3 Skills College Students Can Develop To Improve Their Grades

3 Skills College Students Can Develop To Improve Their Grades

What separates super students in college (i.e., those who get straight A’s with little effort) from those who struggle? Are the A students genetically superior? No. They are simply equipped with better studying skills. Anyone can be a top student if they have the right set of skills. Here are a few to get you started:

1. Super Memory

The secret to a super memory is no secret at all. The so-called “major system” of mnemonics has been around for almost two hundred years. Although it requires an initial investment of some time and rote memorization, once the system is mastered it makes memorizing any list of information easy and fast. I have no idea why schools do not teach this skill to students.

2. Speed Reading

I remember going to a speed-reading class in college, where the instructor taught me to swipe my hand across the pages of a book, so my eyes would move through the page faster. The technique worked, and I was able to read material faster. But speed-reading has come a long way since then. In recent years, we have witnessed the birth of speed-reading software. There are a number of free programs that flash words or phrases from an e-text onto your computer screen one at a time, in rapid succession, to ensure that you zip through the text quickly. With the proliferation of e-textbooks, it only makes sense for students to save time by using this software. See Lifehacker below for a description of several speed-reading programs.

3. Superior Planning and Strategy

The college skills that pay the greatest dividends are course planning and strategy. Top students know on Day 1 what they must do to achieve a successful outcome in a course. For example, if a course’s grade depends entirely on the final exam, then A students spend the entire semester preparing for that exam (instead of getting caught up in busywork and other distractions). To be a successful student, you should be able to explain strategy for each of your courses. You should also engage in common-sense planning; for example, doing your reading before class is no more difficult than doing your reading after class – consequently, it makes sense to do it before class so that you will get more out of the lecture.

These three skills are just a start. There are many other skills that can be helpful to a college student (e.g., ability to consistently get a good night’s sleep, diet management, effective note-taking, etc.). Students who create a set of solid skills are much more likely to succeed in college.


  1. Major System – Wikipedia. Downloaded 12/20/2010 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/major_system
  2. Jittery Monks – Research: 89% of 4.0 Students Got High Grades by Hiring Essay Editors
  3. Lifehacker – Article: Top 10 Tools For Better Reading Online and Offline