Life Lessons from Fiction

How to Study Like Hermione Granger

June 29, 2017

Hermione Granger is my biggest inspiration when it comes to academic success. Responsible, clever, a high achiever (I mean, who gets a time turner to take more classes?) and with an insatiable thirst for knowledge, she is definitely a role model to have during school, while pursuing your career, and in life. Since during this week we are celebrating Harry Potter 20th birthday, I thought it would be fun to write a guide to academic success based on what we learn from Hermione’s success in the books.

  1. Read in advance: In the first three books, it is emphasized that Hermione reads everything during vacations. She says she “learned all the books by heart” during their first year. Although this is impossible, of course, it is extremely useful to read as many books as you can in advance because you will save time during the semester. In literature majors, this is advisable because in class discussions, exams and essays you really need to understand the material you are reading, which often requires rereading several times. You won’t have time to do this during the semesters, so try to do it during vacations. Don’t stress yourself over it, though. You want to prepare for the upcoming semester but also remember that this is your time to rest from the previous hard work and have fun.

  2. Get information about your classes: On her first day at Hogwarts, Hermione asks Percy about her favorite subjects and gets feedback from him. If you know people from upper semesters, talk to them about classes and teachers. Of course, make sure they get good grades and are responsible. It is also good to gather information about your professors, the classes they give, the criteria they use to grade, etc.

  3. Aim to excel at everything you do: Hermione is, most of the times, the only one that manages to do things right the first time around. So practice, read, and focus to understand what you are doing. Don’t learn out of repetition, aim to understand the principles behind what you read. People often say that you can only master something once you are able to teach it. If you can explain clearly what you’ve read, then you have truly learned it.

  4. Participate in class: Hermione always knows the answers to the teacher’s questions but she doesn’t just memorize concepts. Participating in class shows you prepared for the lesson, and also shows interest in the subject. Even if you don’t like the class, participate every time. This engagement will help you later on, if you are studying Humanities, you won’t have to prepare as much for the exam because you understand what you discussed in class. For exams that require memorization, participating will help you remember better what you saw during the lecture. Overall, teachers can help you get a higher grade if you’ve shown interest throughout the semester.

  5. Revise your homework, exams, essays: Do not hand in things without proofreading at least twice. I know of some friends that exchange essays to proofread, although I don’t really like to do this. But proofread your essays, no matter how tired you are, or how much you want to get it over with. Once, I had an exam of which I knew all the answers but left some details to answer until the end. I forgot to write them and because I didn’t proofread, I didn’t remember about that until I left the classroom. Thanks to this, instead of getting a 9.5 on my exam, I got a 7.8. So do yourself a favor and proofread. This will also help you relax afterwards because you’ll be sure that you didn’t forget to answer anything.

  6. Organize your study time: Whether that may be for homework, revision, writing, or reading. Hermione draws revision timetables and color-codes her notes 10 weeks before the exams. You do not have to go to such extremes, but it is important to have a system that is easy to remember and that inspires you to study.

  7. Don’t cram: Revise or begin writing your essays at least 5 weeks before finals week. Last semester I did this and I found that, although I technically had a “finals month”, it was so much easier to finish my essays because I had enough time to think and proofread. I wasn’t as stressed out or pressured as some of my friends were. I was working constantly but I did not pull an all-nighter even once! And best of all, I had a perfect score in ALL my classes!

  8. Use the library: Hermione spends her free time in the library whenever she needs to do her homework or study and only uses the Gryffindor Common Room when the library is closed. I started using the library about a year ago and it has made a great difference in how I study. My grades skyrocketed from above average to excellent. The library is great because you can focus on your work, avoid procrastination, and finish earlier than you expected. Because you are not distracted, you fully commit to study during your library session. Make sure to take some breaks and also relax after you’ve finished. It’s also good to separate the study zone (library) to the leisure zone (dorm, room, etc). This way you can instantly shift to the mood you need and disconnect from each once you’ve finished: you will get into the mood to work if you are in a place made for working and you will be able to relax confidently when you are in your room.

  9. Make the best use of unproductive time: Hermione usually has a book with her while having lunch; if you are eating alone at your school, you can immerse yourself in a good book, be that for school, or for leisure. You can also make a better use of your commute time, listening to podcasts, audiobooks, recording yourself, going through definitions, etc.

I hope that these tips help you study better this semester. Let me know what study techniques you have and who inspires you!

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