Getting top grades might sound easier than it actually is. That’s why we’ve prepared some tips on how you can get top grades by staying organized and sticking to a plan.
Realizing the value to your degree and maintaining a consistent dedication to studying is the first step all top-grade students must do. Once you realize that your studies are for you and no one else, and that you acknowledge the importance of an education for lifelong success, you will be able to put the necessary energy forward to completing any academic goal you have set for yourself. The number of hours you set aside will depend on your education level and personal needs. But in general, Year 11 to 13 will be about 2-6 hours per subject per week, and university will be even more. Once you are doing your Bachelors or Masters, the expectation is that class is there to supplement your independent research and learning. In other words, you will easily spend 5-8 hours studying per day. Most of it will be reading and writing, but exams will require memorizing as well. Here again, it depends on your field of study.
Get organized and stay neat.
Stay consistent with what needs more attention. Make a list of the subjects or topics you need to focus on, either because you are struggling or because they are in an important part of your curriculum. Knowing what you need to prioritised, keeping your binders, notes, books and markers organized and neat will be key in staying ahead and not getting overwhelmed in moments of stress, such as when new topics have begun or deadlines are approaching.
Know your learning style.
Everyone has a different learning style. Some prefer libraries, away from their personal distractions, some prefer their home, as there won’t be other students or friends around them making noises or interruptions. Some need others to review their class notes, others need absolute solitary silence. Learning what you need to effectively learn will help you start your studying sessions more efficiently, allowing you to get “in the zone” right away.
An additional note to mention about learning styles is knowing whether you read fast enough. Especially once you start university, you will be expected to read extensively or deepening your understanding of the material taught to you in class. That is why learning how to speed read will be a very useful skill to add to your list. The Huffington Post wrote an article regarding this a few years ago. But there are many books, videos and articles on this topic, so feel free to explore other methods to improve this skill!
Stay engaged in class
Self-discipline, motivation and staying engaged are all crucial in maintain a high academic standard. When in class be sure to raise your hand, ask questions, take notes (and read them within the first 24 hours after class to make sure the information sticks and is understood). Knowing how to read directions carefully and listen to what the professor or teacher notes as important is also a crucial part of making sure you are fully aware of what is expected of you in each class. Your textbooks will have valuable information to compliment what you learned in class. But the information gained in class (i.e. the information emphasized and directly addressed by your professor or teacher), is what you will be tested on in an exam or essay. As the article 11 Secret Habits of Straights-A Students Even Post-Grads Will Want to Steal emphasises, your notes should be your first point of reference.
Stay on top of your health.
Sleep, healthy food, exercise and time to relax may seem like obvious things to value. But under stress and time pressure, many of us will begin to sacrifice on certain elements. This in turn will only make staying engaged in your academic life even more difficult, as your brain needs all of these essential elements to function properly.
Don’t fall behind. Note: most important point on this list!
Always do the homework. And avoid skipping classes. If you feel like you are beginning to fall behind, ask for help. Friends, study groups, teachers’ or professors’ office hours and tutoring services are all always available for your support. Ask for help sooner rather than later. But try not to rely on family and friends too much. At a certain point this will begin to backfire, as they have their own responsibilities and may not be well-versed in the topic you need help with. That is why asking someone who is an expert in the subject, which would either be your professor or a tutor, are your best option. Professors are the best first option, as they will clarify what they want you to know. But for further help, a tutor will be your best bet.
WikiHow, in its article How to Get Good Grades, summarises why a tutor can really be an added value to your learning. “If in the end the subject is super hard and you just can’t understand it, get a tutor to help you. Sometimes a tutor is even more helpful than getting a one-on-one with a teacher because they are closer to your age and can explain things to you in a manner that you can understand better.”
In addition, know the difference between reading it and “getting it”. i.e. make sure you are studying effectively. As you are doing your work, check in with yourself honestly to make sure what you are reading is actually being absorbed and fully understood. Also, last minute and cramming information in doesn’t work, simply because when you will be under stress, most of the information won’t come to you.
To make sure you’re all set for the hard work ahead of you, we asked one of our tutors to share what she wishes she had known before she started university.
1. Stay on top of readings and deadlines
In the first few weeks of university, it can be easy to forget that you actually have work to do. Nevertheless, it’s absolute key to stay on top of readings and deadlines from the very start, so you’re not caught out later. You might be surprised at the length and number of your readings in particular but it’ll only get worse, so you might as well get stuck in early on. So, work through your readings and write down your deadlines, and skip to lesson 5 if you need help.
2. Stay on top of your finances
From student funding to rent to food, managing your finances is important. This may be easier than you think and it can sometimes be overwhelming to stay on top of things. So, before you go, draw up a budget and work out what your costs and income will likely be and make paying rent your priority. Because finances are so important, the Guardian has put together these tips on how to manage your finances at university, and they’re well worth a read these last weeks of summer.
3. Remember it can be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster
When at university, you won’t always have the best time and that’s okay. There is a lot of pressure on university students to have the best time of their life but it doesn’t always pan out that way. Cut yourself some slack and admit to yourself when times get tricky. Homesickness, deadlines and loneliness can all be part of university life and that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Trust me, you’ll come out stronger and look back at how much you’ve grown.
4. Take care of your mental health
Following on from lesson 3, it’s important you take care of your mental health. This way, you’ll be able to handle difficult situations and come out stronger and wiser the other side. To boost your mental health from the very start, we’ve compiled these practical tips for university students that will hopefully make things a little bit easier.
5. Seek academic support to boost you
Deadlines can be tough, especially when high school or college hasn’t taught you the necessary academic skills for university. Time management, academic writing and exam revision skills are often taught with insufficient one on one support, which is why university students need personal tutoring and mentoring too. That’s why Über Tutors offers tailored support for all university disciplines, from law to economics to languages and more to make sure students are well prepared for essay deadlines and exams, and learn the necessary academic skills once and for all. We offer a free consultation and custom match you with one of our tutors, so get in touch today!