42 Best Ways to Improve Your Grades and be a Successful Student

Ways to improve your grades is a common contest among learners in any institution.  Like many students at university, you may be unhappy about the results you attain in exams. You may feel that even with all you are doing there must be something more or different you could be doing to get better grades. We have all at some time or other heard of that student who only studies a couple of hours for final exams and scores A’s every time.

The reasons for success, in what I think are the vast majority of cases, are less esoteric than many students think: successful students consistently apply a series of productive strategies with view to attaining clearly identified learning and grade goals throughout the academic term. Here we have put together those productive tips that can guide you through in your studies and your aim towards having a good grade and become a successful student.

Best Ways to Improve Your Grades and be a Successful Student.

Whether you are achieving high academic achievements or struggling to pass a course and hoping to enroll in one of the colleges that accept lower grades, there is always room for self-improvement. Here are the ways to improve your grades and be a successful student:

1. Start organizing your life

The most successful ways to improve your grades and be a successful student in your academic performance is to get organized. Keep your workspace tidy and all your notes and textbooks organized in such a way that you know where everything is. Start thinking more about your time management, too, as this will allow you to prioritize your time effectively, freeing time for problem subjects.

Write yourself a daily timetable that incorporates your school schedule, dividing your day into slots of time and fitting in plenty of time for studying. Allocate extra time to subjects or topics you’ve identified as being ones you’re struggling with; it could be that the reason for your underperformance in these subjects is that you’re simply not devoting enough time to them. Making a plan for what you’re going to do and when you’re going to do it will make sure you’re always ahead of the curve literally.

2. Create a game plan for each study session.

One of the  ways to improve your grades and be a successful student is to have a solid game plan before each study session. This will ensure that you’re focused, that you meet your goals, and that your sessions are productive. Block off your studying in 15 or 30-minute chunks of time and write a list of what you will do during each time period, whether you’re studying flashcards, reviewing your notes, or taking practice tests. This will keep you from feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated. Having a list that you can check off will make you more motivated. You’ll feel accomplished and focused as you check each item off your list

3.  Set a schedule.

 Do you work better right after school or after you’ve eaten dinner? Are you more productive in 90-minute blocks or half-hour spurts? Find a schedule that works for you, and stick to it.

4.  Manage your study space. 

Find a place that will maximize your productivity. Look for places away from the television and other distractions. Whether it’s your local library or just the desk in your bedroom, set aside a study space that you’ll want to spend time in.

5.  Find a study group.

Sitting down with a group of people who are learning the same things as you is a great way to go over confusing class material or prepare for a big test. You can quiz each other, reteach material, and make sure that everyone is on the same page. After all, teaching someone else is the best way to learn. 

6. Get rid of distractions before they become distractions

Another biggest ways to improve your grades and be a successful student is to get rid of the obstacle of distractions. To overcome distractions, you can’t depend on willpower. Few of us have the willpower necessary to fight off all the distractions that surround us in this digital era. Here are some ways to eliminate distractions before they become distractions:

  • Turn off notifications on your phone/tablet
  • Delete all the apps that distract you
  • Put your phone/tablet in another room before you start work
  • Set a really, really long password to unlock your phone/tablet
  • Restrict your Internet access
  • Have only one tab open in your browser at any one time
  • Find an accountability partner as you make these changes

7.  Adopt a positive mental attitude

In the face of lower-than-expected grades, it’s only human to react by feeling disappointed with oneself. When you’re frequently receiving lower grades than you’d hoped for, you may start to feel depressed or defeated, and feel like giving up. The first step on the road to improving your grades is to turn this negativity on its head. You need to be positive about the situation if you’re to stand a chance of improving it. Acknowledge that your grades aren’t what you’re aiming for, but believe that you can do something about it. Start by mentally taking control of the situation: instead of thinking “I’m a failure”, think “I can and will do better than this.” Don’t give up – take positive steps towards achieving the improvement you’re more than capable of achieving.

8. Develop good posture

Good posture improves your mood, and also enhances your memory and learning. So sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, and lift up your chin and you’ll perform better in school.

