Not everyone can be a straight A student. That said, everyone can at least improve his or her grades by developing some very basic strategies. Having school strategies will help you feel like a confident learner in high school, not devoured by the sharks of confusion, anxiety, and depression. The following tips can help you put your best foot forward in class, whether writing assignments, or doing group projects.
Find a special place for your homework and studies. This place should be quiet, comfortable, and uncluttered. Have a desk and chair handy.
Do your homework when your thoughts are clear and you are feeling fresh. Long, painful, repeated experience has taught me that if I start my homework when I am already very tired I either don’t get it done, do it poorly, or utterly zap my energy for the next week because I pulled an all-nighter to get it done. I have even been known to fall asleep halfway through!
Do your homework at a specific time every day, when you are feeling most full of vim and vigor. Even if an assignment or project is not due for quite a while, start on it early. Do a little bit every day till it’s done. That way, last minute panic will be eliminated and you will do a better job on it, too.
Believe it or not, your teacher is your friend, not your enemy, and wants to see you do well. So treat him or her with all due respect- even if you don’t like him or her. A respectful attitude will help you if you do need to confront him/her or ask for extra help. Listen carefully and take thorough notes in class, making sure you put a star next to the points your teacher makes repeatedly. Ask only questions which are pertinent, relevant, and thought out. This shows your teacher that you have been listening attentively and actively.
After class, compare notes with your classmates to see if you’ve missed anything important. If you are sick, get the notes from the days you missed as soon as you get back to class. Have a friend copy their notes and then return the favor someday when he or she is sick or absent. Studying together for tests is a good idea, but only if you actually study and not just gossip and goof off.
Sometimes you will have to do a group project in your class. Your attitude towards your team members is important. Remember, we are all human beings. Right from the start, determine to get along well and work together as a team. Look for hidden strengths in yourself and other members to determine who should do what. One person should not end up doing all the work or none of it.
Most likely you will have to give a group presentation or write a report to show what you have learned in the project. Never be afraid of creativity; be stimulating and interesting. If your group uses charts to bring a point across, make sure they are neat, colorful, informative, and to the point.
When giving a speech or oral presentation, planning is everything. Unless you plan exactly what you are going to say well in advance, you are likely to be nervous and distracting to your audience. First, make an outline of all your main points, writing them down on index cards. Use Roman numerals for main points, capital letters for sub points, and numbers for minor points. Keep your cards together with a rubber band or paper clip to avoid losing them. Practice aloud in front of a mirror or friend/ family member. Ask this listener if they understood your points or if they noticed any nervous habits like rubbing your eyes while you were speaking. Try to break these nervous habits now that you are aware of them and before you are under pressure. As you get up to speak, walk slowly up to the front of the class with note cards in hand. Take a few deep breaths before you begin, but don’t gasp them in as if you were drowning like a fish out of water. Stand up straight and look your audience straight in the eye. Speak loudly and clearly, properly enunciating each word. Do not mumble, put your hands in your pockets, or fill the empty spaces with little ums, ers, and uhs. Develop each point fully and clearly, incorporating colorful examples and pertinent anecdotes where appropriate. Vary your voice tone throughout to hold your audience’s attention throughout the presentation. Nothing puts people to sleep faster than a monotone.
Planning is also important when writing essays, especially long ones. If possible, pick a topic you know a lot about or are really interested in exploring. The topic has to be broad enough to provide sufficient material, yet narrow enough to be covered adequately in the scope of the assignment. Before you start to write, make an outline similar to the one described earlier when we were discussing oral presentations. Remember, the purpose of a rough draft is simply to get your ideas down on paper, no more and no less. The time to perfect your essay comes only after the draft is completed. When that’s done, look through your essay for errors in spelling, grammar, mechanics, and verb forms. Pay attention to style, presentation, and idea flow. Would one section look better nearer to the beginning or end of the paper than where it is now? Would this sentence sound better worded differently? Are your ideas clearly expressed? Make notes on the rough draft to indicate the necessary changes. Finally, write your final paper. It should be typed or printed neatly on white typing paper. Use blue or black ink, leaving a margin of one inch on either side. Correct any errors with liquid paper or white out, if there are not too many of them. You may need to make a third or even fourth draft before you are satisfied with the final product. Make a title page with your working title, the date, your name and the teacher’s name attractively centered. Credit all sources, and leave a blank page at the end for your teacher’s comments. Number your pages. It is now ready to be passed in.
The final subject which we will examine is a formidable one: tests. Tests are one of those necessary evils that all students must endure with patience until they graduate. They do not have to be a source of fear and trepidation if you know how to study effectively and discipline yourself to do it. As soon as the teacher sets the date of the test, start reviewing your notes for a few minutes each night to get familiar with the material. Highlight key sections, facts and formulas. These are what you should concentrate on learning most. Memorize essential data and understand your information. Thoroughly understand key issues that might turn out to be essay questions and imagine how you might discuss them on a test. Know processes and how to apply formulas and do calculations in your math and science exams. Get extra help from the teacher, a tutor, or and expert student if you need to, again making sure you don’t wait till the last minute to obtain said help. The night before the test, get a good night’s sleep. Listening to Mozart over a good breakfast the next morning never hurt anyone. Don’t argue or let anyone upset you before you write the test. Stay calm throughout. This in itself will improve your grade because you will actually remember more of what you studied so hard. School should be a positive experience for every student. Make your studies a priority, but don’t forget to get plenty of rest and fun, too. Balance is key. Be confident in yourself and your abilities. Be positive. You can do it!