Tips for Improving Your Grades

Are bad grades getting in the way of your academic success? Chances are, you may need to change your approach to studying before you will see your grade improve. Truth is, there are no shortcuts to doing well in classes. Earning a college degree is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. So, roll up your sleeves, and try the ten study strategies that are shared by many successful college students.


  1. Don’t Skip Classes.
    Totally obvious, but essential for success in class, is to attend all classes. Some professors take roll, many do not, but unless you are physically and mentally present, you cannot possibly catch all that is going on (even if you borrow someone’s notes).
  2. Sit Front and Center.
    Sitting in the front of class will communicate to the professor that you are serious about the class. Also, it will help you to focus on the task at hand as you tune out distractions in the room.
  3. Meet with Your Professor.
    Most professors have office hours (usually noted on the syllabus). Take advantage of this or schedule an appointment if the hours conflict with your schedule. During your visit, ask about good tips on mastering the material and how to prepare for tests.
  4. Study Every Day.
    Students who make A’s spend time on their studies each day. Stay on top of your courses and don’t get behind on your reading, assignments, papers, etc. Review your notes within 24 hours of taking them to head off forgetting and to clarify them so they will have more meaning when you study for tests. Oh, one more thing: use small blocks of time—you’ll be amazed what you can get done between classes.
  5. Get Help Early!
    Find out if your courses have study guides, a web site, and supplemental instruction sessions. Consider joining or forming a study group, getting a tutor, using the Math Lab for help with math, going to the Foreign Language Lab for assistance with foreign language, seeking help with papers at the Writing Center, and attending an Academic Success Program workshop. Pull out all the stops!
  6. Write It Down.
    It’s up to you to remember due dates for assignments and test dates. A day planner or big calendar is great for organizing your life. Record all the important dates (including exams, paper deadlines, and other assignments) at the beginning of each semester and update it regularly.
  7. Use Flash Cards.
    Remember how well they worked in the third grade? They still do. Use them for formulas, definitions, theories, key words from your notes, axioms, dates, foreign language phrases, hypotheses, and sample problems. On one side, write the question and on the other, the answers. Use these portable test questions anywhere and anytime.
  8. Study Your Most Difficult Subjects First.
    The courses that are most difficult for your require the most energy. Study the hardest material first and save the subjects you enjoy for later. Try getting up an hour earlier to study the subject before breakfast. The rest of your day will be a breeze!
  9. Location, Location, Location…
    If you’re serious about getting work done, find a place with few distractions. Establish guidelines with roommates or family members for quiet times. Better yet, make the library, study rooms, or empty classrooms your study sanctuary.
  10. Memorize and Understand.
    Face it, you’ll probably need to memorize a certain amount of information many of your classes. The key for you will be to remember and understand what you memorize. Generate examples, create mnemonics, make summary notes, identify key words, and self-test to master the material.