To say that a large majority of students start off the semester eyeing a 4.0 would be an understatement. So many of us have our minds set on reaching that goal, but unfortunately it’s a pretty hard goal to achieve. While I can’t help you to get that 4.0 GPA, I can give you tips on how to get your best grades possible, which can very well end up being that high GPA you are eyeing. I will be completely honest in saying my first year of college I definitely struggled and it took me a while to adjust, but after implementing these tips my GPA has gone up by leaps and bounds
Read the syllabus. And read ALL of it.
The first week of classes I always print out my syllabi, lay them out, and read over each one word for word. Yes, word for word. I read through with a highlighter to make sure that all of the major, important information stands out to me later in the semester when all I have time to do is simply flip through it. Why read through the syllabus you ask? Well you never know what a professor might include in their syllabus. One of my professors wrote in a different section how often she would give out extra credit in class, one of my professors had a note that if you even looked at your cell phone during class your cumulative grade would be docked by 10%, and one professor even said that they would give a very generous amount of extra credit to the person that had perfect attendance. After I’ve read over the syllabus I take out my planner and write out each and every due date. By doing this, I’m setting myself up for a successful semester. And if I’m being honest, I’ve never missed an assignment, test, quiz, paper, or anything that comes up because of this method.
Strive for perfect class attendance
By having perfect class attendance myself, not only have I gotten all of the hints from professors on what will be covered on the test and all of the in-class extra credit, I’ve also been given extra credit or grade boosts at the end of the year. I kid you not when I say I was sitting at exactly an 80.00% and the professor bumped me not to a B, but to a B+ because of appreciating that I valued going to class. While that kind of a boost doesn’t always happen and hasn’t always happened, going to class and hearing the material in the professor’s voice is always one of the best study methods for me personally.
Take good notes
You are in class already so you might as well be doing something productive while you are there. I personally prefer to handwrite my notes while in class, but whether you handwrite or type your class notes is up to you. Sometimes professors will even post their slides or a note outline online, so make sure to have that printed and ready to go before class. And always make sure to have a buddy in each class so that if you happen to miss you have someone to get notes from and vice versa.
Pay attention in class
If you are actually going to class, you need to use that to your advantage. Pay attention. Don’t sit on your phone or scrolling through Facebook, actually actively be listening to your professor. I can’t imagine if I were teaching a class or even simply presenting to a class and looked out to a class of students not even paying attention to what I had to say.
Review your notes regularly
The best way to retain the information that you learned in class and took notes on is to review those notes. This is one of the strategies that really helps students to be successful on their tests because they not only started reviewing the information early, but they reviewed it when the information was still fresh in their mind from the lecture. Studies actually show much higher retention rates if you review your notes within 24 hours of taking them. Just make sure that as the test information builds to continue to go over all of the information instead of just the most recent material.
Do all of the extra credit offered to you
One of the things that shocked me the most when I got to college was the number of people who don’t do the extra credit. While yes, it seems like just one point, you never know how much that one point could mean to you at the end of the semester. And most of the time, extra credit isn’t something that will take up too much of your time to complete. I promise, it’s worth the time. Do it.
Go to tutoring and office hours
I’m a business major which at my university means lots of math classes. More math classes than any business minded person should have to take for that matter. With all of that said, I’m not the most math minded person out there. For some reason, I can’t just sit down and figure out how a problem was solved on my own. By going to tutoring and office hours to get help on my homework I’ve been able to learn all kinds of things I would have never picked up on myself. Taking the time to go to office hours has totally paid off in my preparation for test as well because I either already know how to do the problem or I simply have to go through and review without having to reteach myself everything or rush to tutoring or office hours for help and battle the crowds.
Prepare for all exams, projects, and papers in advance
While it is sometimes possible to cram all of the information into your head at the last minute before an exam, it’s not the best way to learn the information. Be conscious of when your tests, projects, and papers are scheduled and give yourself enough time to get things done and get things done well. Once I realized that college was nothing like high school where I could simply study information the night before the test and be good to go, I saw a huge improvement in my grades.
Always have the rubric out and ready to go when working on assignments, projects, and papers
If you have a paper, assignment, or project coming up it’s highly likely that your professor has published a rubric online or even in your syllabus. Sit down and read over the rubric so you know what is expected of you. Even have the rubric out when you start working on your assignment so that you can follow what is listed in the rubric so your work matches what your professor wants.
Read the textbook
Yes, that textbook that you paid a crazy amount of money for at the beginning of the semester is actually useful. I’m a big advocate of reading the chapters for the week before class so that you are better able to pick up information during lecture. If I already have the information in my head from reading it over beforehand, I’ll pick up a lot more information during the lecture than I would not having read anything in the first place.
What tips do you use to be a successful student? Do you plan to implement any of these tips? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.