HomeBlogHow to Improve Your Grades in Less Than a Month
Whether you’re preparing for your IGCSE, A Level, or any other examinations, you should ideally start preparing from the beginning of your academic year. At Cambridge Home School Online, we recommend this approach and help our students settle into the preparatory stage from the second or third week of classes. However, we understand that this approach isn’t always possible.
There’s very little focus on getting a head start in most conventional schools. Your teachers may be lax, which will make you develop a laidback approach as well. If your exams are a month away, don’t panic. While improving your grades in such a short amount of time is tricky, it’s possible. Continue reading to get started!
1. Create a Game Plan
You can’t achieve any goal without a good plan, especially a goal that’s time-bound. Start planning right away. We recommend reaching out to your teachers and getting a good grasp of your progress. How much ground do you need to cover? What has your progress been like over the past year? Which approach should you use to secure the grades you have in mind?
Your teachers have been on this journey with you from the very beginning. Over time, they’ve developed detailed insights about your learning style, strengths, and weaknesses. Now that you’re a month away from your exams, you need to take a complete 180-degree-turn. You cannot make such a drastic change without soaking in the insights your teachers have to offer.
At Cambridge Home School Online, we have a team of MA/MSc/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers on board. They work assiduously to help each student understand their progress and tailor their revision style accordingly. Ask your teachers as many questions as possible.
Combine their insight with your own knowledge about your progress. This will help you create a realistic and achievable plan. Determine which topics you need to cover and section them across the number of days you have left. Leave the last few days (3–4 days) for revision.
2. Change Your Mindset
Complacency can be extremely dangerous. Once we fall into its pits, it’s hard to extricate ourselves. If you’re a month away from your examinations and your performance isn’t as good as expected, it’s very likely that you haven’t covered enough ground. This means that complacency sneaked in somewhere, either directly or perhaps inadvertently.
Take some time to understand why you feel nonchalant about your studies. Are you expecting to secure good grades regardless of your preparation? Perhaps you aren’t giving enough importance to your grades to begin with. Changing this mindset isn’t just important; it’s imperative.
While all examinations are important, the IGCSE and A Level examinations carry the most importance leading up to university. If you secure poor grades, you won’t be able to study your dream program at your dream university. Going to a fair-to-middling university can affect your future. You’ll struggle to get into a good masters program if you wish to pursue higher education. You’ll also struggle to get good work opportunities. Your quality of life will be affected in the long run.
Building these connections can be tricky when looking at the present and failing to consider the future. However, thinking about the bigger picture is extremely important. It’ll help you understand how much weight your examinations carry. As you grasp this weight, you’ll feel more compelled to change your mindset from one that’s more non-serious to one that’s a lot more serious. A committed, focused, consistent, and rigorous approach will help you turn your grades and future around.
If your mindset doesn’t change, you won’t be able to carry out the plan you laid out earlier. It may work for a week or two, but you’ll revert to your old habits soon enough. Take some time to transform your mindset completely, so you’re willing to actualise the changes you’ve laid out. You shouldn’t feel forced into studying. Instead, you should naturally gravitate towards your lessons. This will only happen once you realise how important your grades are.
If you’re having trouble changing your mindset, speak with your school counsellors. At Cambridge Home School Online, we provide each student with one-on-one success coaching and pastoral support. The goal is to help you understand the gravity of your examinations and work towards achieving excellent grades.
We also understand that other reasons often hold students back from performing or preparing to the best of their ability. It’s possible that you were struggling with something that affected your ability to prepare and revise well. Stress, anxiety, depression, familial problems, self-doubt, and a range of other issues can prevent students from doing their best on their examinations.
If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important to address the root causes first. You can plaster a band-aid onto the problems and work towards securing good grades, but this will not help in the long run. It’s important to understand and address your struggles so you can heal from them and achieve consistent academic growth.
3. Use the 80:20 Study-Play Ratio
student home timetable laptop
We generally don’t recommend this to students. At Cambridge Home School Online, our students follow the 50:50 study-play ratio. This means that half of their focus goes to their academics while the remaining half goes to their personal and social life. However, you cannot use this approach now that you’re a month away from the finish line.
We recommend switching up your schedule and using the 80:20 study-play ratio. Spend 80% of your day studying and revising, and allocate the remaining 20% of the day to non-academic activities. This approach wouldn’t be necessary if you were a year away from your exams. However, you don’t have enough time. A month is very little time to turn things around as well as you want to. The 80:20 ratio will help you transform your grades and get back on track.
4. Use the Crash Course Approach
As education specialists, we’re shuddering at the thought of recommending this. At Cambridge Home School Online, we always recommend consistent studying, not crash courses. However, you’ll have to resort to the latter with a month to spare. Take a deeper dive into your curriculum. We generally recommend avoiding the national curriculum. It’s too prescriptive and subject to political turbulence. It also doesn’t cover enough ground. Lacking curricular breadth and depth, it fails to help students gain rich insights and learn critical concepts.
