It’s not too late to save your grades

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Did you spend St. Patrick’s Day mourning your midterm grades over Guinness? It’s not too late to get the grades you want, but finals start in just over three weeks, so it’s time to get serious.

Problem: You haven’t gone to class. Solution: Start going. You may feel lost, but the professors usually start to give hints about the final exam around this time. Purchase notes if they’re available, or start a free note exchange through an email account to make up for lost time. Most people who join will be in the same position as you, but there are always a few good Samaritans who just want to share knowledge.

Problem: You haven’t opened your textbook or course pack. Solution: Reading groups are great, but summaries rarely make sense out of context. Dedicate a small portion of each day (even an hour is helpful) to reading, and consult summaries afterwards. Many essay exams offer choices, so it’s better to know half of the material well than to vaguely recognize everything.

Problem: You’re easily distracted, and the spring weather isn’t helping. Solution: All of the campus libraries are packed during exams, and between nervous breakdowns, texting, and fidgeting it can actually be a difficult place to study. Rather than taking Adderall – which may result in an intense focus on Facebook – set up a space in your apartment that is dedicated to schoolwork. Take time to put away anything near your desk that might distract you, such as a cell phone, magazines, or the remote control, and don’t use the computer for anything that is not related to studying. Doing a few hours of high-quality studying is better than a weekend of distracted studying. And that way, you can enjoy the spring weather.

Problem: You want Bs, not Cs. Solution: There’s no such thing as an easy final exam, and McGill’s grade deflation can make it that much more difficult to earn a B. But just follow some age old advice: form a study group, read the textbook, take notes in class, and consult the TAs. This advice is standard, but it works.

Problem: You want As, not BsSolution: Remember that non-required conference that the professor mentioned at the beginning of the semester? TAs aren’t trying to waste their time sitting in tiny rooms in Burnside; in fact, they’re paid to help you. A-students aren’t always geniuses – they’re just not afraid to ask for help. The TA usually goes over the week’s material, and often creates practice problems. On the same note, ask your professor how to study for the exam. Professors vary in their examination styles, and the best students are those that know the material and can predict the questions.

Problem: You’re graduating this semester, you’ve lined up a job or graduate school, and you just need to pass a few courses.Solution: By now you should’ve learned how to cram for exams. You’re on your own.