Ron White memory guy and two-time USA Memory Champion, memory training expert and memory speaker shares with you some thoughts on attaining better grades in college:

Students often want to know what skill will need to improve grades. After consulting with a lot of experts and teachers, and through building my memory training workshops, I have put together some thoughts that I think will help. Many of them are basic “common sense” tips, and others are a bit more detailed.

1. Start by attending all your classes. Resist your urge to skip a class, or get notes from someone else. Many points are brought up in classroom that are not in the textbooks, and other students notes are their interpretation of the material and may not help you. In addition, many professors have an attendance policy.

2. Participate in the discussions. If you need one easy tip on how to remember the material, it’s participate! You understand the material easier when you not only listen, but ask questions and get involved in the discussion.

3. Sit in the front of the class. Historically, students who sit in the front of the class do the best.

4. Get organized. Use a planner to keep track of dates for classes and tests. Have a central location for all your paperwork (the back of the car is not a central location) and keep each class material separate from the others for easy reference.

5. Get to know your professors. Understand what they expect of you. Talk to someone who had them as a teacher before and can give you tips on their style of teaching. Obtain copies of previous tests so you can get a feel for what they look for. Make an appointment to visit them during office hours to ask questions, and especially when you are struggling – ask them for help. Don’t wait until it’s test time to ask for clarification. Remember – they are there to help you, not make an enemy!

6.  Speed Reading techniques. You will be given a great deal of information to read in college, and speed reading will not only teach you to read faster, but to read more efficiently – improve your memory retention.

7.  Take good notes! Notes are your interpretation of what is happening in class, and a more detailed account that helps you understand the material. Anything a professor puts on the blackboard, re-iterates, or presents on a screen should be notated (They don’t waste their time on unimportant bits of information, if it’s on the board it’s usually on a test).  If there is something you don’t understand, write it down to ask for clarification – either by participation or asking the professor after class.   Then go back home and type the notes up – while they are still fresh in your minds. This is a memory technique that will help to solidify the information in your mind.

8. Improve your time management skills. Even the most organized people struggle in college to get in all the things they have to do.

§         Learn to say no. College offers all sorts of opportunities to have fun, but your are there to get an education first, so plan activities around your studies, not your studies around your activities.

§         Do harder work first. You have a sense of accomplishment when you finish a more difficult project, and tackling the simpler ones will seem like a piece of cake.

§         Take larger projects and break them down into smaller ones. Don’t put off large projects, like term papers, until the last minute. Divide the task into smaller groups of time and assign yourself a deadline for each part. You will not have to struggle at the last minute to meet the deadline, and have time to refine the project before turned in.

§         Don’t forget to walk away and regroup. Often things can seem overwhelming and the more you work on them the worse you feel. Take some time to clear your head, and then go back to it feeling rejuvenated. Putting too much stress on yourself actually makes memorization and concentration much more difficult. Take a walk, play some music, lay out in the sun, whatever it takes to de-stress.

9. Read the textbooks. Books are not assigned because the teacher wants you to break your back carrying them around. They are supplements to the lectures, and will help you understand the material better. Take notes from the textbooks, and pay special attention to items that are in bold, or in margins. Making an outline of the book will help you understand it better, and is an excellent memory technique.

10. Brush up on your writing skills. In almost every class there is a writing assignment or two, at least a term paper. Each professor has a specific way they want theirs written (margins, font size, footnotes, cover, etc.) so pay attention to directions. Organize your work before you set down to write by making an outline of the paper. Be sure to use quotes and footnotes, site references, and do not plagiarize! You should have several drafts, rewriting is a part of turning in a good paper. Show the paper to others, and get feedback, so you can make changes. Don’t wait until the last minute, and don’t forget to spellcheck!

11. Practice speeches and presentations. Many of us are not comfortable standing up before others, so the more you practice the easier it will be. Know your material backwards and forwards, so you can answer any question that may come up.  Know what the professor expects from your presentation, and plan accordingly. If you know the material, it will show, and your grade will reflect that. A word of advise: Don’t rely on technology alone, like power point – have handouts to pass out so others can follow along. Be prepared.

If you are prepared by doing your homework, paying attention in class, organizing your time and learning valuable memory techniques you will do great in school – and still have time to enjoy the college life.

And of course, as the memory guy and two time USA Memory Champion I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t recommend that you investigate a memory training system to learn how to improve memory skills.