This post is part of a series focusing on Time Management for Teens, Students, and High Schoolers. Get the complete online course here or order the book here!

Major Grades In High School

In this lecture I wanted to spend a little focus on one of the most INFLUENTIAL elements of high school and pre-college readiness…

By which I mean the major tests, final exams, presentations, and high school projects that heavily affect your grade in most classes.

Planning and preparation are required when it comes to your biggest high school projects for the semester, or you will be tumbled around at the mercy of events.

You’ll will also get lower grades in addition to being more stressed the whole time.

AND, you’re missing your chance to get ready for college by rising above the level of the average high school student and learning to work really hard and solve big problems.

How To Manage Major Projects and Tests In High School

So, how does a top high school student go about preparing for the biggest grades of the semester?

Is there any way to control the major events of the year, or are you at their mercy?

Often, these types of projects and tests can be 20%-30% of your final grade for a course in high school, and once you get into college this may increase even more –

Sometimes up to FIFTY percent of your entire college-class grade for the semester can be riding on a single giant test or project.

One Bad Test Or Project Can Ruin Your Grade In Class

So here’s a bit of intimidating news, and it might be something you already know from bitter personal experience:

One bad test or major high school project can RUIN your overall average.

See, one thing I slowly realized is that when it comes to your overall grades in high school, the daily mini-quizzes usually are much less important than the occasional BIG grades.

However, I also eventually realized that the daily mini-quizzes are like a weathervane of how I’m going to perform on the day of the big test or project.

What this all means is that it’s always smarter to study for something BIG than something SMALL.

Big Grades Matter Most, But Small Grades Are Warning Signs

If you’re in a particular time crunch, it’s OK to get a low grade on a tiny quiz the next day, if that buys you time to study for a giant exam.

BUT, you have to pay careful attention to your daily, minor grades on quizzes and small homework assignments.

It’s not so much about the POINTS themselves as what the scores are telling you…

Because, in any class where you are getting a series of low daily grades, you are 100% for sure behind the curve when it comes to the big test. That’s just how it is.

Like I said, college is like this too, only even more so. The final tests and projects in college are HUGE, and there’s not much daily work to make up your grade if you screw up majorly on the big stuff.

Don’t Forget Note-Taking And Flashcards

Now, not to make a point that’s TOO obvious already, but my favorite study tactics of note-taking and self-made flashcards come to the rescue again by saving you time later on when you have to study for finals and major tests.

Like many of these rules, this is something that’s going to also go DOUBLE for college.

And, by now you KNOW that I really want you to be ready for college and an awesome life beyond that.

6 Tips To Manage Major High School Projects and Exams

So, here are six of my best quick tips for dominating MAJOR grades like exams and major high school projects.

Tip #1: Use The Class Syllabus

Tip number one is USE THE SYLLABUS.

One of the easiest and most overlooked tips is to NOT LOSE THE SYLLABUS that your teacher gives you on the first day of class and actually to USE it unlike most students!

Not only should you preserve each syllabus with your life, you should also make digital copies as well as commit it to your major personal calendars in the first week of school.

I mean, talk about a CHEAT sheet for time management!

If you follow my advice and put it up on your yearly calendar, you’ll have a color-coded wall calendar for the entire school year, marked with all your major tests, projects, and finals for each class.

It will be a visual guide to the quicksand of high school - where 99% of students just stumble through events and assignments, you will have a birds-eye map to help you through the journey from day one.

Plus, checking the syllabus FIRST makes you sound MUCH smarter when you move on to tip two, which is:

Tip #2: Ask The Teacher

Ask the teacher.

Once you’ve gone over and mapped out the syllabus on your own, you’ll be in an incredible position to have a smart discussion with each class teacher about what the most difficult sections of their class tend to be.

Where are the biggest assignments that cause the most trouble for students each year?

You can literally just ASK your teachers and most of them will be able to give you some excellent advice.

It only takes three to five minutes of their time and you can usually catch them after school if you let them know how interested you are.

Remember, this is by FAR the most effective if you do it at the very beginning of every semester.

Then again, although they WANT to help, teachers aren’t always the most accurate judges of the difficulty of their own tests and homework assignments, so tip number THREE is:

Tip #3: Ask The Grade Above You

Ask the grade above you.

The kids in the grade above you can ALWAYS tell you what the hardest stuff will be for the upcoming year.

Juniors will know what to warn sophomores about, sophomores can show freshman the ropes, and so on.

