Call to Action: Let’s Raise Those Grades

If you can feel your anxiety over your student’s grades starting to rise with the outdoor temperatures, just try to remember that April and May still offer plenty of weeks for a turnaround. Students can end the school year in triumph instead of despair. So, what’s the plan of attack? Here are some time-tested strategies – plus a special opportunity – to help young scholars conquer their coursework and win confidence in their own abilities when they’re put to the test.

Cumulative Final-Exam Preparation

You might dread the idea of a “cumulative” final, but that kind of test is actually good news: Students have already been taught and worked on the course material once, and now they get another run at it. If they’ve been applying good organizational and study skills, the next strategy for success I’ll discuss, then they’ll know what was challenging for them the first time around, and they can dedicate the lion’s share of their study time to getting it right the second time around, on the final. In addition, many teachers will provide students with organized, effective study guides for finals, which means students need to know to work through those right away to see what they still need to ask about, in class or outside of it, long before the final and not the night before the final. (See Time Management According to Priorities, below.)
Teachers, too, will generally remember what was most challenging for students the first time around, so they devote more class time or give special homework to help students master those things before the final. They may make themselves available outside of class more often to students who want to lay hold of their second chance to learn the material and raise their grades. Good teachers are like coaches leading their players to victory through joint effort throughout the year; when their students “win” on a cumulative final, teachers also enjoy a championship season.
So encourage your students to appeal to their teachers for answers, advice or just plain encouragement every chance they get. The good teachers want to help their “players” soar; the good players know that their coach is there for them but can’t make the basket or run the 440 in their place. With sustained effort and the right strategies, your student can experience more victories and far fewer defeats.

Organization and Study Skills

organization and study skillsThose who study success tell us that anyone who aspires to achieve it must first create a “no-fail
environment.” For students, that starts with organization—of study spaces, of learning materials, of lecture notes, of resources—and is built on effective study skills.
If the inside of your student’s backpack looks like a tornado blew through it and school papers lie scattered through your house like fallen leaves, that doesn’t exactly spell “A” for “academic success.” If your student spends hours and hours “studying” but can’t demonstrate basic mastery of essential course skills, those study skills are simply not effective.
What can you do? First, don’t give up, because whatever doesn’t come naturally, to you or to your student, can still be learned. And wouldn’t you rather your student learn organization and study skills now…rather than in college? Resources for acquiring these habits and skills abound. Simply do a quick Google search: The website, for example, addresses study skills in detail through cartoons (especially good for younger students). You can encourage your student to work with high-achieving study buddies; people can “catch” good habits and skills from others by being around them and imitating them. You can also get a tutor at MASTERs Plus who will offer personalized instruction in study skills. Just call 708-798-8400 to enroll today.

Time Management According to Priorities

study tips and time managementBecause our students are so curious, so talented and, therefore, so involved in extracurriculars, they often find their energies depleted before they even get down to work on those science formulae, math equations or Spanish verbs. In short, because they have not prioritized schoolwork as school’s main activity, they do it poorly, and their grades begin to reflect that. Grades clearly indicate the huge difference between just occupying a seat in class and actually learning what was taught; between dashing off the homework and actually checking it; and between leaving your midterm study guide untouched for weeks and actually completing it ASAP so that you can show up to class with questions.
“Time” management is really just energy management, to allow us to give our best energy to our highest priority, which for students is…yes, studying. Does your student understand that mastering the course material is the “job” right now? Does your student make that a priority? Do you? No young (or old) person will be “on the job” all the time or always do it perfectly, but if school is the priority, then students must dedicate enough time (energy) to doing the job well and even getting better at it. When they don’t, whatever activity or plaything that is distracting them should be limited or removed until they do. In the working world, people who don’t do their jobs tend to lose them and end up missing out on many activities and playthings because they can’t afford them.
Tools for time management include student planners (digital or paper) and even huge wall-charts with different colors representing high- and low-priority activities. Students can then see where their time is going and realize that they can redirect it. If they do prioritize studying and raise their grades, don’t be afraid to reward their effort. Adults who prioritize their jobs get recognition, bonuses, or other rewards, so why shouldn’t students? Just make sure you do it with a “currency” they value: Don’t put your introverted, image-conscious 13-year-old through a “sing-along” celebration at Applebee’s!

Professional Tutoring

Having a MASTERS Plus’ expert tutor work with your student one-on-one can be of great help anytime of the year, but especially as time ticks down to the end. Tutors are trained and experienced at recognizing your student’s strengths and weaknesses, your student’s learning style, and your student’s preferred way of being motivated. We can quickly perceive obstacles to learning and their causes, and we can recommend efficient steps to take if students are willing to take them. We also build on our students’ successes to empower them to achieve. We tutor in all subjects, including the ones on the national Advanced Placement (AP) Exams coming up in May.

Study Groups Homewood-Flossmoor, IL
And now, the special opportunity: Because we want our community’s students to finish strong, we are offering a new program, “Exam Study Groups.” Here’s how it works: From five to eight students from the same class are invited to come in as one study group for an hour, and one of our tutors will review with them all concepts on a teacher-provided study guide. The cost to each student? Only $15. To enroll, please call MASTERs Plus today at 708-798-8400—We expect these sessions to fill up quickly.


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