When students do not get good grades in school, many people jump to often ridiculous conclusions–i.e., that Junior has a learning disorder, that teachers are not doing their job, or that there is something wrong with the school system. It might surprise some of these parents to realize and to accept the fact, though, that what is really at fault is the child’s lack of studying skills or the reluctance or inability to abide by these time-tested and extremely effective practices:
1. Do the homework. Whether it is grade or graduate school, one of the most effective ways for students to get a good grade is by doing the assigned work. In most instances, homework mirrors what is on tests, helps people to learn more effectively, and is a very good predictor of how students will do in any class. Many students, though, not realizing the importance of homework and not willing to invest the time required to do it, fail to avail themselves of its multi-faceted benefits.
2. Maintain good attendance. Especially in science and in math (where each lesson taught cannot be grasped without a good understanding of previous lessons), every single class matters greatly. Students who miss any lesson are simply not prepared to go on with the work ahead. The only way to get good grades in most subjects, in fact, is by being in class on a regular basis and by keeping up with the material covered.
3. Be in class on time. Many students (especially in college) maintain a good attendance but repeatedly show up for class late. This can be just as bad as having bad attendance, if the practice is on-going and unaddressed. Missed class time translates into material that was not absorbed and that, in turn, easily translates into bad grades.
4. Ask questions when appropriate. Some students, fearing that their questions are stupid, or simply succumbing to shyness, fail to ask questions when they don’t understand something. Not having fully absorbed the material, they go on to the next series of lessons, their confusion increasing as time goes by. Ultimately, they feel lost and overwhelmed and poor grades are generally the result.
5. Take good notes in class; get notes from classmates when absent. Taking notes in class has a dual purpose. For starters, it helps in the learning process. Writing down what is discussed in class helps students to remember it. Hand-written notes also provide the best material when studying for tests.
6. Stay on good terms with the teacher or instructor. It is imperative that students always be courteous and cooperative–at the very least, to not be disruptive or make a teacher’s jobs more difficult than it has to be. Some instructors will hold lack of cooperativeness against students when it comes to grading–actually, class participation and behaviour is oftentimes part of the grading scheme. Teachers are more likely to reward students who do what they are told and are respectful.
7. Keep up with all the assigned readings. Many students, thinking that they can catch up later, sometimes put off their assigned reading. They also use their time for more fun things than reading “boring” material. Getting good grades, however, often comes down to doing the required reading, preferably one section at a time (as opposed to cramming through whole chapters the night before a test).
8. Get tutoring when needed. Some students are too ashamed to admit that they need help with some subjects; others, after falling behind on assigned reading or homework, also end up in the “I need help” pool. Whatever the reason, most students can get fairly good grades (or at least pass the class), if they get tutoring early on in the semester.
9. Set aside some time for studying, preferably in an adequate place with fewest distractions. This helps students to keep up with their reading, to do regular reviews, and to complete their homework on time.
10. Preferably based on formal aptitude assessment, determine and sign up for subjects that will best satisfy long-term career goals and personal interests. Some students do poorly in school because they end up taking classes in which they have little or no interest. They may also sign up for programs only because it’s supposed to lead to a good paying job, even though the subject is not personally appealing. Whenever possible, students should exercise their right to decide what to study. Having a personal interest in a subject is one way to ensure getting good grades.