Chase Down Your Missing Points

Even Barry the Study Dog has to psych himself up to check class websites every day

Study Skills Series: The first Monday of every month, we give timely, practical, and original study skills advice. Timely means it’s especially useful during that month of the school year. Practical means it’s easy to act on. Original means we wrote it ourselves and you can only get it here.

There are three ways to lose points on tests and quizzes.

The most annoying way is when your instructor didn’t teach you the material, which could just as easily be your fault as it is theirs. If you weren’t there the day they taught it, then it’s your fault. If the instructor recycled a previous year’s test but didn’t teach you all the topics, then it’s their fault, but it’s still your problem. Ask them if it was an oversight, or if you really are responsible for learning everything in the book, even if it doesn’t come up in class. The answer is almost always the former.

The most avoidable way to lose points is to make a careless error, like failing to submit an assignment on time or writing 2 x 0 = 2 on a math test. First, choose a convenient time to check your class webpages for new assignments daily. It’s a hassle, and there might not be anything there, but it’s the fastest way to stop losing easy points. Next, overlearn all the basic concepts and principles that might be relevant on a test so that you can do the easy stuff automatically.

By far the most worrying way to lose points on something that’s timed and graded is to underestimate the level of detail required to get everything 100% correct. The only way to solve this is to review each class every weekend, pick out the important concepts and details, put them in a study guide (not a Quizlet!), write explanations of everything in plain English, and quiz yourself on all relevant course material until everything about it is so laughably easy that it bores you.

You can’t claim to want to win at sports, improve at music, serve people more empathically, make better stuff, create impactful art, or have more time to chill if you’re not willing to figure out where you’re working inefficiently in school. Better grades in less time will give you more time for all that other stuff.

Chase down your missing points!

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