You Know the Smartest Girl in Class? We’re Spilling Her Secrets!

    Here’s a veritable bummer: Top-performing students aren’t always quick to share their tips, tricks or tools for achieving academic success with their classmates.


    Good thing we have no problem doing just that (we’re much wiser, anyway). So pay close attention to the following 10 strokes of pure genius. They may just change your book-toting, paper-writing student self forever.


    The Tricks:

    1. Break up your studying habits into smaller intervals. 

    It may seem counterintuitive, but studying for long periods of time (we’re talking hours on end) is not terribly effective, however admirable. No matter how much coffee you’ve consumed, your focus will eventually wane, so by the time you’re turning page number 72, your noggin will be working extra hard to accomplish, well, less.

    Tackling your studies in shorter intervals will help your retention skills stay in A-game range while you’re hitting the books.


    2. Keep calm and Google on. 

    We’re living in a modern age, people. Once upon a time, students had only this available to them to find information:


    Yeah, it terrifies us, too.

    Now, with so much information literally in the palm of your hand (hello, smartphone), why limit yourself to your textbooks or classroom lectures when trying to reach that “aha moment”? Especially if it feels like the information just isn’t clicking. There really are different strokes for different folks, so don’t hesitate to search elsewhere for the tactical approaches to learning that speak to you.

    Just don’t use this an excuse to browse fashion articles. You know you were thinking about it…


    3. Ditch the highlighters. 

    We know the colors are fun and all, but it’s time to say goodbye to your highlighters. If you really want to remember something, don’t just turn it pink to match your bracelets, no matter how gosh darn cute they are. Instead, underline the sentence and jot a note down next to it. This can be anything from a question to a point that you found particularly interesting.


    4. Recycling is good for the earth…and now for your brain, too. 

    If you can get your hands on old exams or a final paper prompt, you’ve hit the jackpot. It’s not unusual for this material to stay very much the same, quarter to quarter, semester to semester or year to year. Studying these ghosts from classrooms past will help you recognize any need-to-know information and anticipate the ways in which it will appear later during crunch time.


    5. Make sure you can handle the heat. 

    Think you’ve got a concept down? Fabulous. But do you still have it down when you have 45 minutes, 60 questions, kinda-sweaty palms and a pencil that’s dangerously low on lead? Something to think about….

    Don’t collapse under pressure. Take practice exams for which time is limited so you don’t find yourself on question #3 (out of 15) with only seven minutes to go and shaking from fear.


    The Tools:

    6. Audible 

    Audible is an app that allows you to listen to audiobooks, many of which will appear on the reading list for your English/literature classes. Just think about all you can accomplish when you can go for a run or clean your room and complete a reading assignment at the same time.


    7. OpenStudy

    OpenStudy is a free online community for the next generation of savvy students. Think of it as the biggest study group ever, allowing you to team up with peers from all over the world to better understand the material you’re learning right here and now.



    8. StudyBlue

    While it’s best to create your own study materials, you won’t always have the time to spare or the resources on hand. With StudyBlue, you can pull from a fast-growing library of online, student-authored study materials (like, oh…you know, 250 million digital notecards!) covering an impressive range of topics.

    Pooling resources? We’re all about it.



    9. Wolfram|Alpha

    In a few words? This app is similar to Wikipedia, minus all the bizarre fact-check errors your teachers secretly giggle at and then pretend to be angry about when they crop up in your papers. (No, Abraham Lincoln was not born in 1973.)

    That’s right, this is expert-approved info only, so it’s pretty VIP on the author end if you really think about it.


    10. SelfControl App

    Need the world to disappear for a little bit while you get your study on? Block sites like Facebook and Pinterest for a limited period of time while you hustle through your day’s work. Oh, and by the way, the blacklist will hold even when you lose your mind and restart your computer…just saying.

    You’ve been warned. And you’re welcome.



    1. I am the top student in all my classes. I have found that writing down everything I need to know at least twice (this usually means I rewrite my study guides over and over) helps the info stick in my brain best. That and the coffee help everything stick 🙂

    2. If we are being honest, there’s times where we just can’t be ‘the smartest girl in class’. Someone will always be better than us in something, and comparing ourselves to those people won’t get us anywhere. I have a friend who has a photographic memory, she has never studied, and she has never gotten one B in her life. I obviously can’t compete with that. Everyone, embrace who you are! You could do all these things and still possibly not get the results you want. Trust me, I’m in college so I know. Don’t stress. Just do your best.

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