8 Simple Actions That Will Ensure Academic Success

No matter what the fall school semester brings, students are going to have to prepare for the beginning of a new academic year. In order for them to start strong, they need the right mindset to go in with a positive attitude. Here are eight simple actions your child can take to ensure academic success this school year, at any grade level.

Remain Active

Whether your student is in elementary, middle or high school, physical activity is key to helping them maintain focus and motivation. Try to make sure that they exercise a little bit each day. Walking, running, riding a bicycle or swimming will all help your student refresh their mind and boost their mood. Physical activity after class and before studying or homework staves off fatigue and mental exhaustion by giving them a break in between tasks. 

Taking a break after each subject is also vital to make the most of their academic time. Have them get up to stretch or walk around every half an hour. This action relieves nervous energy and allows them to return to their work with fresh eyes and new focus. Likewise, if they are feeling frustrated by a confusing math problem or word they struggle to remember, encourage them to stand and move around briefly. Besides stretching, they can do jumping jacks, pushups, situps or jog in place to increase blood flow and stimulate their mind.

Manage Time Effectively

Have your student create a study plan and make specific goals. Help them create goals that are clear and easily attainable in the short term. Instead of a goal to “study for Biology 1,” choose to study notes from specific class days or chapters in the textbook. Making a word or page count goal for an essay will also be more effective than trying to finish the whole thing at once. If your student enjoys to-do lists, have them create a physical list or digital note. Actually checking the item off will bring them satisfaction, and the little victories add up to huge academic success. 

Encourage your student to put their phone away during homework time and avoid multitasking. Pausing to check social media can lead to a larger and longer distraction than originally intended; one Tiktok may turn into 12, and 10 minutes of scrolling Twitter can easily become 30. Taking mental breaks is healthy and encouraged, but they should take care to ensure that a break does not become a distraction from the goals they want to achieve for the day.

Large goals are still encouraged; smaller daily goals can stack into these bigger tasks. For example, if your student is studying for the ACT with a practice book, their smaller goal could be to work on a practice test every other day with the ultimate intent of finishing the entire book. Crossing off the big goals will show your student the results of their hard work and daily diligence.

Ask for Help When Needed

There should be no shame in asking for help when your student is confused by a problem, assignment or concept. Encourage them to come to you with questions; if you are unsure of the answer, do not be afraid to acknowledge this fact. Being open and honest develops trust, and you have the opportunity to learn alongside your student as you work with them to answer their question. 

College professors maintain office hours for the express purpose of working with students who have questions or otherwise require assistance, so the earlier your student gets in the habit of reaching out, the better. Reinforce the concept that asking for help is beneficial and does not reflect badly on the confused person; instead, it shows the student cares about the material and has a willingness to learn. 

Discussing difficult concepts from a course with their peers will also help them, as it improves their communication and analytical skills. Creating small study groups may help your student, so long as the members of the group practice good time management and take care to avoid major distractions like a prolonged conversation on other topics. Such gatherings also improve your student’s ability to work as a team with others. Once the overall task is complete, a fun break with friends can prove a wonderful reward.

Hold Yourself Accountable

Accountability goes hand in hand with time management. Losing track of time or dropping focus every so often is normal, but your student can choose how they react to being distracted or experiencing setbacks. If they realize they have started daydreaming, they should take stock of what has been accomplished so far and their progress towards their goal for the day. Your student should then prioritize: What needs to happen most urgently? Do they need to rework their plans for the day to make those goals a reality? Would it be best for them to get up and refocus before returning to work? Maintaining a positive mindset is key to academic success, so if they appear frustrated, encourage them to take a small break and return to their task after a brief period of time, ideally 15 to 20 minutes.

Take Breaks

Working in large chunks is an easy way to lose focus. If your student sits down to write an eight-page paper in one sitting, they may find themselves struggling to maintain motivation after about 45 minutes. Every hour or so, or half an hour for younger students, they should take a break to refresh their minds with a different activity. This may easily be achieved with exercise, with the added benefit of engaging their muscles and improving their mood, but other activities well-suited to the individual student can also help. They might read a few chapters of a book, go outside for a little while, practice art or spend some time with family, friends or pets. 

