Academic and Career Advising

Academic Strategies


 How to Get Good Grades in College 

By Linda O'Brien
This information was paraphrased from "How to Get Good Grades in College" by Linda O'Brien. Copyright, 2009. Woodburn Press.


1) Attend Every Class

  • When you miss classes, you miss lectures, notes, class discussions, homework explanations, and assignments. You may also miss quizzes or tests.
  • Getting copies of someone’s notes is not the same as being in class, and it’s often more of a hassle. You cannot make up what you miss, and you cannot get it from someone else.

2) Be Organized

  • Use an assignment notebook, planner, or calendar.
  • Use a three-ring sectioned binder for class notes.
  • Save all computer files on disk often.
  • Keep returned papers, quizzes, and tests in separate folder for each class.
  • Get phone numbers of class mates.
  • Maintain a neat and organized study space.

  3) Manage Your Time Well

  • Do not overextend yourself. If you feel that you are, evaluate ways that you can make life more manageable.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Be organized.
  • Make efficient use of your time.

4) Be Successful in Class

  • Learn how to adapt to different instructors (that is part of the learning in college).
  • Be prepared for each class.
  • Sit in the front or middle section of the class whenever possible.
  • Communicate with your instructors if you have a question, concern, or problem.
  • Be on time to each class Participate in class Be a good group member.

5) Take Good Notes

  • Be an Active Listener. Think about what is being said and try to understand the information.
  • Take notes to help you pay attention.
  • Recognize Important Information.Listen for verbal cues or words to indicate something is important.
  • Take Notes that are Easy to Read. Put class name and date at the top. Leave space at the left to put in keywords, use abbreviations, and write on every other line.
  • Go Over Notes as Soon as Possible (MOST IMPORTANT). When reviewing, you can make sure your notes are thorough and review them so they are more solidified in your mind.
  • Get lecture notes if you miss a class.

6) Know How to Read a Textbook

  • Scan. Get a quick overview of the material
  • Read. As you read, create questions in your mind to answer by the end of a section.
  • Review. Taking time to review will help you retain more information.  

7) Study Smart

  • Find a Good Place to Study that has the fewest distractions. Shut off your cell phone and turn off the Instant Messenger on the computer.
  • Get Started. Tell yourself that you will work on it for 5 or 10 minutes. Once you get started, it is easier to continue.
  • Know Your Learning Style. Whether visual, auditory, kinesthetic, or a combination, learn how you learn best and adjust your studying accordingly.
  • Organize Your Study Time. Prioritize what needs to be done first or break down large projects into smaller pieces, but do allow for short breaks.
  • Know How to Study for Tests.
  • Know How to Memorize and Remember Information.
  • Know How to Use Technology.
  • Use Tricks When Making a Presentation or Speech.
  • Know How to Write a Paper. 

8) Use Test-Taking Strategies

  • Get Off to a Good Start with the supplies you will need (pencil, scantron, etc.).
  • Develop a Plan. Look over the test to see what types of questions, how many and decide how long you can spend on each section to finish in time.
  • Mark the Questions you Want to Return to.
  • Increase Your Odds on Multiple-Choice Questions.
  • Know How to Approach Essay Questions.
  • Look for Key Words in True/False Questions (always, never, every, all, etc.).
  • Be prepared for open book tests.

9) Reduce Test Anxiety

  • Start studying early.
  • Mentally practice going through the testing experience, answering the questions correctly, and getting the desired grade.
  • Act confident when you walk into the test and it will make you feel more confident.
  • Use relaxation techniques.

10) Use Available Services

  • There are free services that all college campuses offer. To see a few things that are available at SLCC, see the Campus Resources sheet or ask an advisor.
  • If you don’t find what you are looking for, ASK!

BONUS: How to Improve Scores on Math Tests

1) When you receive your test, write down formulas, equations, etc. that you will need to remember.
2) Before you start a problem, try to estimate what the answer will be.
3) Try drawing a picture or diagram.
4) Don’t spend too much time on one problem. Go on and come back to it later.
5) Show all your work. You may get partial credit.