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. But then you notice some who are sitting casually as if the test is nothing.
You instantly know who they are. They are the toppers of your class. Someone who is confident enough of their capabilities and knows that they are going to ace the test no matter how difficult the questions are.
Many of us have thought of becoming a topper at least once in school. But to be recognized as one of the best in a class is easier said than done.
So, are there any secret study tips to become a topper, or do you have to be born a genius to become one? You don’t need to have the calculating capacity of Einstein to become your class topper.
But you will have to show dedication and the will to be recognized by your peers and teacher as a topper. There are certain tips you can follow to set you on course.
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In this guide, I will share 10 secret study tips that can help you to become a topper if you can follow them regularly.
Tip – 1: Set Clear Goals and Priorities
Just wanting to be a topper won’t make you one. Setting clear goals and priorities is the first step toward achieving academic success.
Doing so will not only help you to stay focused and motivated but also create a strong mindset throughout your academic journey.
You can follow the mentioned steps to help you set clear goals and priorities—
Identify Your Long-Term Goals
If you want to be at the top of your class, then you can’t be fixated on short-term plans. Think about what you want to achieve in the long run.
Do you want to pursue higher education? Or planning for a dream job?
Then what do you have to do to get them? Which subjects should you focus on?
Find out the answers. Identifying your long-term goals will help you stay motivated and focused on your study.
Break Down Your Long-Term Goals into Short-Term Goals
Once you have found and identified your long-term goals, you should proceed to break them down into smaller, achievable short-term goals.
Think of this as laying bricks and pillars for a building. Once you have the plan of the building, start laying the bricks and pillars to get the desired result.
Amidst discussing strategies for academic achievement, understanding how to get good grades involves a multifaceted approach encompassing effective study habits, time management, and leveraging available resources.
Doing this will help you stay on track and measure your progress easily.
Prioritize Your Goals
When you have broken your long-term plan into short-term goals, now it’s time to find which ones you should focus on first.
Doing multiple things at the same time can result in disastrous results.
Therefore, identify your most important goals and prioritize them accordingly.
Once again, let’s compare this with creating a building. If 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.
Exploring various study methods and effective time management techniques are integral parts of understanding how to become a straight-A student, fostering a path toward academic excellence.
That’s why prioritizing your goals will help you allocate your time and resources more effectively.
Tip – 2: Create the Right Environment for Study
Concentration is a key part of success in any field, especially when it comes to studying; that’s why creating the right environment for study is crucial for academic success.
One of the main reasons why toppers are so efficient and effective in their study is due to the environment they are studying in. And you need to do the same if you want to be at the same level.
Here are some guidelines to help you create the right environment for study—
Choose a Quiet Place
Find a quiet place where you can study without distractions. This could be a library, a study room, or even a quiet corner of your home.
When you are secluded, there isn’t much chance of distractions that can hamper your studies. This way, you are eliminating the chance of environmental distractions, which is one of the biggest reasons why most students can’t seem to focus on their studies.
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, and the slightest hindrance can break your concentration.
I know we all have faced the urge to hop into our phones & check our social media feeds. Sometimes, it’s the ‘ding’ notifications & messages that get our attention. And once that concentration is broken, we just can’t seem to get back to our studies.
Delving into effective exam strategies and mastering the art of comprehensive preparation are key components in understanding how to get an A+ on every exam, aiming for consistent top performance.
Therefore, take every possible measure against distractions.
Make Sure You Have Everything You Need
Make sure you have all the necessary materials before you start studying. There is nothing more irritating and distracting than not getting the essential stuff, like textbooks, notes, pens, pencils, highlighters, etc., when you sit down to study.
Clean Over Messy
A clean environment should allow you to focus more easily than a messy environment. This way, you won’t lose time or get distracted while looking for study materials or kits like pens and pencils.
Tip – 3: Create an Effective Study Plan
Creating an effective study plan is essential for academic success. Just like your long-term goals, you need to break down everything and then create a plan that suits you perfectly. To do so, you can take the following steps—
Identify Your Learning Style
Everyone has a different learning style. Some people learn better by reading, while others learn better by listening or doing. Find out your learning style so that you can create a study plan that works best for you.
Here are a few learning styles that you can give a try:
Learn by Writing
If you are having trouble understanding a topic, it can be best to learn it by writing it down. They say writing something down is equal to reading something 100 times. So, why not take this approach when you are faced with complex concepts?
How to Apply This Study Style: This style incorporates actively taking notes and summarizing concepts in your own words. In short, make your personal written study materials.
- You can start off by picking a topic and writing down the key points as you see fit.
- Using bullet points & headings can make the process easier & simpler to understand afterward.
- If you are trying to memorize a section, you might write it down a couple of times to engrave the topics in your memory.
- Some students opt to write everything that they are reading. But I personally think that it isn’t an optimal way of learning as you will be doing extra work. That said, if you are comfortable writing everything down, you shouldn’t change that.
