How to Be Successful in High School: 71 Tips

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Let me guess, you’re looking for advice on how to be successful in high school because you don’t quite feel like you are as accomplished as you could be.

Well, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll detail a number of ways you can be successful whether you’re in 9th grade or 12th grade, as well as 11 key tips of successful students.

Read on to learn our tips and tricks for excelling in school.

How to Define Success in High School

Everyone defines success differently. What you determine to be a success in high school will ultimately guide you to take the necessary steps to become successful. Define your goal and take the necessary steps to achieve that goal. Ultimately, if you have met your goal by the end of high school, you will have been successful.

Why is Being Successful in High School Important to you and/or your College Admission?

While everyone’s goals are different, high schoolers generally strive for the same goals: straight A’s, becoming valedictorian of their graduating class and earning scholarships for college. Your grades can be a deciding factor when applying for scholarships and colleges. Learning how to be successful in high school before you enter the ninth grade will help you get a good start.

How to Set SMART Goals for High School: 11 Tips

How to Set SMART Goals for High School 11 Tips

How to Set SMART Goals for High School: 11 Tips

1. Set short and long term goals.

Before you start high school, make a list of your short and long-term goals.

Short term goals should be for the next four years of high school. Decide what you want to accomplish in the 9th, 10th, 11th and 12th grades.

Long term goals should include up to five years after high school.

2. Think realistically.

Smart goals are realistic goals. Do not aim so high that you set yourself up for failure.

3. Devise a course of action.

Now that you have set your goals, it’s time to devise a plan. Make a list of things that will help you reach your goal. Set a timeline and work on things one milestone at a time.

4. Prioritize.

Make school a priority. Always attend class. Study every day. Work on papers, assignments, and projects ahead of time to avoid rushing.

5. Get organized.

Organize your thoughts, living space and actions. When you know what your hopes and dreams are, it is easier to reach for your goals.

Your living space should also be organized. Make sure you have a clean, quiet place to focus on your studies.

6. Know when to ask for help.

We all need help from time to time. You are no exception.

If you are sick and miss a day of class, ask a student if you can copy their notes. If you need materials for an upcoming project and you are out of money, ask your parents for help. If you don’t understand the material being taught, ask someone who comprehends it or hire a tutor.

Never try to do it alone if you are feeling overwhelmed. Asking for help is a part of life. One day, you will be able to return the favor.

7. Take care of yourself.

Your health is more important than your grades and becoming successful in school. Try to eat three well-balanced meals a day. Keep snacks on you in case you get busy and don’t have time to eat a meal.

Drink plenty of water every day.

Always strive to sleep at least 8 hours a day. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.

Include some form of exercise in your schedule. Even if you do not have time to exercise at a gym, find ways to move more. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Park farther away from the entrance to get some extra steps in.

8. Celebrate milestones.

Being successful in high school is not hard, but it does take some effort. Learn to celebrate milestones. Focusing on just the results, be it graduating with all A’s or becoming valedictorian is going to take four years. Don’t wait that long to reward yourself.

Be proud of the little accomplishments. Celebrate getting an A on that essay you thought was impossible to pass.

9. Talk regularly with your teachers. 

Keeping an open line of communication with your instructors is an easy way to outline the pathways for how to do well in their classes. It only takes a few minutes each day before and after class to build a rapport with your teachers. Do it! They are human too.

10. Learn how much time to allocate for each thing you have to do.

High school is really the first time in your life you’re going to have to prioritize things seriously. Whether it’s extracurriculars vs. writing your paper, there is always going to be something competing with another thing on your to do list.

11. Don’t be afraid to quit too early. 

Everyone says to see something through, but there’s also value in learning when to call it with something in order to dedicate even more time towards something you are naturally strong in. Being a well-rounded student is not always what colleges are looking for these days. Understand this and play to your strengths.

11 Habits of Successful Students

11 Habits of Successful Students

11 Habits of Successful Students

Learning successful tips for high school students will help you become the student you always wanted to be.

1. Make school a priority.

Successful students put school first. This does not mean that all non-school related events are out of the question. It means that you put your assignments, projects and studying before anything else. You will always be able to find a little bit of downtime while in high school. Know when to focus on your schoolwork and when it is time to relax.

Always keep your eye on the prize!

