can’t become a topper just because you want to be one. Setting clear goals and priorities is the first step toward achieving academic success.

This will help you stay focused and motivated and create a strong mindset throughout your academic journey. In addition, if you stay organized, you can have a systematic approach and avoid last moment preparations before the exam night.

Take the following steps to set clear goals and priorities:

Identify Your Long-Term Goals

You can’t be fixated on short-term plans if you want to be at the top of your class; consider your long-term goals.

Do you want to pursue higher education? Or Seeking an ideal job?

Thus, what do you have to do to get them? Which subjects should you focus on?

Find out the answers. To remain inspired and concentrated on your studies, define your long-term goals. Do not pile up your study for last moment exam preparations.

Break Down Your Long-Term Goals into Short-Term Goals

Consider this as setting the foundation and pillars for a structure. As soon as you have the building’s blueprint, start laying the bricks and pillars to achieve the desired outcome.

Simplify your long-term goals into smaller, manageable short-term goals. This will help you stay on track and measure your progress easily.

Prioritize Your Goals

Simultaneously, engaging in multiple activities may produce disastrous results. Therefore, identify your primary objectives that require your immediate attention.

Again, let’s compare this with building construction work. You can’t construct a well-structured building, if you lay bricks here and pillars there—it won’t work. You need to place the pillars first and then lay the bricks.

Additionally, prioritizing your goals will help you allocate your time and resources more effectively.

Tip – 2: Create a Suitable Study Environment

Concentration is a key part of success in any field, particularly when it comes to studying; therefore, it is crucial to create a suitable study environment for academic success.

The enabling environment in which toppers operate is one of the primary reasons why they are so efficient and effective. Likewise, you need to follow suit if you want to be at the same level.

The following guidelines will assist you in establishing an appropriate study environment:

Choose a Quiet Place

Find a quiet study space where you can study without distractions for long hours. This could be a library, room, or designated corner of your home.

There isn’t much chance of distractions that can hamper your studies when you are secluded. This way, you would have eliminated one of the major reasons why most students can’t seem to focus on their studies.

Eliminate Distractions

Turn off your phone, log out of social media, and eliminate any other distractions that might interfere with your study time. You need to get in the “zone”; even the slightest hindrance can alter your concentration.

Undoubtedly, we’ve all had the urge to grab our phones & check our social media feeds. Sometimes, it’s the ‘ding’ notifications & messages that get our attention, and we just can’t seem to get back to our studies once we lose focus.

Therefore, take every precaution possible to avoid distractions.

Ensure You Have Everything You Need

Gather all the necessary materials before you start studying. There is nothing more irritating and distracting than not having the essential resources, including textbooks, notes, pens, pencils, and highlighters when you sit down to study.

Clean Over Messy

A clean environment allows you to focus more easily than a messy environment. You won’t lose time or get distracted while looking for study materials such as pens and pencils.

Tip – 3: Create an Effective Study Plan

The key to academic success is developing a well-structured study schedule.. Just like your long-term goals, you need to streamline and design a strategy that suits you perfectly. To create an effective study plan, take the following steps:

Identify Your Learning Style

Everyone has a different learning style. Some people learn best by reading, others by listening or doing. Find out your learning style so that you can create a suitable study plan.

Here are a few learning styles that you can give a try:

 1. Writing

You can learn by writing if you are having trouble understanding a topic. They say, “Writing something down is equal to reading something 100 times.” Why not take this approach when you are faced with complex concepts?

How to Apply: Writing incorporates actively taking notes and summarizing concepts using your words. In short, draft your personal study materials.

  • Pick a topic and write down the key points as you see fit.
  • Use bullet points & headings to make the process easier & simpler to understand.
  • Write it down a couple of times to engrave the topics in your memory if you are trying to memorize a section.

Some students opt to write everything that they are reading. However, I personally think that it isn’t an optimal way of learning as you will be doing extra work. That said, you don’t have to change if you are comfortable writing everything down.

For example:

Suppose you’re studying a complex history lesson. After reading your textbook or lecture notes, you’d jot down key points, create detailed outlines, and rewrite relevant information to make them more comprehensible.

