How to Ace a College Class and Get Straight A’s
Published on: 2017-02-26 08:02:01
Are you struggling in your college classes and want to achieve better grades? Maybe you are a few points away from a perfect A and are looking for ways to ace the class. Expectations can be high for college students to do well, especially if the program they are in is competitive. But do not fear, there are certain methods that you can follow in order to ace your class future and maintain a high grade average.
- Behaving Effectively in Class
Show up on time and be prepared to learn
Showing up for every class, on time, can help you make a good impression on your professor. Also, attending each class on time will ensure that you do not miss any important discussions and that you can take notes on all the course materials.
- By showing up prepared we mean bringing all the required materials such as textbooks and other assigned reading materials to class, along with paper and pens. If you have to bring a computer to class make sure that you have your professor’s permission as computers are not permitted in some classes. Always sit near the front so you can hear what the professor is saying and engage in class discussion.
- Make sure that you identify the key concepts and ideas for the class before the class starts. You can quickly view the class syllabus and the class reading the night before or a few hours afore class. This will help you understand the professor’s lecture better and be more proactive in class.
Ask questions, even if they may seem obvious or dumb
Students often hesitate to ask a question that seems obvious or dumb in class. Our advice: it’s often better to take the risk and ask. This especially helps the most when the professor is discussing a complicated topic or complex idea; doing this will show the professor you are paying attention and engaged in the subject matter.
- Ask an open ended question to your lecturer and don’t hesitate to ask questions that are half formed. The professor will be more than happy to answer your question and explain it to you since you are showing an interest in the topic and are willing to try work through your understanding of the material.
For instance, if the professor is talking about the Impact of e-Commerce in the society, you may say, “I’m not sure if I understand what you mean. Can you give me an example of this?” Or you may say, “Can you expand on what you mean? I don’t think I quite understand.”
Contribute to the class discussion
Some of the college classes have marks set aside for class participation. So, you should push yourself to ask questions and contribute to the class discussion in order to maximise your points and earn high participation marks.
- Ask open ended question to get the discussion started in the class or respond to a question asked by the professor.
- Challenge another student on their position or state a position that is contrary to the ideas of the rest of the class.
This will help spark discussion and engage other students in the class.
Take detailed notes on the professor’s lectures
To make your class more productive, you should take detailed notes on the professor’s lectures. Doing this gives you something to refer to during preparation for any exams. This will you help you achieve a good grade in any assignment or exam and also show the professor that you are paying attention in class.
Make sure that you have all the necessary materials with you in class to take notes, including paper, pens, highlighters and sticky notes, if available. In addition, focus on the key concepts when you are taking notes to ensure you note down the most relevant details from the professor’s lecture. You can use shorthand to capture more information and make it easier to read through your notes later.
Do not use your cellphone in class or be distracting in any way.
Avoid using your cellphone during class hours. This will disrupt class and distract others as well as yourself. You might lose your focus and miss important details in the lecture which will absolutely affect your understanding of the material. So, turn off your phone and do not refer to it during class.
- Studying Effectively
Create a study schedule
A study schedule is an integral part of ‘studying effectively’ as it allows you to organise your time and prioritise class. Start planning your schedule by looking at the course syllabus. List out all the tasks such as assignments, reading and prep for any exam, for entire week and set a specific deadline for each. Do this for the entire term so you can look ahead and know exactly how much time you have invested.
Avoid vague planning and be detailed in your study schedule. For instance, instead of noting “Two hours for assignment”, you should note, “Two hours for the lab report due 29/02”. This will ensure you know exactly what assignment you will be working on, along with the due date for the assignment and hours assigned, letting you to better manage your time.
Arrange your assignments according to their priority and complete the most important first. Try to complete the assignment a week before the due date. This will allow the time to review your assignment and make improvements where necessary. Once the assignment is completed, you can move on to the next assignment that is due.
Try the capture, control, plan, and evolve method.
Capture, control, plan and evolve method is a proven method that’ll help you to achieve a straight A’s in your class. Start by listing out all your obligations as a college student. This may include obligations, such as exam dates, assignment due dates and administrative obligations, such as application deadlines and expectations from extracurricular activities. Make a list of these obligations, making sure you note them all by their due time. This will establish a foundation from which to control, plan and execute.
Make sure all of your college assessments are accounted for in the schedule. Also, note which hours will be dedicated to work and what exactly you will be working on during these hours.
Evolve your study tactics by embracing any shifts or changes in expectations. Re-evaluate and tweak your study habits as necessary, keeping only tactics that work for you and your brain. If something is not working, try a new tactic. Ask yourself, “What worked when I studied for that exam and did well? What could I do better to get a higher grade on the next exam?”
Avoid all-nighters by breaking up your studying into chunks
Studying all night before the examination day is often a bad idea as it can make you feel exhausted and burned out on the examination day or in class. Studies have shown that the students who pull an all-nighter often retain less information than others who study in shorter chunks of time. Cramming for an exam day may be a study habit you need to change in order to ace the college exam and ace the classes.
So, how can you avoid all-nighters? Well, having a well-planned out study schedule can help you achieve that. Make sure you study schedule allows you to prepare for an upcoming exam in parts, focusing on one to two chapters of the assigned textbook at a time or one to two key concepts from the class at a time.
Review class material one to two hours before bed.
Studies have shown that by reviewing you course material one to two hours before bed you have a higher likelihood of retaining it. Make sure that you’ve set aside time in your study schedule to review your class notes or read several chapters of assigned text.
Study with a friend or peer who tends to get straight A’s.
The company you keep plays a vital role in how well you perform in a class or in an examination. Hence, surround yourself with study friends who tend to do well in their classes and get straight A’s. You can then learn study techniques from them and improve your own study habits.
- Maintaining a Good Relationship with Your Professor
Communicate with your professor about their expectations.
Most professors appreciate students trying to build a healthy student-teacher relationship throughout the term. So, maintaining a good relationship with your professor can be a key way to ace the class. Communicating with your professor about their expectations will also show the professor you are engaged in his/her lectures and determined to do well in class.
Hand in assignments on time and according to the specified requirements.
Handing in assignments on the due date and according to the requirements is another great way to show the professor that you are engaged in the class and on top of your studies.
- Checking the class syllabus for rules and requirements around formatting assignments and completing them. Follow all noted requirements for the assignments, from the type of font specified, font size, margin size and spacing. If you are unclear about the required formatting for any assignment, do let you professor know about it. Email them explaining what you are unclear about. It is better to take some time to make sure that you are doing your assignment the right way, than handing in the assignment in an incorrect format that will lead to docked points or marks.
Set up a one-on-one meeting with your professor at least once in the semester.
To maintain a healthy relationship with your professor, you should try to set up at least one in person meeting with the professor to talk about your progress and study issues that you are facing during the semester. This will show the professor that you are engaged and motivated.
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