How to Get Good Grades: A Guide

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Given that 80% of the top students get into elite colleges, the obsession with good grades is definitely based on facts. Knowing how to get good grades is only half the battle, though.

Getting good grades can help shape your future in a lot of ways. Good grades show colleges that you’re focused on your work and have a high standard of achievement. Later in life, it shows employers that you’re a hard worker who has a lot of determination. The kinds of accolades you can earn in college can be dependant on how you did in high school and will determine how far you go in life.

Learning how to get good grades is different for every student and different in every school, but there are a few basics that are universal. Follow these 10 tips to ensure you set yourself up for success.

1. A High School “A” Isn’t A College “A”

Even if you were in advanced placement courses, there’s a lot more flexibility in high schools than there is in colleges. Often you’ll be in a high school class with a couple of dozen students.

In college, you could be in a seminar with hundreds of people.

It’s much harder to build a personal relationship in these circumstances and far less likely you’ll get special treatment. The same kinds of excuses that worked in high school to get an extension don’t apply in college.

The bar for achievement is also much higher in college. If you’re at an elite university, it will be expected that you’re deeply focused on your work. Otherwise, why not go to a much less rigorous program?

If you want to get great grades and keep them that way, check out this guide to find out more.

2. A Syllabus Has Details

While your syllabus might seem like nothing more than a schedule of classes and reading assignments, read it closely. Often, a professor will pepper in details that they will be grading you on. In some cases, you might have to start raising your hand more.

If you want to know how to get good grades, the key is often participation. When you participate, you’re more attentive. When you’re more attentive, you don’t miss details like online quizzes and small assignments that could get buried under other coursework.

A syllabus is a contract between you and your professor. They agree to give you the space to learn and grow and in turn, you agree to do the work.

There might even be some alternative paths to success. If you’re not a good writer, there might be options for making a visual project or something other than the typical essay in response to a prompt. For artists and creative people who still want to get an A, there are ways that professors will often leave the door open if only to make life more interesting.

3. Start Off On A High Note

Part of how to get good grades relies on how you present yourself. If you start off with a disinterested attitude and phone in your performance, your professor will take note. They will associate your work ethic with a lower grade before it’s even time to register grades.

If you want to tell your professor that you’re an “A” student, act like one from the first day of class. Show up a few minutes early for every class. Turn in assignments neatly, as requested, and most of all, on time.

Even if your assignments are graded by a TA, it won’t go unnoticed.

Make an excuse to meet with your professor during their office hours. Bring up common interests in the field, so long as they’re sincere. Show them that you’re engaged with the material and focused on a high level of performance.

Lay the foundation and your work will be considered for top-notch status.

4. Timing Is Everything

Both high school and college can be hectic for young students. With extracurricular activities, sports, after-school jobs, and the dreams you’re pursuing, there’s often a battle for your attention.

So long as you’re in school, you need to leave time for good study habits. Don’t settle for doing anything at the last minute. Give yourself enough time to edit, backtrack, and make mistakes.

If you don’t give yourself time to create a draft, you’re going to hand in what is essentially a “draft version” of your work. This will lower your grade and lower your own standards to start fitting in with a “good enough” mentality.

While you need to reserve time to be social, don’t let it take away your study time. There are ways to balance out time for partying and time for work. Make it a priority that you’re always completing assignments with time to spare.

5. Don’t Be Afraid of Old Tricks

Flash cards, repetition exercises, and pneumonic devices have been in practice in education for as long as there have been schools. That’s because these tactics work. Repetition, as banal and exhausting as it can be, is a good tool for learning new concepts and new material.

When you take notes for a class, don’t just shove away your notebook and forget about your notes. Look at them again. See if you can piece together the narrative and fill in the spots you’re not sure of.

If you don’t fully comprehend material, get comfortable asking. You’re not denser than anyone else in the room. Sometimes, ideas just aren’t explained well and no one is comfortable pointing that out.

Speak up, ask questions and don’t be afraid to be wrong.

Laser Focus Is the Secret to How to Get Good Grades

The biggest secret to getting good grades is patience. You need to be patient with yourself if you make a mistake and patient that learning new things take time. If you can focus on what’s exciting about your future career, the pain of studying will easily subside.

If you’re thinking you might want to give up alcohol while you’re in the midst of exams, check out our guide for kicking it.

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