Want a 4.0 GPA in College? Here are Some Useful Tips

Getting a 4.0 GPA might seem insurmountable for most college students, but the truth is you can achieve it if you really commit yourself to it. Not having enough time to devote to your studies is definitely not an excuse either. In fact, there are plenty of antidotes about students who are extremely active on campus, hold part-time jobs and a full load of classes who achieve this. Even football players with their rigorous practice schedules and weekends on the road have been able to ace their classes.

Keep in mind that if you got a 4.0 GPA in high school, it does nothing to guarantee the same results in college. High school is all about cramming for tests and memorizing facts with very little focus on critical thinking skills. But college is simply a different kind of animal. You will cover far more material in a shorter period of time, and the information will be far more complex. This is why once you start college it is essential that you meet with your academic advisor and discuss proper studying habits.

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Some Advice for Obtaining a 4.0

Keep in mind that if you struggled through your first year or two of college, do not give up! You can still make a comeback and achieve a 4.0 GPA during your remaining years of school.

  1. Keep an organized schedule

One strategy would be to create two spreadsheets: one for everything related to your academics (i.e., deadlines, exam dates, assignments) and a second for everything else (work, teeth cleanings, college clubs). Staying super organized is key to success. When you receive your course syllabi, make note of your exam dates and when your major essays are due. Color coding each class is an effective way to retrieve the information. Every Sunday, plan out what you are up for the week. Make sure your study time, work hours and other responsibilities do not create scheduling conflicts. If you have anything in place, you are certain to stay on task.

  1. Take notes...but in a way that suits you best

At this point most students jot down their notes on their laptops during the lectures, but it might not be a bad idea to print out the lecture slides and write notes onto them as well. But in the end, the most important thing is that you take notes in a way that is most effective for you. Some students even prefer to draw pictures instead of notes because that is how they best retain information. If you are majoring in statistics or the like, and need to write down equations, an old fashion pencil and notepad probably makes the most sense. If one particular method does not work for you, try another or even consult your professor for some advice.

  1. Study for exams five days in advance

This idea might sound a bit excessive, but when you do well on your exam, you will be thankful that you devoted so much time to it. Divide your notes into four sections. This can be done by chapter, lecture, or even based on the complexity of the material. Begin by studying by chapter or lecture in chronological order.

Then, follow this guide:

Day 1: Study the first section.

Day 2: Do a brief review of the first section and then study the second section.

Day 3: Briefly review the first and second sections and then study the third section.

Day 4: Briefly review the three initial sections and proceed to the fourth.

Day 5: At this point, you should have already covered everything. Review one last time, focusing on whatever you feel you need to work on.

By following this plan, you will feel zero stress on the test day. In addition, pay attention to the fact that you will get enough sleep since you will not be pulling any all-nighters.

  1. Reflect on your studying

As you study, do not merely read (or skim) the material and move on. Instead, find ways to soak it all in. As you are prepping for your studying, ponder the following questions:

  • How do I study best?
  • Where should I study? In my dorm? At the library? At a cafe?
  • What methods work best for me?

As you study your notes, ask yourself:

  • When should I use this formula/strategy/concept/etc.?
  • Does this make sense to me?
  • How did I arrive at this answer?
  • Why did that formula/strategy/etc. work?
  • What makes this concept logical?
  • How do I expect to perform on this exam? Why?
  • What would be required to get an A? (Figure it out, carry it out)

It will benefit you greatly if you are as specific as possible in your answers. The concept of "thinking about your thinking" (metacognition) has been proven to help students grasp the concepts better and get high scores on their exams!

  1. Be your own professor

Another effective technique is to imagine you are the professor and are explaining the material. This is a great way to gauge what you clearly understand and what requires more studying. In essence, if you are struggling with being able to explain a concept, it means you should spend more time studying it.

Another idea is to attempt to teach the concepts to a friend. Again, just take your notes and present the ideas as if you were the professor and your friend is the student. Go through the details carefully and make sure you have covered everything. If you are able to convey the information to others, it is a sure sign that you have full command of the material.

  1. Form study groups

Getting together with other motivated students is a great way to learn from others as well as test yourself by explaining what you know to them. Before meeting with the group, do some preparation so that you will be able to provide maximal contribution. Come up with some questions to quiz them and make a note of any material that you need help with understanding. By the time you finish the group study, your questions should have been answered and you should understand everything perfectly.

Taking advantage of the course discussion board is another good idea. If you should miss any lectures, you can ask for details. You can also ask questions about the exam or start a discussion about the material. With literally hundreds of classmates responding, you are bound to find the answers you need.

  1. Use word association

If you are having a difficult time remembering a date, term, or list, try to come up with acronyms or by taking a part of a word and assigning meaning to it through the use of different word.

  1. Apply the concepts in creative ways

Taking into account what you have learned and creating your own stories with the material is a fun and creative way to remember these important concepts. For instance, when learning about the psychology of persuasion, attempt to think of times in your life when you find a message appealing enough that it caused you to change your mind. Ask yourself why you were able to be persuaded, etc. By creating stories, it demonstrates that you are able to apply what you have learned. Obviously if you understand an idea in such a way that you are able to create your own scenarios, you are definitely in good shape when test time approaches.

  1. Apply what you learn to the real world

Along the same lines, think about how you can take the concepts that you have learned during the lectures and apply them to the real world. How can you connect these ideas to pop culture, for instance? It is important to understand how and why you are able to associate the concepts with these real world examples. Once it is time to take the test, you will be able to remember the concepts more easily and if you are given questions in which you must apply them, it will be like second nature.

  1. Focus on your health

Although you should study as hard as you possible can, do not go overboard. Look out for yourself. Make sure you eat a balanced diet, get plenty of water, find time to exercise, socialize with friends and get your 8 hours of sleep. Give your brain plenty of rest. Finally, maintain a positive attitude. That might sound cliché or naive, but it really does work. Successful people go in with the mindset that they will conquer all challenges. That is exactly what can happen for you if you share this attitude!


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