What are the study habits of successful students?

While study habits work differently for everyone, we’ve got a few useful tips to help you build that study momentum and ensure that your hard work pays off.

a year ago   •   4 min read

By Dylan Kay
Photo by Marten Bjork / Unsplash

Struggling to get into the swing of things with study? Are you finding that your hours spent revising content aren’t quite translating into the marks you want?

While study habits work differently for everyone, we’ve got a few useful tips to help you build that study momentum and ensure that your hard work pays off.

It’s all about that routine

It is paramount that you establish a study routine that works for you – ensure it is sustainable, get into it early and stick to it all year. Part of establishing this routine is finding a time and place to study that works for you. This may take a bit of trial and error. You might find that you prefer a consistent time and place or perhaps you want some variety: Library 4-7 pm on Monday nights, desk at home 6-8 pm on Tuesday nights and so on. Regardless, on that cold rainy Tuesday night when your bed seems a lot more appealing than your desk, it is the routine that keeps you going.

Your routine might include weekly tutoring sessions which help you stay on track and set goals for those sessions. Having something to work towards each week is a super effective way to stay on top of your content and workload to make sure things don’t get out of hand when exams or assessments roll around.

Develop a study plan

Developing a study plan is an effective way to help you stick to this routine, as well as to figure out how you are going to spend your time once you sit down to study. A study plan is essentially an organised schedule that breaks down the time you devote to study (for each subject). An effective study plan should be goal driven to ensure you manage your time effectively. It should be simple and realistic and this will look different for everyone.

Think about having a short-term and long-term plan

  • Your short-term plan might take the form of daily to-do lists, which will be more detailed than your long-term plan. It involves breaking down the time you spend on each task in one day.
  • A long-term plan looks more like a weekly planner so you can visualise what you have ahead. This includes assessment or exam due dates as well as social and extra-circular commitments, and regular school commitments including classes or weekly homework. At the beginning of every week, you should fill in how you intend to spend your time, remembering that it’s not going to be the same every week.

For more info on creating an effective study plan click here!


Making ‘mini-musts’ is a simple tool that can transform your attitude to study. Mini-musts are habits that you perform every day. Although these habits might seem insignificant, over time they culminate to have a much larger impact on your approach to study and in turn, your results. You might choose an article to read every day to remain informed of world events (great for Economics!) or use those articles to observe the literary tools they use (great for English!)
Another mini-must might be completing a video from one of our super helpful online courses!

Pomodoro technique

Working in 25-minute increments with a 5-minute break has been proven to be a very effective study strategy to stay focused so you can maximise your time. If you suffer from a severe case of procrastination (don’t we all), the Pomodoro technique will help you work intensely in focused bursts. A 25-minute period is long enough to smash out a decent amount of work but not so long that it feels laborious or overwhelming. Once you have completed one ‘pomodoro’ (25 minutes of study with your 5-minute break) you will likely have the momentum to complete a few more.

Work smart (not hard!)

Quality over quantity. Instead of completing 20 practice exams to a pretty average standard, attempt 3 until you have finessed all of them. Go over the questions that you got wrong or those that stumped you.

Focus on the topics and subjects that require more attention. It’s easy to keep procrastinating the study for those more difficult concepts or subjects but there is no point revising content that you already understand. Devote your time and energy to those areas that need it most and factor this into your study plan which we spoke about earlier.

Take time for yourself

Above all, you’ve got to know when to take time for yourself to avoid burnout. Studying, assessments and exams does not mean that you have to put all other aspects of your life on hold.

Exercise, socialising and good sleep are exactly what your brain needs to process all of that information that you have so tirelessly crammed into your brain!

  • Exercising releases those ‘feel-good’ hormones called endorphins. They act as a pick-me-up when studying is getting you down and are an amazing way to counteract stress.
  • Socialising releases oxytocin which once again reduces stress and anxiety by relaxing the brain and providing the psychological stability you need to perform at your best.
  • And getting those 8 hours is necessary to provide you with the energy you need to kick in another day (plus that extra good REM sleep helps with memory retention to make sure all that hard work isn't put to waste come exam day!).

In taking the time for yourself and practising mindfulness, you might choose to make a ritual - stick to that ritual, even on exam days. That ritual might be taking your dog for a walk or simply making your morning coffee. It’s super important that you factor these kinds of things into your study plan too. And if you find yourself feeling a little run down, it’s okay to take a day off to rest and rejuvenate – that way you make the best use of your time when you are back in action!

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