hello everyone! it's been a while since i've written one of these, so for today's article i'm going to give everyone some tips (that are hopefully helpful) to help you get good grades. these pointers were either passed down from my seniors, or just little tricks i've picked up along the way!

1. BEING PREPARED

being prepared doesn't necessarily only mean having all your textbooks and note-taking templates ready for class, but also includes knowing yourself and how to be your most effective and productive self! finding a study method that suits you best is, in my opinion, the best way to be prepared for a new school year.

i prefer not to leave things too last-minute, but as someone who works a little better under pressure i often find that finishing something on a whim actually produces better results - my brain is strange like that. of course, it is advisable not to leave the cramming to the night before an important exam: while being prepared includes knowing yourself, it also involves long-term effort. a pointer i have would be to review your work the day you learn it - doing so really helps to refresh your memory and drill it into your head. it also gives you a chance to clarify whatever doubts you have with your professors and friends before it's too late.

also, make sure to be prepared for huge jumps in syllabus! a lot of the time the differentiation in workload from one grade to another can seem pretty intimidating, but don't be too shell-shocked when all the work and assignments get thrown at you. my school puts up an assessment schedule on the official website every year for students to download, so i like doing a rough time plan of my year to make sure that i stay on schedule and not get slowed down by surprise deadlines and all that jazz. you'll come to realise that while the amount of work may look like a lot, if you write it all down and use any pockets of time you have in between classes and lectures to get started, it actually isn't all that much to handle!

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2. TEST-TAKING

i live in singapore (we're pretty known for our education system), and the amount of emphasis teachers and parents put on tests and examinations is honestly pretty formidable. i think that one of the most helpful tips i've gotten so far is to not overlook the small questions in an examination - while the 5/6 mark long-answer questions may look like they have a lot of weightage on your final grade, choosing to dwell on one heavily-marked question you may not even get right and disregarding the other ten or so short-answer questions is probably to your detriment. sometimes, short-answer questions that don't seem like they have much impact can really pull up your grades. similarly, don't spend all your time on a question that's worth only one mark - i'm pretty sure that's self-explanatory.

in my school we have an english paper that's forty-five minutes long and comprises of a comprehension passage (which is worth ten marks) as well as a summary paper (worth fifteen). while it may theoretically make sense to start with the summary to make sure you finish it and get that fifteen marks, this is not necessarily true as oftentimes the first section of a paper (especially in humanities subjects like language studies and history) can help you get a better understanding of the second part. what i'm trying to say is, do things in sequence - it may not seem like it, but your teachers do try their best to help you get the best grades, and the way they set the examinations do play a big role in that.

moving onto a more direct tip when it comes to taking tests, this was a tip i got from my sister when she was also in high school - for multiple choice questions, oftentimes there will be two similar sounding/looking options provided: one of those almost always is your correct answer. this helps you narrow your scope, and also minimises the chance of you actually getting the question wrong. make sure to pay attention to the key words in the options; even something as simple as incorrect tense can cost you your marks.

for essay questions, always plan your writing first. this was a tip my literature teacher gave me when i first started high school, and it's carried my essay grades until today. even if your points aren't all too well-substantiated, draw them into a rough skeleton of your essay and many a time it will just fall together, especially when you look at all your claims on one page.

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last but not least, make sure to check your work! i can't count how many times i've lost marks to careless mistakes on algebra tests and pop quizzes. set aside some time at the end of a test to quickly review your work, just to make sure you've attempted every question and not made any silly errors that can cost you marks.

3. ASSIGNMENTS

a tiny little point here, but make sure to always do the home assignments your teacher gives out! especially for factual, scientific subjects (biology, physics, mathematics), practise is the only way to make sure you've gotten a good grasp on the content, and always doing and handing in your assignments for review is such a good way to know where you're at in terms of familiarity with the subject. these may seem like small and insignificant things, but they actually have a really big impact - especially because the tricky questions you can find in your assignments often do come out in the actual examinations. in a way, doing your assignments and making sure you correct them give you a hint at what the test is going to include.

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also, finishing your assignments on time give you a really good feeling of being productive and on-task! a lot of time i find that finishing these assignments and handing them up early provides me with a sort of satisfaction and just motivates me to do more work, which is really helpful especially on days where i feel a little less driven and encouraged to do my work.

4. PARTICIPATION

another small point, but participation in your classes and lectures are honestly really important to your education as well! not only does it benefit you in clarifying your doubts with the teacher, it also benefits the rest of your class as well and gives them a little something to think about and consider. also, putting in the effort to participate in classes and ask questions does help you gain a little more interest in the content - similarly, teachers/professors see your enthusiasm and will be more willing to help you when you need it!

5. PRESENTATIONS

something that i pride myself in being quite good at doing. honestly, presentations either make you or break you - they're good to score in, but also incredibly easy to mess up. here are some good pointers i have when it comes to presenting in class.

| get your notes ready | whenever i have to do presentations in front of an entire class, i either get super anxious and start shaking or just completely forget everything that i've practised. this is probably what got me into the habit of writing everything down - when you write your points down on a piece of loose-leaf or carry your phone to refer to a typed-out document, you'll at least have some back-up just in case you completely blank out in front of your class. thankfully, this is something that i've gotten a lot better at, but it's still a really good tip if you're the type to start panicking in front of a group of people who are just staring at you.

| know how to stall | i saw this tip on another article i read and this is such a good tip! make sure you know some background knowledge about whatever you're discussing in your presentation or at least some fancy words to rephrase your previous points if you have awkward gaps to fill at the end of your presentation, or momentarily forget your next line. read up on your topic - it also helps if your teacher suddenly decides to quiz you on the topic while you're standing in front of everyone and hoping you don't trip over your words and say something embarrassing.

| be casual | if the situation allows it, try to treat your audience like a bunch of people at a stand-up comedy place. make eye contact, but don't stare too hard at one person because that's creepy. sometimes, it's even good to make some jokes, just to lighten the atmosphere and make your entire presentation less monotone and boring. this sort of ties onto the stalling point, because what i've seen many people do is actually fill awkward gaps in presentations by purposefully tripping over some words and laughing about it - chances are, other students will laugh with you, because they know what it's like to be up there. all in all, make a good impression on your audience; smile, make sure to greet, and basically just try to engage with them as well as you can.

| know your work | most importantly, make sure that you know what you're talking about. teachers definitely are able to pick out on the people who aren't too sure of what they're talking about, and chances are they will pick on you for that. especially when it comes to groupwork - try not to separate the work into two distinct sections, because it makes for a lot of gaps in the content you may not know how to fill. also, make sure that alongside doing your designated part, you are familiar with the entire process and know exactly what you are talking about so that you don't trip up if they unexpectedly ask you about it.

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5. CALM DOWN

school isn't always about grades, even though it may seem like it. take the time to have lunch with your friends and discuss a good book you read over the weekend, because ultimately it does help you relieve some of the pent-up stress and frustration you have from all the studying and intense cramming. always remember to breathe and give yourself a break when you know you need it - you are the only person who knows yourself best. giving yourself time to rest is honestly so important, because i've seen a lot of my friends keep working at intensely studying and improving their grades from the start of the year that by the time the examination periods come by, they've fizzled out and no longer have the motivation to work. this is a hugely common problem, especially amongst the people that i know - which is probably why i know how important resting and giving yourself a break is.

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okay, so that's it for this article! i'll probably upload another (shorter) one essay writing and maybe some more study tips, if i chance upon anymore over the course of this semester. i hope everyone has a wonderful week ahead, and stay strong!