Hello, I am Ron White, the National Memory Champion for 2009 and 2010. I have been helping students get better grades for over 20 years, and would like to share some basic tips to help you improve your grades, and your memory.
You may think the ones who get the best grades in school are the smartest ones, but actually they may not be. The difference is the ones with the best grades have learned how to develop study skills that help them to retain what they learn and do well in college.
1. Accept responsibility for yourself. Mom isn’t there to remind you to get up or do your homework. Your grades are up to you and how you step up to the plate.
2. Make good choices on the classes you take. Don’t just accept the classes your advisor selects for you, pick the ones you believe you can do – paying careful attention to what you will need to fulfill basic requirements and those that go toward your degree choice. For electives, chose something you are interested in – not just an easy A (if the subject is boring it won’t be easy to get through).
3. Don’t take too many classes at once. If you can’t handle to load your grades will suffer because you will burn out quickly. Don’t try for more than one major, unless you are sure you can handle it. Each major requires 10-12 courses, and that is hard enough for most people to handle.
4. Make a calendar. Keep a time chart of your classes, exams, papers due, and anything else that will take up your time. Don’t forget to schedule study time for each course. As the school year progresses, make adjustments as needed.
5. Don’t skip classes. It’s amazing what gets covered in one class, and the class you miss may be the one that covers some major information that will be on your final. Getting good grades depends on knowing the material, and if you are there to participate and ask questions you have a better chance of understanding the material.
6. Take good notes. Write down everything the professor says in a lecture. Make sure you can read it and understand what you wrote. If the professor writes down something on the board, or has a power point presentation, get that, along with the explanations. Teachers don’t waste their time doing these without a purpose, and it probably will be on a test later.
7. Focus on what is going on in class. It’s fine to record the class for future reference, but don’t record with the idea of listening later. The recording is a tool, but it doesn’t take the place of paying attention in class.
8. Declutter your study area. Don’t network while you are studying. Save the music and television for relaxing time, not study time. The best way to get good grades is to keep your mind focused on your studies. No matter what anyone tells you, students with the best grades eliminate distractions.
9. Make up practice tests. Use homework and labs, previous, handouts, study guides and any hint the TA or professor may have given you. Put the questions together just as you expect them to be for that classes test. Don’t use your notes and set a time limit, just as the real test would be. This should eliminate any surprises when you come to the real test, and show you where you need to focus more attention.
10. Don’t do your research paper from Wikipedia or blind Google searches. Use proper research material for the subject. Find out what the professor expects, and refer to assignment sheets and instructions provided for you. Blind searches will not provide the quality work expected of you, and will lower your grade.
11. Don’t be afraid to speak to your professor. Take advantage of office hours, email any questions you have, or hook up with the teacher or TA for some one-on-one. They are there to help you, and always give their contact information on the first day of class.
12. Study with others in your class. You can improve your grades by joining a study group – especially in classes that have weekly problems or quizzes. Bouncing ideas and questions off others can help you to understand the subject better. Meet at least once a week (It’s best to work with people who are as smart, or smarter, than you).
13. Pace yourself to avoid overload. Term papers, mid-term and finals come toward the end of the semester, so reduce your stress level by not leaving everything until the last minute. Don’t rely on doing work over vacation – it won’t happen. Don’t ask for extensions, if you haven’t organized yourself at the beginning no extra time will make it happen.
14. Do extra credit, if you can. Some courses allow for special activities or extra credit work to improve your grade. Take advantage of as much as possible. It could be the difference between a B plus and an A minus.
15. College is a great adventure – but don’t get lost in the social side of it. Party on weekends, but don’t go overboard. Too much of a “good thing” can ruin your grades, and could just get you kicked out before you finish. Learn to balance your social life with your obligation to get good grades. Getting drunk the night before a big test will not help your GPA, and could change your life. Eat right, exercise and get plenty of sleep to keep your mind sharp.
16. Believe in Yourself! The power of positive thinking is not a myth. If you believe you can do it, you can. Don’t let anyone else define you or undermine you. If you are determined, you can achieve anything. This is probably the most important tip – because if you can’t believe you can do it – you won’t.
Articles Database – Getting Good Grades by Bonny Bucknam: http://www.articlesbase.com/college-and-university-articles/getting-good-grades-2759194.html
WiHOW – How to Get Good Grades: http://www.wikihow.com/Get-Good-Grades
10 Tips for Getting Good (or Better) Grades by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D. – http://www.quintcareers.com/getting_better_grades.html