Overachievers rarely get satisfied with being second place. All they see in being second is losing to the first placer. While this mindset can be beneficial in some situations, it can take a toll on a student down the road. Every student deserves to feel worthy and good enough, no matter their ranking in school.
If becoming top in your class is just a goal you’d like to achieve before graduating, you don’t have to endure sleepless nights to reach it. Besides, average or even bad grades won’t bar you from success. The only value in becoming top of the class is the sense of accomplishment it gives. In the real world, people won’t define your worth based on your report card. Your value in society will depend on what you can contribute. It’s not a very pleasant reality, but it reminds us that there’s more to life than grades.
Keep that in mind if you often beat yourself up for always getting second place. And instead of sacrificing your well-being further to get that first place spot, change your entire studying routine. Eliminate these mistakes:
1. You Cram
If you only start studying a day before a big test, that’s cramming. A last-minute study marathon won’t make the information fresh in your head. If anything, it only makes you more forgetful. Information overload causes stress, which affects your brain’s ability to store memories.
Instead of cramming, space your study sessions. Take a break every hour or so. Allowing your brain to rest gives it enough time to process and store information. As a result, you can answer your tests more confidently.
2. You Don’t Use a Technique that Works For You
School tends to teach kids that there’s only one way to study. This is partly the reason some students fail. They follow everyone’s study methods, even if it’s not working for them.
We all have different styles of learning. Some students learn by seeing, some learn by hearing, and others by reading or putting things into practice. These four learning styles are called the “VARK Model.”
V stands for Visual, referring to people who learn by seeing. A is for auditory, or learning by hearing. R is for reading, which means learning best through reading and writing. And K is for kinesthetic, meaning physical learners or people who learn through movement.
If your learning style is visual (also called spacial), listening to discussions alone isn’t enough to absorb the lesson. You’re probably better off seeing presentations. The visual aid will stimulate your brain better, letting you digest information properly.
So next time you find yourself unable to understand a lesson, maybe you’re just studying the wrong way. Try learning through the VARK model and see which style you identify with the most.
3. You Don’t Ask Questions
When teachers ask the class if they’ve got any questions after a discussion, they’re not implying that asking questions means you didn’t understand anything. In fact, it’s the opposite. Asking questions means you paid enough attention to discover gaps in the information you’ve received.
So next time you don’t understand a formula, concept, or definition, don’t hesitate to ask for clarifications. It will make you ace exams, not because of memorization, but because you actually understood what you learned.
4. You Don’t Pay Attention to Your GPA
Instead of your grades in your individual subjects, it’s your GPA that will matter more when you apply for college. For example, the University of California Berkeley’s acceptance rate is a GPA of at least 3.89. If you can get that GPA without being top in your class or getting a 90% in math, then you’re already where you need to be. There is no need to stress over your individual grades unless they’re making your GPA lower than the minimum requirement.
But still, when you deal with unsatisfactory grades, getting stressed isn’t the right response. It’s okay in small doses because a little stress can urge you to work harder. But stress that affects your diet, sleep, and mental health isn’t healthy. It can only make you perform worse in school.
5. You Don’t Seek Other Learning Materials
If you only rely on your notes and textbooks to learn, you’re missing out on other useful learning materials. Broaden your knowledge by going to the internet, reading other books, or watching videos. Again, study according to your learning style. Seeking extra educational material can help you understand complex topics better, which may be the key to getting first place.
If you still don’t end up on top after correcting these mistakes, remember that it doesn’t mean that your hard work didn’t pay off. Maybe you’re not meant to be the top in your class because you’re meant to be the next person on Forbes 30 Under 30 list instead. Again, there’s more to life than grades.