How to Get Good Grades at University

Four Methods:Understanding the Subject MaterialMaking the Most of Class TimeBeing A Responsible StudentChanging Your Lifestyle

If you're going to college soon, you probably want to know how to keep your grades up. Solid grades are important to your academic success and can help land you opportunities, like internships, later in college. You will need to make sure you understand the subject material in all your classes. In class, strive to listen, take notes, and ask questions when necessary. Work on being a solid student overall by attending all your classes and staying organized. Taking care of yourself can also help with your grades. Eating and sleeping right can help with your academic success.

Method 1
Understanding the Subject Material

  1. 1
    Place your focus where you need to improve. Learning how to best direct your studies can help you improve your understanding of course material. If there's something you do not understand, focus on improving in that area. Identify where you need to improve in each class and direct your focus accordingly.[1]
    • It may be one particular subject that's giving you trouble. You may find history and English courses easy to understand, but falter slightly in your math class. In the coming weeks, make math your priority. Strive to raise your grades in this area.
    • It may also be one part of a particular course that stumps you. You may be doing great in genetics overall, but don't understand chapter 12 of your textbook. When studying for your upcoming exam, place a lot of energy mastering chapter 12.
  2. 2
    Request model papers and tests. Most professors will be happy to give you examples of past work. If there's a test or paper coming up, request a sample paper or sample test. Some classes actually provide information like this on a course website. These can be great resources to help you succeed academically.[2]
    • Many teachers keep old papers on hand to give students a writing model. If you can get some old papers, read them carefully and try to emulate their writing style. If your teacher does not have model papers, try asking someone else who previously took the class and earned a high mark if they still have their old papers.
    • A lot of teachers will be happy to present you with old tests as a study guide. However, do not simply memorize the questions and answers on old test, as a teacher is unlikely to simply repeat old material. Use them as more of a guide, giving you a sense of the type of questions that may be asked. Make a point of reviewing all course material before a test.
  3. 3
    Look into supplemental reading and course material. If you're not understanding something, it may be a matter of how it's being explained. Everyone is different, and has a different learning language that works for them. If your professor or your textbook are leaving you baffled, look into outside course material. Maybe lecture notes from another professor, or an alternative textbook, can help you better grasp a particular subject.[3]
    • Textbooks are often chosen because the professors knows their writer. They are not always necessarily the best works. You can find supplemental reading online or at your library if you're not understanding something. An alternative text on the work may help you better grasp the material.
    • You can find a lot of course material for free online. Many professors will freely post things like PowerPoint presentations online, and you may even find recorded lectures on sites like YouTube. If you're not understanding the way your teacher explains something, see if another teacher can explain it better.
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    Study a little each day. If you want to understand something, cramming at the last minute will not help. Every day after your classes, review your notes and study a little. If you work on studying a small amount every day, this will help you retain the information longterm.[4]
    • Find a time when you can most easily study. Look for gaps in your schedule. Maybe you could study a bit in the morning on days you have a late class. Maybe you could study after lunch and before a class around 5 at night.
    • Stick to your routine as much as possible. There may be days where you have errands to run or a social engagement. Slipping from your routine won't be as big of a deal if you're usually stringent with it.
  5. 5
    Seek outside help. There's nothing wrong with asking for help if you need it. You may find a certain subject is just not clicking with you, despite your efforts. You can ask your professor for help after class, hire a private tutor, or go to any resource centers available at your college.[5]

Method 2
Making the Most of Class Time

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    Come to class prepared. If you're not prepared for class, a lot of what's discussed will be lost on you. Do all the required reading before entering your classroom. You should also complete any homework assignments that are due, or do any activities your professor requested. You're unlikely to get a lot out of a class if you can't follow lectures or participate in discussions.[6]
  2. 2
    Review your notes before class. Do this around 10 to 15 minutes before class. A quick review will allow you to see how material in your class goes together. This will help you follow the lecture or discussion and also give you a more significant understanding of the subject material.[7]
    • As you review your notes, pay attention to major topics. What are the main points that were covered in the last class? How do they relate to any reading and homework that was due?
    • Think about any overarching themes or ideas you see emerging. Try to consider what your professor may discuss today.
  3. 3
    Take excellent notes. Always come to class with a notebook, pen, or pencil. Some teachers may allow you to take notes using your laptop, but be very careful to avoid getting distracted by things like the internet. Good notes are vital for studying for tests and writing papers.[8]
    • Make sure your notes are organized. Use headings explaining each major topic. Group related materials together and avoid writing all over the page or clogging the margins. Write neatly, so you can easily read your notes at the end of class.
    • It can be easy to misunderstand your own notes, especially if you were writing them fast. Your handwriting may be somewhat illegible, and you may not remember what a given note meant in a month or so when studying for exams. Therefore, try typing up your notes at the end of each class period when they're fresh in your mind. They'll be more legible and organized when you refer back to them later.
  4. 4
    Reach out to a teaching assistant. If your class has a teaching assistant, he or she can be a valuable resource for you. This can be particularly helpful in a large lecture class where it's difficult to get your professor's attention. Work on fostering a good relationship with your TA, as this can help you better understand your course material.[9]
    • Your TA may have taken very similar classes to you as an undergraduate. Therefore, he or she can probably easily answer a lot of your questions. Teaching assistants are also generally younger than professors. Your TA may better remember what it's like to be a student, and be able to offer you tips on how to balance school, social life, and extracurriculars.
    • If you're confused about an assignment or a lecture, see if you can stop your TA after class. This may be more helpful than going to your professor in some cases.
  5. 5
    Listen during class. There is no point in attending class if you're not going to pay attention. Turn your cellphone off before entering the classroom. Pay attention through the duration of the class.[10]
    • As you listen, pay attention the main ideas presented in this lecture. This will give you an idea of which areas to focus in on when studying later on.
    • Identify supporting material. What texts, or portions of your textbook, does your teacher most often bring up in discussion?
    • Remember to take notes as your teacher lectures.
  6. 6
    Refer to your syllabus throughout the semester. Do not just review your syllabus at the beginning of the year. Keep it on hand throughout the semester for review. Your syllabus is a valuable tool that can help you figure out how to best approach the course material.[11]
    • Your syllabus generally gives you a breakdown of how much assignments, in-class activities, tests, papers, and so on count towards your grade. Keep this in mind as you try to best direct your energies.
    • The syllabus will also remind you of appropriate classroom conduct, which is important to keep in mind as you navigate your classroom.

