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How To Get A's in College: Four Steps

Updated on June 24, 2015

1. Use Your Time Wisely

Effective time management is key when you have classes, work, social events and studying to do. Plan, and schedule set up a time for each activity you need to do. Schedule your study times when you are less likely to be tired or distracted.

Prioritize, do not put off the hard stuff for later. Figure out your most important thing you have to do each day and do it. Then you move on to your second most important task, and so on.

Break up big projects into smaller ones. You have to set realistic goals. There are huge benefits upon completing each small goal. It strengthens your study skills and increases your confidence in the subject which makes completing additional goals even easier.


2. Effective Study Techniques

After scheduling your study time, figure out the best way to use that time effectively. Designate a specific study place that is free from distractions. If all you do in that place is study you will eventually learn to associate the place with studying and it will make it even easier to study there.

Use an active approach to learning. Don't just read the chapters and hope to remember everything.

The SQ3R Method Works!

Once I learned the SQ3R method I was amazed at how well it worked to help me study and retain the information I learned. I was also angry I had never learned it before. There is a lot of information available on how to utilize this study method but I will go over the basics for you.

SQ3R stands for: Survey, Question, Read, Recite, and Review.

Survey - This means to preview all the information before you begin reading your assigned chapter. Take a few minutes to quickly skim through and read the headings that separate the sections. Think of the headings as an outline for the material you will be covering. Also, during this step, be sure to take notice of the hints, tips, and any information shown in the margins or hyperlinks. Pay attention to any graphs or pictures and then read the summary paragraphs and t the beginning and end of the chapter which give you the most important points that are covered.

Question - This is where you go back through the chapter and turn any headings and subheadings into questions. For example this section of the article you are currently reading is called "Effective Study Techniques" If you were using the SQ3R method you would turn that into the question "What are effective study techniques?"

Read - Read through the sections and look for the answers to your questions. Keep track of the important information by highlighting, underlining, or taking notes.

Recite - If you are able to talk about what you have learned it helps you understand and remember it better. Summarize the new information by telling somebody about it or writing about it.

Review - Read back over your notes and highlighted important information. This will help you absorb and memorize valid points.

3..Prepare For Tests

Academic demands in college are much greater than in High School and high achievers must work extremely hard. Students who fail typically spend 1/3 the time studying than A-students. A-students spend about 2 hours studying for every hour they spend in class.

A study schedule is important for test preparation and helps avoid having to cram for a test. You don't want to end up cramming for a test as it is proven to be less effective. Cramming is tiring, it taxes your memory and can increase your anxiety over the test. The anxiety ends up interfering with your learning and also your test performance.

The closer you get to taking your test, the better you should know the material. You should be using the time that you would normally spend cramming to refine your knowledge. Go over your notes and any focus questions given in your text for each chapter.


4. Strategies for Taking a Test

Here are some key points to remember when taking your test.

  • Use your time wisely by: checking your progress during the test, answering the questions you know first and the questions worth the most points, if you do not know the answer to a question then skip it and come back later rather than stressing over it.
  • If your test requires you to answer in essay form, decide on your main points before you begin to write and then cover those points with as much detail as you know.
  • When taking a multiple choice test, try to answer the question before reading the answers that are provided. Typically if you answer is among those listed it will be the correct one. Do however review the alternative answers in case one is a better choice.
  • Do not hesitate to change your initial answer on a multiple choice test if you feel that another one might instead be correct. Studies show that changing and answer is more likely to result in a wrong answer becoming correct rather than a correct answer becoming incorrect.
  • If one of the answers listed on a multiple choice test is "all of the above" do not automatically assume that is the correct answer. Review the other answers, if you know one is wrong then eliminate the "all of the above" option as well. In the same scenario, if you know that two of the answers are correct but you are not sure about the third then choosing "all of the above" is your best option.


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    • Larry Rankin profile image

      Larry Rankin 2 years ago from Oklahoma

      Great tips and overview.

    • Stina Caxe profile image

      Cristina 4 years ago from Virginia

      Unfortunately yes! Don't feel bad, I didn't acquire good study habits until nearly the end of my college experience.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      Well heck, why didn't you tell me this when I was in college. LOL You mean you have to study? Darn it! :)