Getting straight A’s won’t guarantee success, but it sure doesn’t hurt. A high GPA will help you make more money, pursue further education, or change career paths. If you’re going to spend many thousands of dollars on a college education, you might as well make the most of it. Right?
Whether you are looking to apply for undergraduate college admissions, graduate school, medical school or law school, your GPA counts. If you have been researching schools and their admissions requirements and realized that your GPA is not going to meet their standards it’s time to determine if you can raise your GPA in the time you have left.
Still in High School?
Are AP/Honors/IB classes hurting your GPA? If your school weights (gives more points to) advanced classes and you are earning a C (3 points), consider taking regular level classes – especially if you are certain you can earn an A (4 points). From this point forward, only take an AP/Honors/IB class if you are certain you can get at least a solid B.
Say you take 2 AP classes and 3 regular classes first semester of your freshman year. If you get C’s in the AP classes, two A’s and one B, your GPA will end up being: 3.4 Sophomore year, you take five regular classes and finish with 4 A’s and a B. Your GPA is now: 3.8 Your cumulative GPA is 3.6.
Undergraduate Looking at Graduate (Non-STEM) or Law School?
If you start paying attention early enough, you can raise your GPA to meet most graduate school admissions’ standards. The fewer credit hours you have earned, the easier it will be to raise your GPA.
If you have a 3.0 GPA and 15 credit hours, by earning straight A’s during your next (15 credit) semester, you can bump your GPA to a 3.5. However, if you have already earned 60 credit hours and have a 3.0 GPA a straight-A semester will only bump your GPA to a 3.2.
Undergraduate Looking at Graduate (STEM) or Medical/Dental School?
While the above advice also applies to you, do not fail to get accurate guidance on your science and/or engineering classes.
These school will pull those classes out to create a science and/or engineering GPA. If you have not earned high-enough grades and adequate credit hours, you may not be admitted even with a strong overall GPA.
Being smart will help you get good grades, but it isn’t required. Neither is studying nonstop. The key to academic success is being disciplined and efficient in your study habits. These 10 strategies will help you raise your GPA while minimizing stress and overall study time.
1. Go to class regularly
I know this one is mind-numbingly obvious but it’s important. Many professors lecture directly from PowerPoint and post the slides to the internet. This makes it tempting to skip class, download the lecture notes, and learn the material on your own. Although you can probably get away with this in easy courses, you’ll face problems in challenging ones. By skipping class, you miss out on a few important things:
- Detailed verbal explanations that are key to understanding the material
- The chance to ask questions and listen to the Q&A of other students
- Special announcements
- Opportunities for extra credit
It’s also important to consider how skipping class affects your reputation. In most classes, grades are somewhat subjective. This means that the grader’s perception of you can make or break your grade. If you frequently miss class, you’ll be perceived as someone who lacks respect for the professor and the subject matter. Why should they give you the benefit of the doubt or round that B+ up to an A-?
It sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s too important to not mention. Skipping class can make you look bad in the eyes of your professor. Since grades are somewhat subjective, it’s a good idea to avoid irritating the person who will be handing out the marks. If attendance is an issue, you could be stuck with a B versus the A- you deserve.
2. Participate in class
If you’re shy or new to the college experience, it can be difficult to muster enough courage to participate in class. Nevertheless, that is exactly what you need to do. Class participation shows the professor you are eager to learn. It also increases the likelihood that you will remember material from class to class.
Not only will sitting in the front row build self confidence, it will automatically engage you in the lecture. You’ll appear to be an eager student and highly visible to the teacher. This will help your academic reputation and make it more likely you’ll develop a relationship with the professor. You’ll have a much easier time maintaining focus and will feel more like a participant than a passive observer.
College lectures tend to build on previous material. If you encounter a lecture or concept that you do not understand, you should address the issue immediately to avoid getting completely lost. Confusing points can be clarified with help from your professors, classmates or library resources.
3. Organize yourself
If you don’t have a study strategy, you can study all day and night and still not get anywhere. The only sure way to make the most of your study time is to employ a study strategy that complements your schedule and learning style.
Getting organized is one of the easiest ways to raise your GPA in college. When you’re organized, you automatically reduce the amount of time and effort that it takes to do well in college. Things you should organize (besides your thoughts) include: your class schedule, notes, study time, reading assignments and handouts.
Different professors have different teaching styles. Some lecture, some use power point slides and some depend on handouts and textbooks. The inconsistency can make note-taking problematic from class to class. The best way to handle this is to develop a note-taking system that works with each professor’s teaching style.
