How to do good in school?

Ok first of all I dont know if this belongs in General Questions, IMHO, or MPSIMS. If it doesn’t belong in General questions then please move it to its approiate place. Sorry for the inconvenience. I am a junior and I recently got my report card. I have 2 “A’s”, 3 “B’s”, and 1 “D”. I am grounded and my parents said I have to get all “A’s” now or else they will punish me more. Is there anyway to get better grades then just studying? I do all my homework and classwork but some stuff I just dont get so dont do that great on Tests/Quizzes/Essays. If there is a better way/technique to getting good grades please share them with me and let me know. Thank you for your time

Off to IMHO.

DrMatrix - General Questions Moderator

I’m afraid not. You just need to work.

By the way, you should have said, “how to do well in school.”


Make sure you pay attention in class and ask questions when you don’t understand something. Have your friends explain things that you just can’t get. Do every problem your teachers assign and check the answers. Figure out what you did wrong on the ones you miss. Read your books carefully and slowly. Comprehend every sentence. Don’t just read without comprehension. Think about what you read and how it relates to your current understanding of the subject. It may take you a long time to read something, but you will understand it and remember it. Build on what you know. Most importantly, have a good attitude. Think positive, have confidence.

Challenge what you’re being taught. Don’t just accept things and try to memorize them. Understand the why behind everything. If you are still having problems and are really trying, your teachers will probably help you after school. It helps to be smart, but more important is committment. I hope this helps, feel free to IM or e-mail me. I am also a junior.

AIM- Serge A Storms

Kriss, what subjects did you do poorly in? Maybe if we knew what you need to do better in we could give you more specific advice.

Well, there’s cheating, of course. This isn’t recommended.

When I was in college, I got quite a few "C"s on big tests which I thought I’d do well on. I understand how frustrating it is to go into an exam feeling well prepared, and come out feeling stupider than sh*t.

You might try approaching your instructors some time before the exams, and asking them to test your general knowledge of the subject, informally. Some will refuse, of course. But if you find a helpful teacher, you may get insight into where you need to focus your efforts.

If rote memorization of anything is going to be helpful, of course do it. I prefer the Magic Sentence method - for memorizing the planets in their proper order, think “Mary’s Violet Eyes Make Jack Stay Up Nights Perhaps.” Or something like that. Identify what needs to be memorized, and make up your own sentences, preferably as dirty as possible (helps in remembering them, even if you snicker a lot during the exam).

Try to see the development of trends (in history, for example.) If you’re studying a certain time period within a region, think about the general progress (or regress) of art, literature, religion, science, politics, etc., and how these different fields may have influenced one another.

Practice test: “The Holy Roman Empire was neither holy, nor Roman, nor an empire. Discuss.”

Oh, and:

Make formal outlines of your texts. This will not only help you remember and understand the text, but the skill of summarizing will serve you well forever.

One more thing (gosh, I love triple-posting):

For timed essays, spend maybe 10-20% of the alloted time on constructing an outline of what you’re going to say. Then flesh it out. Your essays will be much more coherent and complete.

Originally posted by JFMichael:

YES. This is excellent advice and bears repeating. If you genuinely want to learn and understand a subject, the grades will come.

Some tips about essay writing:

– Most of your teachers will be looking for a strong, specific thesis statement that summarizes your argument in one sentence. Make sure they can find one.

– You’re not going to get a great essay in one draft. Start early (as soon as you get the assignment, ideally), and read over, rewrite, and revise until you just can’t stand it any more. It will pay off.

– Read your essay aloud to see how it sounds – you’ll catch problems like missing words and general awkwardness this way. Also, have a parent or friend critique it for content as well as spelling and grammar. Other people are good at spotting holes in an argument that may make perfect sense to you.

– Back up what you say with specific examples appropriate to the type of essay you’re writing (e.g., quotations from the work you’re reading in an English class, facts that support your political position in a civics class, personal stories on a college application). Teachers hate generalizations without support.

– If you’re allowed to choose your own topic, choose one that genuinely interests and engages you – but NOT one you have such strong feelings about that you find it hard to see the other side. A subject you’re curious and open-minded about is ideal.

