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Good Grades: How to Improve in School

Updated on June 12, 2012

Improving Grades

Getting good grades in school or improving your grades is not easy for many students. But it doesn't have to be.

In this hub, I want to focus on K-12 students, although, college students can also take away valuable information from this.

You'll receive two sets of tips:

(1) You'll get some short term tips that you can put into practice right away and see almost immediate results.

(2) I will also give you some tips for long term results for improving your grades for many years to come. Let's get rockin'!

Short Term Tips

Let's begin focusing on the short term skills that you should put into practice right away. You may already be practicing some of these skills, but take them all into consideration. There is always room for improving the skills you already have. I want you to focus on the short term tips first because they are the skills that you can start using today! After you get comfortable with the short term tips, come back to this hub and move on to the long term ones. Those will take more time to put into practice.


Sit In The Front Of The Classroom

Almost no one likes to sit in the front of the classroom for whatever reason. But you should sit in the front because you will not be distracted by other students. You'll also be closer to the teacher and you'll get a better view of the blackboard. You'll also be more inclined to interact with your teacher during a lesson. This will help you understand the subject better and ultimately do better on the tests.

Ask the Teacher Questions During Class and After Class

Asking the teacher questions is one of the most important things you can do during class time. When you don't understand something, it's best to ask the teacher instead of letting it go or trying to learn it on your own later. Not only will you learn better by asking questions, but this kind of interaction with your teacher can energize you, the class, and even the teacher. A lesson where the teacher just explains the material with no interaction with students is a boring one. Help liven it up!

If you still are not quite understanding the material after you asked your questions you should meet with your teacher either immediately after class or after school and spend time with her one-on-one. If you do this, there's a good chance you'll do better than the other students because you made the effort. Your teacher will also view you more favorably if she sees you are working hard.


Get At Least 8 Hours of Sleep per Night

You cannot stay up all night texting/talking on the phone, watching TV, or checking out what your friends are doing on Facebook. You have to set a bedtime for yourself every night to ensure that you get at least 8 hours of sleep per night. When you sleep, your brain and body recharge for the next day so that you'll have the energy to pay attention in class and absorb as much information as possible. Sleeping will also help you retain everything that you've been studying that day.

Don't Do Drugs

Drugs can hurt you and kill you. Drugs will destroy your brain even if you don't notice it in the beginning. Don't be fooled by your peers who use drugs. In the long run they will be sorry that they did them. You don't want drugs to interfere with your brain. If you are currently taking drugs, stop it now! If you want to get good grades and succeed in life you will have to live a healthy lifesytle that does NOT include drug use.


Eat A Healthy Breakfast

Living a healthy lifestyle is important in getting good grades. The first thing you should do in the morning is to have a healthy breakfast. Don't eat chocolate chips and drink a soda for breakfast. It might wake you up quickly and taste great, but it will take you down in a couple of hours and you'll feel tired and unmotivated.

I eat a bowl of oatmeal with milk and fruit almost every morning. It gives me the sustained energy that I need to start the day right and stay strong throughout the day. You need to have energy to pay attention in class and do your studying and homework after school. Try to keep the junk food to a minimum and replace it with healthy foods like milk, granola, fruit, and veggies.

Your brain will operate better when you're feeding your body with healthy food. When your brain gets the nutrients from healhty food that it needs, it will reward you by remembering more of what was discussed in class. It will also help you do your homework faster and do better on tests which turn into higher grades.

Let's Get That Pen To Paper!


Take Notes In Class

Taking notes can be a tedious task. But the more you do it, the easier it gets and the less tedious it becomes. Taking notes will also keep you engaged in the material that your teacher is explaining. Always copy what the teacher wrote on the blackboard. Those are "freebie" notes. The other notes you'll take will be up to you. You need to learn how to pick out the most important parts of what the teacher is explaining. It's the stuff that will remind you later on how to solve that math problem, or recall that vocabulary word, or how to solve that science question.

Study & Do Your Homework Every Night

This is an obvious tip but you must do your homework every night. If I was given a homework assignment on Friday and it was due on Monday, I would do it right away when I got home on Friday. I didn't wait until Sunday night to do the homework. That's a big mistake.

Doing the homework while it's still fresh in your mind will help reinforce the material in your mind so that you will have a better chance of remembering and understanding it when you return to class on Monday.

