New year study resolutions that you can actually stick to

Happy new year!

Make a fresh start on your GCSE or A-level work with these manageable study tips

Fancy making your life a bit easier this new year? 

If you're looking to improve your grades, study technique or learning style, these resolutions can help. They're all simple and achievable. Stick to just a few of them and you’ll be taking a massive step towards great results.

1. Commit to improve 

No matter what level you're at, everyone can get better at everything. You can start by believing in your ability to improve. That's all there is to it: just think positive. 

Small changes like these can 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.

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.

Make this a habit, so you get into the routine of doing it each day. When it comes time for serious revision, this is going to make things so much easier.

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.


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. Pack up procrastinating

OK, so we said these resolutions were simple. We never said they were all easy! Everyone procrastinates a little, and sometimes a little can become a lot...

If you often find yourself knowing you should be working but not actually working, you might want to get this one to the top of your resolutions list.

When you find yourself slipping into the rabbit-hole of time-wasting, it might help to picture how you'll feel once you've completed the work, versus how you'll feel if you just put it off.

Then shut out the world, admit that work has to be done and get on with it. 

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 

This one goes hand-in-hand with procrastination. You keep on putting the work off until, suddenly, it needs to be done right now. And you spend the whole time before that just feeling guilty about not getting stuff done. Sound familiar? 

Try focusing on the benefit of getting the work done in good time. You won't be rushed (so it will come out better) and you'll get to feel properly relaxed (and enjoyably smug) once it's done.

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.


Need a hand? Find discussions about study support here

6. Actually join in with lessons 

It’s easy to sit back and let lessons float past. But by getting involved in the questioning and discussion, you can develop your skills and understanding of the topic. Try getting started by asking just one question in every lesson, then take it from there. 

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

If you find you're taking every teacher comment as a personal criticism, it's time for a reset. The whole point of teachers commenting on your work is to help you improve. So take a step back and try to take on board the suggestions your teachers are making.  

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. 

 JH 011001

8. Ask for help 

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

Most schools and colleges have some method of providing individual help, Make sure your teacher knows where you're getting stuck and ask them how they can help.

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 your work (if it’s not as good as you want) 

When you're working on something, try setting yourself a target grade. If you don't reach that target, find out why and then repeat the work.

That way your confidence builds, your skills develop and you get a great sense of achievement

10. Find enjoyment in your subjects

If studying always feels like a chore it may be a sign that you’ve lost sight of your passion for your chosen subjects. That's understandable in the stressful world of school or college, but it doesn't mean it's gone for ever. 

Think about what inspired you to choose those subjects in the first place. 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's no getting away from it: the months leading up to exams can be busy and stressful. Sometimes you might just feel there's just too much to do and that you’ll never get everything done. 

Remember: there are hundreds of thousands of students in exactly the same position, 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. Good luck with the coming year!

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.


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.


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