ATAR Stories

15 Common Mistakes Made by Students

15 Common Mistakes Made by Students
Written by Brianna Boden

I can’t say I was a great student – I made so many mistakes throughout my high school experience which negatively impacted my grades. But alas, towards the end, I decided to get my stuff in a bag and pull up my socks. So, here’s some common mistakes I was known for, in the hope that you don’t make them either. 

1. Read the question properly 

I found that on many occasions, I wasn’t reading the question properly, I didn’t break it down enough to be able to understand what it wanted from me. I lost so many marks because of this.

2. Not answering properly 

Similarly, not reading the question properly lead me to not answering properly. I either wasn’t being specific enough, or just completely neglected what they wanted together. Big no-no. How are you meant to get marks then?

3. Procrastination

Okay. Everyone does it. Even the best of us. Sometimes you just want to catch up on that new episode of Rick and Morty, even clean your room that you haven’t cleaned in 6 months before you start studying. Or do absolutely anything else. But how are you going to work then? Ensure you are organised, set aside all distractions and put your head down. Hopefully, once you he started you won’t want to stop.

4. Time management 

Ensure you have enough time for everything, consider the time spent playing sports or working, and in between those, allow time to study and do your work. I was the biggest sucker for this, I found myself getting held up so many times with family commitments. Eventually, I made up a plan on when I was to study and when I had free time. It seems like a hassle, but it worked wonders.

5. Studying non-stop 

It’s important to take breaks while you’re studying. During high school, I had this completely drilled into my mind. Taking breaks, even a little 5-minute one here and there, allows your brain to soak in more valuable information as it returns refreshed.

6. Not asking questions or engaging

Asking questions or engaging throughout class is important. How else are you going to clear up information that you aren’t sure about? Additionally, that’s what your teachers are there for. They are there to help you and ensure you are answering questions properly, and on the right track. I annoyed my teachers like crazy all the time, getting assistance when I needed it. Alas, the teachers were happy, and my results greatly improved.

7. Freak out

Don’t freak out about how much work you’ve got to do, that’s not going to help anything. I did this so much, it just leads to me having breakdowns and being stressed as all heck all the time. It made me not want to study, and even when I tried, I wasn’t focused enough to learn.

8. Not planning 

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Similarly to time management, planning is very important. Plan when you’re going to study and when you’re not, which subjects you’re going to study when. Add everything to the planner. I did this, especially during exam period, and it did me a world of wonders. More importantly than making the plan: ensure you follow it. What’s the point of organising your day if you aren’t going to follow it?

9. Neglecting a class

I was a massive instigator of this. I hated one of my classes, and found the teacher very hard to deal with, which completely lead to me refusing to study or focus on it. Instead of neglecting it completely, I realise I should have gone to get help from other teachers that had different teaching methods, and focus on it a little more than I did. It completely sucked.

10. Not practicing 

Test your knowledge through practicing. Continuously do practice tests, exams. Make up notes in question form. Several teachers through my last year of high school ensured that we practiced what we knew, rather just rereading notes over and over again. I found it to be far more effective, and it let me figure out what I didn’t know. Further, let your friends test you – they can both be your biggest help and biggest distractions. However, it is a fine line between the two, so don’t let it cross over.

11. Reviewing information you already know 

Okay, I am guilty of this. It always just seems so much easier to continue studying the same thing that you have a great understanding on. I would continuously do questions of related topics, because it was easy. It makes you feel like you know what you’re doing – but truth is, you’re just putting a disadvantage on yourself. Ensure you study everything that your course covers – that includes the good (easy) and the bad.

12. Negative thinking 

Everyone does it. They get into a mindset where you believe you suck at this one subject, which leads to you completely hating it. Commonly, it seems to be maths. I do this. I got into a mindset that I hated maths and history, sucked really bad at both subjects, which negatively impacted my grades. If I found myself sucking, why would I even bother? But don’t get into this thought process – stop now while you’re ahead.

13. Cramming 

Cramming the night before an assessment is due, or a test the next day is never good. You will hardly remember anything that you are studying that night, and you will more than likely just stress yourself. Be sure to prepare in advanced, and if you are going to study the night before, ensure you are just going over things and take breaks often. Otherwise, you’ll just be straining yourself the day before. After all, you don’t go hard the day before a big game in sport? It’s completely pointless.

14. Not creating equality between your subjects 

I did this so much, I’ll admit. I focused mainly on the subjects that I really enjoyed. I spent most of my studying time focusing on health and human development and English, to ensure that they were my best subjects. They were my favourite, so why not spend the time I have on things I liked? Unfortunately, all my other subjects suffered mark-wise.

15. Remember your ATAR or any mark doesn’t define you

This was drilled into everyone’s brains and school – try your best, but if you ever find yourself struggling, there’s always other pathways to get into the career you want. This is the most important thing to remember. If your ATAR isn’t what you need, there will ALWAYS be another way to get into what you want

If I could go back and repeat my final year of high school again, I would be sure to try my hardest not to make these mistakes. They are little, sure, but I found that they always figured out a way to negatively affect my grades.

Author: Brianna Boden

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Brianna Boden

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