How to Improve Your Grades in 5 Easy Steps

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Whether you are achieving high academic achievements or struggling to pass a course, there is always room for self-improvement. Follow these tips to learn how to improve your grades throughout your college years!


There is no magic formula to passing college courses — achieving academic goals requires dedication and self-motivation. Even the brightest students sometimes struggle to achieve high grades, though if you can detect the reasons behind the struggle and a plan of action going forward, you might be more prepared than you think to enter the career world after graduation. Read more to find out how to improve your grades in 5 easy steps!



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1. Figure out where you are falling short

Are you earning lower grades across all subjects, or is there one particular course presenting more of a challenge? Look for patterns in your GPA. If you see an overall decline, you might want to address more personal challenges.


Your college years are meant for you to explore all areas of interest and discover the ones most interesting to you. So don’t let that one class affect your performance in all the others. Subjects that present more of a challenge should be detected early so that, next semester, you can be sure you are choosing the right courses in line with your academic goals.


Having the right mindset is a huge part of your future success. Knowing yourself — where and how you study best — will help you transition between courses and get the most out of each semester. Remember to take breaks when feeling overwhelmed and to tackle your workload task-by-task.



2. Ask questions and communicate with professors

Ask your professors where they think you can improve in their courses — they’ll most likely have some advice based on your academic performance. And don’t be afraid to ask questions during class. Many professors take questions after the lecture is over, so if you prefer the one-on-one feedback, invest a few minutes of your day and try to understand the course material and your natural reaction to it.


Even if you are earning your degree online, professors are typically accessible by phone and email. Talk to your personal program advisor as well — even online universities provide student counseling. University of the People, for example, matches each student with an advisor from the start of enrollment all the way until graduation. You can rely on these resources for general academic advice, to discuss course selection, and general encouragement throughout your studies.


If you are interested in the subject but having a hard time connecting with your teacher, try establishing a relationship outside of the classroom. Ask for additional reading materials not listed in the syllabus to re-energize your interest. Often, professors have their own published work on the subject matter and are very flattered when students take a personal interest. Most importantly, don’t be afraid to ask for their time. After all, the role of a teacher is not only to relay course material, but also to guide students into future leaders.



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3. Attend class and follow the syllabus

Even students with the highest grades sometimes struggle to stick to the syllabus materials. Although it may be tempting to delve further into a subject outside the classroom and to try and write creative, original papers, many professors prefer students to adhere to the syllabus. Thinking too much outside those guidelines is often a reason students earn lower grades simply because the final assignment is too detached from the original prompt.


Though it may be tempting to skip class on certain days when you feel overwhelmed or unmotivated, remember that just like missing a workout, the decision will stick with you later. You will have to catch up on class material, explain the absence to your professors of smaller classes, and potentially miss vital information mentioned during class.



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4. Organize your time and space

Studying in an organized workspace can have a huge effect on your performance during class. Spend some time finding out in which areas of your home or campus you feel the most productive. Do you need to be in a totally silent library in order to really focus? Or do you prefer to be at home, in your pajamas, working in your own space?


It’s important to understand this early on and to develop your time management skills in preparation for your future career. Keep track of your class schedule and assignments in a scheduler or a planner to visualize your day and the time you have between classes to fit in your studying.



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5. Pay more attention and take better notes

Writing down the points discussed during a class lecture — especially hand-written notes — will help you remember the important topics when it is time for the final exam or paper. Try to keep your mind focused on the professor’s words and not to write down points you already know. Develop your own abbreviations for certain points you hear repeated throughout the class. Finally, try not to take too many notes. Though this may seem counter-productive, it will actually help you to stay focused and makes the brain work harder.




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Why is your GPA important?

If you are thinking of pursuing graduate school after completing your undergraduate degree, universities will want to know how well you performed academically during the first degree. Often combined with an interview and personal essay, the GPA will most likely be one of the first qualifications to consider.


Don’t stress if you had a rough start. It is never too late for self-improvement and, luckily, your GPA is fluid and can improve over time. If you are employed or looking for employment, most employers focus on the interview process in their assessment of candidates. However, in some more quantitative professions like research or business analysis, employers may ask to see your GPA as part of the application.



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In the effort to improve your grades, you should first be able to detect challenging courses so you can seek extra help and attention in those areas. Advanced and honor courses sometimes carry extra weight when calculated into your GPA, so take your strengths into consideration when enrolling next semester. Finally, procrastination can be your worst enemy during your college years. It is important to learn early on how to motivate yourself to finish that assignment or apply for that job, avoiding the temptation to leave them until the last minute.



Wrapping Up

Pay close attention to your own strengths and weaknesses and take the necessary steps to improve where possible, like reaching out to a professor or enlisting a tutor in a particular subject. Utilize your professors throughout your college years — after all, they are there to help you succeed!


Classes are a great opportunity to build relationships with your professors. The more you speak up in class the more likely they are to remember you come exam time. Try to use class time to discuss the topic openly, but in your own assignments you should try to stick to the syllabus as closely as possible. When you are in class, really try to refrain from scrolling through Facebook or Instagram — this is your time to learn the professor’s main objectives for the course and to ask questions where you feel unsure.


In your own space, keep your desk organized and make your bed in the mornings. You will be surprised how de-cluttered your thoughts will seem once your personal space is physically de-cluttered. Set up folders by subject and establish an organized system for your notes early on in the semester. The longer you live with clutter, the more daunting will be the clean-up.