How to Start Passing Your Classes

If your room is a complete mess, a mess that hasn’t been straightened in weeks, cleaning it can feel like a scary task.  You look at the mess and just think “I don’t even know where to begin.”  Getting your grades to improve in school can feel the same way.  You know that you are supposed to do something, but you just don’t know where to start.  Luckily, we’ve come up with a step by step method to help you get it done.

The Basic Math (or Science) of It All

Your Goal:  I want to pass this class!

In order to pass the class –> Pass the semester
In order to pass the semester –> Pass the grading cycle
In order to pass the grading cycle –> Pass the test
In order to pass the test –> Pass the quiz
In order to pass the quiz –> Complete each homework and project assignment

A simple enough process, but how does one actually make this happen?

Get Organized

  1. Ever notice that the best libraries are kept so pristine.  Your designated “homework place” should be kept the same way, free of clutter.  It’ll keep your focus on the work and not the room.  Pick a weekend, picks some tunes, and pick up your room!
  2. The way you organize your assignments matters.  You should have a binder for each class, or one that has a section for each class with a syllabus in the front.  Having folders to keep your homework assignments in is also a great organizational tool.  However, different organization methods work for different people.  Use the one that works for you.  How do you know it works?  You’re not frantically searching for assignments when your teacher asks for them.  If you are, however, it’s time for a change.  Your teacher or tutor can show you helpful methods.
  3. You have to have a planner.  Carry it at all times and write down your assignments. Teachers aren’t perfect.  Sometimes they forget to write down everything they say.  If you miss something, ask the teacher, not just the guy behind you.  Spare yourself the sickening feeling of not knowing when you have an exam.

Before Class

  1. Skim the chapters or sections of your book the night before it’s discussed.  Your syllabus should let you know what’s next.  Pay attention to bolded words, boxed portions, and outlined sections.  When new concepts are introduced, it won’t be new and completely unfamiliar to you.  (This is how the college kids HAVE to do it.)
  2. Make sure your bag is packed with everything you need for the day including your homework, planner, and books.  Pack it before you go to bed; if you’re running late in the morning, you’re bound to forget something.

At School/During Class

  1. Go to class.  Easy right?  Be engaged in class.  A bit more complicated.  Actively listen and take notes.  Be sure to note areas that confuse you.
  2. If you have them, ask questions in class, during lunchtime or after school.
  3. Go to review sessions.  Go to review sessions.  Go to review sessions.  Go armed with questions.

After School

There’s no getting around it.  As long as there have been schools, there has been homework.  However, the more work you do in class, the less work you have to do at home.  Be alert and ready to meet with your tutor at the assigned time and decided location.  Be ready with questions on the areas where you are having difficulty.  Honor your goals by being ready and willing to work on them with someone who wants to see you succeed.

Homework, Projects & Papers

Did you know that you are supposed to complete around 25 hours of homework and studying each week?

  1. Collect all the things you’ll need before your tutor arrives.
  2. Look over the assignments you have written down in your planner.  Estimate how long it will take you to complete each one.  Start with the hardest subjects first or the biggest priority.
  3. Breakdown each assignment into smaller chunks so that they feel more manageable to complete.  This is especially true for projects and research papers.
Day 1 Select a topic.  Discuss your ideas with a teacher, tutor, or friend using your teacher’s guidelines.  (30 Minutes)
Day 1-3 Research.  Use outline and book resources.  Take notes and print/save all important documents.  (Minimum 30 Minutes to 1.5 Hours each day)
Day 3-4 Create an outline.  Complete first draft.
Day 4-5 Revise and edit draft.

For non-math & science classes: skim the notes you took in class and underline, highlight and write comments in the margins regarding important information.

For math or science classes: repetition, repetition, repetition.  The more problems you do the more practice you’ll get and the more comfortable you’ll be with question on your quizzes and tests.  The problems on tests come from homework assignments.  You’ll probably see problems from the homework on the exam.  So…do them!  Work through each concept as it was taught to you.  It’s often outlined clearly in your book. (Even if you do not use your book in class, always have your textbook on hand).

  • Redo the problems from the notes, your homework assignments and old quizzes.
  • Complete the review if your teacher gives you one.
  1. Take a 10-minute break every 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. When you finish an assignment check it off in your planner, put it in your folder or binder, and then place it back into your backpack.  Reward yourself as you finish assignments, but not with food.  Try a magazine, phone call, or internet time.
  3. Turn it in the next day! You worked on it. Let your teacher see your effort.

Quizzes & Tests

  1. Find out what material the test will cover and what types of questions you will be asked (multiple-choice, true or false, short answer, essay, etc.).  If you don’t know, ask your teacher.
  2. Continue to use the same study tactics from the “Homework, Projects &Papers” section.
  3. Begin studying for tests 5 days in advance, and quizzes 2 days in advance.
  • Short sessions spread out over a long period of time are much better than long, last minute cram session.  For example, if you are tested on five sections, study one section each day then use an additional day to review it all.

During Each Study Session

1.  Gather all handouts, notes and old assignments and organize them by date.

2.  Reread the relevant notes for each section in the chapter. Great ways to better absorb information include:

  • Rewriting all or part of your notes
  • Taking notes in the margins of your notes and highlighting, underlining and circling important ideas, concepts and process.
  • Reciting important parts out loud.
  • Redoing problems from the notes, from homework and quizzes.

3.  While reviewing notes, cover up answers and try to summarize and/or work through them.

4.  Create your own study guides, resources or quizzes.

  • Outline the book’s main ideas.
  • Make a timeline outlining important dates.
  • Write flashcards for vocab, dates, events, and formulas (no more than 3-4 points per card).
  • Create your own quiz based on your notes and the tutor’s notes.

Taking the Test/Quiz

  1. Sleep well.  Eat well.  Arrive early.  Breathe and relax.
  2. Read the instructions carefully.  If you do not understand them, ask the teacher to explain.  Then, look through the entire exam before you begin and budget your time for each section.
  3. Keep track of the time.  If you are stuck on a question, move on to the next one.
  4. If you come back to the question and you still aren’t sure of the solution, answer as much of it as you can for partial credit.  If it’s a multiple-choice or true-or-false, get rid of the answer choices you know are wrong and make an educated guess.
  5. If you have an essay question, make a brief outline of the main idea and supporting points so that you don’t get off topic as you write.

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