2. Listening

You can listen to a topic through an audiobook or podcast if you think that you are exhausting yourself by reading.

This is particularly useful when you are taking subjects involving foreign language or complex phrasing.

How to Apply: Listening requires you to grasp information more effectively through auditory input. Utilize audio resources including audiobooks, podcasts, or recorded lectures.

  • Gather the resources you need for your study, including audiobooks, podcasts, or related content.
  • Remove any auditory distractions; you must hear the words clearly. Therefore, avoid any background noise during your listening sessions.
  • Take notes if necessary.
  • Don’t be afraid to pause, restart, or repeat.

For instance:

Imagine you’re studying a challenging foreign language. Instead of struggling through textbooks, you can listen to native speakers in audiobooks or podcasts. This immersive auditory experience enhances your language comprehension and pronunciation skills.

 3. Illustrations

A picture can capture a thousand words. You can learn a topic or concept by looking at its visual representations. You may obtain illustrations from the web, as well as books & other related resources.
You can also create personal illustrations to better understand a topic. They can be a tree, table, box or whatever that makes you comfortable and improves your comprehension.

How to Apply: Illustration revolves around visual aids, such as diagrams, charts, and pictures, to understand and remember information. You can create your own visuals or find existing ones to help you with the process.

  • Find relevant visual aids, including diagrams, tables, or graphs, of the topic you are studying.
  • Sketch an illustration for yourself based on your understanding of the topic if there isn’t any.
  • To make your personal visual aid, research on the types of illustration that best suits you and draw them.
  • Do it regularly.

For example:

Suppose you’re tackling a complex scientific concept; you might search the web for diagrams and infographics that simplify the idea.

Alternatively, you could generate visual representations by sketching out a flowchart or a diagram to grasp and remember the relationships between different elements of the concept.

Break Down Your Study Sessions into Smaller Chunks

Instead of studying for long periods of time, break down your study sessions into smaller chunks. Splitting topics into manageable portions helps you stay on track and retain information more effectively.

Otherwise, you risk being easily exhausted and unable to maintain focus. This can also create a sense of dread regarding study sessions.

I recommend that you break down a topic based on the difficulty level into easy, intermediate, and complex.

Easy topics should be covered accordingly; intermediate topics should be divided into two or three parts; and complex topics should be divided into more than three parts.

Therefore, you can focus on one part of a complex topic, learn & understand it, and proceed to the next one. This will make you understand the entire topic much easier than taking everything all at once.

Schedule Regular Breaks

Taking regular breaks can help improve focus and prevent burnout. During these periods, you can eat snacks to boost your energy levels.

Tip – 4: Create a Study Schedule and Stick to It

Once you have a plan on how and what you are going to study, you need a workable schedule to execute it. Therefore, evaluate every situation and possibility, and subsequently design a study schedule for yourself.

Creating a study schedule is one thing; sticking to it is another. Follow these steps to ensure adherence:

Be Realistic

When students create their study schedules, they often make the mistake of adding too many activities that are beyond their capabilities..

I have seen students make study plans almost impossible for a human being to follow. You are not a robot; and you need time to recover from your studies.

Don’t try to cram too much into your schedule. Be realistic about your available time and what you can accomplish in that period. You know yourself better than anyone; therefore, make the right call.

For instance, a schedule where you study a topic for two hours, then move to another for three hours, and spend another hour exercising without breaks is nearly impossible. Developing such timetables will inevitably lead to a severe decline in performance. Understand and admit your limits, and make a schedule that works with facing the effects of those limits.

Set Specific Times for Studying

Toppers make studying a part of their life, just as sleeping or eating. The same should be true for you in regards to utilizing your study schedule. Therefore, set specific times for studying each day so that it becomes part of your routine.

Stick to Your Schedule

This is what differentiate toppers and other students. Most students fail to maintain their study schedule; however, those who become toppers don’t.

Hence, once you have created a study schedule, stick to it as much as possible.