– If you’re assigned a research paper, pay attention to your teacher’s rules about documenting sources. Don’t EVER use a source without crediting it properly. Also, make sure you develop your own ideas in addition to the information you take from outside sources; a paper that is just a patchwork of quotations without an argument of its own will usually earn a poor grade.

If you can do all this, you’ll be ahead of most of my college freshmen. Good luck.

Thank you all very much for writing good advice. I have printed it out. Here are my subjects:
English - Low “B”
Spanish III - “D”. I fail every test/quiz
Psychology - High “A”. This is so interesting that its hard to get bored and I just love this class
History - Low “A”. Barley made it
Chemistry - Low “B”
Math - Low “B”. My worst subject

Thanks alot JFMichael for I have already started reading some books and making outlines. Your adivce was one of the best. Thanks Fretful Porpentine for the English help. I have an essay coming up and I will use your good tips. And then thanks to all the people that contributed.

sorry if you take offense, but in my opinion, that is an absolutely horrible example of parenting.

Do not I repeat, DO NOT get good grades solely for your parents. In time you’ll just end up resenting them. I’m probably an exception, but I was did horribly throughout middle school until I basically said screw you mom and dad, i’m not listening to your degrading shit anymore. After that I wanted to learn and began to excel.

Doing well in school correlates with WANTING(for yourself) to do well in school. Worry less about what your parents think, and more of your own goals. It’s true that good grades will help tremendously with getting into college, but a few bad ones won’t kill you.


English - Low “B” : Read, read read, practice practice practice. Goto great debates read what some of those guys write. The more you read good authors, the more you’ll simply pick up the ability to write. I guarantee just reading what some of those geniuses write will help you develop your own writing style. Not to mention having to look up all their words increases your vocabulary =)

Spanish III - “D”.: Practice! I did stuff for the heck of it like translate my essays into french or whatnot. But what really helped me was that I used to join french chatrooms and just park my ass there and read what they had to say. Helped tremendously on my recognition and recollection. I even told a few people what I was doing and they offered to help.

Psychology: See, you like it, you learn it. =)

History: shudders

chemistry: Hard stuff. Rote memorization will get you a B. But as what people said before you need to understand the WHY’s of the subject. For chemistry it’s alot of 3d thinking. You have to be able to imagine 2 atoms colliding with each other. May I suggust a molecular model building kit? they cost about 20 bucks.

Math - Low “B”. : lots of practice here too. One suggustion. Read the book. It amazed me how much easier calculus was after I stopped just going to lecture and started to read the book as well.

Good luck Kriss.
Aim: Bored2001

No one has mentioned homework yet? Do all of your homework, and hand it in on time. I mean every single assignment. Not only do you get credit for doing it, if you’re between grades for the term, you’re going to get an B+ or an A- for example, many teachers will give you the higher grade if you have handed in all your homework. Hell, I was taught to grade that way when I was studying for my English-Teaching degree. If I was actually teaching, I’d grade that way.

If you are in college, try to take those classes that you prefer, and try each academic term to pick one class that you really, truly want even though it has nothing to do with your major. As you have seen, if you really like it you do well. Do so more often and your grades will improve. :slight_smile:

If you are stuck with a difficult class, search around and ask for the best professor (according to other students, of course!). Ask others why is that professor the best, see if it fits what you want out of the course, and take the class with the one you want. An otherwise hard class becomes bearable once you have a great professor willing to help you. :slight_smile:

I took Spanish myself in school (Kinda liked it so now I’m pissed at myself that I dropped it after grade 10… but that’s another story) and I found a couple of things that helped.

Like Harmonix said, park yourself in a chat room where people speak predominantly that language. Scan over it and try and pick out what you do know and figure out the rest from there, sometimes you may even find some nice people online who will help you out that way. I’ve found I have picked up some knowledge of other languages that way (mainly German as it seems a bunch of people in the chats I visit toss out German lines every so often)

Try and use some of the words randomly when around other people. Like places/things etc. I still do this (Like I am sitting at la computadora right now! if that’s correct…)

If you can find subtitled movies in Spanish watch them and listen closely… be careful not to just read the subtitles and ignore the sound though because that just ruins the whole effort.

