How many times has the end of the semester arrived, just to realize your grades are lower than you had hoped for? Grades may not be the most important thing in life, but they can add to our self esteem, give us a sense of accomplishment, and boost our GPA. So while you may not be the smartest kid in your class (Hello, 4.5 GPA students. Yes, I'm looking at you.), you have access to more resources than you think. So grab your pen, take some notes, and put your study hat on to earn that A.


1. Show up to class.

While this may seem like an obvious one, it's amazing to see how many students skip class on a regular basis. The truth is, if you show up to class, you're halfway to an A. Missing the lectures means potentially missing vital snippets that teachers drop (as in, "Remember this, it will be on the midterm," and "Quiz next class!"). These tid bits can often mean the difference between an A or a B. Some professors even give extra credit at the end of the semester to students with perfect attendance. You're also more likely to retain and understand the material if you hear the professor lecturing on the subject themselves, with visual aids, explanations, and the ability for you to ask questions.

2. Study the syllabus.

As boring as they look (I once had a professor who handed out a 20-page syllabus), syllabi contain lots of important information that many students neglect to look at. Vital due dates, information about projects and midterms, and grade breakdowns should all be noted. You'll feel more comfortable knowing the outline of the class and the way the professor runs things.

3. Don't miss assignments.

After looking at the syllabus closely, you know what assignments will be required of you and when they're due. Write them down on your calendar, and plan accordingly. Missing one assignment can make or break your grade, so make sure you're completing each one as the semester goes on. Put aside enough time each week to avoid last-minute due dates that can ruin your mood and make you feel overwhelmed. (Tip: If you break assignments up into small tasks daily, they'll magically become much more manageable).

4. Ask questions.

It's true- no question is too stupid. Asking for clarification or delving deeper into a subject will also enhance your knowledge of the class. An added bonus- professors love it when students participate. Which brings us to #5...

5. Contribute to in-class conversations.

This not only shows the professor you're engaged, but will also give you a boost of confidence of your knowledge of the course. Chances are, you're also helping other students in the class when you pitch in your two cents. It tends to bring the class together and create an enjoyable atmosphere when students are participants.

raising hand

6. Utilize office hours.

Check out the professor's office hours, and then use them throughout the semester. The professor will not only be glad their student is interested in the class, they may actually begin to put a face to one of the names on their roster. Establishing a relationship with the professor early on will pay off throughout the semester.

7. Take advantage of tutoring services.

If you're having trouble with a particular subject or assignment, look into whether your school provides free tutoring services - most do! These tutors are often students just like you, who have mastered that particular subject and can guide you through your problems step-by-step. 

8. Study... like a pro.

Leaving your studying to the night before often results in a poor grade. Space your reading out throughout the semester so that you're not faced with chapter upon chapter of information right before the exam. Another useful tip is to cover chapter summaries first, so that you at least know the main ideas.