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Habits of highly effective students (7 key traits!)

Have you ever wondered what the top students are doing that you are not?

Curious about what makes them different?

Do you wish to take a sneak peek into their study methodology?

What's the secret???

In today's article, we will be sharing 7 key traits that we observed among the top students that we have coached. Hopefully, you’ll learn something useful and be able to apply it to your own study routine!

1) Right learning mentality

Your learning mentality is everything. It is the main difference between going to class ready versus going to class without completing your assignment.

'Your attitude determines your altitude.'

Your attitude towards learning will determine whether you’re zoning out in class or actively thinking and being deliberate about your learning.

If you have to go to class anyway and spend time there, you might as well utilise it to the fullest and be an active learner! Learning in class reduces the need for extra revision after class which saves you more time to do what you actually enjoy!

A simple way teachers gauge if their students are actively thinking during the lesson is by monitoring if students are asking questions. Students that are asking questions are the ones who are actively thinking and learning effectively.

Learn to ask questions pro-actively to clarify your doubts. That will be a key first step!

2) Not making excuses

It's very easy to find excuses when it comes to procrastinating or not doing your homework. It’s a very natural defensive mechanism to make you feel better about yourself.

There is a big difference between having a reason versus making an excuse.

Ask yourself this:

"Was it my decision and action that lead to this outcome?"

The key here is whether you had control over the outcome. If you fell ill and was hospitalised, nobody is going to fault you because it was something out of your control.

However, going out to dinner after school and hanging out with your friends is YOUR CHOICE. So if you failed to complete your homework, that's on you!

If you build a habit of constantly making excuses, you will never hold yourself accountable for your own actions.

Being accountable means not making excuses for your actions.

3) Consistency

One very noticeable difference between top students and the rest is that top students are very consistent.

Every single lesson, they make sure to listen intently.

Every assignment is completed.

When they have doubts, they ask questions and clarify early.

"Consistency is key."

The secret to doing well is compounding your work over a long period. It's not really about the last-minute sprint before the exams but it's about the consistent effort from Day 1.

If you are planning to only work hard at the last-minute, you will struggle to catch up as the consistent students have already put in some much more work beforehand.

Show up and get the small things right. Consistency beats last minute work.

4) Highly motivated individuals

High performing students know how to tap on their intrinsic motivation to push themselves further.

Extrinsic motivation, like getting a Xbox or PlayStation as a reward, is a good short-term motivation but it will not last for long. Intrinsic motivation is essential to keep you going for a long period of time without wearing yourself out.

Intrinsic motivation is about finding your 'why'.

It could be that you want to go to a certain JC or a particular Poly course. Knowing that pursuing the dream choice will make you happy and working towards that goal is intrinsic motivation itself.

It is important to note that these high-performing students were not born with these traits, but these are traits that are learned and developed over time. You are not expected to develop these traits instantly but make an effort to develop these desirable traits.

Now for some of us, we might not find much purpose in studying so hard. We could wonder like 'What's the point of learning this?' or 'My passion is in some thing else'.

I don't disagree.

A lot of what we learn in school is not fully applicable to the real world unless we specialise in a certain field of work.

However, one thing that I can promise you is that the work ethic and positive values you develop such as grit, consistency, discipline will really help you out in whatever you want to pursue in the future.

You don't have to be number 1 in school but always strive to be the best version of yourself.

5) Don’t copy wholesale

When it comes to doing corrections or taking down notes, don't just copy and paste. You will not learn anything if you blindly copy stuff. You need to actively think and internalise what you are writing and make sense of it.

Next, don't just copy others study routine blindly as well. Something that could work for a top student might not work for you. Everybody's learning style is different!

For example, some Singaporean students prefer to study in a café or the library with their friends. But for you, studying in your room at home might be more effective. Some students like to study in groups, but you could find that too distracting.

Try things out before settling on what works best for you.

6) Don’t compare yourself

It's good to look up to the best but there is no need to feel inferior.

It's a very common tendency to compare especially in Singapore's education system.

The best approach is to look at your own incremental improvement instead. If you're failing right now, getting a B for your next exam is amazing progress because you’ve significantly improved. But if you compare yourself with the top scorer who is consistently getting an A and topping class, you may feel demotivated instead.

"Focus on your own journey."

You are running your own race and living your own life. Set your own benchmark and you will realize that the stress that comes along with comparing against others will disappear.

It's never about scoring straight As. That’s not the goal. It's about giving your best effort and living up to your potential.

7) Time management

Time is a common resource. Everybody has 24 hours. How you decide to use it matters.

The top student in your school have the exact same amount of time as you. What is it that they're doing differently? It's all about time management.

It comes down to managing time when it comes to your needs versus wants.

Being able to make a good call on what's a need and what's a want can go a long way not only in academics but in life. Once you’ve decided what is necessary and important, you can really put more time and thought into that and focus on that.

Learn to prioritise what is important and not what is tempting.

Allocate time to rest properly so that you are recharged for the day. Complete your work ahead of time and get sufficient rest. Don't compromise on sleep.


Actions that you can take immediately to be more productive:

1. Remove distractions. To avoid distractions during studies, switch off your phone so that whenever you have to switch it on, you will be conscience of breaking your own rules.

2. Plan your schedule. Have a checklist for every task you need to accomplish. Don’t spend too much time planning however.

3. Get a study buddy. A study mate will keep you in check. Better still if you study the same subjects so you could easily consult each other when in doubt.

4. Give yourself a head-start. When you are given an assignment, start working on it early. Finish revising for your test early. This will provide a buffer and prevent last minutes and unproductive work.


At the end of the day, if you want to be a highly effective student, think more about the character development aspect instead of the actual grades. Find time to improve yourself incrementally but steadily, which will go a long way.

Being a highly effective student is not easy. You must be disciplined, time conscious and be able to maintain a positive attitude constantly.

The good news is that OVERMUGGED is going to be here with you every step of the way!

Utilise our free learning resources to the fullest and watch recorded revision sessions on our YouTube channel!

If you want to save time making your own notes and want a highly condensed booklet which contains all key concepts, exam pointers and worked examples of commonly tested questions, do consider getting a copy of our curated notes to accelerate your revision!

Of course if you want to accelerate your academic progress, joining our group tuition is the fastest proven way to get you to where you want to be! Under the guidance of our specialist tutors, you can be assured that you will be heading in the right direction.

With 1-to-1 consultations after class, you can rest assured you will get all your doubts clarified instantly. Book a free trial lesson with us today!

Do follow us on Instagram for the latest updates and check out our weekly podcast on Spotify as well!

Brought to you by OVERMUGGED.

By Tutors, For Students

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