Tips to Improve Grades

Twelve or more years of schooling and we are never taught how to study. Research shows that excellent study skills yield positive results in the classroom.

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I remember being told, "You better take notes, you'll see this again!" Then feverishly, I'd try to write down everything the teacher said, verbatim.

We are not taught the importance of good note taking nor are we taught how to use those notes as a learning tool to improve grades.

Organization is important as well. Have you ever sat down to study and realized your notes were scattered all over the place?

Math notes in the English notebook. Handouts from math class in the Sociology folder. Homework assignments from English class in your math binder. This simply won't do!

A few simple adjustments can work wonders and improve grades. First, organize your notes by date and subject.

Create a study schedule. For example, Monday evenings, I'd study Anatomy. On Tuesday afternoons, I'd study Psychology. And so on and so forth. So every Monday, about the same time, I'd study what? Anatomy.

This helps you develop a routine, a pattern, so to speak. We know that the brain is a pattern detector so this method tends to work well.

When you settle down to study with your organized notes, in a quiet and well lit work area, make sure you study in intervals.

Study for 15-20 minutes then walk away and absorb that chunk of information. Don't overdo it. I would not suggest studying more than an hour at a time utilizing the chunking method.

Consider beginning your study session with your most difficult subject first. End your study session with your favorite subject. Look at this method as a way to reward yourself.

Don't study difficult subjects back to back. I would never suggest studying Calculus, Physics, and Organic Chemistry. Instead, study French after Calculus, and maybe English after Physics to break up the intensity of the subject matter.

If you are tired, don't try to study. This yields poor results. Go out and get the adrenaline pumping. Play a little basketball with friends then return to your work area and get the task completed.

Always prepare for your classes. After a lecture go over your notes while the material is still fresh. Jot down questions on post-its or in the margins of your paper so you can ask them during the next class.

Determine what memorization method works best for you. Making flash cards, creating acronyms, or a song.

When studying, do it actively, not passively.

Read, Recall, Reflect, and Review. Read the text, notes, and handouts. Recall what you have read. Jot down ideas that arise, questions, or phrases. Reflect. Take what you've absorbed and make it relevant to you. Add it to your existing knowledge base. Review. There will be small quizzes that lead to big exams, so practice this method regularly.

All in all, taking time to organize your notes, effectively taking notes, and developing a method of studying improves grades.

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