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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

College is a whole other ballgame than high school. Gone are the days of crammed studying and acing the test the following day. In order to achieve that 4.0, professors require that students invest time and energy into EARNING the grade. Coming from a college student who faces the same mental blocks as anyone else, I am here to assure that EVERYONE has the potential to elevate their academic performance. Here are some personal tips that I hope will bring insight to tackling your most difficult college classes.

1. F the Past

This message goes out to the well and poor-performing students… screw your GPA record. Incoming freshmen make the mistake of getting overconfident about their honors title from high school. Believing their past study habits will fly in college is usually what results in their downfall. For the students who struggled, it can be difficult to find faith in ever-improving their grades. The only way for both parties to ace college is to turn over a new leaf. It helps with enduring struggles in future classes without any bias from past experiences.

2. Worry About the Content

It sounds counter-intuitive, but the trick to getting a high grade is to not think about it. Fixating on the percentages can make you lose sight of what it REALLY takes to get an A. College professors are notorious for writing exams that make you THINK and apply what you learned, and students make the mistake of obsessing over the bare minimum scores required, that they don’t study comprehensively. By removing the pressure of hitting a particular score, I focused solely on understanding what I am learning, which in turn, prepared me far better for exams.

3. Sit in the Front

I don’t need to tell you to go to class — it’s common sense. However, just going to class doesn’t guarantee an A. It is crucial to stay engaged with the lecture because it decreases a ton of your “learning” workload when you get back to the dorm. The best way to focus is to sit towards the front of the lecture hall, which yeah, sounds awkward. You don’t have to sit in the VERY front row, but grabbing a spot anywhere from the 1st-5th row does wonders for concentrating in a 300+ students lecture. 

4. Active Recall

It’s not good study advice if I don’t emphasize active recall. This is a general method where you extract information on your own to answer a question. This is completely different from recognition, where after skimming through a textbook or notes, you come across various terms and phrases that sound familiar.

News flash, skimming will never be enough for a midterm. Active recall is exactly what a test uses: it makes students use the knowledge they’ve learned and apply it to the question. Therefore, the best way to study is to constantly test yourself: create study materials that force you to pull information out of your head without any assistance. Practice exams, worksheets, flashcards, all of these methods will greatly assist you in mastering content and make you more confident for the exam.

5. Office Hours

This is by far the most under-used academic resource. Office hours are the best opportunity for students to ask puzzling questions directly to the ones who teach the lectures. By attending office hours every week, I could tackle confusion early on and not deal with the traffic of other students swarming in close to the exam date. Even if you don’t have questions for the teacher, it is crucial to attend office hours since OTHER students may have questions. I have reinforced lecture information quite often from other students inquiring things I hadn’t thought of.

Disclaimer: I am by no means trying to flaunt myself as intellectually gifted, because getting good grades has nothing to do with innate talent. It has everything to do with HOW you study. Studying itself is a skill that must be applied, revised, and developed over time. I hope this article helped you readers to rethink and motivate your work ethic for any challenging class down the road.

Gayathri is a first-year Biotechnology major and member of the UCD Her Campus Digital Media team. She loves to write, work out, sing, and sleep (college students need more of that nowadays). When not indulging in her boba addiction, she likes to wind down by watching hilarious Youtube vids with a hot cup of tea.
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