Studying advice from Hermione Granger is pretty likely to improve your academic results.
Harry Potter’s Hermione Granger is known for being a hard worker, a diligent student and a lover of learning. Yes, she has her faults – look out for next week’s episode for what *not* to emulate from her learning style – but there are a lot of lessons that you as an adult learner can apply to see great results.
In this post, I’m going to share with you 5 magical pieces of studying advice from Hermione Granger – the traits and qualities that make her a great student. You’ll walk away knowing how to apply these to your unique studying situation to study with more discipline and motivation and to help you achieve higher university grades.
This post originated as a podcast episode which you can listen to below or search for episode 148 of the Chloe Made Me Study podcast. Or, if you’re more of a learn-by-reading student, carry on for the rough-and-ready blog version based on the podcast script.
Ways to listen:
- Listen in the player above
- Click to listen on Apple Podcasts.
- Click to listen on Spotify.
- Click to listen on Google Podcasts.
The first thing I want to address before I get into the meat of this episode is that I do not stand with J.K Rowling and her anti-trans beliefs. Her predatory views are hurting the trans community. I grew up with the Harry Potter series and rereading the books and discussing the stories have continued to soothe me into adulthood. I was in two minds as to whether to even make this episode and maybe my decision to go ahead isn’t the right one and maybe my personal attachment to Harry Potter should stay personal.
The point of my podcast is to support adult learners to have better studying lives. And I believe the lessons from a fictional character in the Harry Potter world can do that – without celebrating the author or adding to her wealth. A big part of my approach to study skills training is using case studies and examples from outside a studying perspective to teach concepts and I believe this episode can do that.
Now, if this is not the episode for you then please skip this one and the next one because this will be a two-parter which I’ll explain in a little bit.
Now, when we think about studying role models from books, TV shows or movies it’s quite common for Hermione Granger to appear on the list. Or Rory Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls. Or Elle Woods from the movie Legally Blonde. I actually have a podcast episode about the things we could learn from Elle Woods which you can check out here. Anddd I have a blog post all about a less likely studying hero – Neville Longbottom – which you can check out here.
I mentioned at the beginning that this episode is part of a two-part series. In this first episode we’re going to take some studying advice from Hermione Granger. I’m going to walk you through 5 of the key traits and qualities that make her a great student. And I’m going to share with you how you can apply these lessons to yourself as an adult learner.
Then, next week I’m going to flip the coin and share with you the opposing perspective, that there are many learning behaviours and qualities that make Hermione Granger not such a great student. There are some problematic things about her views and actions that, if followed, could not only impact your university results, but also impact all your future learning and career progression.
So, I’m walking the walk on the podcast and demonstrating some critical thinking and evaluation.
Let’s get started with the positives then.
5 reasons why you should take studying advice from Hermione Granger
1. Hermione prepares for her classes
She walks into her classes already prepared for the lesson – having read the correct sections of the textbooks, or sometimes the whole thing. Preparing for your classes or lectures allows you to walk in or log on with a base understanding of the core concepts, which opens up your capacity to ask questions and go deeper into the material.
OK, so what does this look like for you as an adult learner? Well, it depends on whether you have classes and if you do, what type of classes. If you have virtual or in-person lectures, you might be given some pre-reading or pre-activities to complete. If not, you should know from the lecture title or syllabus the topic of the class. So, you can spend a little bit of time diving into the topic and any areas that you’re finding difficult you can either mark to ask questions or hold in mind to see if your understanding improves throughout.
Preparing just a little can help you approach your studies in a more strategic, efficient way. This is a handy frame of mind to adopt even if you don’t have any classes. If your course is made up of independent study, then it’s a good idea at the start of a study session or the start of studying a new topic to stop for a minute and ask yourself why you’re studying this material. What are you aiming to learn? What knowledge are you hoping to gain and skills to develop? How is this section going to prepare you for the next assessments?
2. Hermione participates in class
Hermione is the first person to put her hand up to answer a teacher’s question. In many ways this can be a good thing. Going to university is *not* cheap. You could sit back and be a passive member of your lectures, not really engaging your brain. Maybe through fear of making mistakes (but mistakes are a key way to learn) or by embarrassing yourself by getting answers wrong or seeming too keen.
I’m not saying you need to leap up and down and almost wee yourself with the strain of trying to be picked like Hermione seemed to do at times. But I would invite you to engage while you’re in them to make the most out of your hefty investment. I know that being called the Teacher’s Pet as a kid is pretty awful for your street cred but we’re adults now. I’d argue that acting disinterested is way less cool. Participate and future you will thank you. You’ll deepen your understanding, test your knowledge, and boost your confidence by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone.
3. Hermione understands that independent study is a vital component of academic success
I thought homework was kinda pointless as a kid. Some projects were fun and I definitely went through phases of being keen in certain subjects but most of the time I didn’t really see the value in homework and I would rush it, try to get away without doing it, or try to copy off a friend. I remember once copying a Geography homework word for word off a friend and somehow, I got an A and she got a B. She was livid!
Anywho, Hermione takes a different perspective. She understands that a commitment to doing the homework, solo reading, planning in hours of independent study each week is key. That just as much learning happens outside the classroom as in it. For most university degrees this is true also. So, how does caring about your homework relate to adult learners? When you’re studying alongside a busy life it could be really easy to take the ‘winging it’ approach or the planning method of ‘I’ll just squeeze studying in when I have time.’
You don’t need me to tell you the problem with this. The hours each week that you need to study will vary by course and whether you’re studying part-time or full-time. But whether it’s 10, 20 or 30 hours – those hours are not going to magically become available, neither is the motivation.
