7 + 3 ways to boost GPA

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GPA or Grade Point Average, is the one deciding factor that compares the quality of your work with your classmates and ranks you accordingly. The higher your GPA the better. But sometimes it is much harder to increase this simple number than it first seems. Thankfully, there are some simple steps you can take to boost your GPA. Pick the Brain has provided a few tips on this very topic, but I have found a few more that prove very useful.

John Wesley’s original 7 tips include:

  1. Go to class – You would be surprised how often this is not followed. When you get to university you will learn that nothing is compulsory, and none of your lecturer’s will care if you go to their courses or not, so it is extremely difficult to stay focused and motizated.
  2. Sit in the Front Row – Not my favourite place to sit in a class, but it will get you involved, and make it easier to learn more.
  3. Take Notes by Hand – I am a massive supporter of this idea. I don’t think that you learn as easily just by following through printed notes. Actually writing the information down engages a different part of your brain, meaning that you are thinking about the concept and memorizing it at the same time.
  4. Do a weekly review – I have never tried this, but I suspect that it would work well. Most of the time you do this automatically however, whenever you are studying for an exam or preparing an assignment.
  5. Go to office hours – Again, I have never tried this, because I do not think that intruding on a lecturer in their time is of any benefit. If you have any questions, just ask them during your classes or directly afterwards.
  6. Find smart people to work with – Working through questions, and analysing key concepts can be a great way to fully understand the topic you are studying. It is for this reason that I encourage everyone to get a mentor. Someone older who can help you out, but have a smart fellow student in your same course can often be just as good.
  7. Avoid all-nighters – All-nighters are not the most pleasant experience, but most of you will do at least one of two in the next few years. Sometimes they are unavoidable, but I would try to eliminate them as much as possible.

My three additional thoughts on how to increase your GPA are of a different thought process, but are still highly valuable.

  1. Take easier courses – Make sure they are related to your major, but taking a few easy courses is a great way to boost your GPA. You just have to make certain that you will score extremely highly in all the assignments and exams. Remember, most courses are weighed the same, so a quick, simple course can be a great way to increase your GPA.
  2. Focus on the important assessment – It can be very irritating, but it is often the case that some of the least important assignments in terms of marks can be the hardest and take the most amount of time. Try to focus on the assignments and exams that will have the biggest impact on your overall grade.
  3. Remove distractions – Acquiring a high GPA can mean a lot of study. This is a very hard thing to do for many people, so you must help yourself out as much as possible. A good way to do this is to remove all distractions from your study area – TVs, computer games, mobile phones…

Having a high GPA can mean a lot when you are trying to get your first major job, or if you are trying for scholarships and academic awards. Often it is not easy to increase this number by a lot, but it is worth a try!

6 Tips for Organizing Research

Intro/Hook.

  1. Download the articles you plan on using, and save them in a single folder. You don’t want to pay the penalty for someone else’s site going down, or free content being transferred to a paid archive. If the source website doesn’t allow you to save the article to your website, there are two workarounds. First, you can hit print as if you were going to print it, and then select Save As File (or something like that). This option will divert the output going to the printer and capture it in a PostScript file, which you can open on any Windows machine. My favorite way to save articles is Yahoo! MyWeb. Find out how to use MyWeb to save your articles
  2. Discover new sources using your old ones. Every journal article contains a wealth of research. Look in the bibliography.
  3. Take notes with citations.
  4. Use Google’s Cited By links to judge a paper’s influence.
  5. Read Intro/Conclusion for fast answers.
  6. For multiple papers from same author, start with most recent work

Simplification – The Key to Success

Taking notes during lectures is perhaps the most important part of retaining knowledge throughout your university semmester, but most students are simply not that good at it. They tend to focus on either writing down every word your lecturer says, and just the important points. There is a much easier method which will definetly pay off when final exams come around.

Simplification!

