In this week's blog post I'm going to teach you why you need to reflect and course correct throughout your degree if you want to achieve higher grades.
Sign up to my free Study Success resource library to download the printables and cheatsheets you need to put today's lesson into practice (along with a ton more goodies).
Studying for a degree is like taking a very long walk where you’re aiming to get to a mountain. The walk represents the studying you need to complete and the mountain is the grades you could achieve (even if you don’t think they’re possible for you).
You start the walk and it’s so long that you can’t actually see the mountain yet, but you know if you keep walking it will come into view. After you’ve walked for miles and miles, suddenly, as you’re looking around, you see a shadow of the mountain on the horizon. You’re heading north but you realise you need to travel east to reach it. You have a decision to make. Either, you change course and start making your way to the mountain - towards where you want to end up. Or you carry on in the direction you’re heading, to a different destination, because it’s easier.
At the end of each module you have a chance to course correct. At the end of a module you may realise you’re heading in the wrong direction. You’ve achieved a grade you’re not happy with and high grades (the mountain) suddenly seems far away. You’re now on a path that’s taking you further away from where you, ultimately, would love to end up.
A lot of students realise they’re on the wrong path, and they do nothing about it. Their grades stop climbing, they stall, or maybe even they decrease…and they don’t really know why. They look longingly at the mountain in the distance but realise they’ll have to retrace their steps and take a longer route if they want to get there. They want to achieve higher grades but they're starting to seem out of reach. So they decide to change their goal, so they can continue on the path they’re on. They start to forget they ever wanted to reach the mountain.
I want you to know that these are normal feelings. It’s normal to feel like you’re stuck on a path you can’t get off. It's hard to see higher grades as a possibility if you've been getting lower grades for awhile. It’s hard work to step off your path onto a new one. You have to battle through dark woods, trip over tree roots, and often feel lost. But it IS possible.
Studying is a journey. A degree takes years to achieve and in this time your situation will change and you will also change as a person. You’ll build more skills, confidence and resilience which means of course you’ll need to pivot as you go.
You CAN change the trajectory for your university success. Your past grades do not have to define your future ones.
Perhaps you’ve had a few low marks and you’re worried that it’s too late to change. I want to tell you that it probably isn’t. As you progress through your university study, the modules normally become more heavily weighted. This means that higher grades in your final modules can often make up for lower grades in your earlier modules.
So if you’re part way through your studies and you’re not happy with your grades you don’t have to settle. There are opportunities to improve your marks everywhere, you just have to reach out and take them.
Now I’m not saying you need to change everything overnight. I am a big believer in the power of small changes. Small, frequent tweaks to your study habits can lead to MASSIVE improvements in your grades.
I’m now going to share with you some ways you can course correct, improve your study skills, and achieve higher grades moving forward.
3 ways you can shake up your studying and achieve higher grades
1. Test out new study techniques
What are the chances that the first methods you chose for organising yourself, note taking, essay writing and exam revision are the most effective strategies out there? Pretty slim I’d say.
The end of a module is a perfect time to reflect on the usefulness of the techniques you’ve been using, and go on a hunt for ones that could help you achieve higher grades in less time.
Here are some of my blog posts to help you discover new study strategies:
- Choose the best note taking method for you
- How to revise for different types of exams
- Academic writing advice
- How to improve your critical thinking
- How to have your most productive study week ever
- Overcome procrastination.
2. Improve with EVERY.SINGLE.ESSAY!
Your tutors should be giving you feedback on your essays, explaining things you can do to improve for next time. (If you’re not getting much/any feedback then please ask for it).
With every assignment you submit – you should be trying to improve. Whether it’s to improve your study skills or achieve higher grades. Negative feedback sucks for sure, I’ve had my fair share of it! But a sure-fire way to maintain crappy grades is to ignore this feedback, and continue to make the same mistakes again.
I’ve created an assignment feedback tracker you can use to record your feedback, identify ways to improve, and track your progress. Click below to sign up to my resource library, and you’ll find the tracker in the essay writing section.
3. Reflect at the end of every study session
Spend 1-2 minutes at the end of every single study sessions reflecting on how you could improve the next one. This sounds heavy but long-lasting improvement happens with small adjustments.
Here’s some ideas for small improvements:
- Put my phone out of reach before I start studying
- Use the Pomodoro technique
- Get clear on what I want to achieve so I don’t waste time
- Sit at my desk so I can concentrate better than on the sofa.
Sign up to my resource library and grab my study session planner (and tons of other study success resources to help you achieve higher grades) where you will find a small section to do this reflection.