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Class period




Improving Grades*


Specific Purpose:  I want my audience to understand three techniques for improving grades in college.

Organizational pattern:  Categorical order




I.                 We all know the importance of good grades for either getting into graduate school or getting the best possible job.

II.               R. P. Wipperman, a section head for Procter and Gamble, told me in a personal interview that good grades “are the calling card that get you in the door.”

III.             Because I’ve been away from college for more than seventeen years, I’ve been particularly concerned about getting back into the studying groove, so I’ve been reading study guides looking for specific techniques that are most likely to help with my grades.

Thesis statement:  Today I’d like to share with you three relatively easy, proven techniques for improving your GPA that I’ve learned from my study:  attend classes regularly, maintain a positive attitude, and study systematically.


(Transition: So let’s begin with the first technique.)



I.                 The first proven technique is to attend classes regularly.

A.    It sounds so simple, doesn’t it, but it turns out to be really important.

B.    According to Dr. Claude Olney, author of the book Where There’s A Will There’s an A, one of the most significant differences between an A and a C in a course is attendance.

1.     Olney did a study of 800 students and found that, on average, people who got A’s missed less that one class per term.

2.     People who got C’s missed more than four classes per term.

C.    During class, professors clarify difficult concepts, emphasize key information, and give insights that can’t be gotten any other way.





D.    Regular attendance is important to learning in general and to doing well on tests in particular.

1.     If you need further motivation to attend class, think of it this way:  Every day you attend class is worth $1,000 to you—that’s a thousand dollars!

2.     According to a Census Bureau study reported in a recent Cincinnati Enquirer, a college diploma hanging on the wall is worth $1,039 a month in extra pay (an average of $2,116 a month for college graduates compared with $1,077 per month for high school graduates).

3.     This $12,000+ a year comes to some $600,000 over a lifetime.

4.     Since here at UC we spend about 600 days in class over four years, that comes out to about $1,000 for every day we come to school.


(Transition:  Now that we’ve seen the importance of attendance, let’s consider the second technique.)


II.               The second technique is to develop a positive attitude toward school in general and each class in particular.

A.    Bill Moyers just finished a public television series reemphasizing the power of the mind on all aspects of our behavior.

1.     To emphasize this relationship, I love the following quote from Dr. Olney:  “If you think you can do it, you’re right, and if you don’t think you can do it, you’re still right.”

2.     Notice, whether you can do it or not depends a great deal on whether you think you can.

3.     So, go into class each day relaxed, confident that you’re ready for class, and your ready to make the most of what the professor chooses to talk about or discuss during that class.

B.    This will help the mind work for you.

1.     Joseph Murray, who wrote The Power of Your Subconscious Mind, said, “Once the subconscious mind accepts an idea, it begins to execute it.”

2.     Remind yourself of how much you are learning and how that learning is making you a better-educated, more interesting person.

3.     On test days, say, “I’m ready for this test” or “I know this information.”

4.     If you have a positive attitude, you’ll get better grades.







(Transition:  Now let’s consider the third technique.)


III.             The third proven technique is to learn to study systematically; every one of the sources I consulted suggested the importance or reading, processing, and reviewing.

A.    First, read assignments thoroughly before going to class.

1.     Many of us figure that the professor will cover what we need to know in class so we don’t really have to read the assignment before class.

2.     But learning works a lot better if we have a good idea of the material when we get to class.

B.    Second, process the information in class.

1.     When the professor lectures, take careful notes and see how information relates to material you have studied for class

2.     During class discussions, ask questions in order to check definitions and review examples.

C.    Third, and most important, review the assignment material after class.

1.     This is the key to schematic study; keep in mind that without reinforcement, we forget half of what we’ve read within 48 hours and 90 percent of what we’ve read within two weeks.

2.     If the information is reinforced, however, we can remember 80-90 percent of the information we have read.

3.     Reviewing assignment material after class provides this important reinforcement.

4.     So, tonight before you begin reading information for tomorrow’s classes, review information from today’s classes!



I.                 So, by attending every class, thinking positively, and studying systematically (read, process, and review), you can improve your GPA.

II.               (Add an effective closing statement here.)


Works Cited


Murphy, Joseph.  The Power of Your Subconscious Mind.  New York: Bantam, 1985.


Olney, Claude W. Where There’s a Will There’s an A.  Paoli, PA:  Chesterbook

                Educational Publishers, 1989.


Smith, John.  “College Education Pays.” Cincinnati Inquirer 10 April 1999:A1.

EBSCOhost.  Academic Search Elite.  Copiah-Lincoln Community Coll., Oswalt Library.  20 Dec 2002


Wipperman, R. P.  Personal interview.  2 November 1999.


*Adapted from speech in Verderber text, pp. 235-238

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