Remember that your student should hold themself accountable for returning to work when they need to, and they should keep an eye on their social media use during study time. Make sure they take time to have fun when the studying is over! Without downtime and an opportunity for their mind to relax, your student will have trouble focusing and feeling rested for the next day. Your student needs ample time to pursue recreational activities they love and take time for themselves to truly ensure academic success.

Write Things Down

Although it may seem counterproductive at first, your student should rewrite their notes after each class. The physical act of writing the notes again reinforces their memory of the content, especially for any diagrams or charts they may have created. They should star, highlight or otherwise denote material that confuses them during their rewriting process, so they can ask questions at their next opportunity. 

Your student should also write down each assignment or important date they receive, even if they are confident that they will remember without reference. It is far better to have the information saved and never need it than to realize two days later that they are unsure whether their exam will be this or next Friday.

Organize Work Space

If your student’s workspace is cluttered, they will be less likely to focus. Make sure that the space they are working in provides them with enough room for all of their materials, and that they can sit comfortably without slouching. If your student has to lean over constantly, they will become unsettled and will probably experience neck or back pain after sitting. 

Encourage your student to avoid sitting on their bed to do homework or studying if they are using their room as a workplace. They need a designated place to work so that their brain can focus and compartmentalize better. Sometimes, a change of scenery may also work wonders. If they feel stagnant after a while of working in one area, try moving them to a new spot, such as a coffee shop or table in the backyard. To subconsciously promote a positive mood, look for an environment that affords some form of natural light, like a large window.

Challenge and Test Outside of Class

In order to grow and learn, your student needs to challenge themself. If their homework is completed, they should try self-quizzing with flash cards to ensure they thoroughly understand the material. Especially when preparing for a test like the ACT or SAT, they should take advantage of outside study materials like online practice modules and mock tests. Flexing their mental muscles beyond the classroom will help them excel, but they should make sure to take time for fun, too! Leisure activities can also challenge your student’s mind and outlook: games like chess and checkers stimulate a student’s sense of logic, as do puzzles. 

Ensure Academic Success with mAke the grAde

No matter what age your student is, following these eight actions will set them on the path towards academic success in their endeavors. Should you need further guidance, contact mAke the grAde. Remember that they should never be afraid to ask questions and request help. Their continued learning and improvement is the overall goal of education.


Understanding mAke the grAde: Giving Every Learner What They Need To Succeed

The academic struggle is a complex and misunderstood issue. The traditional perspective that when a learner fails the fault lies with them is flawed. So also is the perspective that the educational system must be failing the student if the learner is not finding success and growing academically and intellectually. There are many factors unique to each learner that directly impact their academic success.  Individualized education plans and 504 academic accommodations can only do so much to address a learner’s needs, and not every learner qualifies. 

You may have already experienced the effects of your child struggling in school, especially when that struggle is expressed through behavior at home and in class. Highly intelligent learners often have to work harder to master content and achieve academically if their needs are not being met, and when they don’t find the success they often act out their frustration. It’s like they are their own worst enemy and sabotage their own success. 

Why is this issue so prevalent? The fundamental obstacle to their success hasn’t been addressed: no one has given them what they need. Even in a private school setting with small classroom sizes, many learners still struggle to understand concepts and earn high grades. There is a reason they continue to struggle: no one is helping them figure out what their learning needs are. 

