to be more specific, I would like to get some advice on perhaps study/lifestyle tips etc, on how I can go from being a slightly above average student to being a 'top' student.
To give a bit more background, I am currently a 2nd year undergraduate student doing an 'Advanced' Mathematics degree. At my university there is a 'normal' stream and an 'advanced stream'. The program I am in (I feel) is very competitive and not to be pretentious, I do feel like I work really hard.
I study every day for hours and hours and I can hand to heart say that my work ethic is not the problem. I calendar my whole semester and I'm not doing things last minute.
At the moment, if I were to give myself an honest assessment of where I stand, I would say that I am just probably slightly above average in my classes (in terms of test and assignment results) with a lot of effort and I would like to be in the top 5% of students. I guess my dilemma is that I don't think I can reasonably put in more hours than I already do in terms of studying (between attending lectures/tutorials and my part time job, I am probably doing about 15 hours a day of university work) - So I am trying to think about other ways that can help me get higher grades.
I should probably also note that my university uses scaling a lot, and so your grades are really just relative to your place amongst your peers. And in this sense, there's really not that much collaboration between peers.
Each semester I have improved a little bit, and have actively tried to think of ways to make my study time more efficient and effective. As an example, in the past, I tried to read the lecture material before I went to class to ensure that I would already understand most of what the lecturer would cover, but I found that between doing this and going to lectures as well, it left me with much less time to actually practice doing questions, rather than reading so much. So now, I usually don't read as much, and just spend more time doing questions and memorizing tactics to approach questions.
I realize that study tips are probably quite specific to the subject and the assessment style, and I guess I'm not looking for a magic formula - but would just like to maybe get some ideas from others on how you have handled competitive undergraduate degrees, and how to maximize assignment and test scores etc.
Thanks so much.