Midterms: Tips for turning midterm grades into stellar final grades

Midterm reevaluationsEvery spring the semester that was humming along so well turns into a stress-fest as we suddenly realize that midterms loom ahead. The good news about midterm grades is that they don’t become a permanent part of your transcript. But they are a good indication of what your final grades might be. Here are a few tips for how to reassess and plan your strategy after you get your midterm grades.

What’s your number?

Many students are required to maintain a certain grade point average (GPA) either because their major requires it or their financial aid depends on it. Now is the time to factor your recent midterm grades into your cumulative GPA in order to determine your updated GPA.

There are several web sites that will do the job for you. Here are just a few of them:

The more you know

Now that you know your GPA, think about whether it’s in the range that you would like it to be. If it is, then that tells you that you’ve been doing things right as far as your coursework is concerned. If the courses seemed too easy for you, then consult your advisor to see if there are more challenging classes that meet your goals.

If, on the other hand, your grade is less than acceptable, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to work. You still have the second half of the semester to turn things around. With a little planning and a lot of commitment — it can be done.

Eliana Osborn, an English instructor at Arizona Western College, discussed how she deals with student grades in her April 18, 2011 post for The Chronicle of Higher Education titled, “Why Do I Have an F?” According to Osborn, often students are doing many things right, such as reading the textbook, but still get a failing grade because they don’t turn in the work that the course grade is based on.

Making the grade

How do you know what you will be graded on? Read your course syllabus. Handed out on the first day of class, the syllabus is often filed and forgotten by students. But not by teachers. The syllabus is the description of all the assignments that are due in the course and how they will be graded. It’s your roadmap to success and should be reviewed on a regular basis.

If you don’t read the syllabus and keep up on your required assignments, then it shouldn’t be a surprise when your grades suffer. “Part of learning to be a college student is learning to accept the consequences of your actions, especially those that hurt your grade,” Osborn said.

Truth and consequences

If you want to boost your grades by finals time, then you have to get started right away. Check in with your instructors, academic advisor and with financial aid (if you are a recipient) so that you can review your options.

Keeping your GPA within an acceptable range may mean dropping a class and taking it over. Before you make that decision, get advice so that you know all of the risks. A withdrawal from a course will likely appear as a “W” on your transcript and might affect your GPA and, consequently, your financial aid.

Rather than dropping a course and taking it over, think about digging in and doing the work to rescue your grade by finals. A visit to the tutoring center on your campus could really pay off for you. A July 10, 2008 post to EduChoices.org titled, “20 Easy Ways to Raise Your Student GPA in College,” lists more strategies to up your grade including this gem:

“Taking part in a study group is one of the best ways to stay on track and raise your GPA. Study groups not only make you accountable, they also force you to become more organized and talk about what you have learned.”

Web tools

You can schedule your work load with a handy web tool called the Assignment Tracker. Kelsey Folmar described how it works in her post for The Halls titled, “What Do You Need on the Midterm to Get an A?

Just input your assignments into the tracker, the due dates, and the grades, and, as the deadline approaches, you’ll get a reminder that will tell you what score you need to earn in order to get an “A.” “Instead of crunching numbers at the end of the semester to make the grade you’re striving for, set goals and expectations ahead of the final exam a to stay on track,” Folmar advised.

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