10 Ways To Improve Your Grades Instantly (Within 2 Months)

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Are you studying everyday, but for some reason you still can’t get the high grades you are aiming for? 

Do you re-read your notes? Highlight as you read? But nothing seems to stick to your memory?

Yooooo, I am right there with you!

I’ll read something and completely forget what I just read and have to start again from the top – it is extremely annoying. 

Many college students simply re-read notes, powerpoint slides, study guides and automatically assume they are ready for the exam.

If only it were that simple…

While this might work for some, there’s people like us who have to study and work extra hard to achieve high grades.

Every year, extensive research and studies are conducted about the most effective ways to improve grades.

In this blog post, I provide a list of scientifically proven methods from experts on how people absorb and comprehend information. My goal is to help you start kicking ass in your college classes!

1. Make A Life Schedule

If you want to start studying more efficiently, you need to create a schedule that allows you to focus more on your academics.

Whenever a student would come to my office with concerns about not passing classes, my first question was how organized is your life schedule?

Do you have your work, classes, and social life organized in your planner? 

Are you dedicating enough time to your homework and study sessions?

Taking control of your schedule and eliminating distractions that are not relevant to your academic success will assist you in improving your GPA. 

Start by using a planner or your Google Calendar, and be sure to jot down all your responsibilities, such as: classes, work, exams, and even social time.

If you often have trouble retaining information, you might need to add extra hours of study time into your schedule. 

2. Use Different Study Techniques

Start using different study methods that are scientifically proven to help you study better – here are some study techniques for you to use.

Method #1: Retrieval Practice

I linked an awesome YouTube video above that explains it very well in case you are a visual learner.

If not, keep reading and I´ll explain it in detail for you.

Re-reading the words and definitions on your study guide over and over again until they stick to your memory is not an efficient way to study.

Instead, you could use the retrieval practice method.

The retrieval practice method is a learning strategy where you practice recalling information without having to look at your notes or study guide after you have reviewed them.

This has been proven to improve your ability to retain material much more efficiently than simply just re-reading notes.

For example, if there was an upcoming 50 vocabulary word test, you could use retrieval practice by attempting to remember the terms and definitions without looking at the flashcards.

Then you would separate the cards into two piles (e.g., I know & I don’t know).

I highly recommend spending more time studying the “I don’t know” pile, since that is the material you haven’t yet mastered.

By using retrieval practice, you are deliberately recalling information from your memory to validate if you retained what you are studying.

The reason this works is because you are deliberately training your brain to recall information you have been studying – which will help you in the middle of an exam.

Many cognitive psychologists have stated that this is the most effective way to boost your learning and memory in order to improve your grades.

Method # 2: Feynman Technique AKA Learn by Teaching

If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” 
– Albert Einstein. 

Many of us have heard this quote from Albert Einstein.

However, many say that this concept actually came from a guy named Richard Feynman, which is how the name came to be, the ¨Feynman Technique¨.

Regardless of where it came from, what matters most is that this technique truly does help you improve your grades.

Understanding and teaching material to someone are two COMPLETELY different ways of comprehending information.

Various researchers and experts are proving the notion that teaching information to someone can greatly enhance learning outcomes. 

For example, if you are learning statistics and you have been studying and reviewing the material, you may believe you are ready for the exam. 

The ONLY way to prove that you understand the material is if you are able to teach someone else what you have learned.

So once you are done studying, I would teach every problem on your study guide to someone and explain it in detail. 

Then take it a step further and see if you are able to provide more examples about what you are teaching.

If you are not able to explain a problem, that simply means you do not understand the material well enough. 

Don’t have someone to teach?

That’s fine – you can teach your pet or record yourself on your phone pretending to teach it to someone. The idea behind this is to identify what you do and don’t know.

Go ahead and circle the ones that you could not explain well enough and those are the problems you need to focus more on. 

Once you are able to teach every problem and provide examples to someone, you are ready for the exam.

