The 8 Most Effective Strategies Guaranteed to Raise Your GPA
Most students talk about how much they wish their GPA was higher, but don’t really do much to actively make that happen. It’s easier for it to dip than to rise, for sure, but there are some easy ways to see it gradually increase over time. The following tips are not quick fixes, but rather, tried and true ways to proactively raise your GPA so you can achieve your academic goals.
1. USE A CALENDAR OR SPREADSHEET TO RECORD DEADLINES: Whether you prefer Microsoft Excel, Google Docs, an online calendar, or the old-school paper calendars you can buy or print out, make sure you keep track of your project deadlines! Most (if not all) professors deduct big-time points for turning something in late. Not only will recording your deadlines keep your stress low and ensure that you turn things in on time, but it will also feel great to cross each item off as you go. TIP: Put the estimated time you’ll need to complete each project next to it. This will guarantee you don’t run into any issues last minute.
2. RECORD CLASS LECTURES/LESSONS: When you’re in class trying to listen, take notes, and stay focused while inescapably observing the people, sights, and sounds around you, it’s sometimes hard to absorb all of the new information. Throw in a headache, personal problems, or other distractions and you’re lucky to really gather 60% of what the professor is teaching. People who record their classes end up doing better because when they have questions, all they have to do is replay the lecture to get clarification. It’s free and easy, so why not?
3. HAND-WRITE YOUR NOTES: Students who hand-write their notes rather than use a laptop score higher on tests and in general. A key reason, studies have shown, is that aside from getting distracted on your laptop (ie. Facebook, Twitter, news…), people tend to try and take notes verbatim when typing. On the contrary, when handwriting notes, students understand they have to be selective because they can’t write as fast as they type. The result is that these students ultimately record only the most relevant information, rendering the notes much more useful.
4. MAKE NOTE REVIEWING A PART OF YOUR PRE-BEDTIME ROUTINE: Once you have the proper notes, incorporate 15-30 minutes of review before bed each night. By now, most of us have heard that “cramming” doesn’t do much good anyway. It’s far better to actually learn the information by taking a little time each day on a new subject. Studies show that students who review their notes regularly, retain 75% of the information they learn, even up to 9 weeks after the quiz. Students who do not review notes regularly retain less than 20% of the information.
5. GET A STUDY BUDDY: This might sound so “grade school” but hear me out. When you study with a partner, they will think to ask questions that you might not have come up with on your own. Also, when you study together, you’ll be speaking a lot of the information out loud, which proves beneficial in retaining the study materials long after you walk away from the notes. Lastly, it boosts morale to know you’re not in it alone.
6. STUDY SMART, NOT HARD: I touched on this earlier in number 3, but most lectures and textbook chapters have a handful of obvious take-away information. In other words, ferret out the critical information from the fillers (anecdotes, personal stories, etc.). Study only the truly relevant bits of information, which are the very things that will show up on the test. It’s not necessary to memorize every single word of a lesson or chapter, but rather, the “meat” of it.
7. TALK WITH YOUR PROFESSORS: Most professors (the good ones, anyway) make themselves available to you either through email or in-person. If you need clarification, get it! It’s up to you to be your own academic advocate. Make sure you understand what’s being asked of you with a particular assignment. If you find yourself scratching your head on something, or worse, falling behind on a whole concept in the lesson, it’s on you to reach out for help. Take the initiative and explain your problem or question to the professor, who in most cases, really does want to see you succeed. Maybe he or she will give you extra time, a chance to bring up your test score, or suggest a video or article to help you better learn the information at hand. Either way, you need to man up and use your words!
8. NEVER SKIP CLASS: Professors take time to plan lessons and squeeze all of the relevant information into the class. When you skip, you show them what their planning and hard work mean to you…not much. Additionally, you really cheat yourself. If you’re thinking of your GPA, chances are you actually care about your education, not just skidding by. So make sure you show up, ask questions, sit close to the front if it will keep you focused (to avoid internet and social media distractions) and basically show up for not just your professor, but for yourself! Students with perfect (or near-perfect) attendance fair better in general, and more specifically on their overall GPA. Facts!
A lot of things in this world (and in our lives) we have little to no power over. But when it comes to your academic success, the responsibility falls on you alone. If you do the 8 steps above consistently, they will work even when life gets in the way in the form of personal issues, a bad professor, or a hectic schedule. Remember, it’s small, steady steps done each and every day that count the most, not the big, grand study gestures the night before an exam that dictate your overall success.