5 Skills to Become an Excellent Student

Image by Svein Halvor Halvorsen, Flickr

Image by Svein Halvor Halvorsen, Flickr

There may be more than five skills you need to become an excellent student, but the fact is that if you have not nailed the following 5 study skills, you will likely never become one. These skills can form the wall that blocks you from getting better, or the springboard that launches you into success.

1. Smart reading

You need to learn how to read quickly and how to skim read. Luckily, by using the Internet you have already become a proficient skim reader. When you use Google, you may open several tabs at once. You cannot honestly claim you have read every single page from top to bottom before clicking off it. What you tend to do is skim the page very quickly to get the main idea, and then decide whether to click off or remain and use the page. That is a form of skim reading and it comes in very handy when you are researching.

Learning how to read quickly is not as difficult as it sounds. The hardest part is convincing yourself that you can understand text if it is read faster. If you run your finger across each word as you read, you will notice that you read at a certain rate. If you speed up the rate at which your finger moves across the sentences, then you have increased your reading speed. If you still find it difficult to read the text at a faster rate, try speed-reading tools such as Spreeder or Readspeeder.

2. Writing

Upgrading your writing skills cannot only happen when completing essays to fulfill your homework tasks. You should explore additional ways to practise your writing as often as possible. Start writing anything you want – a blog or diary, a postcard, a letter, tips, a poem or even a novel. As soon as you start practising, you will feel the language flow, and in a very short time you will see how easy it has become for you to do your college writing tasks.

Get as much information from genuine academic resources or writers’ blogs as you can. Nowadays the Internet has made it possible to gain quick access to any resource you want; you need just to search for truly correct and helpful websites. Try some educational resources like Guide to Grammar and Writing by the Capital Community College Foundation, or Essaymama’s Essay Writing Guide with its own style and approach. If choosing among writers’ blogs, you can visit Positive Writer, Writer’s Digest or find any other helpful blog on your own.

3. Test preparation

It sounds like cheating, but the best way to prepare for a test is to practise at home. Most subjects and disciplines have test questions on the Internet that you can practise with. The aim is not to memorize the questions with the hope that they will appear on your test. The aim is to practise your exam technique and to learn what areas you are weak in. You can use the BrainCog resource, for example, to create online tests, exams or quizzes.

Set a time limit for home testing so you can find out how much time you need for different kinds of tasks, and how stressed you get when have limited time on testing.

4. Time management

Time management is a skill you learn through habit. The trouble is that to create a habit you have to do something repetitively for a long time. This is going to take discipline.

For each essay you write, start it with a brief plan on what you are going to do. This may be a rough draft of coming events, such as how many days you have before your deadline, how many days you have free to write, and roughly what you intend to do on those days.

Separate your plan into sections for things such as research, testing, writing and proofreading. Always create your own deadline for completion that is a few days before the actual deadline date. This gives you a little wiggle room if you are late in finishing your essay.

Now that you have your plan for coming events, you can start making your actual essay plan. Start with a structure that suits your type of essay, and add in notes about what resources you will use to research, how many words per section, and roughly how long each section should take.

Keep coming back to both your plans and adjust them as you go. For example, you may budget two days of research with roughly 6 hours of research in each. However, you may discover you need 4 days of research with 6 hours in each. Updating your plan as you go will ensure you still have a clear and “planned” date for completion.

Doing all of this may seem like adding extra work, but what you are doing is getting into the “habit” of managing your time. It forces you to become aware of how much time you are spending on your study and how much time you have left. Even more important is that you get to see how far ahead or behind you are. If you are days behind, you’ll know to start earlier in the future.

Follow this routine and you will become a better planner in general, which will help you manage your time more easily.

5. Learning Instead of Memorizing

Work towards learning concepts over memorizing textbooks. There is little you can learn in most cases from memorizing textbooks, but if you work to understand the principles and concepts of a subject, you give yourself an understanding and true learning as a result. In order to work on this skill, you will probably need to memorize at first to train your brain. Once you start relating the concepts to your own life, you will begin to understand (instead of memorize) the main valuable issues.

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