7 Effective Study Skills for Successful Students

Have you ever heard your child say “That kid gets straight A’s  He/she is naturally gifted.” How did you respond? A good approach is to teach kids not to focus on IQ of others but on developing study skills. Most kids are not different from their peers. What is different is that successful students have more effective study habits than others.  Having a good study habit and sticking with it requires lots of discipline. The following 7 effective study skills for successful students will help kids form habits to excel in school.

Discipline is a product of continual challenge.

Self-discipline is more important than IQ.

Effective Study Skills for Successful Students

We always tell our kids to work harder or study harder.  As a result, they work harder doing the same things they’ve been doing.

 Have we ever wondered if their study skills are effective?

If we keep asking them to work harder on a faulty study habit, then they’ll end up perfecting ineffective study habits.   Habits are what we do over and over and eventually it becomes something we do without really thinking about it. We need to help our kids study properly and efficiently. We want our kids to have good habits not only with studying but in all areas.

Our habits define who we are.

What we do defines who we become.

The goal is to establish a study habit that kids won’t find boring or scary. 


7 effective study skills for successful students

I have put together helpful Study Skills I have found on the internet and on YouTube.  It was really interesting for me putting this lists together. Some of the skills you are already familiar with, but after reading this posts I’m sure you’ll be able to fine tune them more.


You will also find a link to some of the YouTube videos at the end of this post.

Here are some tips and strategies I have found to be very useful.


1. Make a  weekly study plan and stick with it.

7 Effective Study Skills for Successful Students


Making a weekly plan is a by-product of setting goals. 

Thomas Frank ( a two-time memory champion) suggests having weekly review day where you review the previous week and set plans a for the week ahead.

Positive emotions have been proven to help retain what you learn. Proper nutrition, exercise, sleep, and prayer are all important in keeping us balanced and creating positive emotions. A Harvard study showed that students who had good nights sleep were able to remember their study materials better. Studying all night can negatively affect memory and concentration. Thomas Frank also suggests his lists of “Brain Foods” that should be consumed regularly.

Whole Grains like Whole grain bread, whole grain pasta, whole grain cereal

Oily Fish like Trout, Salmon,  Mackerel

Seeds like Flaxseed, Pumpkin seeds, Walnuts


Avocados and

Tomatoes (Cooked is better than raw)

Click here to learn more about setting Goals


2. Study regularly and in small chunks of time every day.

7 Effective Study Skills for Successful Students

Studies have shown that it is better to study for short bursts of time on a consistent basis. For instance, studying a subject for 30min to an hr at a time (depending on the child’s grade and needs) and doing this consistently. This is called the Pomodoro Technique.


  • Taking small breaks in between provides motivation to keep going.
  • It helps you stay focused.
  • Tasks appear less daunting.

Prolonged studying or cramming is not effective in the long term. Pomodoro means the number of breaks you take in your study session. It is the ratio of the block of time you want to spend studying to the number of breaks you take. Traditionally it is taking a 5-minute break after a 25-minute study session and then a 30 min break after the 4th 25-minute session. The breaks can be adjusted to suit your needs. Breaks can be anything from going to make a sandwich, meditating, jumping jacks or going for walks. we all know you can’t go for a walk on a 5-minute break. so the walks will be after session 4 where you have the 30 minute break.

YOU do not need to stick with the 25-minute rule. Adjusts your breaks according to your needs.If you want to study for 3 hrs of deep work 180 minutes. A 25-minute break after an hr of deep study may be a good idea.

This video explains the Pomodoro technique better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNBmG24djoY


consistency is key.


3. Find a comfortable place to study. 

I’m sure we’ve all heard the advice to have a designated study area and time to help prime the brain.

