According to this post found on Mind/Shift, there are three common practices top performing students utilize in Australia, the UK, the US and South Africa that seem to set them apart from their peers.
Although many students would think IQ has the biggest impact on how well they perform, Douglas Barton and his team found 13 other things that are more important than just IQ. So the first suggestion is to stop worrying about IQ.
The second practice is not to just work hard, but to work hard in the right ways. Barton says only 11 percent of top-performing students take practice tests, but that actually helps more than rote memorization or cramming for exams. He has this link to the right ways to learn best which discusses breaking up study time over days or weeks to boost ability to recall information, varying the study environment to reinforce the memory of what you’ve learned and taking a 15 minute break when becoming stuck to go for a walk or do something different among other suggestions.
The last thing Barton mentions is a balanced schedule. He says students who plan to do something they like every day, in addition to study time, tend to avoid feeling burned out. Everyone can probably relate to that feeling, especially when midterms or finals come around. Don’t forget to do a little something enjoyable every day to break up the pressure of studying!