All students should have an expectation of what grade they hope to achieve in any given class — before the class starts! Not all students may aim for an A. Perfection is not what this blog series is about. Rather, we’re focused on reimagining student success, that is, to set goals, be organized, reduce stress, and improve the quality of your life as you get better grades, higher test scores, and get set for college and beyond. While study skills may help you reach higher grades than before, there are times when you need to incorporate a tutor, but only after you have maximized every resource at your disposal. Grades matter for college applications. Here are 3 tips for setting and applying quarterly grade goals:
- Start with the past: Average your grade for two previous years of that subject. So, if you got an 87 in math two years ago, and and 89 last year, your average grade goal is at 88. Most students tend to follow trends in each subject, with the occasional outlier or odd result. With that average, maybe add 2-3 points to it, say from an 88 average up to 90, for this upcoming quarter, so you have something to work toward. If you successfully implement study skills and the strategies mentioned in this series, you stand to make more substantial improvements in your grade, but start conservatively so you can reach your goals.
- How to use a grade goal: Let’s stick with that 88 score as an example. Any test, quiz, paper, or homework that falls below an 88 should trigger an automatic sequence: you meet the teacher, understand what happened, evaluate how you studied (was it enough?), evaluate your notes or note taking (room for improvement?), and communicate with your parents so they can help support you. Now, let’s imagine you get above that 90, that means you can keep the status quo, continuing what you are doing, and maybe divert some attention to classes that need more time.
- Tell your teacher: Teachers have profoundly important roles, but despite their talents, they are not mind readers! Communicate your grade goals to the teacher. The point is not just to hit that mark, but to use that like a barometer to measure for increases or decreases. Express your desire to improve, and ask your teacher for help. The more you ask, the more likely you will receive what you need. In the rare case of an unresponsive teacher? That’s when you send in the cavalry: ask mom or dad to help the teacher understand you are trying to better yourself, and that you need their assistance in figuring out why you are not hitting the goal you seek.
Most importantly, do not wait until the next quarter grades are in and you are in despair, wondering what happened. Act early before stress builds. Start where you are, and build up from there.