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How to Boost Your Second-Semester Grades for Academic Success

Want to finish the academic year as strong as you started? Find out how with these tips that are sure to increase your spring semester success.

A new year plus a new semester equals a new game plan! As you embark upon your spring semester, you may be reflecting on your fall performance. Perhaps you got overwhelmed and saw your math grade drop. Or maybe your New Year’s resolution is to finally bring home straight A’s (yes, please!). Whatever your academic goals are, kudos to you for wanting to improve in any facet of your academic life. To help you kick-start those goals, here are some strategies to boost your second-semester grades.

Work with your teachers

You always want to build good relationships with your teachers and professors. Though there are many strategies for boosting your grades, no strategy will replace the relationship you have with your teacher. After all, no one is more uniquely acquainted with the course material, your performance in the class, or what ends up on your transcript. Discuss your goals with your teacher, and don’t hesitate to ask for help if you find yourself struggling. Teachers love seeing improvement over time, so if you work to raise your grade from a B to an A during second semester—and you’ve met with your teacher to assess your progress—there’s a good chance you’ll see an improvement.

Related: Connecting With Your Teachers: 5 Tips for Success in High School or College

Figure out how you learn best

Many traditional classrooms cater to auditory learners, aka people who process information best by listening. Unfortunately, we’re not all wired the same way. Some students are visual learners and process best through sight and others are kinesthetic learners processing best through hands-on experiences.  If you are searching for strategies to raise your second-semester grades, you should start by thinking about the classes you felt most engaged in and see if there are any commonalities in the course structure, lessons, and the way you learn there. You can find a lot of advice on figuring out your learning style online. Once you’ve discovered your learning style, use it to your advantage. If you’re a visual learner, incorporate images into your studying; kinesthetic learners should engage in interactive study approaches. And share your discovery with your teachers to see if they can offer tips or even modified lessons to help you learn at your best.  

Revamp your studying environment

Your study environment is everything. If you don’t have an optimal study space that works for you and your specific learning style, you’ll have a tough time focusing and thus boosting your grades. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should study in a silent library. Many students thrive with music and conversation as background noise. Find out what study environment works for you through a series of trial-and-error “experiments.” Try perhaps sitting on the floor at the coffee table with the TV playing on low in the background. Maybe you give classical or ambient music a shot. Or maybe you do need to work in complete silence. Try different settings and find out what works best for you!

Related: Video: What's the Best College Study Spot?

Stay positive

Final exams often account for 20% (or more) of your final grades. And, yes, that’s a pretty high percentage. But instead of worrying about how bombing the exam might bring your grade down, what if you were excited about how acing it might bump your grade up? Having the right mindset is often more powerful than you realize. And instead of spending the next few months telling yourself you’re going to fail, wouldn’t if feel a lot better telling yourself you’re amazing and going to crush it every day for the next few months? Because you are and it will.

Use new studying techniques

You probably have tried and true study methods you’ve used for years. When was the last time you picked up a new study trick? You might be surprised by how many techniques are out there! For example, you can enhance your studying skills using things like mnemonic devices to memorize facts and details; these can range from catchy acronyms (e.g., “PEMDAS”) to short songs. It also helps to pump up your note-taking skills with cleaner handwriting, better organization, and color coding.

Related: 5 Simple Ways You Can Make Studying More Fun

Together, these strategies are the ultimate enhancement tools to boost your second-semester grades, so don't wait to get started! You can start planning and reframing your mindset before the new semester. And don’t forget to take care of yourself too. Good grades won’t come if you’re burnt out. That way you can go into second semester refreshed and ready to crush it.

If you need some self-care ideas as well, check out these 10 Affordable Ways to Beat the Winter Blues.

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About Pamela Donnelly

Pamela Donnelly

Pamela Donnelly is a #1 bestselling author (SWAT Team Tactics for Getting Your Teen Into College), speaker, and educational expert working as an independent admission consultant. As Time magazine's go-to college admission expert, she has appeared on regional and national television.

Donnelly is a frequent speaker at live events throughout the greater Los Angeles region and a passionate advocate for education reform. She graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Columbia University with degrees in Literature/Writing and Secondary Education. A professional educator for more than 20 years and a former on-camera talent under contract to ABC-TV, she is the academic expert trusted by some of the most discerning and notable parents in Los Angeles.


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