Yes, it really is that simple. If you want to improve your grades, you need to improve those study skills.
Choose a specific place to study and get the materials you’ll need to use while you study. Pencils, pens, paper, computer, etc. along with your textbooks and class notes. Perhaps you can study with music so you’ll want to add a radio and if you’re easily distracted get a simple kitchen timer also. Make sure it’s a comfortable place. If you can’t work at home consider a library, a quiet coffee shop, study hall, student lounge and/or an empty classroom. If you’re not studying at home, be sure all your materials are with you.
Next, you need to set up a schedule to do the majority of your studying. Consider the time of day it’s easiest for you to concentrate and try to make that time your study time. Your schedule has to be flexible because “life happens” but a regular schedule helps you study better. And, schedule in breaks too. After an hour of intense study, take fifteen and take a walk, chat with a friend, have an apple, etc. If you’re easily distracted or having a tough time with a particular assignment try this. Set your time to 15 minutes and, if needed, take this time to write down steps you need to do to complete the full assignment. Take a five-minute (only!) break after you’ve done that. Then reset the timer for 15 minutes (or longer if you can), and start doing each step one by one. Continue alternating a longer study time with a short break until you’re done or the end of your study time has come.
Keep a social life. No one enjoys being around a dull Jack. There might be a week when it’s almost all study but do try to get together with friends and take the time to participate in activities you enjoy. This will help recharge your batteries so when you get back to studying it will go better.
Make sure you understand each assignment. Ask all the questions you need so you’ll know exactly what you need to do to ace that test or get an A on a paper. Ask what’s going to be on the test or quiz. A teacher will frequently give you that information. If you get a lower grade than you think you should, contact the teacher for a short meeting on how you can improve on that score for the next assignment.
Take good notes in class. Even if the instructor hands out written pages of material, highlight the most important parts, take notes in the margins, etc. This will help fixate the most significant portions of the material in your mind. You might also ask if you can record the lecture(s) if you think this will help you. But, you should still take notes. I prefer an outline style of notes – a rather messy outline but that is what works best for me.
See if your teacher is willing to meet with a small group of students for extra help. Years ago I took an adult night class in marketing. About half a dozen of us, plus the prof, went out to dinner afterwards every week. Believe me, I learned much more during those dinner conversations that I ever did in classroom. And, a short time ago, I took the Dale Carnegie Sales Course and the instructor offered to meet any of us once a week for breakfast or lunch. Again, about five of us took advantage of that and we still meet to this day, five or six years later, to bounce ideas off of each other and do business with each other when we can.
Highlight what you’re reading. Maybe you can’t do that if you’re still in grades 1-12 and then you’ll have to take notes. But once you buy your own textbooks, be sure to take advantage of this. It will save time to quickly go back and review a chapter once you’ve highlighted the most significant data.Y
ou might consider study groups. That’s really what my friends from the Dale Carnegie class was – we’d go out and have a drink after class and rehash the class, and help each other out. You’ll want something a little more formal and be sure it doesn’t digress into a purely social time which ends up wasting your time. An effective student group can enhance everyone’s study experience.
Diet also plays a part in your grades. A good balanced diet leads to good health which helps you to concentrate on your studies. For some people taking ginkgo, ginseng and other herbs seem to help with memory. You might try this. Vitamins also play a part in helping your brain function better. Some researchers have linked a lack of Vitamin E with memory loss. You’ll find Vitamin E in corn and peanut oil, wheat germ and meats but you may prefer to enhance this by taking supplements. Lecithin has also been suggested to aid in treating neurological disorders, depression and memory loss. Natural sources of lecithin are normally high in both fat and cholesterol – eggs, dairy products, soybeans and meats.
Now, go ace that test!