The best way for the average student to improve their grades is to stop studying.
Stop studying with that strategy that isn’t getting you the result you want.
This is the exact opposite of what most students do.
They see a low grade. They’re disappointed. To feel better, they spend more time using the same study strategies they’ve always used.
And, if they’re lucky, they will see a small increase in their grades.
Eventually, this strategy will hit a wall. There is no way around it.
Study More And You Will Collide With Reality
Studying “more” comes with costs that most students ignore.
Most students fall into habits with their study routine.
They might study an hour a night. Or more likely, they’ll study 5 hours the night before a test.
They won’t change anything as long as it’s working. That makes sense.
When something goes wrong their first instinct is to study more but that immediately destroys the balance that had been achieved.
When you study longer, you do other things less.
You have to spend less time with your friends.
You may have to spend less time eating.
At the very least, you’ll have to spend less time relaxing at the end of the day.
This study strategy used to work because all of these things were balanced.
Increasing your time studying tears time away from other things you find important.
That imbalances everything.
This is what leads to…
The Number Of Killer Of Awesome Grades
Procrastination kills your grades.
When you have the right study routine, procrastination is almost non-existent.
Procrastination is your bodies natural reaction to the self-punishment you’re forcing yourself through.
If you don’t spend enough time doing what’s important to you, you’re not going to want to study.
It doesn’t matter if what you want to do is productive or not.
Your body and brain will fight to focus your attention on what matters most to you.
There are ways you can reprogram yourself to think differently but you shouldn’t expect to instantly change your natural instincts.
(Don’t try and change your behavior before you change the way you think.)
More importantly than that, if what you’re doing isn’t working well then you’re not going to want to do it!
It’s foolish to try and fill a bucket with a hole in it.
Your subconscious is going to see that hole and think, “I don’t want to fill that bucket. It will take too long. It’s boooring.”
Once you repair that hole in the bucket, most of those objections disappear.
Studying is boring when it’s not working. It can take forever.
When you fix the problem in your study routine, most of your objections will disappear.
Studying becomes easy.
And the craziest thing is: it can take less time than you take to get ready in the morning.
During my busiest semesters in college, I’ve always spent more time in the shower than studying.
Your Teachers Can’t Tell You This Stuff
Most teachers don’t even know the strategies you’re about to learn.
In the United States, education is regularly ranked among the easiest college majors.
Don’t take that to mean they’re not intelligent. It’s just a different environment.
Teachers usually don’t need top notch strategies to keep up with their classes.
Sure… they can benefit from these strategies. They just don’t absolutely need them.
Where you’re going to find the most powerful study strategies are in the hardest degree fields.
- Look at medical students and see what they use? (Active recall… more on that later.)
- Look at law students and see what they use? (Creative expansion… more on that later.)
- Look at what math students and see what they use? (Precision… that is just what it sounds like.)
Certain strategies are essential for average college students in super challenging majors.
For example, it’s almost impossible to learn thousands of terms and definitions without active recall.
You don’t have to be in the hardest college major to appreciate these strategies though.
In fact, since they aren’t essential to surviving, you’re going to be more capable of thriving.
The average student may need to study an hour a night to keep up in class.
A student that understands these strategies can usually study less than 15 minutes a night.
How To Bring Your Grades Up To The Next Level
There are hundreds of complex strategies that I’ve taught over the years but the most simple of the strategies are the most powerful.
Most of what you need to know can be learned with a few hours of practice.
Active recall is practicing to remember stuff.
Answer this question: what did you eat for breakfast this morning?
To answer that question, you may have had to think a second. That second of thinking is active recall.
Visually: If you have the urge to scrunch your face and look up when you’re trying to answer a question then you’re probably using active recall.
Practice remembering the things you want to remember.
Don’t read it repeatedly. Don’t highlight it. Practice it.
Flash cards are the classic example of studying like this.
This is a term that’s been coined by a few different people to mean different things. I’m hereby recoining it blatantly.
Creative Expansion is taking what you know and turning it into something more based on other things you know.
This is a hard process to imagine because it’s so broad in its implications. The more specific my example is, the easier it will be to debunk.
If you know two facts:
1. George Washington was the first US president.
2. George Washington was a general before that.
You can make up the statement: George Washington developed his impeccable leadership from his years as a general.
Notice there is a new detail that has nothing to do with the facts. It assumes:
George Washington had impeccable leadership.
That’s very reasonable to assume because he became president and was a general before that but it’s not necessarily factual. You need for evidence to claim that genuinely. Mostly though, people don’t care.
Most of school is related to this form of creative expansion.
You take what you know and you make reasonable assumptions.
This allows you to turn what you don’t know into something that you can score points off of.
90% of teachers don’t care if you’re completely right.
They care more about when you’re wrong.
If you provide an inaccurate fact then you’re in trouble.
If you provide a logical and potentially verifiable fact then they usual will assume it’s fine. (There is an exception for controversial stuff.)
Practice building on the facts.
Use that to improve your grade with less memorization.
This is the most versatile strategy any student can learn.
It matters in every aspect of your academics.
In each class, focus on the assignments that are valued the highest.
Don’t waste time on assignments that don’t have obvious value.
Use your class syllabus for this.
In each semester, focus on classes that have the most impact on your future.
In high school, that often means focusing on courses for your major. It could also mean increasing your lowest grade to increase your chances to get into a top-notch college.
In college, it usually means focusing on classes related to your major.
In general, it’s good to focus your energy on the classes you plan to make a career in.
This expands into your personal life too.
Don’t waste time doing things that you don’t think are valuable for you.
I was like you too.
I was dissatisfied with my grades.
Then I got the chance to master academics.
That’s why I love sharing what I learned so much.
Now thousands of students have applied these strategies to create amazing results for themselves.
Nothing gives me more satisfaction than the stories these students tell.
You can change your grades for the better.
(You can tell me the story :P)
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.