Skip to Main Content

Ace your VCE: 10 habits of successful students

High achieving students often have similar habits that help them consistently achieve excellent results. Here are 10 of the most common habits of successful students. 

NEWS 29 Jan 2024

Natural ability can take you so far, as can focused study sessions before key assessments. However, in most cases, students achieve academic success because they have cultivated and maintained good learning habits.

The good news is, with a little support and a lot of hard work any student can cultivate these ten habits of successful students to help ensure academic achievement.

Making a study plan

It can be hard to study regularly, especially when you are also socialising and participating in extracurricular activities. Successful students make time for regular, focused study by creating a plan that schedules all the work they need to do to complete assignments and excel in exams. A simple diary or calendar could suffice, or you could try digital scheduling tools like Google Calendar, Calendly or Microsoft To Do.

Creating a designated study area

Having a dedicated study area is a great way to help students switch into a study state of mind as soon as they enter, and switch back out when they leave. Your space does not have to be separate — it could just be the kitchen table or a desk in the spare room. Wherever it is, it should be completely free of distractions.

Always asking questions

Asking questions of your teachers and peers is a great way to clarify certain concepts or fill blind spots in your knowledge. If you are shy and find asking questions difficult do not be afraid to approach a teacher after class and ask without the audience.

Reinforcing learning with peers

Numerous studies have shown that learning with and from your peers is a great way to engage with material and gain understanding of complex concepts. That is why it is a great idea to spend some time studying in a group or pair up with students of similar academic ability.

Listening to hints and taking notes

Your teacher will tell you what key concepts are going to be included in the exam, but successful students pay close attention so that they can pick up on what is emphasised and guess the contents of their exams. Taking notes can make it much easier to recognise these patterns.

Avoiding cramming

A study by Time magazine found that students who cram tend to pass exams with average results. The fact is, cramming puts the brain under stress which means it retains information and understands concepts less effectively — plus cramming may affect your sleep and state of mind before assessments.

Setting goals

If you do not know what you are trying to do it is difficult to achieve anything. So, at the beginning of each term and before exams decide what assessment results you are going to aim for and figure out how much study is required to make it happen. Neringa Smith, Director of Counselling Services Haileybury School, says not all goals are equal:

“To be the most effective, these goals need to be SMART goals. SMART goals are clear and specific, can be measured and ticked off once completed, are achievable, are relevant to the task and feature a deadline that is realistic.”

Testing themselves

It is hard to gauge your understanding of course material without simulating an exam environment. That is why high performing students frequently test themselves on the course material — and you should too. Ask your teacher for a previous exam or other test material to make sure you are testing and studying the right material.

Getting plenty of sleep

Studies have shown that deep, REM sleep can help improve memory retention by between 20–40% and improve a person’s ability to solve puzzles by between 15–35%. That is why it is important to get plenty of deep restorative sleep throughout the term and especially at exam time.

Choosing the right school

One thing that most successful students have in common is that they are guided by experienced, passionate teachers in a nurturing learning environment. That is why when choosing a school it is so important to spend time understanding the school’s values and teaching styles, to ask other parents what they think and visit the school for yourself.