Instead of using the national curriculum, switch to an independent, well-rounded, and balanced curriculum. This is what we use. It helps our students secure excellent grades. Using an independent curriculum can be slightly more challenging since you will have to cover more ground. This is tricky since you don’t have enough time. However, it’s definitely doable.
We have over 20 years of experience as an institution. We try our best to listen to as many diverse student experiences as possible. Over the years, we’ve asked our students about their learning styles before joining Cambridge Home School. Many students admitted that they often started studying for their exams a few months before their exams. They also shared that it was difficult to catch up since their teachers hadn’t used an individualised teaching style.
Students were confused about what they needed to do, and their teachers couldn’t help sufficiently either. Most students stated that using the crash course approach helped them the most at that junction, and we agree. This approach entails complete, thorough, and rapid learning in a short amount of time. You may have a month, or you may have just a handful of weeks left.
Make sure you’re as rigorous as possible. At the same time, don’t go overboard. There’s a difference between working hard and overworking yourself. Make sure you get enough sleep. This is imperative. If you reduce your sleep, your brain will not recall the knowledge you’re absorbing. Keep your sleep cycle, diet, and personal life on track. If there are any deviations here, you’re overworking yourself. Avoid this at all costs.
5. Leave Some Time for Revision
a student revising at home
There’s a big difference between “preparing” and “revising” for your exams. Both stages are extremely important. As you start improving your grades with a month left, make sure you leave some time for revision. We mentioned this earlier in the blog, but we’ll dig deeper in this section. Revision is pivotal. It helps cements concepts that students learn throughout the year.
In your case, revision will help cement concepts you’ve been learning more recently. While they’re fresh in your mind, you can still forget them. This is because you’re consuming large amounts of knowledge in a shorter time. This isn’t ideal, and it can result in significant knowledge loss.
To prevent this, revise whatever you learn for the week by the end of that very week. When you’re a week away from your exams, start revising everything collectively. The last 3–4 days must be spent revising, no questions asked. You shouldn’t study anything new during these days. Simply revise what you’ve already learned to cement everything in your brain.
In addition to making academic changes, you should also be making scholastic changes. Conventional schooling prevents students from securing good grades. It creates complacency, making students lose interest in their studies. It also leaves students feeling tired, exhausted, and worn out when they return home. You’ll get little to no time for yourself, your family, and your friends. This will affect your personal and social life, leaving you feeling drained and fatigued.
A healthy school-life balance is imperative. Moreover, excellent teaching support is also pivotal. Online schooling offers students the rigorousness and flexibility to achieve immense academic success and stay on track. Our teachers provide individualised attention to every student, helping them remain engrossed in their lessons and have an enriching learning experience. Moreover, we have a team of MA/MSc/PhD qualified subject specialist teachers on board who use an independent curriculum, as highlighted above.
We provide students with access to a vast online library of educational resources. This further increases and enhances their knowledge absorption and retention. Students can access these resources after school and cover a lot more ground.
Our track record shows how impressive academic growth has been at Cambridge Home School Online. In June 2021, 86% of our IGCSE students secured A*s and As in their target subjects. 83% of our A Level students secured two As and a B or higher, as requested by top universities. Moreover, all students who applied received offers from some of the best universities globally.
We combine these efforts with a low student-teacher ratio, which further helps students have an interactive, focused, and engaging online learning experience. You’ll be provided the tools and knowledge you need to secure excellent grades and attend your dream university in the near future.
We also develop soft skills in students. This approach is extremely important in mindset shaping, as discussed earlier. Students learn the importance of responsibility, consistency, time management, and a range of other skills. We plan activities that help students develop these skills and start utilising them in their daily life.
Are you considering making the switch to online learning for your children? At Cambridge Home School Online, we go the extra mile to help students succeed. If you’re interested in applying to our institution, please explore the following pages:
If you have any questions, we’re happy to help! Call us or drop a message by clicking on the button towards the end of the page (bottom right). We’ll get back to you shortly.
When should I ideally start preparing for my exams?
We suggest that you start your exam preparation at the beginning of the academic year. At Cambridge Home School Online, we help our students engage in exam preparation from the second or third week of their classes.
What approach should I adopt if my exams are only a month away?
Don’t panic if your exams are just a month away. Although challenging, it’s possible to improve your grades. The key is to develop a detailed plan right away, consult your teachers for insights, and follow a 80:20 study-play ratio.
What is the significance of mindset in exam preparation?
Your mindset plays a crucial role in how effectively you prepare for exams. Complacency can seriously harm your academic performance. Changing from a nonchalant to a serious attitude about your grades is not only important but imperative.
Can you elaborate on the 80:20 Study-Play Ratio?
We recommend the 80:20 study-play ratio for students who are a month away from their exams. In this approach, you should dedicate 80% of your day to studying and the remaining 20% to non-academic activities to strike a balance.
What is the ‘Crash Course Approach’ and when should it be used?
The Crash Course Approach entails a deep, rapid study of your curriculum within a very short time. Though we generally recommend consistent study, this approach can be effective if you’re pressed for time, such as being only a month away from your exams.