The sooner you can get started on your assignments, the better. Try keeping a
list of proven information sources, web apps and other dependable resources so that you can find something the second you need it. The saved time can be used to study, have fun or just sleep.
4. Do a weekly study review
A common problem students encounter is trying to learn an enormous amount of material right before the midterm or final exam. This is practically impossible. You’ll find it much easier if you take a gradual approach to studying. At least once a week, review your notes starting from the beginning of the course. This only needs to take 15 or 20 minutes, just enough time to build familiarity with the material.
By doing a weekly review you’ll gradually memorize everything and will better understand how one concept builds on the next. Putting in small amounts of effort on a consistent basis will drastically reduce the amount of studying you need to do right before the test.
5. Go to office hours
Professors and TA’s usually make themselves available at regular times during the week for students to ask questions about assignments. Do yourself a favor by taking advantage of this opportunity. First, attending office hours will motivate you to get ahead on your work and prepare questions to ask. This will give you a huge edge in understanding problems that aren’t clearly explained in the lectures. Second, it will build your reputation as a high-effort student who deserves high grades.
If you aren’t happy with the grades you’re currently getting, you may want to consider talking to your professors. Just remember to be polite. Throwing out wild accusations or demanding that a grade be changed is almost never a good idea. You will be better off asking about possible steps you could take to improve your grade in each class.
6. Befriend with smart students with high GPA
In courses that involve group work, this is essential. No one wants to get stuck with a bunch slackers, have to do all the work themselves, and end up with a poor grade to show for it. The quality of the your learning experience is directly related to the attitudes of the people you work with. Working with smart people will facilitate discussion. The best way to understand an idea is talking about it with other intelligent people.
Who you work with also affects your academic reputation. If you associate with students that aren’t interested in learning, teachers and graders will assume you feel the same way. It’s also a great way to connect with people who have similar interests and ambitions.
You’re bound to make lots of friends in college. If you can, try to spend some time with a study buddy who has a high GPA. Your smart friend will be able to help you out when you struggle and may prove to be a good influence should you feel the urge to slack.
Taking part in a study group is one of the best ways to stay on track and raise your GPA. Study groups not only make you accountable, they also force you to become more organized and talk about what you have learned. If you can’t find a study group to join, try forming one yourself.
7. Avoid all-nighters
Generally, having to pull an all-nighter means that you slacked off all semester and need to fit 3 months of learning into one day. If you use a gradual study strategy this will never be necessary. All-nighters don’t work! Yes, it might be possible to get a good grade if the course is easy, but it’s much more likely that your grade will be significantly lower. All-nighters harm performance because they make you tired and stressed. You’ll also forget most of what you learn right after the test, decreasing the practical value of your education.
Although it’s good to spend a fair amount of time studying before a test, it’s just as important to get enough rest. Sleep improves concentration, solidifies what you have learned and improves your ability to organize and recall information. Poor performance in school can often be directly linked to sleep deprivation.
8. Make use of Library
Dorm rooms aren’t the best place to study. It’s way too easy to get distracted by roommates and visitors. Your study time canl be more productive if you use your school’s library or a similar facility. Every time you enter that building, your mind will shift into work mode and stay there until you decide to leave.
You should read everything that is assigned to you and then some. Reading a lot makes you a better thinker, better writer and, most importantly, better student.
Although certain classes are more interesting (and more important) than others, it’s essential that you take every class seriously. If you can maintain a good grade in each class, it will make a huge difference on your overall grade point average.
9. Study Smart
Some professors and schools offer opportunities for extra credit. These opportunities are GPA gold mines; try to take advantage of them. Extra credit can boost your average and enhance your college experience.
Attending class can be a waste of time if you have a long commute or a professor who likes to ramble. For this reason and many more, you may want to consider taking some of your classes online. You’ll get to study the same material and save time in the process.
College exams can have a huge impact on your GPA. To make sure you’re ready on test day, begin studying as soon as you can. Take a little time to review the subject matter each day so you’ll be better prepared than you would be if you waited until the last minute to cram.
10. Set a Goal and Reward Yourself
Good grades are their own reward, but it doesn’t hurt to have a little extra incentive. Try setting a GPA goal and rewarding yourself with something that you really want after you achieve it.
That’s all. Follow these 10 steps and you will see your GPA shoot through the roof. Good luck.