Supporting Every Struggling Learner Is Our Specialty

This is where mAke the grAde can help. We help students at every level establish the following:

  • Mapping out their unique learning style and needs so they can see it for themselves
  • A rapport with an individual tutor who dedicates to addressing their learning needs
  • A social learning environment where they can support and be supported by peers who are also seeking to improve their academics

Once upon a time, every child was excited by and loved learning. Many of them get lost somewhere along the way due to circumstances beyond their control. Every child is also on their own timetable for intellectual and academic growth. Some kids read later than others, but when they start reading they advance more quickly than their peers. Others struggle with simple math concepts for a few years. But as time passes they find math is their favorite subject. Their individual development is a significant factor in their success. School systems both public and private often overlook this educational need in favor of standardization.

 mAke the grAde provides tools, strategies, and motivation so that your child can maximize their education. We have found when students know their learning needs are met, they quickly become inspired by and excited about learning again. It’s a simple but powerful model that offers significant rewards even for learners who seem unmotivated and resigned to their academic “fate”. What are that sets mAke the grAde apart? Let’s examine that in detail together.

mAke the grAde: Self-Esteem, Independence and Advocacy

Every learner has tremendous potential to achieve academically. Every student has challenges. Some students can overcome these challenges on their own and some need support. Being able to overcome these challenges enables a student to reach their full potential. Additionally, the inability to address or overcome these challenges can hold a student back and prevent them from reaching their potential.

Many factors can challenge a student. Sometimes it’s social factors like negative experiences with teachers, other students, or an instructor in a particular subject area like math or science. Perhaps they did poorly on a benchmark assessment or reading performance test that left them feeling less capable than their peers, or they found they struggled more than others to maintain the same academic pace. These experiences affect their engagement with all future learning and can lock the student into a static mindset where they must accept the judgment of others as final regarding their intelligence or academic potential.

In other cases, learners simply may not know how best to approach problem-solving in the academic world. They are hesitant to be independent because their learning has always been a top-down education model where the teacher is the authority, and they are to learn only as their teacher instructs them. They have no inclination or motivation to strike out on their own to find solutions to the problems posed in their class. When they can’t do it the way the teacher asks them to, they come to believe that they are unable to do the problems and they start to question their ability.  In reality, only their perspective of the problem needs adjustment, but they can’t see that because they have never known anything else.

Worst of all, asking for help is seen as a weakness or a lack of intelligence by themselves or their peers, so they don’t advocate for themselves. Moreover, some learners fear (or have been chastised for) self-advocacy because it makes them social disruptors in the classroom. They are afraid to “hold everyone else back.” So they keep silent and suffer, causing them to internalize their feelings of failure, frustration, and inadequacy as being their own fault.  

mAke the grAde is all about addressing these three fundamental learning needs to unlock each learner’s potential: Self-Esteem, Independence, and Advocacy: 


Our learners learn from the beginning of their tutoring sessions that where they have been does not determine where they can go. We evaluate their learning needs in a collaborative process to help them understand they can achieve academic success given time, perspective, and a growth mindset. Setting small, short-term achievable goals is a critical component of rebuilding your learner’s self-esteem. This is the foundation of confidence they will need to turn their academic lives around. It is also the first step to falling in love with learning all over again. 


To quote a popular phrase by Jack Sparrow, “The problem is not the problem. The problem is your attitude about the problem.”

Every learner learns from a young age that when you have problems, you must solve them. The problem is students rarely know more than one approach to problem-solving. They learn how the teacher solves problems and never make decisions about how to approach problems outside what they have been taught. Learners don’t generalize their learning because they have never learned how to apply their problem-solving skills in more than one way. 

mAke the grAde focuses on teaching students multiple problem-solving approaches and skillsets in every academic discipline. And we focus on finding practical and workable solutions more than rote memorization of formulas and strategies. When real problems arise in the classroom or in life, they have a complete toolkit to work with independently.


Knowing how much you don’t know is the mark of true wisdom. It can be humbling, but even the strongest and smartest of us must ask for help when we don’t understand something. Knowing where to get correct and useful advice is critical. mAke the grAde focuses on teaching students how to ask for help in productive ways, and offers the opportunity to consult an expert in a non-threatening setting away from peers. This is why self-esteem and independence are fundamental to our model. It is impossible to help a student ask for help if they don’t have the self-confidence to know they can learn and the skills to independently solve their problems once they have asked for help and support. 

