Extraordinary grades are not the result of extraordinary efforts.
Extraordinary grades are the result of intelligent efforts.
Most of the points you score in class come from a small percentage of your work. If you focus on those really valuable parts of your score then you can increase it dramatically without suffering for it. In fact, you might get to the point you enjoy improving your scores.
This is something that most people don’t understand because they’ve never had the pleasure of experiencing it. Most people settle for average grades because they know how to get them. And quite frankly, average grades are painfully slow but almost anyone can use almost any method to get them as long as they spend enough time at it. It’s pretty brainless.
Students that THINK have a better way. That’s what we’re all about here.
1. Reassess Your Syllabus
The least appreciated method of improving your grades is understanding your class syllabus.
Almost every teacher gives students a syllabus describing exactly what goes into the students final score. By understanding what that syllabus means, you can focus your energy on the points that really matter.
I remember I had a math class where homework was something like 10% of the final grade. The thing that made that weird was that homework took me well over an hour every single night of class.
That means, I was spending an hour a night on the class to gain only 10% of the final score in the class. I could skip absolutely every homework assignment and still score a 90% in the class.
From that point on, I cleared up nearly an hours worth of homework every night. I did only the least frustrating parts of the homework and my grade was still near the top of the class.
I focused my efforts on test prep instead of homework. That gave me a huge advantage come test time.
2. Get A Full Night Sleep
Sleep is the thing that most students sacrifice first when they have a big test coming up.
Unfortunately, studies have shown that it’s the area that most students should sacrifice last.
Given the choice between studying or sleeping, you should almost always pick sleeping.
Studying is way less effective when you’re depriving yourself of sleep. And come test time, going in sleep deprived can be a major wild card. Some days is will work out okay but there will be other days it will completely destroy your grade.
3. Study Less But More Often
More studying is almost never the solution.
Believe it or not, most students spend enough time studying. They just don’t spend enough focused time on a regular basis studying.
Long study sessions are massively ineffective. Most students end up doing them the night before the test out of desperation. And some students can still score a reasonable grade with this strategy.
The problem is: this long single-day study session requires way more time than a short daily study session would take.
I discussed the evidence of this hundreds of times on this blog.
Cramming might relieve you of the guilt of not studying often enough but it won’t help your grade enough to matter.
4. Take Advantage Of What You’re Good At
A good syllabus assessment will take you far but there is one more important factor to consider in this equation.
What are you good at?
If you’re really good at writing or math or some specific aspect of a course then be sure to take advantage of it and maximize the points you can get for it.
This can be one of the fastest ways you can improve your grade because you probably do the things you’re good at faster than you do everything else.
And… if you’re good at it then you’re bound to get more points from it.
5. Study (Only) What’s On The Study Guide
Study guides are like test syllabi.
Sure… they’re a little less specific but they can be just as powerful.
The first thing anyone should learn to prepare for any test is the information on the study guide. If your teacher is generous enough to hand you a study guide for the test then it’s just about as good as them handing you the answer sheet.
Some teachers literally write the study guide while reading the test. Point by point they ensure the study guide is keeping up.
When you have one of these teachers, you can spend 100% of your study time on the syllabus and the only points you’ll end up losing are the mistakes you make.
On most tests, it’s not that perfect an advantage. Some teachers leave off certain topics off the study guide.
Despite that, focusing 100% on the study guide will usually be your best approach because those are guaranteed points for the test.
There is unlimited information to learn that’s not on your study guide. The study guide is a virtual guarantee that there is something important to learn.
6. Act Confident
We all screw up in school sometimes.
It’s part of being human. It’s a sign you’re actually learning something. Anyone that doesn’t make mistakes is wasting their time because they’re not learning anything.
With that in mind, you have every reason to be confident.
Sure… I don’t know your specific story but I know a few things about you:
- You care about your grades
- You’re willing to read this to learn to improve them
- You are, at least, reasonably intelligent
- You haven’t given up yet.
The only real failure is giving up.
As long as you’re confident, you never have to worry about giving up.
Not confident? I was that way for years.
The key to solving that is surprisingly simple.
Just act confident. Go through the motions. At first it will feel a little funny but once you get the hang of it, you’re going to start seeing how it sticks.
7. Learn To Study Better
When you learn to become a better learner, everything you learn in school for the rest of your academic career will benefit from it.
A 5% improvement in your strategy will improve your grade (at least) 5% every year for the rest of your academic career. Compare that to learning 5% of the information in a single school subject for one year. One year later and in every other class, it’s not going to help all that much.
Learn to learn better.
My favorite way to do that: read!
We give away free books here at Smart Student Secrets. I highly recommend you give them a read. If you’re really into it then you can join our advanced students.
Unlock Your True Potential
Have you ever felt like you could be more?
I’m going to go out on a limb and say “You’re right.”
I know this because you’re here. Because you’re reading this. (I’ve seen the analytics. Most people that show up on this site don’t have it in them to read this. Honestly, this stuff isn’t always easy to understand. They’d much rather get back to their memes that require zero IQ.)
You’re capable of great things.
Hi. I’m Aaron. I graduated college early taking a double course load while working 30 hour weeks. – And I didn’t do it because I’m particularly smart. – I barely survived some years in high school.
I learned strategies that took my academic game up to the next level.
And those are the strategies I’d like to teach you…