Student Success Stories: Stephanie G.
Stephanie G.'s Academic Success Story
I didn't make any major changes from high school to college, but I did from middle school to high school. Going into the IB program required a much more rigorous study routine. I read all of the assigned books and chapters for class and took notes, both in class and during my reading.
My overall study method: I would describe it as a gradual process. I read before class so I have an idea of what is being discussed and anything I have questions about will be cleared up.
My test study method: Putting in the time for each class is a big part of studying for tests. Reading has definitely had the most beneficial outcomes for my test scores. I study the hardest for the first test in each class, because I'm not ever sure what to expect. I'll reread key points in chapters, go over my class notes, and possibly do practice questions. Once I've taken that first test I analyze which part of my studying was most helpful and concentrate more in that area for the next tests.
Understanding how a professor tests or what he/she looks for is key, too. I had a history professor one semester who always had a section where you would have to explain the significance of key historical events or figures. He wasn't looking for a definition or an identification, he was looking for what impact that event or person had. I understood that, but many of my classmates didn't and their test scores reflected it. Make sure you understand what is being asked, and don't be afraid to ask if you don't understand.
My time management secret: Planning. I make a list of everything I need to get done for the next week or two. Then I distribute all my assignments throughout the week based on how much time I'll have left after class, activities, and other obligations. After my schedule is made, I stick with it. Usually, I try to leave room for surprise assignments, so that I have some flexibility in case something pops up that I didn't anticipate.
How I study for multiple exams, deal with multiple projects: Again, planning. I have a planner with me at all times and keep track of deadlines and meetings so there's no interference. If I know I have two tests one day I'll plan around that, making sure all my other assignments are finished so I have time to review the material and study for the tests the night before.
My overall study method: I try to do most of my reading over the weekend. I'll spend the day or night in the library reading everything for the week. If I study all day I'll have time to do things at night and vice versa. During the week it's harder to devote the time to reading with meetings and assignments to work on, so I tend to have smaller study blocks during the week.
How I've overcome an initial bad grade: I got a D on my first paper in college. It was in history and the professor believed in letting you rewrite everything because you can always improve. I took advantage of this opportunity after speaking with him about the assignment. Initially, I hadn't understood what he was looking for. When I resubmitted it, I got a B- and by the end of the semester I had made an A on one of my papers. Usually, I can tell what I'll receive on my assignments, because I know how much time and effort I put into them. The only time I've received an unexpected grade is when I haven't understood the assignment. From those experiences, I've learned to ask questions before I start so there aren't any surprises.
My strategies for written assignments: I hate papers, and will put them off as long as possible. A horrible idea. Start as early as possible, even if it's just a few ideas you've thought of. Having something to work off of when you do sit down to write the paper will make it that much easier, plus you've already got a start. Always reread it, at least once. When in doubt, talk with the professor. If I'm really struggling with something I'll talk with the professor to see if I'm on the right track. Usually the professors will ask you questions to get you thinking and head you in the right direction.
How I succeed in team projects: Have a backup plan. It's inevitable that someone will not pull his/her weight and the slack will have to be picked up. If you care about the quality of the work then you'll have to do the extra work and seek solace in the fact that teachers do take team evaluations into considieration when assigning grades.
I've only been on one group project where everyone did their share.
My proudest academic achievement would have to be scoring a 5 on the AP Biology Test without studying. I put two years of hard work into Higher Level Biology for IB. As a class we were encouraged to take the AP test in case some colleges wouldn't give you credit for IB. The AP test was 3 weeks after the IB test and I figured if I didn't know the information after the IB test there wasn't much point in cramming for the AP test. When I got the 5 it felt amazing.
If I'm limited to college, then it would be my Early World Civilizations class freshman year. That's when I got the D on my paper. It was the closest I'd ever come to failure. Graduating from high school with all As except for one B+, it came as a complete shock to get a D. Writing has always been a struggle for me, so I worked really hard to improve it for this class. I had to change the way I thought about my papers and understand what my professor was looking for. Once I did that, it was easier to get Bs, but I still wasn't getting it completely. I kept looking over the examples he had and using his comments on past papers to write my new ones. All of the effort paid off when I got an A on the final paper and as my final grade in the class.
English, math, foreign language tips: English is my worst subject, I don't know how I managed As. Using all the resources available to me probably got me through my English classes. Sparknotes, friends, and help centers on campus all contributed to my success in English courses.
Math is all about practice. Actually doing problems is the only way you learn math. Most professors use questions from the homework but with different numbers for the test. It's about understanding the process.
Foreign languages require a lot of time. Memorization is a big part of learning it.
Here are my final words of wisdom for students who want to get better grades in college: [TV personality] Tim Gunn says a phrase every time in his show, "No one can want you to succeed more than you do." I think this sums up how I feel about academic achievement. You have to want to succeed, because no one else can make you successful. You are the one determining how much you'll achieve.
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