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How can I increase my grades?

QUESTION: How can I increase my grades? At the beginning of each school year, I’m very eager to study and do my homework on time, but as time goes on, this feeling slowly fades away. I don't know why. What are some tips for studying? How do I study without getting bored? - Bored with Homework

Dear Bored with Homework: It’s not uncommon for students to find themselves asleep atop their textbooks or sucked into a television program on amazing home videos when they’re supposed to be studying. The key is to develop a study plan that works for you. Here’s our Three-Step Study Plan to help you improve your grades:

1. In class. First, pay attention to what your teachers say. You will find that they draw many test questions from the material they discuss in class. Understand what your grade will be based on - such as tests, quizzes, homework, or participation in class - and focus your attention accordingly. If you know that 50% of your grade is based on tests, then devote at least half of your overall study time to studying for tests. Listen for your teachers to give clues like, “This will be on the test,” or “This is very important material.” Also, write notes during lectures. Realize that you are young and have a strong memory but not strong enough to remember lectures from an entire semester.

2. At home. Develop a plan of action. Start by setting realistic goals. For example, your goal may be to spend 30 minutes each day on your math problem set and 45 minutes on a day before a quiz. Be specific about your objectives, including mapping out what time of the day you’ll study. Write down your targets, and post them where you’ll see them. Reward yourself each time you meet your goals. It’s also important to keep track of your assignments. Use a calendar to record when assignments are due for each class. Don’t wait until the last minute to finish assignments. Contrary to what many students believe, your best work is not done at 3 a.m. the night before an assignment is due. Also, do an environmental check. It’s important to have a comfortable setting for all the studying that you’ll be doing. Head to a quiet place where you won’t be interrupted if you study best in silence, or reserve a spot next to the stereo if you like background noise.

3. Get help. You’re not on your own. Ask your teachers for additional help or extra credit assignments. Don’t be afraid to ask questions in class or after class. Hire a tutor in subjects you need extra help in, or if you learn well in group settings, start a study group. Just make sure that you do more studying than gossiping in the group sessions.

Follow these tips, and we’re sure you’ll be well on your way to wakeful studying!


Gen & Kelly Tanabe
Gen and Kelly Tanabe are the founders of SuperCollege and the award-winning authors of 11 books on college admission, financial aid and scholarships. Together they were accepted to all of the Ivy League colleges and won more than $100,000 in merit-based scholarships to graduate from Harvard debt-free.

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