Teaching advocacy is also the key benefit to both our individual and small group tutoring sessions. It allows learners to gradually ease into asking for help in a classroom setting where they might otherwise keep silent. We believe without self-advocacy, students will not unlock their potential. So we teach its value in helping students address their own learning needs.

Final Thoughts

mAke the grAde offers unique benefits to students which enables them to overcome their individual challenges to learning through addressing their unique learning needs. Students are not learning robots despite the best efforts of conventional education models.  If a learner’s needs are not met in the classroom, they will struggle, grow frustrated, and likely give up. They can only take so much before they shut down, and it’s a normal human response.

Our goal is to help them see past their frustration, have confidence in the power of their own potential, take control of their learning with independent problem solving and advocate for themselves to overcome challenges when they lack knowledge or need help. It is as effective as it is simple. Every learner can benefit from what mAke the grAde has to offer. Visit our website today for details about how your learner can benefit from our services anywhere in the world.

Don’t forget to check out our mAke the grAde community where you can find all the latest and greatest ways to keep maximizing your child’s education.

The 5 Habits You Must Have to Finish the School Year With Straight A’s

The school year is coming to an end, and it’s almost time for the final push. Whether you’re in the eighth grade or in your senior year of college, this is when it’s most important to get those assignments in if you want to finish the school year right. Though, with the workload piling up, you may need a little advice, so here are five habits you should practice to get straight A’s on your final report card.

Make a Planner

If you’re like a lot of students, you feel like planners are a waste of time. Many people feel confident that they can keep track of their assignments in their minds, and if they forget when something is due, they can just ask a friend. It is possible, however, there is a reason why some of the most successful people in history have used planners: They work. Planners give you a visual display of all your assignments, so you don’t need to spend the excess energy trying to remember them. Seeing all your tasks written out before you can also give you some added confidence, as it allows you to separate everything you have to do so you can handle them all one at a time.

Stay Healthy

A healthy diet must not be overestimated. Studies show that nutrition directly correlates with mental focus and concentration, so eat up. Remember, snacks high in carbohydrates and sugar can make you sleepy instead of alert, so stay away from those kinds of foods. Instead, fill up on nuts, yogurt, granola and anything else high in vitamins and protein. Water, too, is needed to keep your body running at 100 percent, so always keep a water bottle on you that you can refill throughout the day.

Put Away any Distractions

Multitasking does not work as advertised. Science reveals that you can only truly concentrate on one thing at a time, and every time you read a text message while studying, you have to refocus your mind all over again. So in class, turn off your phone, and try not to sit next to anyone who distracts you easily. At home, keep the TV turned off. If you have any distractions that you can’t turn off, such as your little brother, then maybe you can go to the library or a quiet cafe. You may think you can handle the distractions, but whether you realize it or not, the more that’s fighting for your attention, the less information you retain. Study groups are a great way to get work done, but if you’re not careful, you can quickly start to forget why you’re there, especially if you’re studying with some good friends who you joke around with a lot. To keep you and your friends on track, it’s a good idea to elect one member of your group as the productivity leader who can redirect the group if you stray off-topic.


Take Detailed Notes

Note-taking is a skill that everybody should master. Taking notes is done by everybody from second graders to NASA scientists, so learning how to take helpful, clear notes is vital in life. When keeping notes, write legibly and stick to the main points of your teacher’s lectures. Then, when you’re at home getting ready to study, one of the best ways to use your notes is to turn them into flashcards. Flashcards make it easier to remember information, and they can be read almost anywhere. Go through them until you can get all the answers without checking.


Follow Your Teacher’s Directions

Finally, you’d be surprised by how many students get lower grades on their assignments simply because they didn’t properly follow the instructions. Too many students just skim the instructions on their projects because they assume they already know what they are doing, only to find out later that they were completely off the mark. No matter how intelligent you are and how hard you work, it doesn’t count for anything if you’re not doing the assignment the right way, so read the instructions carefully and refer back to them as you progress. After all, the instructions are one of your best resources and they are there to help you. If you’re confused about something in the instructions, just ask your professor. Your professors want you to succeed and will have no problem clarifying any questions you have.


