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Problem 2

“I Work Hard, but My Grades Don’t Show It.”

The Problem

As a junior in high school, Kathryn was a “good” student but was often frustrated because her grades never seemed to reflect her effort. “It’s hopeless!” she said after receiving a low grade on a math test for which she spent hours preparing. She was also overwhelmed with writing assignments. She had a major research paper to do over the following quarter and felt paralyzed. “I don’t even know where to begin,” she sighed.

The Solution

While time-management was not one of Kathryn’s direct complaints, it was still a problem. Kathryn needed to learn a better way to manage her time. If she had better control of her time, she would feel encouraged to finish her homework in less time. Therefore, we first helped Kathryn select a good planner and then taught her how to use it effectively.

We went back to review her latest Math test; looking at her test and her homework from that chapter, she discovered that the problems she struggled with during the entire chapter were exactly the types of problems she missed on the test. We taught her how to catch these problems long before the test and deal with them in an effective, but time-efficient manner. We also covered several other simple strategies to prepare for and take tests so that Kathryn would be much more purposeful when she studied.

Finally, Kathryn needed help with writing. We taught her a great system for organizing her research that then became a good tool for writing about her research. This 3-D graphic organizer was used to guide her through the entire writing process.

The Results

Kathryn was amazed by how much time she had been wasting when doing homework! “Now that I am more aware of my time, I do not waste it as much when I do my homework,” she said. Using the planner also helped her find time to study in short, small chunks instead of cramming for tests. Spreading her studying out over a longer period of time helped her learn the information better and ended up saving her a lot of time.

Kathryn’s score on her next math test improved by more than one letter grade because she caught difficult problems early and immediately got help in class, instead of cramming the night before the test. In fact, she spent less time studying the night before because she had kept up throughout the chapter and knew exactly which practice problems to do just before the test to reinforce her understanding. “I feel much more in control when I study now because I know exactly what to do. I don’t waste my time staring at my textbook, I take better notes in class, and I am better prepared for each class so when I study for a test, it all comes together.”

As for the research paper, “I cannot believe how easy it was to write that paper! It took some time, but it was much easier than I ever expected. I will use that (strategy) for every paper I ever have to write!” Kathryn’s teacher agreed that her paper was one of the best in the class and Kathryn was proud to earn an A for it!


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