But some researchers found that changing study spaces can actually be beneficial in retaining what you learn. Personally, I believe everyone is different. We can’t use a one size fits all approach for all our kids. Let kids study where it’s most comfortable for them. Let them switch it up if they want to so far there is no distraction. That is, no TV in the background, no phones, and no music. I’ve heard some kids say they can’t study in absolute silence. See if the library will work for them or you may permit some non-rhythmic music. overall, ask your child, to teach what he or she has learned. when students know they need to teach a particular topic, it evokes a higher level of concentration.

7 Effective Study Skills for Successful Students


4. Practice 

7 Effective Study Skills for Successful Students

I know some parents feel that kids are already overwhelmed with homework from school. Lower elementary school kids may get away with just doing homework alone,  but this will not be sufficient as they get into middle and high school. The goal is for kids to gain mastery in whatever topic is being taught at school. What we’ve seen is the teachers still need to move on to the next topic, whether the whole class has mastered it or not. Kids may not want to ask questions for fear of being seen as the only ones who do not get it. The way to ensure mastery is to encourage your kids to do practice tests on topics they learn in school.

Practice identifies where you are weak

Check out my list of 24 Educational websites and worksheets here.


5. Spaced Repetition.

Make time to review what you learn in school. If you don’t review, you’ll forget the material.

Reviewing your notes regularly is better than cramming. Cramming is for short term and is ineffective for long-term learning.

Spaced repetition means spacing out your review sessions.

As you review your notes, look away and try to prompt your brain to summarize or recall what you’ve learned in your own words.

Practice recalling what you’ve learned as you take a walk, drive to school, etc.  Review again to check what you missed. Continue reviewing and as your knowledge of the material increases, you increase the intervals at which you review.

Continue reviewing and as your knowledge of the material increases, you increase the intervals at which you review. It’s about challenging oneself. It’s a way to challenge yourself to recall at the point where you are just beginning to forget. This challenges the brain to make effort in the recall just like challenging other muscles in the body you are trying to build. This leads to long-term retention. In summary, use shorter intervals to review new materials and longer intervals to review materials you are familiar with.

6. More Practice tests

A research based in the UK showed that students who excelled did more practice tests and those who did homework alone. After reviewing and re-reading school notes,  practice tests help to reinforce what is learned. Just reading your notes or highlighting them may give the illusion of understanding the material, but what the brain is doing is just recognizing the words on paper. For students in upper grades, exams will not test your ability to regurgitate the material but will test how you use what you remember. In the same light, practice tests will help you evaluate and analyze what you have learned while re-reading your notes will just help you remember the content only. This is okay if you are just learning facts but facts are not the only thing being tested.

Always finish your study session with a quick quiz to help increase retention.

7. The Feynman Notebook Method

The Feynman method is simply being able to explain what you have learned in your own words in a way that shows you have a deep understanding of the material. A  way to practice this is to teach or pretend to teach what you learn till you are able to explain it fully. 

The notebook method simply means having a notebook where you write down the things that you still need to work on and focus on them till you have a good understanding of those concepts.  The purpose of the notebook is to act as a reminder and a prompt.

Cal Newport( Author of Deep work) says people resists learning new things because the learning process involves deep work. The idea of having a notebook of things we still need to work on helps us stay motivated and focused on the goal.

According to a Hungarian Physiologist, Deep work is distraction free concentration, it’s complete absorption, energized focus and active learning. It is losing oneself in what you are doing.

The idea of having a notebook of things we still need to work on helps us stay motivated and focused on the goal. I personally tend to gravitate towards something less demanding and I need all the help I can get to stay on track. I have found that having a notebook of things I need to work on, reminds me to keep pressing on.

Here are some of the videos I used while putting this post together.




 Share your thoughts on these tips in the comment section. Let me know, which ones you already use and which ones work best for you.








4 Responses to “7 Effective Study Skills for Successful Students

  • Excellent article! We do practise test but I’m going to get the kids to read this article themselves and then we will create a study plan together!

    • Thanks, Arin. The kids will definitely benefit from a study plan. It helps them stay focused. Check back for my post on How to Set Goals.

  • Thanks for this outstanding article! Wish I had seen it before school let out.

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