Tip – 5: Explore Different Study Methods

Since everyone learns in a unique way, it’s crucial to explore different study methods until you discover the one that is most effective. You can try the following popular study methods:

  • Flashcards: Flashcards are great for memorizing information.
  • Mind maps: Mind maps are visual diagrams that help organize your information.
  • Practice tests: Practice tests can help identify areas where you need more practice. Just feeling confident in your ability to solve a problem isn’t enough. You must apply your knowledge and skills through practice problems to truly solidify your understanding.
  • Group study: Group study can be helpful for discussing difficult concepts with peers.

Tip – 6: Use Active Learning Techniques

Active learning techniques involve engaging with the material rather than just passively reading or listening. You can employ the following active study techniques.

Teach Someone Else

Albert Einstein once said, “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”  In my experience, I’ve found that to be quite true.

I learn best when I am teaching someone about something. This can be due to the fact that when teaching someone, I feel compelled to better understand a topic because I need to deliver it in a way that makes another person understand it. Thus, complete comprehension of the subject matter is imperative to accomplish this.

Furthermore, as you simplify a topic to make someone understand, you are also breaking it down for yourself in your own way. This allows you to master the concept easily.  

That’s why teaching someone else what you have learned is a great way to reinforce the material in your own mind, and I am the perfect example of it.

Take Notes by Hand

Some of the most genius students I’ve encountered often used to take notes in class. This allowed them to remember the key points of class discussions easily.

It could be due to the fact that writing requires mental concentration, which we may not devote sufficient attention to when simply reading.

Therefore, it is safe to say that taking notes by hand helps improve retention of information and can be an easy way to understand a topic.

Use Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices, such as rhymes and songs, are memory aids that assist you to remember information. as Chemists and medical students utilize this to link up and memorize key chemical components and body parts, respectively.

You can also use this to learn your topics. Come up with personal abbreviations, or use your fingers or knuckles to devise mnemonics. For example, many people count the days of the year by utilizing their knuckles and the spaces between them.

Tip – 7: Find a Study Buddy or Group

Having a study partner can help keep you motivated and provide insights when you’re struggling with a concept.. This is valuable as healthy competition can help you explore new grounds and learn from others.

Here are some ways to find a study buddy or group:

  • Ask classmates or friends

You are not the only one who is aiming for the top. Therefore, ask your classmates or friends if they would like to form a study group.

Having a study group will encourage peer discussions. This allows you to learn from the perspective of your friends.

In my experience, friends & classmates are one of the best teachers because you can open up to them completely. You can also teach your study groups. This way, you all benefit from one another.

  • Join online forums or groups

Join online forums or groups related to your course of study. You will find experts and like-minded people around the globe who can help you with information and explanations. You will also be able to find free online resources that answer your specific question.

Different perspectives on the same topic will broaden your understanding, making you more adept & knowledgeable.

Tip – 8: Take Notes in Class and While Studying

Note-taking is an essential skill for academic success. However, you need to learn how to effectively take notes and not just list what the teacher pointed out in the class. To help you take better notes, here are some suggestions:

Organize Your Notes

A messy note will make things more confusing than understandable. Make it as organized as possible. Keep in mind that the note should allow you to instantly remember what the topic was about and the core details.

Therefore, use headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to arrange your notes. You can also opt for colorized sections if you want to take it one step further.

Be Selective

Don’t try to write down everything the teacher says. Instead, focus on the crucial points and concepts.

Use Abbreviations and Symbols

You can utilize abbreviations and symbols to save time and space. For example, use “w/” instead of “with” or “b/c” instead of “because.”

The following is an example of a bulleted list of important machine learning algorithms, organized under the title “Machine Learning” for a section on the topic, “Algorithms.”

  • Machine Learning Algorithm
  • Logical Regression
  • Support Vector Machine
  • K Nearest Neighbor

Review Your Notes Regularly

You should review your notes regularly to reinforce the material in your mind. Your mind is like a field of crops; your notes are fertilizers, and knowledge is the crops.

Just like growing crops, you can’t use fertilizer once and expect to see good results, can you? No, then how can you hope to become a topper if you use your notes once and never again?

