There actually is a winning method for getting that “A”
College students are continually wondering how they can finagle the best grade out of a course. Usually, they are searching for the quick and easy method that will get them an A. I’ve taught university level courses for many years now, and I can tell you with certainty that there is one (almost) foolproof magic method to doing well in college.
Go to Class.
No, seriously. Go To Class.
In my experience, the strongest determinant of a student’s grade is whether or not (and how often!) they come to class. Think about it numerically: if you are on a 13-week semester and class meets twice a week, you have 26 class sessions worth of material to know. Let’s assume you have a midterm coming up covering the first half of the course (13 classes). You’ve missed class only once. That one class amounts to roughly 8% of the material on the midterm. Assuming you get every single question correct from the classes you did attend (a fairly big assumption), your highest possible grade is a 92%. If you miss two classes, and you are down to 84%. Three: 76%. You can see how this snowballs quickly.
To top it off, this assumes that you don’t need the information from previous class sessions in order to understand the newer lecture material….which is just not true for most college courses. And let’s face it: do you really want to count on acing all the material from the classes you did attend?
Alright, so you’ve made it to class….Magic A, right?
Well, you’re getting warmer. Although attendance is a large part of the picture and the major reason students perform poorly on exams, you do have to put in your fair share of work. Unfortunately, showing up to class only to sleep through it won’t create that fabled ‘learning via osmosis’ effect. Usually, students just wake up with a creaked neck and none the smarter. Actually paying attention during class and taking notes are important steps to success. Make sure that your distractions during class are kept to a minimum. If you are taking notes on a laptop, disable the wireless function. Of course, investing sufficient time in studying for exams matters too. But, by committing yourself to perfect attendance you’ve taken the first step toward the grade you want to get, and away from a common pitfall of many college students.