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Monday, October 6, 2014

7 (Sneaky) Tricks To Starting The School Year Right

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Getting good grades doesn't require that you invest hours a night into studying. While some students can get good grades through that, it's usually the least intelligent way to get good grades. Instead of looking for better grades through more time investment, you should be looking for better grades through smarter time investments.

These 7 (Sneaky) tricks will help you do just that. They're far from the traditional “study more” advice that you'll hear from virtually every other source.

1. Syllabus Plot And Scheme

Every student needs to be plotting and scheming based on the syllabus their teacher provides. What do I mean by that?

Lets say your teacher hands out a syllabus that states 10% of your grade is based on your homework scores and 90% of your grade is based on test scores. Now consider how hard the tests are and how common the homework is. You need to be able to look at that information and figure out where you need to be investing your time.

Let's make this example even more obvious. Lets say there are only 4 tests through the year and there is a half hour of homework every single night with that same point allocation.

What is the smart thing to do as a student?


You can get a 90 in the course by just studying well for the tests. Investing a half hour every night is wasting significantly more time to see barely any improvement in your results. You only have so much time in your day. Do you really want to use it fighting for a few points when you can use it to get a ton of points?

That being said, by screw the homework, I don't mean never do it. I mean, consider not doing it when you really don't need or want to do it. An extra few points can help. They're just not worth sacrificing too much of your time for. Some homework can also help you prepare for the test. In those cases, maybe it will be smart to do it. Just don't consider the homework essential based on this syllabus.

With virtually every class you can use a similar method make powerful changes in your study strategies. Every class is different so you need to do the plotting and scheming on your own.

2. Get A Head Start

What is the easiest part of the year? Usually it's the first month or two. Take advantage of that.

Getting good grades early on is easy. It might seem like overkill to go for great grades early on but it's worth it. In most classes, the perfect score you get at the beginning of the year is just as important to your final grade as a perfect score you get at the end of the year. Considering that early perfect grade is significantly easier to get, those are the grades you're going to want to be fighting for, if any.

I get it if you don't think it's worth the investment but if you're planning on fighting for a higher grade, early in the year is the perfect time to get a head start. It lets you relax during the harder parts of the year.

3. Teacher's Alliance

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Do not make enemies with your teacher.

As far as you should be portraying, they are smarter than you. They care about you more than you do. They are perfect while you are a dog to be trained. I know, none of that is necessarily true but as long as you're subjecting yourself to class, this is the way to get ahead easier.

You don't need to be a suck up but in any confrontation you have with your teachers, you will lose. I wrote a whole article on this that's probably worth reading.

In the best case scenario, you want your teacher rooting you on. The way you make that happen is to act like you're a good student. Students that act like good students virtually never get failed. They also tend to get treated softly in the grading process. Use that to your advantage.

4. Irritating Perfectionist

The following is a strategy I've used only a couple times myself. I read it from another book. The part I love about this piece of advice is not that it's unbelievably powerful. (It's useful just not fantastic.) The part I love is that it takes number 3 in this list and puts it in perspective.

After receiving your first low grade in the school year, go up to your teacher and ask about every single point that you lost on the assignment. Take your sweet time in asking the questions.

The most important reason you should do this is to learn from your mistakes.

The more entertaining reason to do this is to waste your teachers time to the point that the teacher questions giving you low scores in the future. The teacher is required to help struggling students. They can't afford to spend an hour with you discussing every low grade they give you. Spending this time shows them that with every low grade they give, they might have to.

Consider this the important takeaway: Teachers are tools for you to get good grades. They're not there to help you. They're there to get a paycheck. You're their tool to their paycheck. (Imagine they stopped getting paid, how long do you think they'd keep teaching the irritating students in your classroom?) You're not there to make them happy either. You're there to learn a lot and prove it with your scores.

5. Drop Drama

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People will always be trying to drag you into their own personal drama.

Don't let it happen. You can deal with drama in television shows. Most of the drama other people try to drag you into has absolutely nothing that you can help with. You'll have plenty of drama of your own in life. Every ounce of emotional energy that you invest in someone else's problems makes your life worse.

It also makes your grades worse.

6. Don't Bomb

This should be obvious but some students completely miss it.

At no point in the year should you let yourself completely bomb anything (unintentionally.) One single outlying low score can drag your grade down fast. Just don't let it happen in the first place.

Hand in all your assignments. Remember that a 50 is way better than a 0. (And from my experience working with other students, complete crap can get a 50 when it should get a 0. Hand stuff in!)

7. Sleep It Off And Up And Over And Out

The start of a new school year is stressful. There isn't a more important time to focus on getting however much sleep you need to thrive. It's also a common time that students lose track of their time and stop prioritizing sleep.

One of the sad truth's about the school year is that you're not going to have as much time to do the things you love. Don't stay up late trying to make up for that lost time. It will just make your school year harder in the long run.

Using these 7 sneaky tricks you can bring your grades into the stratosphere (maybe even the mesosphere if you're lucky.)

Great grades don't come from lots of studying. They come from smart studying. This site can help you with that. Check out our archives. Maybe you should even consider buying one of our books.

Do you want to learn the secrets about studying that the mainstream educators wont tell you? Follow this blog.

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