9. Avoid  multitask

Whenever you’re multitasking, you’re actually just switching between tasks. This reduces your studying efficiency. So don’t multitask when you’re studying or doing your homework. Instead, focus on one task at a time, and you’ll find that you’ll get more done in less time.

10. Cultivate a strong believe in yourself

Research has proven that students who believe that they can become smarter actually do become smarter. Belief  is powerful. Don’t ever label yourself as “dumb” or “not academically inclined”, because with the right mindset you can become more intelligent.

11. Work in short blocks of time

I’ve found that most students can’t maintain a high level of focus for more than 45 minutes at a go. As such, I generally recommend working in 30- to 45-minute blocks, followed by a 5- to 10-minute break. Working in shorter blocks of time is more effective for the majority of students, rather than struggling to focus for a couple of hours straight.

12. Exercise regularly

Regular exercise helps you to remember information better, enhances your concentration, and makes you more creative. This is in addition to the other health benefits of exercise. What does this mean for students who want to be successful in school? Make exercise a fixed part of your weekly routine. Exercise three to four times a week, for at least 20 to 30 minutes each time.

13. Be organized

Students who aren’t organised end up wasting precious time looking for items or notes, or doing last-minute work they forgot about. Here are some ways to become more organised:

  • Set a daily reminder to check if there’s any homework due the following day
  • Set reminders to start preparing for tests and exams
  • Use a planner or Google Calendar
  • Clear your desk at the end of every day
  • Use an app like Google Keep to do a “brain dump”

14. Manage your task

Big tasks seem complicated and overwhelming, which is why many students procrastinate. Break every big task down into smaller tasks. For instance, instead of deciding to work on your history paper, you might break the task down into the following smaller tasks:

  • Read Chapter 3 (notes)
  • Read Chapter 3 (textbook)
  • Do online research (5 to 10 articles)
  • Develop thesis statement
  • Write outline

When you work on the history paper, focus on completing one task at a time. This will make it less likely that you’ll procrastinate.

15. Get some rest

Don’t underestimate the importance of those eight hours of  every night! Getting a good night’s rest will sharpen your focus and improve your working memory. Students who perform well are effective learners. As the research shows, sleep is a vital part of becoming an effective learner. Sleep boosts memory and enhances learning. So go to bed at roughly the same time every day, and make it a priority to get 8 hours of sleep a night. If you do this, I’m sure you’ll see an improvement in your academic performance.

16.  Study in a conducive environment

Here are some tips to do this:

  • Tidy your desk daily
  • Ensure that you have all the stationery, notebooks, etc. that you need
  • Ensure that the lighting in the room is suitable
  • Use ear plugs to block out noise if necessary
  • Put up one or two motivational quotes at your study area
  • Get a comfortable chair
  • Remove all distractions from the room

17. Take notes during class

Another important ways to improve your grades and be a successful student is to take notes in class, because it helps you to pay attention and to learn the concepts better. I prefer taking notes in a linear, sequential manner. But there are several other note-taking systems that you can learn about here.

18. Ask lots of questions

Another important ways to improve your grades and be a successful student is by asking your friends and teachers questions about what you’re learning is a great way to stay engaged. It also ensures that you understand the new material. Don’t be afraid of asking silly questions. Besides, if you pay attention in class, your questions will likely be logical and insightful.

19. Eat healthily

Research shows that the better your nutrition, the better your brain function. And the better your brain function, the better your performance in school. Here are some basic tips to eat more healthily:

  • Eat vegetables and fruit
  • Eat meat and fish
  • Eat eggs
  • Eat nuts
  • Avoid processed foods
  • Avoid sugar
  • Avoid trans fats
  • Avoid artificial sweeteners
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Avoid sugary beverages

20. Do consistent reading

Don’t do last-minute read, and don’t cram for exams. Easier said than done, I know. But if you do consistent work, you won’t even need to study that hard for your final exams. (By applying the rest of the tips in this article, you should be well on your way to doing consistent work).