Stress is always higher this time of the year as students are scrambling to finish their work as quickly and efficiently as possible. It can be difficult, but with the right strategy and a disciplined and determined attitude, you can take on whatever your teachers throw at you with ease.

How to Study With Flashcards and Quizlet More Effectively

Flashcards are one of the best ways to study for a test. They’re easy, convenient and definitely effective. However, even with flashcards, trying to remember all that information you need to know for your A+ can still be an enormous hassle. If you find yourself struggling with flashcards, perhaps all you need is simply a better method of studying. Here are some ways to get the most out of your study time with flashcards.


Write Them Yourself

The first tip for studying more effectively with flashcards is to make the flashcards yourself. Writing is closely linked to memory, and by writing them down you’re actually doing your first study session. Try to make them as simple as possible by sticking to the essential facts instead of less relevant details.


Focus on One Subject at a Time

If you have flashcards for both a science test and a history test, it may be tempting to mix them together and study both subjects at the same time. However, our brains are not wired to move back and forth between subjects on such short notice. If you try to study for two tests at once, you may end up struggling with both of them.


Get Ahead of Schedule

The best way to memorize information is to read it again and again over the course of weeks. Repetition is your best friend. Try to begin studying with flashcards at least one week before your upcoming test. Do this and you’ll be able to ace your test in a heartbeat.


Study in Short Bursts

Studying for hours on end can quickly clog up your mind, making it difficult to concentrate. One way to avoid this is by studying in short bursts throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to keep your flashcards with you wherever you go, so you can read them whenever you have a couple minutes to spare.


Read Them With Friends

Everything is more fun with friends, and studying is no exception. If you can get a study group together with some classmates, you can all take turns quizzing each other. Saying the information out loud helps you retain it better, and being around other people who are studying for the same test can give you some confidence as you realize you’re not alone in this struggle. You can even make a game out of it and suggest that whoever has the most right answers gets their lunch covered, or something of that sort.


Be Creative

Finally, keep in mind that studying doesn’t have to be torturous. Try to find fun ways to incorporate flashcards into your daily life. For example, if you’re on the train, maybe read ten flashcards per stop. Even better, you could play frisbee with a friend and everytime you or they miss, read ten flashcards. It may not be as exciting as a day in an amusement park, but anything you can think of to make studying a little more interesting is definitely for the best.

It’s okay if studying isn’t the first thing you want to do when you wake up in the morning. Studying takes effort and deliberation. However, by adding a few tips and tricks into your studying routine, you’ll soon begin to find it easier, more rewarding and maybe even a little amusing.

Managing Information to Do the Big Job in Small Steps

Managing all of the information that you need to absorb as a student can be a delicate balance. It can become difficult at times to find enough time to study properly, manage your time, prepare for exams and organize all of your information. The following is how to manage information by doing the big job in small steps.

Set Your Schedule

It can become overbearing to deal with all of your responsibilities if you don’t create an organized schedule and stick to it. Rather than waiting until the day before an exam to study a large amount of material, set times during the prior week to chunk out your study sessions. This will allow you to absorb the information easier, and relieve some of the stress and anxiety that is associated with studying for an important exam. Spending an hour out of each day to study is much more manageable than studying for several hours in one day.

Center Your Focus

Having assignments due for multiple classes at once is a tough reality, but you will need to complete all of the work on time in order to maintain your grades. Avoid multitasking on material from different classes all at once. Try to knock out the assignments for one class at a time, this will make it easier for you to stay concentrated on that subject.

Ask About the Details

The job of your professor is to explain the material in a way that you can understand, so don’t be discouraged about asking for more information. Even the smallest details on a study guide or assignment can have significant meaning, so ask for clarification on anything that you find confusing. Knowing as many details as possible about the work that you need to do will increase your ability to knock out large projects.

