How to be a Good Student and Why it Matters

Posted on December 20 2019

A young man takes notes as he reads a textbook at his kitchen table.

The pressures of school can weigh on students of all ages. Whether they’re in middle school studying for an algebra test, in high school preparing for the SATs, or in college trying to ace an important midterm, students of all grades and ages can become stressed about their academic performance. Those struggling with their grades or worried if they’ll succeed in school may be wondering how to be a good student.

Being a good student may not follow a specific formula or academic path. In many cases, the key to being a good student is acknowledging that everyone has learning strengths and weaknesses and unique ways to achieve academic success. Students can perform well in school and still have enough time and energy to devote to other interests with effective planning and follow-through.

Explore Different Learning Styles

When a student thinks of a learning style, the first image that may come to mind may be sitting in a classroom taking notes while an instructor speaks or reading a textbook while completing homework after class. Learning styles are more than just methods of absorbing educational information; they’re the unique ways that students process information. Students who understand the different learning styles can determine the style that best suits them to help them meet their academic goals.


Visual-spatial learners refer to students who excel by using charts, diagrams, spreadsheets, and other visual aids. While one student may work best by reviewing text in a book or by taking notes during class, a visual-spatial learner understands the information in a visual format.

“Visual-spatial learners learn better visually than auditorily. They do not learn from repetition and drill. They are whole-part learners who need to see the big picture first before they learn the details,” according to an article published in the European Scientific Journal. “They are non-sequential, which means that they do not learn in a step-by-step manner in which most teachers teach.” For a visual-oriented learner, discovering how to be a good student can involve seeing ideas, theories, and concepts rather than the small details.

For example, students in a high school history class learn about the Roman Empire. Visual-spatial learners in the class may get the most benefit by reviewing classic artwork created during Roman times or viewing photographs and ancient blueprints of Roman architectural landmarks.

The European Scientific Journal article notes that these types of learners can digest information from many different sources and thrive in specific social, emotional, and academic areas, but are often unorganized and not detail oriented. This doesn’t mean that visual-spatial learners can’t thrive academically without visual aids, but rather that a visual learning component can help them to excel.


Some students don’t perform well or retain information when they study from a book or an online resource. Information conveyed auditorily, such as by a teacher speaking or by listening to an audiobook, can help these students achieve better grades and benefit more academically.

These students are referred to as auditory learners. According to ThoughtCo, “Auditory learners generally remember what their teacher says and readily participate in class. They are good listeners and often very social, which means they can sometimes get distracted from the lesson by everything else going on in the classroom.”

For example, in a chemistry class, a high school student may have trouble memorizing the elements of the periodic table. If the student’s an auditory learner, a potential learning method would be to develop a rhyme or song to repeat out loud while remembering each element.


Visual-spatial and auditory learners can become better students through visual and audio aids. Logical-mathematical learners understand information better if it’s presented through numbers, data, and symbols. 

According to an article published in the journal Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, “If a student learns that he is strong in logical/mathematical intelligence but does not excel in linguistic intelligence he can get a whole new perspective on his abilities and change his views about learning.” The article also notes that these types of learners can calculate problems quickly and often prefer “to see things categorized in a logical sense of order.”

For example, students in an elementary school class may be tasked with building toothpick towers to help them to understand the fundamental properties of gravity and physics. Logical-mathematical learners would likely thrive in this type of scenario because they could identify problems and develop solutions for how the tower should be designed and the toothpicks effectively used.


Social learners thrive when working in collaboration with others, such as in group projects and class discussions and debates. 

Social learners may have difficulty understanding advanced topics like algebra concepts when studying on their own. Social learners can thrive when taught using interpersonal methods, such as discussing math topics in an after-school study group or speaking with peers during a class project. 


Discover How to Be a Good Student

Students who understand their individual learning strengths and styles can reap more educational rewards. Beyond the learning styles, there are additional tips to help any student perform better in school. 

Stay Organized

Among daily readings, weekly assignments, monthly exams, and end-of-semester finals, there’s a lot that students need to accomplish and keep track of while in school. Regardless of how difficult any of these assignments may be, missing any of them can negatively impact students’ grades.

Staying organized is vital for students at any phase of their academic careers. Scholastic provides some tips for parents on how to help their children keep their schoolwork organized, such as designating a study space, color-coding subjects, and maintaining a calendar. Older students can also apply these tips.

Get Involved

Doing well in school and learning how to be a good student takes more than just writing down notes and following homework instructions. Students who actively participate in class, such as asking questions and regularly communicating with their teachers, have a stronger understanding of course material and perform better in class.

An article in Forbes notes the benefits of asking good questions and making a stronger effort to learn: “When you make an effort to learn, you expose yourself to new ideas, people and situations. You also can feel a sense of accomplishment for pushing yourself to try new things and experiment, which encourages you to continue learning.”

Form a Study Group

When doing homework, a student may not always remember the lessons and information covered in class. Or a teacher may have a limited amount of time to devote to a subject and therefore can’t go in-depth.

Forming and participating in a study group can help students better understand subjects they may be struggling with, as well as give individuals with a firm understanding of that topic the ability to help others. According to an article from Cengage, study groups and support systems can help students stop procrastinating, discover new perspectives, and gain insight into a given topic.

Develop Healthy Lifestyle

Students’ academic experiences involve more than just going to class. Diet and exercise can play a large role in how to be a good student. Students who only eat highly processed foods, high in fats, may have difficulty concentrating or may be irritable during a class, while their peers who maintain a nutritious diet may be more alert and focused on their academic pursuits.

According to a report published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, physically active students tended to have better grades, and those whose diets lacked foods such as fruits and vegetables didn’t perform as well academically.


Find Out How the American Academy Can Help

The American Academy’s high school diploma program provides students a flexible opportunity to earn an invaluable education. Participants in The American Academy’s program can use their learning styles to reap the most rewards from this innovative educational format.

Recommended Readings

Back to School Organizational Tips for High School Students

5 Study Tips for Visual Learners

7 Tips for Establishing a Successful Homeschool Schedule