As mentioned earlier, notes are summaries or synopsis of an entire topic which highlights the key concepts. Therefore, you will grasp those topics easily in no time if you review them on a regular basis.

This doesn’t mean you will have to review everything; nevertheless, you should do it at least once or twice a week. How often you should review your notes will depend on how fast you want to grasp the topics.

Tip – 9: Don’t Cram Concepts; Understand Them

Cramming is not an effective way to learn. Instead, focus on understanding the core concepts and what you are studying. To understand a topic better, practice the following:

Ask questions

Questioning is the primary trait of any good student, particularly toppers. Ask questions if you don’t understand a topic, concept, class drill, or homework assignments

Your teachers, classmates, and seniors are there to assist if you get stuck. Don’t be afraid to seek help! It is a crucial part of critical thinking and helps students see how what they are learning in the classroom can be used in the real world.

Moreover, questioning requires deep thinking about a topic. You can’t just go ahead and ask irrelevant questions in the class, can you?

No, you’ll need to ask relevant questions, and for that, you will have to apply your knowledge, which you can only gain from studying. This will also allow you to seek real-world examples, which is an ideal way to understand and memorize things.

To question someone on a topic, you will need to incorporate current understanding along with previous information.

Therefore, you have to be knowledgeable, taking you one step closer to becoming a topper.

Break down complex concepts

Break down complex concepts into smaller, more manageable parts. You will lose interest in each subject if you try to tackle too many at once..

Moreover, learning and understanding small portions is easier than taking everything in simultaneously. This is a neat trick that allows toppers to overcome most students, and it is also the right approach to studying.

Use real-life examples

An effective way to understand something is by using real-life examples to describe key concepts because you are able to relate more easily

Understanding theoretical topics simply by reading them can be challenging without appropriate examples. 

Toppers differ from other students because they understand a topic’s key concepts, allowing them to answer optimally when queried or quizzed.

Tip – 10: Stay Motivated and Curious to Your Study

It is easy to give up and laze around instead of studying. Thus, you need to remain curious and motivated about academic success. The following tips are highly effective to keep you inspired to study:

  • Find what interests you: Disinterest is one of the primary reasons people become demotivated. Hence, find topics that interest you and explore them in-depth.
  • Set achievable goals: Burnout can also cause a decrease in curiosity about a topic. Therefore, set achievable goals that challenge you and yet are within reach.
  • Reward yourself: Reward yourself when you achieve your goals.

Bonus Tips – Take Care of Your Physical and Mental Health

You won’t be able to study properly if you have health problems. Therefore, adequate care of your physical and mental health is crucial for academic success.

  • Get enough sleep: Aim for 7–8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Exercise regularly: Exercise reduces stress and improves focus.
  • Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet improves brain function.
  • Take breaks: Take some timeouts to prevent burnout.

Things You Should Avoid If You Want to Be a Topper

Stay away from these behaviors and actions if you want to become a topper:

Not Managing Your Time: Don’t waste your time on activities that are unproductive. Get involved in entertainment; however, know your time constraints.

Interrupting Your Self-Discipline: You should train yourself to be disciplined about your study. No one becomes an expert at something in a day, including studying; it requires hours of effort and focus.

Skipping Class: Attend your classes regularly. Teachers are there for a reason. There are pieces of information that you can only learn in class that you can’t from books. Besides, have you ever seen a topper skip classes?

Start Learning from Your Mistakes: Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process; however, that shouldn’t hold you down. It is important to get back up rather than contemplate what went wrong if you make mistakes.

You will achieve no result if you get stuck thinking about why you couldn’t learn something or failed. You have to take action if you want to become a topper.

Therefore, don’t give up if you get stuck in a problem, fail to reach your desired marks on a test, or miss a question.

Yes, maybe you don’t understand a topic or calculation at first glance like others, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying—do it two, three, or even a hundred times.

What separates toppers from the rest of the class is the dedication & hours they put into studying.

Final Thoughts: Best Habits and Tips from Class Toppers

Becoming a topper requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance. These secret study tips to become a topper will only guarantee academic success if you follow them completely. Therefore, ensure to give your all to your studies; best of luck!

Emily Watson
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