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Duke University
Duke University
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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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8th Graders: How to Improve Your Grades as You Start High School

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As you start looking towards high school, you may be anxious about the possibility of classes getting harder and you grades falling as a result. Unfortunately, these fears aren’t completely unwarranted. Many students suffer from low grades during 9th grade because they simply aren’t used to the format and rigor of high school classes and course material.


However, by adopting just a few study strategies as you walk into high school, you can ensure that you’ll not only keep your grades up but be able to improve your grades if they do happen to start falling. Keep reading for some foolproof tips to implement as you launch your high school career.



Let Teachers Know That You Are Invested In Your Education

Teachers are required to teach you, test you, and grade you, but many teachers transcend those responsibilities and are genuinely interested in their student’s personal and academic success. Thus, if you take the time to tell your teachers that you care about your grades and will do whatever you can to make sure that they stay up, there is a high chance that they will be willing to help you.


How can you let teachers know that you are invested in your education? You can have a brief conversation with them after class, stop by their after school tutoring hours to get the help that you need, or even send a quick email asking them if they would be willing to help you succeed in their class.



Attend Extra-Help Sessions

Most teachers offer after-school or before-school tutoring hours or extra-help sessions. These usually entail students coming to the classroom and meeting one-on-one with their teacher, either to ask specific questions about the course material, make up work that they missed, or simply chat with their teacher about other topics.


Attending these extra-help sessions really shows your teacher that you care about his/her class and want to do well. By attending these sessions, you’ll get some valuable one-on-one time with your teacher to get all of your questions answered. You could also get some cool pointers even if you’re not falling behind in the class.


Now, we at CollegeVine understand that you, as a high school student, have lots of responsibilities and time commitments. You may not always have time to attend extra-help sessions every single time you have a question. However, you can always shoot your teacher and email to schedule a time outside of her normal session hours so that you still get the guidance you need.



Make Up Work Missed During Absences

Just because you were absent on the day an assignment was assigned or due doesn’t mean that you don’t still have to do it. Most teachers will give you some time to make up whatever assignments, tests, and projects you missed while you were absent–usually anywhere from 1-7 days. When you miss class, it’s up to you to ask your teacher what work you missed while you were gone and make it up accordingly. Otherwise, you risk scoring a zero on that assignment. Your teacher is not going to hunt you down and make sure you finish your assignments.


It’s important that, especially if you’re trying to get your grades up, you finish your makeup work as soon as possible. This will not only ensure that your grades don’t suffer, but it will also impress your teacher by showing that you’re organized and on top of your responsibilities and assignments.



Go Beyond What Is Required

Even if you have a decent grade in a class, you should always try to do the optional and extra credit assignments whenever they’re offered. There are a few reasons why you are going to want to do this:


Reason 1: You never know when a future exam or project will be extra hard and lower your overall grade. In other words, you may need those extra credit points in the future.


Reason 2: By completing those extra assignments, you’ll be going the extra mile and showing your teacher that you care about his/her class.


Reason 3: You’ll probably learn something new from those extra credit assignments. Doing those assignments may even serve as helpful concept review for the exam.

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Make Friends With Similar Goals

While it may seem annoying that your parents are critical of your friends and want to make sure that you’re hanging out with good people, they do it for a good reason. The people that you hang around with in high school heavily influence your behavior, your personality, and your study habits.


If you are spending time around good people, you will probably end up behaving like a good person yourself. If you spend time around people who aren’t motivated to do well and aren’t well-behaved, you risk developing those habits yourself.


The easiest way to keep yourself on track and accountable during high school is to make friends with similar goals, ambitions, and study habits as your own. You can make these friends by joining clubs that attract serious and like-minded students, taking the more advanced classes that ambitious students take, and continuously trying to meet new people that align with your goals.



Participate In Class

It’s not enough to simply be present in the class and look like you’re following what the teacher is saying. In order to do well in your classes, you need to be actively engaged and listening to what your teacher is saying, taking notes, and raising your hand to ask questions.


Actively participating in class will not only help you learn the material but will also make your teacher take notice of you. Teachers like it when their students are engaged, focused, and interested in the material, so participating in class will definitely get you on your teacher’s good side.



Keep Yourself Accountable

It’s one thing to know these study strategies, but it’s another thing to implement them and hold yourself accountable for staying on track during the school year. As you enter high school, you ought to create something like a checklist or phone reminders with all of these and other strategies for success on them. Basically, you should have something to refer to regularly so that you can check in with yourself and make sure that you are staying on the right track in high school.



For More Information

Want to know more about how to tackle your freshman year of high school? Check out these previous blog posts:


Starting 9th Grade: 6 Things You Need To Do To Own Your Freshman Year

5 Tips For Incoming High School Freshman

What to Expect Your Freshman Year of High School

Mid-Year Survival Tips For High School Freshmen


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!