Study Tips to Better Grades

Tiara Chakkaw, Associate Editor, Features and Extras, 2012-2013; Columnist, 2011-2012

Do you constantly find yourself unsatisfied with your test scores? Students often cram for tests the night before due to their endless list of homework and activities, or their internal battle with procrastination. Whether students want to bump their B grades on tests to A’s, or failing test scores to passing grades, changing the you study can make a major impact.

Managing your time is a crucial factor in studying. Teachers typically tell the class ahead of time when an upcoming test will be, so use that to your advantage. If you have a long term project due near the time of the test, dedicate time each day towards finishing the project so you won’t feel overwhelmed about both the test and the project. Make sure you don’t procrastinate on homework either. Try to tackle the quick homework assignments that seem easier first so that homework won’t pile up the next day. This will also open up extra time within your schedule to study for that test.

Depending on the difficulty of the test’s subject, set aside time to review the concepts you aren’t confident about first, and work your way down to studying the areas you can easily remember. This way, if you have questions about the harder concepts, you have time to ask your teachers or other classmates for help.

If the test is about reading material from a book, textbook, etc., you can try using a process called SQ3R (survey, question, read, recite, review). This process allows you to comprehend and memorize the information within the text by actively reading. The first step, survey, involves briefly reviewing the main ideas of the text through notes, or by checking the headings/subheadings to gain a general view of the topics that will be discussed. “Q,” or question means asking yourself questions about the text as you read to keep yourself focused on the main topics.  By asking yourself questions while reading, you will remain engaged and focused. The first “R,” read, involves actively reading by underlining the main concepts and keywords, then summarizing the main points in the margins. After reading every few pages, recite the main points within the information without looking through your book. If you struggle recalling the main points at first, keep reciting until you are confident with the information. After reading the text, review what you’ve read every few days to keep the information fresh in your brain. Reviewing the information several times will help you retain the information much longer than cramming the night before.

Another tip is to create note cards to memorize. Figure out which parts you struggle to memorize or understand and begin making note cards focusing on those concepts. As you are reviewing, put them in different piles by the level of difficulty. By the time test day rolls around, all of your note cards should help you answer confidently. As a suggestion, don’t dispose of your note cards immediately after the test; saving them can lessen the hassle of creating a new deck for semester finals.

Keep in mind that each student learns and studies in a different way.  Some may find study groups to be an effective strategy, while for others, note cards can do the trick. Figure out which technique works best for you and can help you to achieve your best test scores.