Boost your grades before the Christmas break

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Before you start brainstorming excuses for why your grades are less than stellar, take a few minutes to consider what you can do in the time left between now and winter break

Overwhelmed? Make a plan of attack

The problem: You have no clue how many papers, projects, and tests you need to prep for between now and the end of the year. It’s time to get on top of your full workload—not just this week’s English lit essay. But where’s a busy girl to start?

The solution: Pick a calendar you can customize. Digital, like Apple’s iCal or Google Calendar, has a take-it-everywhere bonus, but we dig oversize desktop calendars, too. Assign each of your classes a certain color, and then mark out each deadline from now ’til the last day of school. If there are other, smaller deadlines you need to make to meet the big ones, such as meeting with your lab partners before writing up a report, add those in, too. If you’ve been bitten by the planning bug, go ahead and set mini milestones for each assignment that will keep you on track. If not, try making a to-do list for each class that will keep you on top of your workload…and maybe even crossing things off in your spare time.

Checked out? Score some face time

The problem: You’ve been the student sitting in the back of the classroom for weeks on end. While you are paying attention, you aren’t the person raising their hand or asking Q’s, even though you’ve got a list of ’em a mile long. You know you could use some one-on-one time with teacher, but at this point, you’re not sure she even knows your name.

The solution: When the bell rings after your next class— yes, the very next one you have, no more procrastination—trot yourself up to your teacher’s desk, notebook in hand, and ask for help. If you have a quick question, say, “Mrs. McNally, I’m having trouble with this theorem. Do you think I could pop by during study hall to go over it again with you?” If you’re totally lost, ask for more time as nicely as you possibly can (and come with examples to prove that you’ve tried on your own): “This whole chapter is throwing me for a loop. I understand sine but figuring out cosine is tripping me up. And I could get the answer for problem four, but I can’t do the proof. Do you think we could meet up after school, or maybe in the morning, to go over it?”

Not clicking? Bring on a tutor

The problem: You are normally a science whiz. But you and your chemistry teacher this year are on different wavelengths. When she zigs, you zag, and miss out on essential information that you know is going to be on the final exam. But how on earth can you catch up when every explanation she offers goes zooming over your head?

The solution: Don’t freak! You’re not losing brain cells or speaking a different language. Sometimes, the way one person teaches doesn’t jive with the way another person learns. The best way around this is to find a different teacher who can get through to you. If you have a friend in class who’s doing well so far, ask her to help you out; in exchange, you’d be happy to edit her term paper. It might even pay off to hire a tutor for a few catch-up sessions. Ask your guidance counselor or the department head for suggestions, or see if your school has a bulletin board with tutors listed on it. If all else fails, turn to the Internet. Sites like KhanAcademy.org,OpenStudy.com, and HippoCampus.org are loaded with experts and legit teachers, and made with students like you in mind. So what are you waiting for? Go forth and conquer!

Teen Vogue

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