Less Extra-Curricular Activities

If you're the type of student that is involved in after school activities like sports, chess club, science club, etc, you might need to stop participating in some or all of them until you can improve your grades.

You need to spend more time studying and doing homework after school instead of doing other activiities. Once you improve your grades and you think you can handle an after school activity, then try it out but make sure not to overextend yourself again. Pick an activity that meets twice a week and see if you're able to manage your time effectively between that and your studies.

Practice Taking Tests

Taking tests and making the correct answers in the shortest amount of time is a skill that needs to be learned. Many students get nervous when taking tests or feel pressure. This puts the brain in survival mode as opposed to actually solving the problems on the test.

Practicing taking tests will get you used to answering questions quickly and effectively. It will get you used to thinking faster and recalling information that you studied faster. It's just like track runners. The more often they run, the faster they get around the track. It takes time, but persistence is the key.

The good news is that there are several free sites where you can practice taking tests in every subject. All you have to do is use a stopwatch or clock on your computer and phone. Some of the websites listed have timers running while you take their tests.

For example, if you know that your algebra test is coming up and you will have 45 minutes to complete the test, you can practice an algebra test online and try to finish it in 35 minutes. Try to take different algebra tests with different questions so you don't memorize the answers. This will help you improve your ability to think and answer quickly. Treat it like a game, and make it fun!

Focus in Class

Paying attention in class is probably one of the most difficult challenges you face in school. Depending on the excitement and enthusiasm of the teacher, the class can be even more boring and disengaging. As a student, this is a reality and you can't avoid a class like this.

Make sure you have a notebook out and you are actively taking notes during class time. Keeping your hand moving on your notebook will at least keep you awake and could make the difference between a B and an A on your report card if you take good notes.

Make sure you make eye contact with your teacher in class. This will also help you pay attention because all of sudden you are connecting with your teacher. You may begin to feel like she is teaching only you in class because she sees that you are paying attention. If you nod your head when you understand something or have a puzzled look on your face, you'll notice that your teacher will react to this and try to help by repeating the material in a different way.

As I mentioned before about asking questions during class as a way of getting better grades, so too is asking questions a great way to stay focused in class.

Here's an important point: Only you can make yourself pay attention is class.

If you wait for your teacher to call your name to wake you out of your dream and depend on your teacher to force you to pay attention, you will have great difficulty improving your test scores. Part of being a student is learn personal responsibility. That means only you are responsible for your actions. If you go to class with this attitude that only you are in control of your own destiny, you will make sure that you do whatever it takes to get your grades up.

Getting Better Grades: Long Term Tips

The second half of this hub deals with tips that will help you achieve better grades in the long term. There are certain long term skills that you can develop as a student that will help you improve your grades but they cannot be developed overnight.

If you come back to this hub periodically and focus on one of these long term skills, you'll see higher grades as a result. You won't be able to work on all of them at the same time. This would be overwhelming. Again, we want to study in small bursts. Take one of the tips and try to incorporate them into your overall studying method. Consciously work on one of them for 30-45 minutes a day.

Bury your head in a book!


Books that Inspired Me to Read


Reading is probably one of the most important skills you can learn. But this is not true only for students, but even long after you graduate. Reading comprehension is a life skill because we never stop learning in life. This is how we continue to achieve and advance ourselves.

I didn't become a great student until I really learned how to read. What do I mean by that? Well, obviously I learned how to read since the very beginning of my education but my comprehension skills were probably just average. I remember in 1st grade, the teacher had broken the class into 3 levels of readers. I was in the top class only for a short period and then my teacher put me in the next level below.

It wasn't until I wasn't 17 years old that I had an English teacher that changed my life forever by inspring me to love and enjoy reading. Once I started to enjoy reading, I absorbed more information and started to raise my grades in all of my other classes.

It doesn't matter which subject you are taking in school. You must read the text books and materials that go along with it. You cannot avoid developing your reading comprehension.

My advice is to start looking for books on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble that would be of interest to you. For example, if you like watching Sci-fi movies, start looking for Sci-fi books at the store. Read something that you're interested in and read every day. This will help you get used to reading all the time so that when you have to read something that you don't enjoy, your brain will have a better chance at focusing on the material and comprehending it so that you can raise your grades. We have to exercise our brains in order to improve our grades. Reading is one of the best exercises for your learning development.

