Six Ways to
Help Students Raise Their Grades
By Annie Burnquist , US
June 08, 2008
With the school year ending, millions of high-school students are preparing for
that last minute push to raise their grades -- and parents are looking for ways
to help. Here are six tips to boost your child's final-exam scores.
the body to give the brain a boost.
Physical activity increases blood flow to the brain, feeding it with oxygen and
learning-boosting nutrients like glucose. "Exercise in many ways optimizes
your brain to learn," says Dr. John Ratey, a Harvard Medical School
Getting students to workout greatly improves their classroom performance. One
study found that 15 to 45 minutes of exercise before class reduced fidgeting
among children by half. In a study that looked at three groups of students with
different physical education routines, the group that exercised the most did
the best on tests, even though they spent the least amount of time in class.
2) Create a healthy study space.
Where kids study is almost as important as to what they study. So designate a
specific spot for studying. Doing so sends the message that your household
takes academics seriously. And although the area should be free of distractions
like TV, video games, and phones, it should also reflect what the student needs
-- not what mom wants. Developing this habit early in life will pay off
immensely during college.
Aesthetics matter. One study found that grades were 25 percent better for
students who study near a window; natural lighting promotes concentration.
3) Encourage interactive learning.
An ancient Chinese proverb goes: "Tell me, I forget. Show me, I remember.
Involve me, I understand." Students perform better when actively engaged
with the material. A great way to ensure that engagement is to hire a personal
Tutors were once too expensive for most Americans. Calculus tutors cost about
$100 per hour -- and an instructor's quality varied with location. That's all
changed thanks to online tutoring services They provide all the benefits of
old-fashioned tutoring -- like one-on-one attention, a customized educational
experience, and instant feedback -- at a considerably lower price. Kids who use
our tutoring service typically raise their grade by at least half a letter.
4) Get plenty of sleep.
Sleep is essential to the brain's ability to learn. Teenagers should get at
least eight hours each night. Grade schoolers need at least 10. Late-night cram
sessions don't produce much long-lasting knowledge, and they compromise the
ability to analyze and recall information during tests.
One study by Harvard psychiatry professor Robert Stickgold found that after
learning a new skill, student performance didn't improve until after at least
six hours of sleep. "It's as if you have to wait for the dough to
rise," he explained.
Psychology professor Pamela Thacher cross-referenced college student grade
point averages with sleeping habits and found that "you can't do your best
work when you're sleep-deprived. . . If you use all-nighters, your GPA is
slightly lower on average."
5) Encourage communal learning.
Group learning is more exciting than thumbing through a textbook. As social
psychologists David Brandon and Andrea Hollingshead have concluded
"interaction with others leads to active processing of information by the
Thanks to the Internet, kids don't need to confine their study partners to
people in their immediate area. There are plenty of high-quality online forums
for kids to talk to each other or adult experts. As psychology professor Rena
Palloff and international studies professor Keith Pratt noted in a paper on
online learning communities, the "keys to the learning process are . . .
the collaboration in learning that results from these interactions."
6) Have a study plan.
Creating a study plan is an effective way to manage stress and use time
efficiently. A recent study by the American College Health Association rated
stress as the #1 impediment to academic performance among college students in
the United States. And during finals season, academic anxiety can be especially
Luckily stress can be substantially reduced with just a little bit of planning.
By creating a realistic study schedule and breaking down assignments into
small, manageable pieces, students can avoid stress leading up to an exam.
(Annie Burnquist is the founder and president of ThinkingStorm.com, an online tutoring