So your grades aren’t the best this quarter.  Maybe it’s because you’re taking an upper division class, or because the professor isn’t good at explaining concepts, or because you’re behind in classwork and feel it’s hopeless to catch up. Well, whatever the reason, don’t give up hope yet.  With some perseverance and an efficient study schedule, you just might be able to pull out a passing or even good grade in your class.  Here are five ways to raise your grades in the second semester. 

5. Immediately Setup A Study Group

One of the biggest mistakes I made in undergrad was not studying with others or in study groups until midterms or finals rolled around.  But now in grad school, it’s quite the opposite.  I find myself now more than ever bouncing ideas and questions off of peers and peers doing the same.  If you haven’t already, setup an informal study group.  This could be something as simple as an email thread with two or three of your friends in the same class, a Facebook group for people in the class, or even formal study hours once every week. 

4. Share Textbooks with Friends

While this idea may sound counter intuitive at first, there truly are many benefits.  Besides the financial savings on textbooks, which today can run upwards of hundreds of dollars, sharing textbooks will force you to plan out your study schedule.  This could be done on a day-to-day basis or hour-to-hour basis where you have access to the text book Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, or between the hours of 12-5PM, and your friend has access to it the other times.  Sharing textbooks can also force you to meet at common study locations to exchange the book, thus spurring you to study even more.

3. Stay Hydrated

You may be wondering how staying hydrated relates to studying, but it does.  Studies have shown again and again that the mind functions better when hydrated.  Make sure to be hydrated for class and to participate.  Seeing as how participation is a factor of your grade in many classes, it’s never too late to start, even if you haven’t raised your hand once this semester.  Start slow and aim for one comment a class, then two, and then more.  The semester isn’t over yet, finish strong!

2. Review what you missed.

Didn’t do so well on the midterm?  Now’s your chance to review the test for concepts and strategies.  Analyze the answer key to better understand where you went wrong or if no answer key is available, stop by office hours to speak with your teaching assistant or professor.  How many questions were on the test?  Did you get to them all, or did you have to leave many at the end blank?  Were the questions at the end worth more points?  Another tip to review is to read into what type of questions the teacher asks.  Become familiar with the ordering and type of answer choices (if available) and red herrings in multiple choice questions. 

1. Ask for help.

If you’ve done all the above and are still struggling with the course material, now may be a good time to ask for professional help.  Many universities offer free peer-to-peer tutoring or discounted tutoring.  See what’s available and sign-up.  Additionally, local tutoring centers may be offering discounts midway through a semester.  Remember, whether you’re talking to a tutoring center or personal tutorsl, almost all rates are negotiable. And don’t forget to look online too!  With a simple Google or YouTube search, today you can find many great resources to further aid your studying.

Best of luck with the rest of your semester.  Have some tips to add for students?  Add them to the comments below!

About the Author: Chris V. is a grad student from Southern California.  When he’s not hitting the books and focused on graduating, he guest blogs for YourSash.com, a leading provider of custom graduation stoles and sashes.

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