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4 strategies to improve your academic outcomes

9th August 2020 Print

If you're failing in class or your marks have dropped dramatically, you may be starting to lose your hopes for a successful school year and even your self-esteem. But despairing won't bring you the results you're looking for.

Although at first, you won't succeed, it doesn't mean this should be the end of your world - dust yourself off and try again!

Where to start? Firstly, you may need to figure out why and where you're doing badly at school. This might be counterintuitive, however, in order to find the cure for a disease, doctors often need to identify the root cause of the problem.

The same goes for your bad grades. Find out what the root of the problem is. There are various reasons why your marks may be dropping the way they do, maybe you could have poor studying approaches, maybe you're not getting enough sleep each night, or you simply cannot pay enough attention in class. No matter where this underperformance streams from, finding the root of your problems should be your first concern.  

1. Stay Organized

While in college, a lot of your life’s daily activities are going to change. Not only that you’ll possibly be living in a new place away from home, but you’ll also be spending a lot of time studying, learning coursework, researching, writing papers and reading. But when it comes to takling everything in school while at the same time balancing your physical, social and emotional health, it truly pays to be organized.

As you'll be running from class to class, scheduling time to hang out with your friends, it’s helpful enough to know you have all sorted out with a free and simple tool like Google Calendar. Being organized will not only help you identify new ways to study and improve your grades, but it will also keep you on the floating line and stress-free.

Also, keeping your computer clutter-free can save you a lot of time and makes it very helpful in the future when you need to reference back to the material if you keep all your folders well-organized from the get-go. Start out with a basic organizational structure. Maybe this sort of change could work wonders for you: create a folder for the entire school year, then the semester organization, then a folder for each course name. In your course folder, you can set folders for homework, resources and essays.

2. Improve Your Note-taking Skills 

Your ability to take notes can be a decisive factor when it comes to improving your marks in college. As you probably know, most of the material your tutors discuss in class is likely to show up on your next exam paper. The point is to get as much information down as you possibly can without stressing about neatness or structure as you can always redo your notes the next day.

Make sure you pay special attention to anything your tutors talk about or share on the board, as well as any PowerPoint in-class presentations. Listening in class can be truly challenging, especially if you’d better be anywhere but in class. But scrolling through your social media or catching up on your friend’s later escapades will not get you those long-desired good marks. It might be difficult to approach less enjoyable subjects, but adjusting your thoughts and notes will help you eliminate some of the stress. That said, the longer your practice the better you’ll get at note-taking.

Summarize lecture notes after each class

Knowing which information might be important later on for an exam will dramatically improve your chances of getting better marks. Depending on your task, this should only take you a few minutes to summarize some of your notes into five or six main points. Try to reduce each point to one or two sentences that capture the basic concept behind each main point. Doing so will allow for more effective studying pace and better retention of information, which is imperative for improving your grades.

3. Work put where you’re falling short

Many successful students will say that the only way to score good grades is by working out the areas that need targeting, long before you can draw up an action plan. This means your next step should be identifying the area in which you’re underperforming and the reason why. Are your marks dramatically lower than you’d like them to be across different subjects, or there is one particular subject you’re stressed with that’s beating down your overall performance in a certain subject?

To tackle this kind of situation, many students rely on additional online courses meant to improve their academic performance, as it provides a flexible schedule and environment and more choice of course topics. Taking additional classes at your own convenience allows you to no longer worry about failing when choosing how and when to learn next. By taking additional classes, you can actually focus on the subject you’re having problems with and choose from a variety of other programs and courses.

4. Track your Grades and Monitor Your Average

Marks are meant to measure a student’s progress in schools. Like a fluttering average, your grade-point average is clearly an indication of how you manage your studies. While both use grade point averages, it’s vital to make the distinction that college isn’t the same as high school. Unlike high school, in college, there are no regular reminders from your parents or tutors of what you have to do to pass a class. As the responsibility falls entirely on the student, you have to step up to bat. Therefore, the grades you obtain in college will depend entirely on what you do yourself.

College provides a whole different learning environment than the high school, which means that more will be expected of you. That said, it’s important to understand that the same amount of effort that got you straight A’s in high school will not actually yield the same outcomes at college.

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