80-20 Rule and Other Powerful Steps to Excel in Academics

What is the 80-20 rule? Does it really cut back on 80% of the work? Can it help you excel in exams? What other extremely powerful ways other than the 80-20 rule can you start using right now? Let’s find out!!

Here is a scenario: you love school. You enjoy going to classes, you love your peers as well as your teachers. 

You take care of their homework, don’t ever miss school, work hard but the results just don’t seem to be coming through? Are you not smart enough as that other kid who just spends 2 hours and yet gets the grades that surpass yours when you haven’t even been getting good sleep this entire exam period? 

Here is the thing- staying up all night, getting less sleep, while putting in more study hours and sacrificing time on other beneficial activities is not how a student gets good grades.

Bill Gates once said that he would rather hire a lazy person because they seem to get the same things done faster than a person who works hard and in a manner that is just as accurate. 

The corporate world seems to follow the 80-20 rule, where 80% of the results are derived from 20% of the efforts. 

Now think about it, shouldn’t that apply to students as well? It should and it does because the ultimate goal of education is to make a place for oneself in the real world.

Before we move on, it is important to mention that this blog is in no way undermining the immense importance of hard work in reaching your goals in life. There is no substitute to hard work, especially when it comes to putting in time and effort on things that count. My vision here is to make you invest that hard work intelligently into areas that actually demandit.

That, however, does not mean that you always have to choose a treacherous path to reach your destination when you can, in fact, take a flight to get there faster and easier. 

Sometimes, hard work does not equate to results but working smartly does. Time is money, after all, isn’t it?

Like anything else in life, excelling in exams is just about technique as much as it is about anything else. And getting started is as easy as ever.







If you struggle with Time Management skills – learn the Pareto principle (the 80-20 rule): 80% of the results come from 20% of your efforts. Learn to be smart with the most valuable yet most limited resource in your life- TIME.

Ideally, at the beginning of every term, the first thing that needs to be done is going through the syllabus, schedules, assignment due dates, and exam dates and noting all of these down in a planner. 

This not only allows you to become much more organized in the long run but is also an enjoyable activity to engage in. Studies show that engaging in planning significantly reduces stress, increases IQ, and makes you feel better prepared for the challenges to come. It makes you feel powerful and in control.

The real question, however, is that if you did not plan in advance for the exam time, can you still use the 80:20 rule? The answer is a big YES!!! Actually, it’s most handy when you have no time to waste.

Identify 20% of the tasks where when you invest less time, and which can get you more results. Appreciate and value your efficiency, not the time you invest to complete a task.

For example, when trying to prepare for an exam on a time crunch, here is how you would do it

  1. Choose the chapters you should cover based on the value of the chapter (weightage/marks for that chapter in the exam).
  2. Choose the ones that will need less time but have a good score. 
  3. Choose the ones you will consciously leave behind.

It’s better to do 80% of the work to perfection than todo 100% at average capacity and remember nothing. If you didn’t prepare well in time, the 80:20 rule could be your saviour.


This place should be conducive, well lit, and far away from distractions. Let this be an area that you love spending time at. 

It could be a library near your place or a room in your house that is clear of distractions. Go to this place only to study and/or clear your head. 

Having a space purely for work purposes and one that is used only at specific times of the day also does the job of getting you excited to be there because it psychologically conditions you to be doing something important in that area. 

Empower that space with quotes that motivate you to push beyond your limits and target the word ‘FINISH’.

For example, my study table has a mouse pad that reads- “Finish what you start” and however cliché it may sound, it pushes me everytime to get up only when I am done. These motivational quotes make that space your energetic, powerful and sacred space.

Sticking to a routine tends to form good habits. Procrastination is an attractive habit to have because it is very convenient. 

However, rather than waiting till the time you get closer to the exam, study every day for only a specific period of time (say 2 hours). Don’t forget totake a day’sexception when you allow yourself to only do the things that make you happy.

A HELPFUL SUGGESTION:Design the 7th day with fun activities. Don’t just stick to your gadgets. Do something that nourishes your soul and brings you genuine happiness.

This step is not very difficult to follow but can create wonders. This is the magic formula for great results, also allowing you to feel in control, happier, more stress-free, while also giving you the leeway to have fun and engage in other activities anytime you so please.



Not actually practicing practice tests or going through study guides before an exam is like going to war without having practiced combat. 

Attempting practice tests allows you to understand whether it is your time-management that you have to work on or the structure of your answers. 

Stimulating a test-environment for yourself is the best way for you to feel confident and in control of the situation before it even takes place.



Even as an adult, studying is real work. Students, especially those in critical grades tend to get irritated very easily because things seem to be slipping out of their hands.

Positive stress is not bad; it is actually good because it pushes you to work harder and take your exams seriously. Negative stress that forces students to get rude with their parents, or emotional at the drop of a hat are symptoms of a disaster waiting to happen in the examination hall. It is at this time that you may need guidance to get rid of the unnecessary stress. 

Most important, however is to believe in yourself. Remind yourself that you have worked hard, that you are going to do great, that stressing out won’t do you any good and that if by some odd chance, you don’t do great on the test, it is not the end of the world.

Life is much more than the marks written in a red pen on an examination paper. The reason you work hard on these exams is not to prove something to someone, or because these tests hold the power to change the direction of your life but merely to learn some important skills such as hard work, patience and time management.


Perhaps, you are finding a particular subject quite difficult. If this is the case, then the solution is to ask questions. 

Many students, however, are afraid, even embarrassed to ask questions for the fear of coming off as too stupid. I’ll let you in on a little secret -- that no one knows everything and that if you ask questions, you may even end up helping other kids who have the same concerns.

Asking for help does not mean that you are weak. It only means that you are strong enough to know your weaknesses and change yourself for the better.




The 21st century has more sources of distractions thanone can count on their fingers. Expecting oneself to get rid of distractions is easier said than done unless you have a plan. The best way is to ‘TIME YOUR DISTRACTIONS’. 

Keep your distractions as rewards to your achievements for specific periods of time. Just like you want to study for specific hours, keep away the distractions for specific hours. 

Understand that the only way to achieve great results is to put off any device that could stand to distract you, such as computers, video games, and phones. 

Try to look at your distractions as if they are challenging, mocking and pulling you away from your goals. In this scenario, you take the position of the superhero that has the control in their hands. 

It is like you hold the remote, and therefore,inculcates the feeling of being in control. Inculcating in yourself the kind of control that makes you move away from distractions is the best way to learn self-control forever. 

Doing this means that you are internalizing this habit and need no external source of motivation to control your urges.


Eating fresh and home-cooked food helps remain energetic. A minimum of 3 servings of fresh fruits and salads are a must include in the diet of someone who is preparing for exams. Make sure to add nuts in your diet when preparing for exams. 

It’s said that 16 nuts in a day can play a vital role in sharpening a young person’s brain cells, especially before an important event. Walnuts and almonds increase your memory skills, especially when they are consumed first thing in the morning.

Get good sleep and hydrate continuously. Water helps your brain function better. Breath consciously, your brain needs oxygen. So, controlled and conscious breathing can heighten your brain function and memory.

Here are some of the best food items to boost brain and memory.

Who knew it was so easy, right? Start following these steps today and see the magic happen! If you feel there is a specific area that you struggle with during exams, leave your questions and thoughts in the comment section below. I would absolutely love to help!! 

Just make sure to let me know which one of the interventions you would use from the ones mentioned above before you write your question. We are eager to hear from you!!!


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