A Few Easy Steps To Better Grades

By Kathy Schneider on 05/03/2012

Many very intelligent people are not so good when it comes to getting good grades. Instead of assuming you can’t make it in your classes, consider changing the way that you study for them. There are a few simple things you can do to make your grades better.

1. Homework: Do your homework. Since each homework grade is usually not worth that much of your total grade, it seems tempting to skip these assignments or complete them quickly and without thinking. But these grades add up, little by little, to being a big factor in your final grade. And it’s so easy to get a good grade on your homework if you do it properly. Make getting your homework done each week a priority.

2. Plan: Get a planner. Write down when each homework assignment is due and when each test is scheduled. But don’t stop there. Write down how many hours you think it will take to complete each assignment and how days you want to spread the work across. Write down when (day and time) you will work on each assignment. Stick to this plan. If you look in your planner and you’ve written down that you should study or write the first part of an essay that isn’t due for days. Remember that when you looked over the assignment the first time, you determined you needed to start working on it today. And then do it.

3. Study Environment: Don’t study in a place with distractions whether they be friends who aren’t studying, the television, or music you want to sing along to. Different study environments work better for different people, so I can’t tell you exactly where this study environment should be. Some people study best in the library where you are guaranteed to have a quiet environment. Some people prefer to study in comfort, in bed or in a comfortable chair. Some people like to study with classical music playing. Some people like to study in groups. Try out different places to study until you find the one where you are most productive and then study and do your homework there.

4. Take notes: Some teachers are boring and there are certainly some subjects that you are going to find boring. During these classes, it is easy to zone out, daydream, or sleep, but don’t do that. Taking notes on whatever your teacher is saying is a great way to force yourself to pay attention to what is being said. Even if all the information you need to study is in your text book and you never need to go back and look at your notes, take them anyway. Writing everything down will not only help you pay attention but it will improve your ability to remember the information.

5. Highlight: There is a lot of information in your text books and not all of it as relevant. For example, introductions to new chapters, examples of the information provided, and random fun facts are important to read but may not be something that you need to remember for your exams. When exams are on multiple chapters of a textbook, it would be very time consuming to reread and study every chapter in full and it would be hard for you to remember all the relevant information. The first time you read through each chapter, highlight, underline, circle, or write down the information that you feel is important. It may take more time to read the chapter the first time and while you might feel like you can finish your reading homework faster without doing any of this, it will make studying for your exams so much easier. You can go back and easily study just the important information, the information that is likely to be on the exam, instead of rereading everything over again. A little extra homework time here can save you a whole lot of study time later.

6. Study: With that being said, make sure you do study this information before an exam or quiz. You might feel like you have a good handle on the subject, but you never know when there is some important piece of information that you may have forgotten that will be important to remember while taking the exam.

7. Take a Break: I have saved this one for near the end because it should be used with caution. Continually taking breaks from working on homework or studying will make you lose track of what you were doing and keep you from completing your task. But sometimes taking a break is a good idea. Stuck on a math problem? Not sure what to write next in your essay? Feeling overwhelmed by the amount of information you’ve studied? Take a break. Many times when you leave a difficult problem that was frustrating you unsolved and take a break, it will clear your mind, and when you go back to it you will be able to see more possibilities and focus on it with less frustration.

8. Believe in Yourself: Nothing is more important than believing that you can do it. Take classes that you believe you can do well in and when you’re forced to take classes that you know will be hard for you, remember that you are intelligent and you can do it if you put your mind to it.