An example of learning by writing can be –
Suppose you’re studying a complex history lesson. You’d read your textbook or lecture notes, and then you’d jot down key points, create detailed outlines, and rewrite critical information in a way that makes sense to you.
Listening & Learning
There is also the option to listen and learn. If you think that you are exhausting yourself by reading, then why not just listen to the topic through an audiobook or podcast?
This is especially helpful when you are facing topics with a foreign language or difficult wording.
How to Apply this Study Style: This style requires you to grasp information more effectively through auditory input. Utilize audio resources like audiobooks, podcasts, or recorded lectures.
- First, gather the resources you need for your study. This means finding audiobooks, podcasts, or related content.
- Remove any auditory distractions; you must hear the words clearly. Therefore, any background noise is prohibited during your listening sessions.
- Take notes if necessary.
- Don’t be afraid to pause, restart, or repeat.
An example of listening & learning can be –
Imagine you’re studying a challenging foreign language. Instead of struggling through textbooks, you’d listen to native speakers in audiobooks or podcasts. This immersive auditory experience enhances your language comprehension and pronunciation skills.
Learn Through Illustrations
A picture can say a thousand words. You can learn a topic or concept by looking at some of the visual representations of it. The best way to get illustrations is by searching the web, but you can also get help from books & other resources on this matter.
You can also make your personal illustrations to understand a topic better. These illustrations should be something that you can understand. They can be a tree or table or box or whatever that makes you comfortable.
How to Apply This Study Style: As the name suggests, this study method 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 like diagrams, tables, or graphs of the topic you are studying.
- If there isn’t any, then you can make one for yourself based on your understanding of the topic.
- To make your personal visual aid, you should do a bit of research on which type of illustration suits you best and then proceed to draw them.
- Drawing the illustrations regularly is the key to success here.
An example of learning through illustrations can be –
Suppose you’re tackling a complex scientific concept; you might search the web for diagrams and infographics that simplify the idea.
Alternatively, you could create your own 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. By breaking down topics, you stay focused and retain information more effectively.
Otherwise, you will burn yourself out easily and won’t be able to focus effectively. This can also create a sense of dread regarding study sessions.
I recommend that you break down a topic based on the difficulty level. You can make topics easy, intermediate, and complex.
Easy topics should be covered without breaking apart. Intermediate topics should be broken into two or three parts, and complex topics should be broken into more than three parts.
Therefore, you can focus on one part of a complex topic, learn & understand it, and then proceed to the next one. This will make understanding 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 breaks, you can also take some light 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 proper schedule to execute the said plan. So, consider every situation and possibility, and then proceed to make a great study schedule for yourself.
Creating a study schedule is one thing; sticking to it is another. Here are pointers to help you create a study schedule and stick to it—
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen students make while creating their study schedule is putting too many activities that are beyond their capabilities.
I have seen students make their study schedules almost impossible for a human being to follow. You are not a robot, and you need your 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 time. You know yourself better than anyone, so make the right call.
So, a schedule where you study a topic for 2 hours, then move to another for 3 hours, and spend another hour exercising without breaks is unrealistic. It is nearly impossible, to say the least. Creating schedules like these will only force you down into a downward spiral.
Don’t do something like that. You understand your limits better than everyone. Admit those 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, like going to sleep or eating. And you need to do the same with the help of 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 the part where the difference between toppers and other students comes in. Most students fail to maintain their study schedule, but those who become toppers don’t.
So, once you have created a study schedule, stick to it as much as possible.
Tip – 5: Explore Different Study Methods
Everyone learns differently, so it’s important to explore different study methods until you find what works best for you. Here are some popular study methods you can test out—
- Flashcards: Flashcards are great for memorizing information.
- Mind maps: Mind maps are visual diagrams that help organize information.
- Practice tests: Practice tests can help identify areas where you need more practice.
- 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. Here are some active learning techniques to get you started—
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 understand a topic better because I need to deliver it in a way that makes another person understand it. And that can’t be done if I don’t understand it first.
Also, as you are breaking down 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 easily remember what the topic was about and what the key points were.
It can be because as we are writing something, we are focusing our mind, which we might not focus deep enough while we are just reading something.
So, 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 like rhymes or songs are memory aids that help remember information. You will find a massive use of this among chemists and med students. They use this to link up and memorize key chemical components or body parts.
You can also use this to learn your topics. You can come up with personal abbreviations, or you can use your fingers or knuckles to create a mnemonic device. Just like many people use their knuckles & the gaps in between to remember the total days of the 12 months.
Tip – 7: Find a Study Buddy or Group
Studying with others can be helpful for staying motivated and getting feedback on difficult concepts. This is extremely helpful as healthy competition can help you explore new grounds and also help you to learn from others.
