Lessons In Finessing: Staying Ahead of Your Grades

By Roberta Nin Feliz



We’ve all heard a myriad of study tips, from getting your life together at Weingarten to re-watching lecture videos. While these suggestions seem practical at first, we all know that things don’t always go as planned. Our lives get complicated. All of a sudden, you can’t follow the schedule you made with the Weingarten advisor, or study a certain number of hours a week. Maybe you want some study tips that don’t require you to have it ALL the way together, but still help you do well. Here are some pointers to help you finesse.


  1. Prioritize Work Based On Grade Breakdown

The first thing you should do when you get your syllabi is check your grade breakdown. This gives you a better sense of what is expected of you and can help you prioritize the work you do in that class. That is, if you have a class in which homework in 50% of your grade, then it’s in your best interest to do as well as you can on the homework. If you’re deciding between studying a few more hours for a midterm or finishing/perfecting the homework, go with the homework.

For instance, if you have a grade breakdown of 50% homework, 25% midterm 1 and 25% midterm 2.  With a 100 average on the homework, you could get 50s on both midterms and still end up with a 75 average in the class. Also, if your grade is 10% participation it’s in your best interest to go to class.


  1. Time is Precious, Use it Wisely

One of the biggest study tips people give is to always go to class. However, if you’re just going to go to class and not pay attention, then you’re better off not going and doing something productive. Use that time to do something productive like homework for another class or maybe go to the gym. Key here is to maximize your time in order to maximize your productivity. Granted, if you don’t go to class then you’ll have to get the notes from a friend or go back and re-watch lecture videos. Be accountable to yourself and your success.


  1. Make Friends in Your Classes

I cannot emphasize this one enough! Having a friend or someone you can depend on in class can be the difference between getting a B- or a C+. Not only will they be able to help you on assignments or give you the notes, but you’re more likely to go to class if you have a friend that you know will be looking for you. It also makes the class experience a lot less isolating and allows you to focus on better things like studying the material.


  1. Go to Office Hours

If you’re in a big lecture hall, make sure you go to office hours so that your professor knows who you are. Office hours is also a way for a professor to gauge how dedicated you are to the course. Even if you’re doing poorly, showing your face considerably can translate into the professor being more likely to sympathize and give you a better grade.


  1. Do Different Kinds of Work in Different Environments

Knowing where to work on different assignments is key to being productive when you’re studying. If you’re going to complete some reading, then maybe the ARCH basement is not the best place to do that. Try Fisher Fine Arts or Van Pelt instead. If you need some background noise while you do your math homework go somewhere like Starbucks under Commons or Saxby’s. Ultimately, this tip depends on the person and knowing how you work under different environments. If you need it to be extremely quiet every time you work? Cool. Make sure you find the right place for you.


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