3. Study with Smart People

You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” – Jim Rohn

In other words, the environment and the people you associate yourself with influence your capability of how much you study and learn.

If you are constantly studying and hanging out with academically intelligent students, you are more likely to pick up their study habits and implement them into your own regimen.

Joining a study group exposes you to a wide range of study methods and also gives you a chance to compare and share notes with your peers. 

If something isn’t understood, study group members can try explaining the concept to you and vice versa.

This might sound silly, but being part of a study group makes learning fun and more fulfilling when there are others learning and struggling with you.

4. Eat Healthy and Exercise

Basic research has identified various factors that contribute to how humans learn information. Some factors that contribute to enhanced learning are eating healthy and exercising.  

Exercising improves your memory and reduces stress and anxiety, which are usually reasons why some students cannot focus. 

Aside from your college life, many stressful thoughts and anxiety stem from problems at home, with relationships, personal finances, etc. Do yourself a favor and start implementing healthy physical activities into your life schedule now.

5. Establish a Study Environment

One of the most efficient ways to finish homework assignments or prepare for exams is to have a designated study space. 

Make sure to eliminate any potential distractions. Yes, that means turning off your phone and any other devices.

Looking at a single notification can lead down a slippery slope. Being on your devices can suck up a lot of your study time. 

Figure out what type of study environment works best for you.

For some odd reason, many people study better in noisy environments while others need complete silence to focus.

6. The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve

How many times have you finished a semester and remembered everything you learned in each of your classes?

Uhmmm. Probably never! If you said yes … mad props to you.

For those of you who don’t have superhuman memory like me, keep reading.

The Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve indicates that your brain tends to forget material over time if there is no attempt in retaining the learned information. 

In fact, according to research, “within one hour, people will have forgotten an average of 70% of new information, and within a week, forgetting claims an average of 90% of it.”

When I first learned about this, I was like: “so what the hell is the point of studying then?”

*facepalm*

Unfortunately, we are all victims of the forgetting curve. 

But not to worry, there is an actual solution to this!

It is highly recommended that you review your notes and any lecture material (PowerPoint slides, etc.) right after class in an attempt to retain and store every single piece of information in your long-term memory.

You’re probably thinking: why would anyone want to sit in 2 hours of lecture and then go somewhere to spend another hour or two reviewing the same material? 

Believe me, I get it.

It sounds crazy, but if you care about boosting your GPA, it’s worth it.

After class is over, get into the habit of taking a 15-20 minute break to replenish your memory. Then find a quiet environment to review all your notes for about 30-40 minutes. You’ll be doing yourself a favor.

7. Attend Office Hours

Have you ever glanced through the syllabus on the first day of class and realized it’s going to be a long semester of no sleep and living off of cup noodles?

C’mon. I know I’m not the only one…

If you know that one of your classes is going to be tough (e.g., chemistry, calculus or physics), it would be wise to introduce yourself to your professor and attend all their office hours.

Here’s why.

Professors are the ones who design the exams and know exactly what they are going to test you on, right?

So, why not go to office hours and pick their brains a little?

Or even better, start STUDYING with them!

For all my English classes, I would complete my essays 2 weeks before the due date.

Then I would take my “completed essay” to my professor’s office hours, and I would have them give me feedback. In other words, they would grade it for me on the spot and let me know what I could do to improve it.

You could say something like:

“Hey, Professor ____,  I know this paper is not due until later, but I really want to do well in your class. So I was wondering if you could look at my paper real quick and give me some feedback.”

I did this so many times. When they would grade my papers during office hours, I realized I had so many errors.

I would have gotten a big F if I’d turned it in before having my professor revise it for me.

Applying this method into my schedule helped me earn A’s on almost all my college papers.

I mean think about it, how can you fail an English class if you are always going to office hours and having your professor review and give you feedback on your paper before the due date?

This goes for ANY class. Even math classes. I would always study with my professor and have them quiz me on every problem from the study guide to prepare for the exams.

Sometimes they would throw in study problems that resembled those on the test. 

