New year, new you: study resolutions you'll actually stick to

Happy new year!

Happy New Year! It's a brand new year and that means thinking about the positive steps you can make to ensure you do even better this year than the last

If you're looking to improve your grades, study technique or learning style and you can manage just five of these resolutions, you’ll be taking a massive step towards great results.

1. Commit to improve 

Everyone can get better at everything. Believe in your ability to improve. Small changes build up to make big differences when it comes to your grades. Start those changes now by joining our Grow your Grades community and charting your progress towards improvement.

I need to not let failure define me and move forward instead. When I fail, instead of thinking 'I'm not good enough/smart enough to do this,' I should instead think, 'What can I do to improve and do better next time?'.


2. Get organised (and stay organised) 

Now is a great time to get your work organised into the right files. Make sure all your new notes are filed away in the right order. Get into the routine of doing this each day, maybe as soon as you get home.

Get some tips for making a great study planner here

I have a separate folder for the work that we’ve already done, and that stays at home – for the rest, it comes in a folder that I bring to school everyday.

I’d separate your subjects (and the topics you’ve already done) into different folders that you just keep at home, and then bring in a singular folder (with file dividers for each subject) that you keep the current topics of work in to take to school.


3. Review your work regularly 

It’s worth spending some time checking on the material you’ve covered each day. Why not make notes, create flashcards, write your own quizzes or draw mindmaps after each topic? This will help you make sense of what you’ve covered and you'll end up with useful revision resources.

Try to annotate texts that have important information and use flashcards to remember it.

Most importantly, write notes in your own words! If you just write what you see your brain will go into auto-pilot and you won't process what you wrote.


4. Don’t procrastinate

Enjoying yourself is fine; working is fine. The problem is the area in the middle: knowing you should be working but not actually doing it. Everyone procrastinates a little but you need to tell yourself firmly that procrastination is not productive and not fun. 

So shut out the world, admit that work has to be done and get on with it. The sooner you start the sooner it’s finished.

Read up on five ways to stop procrastinating now

I plan to understand that time is precious and use as much of it as I can, constructively and wisely


5. Don’t leave things to the last minute 

Leaving work until the last possible minute is a by-product of procrastination. And the resulting dark cloud of guilt means you can’t even fully enjoy the time you’ve gained. 

Tell yourself: getting work done in good time means it’s a better standard and you get the bonus of a warm feeling of satisfaction once it’s complete.

Check out our Revision and study tips forum here

Every single year I know I should try this but I never end up doing it: revise along the way, little and often, so I don't end up cramming the night before.

New years resolution

6. Join in lessons 

It’s easy to sit back and let lessons float past. But it’s in the questioning and discussion that the higher level skills that are going to get you a top grade are developed and where you learn to think quickly – just like you have to in an exam.

7. Read your teachers’ comments (and act on them)

Don’t see every teacher comment as a criticism to be frightened of. They’re trying to help and are probably making great suggestions that you need to take seriously. 

Take essay feedback seriously and if you are unsure why you lost marks, ask your teacher to go through it with you.

Then you can critique it yourself and maybe rewrite some parts of the essay so you have a great template for what you could write if that questions comes up on an exam. 

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8. Ask for help 

It’s easy to ignore material you don’t fully understand, thinking you’ll sort it out during revision. But exactly the same difficulty may occur then – and there may be no teacher to ask. 

Most schools and colleges have some method of providing individual help so don’t tolerate not understanding something, teachers are there to help – use them.

At the end of the day, one of the roles of the teacher is to make sure that every student understands the subject content.


9. Repeat work (if it’s not as good as you want) 

Don’t tolerate missing your target grade in any piece of work. If you receive a mark below your target, find out why, put it right and repeat the work. That way your confidence builds, your skills develop and you get a great sense of achievement.

Read our five ways to impress your teachers

10. Find enjoyment in your subjects

If studying always feels like a chore it may be a sign that you’ve lost the passion for your chosen subjects – understandable in the stressful world of school or college. 

Think about what inspired you to choose them in the first place and try to enjoy learning new information rather than just trying to memorise it. 

Have a deeper connection with the topics so that any biased negative thought attributed to them can be reduced.


11. Stay positive

There’ll be some tough times between now and the exams. Sometimes you might just feel that it’s all too much and that you’ll never learn everything you need to or never get all that work done. 

But there are hundreds of thousands of students in exactly the same position, and millions have been there before. They have succeeded and you can too. 
If it all gets too much, take a break, talk to your family, friends and teachers. Remember the times in your life when you’ve succeeded – you’ve done it before and can do it again.

I want to trust the work I'm doing. It's easy to think you aren't doing enough even if you're working all the time, but this year I want to learn to trust that my best effort is enough to get me where I want to be.


Whenever I feel like rubbish, I take a look at pieces of art/essays that I'm proud of to remind myself that I'm talented and capable to do well.


And remember, you’re not alone. You can do this. 

Get more information and help from the A-Level hub and the GCSE hub

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