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14 Tips to Improve Your GPA

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These GPA-boosting habits may not only help you succeed in high school but in college and beyond.

At many colleges, your grade-point average (GPA) is one of the most important factors in your application, along with the academic rigor of high school and course load. Even if you don’t have perfect grades, many colleges like to see significant improvement or a steady upswing in your GPA over time. Here are 14 strategies that may help you achieve a higher GPA this year.

Get Ahead in Class

  • Take notes. Taking notes in class may help your brain sort out what is important and make the information easier to retrieve. However, you can't just write down everything your instructor says. You need to take thorough notes that help you retain the important material covered in class. Note-taking is a skill you can develop, and there are different approaches you might want to try. See these notetaking tips from the University of Minnesota. It can also be helpful to review your notes each day and shortly after a lecture while it is still fresh in your mind. If taking notes is difficult for you, consider recording your lectures. That way, you can listen to the lecture again later and stop and start the recording as you create your notes or outline. 
  • Sit near the front. According to one study from the National Library of Medicine, students perform better when they sit closer to the front of the classroom. Some teachers even call the front and middle of the class the zone of participation. If you have trouble staying focused and engaged in class, sitting in the front -- or being on camera if you’re taking an online class -- might make it easier.
  • Speak up. Ask questions and join discussions. You may be more likely to retain content than if you stay quiet.
  • Improve your reading and writing skills. This will not only help your high school grades but also help you create strong applications and do better in college. Get help from your English teacher, a parent, or a tutor if you struggle with reading comprehension or writing. And, read for pleasure whenever you can. Studies show that students who read for pleasure outside of the classroom get better grades.

Get Organized

  • Write assignments down. Whether you use a personal planner, a digital calendar, or a spiral notebook, keep track of assignments, due dates, and upcoming test dates.
  • Prioritize your study tasks. Take care of your studying and school assignments before beginning other activities if you can. This will help you avoid procrastination and do your most important tasks first.
  • Develop a study schedule. Time management experts and college professors alike have long recommended a daily study schedule. The number of hours you spend studying each day isn’t as important as being consistent and not waiting until exam time to study.

Study Effectively

  • Don't multi-task. Students who focus intently on studying a subject get more studying done in a shorter amount of time than do students who interrupt their studying with tasks like checking social media, or playing games and watching videos on your phone. The data shows that multitasking just doesn't work.
  • Quiz yourself. Research shows that self-testing, such as with flashcards, helps students retain knowledge more effectively. The results are even better with a friend or study group. Try explaining the material you are studying out loud to someone else, or to yourself. You might identify material you don't understand as well as you thought.
  • Vary your study locations. This keeps your brain alert and allows better retention of the material. It might also help you find your ideal student environment. A silent library isn't the best study spot for everyone. You might prefer a little background noise. 
  • Space it out. According to an American Psychological Association article, research shows that spacing out study sessions over a period of time rather than cramming right before a test improves long-term memory. If you have 12 hours to spend on a subject, it’s better to study it for three hours each week for four weeks than to cram all 12 hours into week four.

Take Care of Yourself

  • Get enough sleep. Your brain needs rest to function at its best. According to some experts, high school students should aim for nine to nine and a half hours of sleep each night and college students should aim for seven to nine hours each night.
  • Reward yourself. Celebrate your achievements, big and small, even if it’s simply sticking to your study schedule for a week.
  • Ask for help. If you feel you're floundering, get help from a teacher, counselor, tutor, friend or parent. Don’t wait.

It might take some trial and error to find the study habits that work best for you. But stick with it. Adopting even a few of these habits should help you become a better student not only in high school – but in college as well.

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