Stay Organized

Organization is not only an important skill to learn in school but also in life after school. Staying organized will definitely help you get better grades. Here's why: If you know how to manage your free time wisely, you will be able to prioritize which classes you need to work on the most to get those grades up.

I recommend buying a daily planner if you don't already have one. And yes, you could also plan your daily schedule on your phone, but there is something about putting a pen to paper that will help you commit yourself to executing your tasks every day. You are making a personal commitment to yourself when you physically write your schedule down.

Make sure you write down all of your homework assignments in your planner at the end of every class. Before you leave school everyday, make sure you look at your planner so that you know which books to take home with you. Do this everyday. Make it a habit!


In the long term, your ability to learn vast amounts of information and ultimately keep your grades high will be determined by your level of curiosity. The more curious you are, the more you will learn. Curiosity is something that we learn as young children. It's basically inside all of us. But by a certain age, students lose that curiosity. Actually, it's still there but it needs to be tapped into.

Being curious is how Leonardo Da Vinci became an engineer, artist, scientitist, musician, botanist, and so many other occupations in one lifetime!

Being curious is how Steve Jobs mixed typography, music, art and technology into the Apple computer, ipod, and ipad and changed the world as we know it.

Curiosity is how we learn, get better grades, get smarter, and advance ourselves towards successful futures.

How to inspire curiosity

This is not easy to answer. You cannot force someone to be curious. But you can question any information that you come in contact with. The easiest way to do this is to ask the simplest question in the world: "Why?"

Asking "why" to every concept you come in contact with will bring you to a deeper level of understanding every time you answer the question "why?"

Asking "Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How" to any subject you are studying will give you the breath and depth of knowledge you need to succeed not only in school, but also when dealing with life's challenges after school.

Learning is like an avalanche. Just as the snow accumulates and grows larger as it goes down the mountain, so too does our knowledge grow as we continue to learn. Curiosity is the gravity in an avalnche. Gravity continues to pull the snow down the mountain with more and more force and while attracting more and more snow. Curiosity attracts more and more knowledge as you learn more and more.


Feeling The Need To Achieve

If you are reading this hub then you clearly feel the need to achieve and improve your grades. But I would like to emphasize the importance of this feeling. In order to feel the need of achievement, you have to understand why it is important that you achieve. (You see? There's that simple question again: "Why?")

It's important to get high grades for 5 reasons:

1. To get smarter. Smart people succeed in life. (How simple is that?)

2. You need to get accepted into your dream college, or any college for that matter.

3. If you can push yourself and set high standards for yourself, you'll be able to do the same when you enter the "working world."

4. Good grades eventually lead you to a good job. One that pays money!

5. It feels great!

Study Skills: Learning How To Learn

Anyone can study. Anyone can open up a book and read some pages. Anyone can do their homework. But knowing the best way to study is something entirely different. When you know how to study correctly, you can manage your time more wisely, you know how to "screen" for the most important information for getting A's, and you absorb the most important information for later retrieval.

Quick Tip: Read the chapter or section of your text that the teacher will be covering in class the next day. This will give you a heads up on what is coming and when the teacher begins the class, you will already be familiar with the material. Familiarity is what helps you learn. You will also be exposed to repetition which is another effective tool for learning. Since you've already read the text and heard it again in class, you'll retain the information better so you can use it to get high scores on tests.

If your teacher tends to jump around the text, I recommend a different tactic. Everyday when you go home from school, make sure you read the chapter/section of the text that was discussed in class that day. Don't wait until the test is coming up. You'll be struggling to read all the chapters and you'll absorb very little of it. The key is to study in small bursts.

Don't cram for tests!

You will overwhelm yourself if you try to read all the chapters that correspond to the test you're taking tomorrow. Make sure you read the text that was discussed today and do the homework the same day. Then when it's time to prepare for the test, you don't have to reread all the chapters. You only have to read the highlights that you made in the text, reread your homework assignments, and any notes that you took in class.

I used to read out loud as another way of remembering the material. It sounded more like a whisper. But when you can hear yourself "speaking" the material out loud, your brain is receiving the same information using your sense of hearing. This also is another way of creating familiarity in your brain.

