How to Get Better Grades in Less Time

Improving your study skills is the only way to make the most of your educational investment.

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M iddle school through grad school, figuring out how to earn better grades in less time is the key to thriving in school and life. Only by getting better grades in less time will you have more time to do cool stuff like hang out with your friends, exercise, chill, make things, sleep, or whatever else you’re into.

If you can think of anything you’d rather do than homework, follow these six steps and watch your grades go up, your stress levels go down, and your life become more awesome.

Step 1: Stop worrying about grades and instead focus on mastering the material.

If you don’t care about what you’re learning, get over yourself and find reasons to enjoy working hard to learn it anyway. You don’t have to like everything you’re learning, but you have to know why other people like it and why it’s important for life on Earth.

Step 2: Plan everything efficiently so you can do more fun stuff and cure procrastination.

How many hours of homework (including “studying”) do you have per week? In the Washington DC area, college-bound high school students tend to have 5-30 hours per week, which is mental because it’s impossible for a high school student to have a healthy life on more than 14 hours per week of homework.

Pretty much anyone who wants to can get straight As on 10-14 hours per week by following these six steps and sticking to this homework system: work for 30 or 60 minutes at a time and then take a break, do a max of 2 hours per day Monday through Thursday as early in the day as possible, do nothing on Fridays, and do as much as possible on weekend mornings, all with your phone turned off in another room.

Step 3: Preview the class content, pay more attention in class, take better notes, and review them on weekends.

Don’t rely on teachers to teach you stuff. After all, it’s your problem if you don’t learn it! Google every upcoming topic so that you know what people find interesting about it, and print all available slides before class so that you can pay more attention and write less down. Then summarize the main points of every class as briefly as possible before going to your next class.

Step 4: Love what you read, read hard stuff without spacing out, and remember it for the test or essay.

Read the Wikipedia page for every required book before you read it so that you know the history of why you have to read it. No matter what you’re reading, mark it up and make a note to yourself about why you marked it so that you can easily find the quotes and analysis you’ll need later for the test or the essay. Summarize daily reading assignments with 3-4 bullet points.

Step 5: Predict the test questions, make great study guides, and quiz yourself until you know you know it.

Figure out where the test questions come from and review that material each weekend, one week at a time, to search for items that might be on the test. When you find them, organize them into a study guide. Set up your study guide so that you can cover up parts of it and quiz yourself on what’s underneath. If you know every little thing about every big topic you’ll probably get 100% on the test, but know that you won’t have learned anything until you can explain every little thing with a fun example.

Step 6: Enjoy big writing assignments by breaking down the many steps required.

Writing papers is way easier when your study guide is up-to-date and you already have a nice collection of quotes on the main themes of your reading assignments. Take your time writing an A+ thesis statement and fill in the subsequent outline as much as possible before asking your teacher how you could make it stronger. Only then should you begin drafting your paper.

The whole point of learning how to get better grades in less time ASAP is so that you hit the ground running in college or grad school.

For more on how to get your money’s worth in school, check out This Book Will Not Be on the Test.

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