So, it’s the end of your undergraduate semester and you worked pretty hard or maybe you didn’t work as hard as you’d like. But, you go and check your transcript online and you see that your GPA is pretty low. It’s not the GPA that you were expecting. Before we start to cry and panic, let’s rewind to the beginning of the semester…
Ask Yourself This: Do I have a plan for the which grade point I desire for each class or cumulatively? Do I have specific study strategies for each class? If you answered yes to this question that’s great. But, if you had a plan, did it lead you to the GPA that you were looking for?
If you answered no to that question, there’s a big problem right there. For the sake of this blog, I am designating the “B group” for those who answered no and “A group” for those who answered yes to the previous question.
You had a study plan at the beginning of the semester for each class and you decided that you wanted an A in every class, but, that, unfortunately, wasn’t the case for you. Now, this may have happened because you literally just said I want to get A’s and that was it. You didn’t exhaust your resources for that class. You most likely didn’t use a GPA calculator to calculate your chances of getting your desired grade. Most classes have more than one assignment or exam. So, when you saw your first assignment or exam was not an A, you should’ve asked your Professor how to improve for the next assignment or exam. Depending on how low the first exam grade is, it’s going to be difficult to increase your grade in the course, but definitely not impossible.
Anytime you have a problem in class, you should always go to your professor and ask them how to improve your grade. Share with them your study habits, confusion, mistakes and allow them to help you. Don’t skimp on your request. State in detail what you expect to get from this course. Professors are human and for the most part, they can identify with being a hardworking student who desperately wants to get the best grades on their transcript. Use that in your favor to try to get what you want and see how you can improve yourself. They are the best source to tell you exactly how you should study for their class.
For example, if you score a 70 on the first exam and there are only two exams left to increase your overall grade, your chances of an A are pretty slim, but once again not impossible. If an A in your Class is a 93 or higher, you’d have to score more than 100% on the last two exams in order to get the A. That’s nearly impossible, but it could be possible if you ask your professor for potential make-up work or extra credit.
Being a part of the “B group” means that you started the semester without designating your intentions for the grades you expected to get from each course. That is a problem. You must create a plan.
The first step is reviewing your course syllabus during the first week of classes. This allows you to visualize the breakdown of the course. You will see how much each test is worth percentage wise and how much weight it carries towards your final grade. Additionally, you will see how many exams you are going to have, how many assignments, what textbooks, reading assignments, and lectures are required. Additionally, a GPA Calculator is a helpful tool as well.
If a class has five exams, you know that worst case scenario, you have 4 exams to improve yourself if you happen to not do well on the first exam. You don’t want to think negatively of course, but you should always be realistic as well. If a class only has one writing assignment and one exam, this means each is worth 50% and equally high stakes. Don’t fret! All of this really means is you need to do well in this writing assignment and exam. Fortunately, your focus is only on two entities. Start writing from week one and start studying from day one.
Keep in mind that your plan is dependent upon you having a study method in place that you’ve used before that has been shown and proven to yield good grades. If you don’t have a tried and tested study method, please audition. The audition method is where you experiment with different study methods including reading textbooks, outlining, practice questions, taking lecture notes, or whatever it may be. The point is to try the one that works best for you. Sometimes during these auditions, you will have to see if that study method works by assessing yourself on a graded the test or quiz. This is the only way to see if you truly understand the material. If you do not want to risk auditions on an actual exam or quiz, you can get your hands on practice questions that are similar to the content that your course director uses. Practice questions will give you a baseline of how well you know the material.
Putting it All Together
So, in short, the best advice on how to increase your GPA includes having a plan of how you’re going to study throughout the semester. You must complete the following things: There are four things you must do:
- This preparation means thoroughly examining your syllabus for each class
- Designate the grades that you are intending on getting in all your classes. If you want an A, claim it!
- Have a proven study method that has been shown to yield good grades for you
- Maintain communication with your professor and make it very clear that you want to get an A or whatever grade it is from the very beginning. Ask them what you need to do. Finally, participate as much as necessary to show your interest and work ethic in their class.
Two Additional Bonus Study Habits:
Time Management – I like to use the Pomodoro technique while studying. This method utilizes 4 cycles of 25-minute work followed by 5 minutes break. at the end of the four cycles, there is a long 20-minute break. I use the Free Focus Keeper App on my phone and the Be Focused App on my Mac.
I watched a Youtube video about a Harvard student who’s secret to securing a 4.0 each semester was studying for 6 hours each day no matter what the surrounding circumstances are.
If you’re interested in more studying advice, join my mailing list here.