2. Keep a schedule.

High school can get hectic. With numerous assignments due and exams to study for, it can get hard to remember everything that needs to be done. Invest in a calendar, planner or app that helps you keep up with upcoming events.

A to-do list is also a good way to keep up with your assignments. Every night, you can make a list of the things you need to do the next day. You will feel accomplished every time you complete something and can cross it off your list.

Don’t forget to include practices and games if you play sports, and work hours if you have a job. Seeing everything you have to do in writing can help you prioritize and use your time wisely. You may even find that you are stretching yourself thin and that you may need to cut down on some things.

3. Get organized.

Buy a notebook for each subject or use a binder with dividers to separate your classes.

Keep your locker neat and organized.

Organize your school supplies at home as well as in school.

Never leave loose papers scattered in binders or folded in random textbooks. Keeping all of your assignments in the correct place will avoid unnecessary problems, like misplacing your work.

4. Create a study space.

Choose a place at home where you can study without distractions. Make sure your area is well-lit, spacious and quiet. If you work better with noise, use a radio or tv and keep it on low. Make sure the devices you use do not end up being distractions.

5. Don’t skip school.

Missing school is one of the worse things you can do as a high schooler. Teachers often give new notes, assign work and give important due dates at the beginning of class. Even being late could make you miss important information that may impact your grade negatively.

Get into a routine and stick to it. Try to go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Wake up with enough time to eat breakfast and review your notes for any quizzes or tests you may have that day.

6. Take good notes.

Taking good notes is an essential part of classroom success. You cannot rely on your memory to remember everything that was said in every class. Learn to take good outlines and lists. Use a highlighter to highlight important information as you are taking notes. Names, dates and vocabulary words are usually important.

Organize your notes by subject, either using separate notebooks or a binder with dividers. Label everything properly.

7. Ask questions.

You may not understand everything that is said in class. You may have missed important information due to someone talking or you may simply not comprehend the material. Never be afraid to ask your teacher to repeat themselves or review material that you don’t understand.

If you are not able to talk to your teacher during class, try to see them after class or before class the next day. If this is impossible, email them your questions or make an appointment to speak with them during their office hours.

8. Submit assignments on time.

Most teachers take points off for late assignments. Some teachers don’t accept late assignments at all. Make sure you turn in all homework, papers, and projects on time.

You can also try to turn in assignments before the due date. Your teacher may give you feedback before grading the assignment, giving you time to correct your mistakes before it is graded.

9. Learn from your mistakes.

Review all graded material. Many teachers leave comments or correct mistakes before returning your work to you. Review these and add them to your study notes. Learning from your mistakes is one of life’s biggest lessons and a great way to practice is in high school.

10. Do the bonus work.

If you are given an opportunity to do an assignment for bonus points, take it! Even if you currently have an A in that class, you never know when your grade may drop. Getting bonus points can act as a cushion should you ever need it.

11. Study daily.

Never cram for a test. Effective study methods include taking good notes and reviewing your notes every day. If you schedule time to review a little in the morning and a little at night, you will retain the information better than if you try to cram the night before an exam.

Do not overwhelm yourself by waiting until the last minute to study or complete an assignment. Plan to work a little every day until you get the job done.

11 Tips for Academic Success in High School

11 Tips for Academic Success in High School

11 Tips for Academic Success in High School

There are certain habits of successful high school students that you can learn to help you become the student you’ve always wanted to be. When you enter high school with a plan, you will be able to achieve your goals.

1. Set goals.

Think about your goals. Make sure they are realistic. Make a list of both short and long term goals. Include how long it should take you to complete each milestone.

2. Devise a plan.

When you know what you want, figure out what you must do to get it. There may be certain steps that you need to take to reach your goal. Having a timeline will keep you motivated as you see yourself getting closer to reaching your goal.

3. Choose the correct classes.

Depending on what grade you are in and what school you attend, you may be able to choose the subjects you take. Some may be electives or college courses, while others may be AP classes.

Choose classes that are challenging and interesting. Do not take a class you think you may not pass as this will hurt your GPA and could jeopardize your chances of meeting your academic goals.

4. Attend class.

Try not to miss class. You may miss important notes, instructions for upcoming assignments and due dates. Some teachers give participation grades. If you are not in class, your grade could suffer.

