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Qualities of the Best Students.

One of the most common questions I get asked by students and parents is what do the most successful students do as part of their secret to success. How do they achieve such high grades in the Leaving Cert And junior cert?

In this article I look at the characteristics of the top students that I worked with in the last thirty years.

Phone Use

Their phone doesn’t control them they control their phone, the mobile phone is a fantastic tool to use. You can use it as a calculator, a dictionary you can use to watch informative videos on YouTube. There are many other ways you can use it to improve the way you learn but you can also use it for Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Tiktok.

They don’t bring it to bed at night and if they use their phone for studying they are  not distracted by social media.

Healthy Lifestyle

The second characteristic in the most successful students is that they have a healthy lifestyle. Almost every top student that I’ve worked with exercises for at least 30 minutes every day.  They get out of breath, they get sweaty. Exercise helps loose tension, anxiety and it helps students be healthier and more focused in the classroom. If you look after your body, you’ll find that your brain functions a lot better and will look after you.

Qualities of the Best Students | Most Successful Students

Use School to its full potential

Time in school is finite. If you have five euro in your pocket you know that you can only buy a certain amount with it. The money in your pocket will run out just like your time in school. There are 167 days in a school year and if you divide that by your number of subjects your time decreases significantly. 

When you look at your calendar you can see how much time you have remaining, and the best students use that time wisely. They will organize because they realize that you’re in school for six hours a day close to 1,000 class hours in a class year. They are not passengers in class, they’re not passive students. They use techniques to get prepare their brains to learn efficiently in class.  They use techniques to revise the work they’ve learnt in class because they realize they can get a six-hour advantage every day over their competitors simply by being more productive during class time.

Goal Setters

The best students that I have worked with is that they have clear goals. Short-term goals for the week and for the month, longer-term goals for the full term or for the school year. Those goals involve strategies and plans but most importantly they take the actions required to fulfil these plans!  So many students I see, and I work with tell me I would love 500/600 points and I’d love to do this course, so they need to make plans that allow them to reach these goals. Once you have the action, effort, time, ability all come together to ensure that you will be successful.

These are six characteristics of the most successful students that I work with. These allow them to achieve their maximum points in the leaving cert and achieve their CAO targets. Working hard is good but working hard is great!

How many do you have? I’m sure there’s some you have and some you could work on. It’s important that you work hard in school but it’s more important to work smart! Why not check out more study skills ideas on our YouTube channel or our online study skills courses on

Enda O'Doherty | Study Skills Ireland

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