So, the thing that makes studying 100X easier is just accepting it. Accept that studying is a core part of your life and schedule. This was a big gamechanger for me when I was completing my degree while studying full-time. I took the winging it approach at first but then I agreed upon a routine. I worked out that I would need to study 2-3 evenings a week after work, and the equivalent of a full weekend day. Depending on my other plans I could either study a full Saturday, a full Sunday, or I could bosh out half Friday night, stay up late and do the rest Saturday, finishing in the afternoon, leaving me the second half of the weekend for fun stuff.
Once I admitted to myself the time I needed to spend studying, planning was easier and there was much less resistance.
4. Hermione does not procrastinate over her assessments
Homework, writing essays, revising for exams, Hermione starts all of her assessments early, much earlier than her peers, and she works consistently towards them. There are some flaws to her approach for sure, and I’ll talk more about these next week. Specifically, that she often burns herself out by studying way too much.
But preparing for your assessments early IS a good thing.
You’re way more likely to submit a better piece of work or perform better on an exam if you’ve given yourself a decent chance at prepping for it. You will experience a lot less stress than if you leave most of your studying to the last minute, having procrastinated all the time away. You’ll safeguard against unexpected delays.
You may leave writing an essay to the week it’s due but what happens if you’re ill or something bananas happens? Maybe your university is lenient with extensions, but many aren’t and getting a cold the week something’s due won’t cut it as exceptional circumstances.
Now, I’m not saying this is easy. I also have a self-sabotaging streak in me that leaves me procrastinating on very important things. But wow does it make a difference when I gift myself the dream of starting a task early and working towards it consistently.
5. Hermione is not afraid of hard work
Hard work is a life value for Hermione. That’s not a bad thing. Yes, there are many successful people out there who’ve gotten where they are through luck, a lot of support, looking the right way, being born in the right country and being of the right class. What is also true is that hard work IS a key component of academic success and life/career success that Hermione demonstrates in bucketloads and you can too.
Hard work takes sacrifice. It takes persevering when things get tough. It takes carrying on even when things get uncomfortable, boring or tricky. It takes shunning the idea that your abilities are fixed and instead working hard to push past your perceived limits.
Something I love about mindset work and self-awareness is that you can discover some really juicy gems of insight, not just from reflecting on your negative beliefs, fears or your perceived weaknesses, but also from reflecting on the positive parts of your behaviours – your strengths or things that you judge you’re pretty good at.
On the surface, these five traits that I've translated into studying advice from Hermione Granger – these all look pretty epic. That’s why there’s lots of content and rhetoric out there to ‘be more Hermione’ or ‘study like Granger.’
But where do we think Hermione's academic commitment comes from?
In ‘The Prisoner of Azkaban,’ during their end of year exams for Defence Against the Dark Arts, Professor Lupin has them all fight a boggart solo. Hermione comes leaping out of the old chest, distraught because the boggart turned into Professor McGonagall informing her that she’d failed all her exams.
Now, this seems a bit silly for a few reasons. Hermione’s track record and continued studying style demonstrate she’s almost certainly *not* going to fail. And it’s also a little silly because a boggart is supposed to turn into what you fear most and there’s got to be scarier things than failing exams, right?
HOWEVER, I think what the boggart represents is *much* scarier to Hermione. I think her biggest fear is that she will be kicked out of Hogwarts and the magical world. Her biggest fear is being abandoned by those she loves. Suddenly, her actions and over the top behaviour suddenly doesn’t seem so laughable, right?
Being muggle born likely comes with some fear and inadequacy that you’re not a ‘real’ student. It probably doesn’t help that there’s a lot of stigma around it, with the derogatory term ‘mudblood’ thrown around. I imagine Hermione was the nerdy kid in the muggle world too so perhaps her behaviour hasn’t changed too much. But there’s so much more at stake here. In the magical world, despite feeling like an imposter at times, Hermione also feels like she belongs. She lives in an incredible world full of wonder and excitement and she has two best friends who love her. She doesn’t want to lose this, so she overcompensates for her lack of magical upbringing by promising total, unceasing commitment to her studies.
So there we have it – hopefully this has been a fun episode for you but also one with some clear advice for how you can study with more efficiency and discipline to achieve great grades. As I mentioned, next week I’m going to demonstrate some critical thinking by showing you the other side of the coin. Next week we’ll look at the traits and qualities that make Hermione Granger a not-so-great student, the aspects of her learning style that I do not want you to idolise or emulate as they’ll only hurt you in your studying and career.
Now maybe this episode has piqued your interest into diving a little deeper into why you study like you study. Would you like to uncover why you procrastinate or self-sabotage? Or why you’re afraid of failure, or maybe why you’re afraid of success? Would you like to understand how you learn and study best so you can come up with more efficient study strategies that allow you to study LESS each week but get more done and achieve better results?
Then my membership, the Kickbutt Students Club, is for you. This isn’t a cookie-cutter programme to churn out more and more Hermione Grangers into the academic world. The KSC is for students who want to learn how to study in a way that works for them. The best way for their specific course and subject. The best way for their learning and academic goals. The best way for their learning needs and style. And the best way that integrates their studying into their unique non-studying life and commitments.
Through coaching, community, accountability, study skills resources and virtual study sessions you’ll be supported to discover how you tick as a learner, so that you can make consistent progress in your studies while becoming more confident, efficient and kickbutt every day.
Enrolment for the 23/24 academic year opens in early October. For early access and a waitlist only-offer, register by clicking here.
Resources and links:
- Check out my membership, the Kickbutt Students Club.
- Check out my range of study skills trainings.
- Sign up to my awesome email newsletter – Students Who Graduate.
- Grab a copy of my book – The Return to Study Handbook.