You can never go wrong with this method because they know what they are going to test you on and will focus more on the important stuff.

8. Take Study Breaks, Properly.

Believe it or not, over-studying is a complete waste of time. 

Research shows that frequently taking breaks while you are studying is more effective than studying non-stop for hours.

It is ideal that you study for one hour intervals and take a 10-15 minute break in-between.

You can even reward yourself with a 30 minute break if you study for 1.5 hours.

However, being on your phone or watching something on your laptop does not equate to taking a break.

You actually cancel out what you just learned because you’re not allowing enough time for your brain to retain that material since you’re absorbing new information through your device.

To have an effective study break, you can do the following:

  • Take a walk and get some fresh air
  • Do some stretching or yoga
  • Eat something small (like fruits or a granola bar)
  • Medidate
  • Take a shower

Drinking water while you study also helps you stay more alert.

Doing any of these during your break will help your brain process and consolidate the information and retain it long-term.

9. Start Doing Self-Testing

The best way to verify that you are learning the information you are studying is through self-testing.

Self-testing is actually the same thing as Retrieval Practice (from one of the study methods I mentioned above).

However, I wanted to separate both of these concepts so you could better understand them since many people get them confused.

Self-testing literally means to test yourself with a practice test after studying or reviewing material to see what you have learned.

The reason self-testing works is because you are examining what you do and don´t know on a practice test.

Research has shown that students who perform practice tests after studying enhances student learning and improves your grades.

I’m sure you’ve heard of Quizlet, right?

The reason Quizlet is so effective and why so many college students are using it is because the website allows you to use digital flashcards to study. 

Once you feel like you’ve learned all the material, you can test yourself to see if you actually understand the information you studied.

Because self-testing is so effective, professors have been handing out practice quizzes to students.

This allows students to test their understanding of the information they have learned in class and what areas they need to focus on more.

Start using the self-testing method after you are done reviewing notes to confirm if you truly understand what you have been studying.

10. Are you a Print or Digital Text Learner?

There is a never-ending battle concerning how students retain information most effectively – either through digital or print based text.

The reason I want to highlight this is because there are tons of studies on this topic that contradict each other. 

Ask yourself: Are you able to study more efficiently through print based text or digital text? 

Do you get bored reading physical textbooks? If you answered yes, you should try finding the PDF or ebook online to read instead.

I could never study through digital textbooks because I would easily get distracted and my laptop’s light would bother my eyes after a while. So I always had to acquire a physical copy of the textbook and read from it.

Everyone learns differently.

Research helps us better understand how humans comprehend information, but finding methods that work best for you is even more crucial to your learning.

If you don’t know already know what type of learner you are, try reading a physical textbook and an ebook about the same topic and see which one helps you effectively retain more information.

BONUS TIP: Sleep Learning

Another memory hack that helps me process important information is sleep learning. 

Sounds crazy, right? 

I know, but hear me out. 

There is extensive research on the correlation between sleeping and learning.

Check out the video up above to learn more about the research that has been conducted regarding sleep learning.

Research actually shows that when you read or review material before you sleep, your brain begins to consolidate your memories which leads to better retention of the material.

This is actually how many people learn to speak different languages.

There are language programs that you can listen to through headphones while going to sleep, and your brain begins to retain the information effortlessly.

While you are sleeping, your brain is organizing and consolidating information that you’ve been studying.

So, if you for some reason procrastinate (hopefully you don’t), at least read through your study guide before going to bed and then go catch them Z’s.

Conclusion

Finding study methods that work best for you is essential to get good grades and makes your life much easier by not having to spend so much time studying.

Find a study environment that helps you study, get lots of sleep, eat healthy, and make sure you are utilizing every possible study tip to help you retain more information for exams.

I hope you enjoyed reading this article, and hopefully some (if not all) of these methods will help improve your GPA.

How many of you have used these methods before?

What are some other study methods that you are currently using to improve your grades?

Your Truly,

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Yo! Yo! We are Marcos & Mayra

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