Getting good grades is hard work and you want to do well, earn a great grade point average, and get the most you can from your studies. Eventually, you’ll take some classes in which you have little interest and you may struggle. This happens to every student—you may not love every course—and there are some things you can do to make getting good grades more attainable when they going gets rough.
Keep a Planner
Having a dedicated space to write down due dates and calendar events, like meetings and appointments, is crucial to staying organized and never missing a deadline.
- On the first day of class, or when you start your online course, write down all assignment due dates and test dates from the syllabus. Look at projects and set dates for starting and making progress.
- At the beginning of each week, write down realistic goals you’d like to achieve by the end of the week. Categorize them for school, work, family and social life.
- Every morning, make a prioritized to-do list and check things off as you go through your day. This gives you a sense of accomplishment as you go.
- Pro tip: don’t forget to schedule in study time, or write it in on a to-do list, and then do it. Make your study time as important as everything else.
Take Notes that Work for You
Everyone has a different learning style, so you’ll need to know your style and then experiment with what works best for you. Some people prefer taking their notes on their computer and then organizing them in folders by class. Others like the motion of handwriting their notes because it helps them remember the content better. Try both to see which helps you more, keeping in mind that the more senses you use, the more information you retain. Try these tips to help keep your notes organized:
- Color code hand written notes with different pens
- If you record your classes, transcribe the notes as soon as you can
- Type up handwritten notes later to go over the material again
- Draw pictures or diagrams in your notes to help you recall ideas covered in class
Start Studying Well Before the Test
When a test sneaks up on you and you have to cram five sections of content into one night of study, that’s a recipe for stress and lower test scores. You know when the test is, so commit to study one section per day until you’ve studied them all, and then the day before the test, review all sections or focus on the most difficult section.
- Make flash cards to go over data quickly (digital flashcards are great). Speak out loud so you can also learn by listening.
- Study with a group to help one another with problem areas. What you find easy can be a sticking point for your classmate.
- If you can’t study with a group, try teaching the concepts to yourself, explaining each one out loud to make sure you understand the content
When you feel overwhelmed, it’s easier to crash and burn and not get anything done as opposed to using your time to mark things off of your to-do list. Staying organized is crucial to maintaining your momentum and your grades.
- Use apps to help you organize, plan, budget, remind and otherwise help you on track.
- Decide how to prioritize your assignments (there are several methods):
- Easy -> Hard
- Worth the most points -> Less points
- By due date
Ask as Many Questions as You Need to Understand
Sometimes we may feel awkward when we ask a lot of questions, but it’s really the best way to understand and dig deeper into course material. Many instructors want students to ask questions, so they know if they are conveying the material well. Asking questions is a great way to show you care about the course and want gain a better understanding.
If you’re still uncomfortable, ask the yourself questions along with the instructor, such as:
- What do I think about this?
- How can I connect this to the real world?
- Do I understand this concept?
- How did I get this answer?
Achieving great grades in higher education takes hard work and dedication and you can do it using the tips outlined here. Create great habits and soon you’ll be well on your way to passing classes with flying colors.