If you’re on a sports team or any club, for example, that’s a great place to ask around.

Keep your ear to the ground - what are the big projects, classes, and tests that the older kids fear?

Give yourself a heads-up - those are the events to mark with a red star on your yearly calendar.

Tip #4: Monitor Your “Small Grades”

Tip number FOUR is to monitor your “small grades.”

Like I mentioned earlier, you CAN afford to bomb a FEW small quizzes or daily assignments IF you are putting that time into other MAJOR grades and IF you only do this in the most desperate situations.

HOWEVER, if you experience a string of bad daily grades, that is an extremely worrisome trend that MUST be corrected immediately or you will face serious punishment and possible disaster on the next major grade in that class.

This is a virtually unbreakable rule so, no matter how much you want to bury your head and ignore a downwards trend in your hardest and least favorite class, you simply CAN’T afford it because when a big grade shows up it will already be too late.

Tip #5: Keep A Great Calendar At Home

Tip number five will definitely help with the previous problem, and it’s to keep an incredible calendar at home.

Use your yearlymonthly, and daily calendars to organize the rhythms of high school visually and in places that you’ll see REGULARLY.

You can also use long-term reminders on your digital calendar to give you reminders MONTHS from now - so at the beginning of the school year, you could set a calendar alarm to go off in November and send you an automatic email or alert you that it’s time for college apps or to start studying for SAT prep.

(By the way, contact us today if you need help with SAT prep or ACT prep!)

Hopefully you can also get your hands on one of those giant 4-foot dry erase wall calendars with color-coding that I keep recommending.

Go back over the article on physical planners and calendars to help you hack your high school year.

Tip #6: Prepare Early And Never Stop

My final quick tip is to start preparing early, and never stop preparing.

It’s like a zombie apocalypse - until you’re out of school, the tests and projects will just keep coming no matter how many you kill.

And then, you get to real life and the work world and you realize, to be successful, it’s the exact same thing.

It’s never over. Life never quits. The tasks and demands just keep coming.

The endless summer is never here, and honestly, even if it WAS, you would get bored as heck two weeks in.

So learn get the most, to make the most, out of every minute.

When I’m not being productive, I try to ask myself during the day:

“Am I really ENJOYING myself right now, and I really RELAXING, or am I just being bored and lounging lazily?”

If I’m not REALLY enjoying myself or REALLY relaxing, then why am I not working on a major project? WHY am I not working towards my dreams?

Since I KNOW what I want to do with my life - ride motorcycles, make music, and start awesome businesses - it seems boring to me to be lazy.

I want an exciting life, not a relaxing one, and I’ve realized by now that it takes a daily effort to have one - because exciting lives are made, not given.

I know it might seem strange that I’m connecting your giant History paper in high school with having an exciting life after college, but TRUST me - there’s a strong connection.

If you can get through the HARD stuff, you earn your way to a lot more of the FUN stuff. I promise.

This is just a natural law of success and achievement that operates the same way in high school as it does when we become adults.

A Review Of High School Project and Exam Management

Here’s a quick review of what we’ve covered in this lecture on major tests and projects in high school.

First, use each class’s curriculum to plan your year. Then ask teachers and students the grade above you for further advice about the toughest parts of the year.

Never lose track of the BIG tests and projects in the midst of all the daily details because in the end, the BIG grades almost always ends up counting for much more in the scheme of things.

Plan things out in advance by researching, using calendars and planners, and staying in touch with your teachers constantly.

Prioritize the major stuff. Make sure you are set up to do really well on THAT stuff, then do as MUCH of the smaller daily stuff as you can.

Still, always monitor your daily grades.

A string of bad daily grades indicates your next major project or test will be extra-difficult for you, but it’s never too late to make a course correction in class.

NEVER be afraid to talk to your teachers after class to explain your situation and for advice on how to recover in preparation for a major grade.

As always, being HONEST and going to your teacher as SOON as possible is the best way to win a little leniency from them.

How Do YOU Manage Big Projects and Tests In High School?

Here’s my final question for YOU - what’s YOUR best quick tip to me, for dealing with major tests, projects, or essays?

Is it a way of preparing in advance, motivating yourself, setting deadlines, or what? How do YOU do it?

I’d love to know what YOU do to handle and prepare for the toughest assignments of the year, so please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

I’ll see you in the next article!

Make this year your most productive year ever! Get the complete Time Management for Teens Online Course or order the book on Amazon today.

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