How to Maintain and Raise Your GPA
GPA is one of the most important factors that colleges look at when considering your admission chances. It is a clear record of the four years of education that you received and how well prepared you are for college. Not only does GPA show a student’s intelligence in each of their courses, but it also shows their diligence and hardworking attitude to perform well academically: exactly what colleges are looking for. Students that can persevere through another four years of arduous coursework and bring a positive effect upon the community are what universities are searching for. Here are some tips and advice that can help you receive a high GPA in high school.
Choose Your Classes Strategically
What matters the most in receiving a high GPA is the choice of classes that you take. Throughout your four years, there are required core classes that you must take including science, math, english, history, etc. However, there is still plenty of room for flexibility and personalization for course registration. The first factor is weighted vs unweighted. For the same math or science class, there will be an advanced, pre-ap, or AP version which have an additional bonus in your grade compared to the regular version. Thus, consider your skills, and if possible, take as many weighted classes as you can for all of your core classes. In addition to your core classes, there is a myriad of elective classes that are available for you to take. Choose classes that you find interesting and have a curriculum that you believe you can truly commit time to study and learn the material to receive a good grade. If you are interested in or enjoy programming, take AP Computer Science course; if you like art, take the available AP Art courses. In order to have a competitive GPA compared to your peers, it is important to register for as many weighted courses for both core and electives, while taking into consideration your capacity and situation in order to not go through a burnout.
Once you register for your classes and you receive all the syllabi and curriculum information, it is important to set goals. Goals should be categorized into two types: long-term and short-term. After the first several classes when you get the gist of how the class works and the level of difficulty of the content, set a long-term goal of what grade you wish to receive by the end of each marking period (6-weeks or 9-weeks). Now the key strategy in accomplishing this long-term goal is to set up short-term goals to progressively make your way to the end. This can include studying 30 minutes for each class after school to go over the day’s notes, thoroughly understanding all the new concepts in chemistry class before each quiz, or receiving a 95+ on each quiz in Calculus and a 100 on each homework assignment. Each of these small goals will help you motivate yourself and not lose focus in the long run in order to maintain a high GPA. If you receive a bad grade on one exam, this does not mean you failed the long-term goal; you can rather focus on creating another short-term goal to bring your grade back up.
Turn in Assignments on Time
This advice may seem very obvious to some students, but as your GPA is calculated over the course of 4 years, it is important to create a planner and get into a good habit in order to not miss an assignment’s due date. Taking an average of 8 classes a year is not an easy task to manage consistently without any mistakes. Not understanding a difficult concept is a legitimate cause to receiving a bad grade if you put in the effort to study; however, perfectly completing an assignment but getting points off due to late submission is an unfortunate way to lose points as it can be prevented with the appropriate planning and schedule. The best tool for time management is a planner. This does not necessarily have to be an actual paper planner or scheduler. With the new technologies, you can utilize a calendar or planner application on your phone or laptop and implement your own strategy to keep track of assignments, quizzes, tests, and any other relevant events.
Take Meaningful Notes
Unless you have photographic memory and a exceedingly high IQ, it is nearly impossible to understand and memorize all of the new content that you learn in your classes each day. This is why students take notes, but just the mere action of taking notes is not enough. One of the most inefficient methods to take notes is to copy everything on the board that the teacher writes word for word. There are multiple reasons, but this is primarily because if you are writing down everything, you probably are not able to hear the teacher’s insights and explanations thoroughly enough to understand the content. The meaning of notes comes when you go home and look back and study; thus, what good does it do if you have zero understanding and explanation of what all of those bullet points in your notes actually mean? Therefore, create your own strategy and legend for taking notes. This can include: abbreviations for long phrases, meaningful color highlights on key words that can help when you are looking back, side notes and insights that the teacher mentioned during lecture that helps you understand a concept, etc. A combination of focusing during the lecture on what the teacher is saying as well as a recording this key information in a good structure of note is the key to succeeding in a class, especially the more difficult it is.
Work with High GPA Peers
Lastly, create a study group. This does not necessarily have to be the friends you normally hang out with. As important as a socializing group is to spending an enjoyable a high school career, in order to have a high GPA, it is important to find a study group for your more difficult classes that you can study for tests together, ask questions on new concepts, and work on homework together. This is key not only to raising your GPA in the short run, but also in the future. These students will most likely take similar courses with you along your high school career, and will be key resources to you whenever you need help. Don’t be shy and make new friends in each of your classes that you believe can bring positive effects to each other.