5. Pay attention in class.

Avoid sitting next to students who will distract you. If possible, sit in the front of the class, where there are fewer distractions. If you struggle with ADHD, check out our post on ADHD study strategies here.

6. Get to know your teachers.

Getting to know your teachers will make it easier to ask for help if the time comes that you need assistance. Try to speak to each teacher a little every day. Remember your manners and greet them as you enter and exit the classroom.

7. Take good notes.

It is not enough to simply take notes in high school. Learn how to take good notes. Taking good notes is one of the keys to how to do better in high school. We cover in-depth how to take notes from your textbook here.

Learn how to decipher what is important when taking notes. People, places, dates and vocabulary words are usually important. Write these facts down and highlight them so you can easily find them in your notes when it is time to study.

8. Study daily.

Having good study habits is a must if you are going to achieve a perfect academic record. Avoid cramming at all costs. Instead, aim to study a little every day. Not only will this help you retain the information, but you will feel less stressed as the exam date gets nearer.

9. Turn in assignments on time.

Points may be deducted from your final grade if you turn in an assignment late. Avoid this by working on assignments a little every day and turning everything in on time.

When possible, turn in assignments early. In some cases, teachers may look over your work and give you advice before the due date. This will give you time to fix mistakes before turning it in for the final grade.

10. Learn from your mistakes.

Always look over your assignments after they have been graded and turned back into you.

Teachers could leave notes, tips and even the correct answer to something you missed. Learn from these mistakes! If you do not understand why you got an answer wrong, ask for clarification.

11. Take care of yourself.

Your physical and mental health are more important than your grades. If your health suffers, your grades may as well.

Try to get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Avoid late-night studying whenever possible. Waking up and going to be at the same time every day is a good way to stay on schedule.

Eat three, well-balanced meals a day.

If your school does not provide healthy lunches, consider bringing your own.

After school can be a busy time for high-schoolers, and you may find that you are too busy to eat. Avoid this by keeping snacks with you at all times.

Dinner with your family is a good time to eat healthily, relax and spend time with those you love.

7 Tips on How to Be Successful in 9th Grade

7 Tips on How to Be Successful in 9th Grade

7 Tips on How to Be Successful in 9th Grade

Entering high school is a big change and a huge accomplishment. There are many differences between middle school and high school. It is now time to start thinking about your future. While you may still be following the rules of others, you are learning to become more independent. Whether or not you succeed in high school will depend on you and the decisions you make.

1. Set realistic goals.

Having goals in high school is a great step to achieving classroom success. Making realistic goals will keep you from being disappointed in the long run. Do not try to be the president of the glee club if you cannot carry a tune. Use your strengths and talents to better yourself and your school.

2. Choose your classes wisely.

In some schools, freshmen can choose the classes they take. While some classes are common to all students, you may be allowed to choose electives. Choose a class that piques your interest and can challenge you. Never choose a class based on someone else’s schedule.

3. Make friends.

Getting through high school is a lot easier and more fun when you can go through it with friends. Even if you remain friends with your middle school friends, branch out and try meeting new people.

Choose friends that are like you and have similar goals.

4. Get to know your teachers.

Being comfortable with your teachers will help you get through high school. It is easier to ask questions and get advice from a teacher you have a good relationship with than a teacher who may seem standoffish because no relationship has been established.

Telling your teachers hi as you walk in the classroom and telling them bye when you leave is a great way to start a relationship with a teacher you may not know.

Remember your manners when speaking to an adult. Please and thank you still go a long way.

5. Get involved in your school.

If your schedule allows, try to get involved in activities at school. You may not have the time to join a sport or club that lasts months or even the entire year, but you may be able to help plan an event like a school dance or play.

6. Learn how to manage your time.

Time management is a skill that will follow you throughout your entire life. Managing your time wisely in school can help you balance school, extra-curricular activities and your home and social life.

Scheduling your day in advance can help you avoid rushing through an assignment or cramming for a test.

Use a calendar, planner or app to keep track of the assignments, tests, and activities you have.

Make a to-do list and refer to it throughout the day. Cross off items that you have completed. You will feel a sense of accomplishment that will motivate you to keep going.

7. Determine your style of learning.

Everyone learns differently. While there are numerous learning styles, the most common learners are either visual, audio and kinesthetic. Knowing how you learn the best can help you determine how to take notes and even how to study.

