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How to Improve Your Grades in College


University of DelawareMaybe you’re taking a difficult class, maybe your workload’s out of control, or maybe life is distracting you — whatever the reason, you might need to improve your college grades, and quickly.

Bad grades in college CAN be turned around. It takes planning and hard work, but you can do it!

Figure Out Where You Went Wrong

Go over past exams and papers and review the corrections. Take note of concepts you don’t understand or errors you keep repeating. The more specifically you can identify the actions (or lack of them) that led to the bad grades, the better you’ll be able to fix the problem.

If you received a syllabus when the class began, look at it now — it usually gives information about the grading scale and specific expectations. Improving a grade involves understanding both what’s being taught and what standard of work a teacher expects. Knowing which questions to ask will be important when you …

Talk to the Teacher

Instructors want to help you improve your grades — they’re on your side. Go to office hours; make an appointment if necessary. Let the teacher know that you want to understand the subject fully, not just improve your grade in the class. Be honest about your mistakes, and don’t make excuses. If you’ve been slacking, they probably already know.

Rewriting papers and retaking exams may not be an option, so focus on what you can do from now until the end of the semester. Plenty of bad grades in college can be improved by extra effort at finals time.

Participate in Class

Attendance and participation may be a percentage of your grade, and they also show an interest and investment in the subject. Also, you naturally tend to learn more in a class when you’re an active rather than a passive member.

If you’re in a large lecture class that doesn’t lend itself to discussion, show up, take notes and seek out the instructor if you need help understanding a concept.

Study with Friends

Besides the morale boost, a benefit to group study sessions is that different people have different strengths — your friends may understand concepts you don’t, and vice versa.

Talk to people in the particular class where you need to improve your grades, and to friends who know the subject well.

Change Your Habits

Your habits may not be bad ones — they just may not be working for you. If studying in your room leads to distractions, head to the library or the coffee shop. If snags in your morning routine make you perpetually late to class, train yourself to wake up earlier.

When I needed to improve grades in college, one professor suggested doing the reading for the same class at the same time, and in the same spot, every day.  It was a tactic I’d never considered, and it helped.

Although bad grades in college are discouraging, they don’t have to mean failure. The old adage that you learn from your mistakes is true — and this learning can help improve grades permanently.



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