There really are just a few tricks that you need to know to make the best grades possible. Well, maybe 16 is not “just a few,” but it’s not that bad.
1. Attend class. Every class. Don’t skip classes. Most professors lecture on the things they think are important. These are the things that are most likely to be on tests. You might be able to skip reading the book, don’t skip class.
2. Sit center front (or as close as possible). This makes it easier to see what is being written on the board. It makes it easier to hear. It also makes it easier to interact with the professor. AND, it means you will be less likely to be distracted.
3. Pay attention. Put the cell phone on vibrate and leave it in your backpack. The world will not stop if you don’t answer that text until after class. (Besides, even if the professor doesn’t say anything, they are really pissed by people texting during class. And yes, they can easily see exactly what you’re doing. Having it in your lap does not hide it.)
4. Take good notes. If you don’t know how to take good notes, you definitely need to learn.
5. Ask questions. Ask questions during the class. Show up early and ask the professor about anything you have questions about in your notes. (Even the best note-takers don’t get everything.)
6. Every night (or at most, every 3 nights), review your notes and put everything on flash cards.EVERYTHING.Complicated things may take several cards taped together.
On the front of my cards, top left corner, I put a letter-number combination that tells me what class and either unit or chapter number. For example, C14 meant Chemistry chapter 14, and B3 meant Biology 3rd unit. I keep all my cards in one big stack, all shuffled together, and rotate out the cards after the test on that unit.
7. Go through your cards EVERY DAY. Preferably several times a day. At first, just read them. Then, you will need to start really working on memorizing certain cards.
8. For large amounts of material that can be put into table form, make 2 copies of the table and cut one apart into separate squares. Then study by trying to put the pieces together to make the table (without looking). I used this method when I had to memorize all the physical specifications for all the different types of computer communication protocols (what type cable, maximum lenth, connector type, etc.)
9. A few days before the exam, without your notes or cards, try to type everythingthat you remember. The whole unit. Then compare it to your original notes and fill in anything that you missed and correct anything you had wrong — in a different color type.
10. Don’t study extra the night before a test or the day of the test. This just creates nerves. Get a good night’s sleep. Eat a balanced, nutritious breakfast. Relax and know that you’ve got this one covered.
11. If there is one or two cards that are extremely critical and hard to keep in your mind, review them right before the test and then, the instant you get your test, turn it over and do a “brain dump” — write the content from the cards on the back of the test. That way it will be there, ready to refer to if/when you need it.
12. Read the test questions carefully. Circle the significant words. Skip questions that seem confusing to you then go back to them at the end. If you have time, go through the whole test twice. Work math problems backwards to doublecheck. But don’t double-guess yourself. Usually, your first gut feeling is right. Especially if you’ve studied all along. Don’t worry about the occasional question that totally takes you by surprise. I’ve had professors include the strangest things on exams. Stuff fom a part of the lecture that I had thought was a totally irrelevant, random tangent. Oh well.
13. Start all assignments the day they are given. Try to get them done as soon as possible.
14. Read the book and work the chapter problems. No, this is not generally a turn-in assignment. It is practice for the test. Many teachers take their exam questions straight from the chapter questions.
15. Fall break and Spring break have the wrong names. They should be called, “Fall work on your own at home” and “Spring work on your own at home”. Professors do not expect you to take these days off. If you take these days off, you will be behind when you return.
16. Read the syllabus. If you professor puts assignments and exam dates in the syllabus, copy all of this onto one page and put it in a sheet protector and keep it in your notebook.
College is a lot more difficult than I expected. My classmates say the same thing. Whether you’re straight out of high school or gray-haired, it’s hard. You won’t make good grades if you don’t have a good plan of study and apply yourself.
The Old Lady
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