Top 35 Study Habits

by Dahlia Miller
February 2005

“Perhaps the most valuable result of all education is the ability to make yourself do the thing you have to do, when it ought to be done, whether you like it or not.”
Thomas H. Huxley (1825 - 1895)

Okay everybody; it’s the beginning of February. In Canada, that means that you are half way through your school year - a good time to review and adjust your approach to studying.
You’ve had several months to test study strategies, what results have you had? Are you satisfied with your grades, how much time you spend studying, and how in control of your studies you feel? Observe your study patterns and the results for the last term. Do you need to make adjustments?

What Are Your Current Study Habits?

Put a check beside the habits that you observe in yourself 80% of the time.

Healthy Body, Healthy Mind

I eat breakfast and lunch everyday.
I eat plenty of fruits and vegetables.
I drink plenty of water everyday.

Being a Good Student

I attend all classes.
I am prepared for class (with pens, papers, calculator, etc.).
I pay attention in class. 
I take notes in class.
If I am absent I copy someone else’s notes.
I organize my binders and notes.
I review my notes regularly.
I do my homework everyday.
I study for upcoming tests and assignments.

Taking Control, Being Prepared

I know when my final exams are.
I know the topics of my tests and final exams.
I know what my current grades are.
I know what projects or topics are coming up next in my classes.
I am aware of memory techniques and use them to memorize facts.
I am aware of resources to help me with studying (like practice provincial exams on-line).
I believe I am capable of reaching my academic goals.
I have set academic goals for myself.

Creating the Right Environment

I have a set time each day that I study.
I study for mid-length periods and take short breaks.
I have a study area set up that is quiet.  
I use my study area. 
My study area has all the supplies that I need for studying (pens, paper, calculator, dictionary, ruler, etc.).
My study area has natural light.
I have an alternate study area that I use sometimes (library, classroom).

Keeping It Interesting

I use different methods for studying: drawing, writing, reading, talking.
I have a study partner - someone that I can teach materials to.
I use different resources when studying: books, computer, talking to people, personal observation.
I use a variety of study resources: notes, index cards, diagrams, tape recordings, etc.

Staying Real

I exercise or play a sport regularly.
I enjoy time with my friends.
I am involved in an extra-curricular activity or group besides a sport.
I meditate 5 minutes each day.


0 - 11 points
You’re holding yourself back. This is like running a race backwards in slippers - you’re probably not going to win. Perhaps you haven’t yet noticed the effect your study habits are having on your grades and overall school experience. No matter your take on school and studying, you can save time and energy, and learn more, by improving your study habits. How much control do you want over your school experience? Give yourself credit for what you are doing so far. What next step can you take to gain more control over your study habits?

12 - 23 points
You are on your way. You have some habits that are serving you well, but others are slowing you down. Congratulate yourself for all you are currently doing. Now, decide what you want to get from this school experience. Are you going to take control or be controlled? In terms of study habits, what is the single most important thing that you can do to improve now?

24 - 35 points
You are really on top of your game! You know what you need to do and are doing it (most of the time). Give yourself a pat on the back. Now, what can you do to improve? Being the best means continually reflecting on your actions and revising your strategies to suit your circumstances. Stay in control by continuing to maximize your study time and energy.
You are the only one who can decide what your school experience will be. You’ve figured out by now, certainly, that the facts and formulas you study in school are really only a small part of what you are there to discover.

It is important to consider what you will learn from school. But more importantly, this is an opportunity for you to discover what works for you:

  • What will you learn about yourself while you are in school?
  • What are you capable of?
  • What do you like to do?
  • What don’t you like to do?
  • How do you learn best?
  • What types of people do you work best with?
  • What subjects interest you?
  • Do you like to perform under pressure?
  • What types of support do you like to have?
  • How can you bring your creativity into your work?
  • What makes learning interesting for you?

These are the same questions that people continue to try to answer after school is finished. School is a great place to experiment. Make the most of your current situation. Find what works for you now and you’ll be well prepared to tackle whatever the future holds for you.

Best of luck!

Hint: Have a look at the habits you didn’t check above. Which ones would you like to start first?

“We are responsible for what we are; and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves. If what we are now has been the result of our own past actions, it certainly follows that whatever we wish to be in the future can be produced by our present actions; so we have to know how to act.”
Swami Vivekananda (1863-1902)