Contact Make The Grade

If you’re a student that is currently struggling with classwork and managing their schedule, contact Make the Grade. Our high-quality tutoring and consulting services are available at an affordable rate. Our tutoring sessions are able to be conducted directly in our office, or virtually through an online classroom. We can teach you valuable skills that will help you improve your grades and your overall life as a student. Give us a call at (215)-540-8378 or visit our website at https://makethegrade.net/ to get in touch with us and learn more about our services.

Best Practices for Virtual Learning in Middle School

Traditional education methods are not the best choice for everyone. Some students work best outside the classroom in a virtual environment. Middle school is a great time to introduce virtual learning options to students, as this is a time of great change. So, trying out new learning methods to see what works best is ideal. If you and your middle school-aged child choose to try out virtual learning, here are some best practices to follow to get the most out of the experience.

Have a Plan in Place

The best way to fail at virtual learning is to jump in without a solid plan in place. Developing a solid plan before you begin will help to keep you on track. Start by creating a plan for the entire school year and then break it into semesters. Finally, break it down into monthly and weekly plans. When your work is broken into smaller chunks, it will help keep you organized and focused.

Communicate With Your Teachers

Being in a virtual learning environment does not mean you will be completely cut off from school. It is crucial that you remain in regular contact with your teachers. Your teachers are your best source of academic support. As a virtual learner, you will have access to all your teachers’ contact information. Use it as often as necessary. They are there to answer your questions, offer assistance and help solve your problems. Use the resource of your teachers as much as possible to make your virtual learning experience an easy one.

Keep a Notebook

Keeping a notebook is a great way to keep all of your schoolwork organized and easy to find. A great option is to have one large binder with a section for each class. You can take notes and work out problems in the notebook, so you will always know where to find them. Separate all of your subjects with dividers so your work has a specific place to go, and it can be accessed more easily when you need it.

Do Work for all of Your Classes Every Day

In the self-paced environment of virtual learning, it can be easy to procrastinate and let some schoolwork wait until the last minute. But, it is crucial to stay on top of assignments so you do not fall behind. The best way to do that is to get in the habit of doing some work for all of your classes every day. That way, you can ensure that everything stays fresh in your mind, and you do not fall behind in your work.

Following these easy best practices will help you get the most out of your virtual learning experience. For more information about best practices for virtual learning in middle school, contact Make the Grade today.

Virtual Learning Best Practices for High School Level

High school is an important time in a young person’s life. It’s the period when they really begin to develop, both physically and emotionally, into the kinds of people they will be. Therefore, it is vital that you help give your child the best homeschooling experience possible. Here are some ways to know if virtual learning is right for your high schooler, and some of the best online resources for them to use.

Should I Homeschool my High Schooler?

There are a lot of myths about homeschooled kids that cloud people’s judgment on the subject. Some people believe that homeschooling makes kids socially stunted, shy and distant from reality. These myths are completely untrue, but that doesn’t mean that homeschooling is right for everyone. If your child is independent, highly organized, disciplined, and works best by themselves, homeschooling can be a highly enriching experience. Some kids thrive under the structure of public or private school and some kids are more productive by working on their own schedule. Either way is fine, just make sure to assess your child’s personality and temperament before you make a decision.

What Online High School Should I Choose?

There are thousands of accredited, online high schools in the United States, and many more throughout the world. No virtual learning program is a one size fits all school, and you should thoroughly research several of them before you make a decision. This can be a long process, so to help you out, here are some factors to consider before you start looking.

First, look at the range of courses they offer. Then, research how flexible their courses are for achieving a diploma. Also, consider the academic support offered by faculty members, the technology they use, testimonies from graduates and tuition rates. Do this research alongside your son or daughter and listen to the sort of features they value in an online high school before deciding. It’s a lot of work, but it’s for your child’s education.

There’s no one way to homeschool your child. The nature of homeschooling is that the child’s schedule, methods, study habits and recreational time is mostly theirs to decide. However, that doesn’t mean that the quality of education a homeschooled child receives will always be the same. If you are interested in homeschooling your child, do the necessary research so that you’ll know they are getting the most out of their virtual learning.