How to Study ~or~ How to get great grades without really trying (too hard)

Do you study for endless hours and still get average grades, or just pass by the skin of your teeth? Or, do you just plain hate to study and can't get motivated no matter how hard you (or your parents) try?

Let me tell you, I've been there and I know how disheartening it can be. I routinely received C's, D's, even some F's in my bachelor's program; I hardly dared to plan or even hope for a bountiful future when my grades reflected less than my actual abilities.

Now it's so different. I earned a 3.9 GPA in one master's program and currently have a 3.7 in my new master's program (can you tell I love school?! Now more than ever!). I finally learned how to be successful in school, and the steps are really very simple.

You too can be on your way to TOP GRADES, so if that's what you're after ... read on!!

1. Diligently record all upcoming assignments, tests, and projects in your planner -- you should have your planner sitting on your desk along with other relevant materials for the class.

2. If you were not given a calendar by each teacher for the entire term's assignments, ask each teacher for one, or see if calendars are posted online, so you can record and prepare for assignments well in advance. You can also track your grades, online or in your notebook, to monitor your own performance.

3. For classes in which you use a textbook, read pages as soon as they are assigned, then bring your text and handouts to each class -- very likely the teacher's lecture will closely follow the student materials.

4. Read along in the text or handouts as the teacher lectures, highlighting points that are mentioned, and recording notes (as needed) directly on the handouts and in the text (if allowed). The teacher will lecture on points s/he wants to emphasize.

5. Since you will have read the assigned material beforehand, the lecture will serve as a review. Depending solely on notes taken from the teacher's lecture is unwise, since even a minor distraction or a little daydreaming may result in a loss of important information. Taking this proactive approach to studying will help you become a self-sufficient learner. Your grades then will not suffer if your teacher's teaching style is less than adequate, or if you are out sick.

6. Every couple days, look over your text/handouts, paying close attention to the highlighted sections. You should have little need to put in more than your average study time before tests, as you will already have learned what you need to know with regular review of the material.

7. If you're lucky enough to get extra credit assignments, do them! That one or two point bonus just might be the difference between a B and an A.

Before long, you will start expecting and receiving top scores since you will have studied all you need to achieve them. And experiencing success in school is a great motivator for excelling in all areas of life.

So, in summary ...

Record all assignments in your planner, as far in advance as possible.

Read assigned pages in text and materials before class, ideally as soon as they are assigned.

Bring text and materials to each class, and highlight lecture points.

Review highlighted areas and any notes every couple days.
Be consistent -- study at the same time each day in a distraction-free study zone; take a short break each hour to check in with family or have a snack.

Take a day off from studying every now and then as a reward, when no deadlines loom.

And, an important lesson I learned ... if you truly want top grades, you need to prioritize your homework. Arrange your social/sports activities around your schoolwork to keep your stress level to a minimum.

You will be amazed to find you can actually trim study time using this plan.

Good Luck ... but you won't need it, cuz now you've got the skills to succeed!!

Author's Bio: 

Ms. Pan has owned and operated STAR Tutoring Service, LLC since 2003. She holds a master's degree in Library and Information Science and bachelor's degrees in both Physiology and German. Aside from continuing her lifelong learning and expanding her tutoring business, Ms. Pan relishes family time with her daughter and son.