How to improve your grades without studying more

Although studying will take you a long way in the mission of getting good grades, there are a couple of life hacks (scientifically proven ones, in fact) that will enhance your learning without you having to study more.

These 4 methods will take you a lot further, with only a little bit of extra time and effort.

Cram less, sleep more

You’ve probably tried skipping study sessions throughout the semester a couple of times before and instead, tried to cram all your studying into one long night of coffee, Red Bull, textbooks, blood, sweat and tears, and more Red Bull.

If so, we’ve got some inconvenient news for you: sacrificing sleep to study more is like swimming against the tide. Researchers from UCLA say it simply isn’t worth it.

Sacrificing sleep to study more is in fact counterproductive, and you’ll end up remembering less than you started out with. Studies show that almost 90% of of American high school students are sleep deprived.

And even if you do get enough sleep, cramming for exams still isn’t worth it. You need time for that 1400g squishy mass inside your skull to take in all the information, digest it, and turn it into brilliant, top-grade, einstein-level material.


A little ‘ding’ here and a little ‘buzz’ there. You probably think updates from your friends don’t distract you, but they do.

On average, we get distracted by our mobile devices every 10 minutes, and it takes a staggering 23 minutes for us to re-focus on a task after being distracted from it.

Man multitasking

We try to be in two places at once by constantly attempting  to be present in our digital lives as well as our physical ones, but multitasking only hurts our brains.

In a Stanford study testing attention spans, memory capacity and the ability to switch tasks, it was shown that multitaskers performed worse and were far more easily distracted than single-taskers.

Having a hard time avoiding distractions? Use apps like the Pomodoro Timer to stay ‘hyper focused’ for 25 minutes at a time, or the Rescue Time desktop app to track what you’re doing and lock down pages that are stealing away your attention.

Switch study methods

You can read all you want in those study books, but what’ll really move the mark is the practical use of all that information.

In fact, a study showed that STEM students were able to raise average grades by half a letter just by engaging in active learning as opposed to traditional lecturing.

Students using Labster

We also did a study ourselves, on the effect of practical tools like our virtual labs on learning, which showed a 76% increase in learning outcomes. When combined with regular teaching, the result was a 101% increase!

Be mindful

You may have hesitations about this one, but mindfulness and meditation are truly like push-ups for the brain.

A UCLA report shows that long-term meditation strengthens the connections between brain cells, allows the brain to process information faster and thickens the brain (in a good way).

But even short-term meditation has been documented to have positive effects. One study showed that just five days of meditating could improve attention spans and control of stress.

Here at Labster, we’re jumping head first into the pool of mindfulness and meditation and trying out an 8 week challenge to see how it goes.

If you’ve never tried meditating before, we recommend apps like Headspace which provide guided meditations and cute little analogies for grasping otherwise fluffy concepts.

Remember to stay tuned here on the blog, if you’d like to see how the challenge goes, and hear more about useful study tips.

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University of Florida

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