21. Manage your thoughts and emotions

Students who lose focus or motivation are typically discouraged. They’re often discouraged because they feel as if they won’t do well academically, so they lose hope. How should you become more successful in school? Manage your thoughts and emotions effectively  especially when faced with disappointment. To do so, take a step back and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are these thoughts true?
  • Are these thoughts helpful?
  • Am I taking things too personally?
  • How can I view the situation more positively?
  • Do I need to forgive the other person?
  • Do I need to forgive myself?
  • How can I be more compassionate toward myself?
  • What productive actions can I take to improve the situation?

Through answering these questions, you’ll adopt a more positive and resilient mindset.

22. Take a few minutes to prepare for each class

By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Preparing for class is something I encourage every student to do. Every night, think about the classes that you’ll be having the following day in school. Take a few minutes to skim the textbook or notes, so that you’ll be familiar with what your teacher will cover the next day. In addition, do a quick recap of the previous topic, because the new topic will likely build on what you’ve already learned. This process won’t take long, but it will pay off in the long run. 

23.  Talk to your teachers

Your teachers know you best, so it’s worth talking to them when you’re drawing up a plan of action for improving your grades. Ask them where they think you need to improve, and they’ll probably have some advice on how you can go about it. Coupled with the advice in the rest of this article, this should allow you to tailor an action plan to your personal situation.

24. Pay attention in class

If you’re prone to daydreaming in class, it’s time to start focusing on the here and now. Listen to what the teacher is saying rather than talking with friends or allowing your mind to wander. Don’t simply copy down what’s on the board without thinking about it; make sure you’ve understood it, make neat notes so that you can understand them when you come back to them (more on that later), and don’t be afraid to speak up if there’s something you don’t understand or want clarifying. It’s much easier to ask a teacher to explain something differently than it is to trawl through books trying to find a clearer explanation for yourself, and they won’t think less of you for asking.

25. Give yourself rewards

To keep yourself motivated, give yourself small rewards whenever possible. For example, you might decide that after 45 minutes of work, you’ll reward yourself with a 5-minute YouTube video. Or if you enjoy exercising, you might decide that after you finish your math and science homework, you’ll get to do a 30-minute workout. Rewards are a simple way to encourage you to get to work, even when you don’t feel like it. 

26. Hire a private tutor

You may consider hiring a private tutor to help you improve your grades for a particularly tricky subject. Some extra tuition may be just what you need to help bring your grade up, as you’ll benefit from one-to-one tuition in an environment in which you might feel more able to ask questions without the fear of speaking up in front of your peers. If you think this would help you, speak to your parents and suggest that they place an advert in the local paper if they’re willing to cover the cost of private tuition for you.

27. Do and submit your assignments regularly

This tip might sound like common sense, but a large proportion of the students I work with don’t do this. Make it a non-negotiable to submit your homework on time, and give a good effort for each assignment. This is the foundation of doing well in school.

28. Challenge yourself

Taking it one step further, don’t just do the assigned homework. Challenge yourself and do extra questions that require deep thinking. Look for online resources. Learn information that’s outside the syllabus. This will help you to see the wonder and beauty in all that you’re learning. You’ll also be reminded that getting better is its own reward. 

29. Make time to relax

Doing well in school isn’t about getting good grades and outperforming your classmates. It’s about leading a balanced life that’s focused on contributing to others. To lead a balanced life, it’s important to set aside time for relaxation. Block out time for relaxation in your weekly schedule to ensure that you don’t burn out.

30. Have a specific plan or objective for each study session

Many students share with me that their mindset toward studying is that they’ll “study hard”. This might sound good, but it actually means that they don’t have a specific objective or plan. This isn’t the way effective students approach academics. For each study session, set a clear objective as to what you intend to achieve. This might be to read through a set of notes thoroughly or complete 30 multiple-choice questions.

31. Use memory techniques

Memory techniques are powerful ways to learn information more quickly. Here are some of the most useful ones:

  • Acronyms
  • Visualisation
  • Chunking
  • Association

32. Test yourself periodically

Don’t assume that just because you’ve read the notes and looked through some examples that you understand the material well. For all you know, you might have been daydreaming during those study sessions. What else should you do? Test yourself periodically. Do plenty of practice questions and keep a list of the mistakes you’ve made, so that you won’t repeat those mistakes in the exam.

