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The Final Stretch: How to Improve Grades Last Minute

Whether your child is in high school or college, you want them to finish the school year strong. But, if they haven’t been giving in their all up to this point, or if some unforeseen circumstances impacted their them, the idea of being able to improve their grades may seem impossible. Luckily, that simply isn’t the case.

In fact, most students have plenty of time to bring their grades up, especially if their teachers or professors are open to a few of the ideas below. However, even if they aren’t, there are still methods that apply.

So, before your student assumes there is nothing they can do, here are a few tips they can begin using today. With enough effort and dedication, there may still be some time to see an improvement and, maybe, in a significant one. So let's talk about how to improve grades last minute.

Start with Missing Assignments

Nothing pulls a grade down like a zero. Even one missing assignment can be enough to bring a cumulative grade down a full letter grade depending on the number of total assignments. So, checking into options regarding missing assignments should always be the first step.

But, how should your child go about getting these zeros handled? They need to start by talking to the teacher.

If your child is otherwise a good student, the teacher may be open to taking the assignment late and considering it the material for its full value. However, other teachers may feel it is only fair to accept late work with a penalty. Even if that is the case, it shouldn’t be seen as discouraging. Remember, ANYTHING is better than a zero. So, if the teacher can only offer a max score of 50 percent because it is late, then that is actually great news because 50 is better than zero every day of the week.

While it may be tempting for you as a parent to step in and take the lead on this, we highly encourage you to let your child give it a shot. Teaching them to handle these situations will only benefit them in the future. Having them handle it versus ‘sending in the parents’ may also increase their chances of a positive response.

Get Help with Future Work

Since there is still plenty of time for more assignments, quizzes, and exams, the next step your child should take is to get help if they need it. If the reason for poor grades is a lack of understanding of the material, it is time to get some advice, sooner than later.

This is another place where starting with the teacher can be a great idea, especially for high school students. Some teachers will work with your child directly to help them understand the material better, as this positions the student to have stronger performances in the future. Otherwise, they may be able to recommend other resources, like tutors or study groups, that can help them catch up.

College professors may or may not have the time to work with students directly, but the campus probably offers numerous resources to help students achieve higher grades. Study groups and tutoring options are likely available. In some cases, student teachers and aids may also offer assistance.

The trick here is to truly look around at what the school and other students may have to offer. Often, help is there if your child simply chooses to ask.

If your child’s grades are near a point where they may be put on academic probation, these tutoring services can be extremely helpful. Sometimes universities and colleges require them if a student is put on academic probation. Either way, it’s important to know that these resources are available, and that there is no shame in using them! If your child is hesitant, try to encourage them to take advantage of these resources. Everyone needs help now and them.

Learn How to Improve Grades by Taking Studying Seriously

Whether it’s a matter of being disciplined enough to study or figuring out a routine that works for them, there may be a few reasons studying isn’t effective for your child.

Some students struggle because they don’t dedicate the time and attention required to study. This can actually be quite common with college freshmen, especially if they are used to succeeding without studying (based on their high school performance). The standards set by college courses are different than most experience in high school. The pace can be faster, and the amount of information provided in single doses is higher. This means more time is required to ensure the information is being retained.

High school students are often still developing their study habits, and it is important to remember that this is a skill that has to be learned and not something all children innately know how to do. You can help them study more effectively by creating an environment that is supportive to studying. Look for ways to limit distractions during study time, even if it means waiting to remind them about incomplete chores until the time has passed.

In some cases, the issue isn’t as much with dedication as it is to taking proper notes and understanding what parts of the lesson need the most attention. One method that can work for high school and college students is making audio recordings of the classroom lectures. Most teachers are open to lessons being recorded as long as it doesn’t disrupt others. However, if there are rules about smartphones being out during class, then it may be necessary to invest in a separate voice recorder to make this happen.

Lastly, like we mentioned earlier, Student Success Centers and guidance offices may have resources to not only tutor students, but teach them study habits that best work for them. Each child is different and many centers have trained professionals that can help your child identify which study routines are most effective for them. It may also help to look up study habits and try out a few with your child.

·       Related article: 5 Steps to Help Your Child Master Their Exams

Ask About Extra Credit

If your student is truly giving the class everything they have, then it might be the right time to ask for extra credit. While there is no guarantee a teacher will provide the opportunity, if your child is otherwise making forward progress by managing their study habits, getting help when needed, and completing any missing assignments, a teacher may be more inclined to help as a demonstration of good faith.

Just remember, extra credit opportunities are a privilege and should be treated as such. Otherwise, it may not come around again.

If you feel like you need to step in, let your child give it a shot first. Many teachers will respect them for taking the initiative.

Plan for Next Year

Many students are also setting their schedules for the next year or semester, so this can be a great time to consider whether the upcoming course load and extracurricular activities are appropriate for their capabilities. Sometimes, it is better to set something aside, such as a school club, or lower the demand of the class schedule to give them a better opportunity for success.

Remember, it is more important to perform well across the board than overschedule in hopes of impressing admissions offers only to see grades suffer.

Then, if things start to improve, it is perfectly appropriate to step it up again. Ideally, your child will find a balance. It is better that they feel challenged and not bored, but you don’t want them becoming overwhelmed either.

One thing we frequently talk about in our free webinar training for parents and students is how grades impact your child’s chances of receiving scholarships. If you are interested in joining us for the next one, visit to learn more!

While it may seem like the end of the school year is far away, it is approaching faster than you think. That is why putting these tips into action now is so valuable. The more time your child has left, the easier it is to give their grades a boost, so why not start today!

Has your child ever been in a situation where they needed a grade boost? What methods did you use to bring them up? Please share in the comments below!


Lastly, we don't want your child to feel burnt out or stressed with the end of the school year, grades, and everything else they have on their plates.

Below is a helpful article on how you can help your child finish the school year with enthusiasm (and avoid burnout.) And if you are all stressed, perhaps some fun ideas for activities with your kids could help. You can check out that article below, too!