9 Tips on How to Be Successful in 10th Grade

9 Tips on How to Be Successful in 10th Grade

9 Tips on How to Be Successful in 10th Grade

There are things you can do in school that will increase your chances of becoming a successful sophomore.

1. Re-evaluate your goals.

Are your goals as a sophomore the same as they were as a freshman? If not, see what changes need to be made to reach your new goals.

2. Choose the correct classes.

The classes you take in the 10th grade are still as important as they were when you first started high school. Take classes that you know you can excel at. Avoid taking classes because of who is taking them.

3. Join clubs.

Joining clubs is a great way to get to know your teachers and fellow students. Broaden your horizon and join a club you will like and feel you can contribute to. Joining clubs and being active in school will look good on future college applications.

4. Think about the future.

Now is the time to think about your future. What kind of career would you like to have? Where would you like to live? While you don’t have to make definite plans as a sophomore, you should start thinking about what you want to do after high school.

5. Discover your interests.

Your likes and dislike will impact the direction your life will go. Start narrowing down which professions you may or may not be interested in.

You can research different kinds of professions to find out what the job entails, what education is needed and how much you can earn.

6. Research colleges.

Once you have narrowed down what you want to study in college, research colleges that you may be interested in attending.

Make a list of each college, including information like location, tuition and degrees offered. Also include minimum GPA and standardized test scores.

7. Find side jobs for extra money.

Try to find ways to earn money. Cleaning, babysitting and mowing lawns are all good ways to make some extra cash and gain work experience.

8. Make school a priority.

Make school a priority and keep your grades up. You may be able to get grants and scholarships if your GPA is high enough.

9. Spend your time wisely.

Learn how to balance your school life and your personal life. Use a calendar, planner or app to keep up with activities. If you find yourself spread too thin, you may have to scale back some.

11 Tips on How to Be Successful in 11th Grade

11 Tips on How to Be Successful in 11th Grade

11 Tips on How to Be Successful in 11th Grade

You are half-way through reaching your goals as you enter your junior year. Follow these steps to become a successful eleventh-grader.

1. Re-evaluate your goals.

As you get older, you may realize your goals have changed.  If you are still on track for reaching yours, don’t quit! If your passions have changed, re-evaluate your goals and make the changes needed to keep heading in the right direction.

2. Choose the correct classes.

The classes you take in high school are as important as how well you perform in them. Choose classes relevant to the career you want to pursue.

3. Enroll in college course if possible.

Some colleges offer courses for juniors and seniors. This is a great opportunity to earn college credit before entering college. Take advantage of this if your schedule allows it.

4. Spend your time wisely.

Learn when to say no. When you have a test or project due soon, turn down invitations that will take time away from your schoolwork. There will always be time to relax. Wait until major tests and projects are completed and then reward yourself for your hard work.

5. Take great notes.

Taking great notes is important from your first day of high school to your last.

Keep each subject in a separate place. Use individual notebooks or a binder with labeled tabs. Your notes should include outlines and lists. Use a highlighter to highlight important information like names, dates and vocabulary words. Also make a note of information you may not have understood during the lecture so you can ask for clarification later.

6. Study every day.

Cramming for a test or rushing through an assignment is one of the worst things you can do in high school. Effective study methods include taking good notes and studying your notes every day. Schedule time in your day to review your notes. You will be less stressed when you make studying a priority.

7. Earn some extra money.

If time allows, get a part-time job to make some extra money. Babysitting, cleaning homes and mowing laws are good part time jobs that usually pay cash. Depending on your age, you may be able to apply to local jobs. Check your weekly newspaper or online for jobs that may be available to you.

8. Organize study groups.

Studying in groups is a great way to review notes without getting bored or burned out. Invite your friends and students from your classes to get together at your home, a library or a local place like Starbucks.

Group studies can make studying more fun. You can also quiz each other and learn from each other’s mistakes.

9. Take on leadership roles at school.

As a junior, there may be some leadership roles available. Take the plunge and take the reins!

10. Become active in your community.

Get involved with in-school and out of school activities. You can meet new people and learn skills that will prove to be invaluable throughout life. Being active in your community can also look good on your college applications.