33. Take practice exams under exam conditions

It isn’t practical to do too many practice exams under exam conditions, because it’s time-consuming. But before every exam, I recommend that you do at least two to three practice exams under exam conditions. This will help you to prepare adequately, and will train you to deal with the time pressure of the exam too.

34. Study ahead of any test or exam

Cramming for tests is always a bad idea. I recommend that you set a reminder on your phone (or make a note in your planner) one to two weeks before every scheduled test, so that you’ll start preparing for the test. For big exams, I recommend that you start studying four weeks in advance or more.

35.   Help others and contribute

Students often lose motivation when they focus too much on achievement and too little on contribution. After all, the aim of education is to become equipped with skills and knowledge so that you can help others. When students lose sight of this, they sometimes feel as if school is meaningless. To keep things in perspective, find small ways to contribute in your capacity as a student, e.g. volunteering, fundraising, solving problems in your school, serving the underprivileged. 

36. Improve your essay-writing skills

Another common reason for academic underperformance is that the student’s essay-writing skills aren’t sufficient for the level required to achieve top grades. This is fairly easily fixed by improving your essay-writing technique. Good essay technique covers all aspects of essay-writing, from the research phase to the final proofread, and even how you respond to the feedback you get for your essays. Responding in the right way to feedback – and not taking criticism personally – will be particularly useful if you feel you’re underperforming, as this should give you the guidance you need to be able to improve.

37. Propagate the right learning style

If you’re academically underperforming, another possible reason could be that you haven’t found the right learning style for you. We’re all different, and each of us has our own way of studying that yields the best results. Perhaps you just haven’t found your most effective studying style yet. If you’ve been trying to work on your own, for example, you might find it easier to work with a friend or two, so that you have someone else there to motivate you.

38. Improve your memory

Many students struggle to remember all the information they need for exams, and this brings their grades down. With so much to learn across many subjects, remembering facts, figures and arguments is a pretty monumental task, and you need to arm yourself with some effective memory aids to help you. You should learn how to improve your memory techniques for exam preparation. 

39. Stop procrastinating

One of the reasons why you’re underperforming could be that you’re spending too much time procrastinating  that is, putting off work by distracting yourself with other things, such as social media. This is a common response to a big workload; when you have so much to do that you don’t know where to start, the temptation is simply not to start. The problem is that in doing so, you’re delaying the inevitable, as well as making your task worse by eating into the time when you could be productive. If you’re guilty of procrastination – and we all are at some point or another – take a look at our article on five reasons we procrastinate and how to stop it.

40. Allow plenty of time for revision

If you’re achieving lower scores than you’d hoped for on timed tests or mock exams, for instance in IB Maths, it could be because you’re not allowing enough time for revising for them.. This may be because you know it’s not ‘the real thing’, but practice exams are just as important as real ones. They show you which areas you need to spend more time on, and achieving good grades in them will give you a confidence boost. Treat them as seriously as you would a real exam, allowing yourself plenty of time to revising for them. Better still, revise everything you learn as you go along, so that you learn it properly first time round and have less need for revision. Also, be sure to read our articles on effective revision techniques for science students and humanities students.

41. Make learning more fun

Sometimes students underperform because they have simply lost the motivation to learn. It’s not surprising, when the pressure of exams and doing well at school takes away the enjoyment of learning. It’s easy to get so focused on achieving top grades that you forget that learning can actually be fun – and not only that, but it’s much easier to do well when you’re enjoying it. If studying has become a chore for you, it’s time to put the fun back into learning. You could do this by gamifying your studies, or by trying some of the ideas in our article on 15 ways to make studying less stressful. 

42. Manage your stress

Students who don’t manage their stress well are more likely to experience performance anxiety and get worse grades. To manage your stress levels:

  • Perform deep breathing exercises
  • Listen to music
  • Spend time with friends on a regular basis
  • Exercise
  • Read a book
  • Keep a gratitude journal
  • Take a few minutes to reflect at the end of each day.

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