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Bad grades last semester? No worries! 6 proven ways to level up

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It’s back to school for many, if not everyone. I always dreaded the end of summer breaks but at the same time, I appreciated the “fresh start” aspect of going into a new academic year. 

While we all hope for the best grades, lapses happen. Things don’t always go according to plan but, why live if we don’t learn from our not-so-good experiences?

On a positive note, it’s a new year now and another opportunity to start afresh. Here are a few proven ways to get an upgrade this semester.

Take some time to reflect on your performance last academic year

Take some time to reflect on your performance last academic year if you haven’t already done so. Try to figure out possible reasons why your grades weren’t as good as you wanted them to be. Look into your study habits, your social life, your emotional life, your sleep pattern, your self-care habits, and your daily routine. Reflect on everything, leave no stone unturned.

How well were you sleeping last semester? Were your study methods unproductive? Did you schedule any downtime during the semester? Were you constantly stressed out?

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Diversify your study space and style (but not too much)

Rather than sitting at your desk in your room for hours on end during study sessions, why not split the time between your desk and somewhere public like a library or a cozy café? This would help improve concentration, memory retention, and curb boredom.

Also, consider periodic group study sessions just to break the routine on your usual self studying routine and keep things interesting. Group studying is actually a very effective way to get an in-depth understanding of complex topics from your peers. And it’s not as boring as them voluminous textbooks.

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Quality over quantity

When under pressure and pressed for time, and a big exam is around the corner, it’s easy to focus more on the “I have to get through pages 1 to 77 of this textbook within 3 hours today in order to stick to my study schedule” mindset. In doing this, your ability to learn, and actually understand and retain the information you’ve read is compromised. It’s better to go through 10 pages and master the information well than to go through 77 pages and master little to no information at all and end up stressing out when you realize you can’t recall anything. Most of the information we learn about health sciences require understanding rather than cramming. 

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Be realistic with your goals

This is especially important with regards to study schedules. Try not to cram in too many hours or topics into each day with no breaks in between. Burnout is real. And the amazing thing about burn out is that you sometimes don’t even know you’re burned out. Burn out can take many forms- “I’ve been on the same paragraph for 3 hours, I can’t do this anymore”, “I haven’t been able to concentrate for days”, “I’m tired of all this studying”. Don’t copy the study schedules of other people. You’re an individual, make your own schedule. Be intentional about putting your uniqueness and requirements into consideration. You might actually not need 5 hours of study each evening after the day’s clinical activities like some others might. You might be fine with 2 hours every other evening or 6 hours over the weekend. Do you! and of course, keep the big picture in mind. Ensure your schedule takes your workload and desired results into account in a way that favors you, your wellbeing and of course your sanity. 

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Schedule sleep

As hard as it might be to sleep especially when pressed for time and under immense pressure, it’s still important to get some sleep. Set a realistic daily bed time and do your best to stick to it. Lack of sleep compromises your brain’s ability to effectively process information and also diminishes the brain’s recall power in a way that you mightn’t even notice. The best version of you is the well-rested version. Schedule sleep time just as seriously as you schedule study time and you’ll be pleased with the end results.

Everyday health

Get a routine

Everyone needs a routine. It’s like your own personal culture. You eat lunch at this time, you sleep at this time, you study at this time every Wednesday, you drink tea at this time, etc. A routine keeps your mind organized and the more organized you are, the more productive you’ll be.

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Featured image: Giphy

Dr Wendy Evans-Uhegbu

The author Dr Wendy Evans-Uhegbu

Dr. Wendy Evans-Uhegbu is a graduate of The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, with experience in Connected Health, Medical Technology, Clinical Research, Medical Education, and Web Design. She is a member of the Medics Abroad team with the role of Chief Communications Officer. She also runs a Medical Communications, Book Writing, and Publishing business, and is the author of the newly published children's book series "The Things Around Me".

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