If you are having trouble, then 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. So, ask classmates or friends if they would like to form a study group.
Having a study group will encourage peer discussions. This is extremely helpful as you will be able to learn from the perspective of your friends as well.
And in my experience, friends & classmates can be one of the best teachers in the world because we 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.
Different perspectives on the same topic will broaden your understanding, making you more adept & knowledgeable.
Tip – 8: Note Taking in the Class and Study
Note-taking is an essential skill for academic success. But you need to learn how to take notes that are effective and not just a list of things the teacher pointed out in the class. Here are some ideas you can use for effective note-taking—
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.
So, use headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to organize your notes. You can also opt for colorized sections if you want to take it one step further.
Don’t try to write down everything the teacher says. Focus on the most important points and concepts.
Use Abbreviations and Symbols
You can use abbreviations and symbols to save time and space. For example, use “w/” instead of “with” or “b/c” instead of “because.”
Organize Your Notes
Use headings, bullet points, and numbered lists to organize your notes. Your notes should be organized in a manner that is neat and clean so that one glance will allow you to remember everything.
A trick you can use in your notes is to make a short but clear heading and list the important topics in a bulleted or numbered list.
Suppose you use the heading Machine Learning for a topic called Algorithms and then bullet list the key machine learning algorithms. It should look something like this:
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 abbreviated or synopsis of an entire topic which highlights the key concepts. So, if you review them on a regular basis, then you will grasp those topics easily in no time.
This doesn’t mean you will have to review everything, but you need to review them 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. So, instead of cramming, focus on understanding the core concepts and what you are studying. To understand a topic better, you can do the following—
Questioning is the primary trait of any good student, especially toppers. If you don’t understand something, ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Your teachers are there to help you if you get stuck at something. And so are your classmates and seniors. It is a crucial part of critical thinking and opens the door for students to connect their theoretical education with practical applications in the real world.
Moreover, questioning requires deep thinking over 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 be able to question someone on a topic, you will need to incorporate current events along with the necessary historical knowledge.
Therefore, to be able to ask questions, you are required 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. Taking on heaps of topics all at the same time will only make you less interested in them.
Also, 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 way to approach studying.
Use real-life examples
The best way to understand something is by using real-life examples to illustrate key concepts. This is due to the fact that when we use real-life examples, we are able to relate to a concept more easily.
Understanding theoretical topics by just reading them can be extremely difficult without examples. And even if you have examples, if you aren’t able to relate to them, then you won’t probably understand them.
Toppers differ from normal students because they can understand a topic’s key concepts, allowing them to deliver it more optimally when asked.
Tip – 10: Stay Curious and Motivated to Your Study
It can be quite easy to give up and laze around instead of studying. That is why staying curious and motivated is essential for academic success. I’ve found the following tips to be highly effective when it comes to staying motivated to study—
- Find what interests you: Disinterest is one of the primary reasons people become demotivated. So, 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 but are still 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 are suffering in the health department. Therefore, taking 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 can help reduce stress and improve focus.
- Eat a healthy diet: A healthy diet can help improve brain function.
- Take breaks: Taking breaks can help prevent burnout.
Things You Should Avoid If You Want to Be a Topper
Here are traits and activities you should avoid if you want to become a topper—
Not Managing Your Time
Don’t waste your time on things that are unproductive. You should seek entertainment, but you should know your time constraints as well.
Breaking Your Self-Discipline
You should train yourself to be disciplined about your study. No one becomes an expert at something in a day; it requires hours of effort and focus. And studying is no exception to this.
Attend your classes regularly. Teachers are there for a reason. There are some things that you can only learn in class that you can’t from books. And have you ever seen a topper skip classes?
Start Learning from Your Mistakes
Making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process. But that shouldn’t hold you down. If you make mistakes, it is important to get back up rather than contemplate what went wrong.
If you just get stuck thinking about why you couldn’t learn something or failed, then you will get no result. Doing nothing is not an action, and if you want to become a topper, your actions should speak for yourself.
So, if you got stuck in a problem, failed to reach your desired marks on a test, or got something wrong, then don’t give up.
Yes, maybe you don’t understand a topic or calculation at first glance like others, but that doesn’t mean you should stop trying.
If you aren’t able to do it first try, then try twice, thrice, or maybe even a hundred times. The only thing that separates a topper from the rest of the class is the dedication & hours he/she has put in while others did nothing.
So, learn from your mistakes and take the necessary actions to improve yourself. To do so, you can follow these steps:
- Identify your mistakes: Identify where you went wrong and what you could have done differently.
- Don’t dwell on your mistakes: Don’t dwell on your mistakes. Instead, find out ways to do things differently next time.
- Learn from your mistakes: Use your mistakes as an opportunity to learn and grow.
Becoming a topper requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance. These secret study tips to become a topper will only work if you can follow them completely. So, make sure to give your all to your studies; best of luck!
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