8 Tips to Improve Your Grades

Yes, I am an artist but I am also an Adjunct Assistant Professor with the University of Maryland University College and an adjunct at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. Whether you are a student or the parent or friend of one you surely want to know how you can improve your (or your favorite student’s) standing.

1) Learn how to take tests without actually learning more about the subject. This is the least useful of the entire list. Yes, it can be possible to get a small improvement on some standardized, machine graded exams by utilizing certain tricks. I’m not going to tell you about these tricks. They are a cheat. Admittedly, perhaps necessary cheats given that too often exams don’t test what the instructors really want them to test. In the end, though, they do a disservice to the student, to society, and to education.

2) Improve Understanding by Re-reading your assigned readings. Reading to learn is nothing at all like reading for fun. Textbooks rarely have engaging plots and characters. At least not at first glance. In any case, even the most exciting of textbook chapters should be read more than once simply because the information contained therein is new. Moreover, there is a method to this re-reading. First skim through the chapter taking note of section headings and phrases in bold face. This tells you what the author thinks is most important. For the second reading, read slowly, taking notes and writing down questions that may come up as you read. Some of these might be answered as you continue to read. If they are, make a note of the answers. Finally, the third reading is the one that you try to relate the various terms and sections to one another. Sometimes those of your questions that weren’t answered before are clarified with this reading. If your text comes with questions and problems at the ends of the chapter (or throughout the chapters) now is the time to start working on them. You should be able to relate them to the various sections and at least understand what the problems are asking. If not, go for a fourth reading and branch out to other resources.

3) Ask Questions of your professor in class and outside of class. Be aware that if you ask them in class you could be doing a favor for several of your fellow students who are perhaps more shy than you. If you still don’t get it, say so. If you don’t want to ask in class, take advantage of your professor’s office hours and email. Note as well, that as the professor gets to know you, you begin to build a reputation that can help tip a borderline grade in your favor.

4) Form or Become Part of a Study Group but be careful that your work really is your own. Studying with others means that you discuss the concepts and bounce ideas off each other. You are trying to help each other gain insight and understanding. Besides, professors are very good at quickly determining who knows what’s going on and who just used a few of the same words.

5) Make Use of the Library and Librarians. Your school has at least one librarian and he or she can help you learn how to write, research, and cite sources more effectively.

6)Take Care of Your Health by getting the rest you need and eating as nutritiously as possible. Exercise is also an imperative but interestingly most students at all levels have less of an issue with this than with getting enough sleep and eating properly.

7)Pay Attention in the Classroom and to guidelines the professor lays out for you. Honestly, this one can be difficult if you are in elementary school or if you are a grad student. For the former, the days inside are long and often dreary compared to the daydreaming on their very young minds. For the latter, there’s all that research they are doing when not in class. I recall being a youngster and musing about the wind rifling through the leaves one Spring day instead of listening to my teacher. (Thankfully, I had already read far ahead of whatever it was she was droning on about.)

8)Start Your Homework Assignments Early especially if it’s for a subject you might be a bit weak in. This way, if you run into trouble you have time to ask for help. And in the case of papers, you have time to get the research done and the paper blocked out before you start to write it.

What are your tips for better grades for students?

One Response to “8 Tips to Improve Your Grades”

  1. Dennis Gold Says:

    Great advice. This list, coming from a professor, is not much of a surprise. Hard work is the most important, but going to class paying attention and using resources like libraries, librarians, and professors take grades to the top level. I wish I would have figured this system out sooner and taken school more serious in my early years.