One aspect of learning that we don’t think educational facilities will ever replace – now or in the future – are teachers.
However you may choose to learn, a teacher will be the most valuable resource available to you. Sure, books and Google can give you all the same facts and information a teacher could (if not more), but can they give the personal learning experience required to really understand difficult contexts? We think not.
A teacher who sacrifices their time for you and is willing to repeatedly explain any concept until you understand it is an invaluable resource. The dedication and enthusiasm they provide creates an environment like no other. They may make you cringe occasionally (we’ve all been there), but this is all an attempt to connect with you to ensure that you’ll be willing to ask them for help.
If you understand the lengths your teachers are willing to go to for you (even the ones you may not like so much), then you’ll probably agree that using teachers wisely is a great strategy for improving your grades. To help you with this, we’ve put together a guide for how to make the most of your teachers’ time.
Don't be afraid to ask questions.
Your teacher is there to answer any and all of your questions (as long as they’re relevant). It’s only natural that concepts are hard to grasp when you’re first introduced to them. The problem is, anything that you may be unsure about can compound into future misunderstandings and create big problems when you are studying for exams. Don’t take the gamble: ask away.
"He who asks a question is a fool for a minute; he who does not ask a question remains a fool forever."
- Chinese Proverb
Now, this proverb is a perfect example of the consequences that follow if you choose to suffocate your questions in the corners of your mind. The teacher assumes everyone perfectly understands the concept, moves on, and you end up losing a couple of marks in the exam because you weren't comfortable asking.
But let's rewind and rerun it. This time you come across something you're unsure about, you ask the teacher to explain it to you until you're concrete with it, and then you ace the exam. There's your happy ending!
This way, you can ensure that all the content you have learned throughout the year is one hundred per cent understood and stuck in your brain. Plus, many of the other students likely have the same question as you; we bet they’ll be grateful for your willingness to ask questions of the teacher.
Exam results are the building blocks for improvement!
This technique is one that many people discount the value of, but we reckon it’s pretty important.
The day you get your exam script back, you have an opportunity to reflect upon and evaluate your work. Whether you did well or not, it’s in the past, so of course you can’t change it. What you can do, though, is look through your script for opportunities to improve your marks going forward.
If your teacher revisits an exam or tests in class after the fact, you’ve got a perfect opportunity to identify the gaps in your knowledge. And, if your teacher is the G.O.A.T., then instead of just a disappointing cross on your exam script, they might have added extra information on why you got it wrong and the correct answer or method. Teachers will often add a surprising amount of insight here, so it’s a great opportunity to work through this and follow up on it if need be.
Of course, sometimes your teacher won’t provide you with this info. In this case, there's no harm in clarifying why they marked you wrong. Teachers will usually be more than happy to point you in the right direction if you’ve taken the time to follow up.
This technique will most often be useful after your mock exams, which are a great opportunity to go through a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the real thing. If you have more formal tests throughout the year, though, then of course it will come in handy on a more regular basis.
Ask for more work from your teachers.
Just hear us out here; we know that this seems a little bit 'extra', but trust us, it's going to do you a lot of good.
Your teacher has access to a library's worth of resources for each individual topic, so stop wasting your time digging online and just let your teacher know that you need some more work. They will be much faster at finding a quiz, essay question, or mock exam to provide you with the practice you need.
Now, asking for more work doesn't have to be a regular thing – just something to use whenever you need more practice. If you’ve got a specific area you know you need to improve in, then a couple of questions over the weekend or the school holidays won't hurt or take up much of your time.
A great thing about this is that it's not time-sensitive. Have too much homework? No worries, just do the extra questions whenever you find the time. We know that many school students have busy schedules ranging from sports training to music classes, so don’t go overboard. A few requests from your teacher at well-selected times won’t just increase your exam grades but will also do wonders for your attitude and effort grades.
Ask for some extra tuition.
Many teachers are willing to give up a bit of their time outside of school to help you feel comfortable with the content they teach. This might look like a quick session straight after school when you’ve got their class in last period, for example.
If you’re lucky enough to have a teacher who’s happy to do this, then you want to make the most of this time. Use it to go over your weak points and reinforce them until you've nailed them. The best way to do this is to go over incorrect work done in class or as homework and analyse the details of where and how you went wrong.
Once you are comfortable with the concepts, revising them before exams is a breeze. You don't have to relearn them, and you definitely don't have to do hours on top of hours of practice just to feel familiar with them again. It becomes the basis of working smart, not hard, and in the long run it will save you time and make your exam season stress-free.
Just don't go overboard with this technique; your teacher has a life too, you know! That’s where our specialist teachers at EduExperts can help. We’re experts in providing after-school tuition, so if you’re looking for more support, don’t be afraid to get in touch with your local centre.