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Psychology Today – Better Grades

Psychology Today – Better Grades

Heather EdwardsHere’s another Psychology Today publication with Dr. Mark Banschick. This was posted here on January 10, 2016. It’s chock full of simple tips for acing your semester!


You are back from break, and school has been a problem, with too many distractions, friends, sports…sometimes a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even a break-up.

It is not working.

If you’re in college or grad school, no one’s supervising, which is great, butwhen you get distracted, it’s all on you. Even if you are in high school, it’s best to be self motivated.

So, now as you pick up the pieces from last semester and committing to a program of success.

Consider some tips from guest blogger,Heather Edwards(link is external).

Create a Routine:

Establish a study time, place, and structure that works from the start of the school year. The earlier you begin a routine, the easier it will be to stick with it as a matter of course.

Set aside a specified block of time each day to review notes, complete assignments, prioritize your work, and get tutoring if needed. Avoid counterproductive behaviors like going on-line to social networking sites, texting friends, and leaving your study space.

Stop distracting behaviors – like checking emails, before they become habits.

Minimize Distractions & Obstacles:

What is getting in the way of your effective learning? Identify the pitfalls. Studies have shown that loud noises and flashing lights are a huge external distraction of focus and attention. Find a study space that reduces these.

Set up timed email and Facebook notifications, or turn them off on your phone and computer. Silence your ringer, wear ear plugs or head phones.

Are you distracted visually by other students in class? Are you feeling rushed or constantly late? Is your mind wandering when it needs to pay attention? It can help to sit in the front of the classroom, arrive early, and participate in class discussions. Take a deep breath. Focus your attention on your attention. Avoid getting caught up in thoughts about your friends or weekend plans.

Proactively identify and determine strategies to reduce these snafus.

Study Tips:  

Stay organized – know your due dates. Prioritize your time by being aware of deadlines.

  • Review notes immediately following class – it will help encode the new information, or otherwise make it stick.
  • Highlight what you don’t know so you can return to it for further exploration.
  • Study in peer groups – the discussion and support can improve retention.
  • Write notes on flashcards.  Review them in alternating order.
  • And, get adequate rest.  A wakeful mind is a smarter mind.

Believe in Yourself:

Remember that you can do it!

Self-discipline is the hardest part. Notice the other things in life to which you apply your full focus and intention – like watching a movie, playing a sport, or listening to a friend. You can apply that same dedication and effort to grades. It might not come as naturally, but with practice and reduction of avoiding behaviors you can develop a a strong study habit, and thus better grades.

Reward Yourself:

This is the foundation of Behavior Modification. It’s what inspires and strengthens behavior patterns. Study time is simply that – a behavior you want to reinforce.

Set a goal for yourself – and a special treat when it’s complete. When you finish reading a chapter or writing a page of a paper, call a friend, go for a bike ride, or have a tasty snack. You deserve a prize for your accomplishment. It will give you something to work toward in the short term and will payoff a hundred fold in the long term.

Heather Edwards, LMHC, BCC

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