Before I get to that let me clear something you're probably already wondering:
"Why not a list about things one should do instead?"
Indeed, that is a very valid question and here's why:

A) Let's be honest here, you already know what you should be doing--managing your time well, spending more of it in front of your books, taking your classes and tests seriously, being consistent, blah blah blah--and if you don't, I'm sure there will be plenty of adults around to constantly tell you that.
These are things every student knows. Why doesn't everyone do brilliantly then?

B) It's not like I'm a model student or a class topper who got everything right either. So it would be unfair for me to preach something I didn't practice.
Well, I've made mistakes and experienced occasional successes. Hopefully that's enough qualification for you to believe me. So, without further ado, here's a bunch of things I learnt I shouldn't have done:

1. Don't let it fade.
At the beginning of the year--and this is natural--you'll be telling yourself
"Yes! This is going to be a great year! I shall keep my journals tidy and submit all my projects on time! I shall work hard and do brilliantly!" *pumps fist in air*
And most of the time that enthusiasm last for just a couple of weeks.
I encourage you, do not let that happen, because once that fades things will start going down hill till your semesters (or worse, your prelims) come along and punch you in the face.

2. Don't Compare.
This is something I wish I understood. I can't iterate how important this is in retrospect. However, if you belong to some coaching class, which is great, you'll most probably find your marks put up on a board along with your rank, which isn't great. Well, it doesn't matter as long you're only competing with yourself. What I mean is, you never have to bother how others score.
If you've got the least among your peers all you have to ask yourself is 'did I make any improvement since last time?' Depending on whether the answer to that is yes or no, cheer or grieve for 15 minutes and then move on. If it's one of those tests where everybody scored badly, don't pat yourself on the back either, just because what you scored is more or less the same as the marks of that kid in your class your mom's always speaking highly of.
If you aced a test once, don't assume it'll just happen every time.
If you failed a test once, don't assume it'll just happen every time.
Your race is long, and at the end, it's only with yourself.

3. Shelf Improvement and supposed isolation.
You can buy all the course material and self-study books you want, just make sure you use them. Just keeping a bunch of them won't ensure you success.
Also, do not assume that doing things like deleting whatsapp for a year, deactivating your facebook account or having a dabba for a phone is going to dramatically increase your focus. If you initially spent an hour or two on your phone everyday, not having one will only make you crave for some other form of entertainment for those two hours everyday. I mean, which is better: facing your addiction head on or avoiding it completely? Wouldn't it be nicer to learn how to control your frequency of logging onto something on the internet?

4. Don't complain. Don't explain.
Your 12th year will be a drag only if you think it is. Enjoy what you're doing and everything will start falling into place. Having said that, it's not easy to just fall in love with all the subjects in your chosen stream. But then again, you can choose to hate a subject and complain about how much better it would be if the subject teacher were just a bit nicer or taught better or your textbook explained things better, or, you can choose to respect your subject and show an interest towards it. What is to be gained by hating the subject? Nothing but a miserable feeling, which builds everytime you look at its textbook with disgust. You may as well save your time and energy from all the whining and complaining and put your butt to work.

5. Don't hesitate to ask.
Suppose you don't understand a concept or the answer to a problem, do not be afraid to ask someone. It could be a school professor, but they are usually occupied by the swarm of all those extremely enthusiastic student who have doubts in every bloody question because they're already done solving the entire textbook. Yeah you know who I'm talking about, I know you do. This can be dejecting sometimes, because you'll feel well, there's no beating these guys. My doubts will sound pretty stupid in front of their complicated ones.
Well no problemo! Ask a friend, a friendly senior or get help online. In fact, ask one of those annoying teacher ka chelas who know the answers to everything. You'll be surprised by how many people around you are actually willing to help. All you have to learn to do is ask. Pretty simple, right?

However, at the same time I encourage that you do not hesitate to approach a professor. What's the worst that could happen? Maybe he'll say "Yeh toh bohot simple hai! What a silly question! I solved this exact problem last week!" Well let him say what he wants. What does matter, is that you have your answer and you are happy with the explanation he gives after he's done with his scolding while you bow your head shamefully as you take it. Do what you have to do to get your answers (by fair means of course).

6. Don't cheat on your tests
Now, I promise this is not a lecture on ethics. I'm not going to give you that lame lecture one of my teachers once gave the class. "Children just remember when you copy God is watching you okay? Cheating is sin! Paap lagega!"
What I want to tell you is that copying is entirely pointless. No matter how good you get at it, you're not going to top. What I find extremely stupid is when kids don't just copy in their colleges (where admittedly marks do matter, and so do their teachers' impression of them), but also in their tuition classes (where the whole object is to make mistakes and learn). Think about it. You join a tuition to receive from there what you failed to receive in college.
As far as giving answers is concerned, well, help those poor desperate souls if you really must.
Now if you'll excuse me for a moment, here's a

Side note:
Dear kids who were sitting in my classroom during my board exam,
Fuck you.
You intolerably loud copy cats. You bothersome, miserable, desperate pests!
Especially to the guy who sat in front of me. I hope you know that I really hate you. Know that I despise you like the flame despises water-with a fiery passion. You annoying ass, literally, because it was always facing the wrong way. And to the bitch sitting behind me who had the audacity to actually call me out and ask for answers, not once considering that the consequences of getting caught at that moment would mean doom for both of us.
I can only hope that no one else has to go through what I did. Please study for your lousy exams and don't bug the rest of us trying to pass ours.
Yours (but not really),

That felt good. Moving on!

7. Don't waste time
This is the most obvious one but the most neglected, isn't it? Well there are numerous ways to solve this but different people manage their time differently. Some write schedules down, some wake up and sleep early, some burn the midnight oil, some have their own ticking body clocks and some just drift through the hours as they come along. I don't want to elaborate on ways to manage your time well because I feel that is something each one unravels on their own. So I'll leave that to you as food for thought.

Well there you have it. I hope this helps someone or at least provided a moment's entertainment to you. This was important for me to write as I also feel like this serves as a note to my future self in a strange way. If you feel like there's something I've missed out or something that you experienced through your school years and is important for others to know, feel free to share them in the comments below.

Here's some advice from Mr.Ze, someone I've always found motivating. It's meant to be for people pursuing creative careers but I think a lot of the advice is relevant to a lot of fields.

Thanks for reading!

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