11. Take ACT and SAT prep course.

Now is a good time to start practicing for standardized tests. Whether you are taking the ACT or SAT, there are numerous ways to prepare.

Some high schools offer classes to help prepare you for standardized tests. If your high school does not offer prep courses, check your local high schools. One of your teachers or school counselor can also be able to help you enroll in some courses. If you prefer old school review books, check out our reviews on the best SAT and best ACT review books.

11 Tips on How to Be Successful in 12th Grade

11 Tips on How to Be Successful in 12th Grade

11 Tips on How to Be Successful in 12th Grade

You may have already figured out how to be smart in school, but there is still more work that must be done.

Avoid the common “senioritis” and finish your last year strong. Focus on your grades while preparing for your next step in life.

1. Re-evaluate your goals.

Are you still on track to meeting the goals you had in your junior year? If so, keep doing what you are doing if you are getting the desired results. If your goals have changed, see what you need to do to get back on track.

2. Keep your grades up.

If you are entering your senior year with straight A’s, congratulations! Now, keep them up!

Keep taking good notes and studying every day. Learn from your mistakes and do any bonus work available

3. Take a college course.

If your schedule allows, consider taking a college course. Some high school offer classes that will earn you college credit. Take advantage of these! You may even be able to take a freshmen college course online. Your teacher or school counselor will be able to help you schedule these.

4. Take on leadership roles.

Colleges consider more than just grades when looking at applications. Now that you are a senior, there may be some leadership roles in your school up for grabs. Run for president or vice-president of any club you may already be a part of. Join clubs that will be fun and rewarding.

5. Take standardized tests.

By now you should have already taken one or two tests. While the tests you took previously may have been for practice, the ones you take as a senior will be used to determine which colleges you get into and how much money you may receive through scholarships or grants.

Re-evaluate your score from previous tests. Spend more time on your lowest scoring sections and review those subjects.

If you find that time is the biggest factor hurting your score, take timed practice tests.

6. Save money.

It is no secret that college is expensive. If you have a job or get an allowance, learn how to spend your money wisely. While it is ok to spend money, you want to put some aside for expenses you foresee having in the future.

7. Apply to colleges.

If you have not already done so, you can now apply for colleges. Choose colleges that you may want to attend. Gather all the information you need, including current transcripts, test scores and recommendation letters. Some colleges also require an essay. Do the best you can and be honest. Have someone review your essay before submitting it.

8. Visit colleges.

If you’ve narrowed your list of potential colleges, now is the time to visit a few campuses.  Make a list of questions you may want to ask while there. Some important information about colleges include location, tuition and degrees offered.

If you are unable to travel, see if the college of your choice offers virtual tours.

9. Apply for financial aid and scholarships.

Now is a good time to apply for financial aid and scholarships. You will need your parent’s income taxes, along with your social security number, GPA and standardized test scores.

10. Ask teachers for recommendation letters.

Most colleges will require you to send in recommendation letters from teachers, employers and family members. Asking for recommendation letters ahead of time will ensure that you have them when you are ready to apply to colleges.

11. Spend time with family and friends.

If you are planning to go off to college, your time with family and friends may be limited. Try to spend time with them if you can.

Quality over quantity. When hanging out with loved ones, focus on each other. Stay off your phone or other devices as much as possible. Do activities that you all enjoy.

Talk about the good times you’ve had and the good times yet to come. Make plans to visit whenever possible.

Wrapping Things Up: How to be Successful in High School

Knowing how to be successful in school will help you to become successful in life as well. Set realistic goals and make school a priority. Organize your notes and workspace. Study a little every day. Turn in assignments on time and ask for help when needed. Seek leaderships roles whenever possible. Start thinking about college and prepare for standardized tests. Celebrating the little milestones you achieve will keep you motivated. If your goals change along the way, make a new list and get back on track. Working hard and committing yourself to being a successful high school student now will pay off in the long run.

If you enjoyed this post, it’s one of many where we extensively detail the best tips for succeeding in high school.

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Professor Conquer

Professor Conquer started Conquer Your Exam in 2018 to help students feel more confident and better prepared for their tough tests. Prof excelled in high school, graduating top of his class and receiving admissions into several Ivy League and top 15 schools. He has helped many students through the years tutoring and mentoring K-12, consulting seniors through the college admissions process, and writing extensive how-to guides for school.

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