With midterms coming up, you may be asking yourself, “how can I improve my grades and develop strategies for academic success?” Luckily, there are tools and strategies you can use to become a better student and improve your grades overall. Don’t get discouraged if you’re struggling, many of these strategies can be learned and implemented over time.
Whether you’re in college or high school, there’s always time to learn how to study more effectively and become a more successful student. Here are 5 academic success strategies to help you on your way:
Talk to Your Instructors
Take an active role in your education and talk to your instructors. Don’t spend time guessing at what they may want from an assignment; ask questions & get clarity on assignments. Professors have office hours, for college students, specifically for this reason . Schedule and appointment with your professor and introduce yourself.
Once you’ve developed a relationship, you may find it easier to approach them when you’re struggling or need clarification on an assignment. In high school, you can always approach a teacher after class or ask your questions in class. Asking questions in class will keep you engaged and can help other students as well; other students may be struggling with the same concept or assignment as you and asking in class can help everyone out.
Know your limits and that your brain needs breaks. While it may be tempting to get in the zone and stay in the zone, a 5-hour non-stop cram session isn’t the best thing for you or your body. Be diligent about taking breaks every 30 minutes or so to get up, stretch, or get a snack. Set a timer on your phone so you can spend 30 minutes focused and then take a 2-5-minute break to do whatever you need. Jumping jacks or stretching can help get oxygen to your brain which will help you stay focused and stave off fatigue. A mental and physical break will help you feel refreshed and retain more information.
Are you a morning bird or a night owl? If you know you are an early riser and are most alert in the mornings, designate time in the mornings to study, instead of putting it off until the evening. The same goes for people who are the most motivated once the sun goes down.
If you know that you have a hard time focusing during the day and get your best work done in the late hours of the night, make a point of studying then. Everyone is different and just because one person functions best during the early morning hours, doesn’t mean everyone will. Know yourself and set aside time in the day that works best for you. You’ll get more done when you’re alert and this allows you to spend more time on other things that are important to you like socializing, exercising, or pursuing a hobby.
Set Early Deadlines
“Never do tomorrow what you can do today.” If you know you have a paper due on the 15th, don’t wait until the 14th to get started on it. One good way to avoid procrastination is to set earlier deadlines for yourself. If an assignment is due the 15th, aim to get it done on the 10th, allowing yourself time to review and avoid stress when it comes to crunch time. Giving yourself extra time means you’ll ultimately end up with a better product and keeps you from turning something in late when life or other class work inevitably gets in the way.
Use a Planner & Set a Schedule
Speaking of deadlines, it’s a good idea to invest in a planner of some kind whether that’s a physical paper planner or an online task manager or calendar. This will help you keep track of deadlines, but it will also help you to set a schedule. If you start thinking of school like a job, you can “clock in” and “clock out” for a full day’s work.
You may only have a few hours of class in the morning on Mondays but set a schedule to go to the library and study Monday afternoons from 2-5. Even if you don’t have to study for a specific exam or have a certain assignment to work on, you can use this time to review notes and prepare. Setting a schedule can help provide stability when things get hectic and allow you to really enjoy yourself when you have “time off”.