How to Make Good Grades

Disclaimer: this post is written by a normal college student who does not make straight A’s. But I am writing in response to several requests for a post about making good grades in college. So here’s a slice of what I learned while studying hard for four years.

1. Never underestimate the power of quiz grades.
Seriously, though, those venomous little 3x5 cards have the power to either push you up to the next letter grade or drag you down below C level all by themselves. Quit worrying about midterms and finals—the real grade-makers are quizzes—but we often neglect them because they’re commonplace. Make time to do the reading, memorize the verses, or learn the lecture material because that quiz could be your ticket to the Dean’s (or even President’s) list.

2. Go to class (and pay attention there).
Duh, right? I know, it just makes sense, but I think everyone (even though most of us usually go) needs the reminder every now and then to value going to class. It’s common sense. If lecture material will be on the test and you want to get a good grade on the test, where should you go for the lecture material? Yup.

3. Plan with a time-budget calendar.
This step takes a little dedication at the beginning but pays off richly in the end. If you make time to create a calendar containing all of your assignments, tests, quizzes, readings, and projects, you’ll see them coming for weeks. Also, plan with your own timing in mind. If you know that it’s going to take you three hours to write that paper due next week, make sure you leave three hours free for writing it. (Four hours might be a safe idea just for printers and WiFi struggles, ya know).

4. Say no sometimes.
Yeah, the beach and the Sports Center are optional. Even when all your friends are going. Even when it’s sunny and 80 degrees. Even when the wallyball courts are available. Remember that calendar you made in step three? Make sure you’ve got room in the time budget for goofing off before you jump right in at the Swim Center.

5. Engage with your teachers so they can help you.
This final step is the easy one, especially if you’ve faithfully adhered to the first four. If you’ve honestly done everything you can for your grades but you still feel a little under par, go ahead and express your concern with a teacher you trust. Who knows, they might be able to help you in one small way that completely revives the way you approach studying.

And always remember, you never need to stay up late to make good grades. It doesn’t matter what your roommates tell you about how they owe all their good grades to all-nighters. I can swear on a Bible I’ve never stayed up past curfew to study, and I’ve still managed to finish college with honors. If you consistently do your best with the above five tips, you’ll never need to lose sleep over grades.

I’ll leave you with something my dad has told me at least eight times in my life (one for each semester). He says, “Gloria, I am as proud of your B’s as I am of your A’s, as long as they represent your best work.”

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