Top students work hard.

And yet they always seem to hang out with their friends; they go party on Friday nights, and do anything that sounds fun.

Take this guy in my class, Marc*. He’s great in maths and geography, but you never see him study.

Now, he should be failing all his courses based on the hours he works. But he’s not.

So what’s his secret?

It took me about a week to find out. I looked at what he did in class, what questions he asked, when he was talking to friends.

While I tried to avoid looking like a stalker, I gathered some valuable insights that I’ll share with you today.

Insight #1: What’s the best time to study

(Hint: It’s not at home after school)

Sone day, our geography teacher handed out some notes about urban land use but we ended up choosing a city to do our internal assessment on for half the class.

Now what did Marc, our star student, do?

After voicing his opinion and realising that the discussion was becoming fruitless, he turned to his set of notes and starting reading.

Guess what, in the heated argument about the IA, no one noticed that this supposedly lazy student was actually working.Classroom

So what can we learn from this story?

The best time to study is in class, during unproductive times.

Therefore, it’s handy to always have a set of notes or questions that you can turn to if you’re bored.

And to avoid annoying your teachers, preferably bring something about their course. Cause it’s hard for them to tell you not to study their subject.

Insight #2: How to deal with a bad teacher

Let’s face it: we love to moan about bad teachers. The gossip, the complaints, our prime strategy for denying responsibility.

Now, our star student had an interesting conversation with one of his friends, who was complaining about our History* teacher and ranting about the quality of classes.

Interestingly, our star student – unlike so many others – did not join the chorus of complaints, but instead offered practical solutions.

If you fall into the category of complainers (like I used to), you’d much rather like to deny these tips, but I’ll shove them down your throats anyway – who knows when they’ll come in handy.

  • Determine the requirements for your course. Whether you’re in the IB, IGCSE or A Levels, all courses should have a syllabus that will help you determine exactly what skills you’ll need to develop and how you’ll be tested.
  • Satisfy these requirements to the best of your abilities. For instance, if you need to submit coursework, polish your final version, ask for your teacher’s feedback (if possible) and engage your parents or friends as proofreaders.
  • Do only the minimum to meet teacher’s requirements that are not required by the exam board. Unless they help you develop skills needed for coursework or the exam, in which case you should try to balance doing too little with doing too much.

Do you want to learn how to manage your time more effectively? Here’s how I cut 12 hours from my homework.

*Name/subject changed for privacy reasons