Mid-Year Checkpoint

With the school year half-way over, it’s time to start swapping 2.5 credit classes and to look back at what’s been academically accomplished this semester. However, while some may be satisfied with their grades, others may want to try and improve those grades for the end of the school year. Especially since colleges are going to evaluate high school grades when making a decision about who they will let attend their school (and with mid-year grades being automatically sent to schools that seniors applied for), maintaining a high grade is an important task.

The best place to start? Look back at full year classes. While seeing classes as only a number or letter grade can be helpful to understand what each class’ grade is, it doesn’t do a good job at presenting an overall picture of your grades. There are two ways to get your overall grade shown to you. At the end of a semester, Aspen is updated to show your current GPA. To find this, log onto Aspen, then click “My Info” → “Transcript” → “Grade Point Summary”. However, if you want to check your GPA before the end of a semester, the table attached shows the GPA for each letter grade at each level of weight. Find the GPA for each class, then divide it by the total number of classes you’re taking (Note: This doesn’t take into account the difference in weight depending on if a class is five, ten or twenty credits. However, it will still show a rough estimate for your GPA).

If someone wants to improve their GPA for the second half of the year, there are many ways to do so. The biggest impact on overall grades is homework and test grades. While homework’s weight on the overall class grade depends on the teacher, usually homework accounts for around 10 to 20 percent of the overall grade. Even though 10 to 20 percent of a grade seems like a relatively small percentage, not turning in homework assignments can still make a whole letter difference, which when applied to multiple classes adds up quickly. For tests, the best way to improve grades in this area is to create better studying habits. First, don’t study for long periods of time without taking breaks. It’s proven that people are better at retaining information learned in short bursts rather than information learned over a long period of time. This is because the brain has more time to process the incoming information before new information is given. This also means that ample time is required to study for a test if consistent breaks are needed to process information, so make sure to give an appropriate amount of time to go over each of the topics. Next, while it’s easier to remember information for a test, being able to understand the content in context makes it easier to apply the information to different situations. This is especially useful in STEM classes where formulas/topics will be repeated over the course of an entire year, sometimes even across levels. The best way to comprehend material is to try and explain the material to someone else. Even if you are explaining the information to a person who doesn’t know much on the topic, having someone to ask questions allows you to gain a better understanding of the gap in your knowledge. Another way to understand information on a deeper level is to apply the information to a real life situation. Being able to situate formulas in real-life scenarios allows for a better comprehension of what the formulas are referring to. Implementing new study habits keeps the monotony at bay while also keeping the studying manageable.

When transitioning to the next semester, most students will be going to new classrooms for their half-year courses. Not only that, but some classes will change which time they occur at. Before the new semester begins, it’s a good idea to check out Aspen. Log onto Aspen, then click “My Info” → “Current Schedule” → then from the drop down menu hit “S2” to receive the new schedule. If needed to remember the new schedule or rooms, make the schedule the background of your phone or add it as a favorite image to make it easily accessible at any point in the school day. Lastly, the midpoint of the year is a great time to organize and throw out papers or other items for each class. Organize the information in your binders/folders to be easily accessible, and clean out any physical content from half-year classes to remove unnecessary clutter.

It’s also important to check in on yourself and to destress. Completing half a year of classes, no matter their intensity or topic, can still be draining. Whether it’s going to the Zen Den for a few minutes or speaking with a SAC counselor, to even just hanging out with friends and taking time for yourself, focusing on releasing stress is important for a continued successful school year

Heading into a new semester, which for some students may be their last semester at Central, it’s important to create goals for your grades while also making sure to take time for yourself. Full year classes are going to become more challenging the further into the year we get, and being able to adapt to that is important.