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How do top students study?

While there is no perfect formula for everyone, I want to share some study techniques that will help u excel through school and will hopefully continue to help

Top students practice self-discipline instead of relying on motivation. I’ve touched on this quite a bit in my previous answers, but the gist is if we wait until we feel motivated to complete an assignment, we will have wasted precious time putting it off and also added unnecessary stress. Instead, we need to schedule out or write down when we will be completing this assignment, whether we want to or not. This leads me to my next point.

Top students stay organized. I carry a planner where I write down my schedule for the day and any new homework that I receive. I’ve written out important dates (like exams and essay due dates) on a large calendar in my room so that no assignment sneaks up on me. Knowing exactly what needs to be done allows me to be uber-productive and never be surprised by an assignment or exam.

Top students actively review. A student who passively reviews will spend several hours rereading notes or the textbook and probably score worse than the student who actively reviews for half the time. Here are two different ways I actively review.
For quantitative subjects like calculus and chemistry, I do as many problems as I can, and while I’m doing them, I explain my steps out-loud like I’m teaching a class.

For subjects like anatomy and my introductory neuroscience class that require memorization, I use a program called Anki, which is basically a flashcard app. On one side of the flashcard, I’ll ask, “From which two sources does the NS receive blood?” I’ll ponder, and then answer from the left & right internal carotid and vertebral arteries. Actively reviewing and retrieving information helps you to internalize the material much better than passively rereading and/or highlighting.

Top students use spaced repetition. Instead of cramming and forgetting everything two days after the exam, I use spaced repetition where I review the material almost every day (Anki is very beneficial for this process), and after the fourth or fifth time seeing it, I will have internalized the material so well that it will stick with me. Don’t cram; study a little every day.

Top students use external sources to aid them. Who cares if your professor didn’t explain the material well enough? It’s up to you to stop complaining and figure it out. If I don’t understand the material, I first go to YouTube or Khan Academy and see if that can help me. If not, I call a friend. If that doesn’t work either (which rarely happens), I go to my professor’s office hours. You have to be proactive.
Top students have a purpose. The majority of top students have a purpose. For me, I want to advance the field of paralysis and aid in finding a cure. Without that purpose, I doubt I would try as hard or care as much. If you find your purpose, you can do anything.


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