Five secrets of the most improved students

What do you need to do to turbo-charge your grades? Maybe to jump from a D to an A* or an E to a B? 

What better way to find out than to ask students who’ve done just this. How did they do it and what advice would they give to others trying to do the same thing?

Our ‘Grow your Grades’ competition asked students to create a blog to tell their story. 

Reading the blog entries a clear picture emerges of how successful students improve their marks.

Here are five of their secrets, with examples from their blogs and comments from TSR’s resident teacher, Pete Langley.

1. They think about their strengths and weaknesses 
Teachers spend a lot of time marking and providing comments – good students use them. They contain really important advice about improving work. 

And when their work is below their target grade these students find out why and repeat the work or make sure the next piece doesn’t have the same faults.

I have spoken to my teachers and the same issue keeps cropping up: applying my knowledge in an analytical way. I also tend to panic and have a mind block in exams and this tends to have an impact as I go off topic in the exams.

Purple Ghost25175

2. They have a plan 
The best students have a plan and stick to it. They recognise that time needs to be put aside for study and divided sensibly between subjects and topics. >

The plan is usually some form of calendar where work is listed and allocated to different times. They may create this manually or use the TSR study planner.

But the plans are flexible – they should always allow for change.

Mark schemes

Creating a revision timetable helps a lot. It is a great way to organise your study time and boosts your motivation towards each subject.

Chittesh 14

Here’s part of my study plan for the week: Friday: SCHOOL, 19-20:00 Chemistry Revision.
Saturday: 15-16:00 Chemistry Revision, 17-18:00 Chemistry Revision
Sunday: 13-14:00 Chemistry Revision, 16-17:00 Chemistry Revision, 17-18:00 Maths Revision.

I make my study planner on TSR tools, you guys should use it as it makes your studying more organised. I print mine off every Monday morning so I have a plan set for the whole week.

Mr. Macky

More on TSR: 
Make your own study planner here


4. They know how to make really useful notes 
What's the point of notes? Students keep making them and teachers keep expecting them but they are pretty useless without a clear idea of their purpose. 

Just copying isn't usually very helpful, nor is highlighting - more of a comfort blanket than a method of learning.

Our top students personalise their notes by annotating, using colours and being careful about headings and sub-headings, always filing them away carefully

Good notes have double value: you learn from making them and then you learn more by reviewing them as the exams approach, maybe creating flashcards or sets of questions from them.


Re-read Biology Notes, make sure I have got all the important information. - Complete Physics Notes and annotate.
- Re-read and annotate Chemistry notes.
- Practise Romeo and Juliet lines for English the next day.
- Pack my backpack with all the things I need such as my Biology notes, which I will look through again and do summary questions.

Mr. Macky

most improved students

5. They’re flexible
Different subjects need different kinds of knowledge and skills. The content is different and exam papers, coursework and assessment vary. There is no one way of working that will suit every course and every subject.

At the same time people learn in different ways. Some like to make notes of their notes then make flashcards while others prefer big, colourful mindmaps.

The best students know how they work best but are able to adapt their working methods to suit different subjects and assessment methods. They use different approaches in maths and History for example.

I use different methods of revising. Mostly, I just read what I'm trying to remember and memorise it. In Maths I answer questions on what I’ve just learnt, as memorising won't help. 
Practising hard, by revising past papers also helps as I get used to the style of questions.

I also like to collaborate - helping others will always help you in some way. This is because no one is flawless, everyone has weak areas that other people have as strengths. Usually, I help people in Maths and they help me back with English.

Also, taking study breaks helps me as constant revision makes me forget what I just revised - my brain just can't take all that information.

Chittesh 14

More on TSR: 
Create some snazzy flashcards 
Make a timeline 
Digitise your notes

Have you got any other sure fire ways to improve your grades? Discuss below: