Everyone knows that if you want good grades, you should work hard. I don’t disagree with this, but I’ve seen many students working very hard and not getting the grades they want. Why? They’re spending too much time on irrelevant and unimportant things and expecting […]
Motivational quotes are always a great start (or end or middle for that matter) to your day. I’ve found to a great strategy to make sure one quote can motivate me for the entire day- read one quote right after you wake up. Throughout the […]
It’s a common struggle among students to lose motivation as the end of the year draws closer. This makes getting good grades almost impossible because motivation is one of the biggest deciders of grades. It can become very difficult when you genuinely want good grades, but have just run out of motivation to work for them.I have met unbelievably smart people who just don’t motivate themselves enough to get good grades.
Bottom line= motivation is the first step to good grades, no matter how “intelligent” you are.
Here are a few techniques to make sure that you keep those motivation levels high!
Have clear goals when it comes to your grades. For every test and exam, you should know the grade that you are aiming to get. Many students aim for “a pass”- which is not a goal. If you are not specific with your goals, you will struggle to reach them.
Here is a free printable worksheet that you can use to make sure that you are setting specific goals for every one of your assessments and meeting them.
The goals that you set may seem very big and unreachable, but they will quickly become easier when split up into smaller tasks. For example, if your goal is to get 80% in your next biology assessment, you could break up your tasks something like this:
Now that looks a lot more manageable than just “get 80% for your test”!
Know why you want to reach your goals
If you don’t know why you want to reach your goals, why would you ever be motivated enough to work for them? Make sure that the reasons for setting your goals align with something that is important to YOU.
Here are some examples of BAD reasons for setting goals:
- My parents want me to get 80% for my next test
- I want to look good in front of my friends
- I don’t know, it would be cool to say that I got 80%?
- I need an 80% to get into the university that my parents want me to go to
And here are some example of GOOD reasons for setting goals:
- I need an 80% average to get into the university that I want to go to
- I want a high average because I want to look good for the workplace I really want to get into
- I want to prove to myself that I can do it
Okay I know motivational quotes can sound cliche, boring and a bit nerdy, but hey- if it works it works! Sometimes all you need is a motivational quote to start your day to make it run very differently than it would have otherwise. In year 12, I made a little flip book with a motivational quote on every page. Every morning when I woke up, I would flip the page to a new quote and read it before getting out of bed. This helped me stay focused and motivated throughout the day, and it will do the same for you! I’ve compiled 31 motivational quotes so that you don’t have to! You’re welcome.
Look after yourself
No one can work all day every day with no breaks- so you shouldn’t expect yourself to either! If you feel especially tired on one day, take it off! Have a bath or go for a run (or a nap) and just catch up on the work tomorrow. On days that you are working, make sure to take regular breaks and have good snacks. If you feel that the pressure is too much and you are struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to go and talk to your school counsellor or a teacher that you really trust. Your wellbeing will always be more important than the grades you get at school.
It’s test day. You’ve prepared well, read over your notes 400 times and are convinced that you’ll score a top mark.
“You may start writing”
Your teacher says these words and you can’t remember anything that you’ve studied. Memory blank. This has happened to most students and is one of the most horrible experiences to have at school.
Here are a few tips to make sure that it never happens again:
Understand the context behind what you are reading
If you understand why, where and when something happens instead of only understanding how it happens, you will grasp the concept much more deeply and really understand it. This is called understanding context and it will help to jog your memory when you are in the middle of a test situation.
Write things down as you read it over
Grab a piece of paper or even a white board (my fav) and write down what you are learning. Draw pictures to illustrate processes and write down big words that you need to remember. By doing this, you will be more engaged and you will find concepts much easier to remember!
Talk to yourself
You may feel silly, but it really helps! Read your notes aloud, read what you are writing down aloud, you can even explain the diagrams that you are drawing to yourself. By not only seeing your notes, but also hearing them, you will increase your chances of taking in the information and remembering it! This will especially help auditory learners.
