This might sound a little odd but it’s true.
Most students get caught up in trying to look like a good student. They don’t focus on success. They focus on going through the motions of a good student instead of the things that actually help their grades.
When teachers imagine a good student, they imagine the kind of student that does their homework. This isn’t a completely unrealistic image of a good student.
Most good students hand in the majority of their homework. That being said, many high scoring students skip stuff.
Always handing in your homework may help you create the look of a high scoring student but it can be counter productive for getting higher grades.
Homework is sometimes worth the time investment. Sometimes, homework is not worth the time investment. The smart student knows the difference between these times and takes action appropriately.
Low Impact Homework – Throw It Out
Some teachers give a lot of homework. Other teachers hardly give any of it.
Here’s the kicker though: Teachers that give more homework are devaluing each individual assignment.
If homework is worth 20% of your final class grade then if your teacher gives 10 homework assignments, each of those homework assignments is worth 2% of your final class grade. If the teacher gives 100 homework assignments then each assignment is worth ⅕%.
The more homework a teacher gives you, the less important that homework will be in your final score for the class.
Here is a dilemma you should consider:
Imagine you only have time to complete one assignment but need to complete two.
How do you pick which assignment is more important?
You should usually do the assignment from the teacher that assigns less homework.
You need to account for the final grade percentage to be 100% sure.
Once this aspect of homework sinks in, you might notice that teachers that give you lots of homework get less and less irritating. They may add busy work to your day but throwing away a fraction of a percent on your final grade to skip it, might be worth it.
Know The Value And Produce Explosive Results
A little earlier in this article I mentioned one of the other major factors to pay attention to in class.
Teachers list the factors that will account for your final grade on most class syllabuses. For example, a teacher might list homework as 20% of your grade and tests as 80%. Use these weights to set your own priorities.
If homework is a small percentage of your final grade then it matters significantly less if you actually do the homework or not.
Many teachers make homework a tiny percentage of your final grade while still giving homework every single night. In those situations, don’t worry about doing your homework for your grade’s sake.
There may be other reasons to do it like test prep. When you don’t have a clear reason to do the work then skip it. Instead, focus on test prep (or whatever else is important for your final grade.)
If homework is a large percentage of your final grade then it matters more if you do your homework.
In those cases, you do it. Making homework a priority can take up more time outside of school. Fortunately, knowing that allows you to slack off more when it comes to other stuff.
These priorities work between different classes too. If you don’t have enough time to complete your homework then you should pick the highest priority homework and do it well.
When you have a tight schedule, you might want to rush through everything. Then you’re stuck handing in crappy work.
When a teacher allows late work, rushing work is a mistake. Even if you lose a couple points for it, you can make up for it with quality. It may be better to hand in low priority work late than on time and rushed.
Naturally, by doing all your work you can gain the most points. It works in theory because you get to assume you’re a machine that doesn’t hate doing low priority work.
Reality is more complicated than that. Most students do better when they sacrifice the low priority work and focus well on the high priority work.
When To Actually Do Your Work Anyway
There are times when, despite a homework assignment being low priority, you should still do it.
If the homework helps you prepare for tests then you should consider doing it anyway. This is particularly true if you don’t feel comfortable in the class.
Homework lets you practice the things you need to know.
It may not always be worth the points but it can give you a good idea of what answers your teacher will be looking for on a test.
This, to some extent, applies to reading assignments.
Teachers don’t typically test whether students actually did their reading or not. Following through with the class reading can have a large impact on the students understanding of later work. Doing the reading assignments may not always be required for points but that leaves the student in a very tricky position.
I wouldn’t recommend it. I say that we this caveat: I almost always skipped reading assignments and still scored near the top of my class.
Sometimes your homework will ask you questions that emphasize the same points. This is particularly true of math textbooks. A teacher might assign 30 problems but half those problems will be nearly identical with different numbers. You might only want to focus on problems that give you trouble and skip questions that you know you can figure out.
What You Need To Know To Crush Class
Doing homework might make you look like a good student but it’s not always the best way to actually improve your grades.
You should consider skipping your homework if:
1. It’s low value.
Your homework may be low value if:
- It’s one of many many assignments.
- The homework isn’t worth much on your syllabus.
2. It doesn’t help with test prep.
If it does help with test prep, consider only doing unique aspects of the assignment (and skip repetitive aspects.)
3. You have better things to do.
Better things can just be more fun things. It’s about how much you value everything. Homework doesn’t have to always come in front of fun. The smart thing is to make the decision consciously.
Aaron Richardson took his grades from fighting F’s to Easy A’s. In the process, he read over 300 books on personal development. Today he’s founded 2 blogs on studying including Smart Student Secrets. He’s written 3 books on the subject. His work has been featured on some of the biggest news, psychology, and student sites on the internet.
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