When I began college, I was accustomed to the much less rigorous academic environment of my high school, and I struggled to do well my first few semesters.  

By the end of freshman year, I had resigned myself to being a B-student, thinking that I didn’t have the “talent” to be a top performer.  

Luckily, a friend intervened during my sophomore year. He pointed out that when it comes to academic success, focused work is often more important than natural talent. I was inspired to try a more deliberate, planned approach, and in the end, I earned a near-perfect GPA that semester.  

Based on my experience, and the research that corroborates it, I can attest that strong study skills and consistent study habits are two of the biggest components of general academic success. These skills and habits can help you stay competitive with people who may seem “smarter” than you.  

Here are the top five study skills that we recommend at Signet to help our students succeed: 

1. Plan your work.

Great planning affects every level of the academic process, from mapping out a semester to breaking down a problem set. Top students plan as soon as they receive their syllabi or assignments, determining what resources they need and when they’ll do their work. This doesn’t mean that they do everything immediately, but that they cultivate and maintain an awareness of exactly what they need to do to excel. 

2. Set routines.

Successful students set very clear study routines. A student who devotes two hours to reading and reviewing for his or her history class every Friday afternoon can rest assured that he or she will never fall behind in history. Similarly, a student who plans a schedule at the beginning of the semester using his or her syllabi will never be surprised about when his or her exams and papers are due.  

3. Build systems.

Top performers create systems to deal with different types of assignments and contingencies. One efficient and effective paper writer I know developed a comprehensive system of research, preparation, outlining, writing, and revising to approach every paper, no matter the subject. He was able to rely on this system to knock almost every paper out of the park. Great students also take advantage of resources designed to help them keep their assignments, tasks, and lives in order.

4. Collaborate with others.

Few people can go it alone, and successful students understand the value of collaboration. Collaboration doesn’t mean cheating, but rather bouncing ideas off of one another to get different perspectives on a problem. Strong students might review problem sets or homework with friends before an assignment is due, while others might meet with their instructor to review paper outlines before beginning to write.  

5. Do it right the first time.

Whether taking notes, planning, executing, or calculating, great students know the value of doing something correctly the first time. They take notes carefully so they don’t have to re-read their textbooks, they compute carefully so they don’t have to redo problems, and they plan carefully so they don’t experience a backlog in work as important deadlines approach. 

We strongly encourage you, as we encourage all our students at Signet, to incorporate these principles and techniques into your study routine. We are confident it will make a huge difference in your academic performance!