I have used this method for many months and it always works perfectly. The general idea is to write down the heading of the topic, and write down in the simplest way possible what it is about. Try to imagine that you are talking to a younger child. But you also have to remember to include all the complication information towards the end.

The reason this works is that the next time you look over your notes it may have been weeks since you wrote the information down, and you will not remember what you were talking about. Having a simplified description means that you will remember the basis of the notes instantly, and from there you can focus on the complex concepts, equations, or explanations.

While this may sound counter-intuitive, it really does work.

This method is based on the ever popular K.I.S.S idea (Keep it Simple, Stupid). Trying to keep all of your ideas in their simplest form allows you to really understand the principles rather than just memorize facts. It also gives you more time to learn the more difficult concepts.

Learning the basics is key for any student. Most of the knowledge that you will learn are just extensions of the basic ideas given in the first few weeks. Understanding, not only how to use them, but why is very important, and truly is the key to success.

Naturally there are hundreds of different methods of taking notes, but time and time again simplification seems to reign supreme. Although taking notes in an easy to understand manner does not mean that you skip the hard topics. The idea is that you take a hard concept, and re-interpret it in your own words. The use of images or diagrams can also be very beneficial when trying to convert a difficult problem into a series of simple ones.

The main difficulty with converting to this method of note taking is the mental difficulties. Some people will feel that they are leaving out important information, while others will be able to start with little difficulty. The only way to try out this method is to start today. While it may suit some students, others will find it too restricting.

8 Reasons Why Re-writing Notes Is Essential

During finals week, time and time again I hear things like “you have such nice handwriting,” and “so much lecture information on so few pages,” and I am always very thankful that over a decade ago, my German teacher (props to Frau Bahr) told me that I’d learn best if I rewrote my notes for every class, condensed them as small as I could and then studied from that. For ten years now I’ve been doing just that; spending an hour longer than “normal” re-organizing and re-writing my notes for each class lecture that I attend. It may sound like a lot of “extra work,” but this re-writing process has been proven to help students cement the information they’ve just been given.

  1. without re-writing notes, students may forget vital pieces of information as well as what abbreviations and other marks mean
  2. re-writing your notes helps you memorize and understand the information you copied during the lecture, the best way to memorize a lot of information is in small pieces over a long period of time
  3. if you have questions about things you’ve heard in lecture, re-writing your notes may either help you understand what they were, or point them out clearer, encouraging you to ask about them during the next lecture
  4. while you are re-writing your notes, you are also able to re-organize them, put them in a format that works best for your learning style; visual learners can add color-coding and diagrams, auditory learners should read the notes aloud a few times, and kinesthetic learners (me!) learn by re-writing notes into outline formats
  5. a note on outline formats: each main point should be on its own line, details for the point should be indented to the right. A fantastic way to either learn or set up an outline is to use a word-processing program’s “bullets & numbering” feature; hard returns and indentations create the next appropriate character for outlines
  6. oftentimes, professors speak too quickly for a student to get all the notes written out; by re-writing your notes, you are able to fill in those blanks that you may have had to leave during lecture. The details are still fresh in your mind and you will be able to clarify them sooner. All of the abbreviations that you create during class should be spelled out and explained while re-writing your notes.
  7. re-writing your notes prepares you for your next class, reminding you of what you were to learn in previous lectures and cementing the foundations
  8. one thing I’ve found particularly helpful in many classes is writing out a short “summary” of the lecture at the end of each set of daily notes. Then, when I go back to study for the exam, I am able to paste all of these summaries together and read a page-long essay about what I was supposed to learn.

It helps best if a student can re-organize and re-copy their notes within 24 hours of the lecture, but if that cannot be done, then at least do it before the final few lectures, just in case you have any leftover questions or misunderstandings. Research shows that 80% of new material can be recalled if you review your notes within one day of presentation.

Want to bring those test grades up? Want to impress your classmates with your typed study guides? Re-write those notes daily and cement things sooner rather than later!