Teach it to an imaginary class
Again- you will feel silly, but by explaining it to either an imaginary person or to a real other person (your mum/dad/dog), you will be sure that you really understand the topic and can tell other people about it- like you will do in your test. If you find you are unable to explain a topic to someone, you’ve found your weak spot!
Sleep is lovely and that’s why you shluld get more of it!! Seriously though, sleep will help you concentrate better and understand what they are asking of you. It will also ensure that you are in a good mindset when writing the test- which is one of the most important things when it comes to writing exams and tests!
Multiple choice questions are easily the most underrated academic related thing EVER. “It’s only multiple choice don’t stress” “Just pick B) the whole time, you’ll get a couple right” Even though multiple choice questions are seen as easy, they are often the worst exam […]
In school, I didn’t understand why one student got 90% and another student got 50% even though I knew that they both knew the content very well (and were reciting it to me from first to fifth period).
These differences in scores can be blamed largely on understanding context. Context refers to why, where and when a process happens. Most students will only ever understand how it happens. For example, if you have to learn about photosynthesis, make sure you understand how it happens, but also where, when and why. But here comes the big question…
How do I understand context?
Well it all starts with really understanding the topic- finding out about it and understanding it in a way that your peers don’t. How to do that? Here you go….
Read more than the textbook
If you’re going to know more than your peers (and get higher marks), you need to be getting information from places that they’re not looking. Look for other textbooks, online articles and study guides. This will help you to really understand the topic and all the subtopics that it has. If you find that you still do not understand the topic, make sure that you are making quality notes– otherwise you’ll just forget what you learn and won’t be able to build on it!
Do practice exam papers
If you do practice exams, you’ll get a feel for how much the examiners want you to know. Every question that you get wrong will teach you something new- so don’t get discouraged! Studies show that students who do practice exams get two times more answers correct when compared to their non-practicing peers.
If you do practice exams, be sure to have the answers handy- otherwise they will not help at all! From the answers you will learn where you went wrong and what to do next time. If you do not get feedback on your work, how will you know where you went wrong? Here are some statistics if you need even more convincing:
- Certain studies show that test scores increased 20% when feedback was given on practice exams.
- Practice testing with feedback consistently outperforms practice testing alone
- More than 100 years of research has yielded several hundred experiments showing that practice testing enhances learning and retention
- One study showed that recall was considerably better among students that had taken a practice test than among students that had restudied (56% versus 42%).
Make sure that you can explain it to someone
Grab your mum/dad/sister/dog and try to explain the topic to them. By “teaching” them, you’ll understand the topic better and start to really get a grasp on understanding context. If you find you find it difficult to explain a topic to someone, then you have found your weak spot and should revise that area again! This is a great technique to use when you think you know the content but are not entirely sure!
Make sure you can answer questions about it
After explaining the topic to your mum/dad/sister/dog, urge them to ask questions (if you explained it to your dog, just pretend he/she asked a question). Make sure that you can answer their questions, and if you can’t, revise revise revise!!
YouTube is beautiful when it comes to understanding context. Get good ol’ Mr Anderson or Hank and John to explain difficult topics to you! (no I’m not getting paid to say this – if you’re Hank/John/Mr Anderson though, feel free to do so). I spent a good chunk of my study time focussing on watching YouTube videos! This is a great technique for when you don’t feel like staring at a page for an hour and would prefer something a bit more engaging.
Dunlosky, J., Rawson, K., Marsh, E., Nathan, M. and Willingham, D. (2013). Improving Students’ Learning With Effective Learning Techniques. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 14(1), pp.4-58.
Brame, C. and Biel, R. (2015). Test-Enhanced Learning: The Potential for Testing to Promote Greater Learning in Undergraduate Science Courses. Cell Biology Education, 14(2), pp.es4-es4.
When I was at school, the students who did not perform very well on tests were practically forced into going to after school “study clubs” organised by the teachers. Soon, everyone was urged to attend these sessions where teachers would sit down with students and […]