Learn a Musical Instrument

Studies have shown that students with musical backgrounds get higher test scores in Math, English, and Science compared to their non-musical peers. You can read about some of the studies in "How Music Can Lead Your Child To Prosperity In A New World Economy." These studies are not limited to elementary and middle schoolers. If you're already in high school, and you think you missed your chance to learn an instrument and reap the rewards, think again. It's not too late.

Pick an instrument such as the guitar, piano, violin, or saxophone. If you always wanted to learn a different instrument then by all means choose that! Any musical instrument will deliver you the reward of higher grades in school.

Here's why: Studying music and learning how to play a musical instrument makes more neural connections in the brain thereby stimulating your brain to develop in a highly intelligent way. Music actually stimulates the development of both the left and right hemispheres of the brain. If you're interested on learning more about how music affects test scores in students, you can read this.

Learning a musical instrument is another long term tip for improving your grades. This may be the most challenging tip in this hub. But it's the one that you will reap the greatest rewards from if you commit to it for the long haul.

It doesn't happen overnight. In fact, it takes at least a couple years of taking formal lessons and practicing your instrument almost everyday. You can read about how I improved my grades after I started taking private guitar lessons here.

Memorization Games

Memorization is one of the keys to increasing your test scores and grades. Some students naturally have great memories and other students need a little help and that's ok. The difference between an A and B on your vocabulary test, for example, might come down to how well you memorize the material. In order to give you a little edge in increasing your memorization skills, there are some great free websites that offer memorization games.

Check out It's a free website that is full of flash card games that help you not only increase your memory retention skills, but it also helps you increase your speed of retrieving the information that you studied. This will also help you answer questions faster when you take tests. The most convenient part of the site is that there are flash card games for every subject for all grade levels. There are even SAT preparation flash card games.

It is such a cool website!

By increasing your ability to memorize your class materials, you'll increase your grades.

Learn To Read Faster

You only have a few hours at most per day to study and do homework. Time is of great value here. You may spend most of your night working on the subject that you have the most difficulty, and then there will be no time to study for your other classes. One way to manage your time is learning how to read faster. This is a long term tip and I advise this one only if you have already put into practice a majority of the other tips in this hub. This is for students who already do well in vocabulary and reading comprehension.

Now this will not help you for classes such as Math or Science. Those are subjects where you really do need to read the material slowly in order to raise your comprehension level and to understand the concepts. But it could be useful in your English, History, and Psychology courses. You want to read the chapters in your text books as fast as possible, while at the same getting the "gist" of the material. Since you've been taking notes and have created a study guide, you will spend more time reading slowly those materials.

There are several methods for learning how to read faster. In Tim Ferriss' blog, there is a compelling speed reading method that could give you results practically the same day.

Motivation and Inspiration

You can find motivation from many sources. This hub is intended to not only be your study guide reference, but also to keep you motivated. There is probably more information than you can absorb in just one sitting, so it's best to come back to this hub again and again. By returning to this hub you will always get a fresh dose of motivation along with a new tip to put into practice. So why not bookmark this hub?

But the truth is that motivation comes from within. If you always depend on motivation from your parents, teachers, or some other source, then you will never take responsibility for your lack of motivation. You are in control of your destiny! You write your own story. If you can motivate yourself to do all that is necessary to improve your grades, you will be a stronger person that can overcome any of life's challenges.

There is no more waiting..There is only doing!


The Power Is In Your Hands

In this hub, you've received a wealth of information on how to get better grades in school. The tips above have been studied, analyzed, and scientifically proven. The road has already been paved for you. The rest is up to you. The power is literally in your hands. It's really a test of willpower. No one can do this for you. You need to accept the challenge and travel down the road towards high grades, achievement, and success. This road doesn't end when the school bell rings and you graduate. It's for the rest of your life. The skills that you develop now will carry you through life and will prepare you for the new challenges you will face professionally and personally.

I hope you will bookmark this hub and come back to it when you need it.

I wish you great success!

"Good Grades: How to Improve in School" Comments

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    • annart profile image

      Ann Carr 

      6 years ago from SW England

      Some good pointers here. I do believe, though, that 'time out' following extra-curricular activities can improve learning as it refreshes and gives the brain time to mull over information and process it all. There is also great value in learning through games and interaction/discussion. Voted up, useful and interesting.


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