Method 3
Being A Responsible Student

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    Maintain a regular schedule. A major part of good grades is the ability to manage your time wisely. Work on maintaining a regular schedule and sticking to it throughout the semester. You should also plan ahead and stay aware of when big papers and tests are coming up. Write down important dates in your calendar and keep a daily planner.[12]
    • Decide when to study, do homework, socialize, and so on. Have a daily routine you follow that works with your class schedule.
    • Stick to general rules that work for you. For example, maybe you need a couple of weeks to write a solid paper. Make sure to always start papers a week before they're due.
  2. 2
    Take advantage of office hours. Professors have office hours in which you can come in and ask questions. Always take advantage of the time your professors are offering. Office hours are an invaluable way to gain a higher understanding of course material, and build solid rapport with your professors.[13]
    • Do not just come into office hours when you're struggling. Stop in just for a refresher when necessary. You can also have a professor look over a draft of your paper or go over the reading with you.
    • Your reputation can help sway your grades. If your professor is, say, deciding between a B+ and an A, they're more likely to grant an A to a student who seemed like they were consistently trying.
  3. 3
    Reach out to successful students. You want to surround yourself with inspiring people. In class, try to identify the most successful students. Try to plan study parties and review sessions with these students. Your grades will improve as good habits rub off on you.[14]
    • Try to form a regular study session. Meet once a week with the top students in your class.
    • Make sure to keep study sessions directed, however. Study sessions can sometimes dissolve into socializing, which will not help you bring up your grades.
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    Attend all your classes. Everyone misses class once in awhile. An illness or emergency can occasionally prevent you from making it to a lecture. However, never allow missing class to become a regular thing. Unless it's absolutely impossible, attend all your classes all the time. In college, classes may only meet once or twice a week. Missing a single class can really diminish your understanding of a course.[15]
    • Avoid being late. In many classes, too many tardies will count as an absence, which can bring down your grade.
  5. 5
    Improve your test taking skills. Even if you know the material, you may do poorly without basic test taking skills. Improving your test taking skills can really bring up your grades in university.[16]
    • Know what you should expect on exams. This will help with your nerves. Try to go into an exam knowing the test format ahead of time.
    • At the beginning of the test, stay calm and read through instructions before you begin writing.
    • Pace yourself. Be aware of time and make sure you do not spend too long on a single questions.
    • If you're confused by a question, ask your professor. It's better to stop and ask during the exam than to realize you misread instructions after getting the exam back.

Method 4
Changing Your Lifestyle

  1. 1
    Have a positive attitude. Your attitude can actually make a big difference when it comes to academic success. Try to feel positive about school and learning. You should also feel confident that you're able to succeed. This can help you have the energy necessary to get good grades.[17]
    • If you have a setback, see it as an opportunity to learn and bounce back rather than a defeat. Remind yourself that it's normal to get one bad grade or struggle with one subject. This is how you'll learn to be strong.
    • Remind yourself of the benefits of an education. You're learning to have a more nuanced understanding of the world while assuring yourself future success.
  2. 2
    Get plenty of sleep. Many people neglect sleep in college, but you're unlikely to be an academic success if you're tired all the time. Consistently running on less than 4 hours of sleep will inhibit your ability to concentrate.[18]
    • Stick to a sleep schedule. Try to go to bed and wake up at roughly the same time each day.
    • Avoid electronic screens before bed, as these can stimulate brain activity and make sleep difficult.
  3. 3
    Get organized. If you're unorganized, this will make everything about school more difficult. Try to keep all your course materials well organized. This will make studying and doing homework easier.[19]
    • Invest in a large planner. Store material from different courses in different folders in your planner.
    • Never throw anything out until the end of the semester. You never know when you may need something. Have a folder or section of your desk for old papers, notes, and other class materials.
  4. 4
    Eat well. A healthy diet can help give you the energy you need to earn high marks. Avoid processed foods and sugary foods. Have a salad for lunch instead of a slice of pizza. Snack on things like fruit, vegetables, and nuts over chips and other junk foods. You will be surprised by how much more energetic and confident you feel when eating a diet of healthy foods.[20]

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Categories: College and University Study Techniques