Achieving good grades and faring well in tests at school and otherwise has been the cornerstone of Indian education. At the same time, the culture of competition is creating a high-stress environment for students, rendering them unable to cope. In this fiercely independent yet competitive world, students are increasingly in need of strategies that employ both social-emotional skills and cognitive skills. Honest conversations on the part of caregivers should remind students to practise time management and work on continuous improvement.
Let us first unpack the cognitive skills students need to master to be successful in academia.
Students must reflect honestly on their current realities and create a desirable and achievable goal for themselves. A well-defined plan provides motivation, a clear direction, and an anchor to correct course occasionally. Some questions that might help students take an honest look at their current performance are:
- What is your performance in this subject area like right now?
- What is your current score?
- What areas are your strengths? What makes you say so?
- What is bringing your scores down
- What challenges/distractions are you facing when you try to study?
Once the student has clearly articulated their current reality, the student can move towards establishing SMART goals by answering the following questions:
- Specific: What score do I want to achieve in this subject area?
- Measurable: What kind of scores will I get across different topics within the subject area?
- Achievable: What will I need to do or not do to meet this goal?
- Relevant: Will achieving this goal lead me towards success?
- Time Bound: When will I get these scores?
Once the goal has been established and articulated, the students must implore themselves to create a method to do all actions required to meet the goal. This could mean:
Creating a timetable for what one does after school. While engaging with studies is important, students must remember to prioritise adequate hours for sleep and time for healthy meals throughout the day. The timetable must also account for hobbies or activities that help the student feel engaged and joyful.
An easy system for storing notes and finding them. Students are often scrambling at the last minute to find their notes. First and foremost, students should set aside some time to review their resources at the end of every unit of study. Do I have everything I might need to study this topic a month or two later? With technology, students could ensure they have dedicated folders on Google Drive for each subject. Alternatively, students can dedicate physical folders and notebooks to store all essential materials for one subject area in the same place. Some important resources to have access to before studying:
- Textbook and classroom notes
- Any feedback received on classroom tests and ideal answers
- Previous question papers or additional questions for practice
Setting a Purpose for Reading and Reflecting
Before starting the study session for the day, the students should identify questions they can answer by the end of the session. By doing so, students can prime themselves to tune into the most important parts of the text or content. At the end, after attempting said questions, students should spend some time reflecting on what they did well and what they still need to work on.
As already highlighted, students must also employ social-emotional skills to ensure they are inching towards academic success consistently.
Adopting a Growth Mindset
Embracing a positive outlook on education and realising that skills and knowledge can be acquired through dedication and hard work. After a few setbacks, a student may start to believe that they cannot perform well. However, parents and educators must constantly remind their students that continuous effort is important and can steer the ship in the desired direction.
Health and Wellbeing
Achieving goals can be challenging and difficult when the mind and body are not in optimal condition. It’s imperative that students spend a few minutes at the beginning and end of the day to regroup, investigate, and reflect on the following parameters:
- How am I feeling today?
- Is my sleep and nutrition appropriate for the day to be healthy today?
- What is necessary for me to sustain this study session?
- How can I ensure I move for 30 minutes to stay in touch with my body?
Achieving success in academics calls for preparation, dedication and adaptability. Being transparent with oneself is crucial to understanding one’s needs and the cognitive requirements of the mind. It’s important that students, guardians and educators remember that success is not determined by grades but also by the information, abilities, and personal development acquired along the route.