Kids books often help… Libraries usually have a seperate section for 2nd languages. Find a bunch of kids stories (like the ones with big pictures of what is happening.) It may seem a little dumb, but how else do you think their kids learned to read and understand new words in their own language?

I also agree with Harmonix on the bad parenting thing… ordering you to get straight A’s won’t help. Some of my best friends (as well as myself) did crap in school because of this. Do this for yourself, because you want to get a better grade or learn this stuff. At present I am going to school of my own choice and am doing great (course it helps that I know the price of failure being a former drop out, as well as having an idea of where I wish to go now)…

Good luck with the schooling Kriss.

I absolutely agree with Harmonix. Parents should not insist that their children get perfect grades. It creates unhealthy stress, disregards the more important goal of learning, and can be counter-productive. Besides, your grades are fine - good enough to get into a decent college. Except for that D - they’re justified in pushing you to improve that.

elfkin, she said she is doing all her homework.

Well, I cant change my parents opinions. Everytime I ask them why I have to do something or why they make decisions for me I usually get a response like “Because I am your mother/father”.

Not encouraging familial dispute here. But That is obviously not a good reason. Perhaps you should question it further. Talk to them. Try and figure out what they think. Tell them your thoughts. It won’t work for everyone. It didn’t work for me, but I’m first generation and me and my parents have a huge langauge barrier.

Good luck.

I am an educator and also disagree with your parents. They may have the best of motives, but they are being unreasonable. Can you arrange a counselling session at school that will include your parents?

Prepare for tests ahead of time. The night before the test, do things to relax yourself. Get plenty of sleep and eat a good breakfast in the morning. When you get to school, get your brain in gear by doing something simple such as multiplication tables or making lists of antonyms. Read the instructions and questions carefully. Double check all answers. Triple check on math. If you are uncertain about a multiple choice question, go with your first hunch. If you have no hunches at all, check B or C as the correct answer. When you have no idea on a true/flase question, check true.

I really hate approaching grades this way. But maybe it will make a difference of a few points.

I list these things as an addition to the study skills that others have provided. Their suggestions are excellent.

When I had a lot of material to read in college, I found underlining as I read very helpful. At test time, I would type up the underlined parts. Then I would read what I had typed and underline the most important parts of that. I kept going until just a few words were the keys to a lot of knowledge.

For the Spanish. I agree with reading children’s books. Your teacher may also have tapes of children’s songs you can listen to. If you have friends in your class, try using Spanish phrases with them. The key to learning a language is to use it as much as possible. I learned the most my senior year when I got dropped into the English as a second language class and had to communicate with kids who spoke very little English. This probably isn’t an option for you, though. If there’s a Spanish radio station in your area listen to it. You may also be able to find a Spanish station on the 'net. Finally, in my HS Spanish classes, we watched cheesy Mexican soap operas. The language is fairly simple, and you’ll be trying to catch the words in order to follow the plot. If you try to understand and learn the language enough to make it useful for you, the conjugation and vocabulary with come naturally.

Last thing: ask your teachers for help. They should have time set aside, and they’ll know your weak areas. Also, they’ll be impressed that you’re making an effort to improve. They may offer extra credit as well to give you a chance to catch up.

First of all, I think your B’s aren’t a problem, they’re fairly good marks.

The D, however, is a problem. Here is my very conditional advice.

I find that, to a certain extent (for me at least) capacity to do well in a language is limited by your ability to learn languages. Mine happens to be horrible, so I always had to put a LOT of work into getting mediocre grades, while pretty much every other class came to me easily.

If this is the case, you might want to consider not taking high-level language classes next time. Also, in many schools here, we have language classes streamed, as in medium-level,advanced, langue maternelle etc. If this is the case, don’t hesitate to get yourself moved to an appropriate stream for your language level.

I almost failed my last French class in college because I was DEFINITELY in the wrong stream. The only reason I passed was because my teacher pushed my mark up several points to 60 because she knew I was doing my best.