In high school, most students work really hard to get good grades to get into university. However, the university academic rigor is another beast to tackle. The experience of dropping from an A level student in high school to getting Bs isn’t uncommon. The staggering amount of readings each week, the speed of lectures, and the experience of living alone in a new environment all serve as additional barriers to getting good grades. This article provides some recommendations on what you can do to improve your Cumulative Grade Point Average (GPA) if you had a not so good semester and can also provide advice for prospective university students who want to be prepared for the challenge.
Create an Agenda
It’s important to create a routine and know what’s coming ahead. Thus, creating an agenda helps you pinpoint things you need to complete for the day and also the following week. A lot of people like to use digital tools like Notion to help them make a to do list, but some people also prefer the original paper version of agendas. Regardless, having an agenda will be extremely helpful when creating your to do list!
Use A Calendar Tool
For every email account (Hotmail, Gmail, etc.), there is also a linked calendar tool. Using tools like this can help you allocate your time, to ensure you aren’t missing any classes, office hours, or meetings. To visually allocate your time allows you to see how much time you actually have to study, thereby reducing stress and uncertainty. You can also block out certain parts of your day too using a calendar tool to remind yourself that you need to study for a certain period each time. Small visual reminders will be able to help you develop good studying habits in the long run!
Block Out Time in Your Day to Study
A calendar tool allows you to define your schedule, but it’s also important to ensure that everyday, you have time allocated on your academics. With so many things happening each day including extracurriculars, events, office hours, cooking… (the list goes on and on) it’s key to budget time for studying. Unlike high school where teachers check homework, in university, you can only keep yourself accountable. Thus, it is important to prioritize time for your academics to not fall behind schedule. Once you block out time from your day for academics, it will remind you to put away your other responsibilities and focus on one thing at a time.
Create a Learning Environment
After creating time for school, what’s next? A proper study space!
Imagine studying on a table with just a laptop, your pencil case, a lamp versus a table with a Nintendo Switch to your left and your phone to your right. I’m sure you would be tempted to take a quick break or two to catch up with friends, or finish another round of Zelda. But to maximize efficiency, it’s important to create an environment that fosters high levels of concentration while working. Through removing potential distractions, it allows you to concentrate on your studies, and is also key to improving your GPA and academic performance. Try to only have things that can improve your efficiency in your study area, and it will help you stay focused.
Do Your Homework
Homework is designed to help you reinforce the knowledge you’ve already learned in class. Despite being somewhat mundane and challenging, it’s key for you to understand the materials learned in class to be prepared for tests and assignments. Oftentimes, the questions that are tested on your midterm or final are actually similar to the homework questions that your professor has provided, thus it’s important to be fully knowledgeable with the homework that was assigned to you after lectures. Sometimes, if your professor does not provide you with specific homework questions, then it would also be worthwhile to check your textbook to see if there’s anything practice questions available. One of the most important steps in doing your homework is checking the answers. If you made a mistake, it’s key to understand why you made the mistake and if there’s concepts that you haven’t fully grasped. Homework is the best way to check your understanding of the material, allowing you to ace your test and boost your GPA!
Get Help When You Need It
After going through your homework or assignment answers, you realized that you don’t know how to solve the problem. It is extremely important to get help in a timely manner. Don’t avoid the question and hope that it won’t show up on your final exam, don’t “deal with it later”, and definitely don’t assume that the answer key is wrong! There are a couple of ways to get help:
- Ask your instructor for help
- Ask your peers for help
- Ask an subject expert for help
Asking Your Instructor for Help
Generally, professors will have dedicated time each week to answer student questions. It’s usually a one hour drop in session for you to ask any questions about the class material and homework. Your professor will definitely be your best point of contact for specific lecture related materials as they will be the one curating the content and tests, thus it’s best to get the correct information from the source. One limitation here is that your professors may not always be available to answer your questions when you need help. Even though you have the chance to chat with them once a week, it might be hard to get their help outside of certain periods. Especially when you have a last minute question before a major deadline, it will be difficult to get an immediate response from them.
Asking Your Peers for Help
If you have a couple of friends that are taking the same courses as you, it would be great if you can study with them and keep each other accountable. Study groups allow you to stay motivated and build good study habits. If you have questions you aren’t sure about, it would also be helpful to ensure that you help each other out to understand the content. By explaining to each other, it will allow you to reinforce your understanding of the material, which is very effective in boosting your GPA.
Asking an Subject Expert for Help
There are a lot of platforms in the market that provide homework help. Kunduz is a perfect example of a homework help platform that provides students with expert help within 15 minutes. It provides services for 11 different subjects, including Math, Chemistry, Physics, Economics, Finance and many more! To get help, you simply need to take a picture of the question you are struggling with, and upload it onto the app. As a low cost solution that is accessible 24/7, it will be the perfect solution for you to address your burning questions from school!
Other Advice to How to Improve your Cumulative GPA
Take Easier Courses
GPA is based on your cumulative grades, and it does not have different weighting for harder or easier courses. However, if you are able to get more As in easier courses, it will naturally boost your GPA. However, every program will have required courses for you to complete your degree, but if you have room for electives, then you can fill those spots with easier courses where reasonable effort can get you the grade you are looking for.
Take More Courses
This might sound like counterintuitive advice, but if you had a significantly bad academic year and want to see rapid improvements, you can raise your GPA by taking more courses and getting good grades in those courses. For example, if you took 8 courses in your first year, and your GPA isn’t ideal, you can take 10 courses in your second year and the cumulative mark would be weighted more on your second year courses. Extra credits will decrease the weighting of your bad marks to improve your cumulative GPA. However, if you take more than you can manage, and end up doing poorly in the additional courses, then it would negatively affect your overall GPA. Thus, it would be important for you to balance your course load to not overwhelm yourself.
Pass/Fail Your Courses
Some universities provide students with the opportunity to Pass/Fail courses, meaning you wouldn’t get a mark, but instead you will receive a Pass/Fail for that course instead. A Pass is not used to calculate your GPA, so if you had one really bad mark, you can use a Pass/Fail to replace your mark. Many universities provided students with unlimited Pass/Fails for their courses during COVID-19, but the policies might be stricter now. Usually Pass/Fails can not be used for your degree requirements and is only available for elective courses, but the policy varies from university to university. Please check with your university to understand the policies.
Overall, we hope you have learned some helpful tips on how improve your GPA. Whether you are a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior on campus, these tips will help guide your academic journey! Good luck! The entire Kunduz team will be cheering for you!