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What To Do When you Get a Surprise Grade

Even though you are a good student, have you had the chance to be riding home on a school bus and dreading the moment when you would have to hand your report card over to your mom and dad? What may have made it worse was that you saw it coming. After several low test scores and times when your professors seemed to be speaking in some secret language, you were pretty sure that your grades for the quarter would be a C, D or possibly worse. You have the opportunity to avoid having the same experience again.

Doing so is a two-step process. First, you need to become more vigilant in keeping track or your progress throughout the year. Second, you need to start a calendar with check-in points and due dates so that you know in advance.

The following are some steps for doing both. Build a relationship with your teachers. You should begin by talking with the teacher a few times after class a couple of times so that the teacher gets to know you more personally. You can ask about something you did not understand in class and teachers always want to hear from you that you would be interested in extra credit. 1) Get to know how much homework the teachers will be assigning and how much time it will usually take to completer.

Then you can better budget your after-school time and know how much time you have to spend on other homework. 2) When is the homework more intense? These are the times prior to major tests or days when major projects are due. Times like these should be clearly marked on your calendar so you will know when you will need extra time and support. 3) Ask the teacher periodically about your progress to date. Many teachers will be happy to update you about your current grade so that you know whether you need to take remedial action or not. Find out when the big tests are.

Most public school students take at least two major tests mandated by their schools or school systems during the year. Many students tend to focus on the tests in the spring, which are increasingly used for high stakes decisions such as whether or not a student will move on to the next grade or graduate. But the tests that are given in the fall are especially important for you to find out about problem areas while there is still plenty of time to do something about them. Even though it is natural to look at the scores to determine how well you think you measure up, you also need to remember that the tests are diagnostic tools for revealing academic strengths and weaknesses. Understanding these strengths and weaknesses will enable you to determine what kind of tutoring and other support you may need to ensure that the fall, winter and spring are all winning seasons for high test scores and overall success.

Create the right space to study in. Studying can be hard work and with the many distractions of MySpace, IM'ing, cell phones, etc. you may find the whole evening has slipped by without getting much homework done.

Establishing a quiet, tidy space with good lighting for studying will help you focus on homework and greatly increase your ability to retain your subject matter. Be sure to have everything you will need in one place such as paper, pencils and pens, a dictionary, a thesaurus and a calculator readily at hand so that you do not have to interrupt yourself to go find them. The seat should be somewhat comfortable with support for your back but not so comfortable that you are half-reclining and getting drowsy.

Reward yourself for a job well done! While it is critical that you are aware of any difficulties with your studies, it is also important to expect success from yourself. Everyone struggles at some point in the school days, but know that there is support out there if you need it, i.e. tutors, teachers after class, etc. When you finish a large project that you feel good about or you ace a test, do something good for yourself.

Jane Saeman runs an In-Home Tutoring service called Aim High Tutors. Find out about how to help your student reach their full potential at

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