As you think ahead to college admissions, you may decide you want to improve your GPA. Some colleges provide a range of GPAs of typical admitted students, which can help you hone in on specific goal or range you’d like to reach. Here are three things you can do to ensure a higher GPA this semester.
1. Build good study habits
Good grades, and by extension, a high GPA, start with good study habits. If you don’t already do this, find an organizational system that works for you: whether a planner, an online calendar, or a simple to-do list. Plan your study and homework time around any extracurriculars, prioritizing your schoolwork so that you’re able to give your best time to them, keeping in mind personal life-school balance as well. Make sure you’re able to get enough sleep daily, and break down larger assignments into smaller tasks.
It’s a great idea to set a percentage or letter grade goal. Then, keep track of the grades you receive on assignments. You’ll often be able to calculate your grade yourself if you know the weighted percentages; this can help you adjust throughout the semester on what assignments or tests to hunker down for or ask for extra help with as you move toward a higher GPA.
2. Work with your teacher or a study buddy
To ensure a higher GPA, make sure you are clear on class concepts and assignments. Whenever you have questions, either about a past or future assignment, check in with your teacher, which will help you stay on track for your desired grade/GPA. Often, they’ll be able to meet with you during lunch or after school if you plan it ahead of time, so ask when is best for them. Inquire about—but don’t expect—bonus points or any opportunities to retake or redo some of the work if you’ve done worse than you wanted to.
Additionally, or alternately, look into finding a study partner in another classmate. Extra help and support throughout the semester can help you reach your GPA goal and is a much more consistently successful strategy, versus trying to bring up a poor grade at the very end of the semester with no help.
3. Understand how your school weighs AP/IB classes and plan accordingly
Be aware of how your school weighs AP/IB classes when it comes to how the grades affect your GPA points. For schools that give more weight to these advanced classes, you’ll be able to more efficiently raise your GPA if you do well in them. On the flipside, realize that taking a high proportion of unweighted electives, like art or music, could prevent you from raising your GPA in a quicker manner.
Alternately, if you haven’t done well in AP classes, you might consider taking Honors or regular courses, in which the weighted grade might not bring down your GPA as much. On the other hand, if AP/IB classes aren’t weighted differently at your school, then taking them will not necessarily increase your GPA at a higher rate. However, keep in mind that both your GPA and the courses that you took in high school will be listed on your college application and reflect what kind of work you completed, all of which admissions officers will take into account.
Besides these three strategies, also know that you may be able to retake certain courses for credit later on. Check in with your school counselor (as this is not possible at every school) about retaking classes during the school year or at summer school.
Lisa Low is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.