Thursday, October 31, 2013

Tips to Achieving an "A"

Let’s be honest, every September you starts off the semester thinking “This is going to be my year. I'm going to get straight A’s, a killer GPA and impress all my professors with my brilliance!”. You work super hard for the first few weeks of school and then around midterms, everything starts piling up (what do you mean I need to study for midterms, do readings, prepare for labs, start thinking about essay topics, contribute in class AND get enough sleep to do all this?!). Don’t worry, it’s not just you. Everyone is on the same boat when midterms roll around but that doesn't mean it’s the end of the world and you won’t get those A’s you've been aiming for. The best way to get the grades you want is to stay focused and keep in mind a few simple tips to keep you on track for that stellar GPA.

Get Organized

Midterms have the tendency to throw everyone for a loop in terms of readings. You’re so bust studying for them that you forget that there are new topics that your professor is covering in lecture. This is why an agenda is so important; by writing down readings in your agenda, this will serve as a reminder to not brush them aside. Remember, the best way to retain knowledge is not speeding through readings two hours before an exam but rather pacing yourself over a few weeks.

Use Assignment Calculator

There’s nothing worse like the fear of having an essay due in a week and you haven’t even started looking for resources. To avoid this and to avoid the stress of haphazardly throwing a subpar essay together, make sure to use the AA&CC Assignment CalculatorThe great thing about Assignment Calculator is that it can be geared towards the type of assignment that you have (e.g.  research essay, literature review, lab report, etc.) and will set a realistically paced schedule for completing the assignment. Getting an A doesn't happen overnight or with an overnight essay. Slow and steady wins the race :)

Making It Stick!

One of the greatest difficulties for students is retaining the information they have just read. One strategy to help retain information is by chunk reading. This is done by reading paragraph by paragraph, taking a short five minute break and then trying to recall the information that you just chunk read. This style of studying coupled with note taking has been proven to be more effective than marathon reading a whole chapter without a break or without trying to recall what was just read.


Don’t just be a wall-flower; make your presence known in class. You've done your readings, so you're equipped to participate in lecture, tutorial and labs. There are a few reasons this is a good idea. One is that participating in class will help solidify information your head the stuff you learned from doing your homework and readings. Talking out loud about relevant information uses a different portion of your brain than just writing. This will open up your mind in making connections between various materials more quickly. The last reason is that your professor or T.A. will get to recognize you over time. If you’re like many students who don’t want to speak out, that’s okay. Make a goal for yourself to comment at least once a week in tutorial in a course that you feel confident about. The following week, extend your goal to participating twice in a tutorial. By being engaged and participating, you are showing the professor or T.A. that you are taking the course seriously. Also, never underestimate the usefulness of participation marks to boosting you towards an A! 

All the best,

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