The end of the school year is in sight but it still feels like a marathon ahead. This time of the year can be make-it-or-break-it time. It’s a weird window where things either feel possible and under control or totally unmanageable and already lost. It’s on you to make sure that you experience the former scenario and bust through that finish line with good grades as your medal.

First, understand that all students have moments in their college careers where they look their grades up online and realize with a sinking feeling that the grades aren’t as good as they thought. Never fear; there’s always something you can do to raise your grades, and you don’t have to wait until the very end of the semester and pin your hopes on extra credit or finals. We’ve put together a list of tips that will help you to get your grades up right now.

Figure Out the Obstacles Preventing You from Good Grades

Before you can fix a problem, you need to understand the problem. Once you notice that your grades aren’t quite what you want them to be, take some time to examine which classes are the problem. Then think about why those classes may be difficult for you. Is there something those courses or professors have in common? Look for what’s got you blocked.

Ask yourself:

  • Do I consistently understand the material?
  • Do I complete assignments?
  • Am I making it to every class and really being present?
  • Do I prepare properly for quizzes and tests?
  • Is the reading tough to comprehend?

Once you’ve figured out what the problem might be, it’s time to take the next step and fix the problem. This is where a professor, study buddy, or tutor can help.

Ask For Help

If you notice that you’re struggling with one or two specific classes, it might be the subject matter that’s giving you trouble. If this is the case, it’s time to ask for help.

Buddy Up with a Study Partner

If you know you have the ability to understand the material but maybe you just don’t have the motivation to study, find a study partner. Having someone else to study with can really help motivate you to study more often and more thoroughly. You and your study partner can help each other better understand the material and check that understanding by teaching it to each other. It’s like going to the gym in that you’ll keep each other on track.

Find a Tutor

If you’re struggling with comprehension of the material, it might be time to seek the help of a tutor. Remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with asking for help. In fact, doing so says a lot about a person’s intelligence and flexibility and desire to improve. A tutor can help make sure that you understand the material and are therefore prepared for quizzes and tests. Sometimes it’s just seeing how someone else has mastered the material that makes the difference.

See Your Professor

Pay a visit during your professor’s office hours. This is not to say that you should ask the professor to raise your grade; far from it. Talking to your professor lets him or her know you’re struggling with the material and that you care enough to take responsibility for upping your grades. Your professor might have recommendations for resources to help you learn better or may even offer you extra-credit assignments. Believe it or not, profs really are there to help and they want to see you succeed.

Try Active Learning

We get it — sometimes it’s tough to pay attention in class. Active learning skills can help you improve how you learn and retain material in class. Active learning skills can be taking thorough notes, asking questions, or gamifying your learning.

Identifying your learning style can also help you become a more active learner. Once you know how you best learn, you can seek out information in that style in class or outside of class.

Every student has that moment when he or she realizes his or her grades are lower than he or she wants. We want you to know that there’s no need to panic, because there are many steps you can take to improve your grades and become a better learner for the future.

Some people have no trouble staying focused when it comes to school, but others have difficulty doing the same thing over and over without becoming bored or easily distracted. Staying on track can be harder than it looks and grades can suffer as a result.

There are some easy ways to stay focused and engaged in class, whether you’re in high-school or college, and it’s important to know how to keep yourself on task even when you feel it’s impossible. Here are some of the best tips on how to do just that.

Get Involved

Make it a point to get involved in your classes. If you’ve been a passive learner — wherein you sit back and listen rather than participate — it will benefit you to change things up a little and get engaged. Don’t just focus, participate! Get active in class discussions, group projects, and debates and be sure to ask questions to keep your brain firing on all cylinders.

Play Brain Games

Keep your mind sharp by doing puzzles and word games designed to make you think. You can download these games on your phone and try them out whenever you have a few spare minutes — waiting at the doctor’s office, for instance — and work on your ability to think in new ways. Crossword puzzles and Sudoku are like exercise for the brain.

Use All of Your Resources

Many college courses have supplemental learning resources — videos, message boards, extra reading, etc. — that go unused by a lot of students who don’t want to take the time. They may be optional, but these resources can help you get the most out of the course, so set aside extra time during study hour to at least check them out.

Train Your Brain

It may sound silly, but training your brain to pay attention to more than one thing at once can help you narrow your focus. If you play an instrument, try playing it while you sing. Put two things together and see how well you multitask. It may sound counter-intuitive but multitasking in new ways (different from being scattered or distracted) can actually sharpen your focus. If you find it difficult at first, don’t worry; many people do. Just keep trying until it becomes easier. You can do more than you think!

Get Active

Get moving! The mind and the body are integrated so treating one well benefits the other. Join a sports team, start jogging, or get up a little earlier than normal and go for a brisk walk. Daily exercise floods the brain with oxygen-rich blood and can boost mood and energy levels, so help yourself feel good by getting in a workout.

Consider Hiring a Tutor

If you find you’re having trouble in a specific class, don’t let it undermine your confidence. No one is great at everything. Consider hiring a tutor to help boost your grades — and your self-esteem. Tutors don’t just help with subject matter, they can actually help with study skills so that you can become a better learner.

Guest post by Lawrence Mager, ReadyBrain.net.