If the first half of your year was a bit… clunky… there’s still time to undo some damage, raise your grade and finish the semester strong. Poor grades and tests happen but they aren’t the end-all to your GPA, at least not yet! You just have to make the effort and try a few things you may not have thought to do the first half of the semester. Here are some tried-and-true ideas that have helped many students add points to their final grades.
Better time-management + a study plan can make a big difference in your grades. Use a planner, calendar, or notebook and draw up a plan of action that prioritizes your time effectively–dedicating more time to the subjects you’ve been struggling with. Make a detailed, daily timetable, and divide each day into blocks (feel free to color-code them) for class, study sessions/tutoring and homework. Plan to study at least 2-3 hours per week for each credit hour you’re enrolled in. It’s a lot of studying, but if you want to improve your grades, it’s necessary. Just remind yourself that you’re in college, not Young Adult Camp.
While you’re writing stuff down, make a list of things you’ve done that have worked against you and your grades the first half of the semester–such as missing classes, missing assignments and very-last minute study sessions. Avoid doing them!
If you’re looking to improve your grades, don’t be afraid to schedule a one-on-one meeting with your professor. Doing so may seem intimidating, but don’t stress, professors love a student who is proactive and shows interest and concern for their academics. Ask your professor what you can do to bring your grade up, or if there is an extra credit submission you can complete. Try to steer clear of making excuses for yourself, don’t harass or argue with the professor and be sure to be gracious if an extra credit opportunity is offered–with an emphasis on the latter. Extra work for you also means extra work for the professor, so definitely don’t forget to thank them.
If you have any missing assignments–complete them and turn them in. Even if your professor deducts 50% off your score for being late, each missing assignment you complete has the potential to bring your current grade up. Unhappy with a grade you received on a past project? Ask your professor if it’s possible to redo it. Think an essay you wrote got graded too harshly & you genuinely believe you deserve a higher grade? Write your professor a brief letter that outlines why you believe you shouldn’t have received such a low score and make the best case you can for deserving a higher mark. While there is no guarantee that your professor will change a score or allow you the opportunity to right past wrongs–many professors actually will allow you to–so it doesn’t hurt to ask.
Attend all your classes, complete all your assignments, study hard for your tests, and put school before other things like friends, partying and part-time work and you’ll likely see your grades pick up. Classes are your top priority right now. Your professor may also notice the extra effort and could bump your grade a few points if it is teetering between a pass or fail (a B- to a B is cool too.)
If you’re really trying your all to improve, but you’re still not able to comprehend the material, get yourself a tutor. Most colleges have student help centers that offer professional or peer tutoring. If your student center is closed because of COVID-19, you can check your college’s website for tutoring information or use an online service like Chegg Tutors to find a tutor for the last few weeks of class.
You may not have a final in every class you take, but if you do, chances are it’s a big part of your final grade – so study hard and make it count. Whether your professor chooses a final paper, a project, or an exam for your final – it’s in your best interest to prepare well ahead of finals week. Need a couple of ideas to get started?
- Create a study schedule for your final – splitting the material into smaller sections and dedicate a block of time to study each section over the next few weeks.
- Join or start a socially distant study group on Zoom.
- Create your own study guide – to compliment the study guide your professor may provide you. Reading through material yourself, in order to make your own, will help you memorize and understand the material better.
Whichever way you study for finals, on your own or with others, just make sure you get a head start. This will give you time to ask your professor questions if you’re having a hard time understanding a concept or find a tutor if you require any additional study help. And when Finals Week hits, make sure you’re well-rested on exam days so you’re fully focused. Don’t laugh, it’s completely possible to get a good night’s sleep during finals if you got an early start on studying – instead of cramming and writing through the early a.m. the night before an exam.