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Top 7 College Study Skill Tips: “How Students With Low Grades Can Propel Themselves To A 3.0 GPA Or Higher In 3-9 Weeks”

Improving your GPA if you have a C- average, which is below a 2.0 at most schools, may seem like an impossible task. But with a fantastic set of college study skills and advanced planning, you can significantly improve your GPA. Even if you have struggled at the beginning of your college career, doing well every semester from here on out will transform your transcript from one with all Cs and Ds to one with many As and Bs.

Potential employers and graduate programs are interested in seeing significant improvement in a student’s academic career. You can take advantage of getting excellent grades now in order to show admissions counselors and employers significant improvement. The following 6 study skill tips for college and university classes will help you plan, create, and execute the strategies you need to transform your grades and your transcript in 3-9 weeks.

In studying college student success, experts James Kuo and Michael Miller have noted that “although students worked on group projects outside of class, they seldom made use of college skill centers.” These centers are designed to identify and help improve weaknesses in student study skills. Improving your GPA means you need to begin studying differently.

    1. Create A Target

      Make sure that you put proper preparation at the center of your efforts to radically improve your college study skills and your GPA. Students should calculate out exactly how many credits they have left to graduate so that they can realistically calculate how much they can improve your GPA and what kinds of grades they will need to get in order to achieve their goals.

    2. Set Up A Meeting With Your Advisor

      Any student struggling with a low C- GPA needs a plan. A student should begin creating this plan by setting up a meeting with the assigned academic advisor at the college. The first step in creating a GPA improvement blueprint is to figure out exactly where you are. Have them print out a copy of your transcript and your current schedule.

      During the meeting, discuss your future academic plans and plan out every semester you have left in school. Select all of the courses you have left to complete your degree, including both the general requirements and your major specific degree requirements. Discuss your weaknesses and have your advisor identify potential resources on campus to improve your study skills.


    1. Attend Academic Support Center Trainings

      Many Academic Support Centers offer time management trainings, placement tests, and learning style assessments for students struggling in school. Despite their importance, many students do not use them during their college careers.

      Academic Support Centers are often staffed by both professional staff and students. The centers also offer end of the semester stress management seminars, lunch time study skill sessions, and emotional and behavioral assessments. Take advantage of these services. The assessments and the counselors will help you identify your learning style, your strengths, and your weaknesses. You will benefit from trained counselors who can help you understand your individual school habits and develop ways to improve your study skills for college tests, writing papers and other critical skills that have a dramatic effect on your grades.


    1. Never Miss A Deadline; Adjust Assignment Due Dates

      It is vital that you create an assignment due date schedule at the beginning of every semester. With this schedule you will be able to see all of the papers, exams, and labs you have to complete and when they are due. Many professors are willing to move deadlines forward or backwards if you have 3 or more papers or exams due in the same week. If you ask to rearrange paper due dates at the beginning of the semester, you will avoid turning anything late and getting a bad grade. Great study skills begin with planning in advance to meet your deadlines, professors penalize late papers and those points can be the difference between another C+ or a B+.


  1. For Difficult Courses, Find And Use A Tutor

    Every student has weaknesses. You may struggle with math, science, or literature. Whether you have poor writing skills or bad math skills, there are often free tutors on campus. If you know in advance that you are likely to struggle in a course, make sure that you meet with a tutor at the beginning of the semester. Don’t wait until the night before the paper or exam is due. It will be too late at this point.

    Meet with your tutor early and often throughout the semester. Meet to discuss assignments in advance; use your meetings with tutors to discuss the assignment requirements and create milestones for each assignment. Tutors, when used properly, can help you build study skills for your university courses which will improve your GPA. By pointing out errors in your grammar or miscalculations in your calculus homework, each moment will teach you how to do things the right way. This means you will get better grades on every paper and every exam.

  2. Begin Researching & Writing Your Term Papers Early

    Like many centers, the Writing Center at the University of North Carolina, encourages students to write drafts before submitting papers to professors. The Center, provides students with a checklist of things to consider as you write your papers. No one writes a great paper on the first go. Papers need to be written, set aside, edited, and reworked. It is possible to write a 20 page paper the night before it is due, but it is very difficult to write a paper the night before and get and A.

    An A quality paper requires students to pick a great topic in advance, conduct research, outline the paper, draft the paper and get feedback before editing a final time and submitting the paper for a grade. Many professors are willing to discuss the topic, potential sources, review your outline, and even edit your draft. By beginning your paper early, you can have your professor comment on every stage of the paper writing process.

  3. Take Practice Exams From Previous Semesters

    One of the barriers to doing well on an exam is exam anxiety and stress. Students who have significant levels of anxiety before an exam perform poorly on the exam. In a study of exam anxiety, researchers David Putwain and Liz Connors discovered the negative exam performance outcomes associated with student test anxiety. The researchers found that students who were anxious about an exam and who believed that they would do poorly scored lower than students who had less anxiety and/or who believed that they would do well. They recommend that students find ways to change their fears about an exam in order to increase their scores.

    One of the premier ways of decreasing test and exam anxiety is to practice taking the exam in advance. Many professors offer exams from previous years as a sample. An important study skill is to ask for copies of previous exams and to take the exam under test conditions. Students can decrease their anxiety over an exam by asking friends or tutors to help monitor the practice exam in an empty classroom. It is even better if you can take the practice exam in the room where you will take the actual exam.

    Knowing the format of the exam, how long the exam will take, and how it feels to take the exam they will decrease their exam anxiety. When students use this test preparation method, they will increase their test scores because anxiety will not interfere with their preparation. Taking practice exams is a great study skill.

What You Can Do Today To Start Improving Your GPA

The National Academic Advising Association notes that academic advising is the key mechanism, and on many campuses the only mechanism, through which students have a person they’re connected with.

Academic advisors contribute to student success by linking students with internal school resources to improve college study skills. Gather your resources, contact your advisors, use a tutor, and write papers in advance. Academic success comes down to managing all of your obligations. Whether you are working, involved in sports, or taking a large load of credits, carving out dedicated homework and studying time every single day is essential.

Set up a meeting today. Be sure to ask your school advisor for a list of all of the academic resources on campus and for background information on different professors and their grading styles. Give yourself every chance to succeed.

Preparation Questions and Manuals for Teachers


  1. Student advising plays key role in college success just as it’s being cut, John Marcus, Nov. 2012,
  2. Revising Drafts
  3. Kuo, J., Hagie, C., & Miller, M.T. (2004). Encouraging College Student Success: The Instructional Challenges, Response Strategies, and Study Skills of Contemporary Undergraduates. Journal of Instructional Psychology, 3(1), 60-67.
  4. Putwain, D, Conners L. (2010). Do cognitive distortions mediate the test-anxiety-examination performance relationship? Educational Psychology 30(1) 11-26.