7 Tips for Finishing Your First Semester of College with a 4.0

7 Tips for Finishing Your First Semester of College with a 4.0

As much as we all wish college could just be about socializing and clubs, the real reason we’re in school is to get our degree, and that doesn’t come without good grades. If you’re looking for foolproof study tips to help you start your college career on a high note, you’ve come to the right place.

1. Do the readings…before class.

A lot of students argue that they don’t need to do the readings before class, because their professor goes over everything in the lecture – but that’s not always the case. In many cases, professors like to see who actually did the readings on exams, so they purposefully leave a few test questions out of class discussions, and it’s up to you to have read the materials! Anything in the textbook is fair game for the test. Plus, doing the readings beforehand will make sure you’re prepared for class, and then you can ask any questions you may have about the material.

2. Stay on task during lectures.

It’s super easy to fall into the trap of browsing social media during class, or even doing other homework while the professor is lecturing – but you must refrain! Focusing during class is vital to making sure you understand the material, and you never know what you might miss that could be on the test. If you can’t seem to stop looking at your phone or laptop when you’re supposed to be taking notes, you might need to power down for the hour. Don’t worry, Twitter can wait.

3. Take good notes.

Even if you are paying attention in class, with everything going on in the minds of college students nowadays, you’re bound to forget something – so don’t rely on your head to keep all the information in it. Take quality notes during your professors’ lectures that you can look back on days (or even weeks) later.

Related: Here's the Best Note-Taking Strategies for Each Type of Class

4. Do the homework.

Professors don’t assign homework for their own amusement: they do it to help you prepare for tests! Practice makes perfect, and, a lot of times, the homework that teachers assign is exactly like the exam, so make sure you actually do the assignments, whether your professor is checking them or not.

5. Do not try to cram the night before a big test.

When I was in high school, my mom used to always tell me that sleep was more important than studying – and she was right! If you have an exam coming up, try to study a little bit each day in the week(s) leading up to it, so you can get enough rest the night before. Plus, sleeping actually helps calm test anxiety, so if you get some shut-eye instead of cramming, you’ll feel a lot better walking into the exam room.

6. Use an abundance of resources to help you write your essays.

Essays are one of the hardest assignments for some students, but they don’t have to ruin your GPA. If you need help, try visiting your school’s writing center. It’s usually free, and the employees there are trained professionals (or sometimes even fellow students) that are there to help you succeed. No matter how strong your writing ability is, the writing center can be an awesome tool – plus, you’re already paying for it in your tuition and fees, so why not try it out?

7. Try not to fall behind.

Don’t fall into the trap of procrastination. If you start putting things off until later, you’re bound to miss due dates, or at least have to pull a few all-nighters. Those are totally avoidable if you plan ahead and make sure that you’re getting everything done long before it’s due. Once you fall behind, it’s really hard to catch back up. 

If you can follow these tips, you’re sure to finish your first semester of college with flying colors, and it’ll be that much easier to keep your grades up as you get into those higher level classes. If you want to impress future employers and graduate school admissions counselors with your stellar GPA, the time to start working on your grades is now – so get to studying!


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