How to Boost Your Second-Semester Grades

Want to end the second semester strong? Check out these essential study tips, plus a handy video that will help you become a memorization master.

Want to end the school year strong? Check out these essential study tips, plus a handy video that will help you become a memorization master.

New year + new semester = new game plan! As you embark on 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 was to finally bring home straight A’s (yes, please!). Whatever your academic goals are, kudos to you for trying to improve. And we’re here to help!

Here are some strategies for how to boost your second-semester grades:

Work with your teachers

You always want to build good relationships with your teachers/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 your second semester—and you’ve met with your teacher to assess your progress—there is a good chance you will see an overall A for the class.

Figure out how you learn best

Many traditional classrooms cater to auditory learners, aka people who process information best by listening. But, unfortunately, we are not all wired the same way. Some students are visual learners (who process through seeing) and others are kinesthetic learners (who process through doing). Most people combine these three learning styles—visual, auditory, and kinesthetic—but usually lead with one of them.

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 (they’re often the classes you get the best grades in too) and see if there are any commonalities in the course structure and lessons. You can also take free online quizzes to figure out your learning style (here’s one).

Then, once you’ve discovered your learning style, use it to your advantage. If you are a visual learner, try to incorporate images into your studying. If you are a kinesthetic learner, engage in interactive and hands-on study approaches. And, going back to our first tip, share your discovery with your teachers to see if they can offer any tips or maybe even modified lessons.  

Revamp your studying environment

Your study environment is everything. If you don’t have an optimal study space—one that works for you and your specific learning style—you will have a tough time focusing and thus boosting your grades (whether it’s your second semester or not!). However, this does not necessarily mean that you should study in a silent library. Many students actually thrive with music and conversation in the background.

We recommend finding out what study environment works for you through a series of trial-and-error “experiments.” For example, perhaps you work best when sitting on the floor at the coffee table with the TV playing on low in the background. Maybe you do best with classical or ambient music playing. Or perhaps you need to work in complete silence. Try different settings and find out what works best for you!

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? The point is to remember to stay positive, because mindset is everything—and often more powerful than you realize.

Use new studying techniques

When was the last time you picked up a new studying 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.

Looking for more tips to raise your second-semester grades? This video will help! It covers even more innovative study hacks and memorization tips. You’ll learn how to create personalized mnemonic devices that will allow you to remember just about anything—no matter how long the list. (Ever wonder how some of your friends seem to be able to memorize anything? Meanwhile, no matter how many times you Google the order of the planets, it somehow never sticks? Never again!) Together, these strategies are the ultimate enhancement tools to boost your second-semester grades, so don't wait to get started! 

We at GATE wish you all the best as you tackle your second semester. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

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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 whose work can be viewed at As Time magazine's go-to college admission expert, she has appeared on regional and national television, and Larry King has endorsed her recently published book, 4 Keys to College Admissions Success.

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, and she has been called "the Suze Orman of 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.

A mother of three, Donnelly leads a team of Ivy League educators, helping parents go the extra mile to ensure their teens' transition to colleges of their dreams.

Her brick-and-mortar business, Valley Prep Tutoring Services, Inc., is the hub from which all of Donnelly's brand-related products and services flow. You can visit and for more information.


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