How to Get Better Grades in School

Spring semester has either just started for you, or, you are like me, it literally starts tomorrow. I know after winter break everyone comes back with the mindset that they are going to do better in school than they did fall semester, but, unless you’re actively changing old habits, you’ll end up doing pretty similar to how you did before. I personally made a huge improvement in my grades from freshman year of college to sophomore year. Whether you’re in high school, college, or grad school, here are some of the tips that helped me improve and could possibly help you improve.

Don’t Listen to Other People’s Opinion.
When I was in high school, I would listen to people complain about a test that I had later that day. I remember during lunch I would text my mom to tell her that everyone is saying the test is hard. Listening to other people’s opinions would trigger my test anxiety. I would go into the test not feeling confident at all and would end up doing terrible. In order to avoid this, don’t listen to other people’s opinions. Maybe they didn’t study as hard for this test. And, some people are so competitive that they will do good on the test, but they will tell you it is hard just to mess with your mind a bit.  Always prepare for the test to be difficult. That way when you walk in knowing you probably have an answer to every question because of how much you studied, you will feel a lot more confident.

Look At Rate My Professor When Choosing Classes.
This tip is a little more aimed for kids in college since in high school you don’t get a choice on who your professor is. I know I just told you not to listen to other people’s opinions, but that is more suited for when people are complaining that the assignment or test is too hard. When choosing your classes, look and see what people are saying about a professor so you could find the professor you feel would best teach you. Now, I know that there are certain times that there is only one option for a professor, and everyone knows that professor is hard, but you need the class for your major. In this is the case, suck it up and prepare yourself. If you already know the professor is hard, figure out why. Are they a tough grader? Well, if that is the case, you may need to study something in more detail. Do they put stuff on the test that was not covered in class? There’s more tools for you to use. Read the textbook and take notes. Get other textbooks or watch YouTube videos that explain something in more depth. Sometimes  you have to take a difficult class with a difficult professor. That just means you have to work harder than you ever have and prove you want the degree you are going for.

Take Advantage of Your Resources.
At the very beginning of a class, you get a syllabus that tells you what is required and what is not. Take advantage of that. If it says that a textbook is not needed and that the test will be over lecture notes only, then study your lecture notes in great detail. If it says that 50% of the questions come from the textbook, then make sure you are keeping up with your reading and taking good notes over the material. A lot of professors have office hours and this can be crucial. If you don’t understand something, then go to office hours. Not only are you getting feedback from your professor but you are showing them that you are here to learn, not just pass and move on. Also, understand that they way you study for one class may need to be completely different for the way you study for a different class.

Rewrite and Review Your Notes.
A lot of people will take notes in class and two days before the test they will review them. Don’t do that. You need to take notes in class, but then go home that night and rewrite them. Sometimes in class, the professor is going very fast and you either don’t get all the information or your notes look like a jumbled mess that you don’t understand. After class, wait a few hours to let the information sink in in order to know what you remember and don’t, rewrite your notes. If you see that you are rewriting and don’t understand something about your notes, research it so you can fully grasp the subject. If you research and you are still uncertain about what is being talked about, then write it on a sticky note and go talk to your professor. Also, after rewriting and seeing what you are weak at, make flashcards for those things you don’t fully understand. You also need to look over these notes, and flashcards, about 3 or 4 times in a week. And before the test, make a study guide and review all your notes the whole week leading up to the test except the day before the test.

If You Have Reading Do it Before Class, And Keep Up With It.
I know the hardest part about school is the reading. I hate textbooks and would rather read a book over the subject instead of a text book. That being said, I still do my reading. What I like to do, and this may just be me, is I will get home from my class and do my reading for the next class that night despite the class being days away. For example, I have Organic Chemistry on Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays. On Monday, Wednesday, and Fridays I will do all my homework for ochem that I was assigned for the following class. I will get homework assigned that day and do it that night. Or I will do Wednesday reading on Monday. This way, on Tuesday, I have already read the information, and I can review in order to see what I understand and do not understand. I am not going into class Wednesday completely confused on the reading that was required for that day.

Prioritize and Organize.
Put your education first. College is only four years of your life and if that means that you  have to study the majority of the time and only see your friends for two hours during the week, then that is what has to happen. I have read a ton of articles that say if your best friend or family member needs you, then go be with them because its only one assignment. Well, I have news for you. That one assignment might end up making or breaking you. Sometimes you have to do what is best for you. I’m not saying don’t be there for your friends. But, if your friend just broke up with her boyfriend and needs you, plan out an event that fits with your schedule. Say, hey lets go out for ice cream or have a movie night Friday. Everyone goes through struggles, but it is not your job to clean it up and help them, especially when you’re already under enough stress. Some friends may not be in your life in a few years, but your education will be. Also, make sure hobbies stay hobbies. Hobbies are supposed to be an outlet for when you get super stressed and need a small escape. But if your hobby is playing a sport or writing and you find yourself putting off school work for this, then you need to reevaluate. School can become very busy very fast and sometimes you might not always have time for your hobbies. But, guess what. In a few weeks you might have some time to kill because you no longer have 30 assignments to do and that when you can fit your hobbies back into your life.

Take Time For Yourself.

This final tip is what made the biggest difference for me. You need to schedule some time to relax whether your idea of relaxing is sitting outside reading or going out with your friends. The worst thing you could do is go to school and then come home to study and do homework for 8 to 10 hours a day. Break up your studying and homework. Some people will wake up at 6, do some reading or homework for two hours before getting ready and go to class. But then, they will go out to lunch or hang out with their friends for an hour or two after their class. Then, they go home and do some more homework for a few hours. Later that night, there may be a favorite tv show on, or their friends will want to hang out, and they will do something non school related before coming back and finishing the rest of their homework. That is perfect. You’re not burning yourself out while still completing everything that needs to be done. One of the things that tremendously helped was I scheduled all my homework and study time during the week and then the weekends where mine to do whatever. I might need to study for two hours on Sunday to review some material for the following day, or I may need to study a bit during the weekend for a test that Monday, but I’m still using the majority of my weekend for me. Those two or four hours that I am studying is just a fraction of my weekend, and the rest of the time I’m doing something non-school related.