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How To Use Self-Reflection To Improve Your Marks

In this article, we will go through the 5 important steps you need to know to use self-reflection to improve your marks!

Are you struggling to improve your marks? Well, your study habits might be the reason! To help you, in this article, we will go explain, step by step, how to use self-reflection to improve your marks!


In this article, we’ll discuss:

  1. How to use self-reflection to improve your marks
  2. The 5 steps to better marks through self-reflection
    1. Step 1: Review how you spend your time
    2. Step 2: Determine how to allocate your time
    3. Step 3: Review your study approach
    4. Step 4: Review your study environments and times
    5. Step 5: Stay organised


How to use self-reflection to improve your marks

Often, you’ll hear the phrase, “Work smarter, not harder” being thrown around among students. Yes, it is a cliche, but it is also true.

However, a very common train of thought which follows is how exactly one can work smarter if no one really knows what the formula is for academic success.

The truth is, every student learns and retains knowledge very differently.

Often, the answer to ‘how to work smarter’ can only be found within yourself

You need to analyse how you spend your energy and time. you then need to calculate which of those activities has maximal output.

What this really requires is self-reflection: consciously thinking about what aspects of your day to day study are working and what aspects may be hindering your potential.


The 5 steps to better marks through self-reflection

Now we know why, let’s look at how!


Step 1: Review how you spend your days

The first step to self-reflection is reviewing how you tend to spend your days.

If you do not already, you should note down in a physical or online planner what activities you complete each day.

This includes hours you spend at school, the time you allocate for extra-curricular activities and catching up with friends or family, and any additional study periods.

As a starting step, this will allow you to make sure that you are investing equal amounts of time to each of your subjects: ultimately, they all have an equal weighting in your final HSC mark in Year 12.

This process will also allow you to track how many past papers that you manage to get through in the lead-up to final exams and to keep on top of your notes for each subject.




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Step 2: Determine how much time you should allocate for your subjects

Once you have a vague idea about the structure of your tasks over a fortnight, it is then important to turn to your present academic performance.


1. Review your school’s past performance

In the majority of cases, your school’s historical performance in exams like the HSC are a good indication of how the cohort tends to perform.

As such, it is not risky to hedge your bets on history repeating itself.

If your school tends to perform very well in Mathematics, then there is a high chance that your cohort too will perform well in Mathematics.

What you want to consider is how best to maximise your marks.


2. Review your own performance

If you are performing very well in a subject then yes, you want to maintain momentum.

But consider the trade-off of decreasing a couple of hours that you usually spend on that strong subject and using it instead to practice the skills demanded in your weaker subject.

In addition to this, as mentioned before, if your school performs well in Mathematics but not so well in Economics, then by natural implication, you will need to maintain a higher rank in Economics in comparison to your rank in Mathematics.

As such, you will want to spend more time per fortnight on studying Economics.




Step 3: Review your study approach for each subject by monitoring your ‘marks’

Once you have a clear insight as to how many hours per fortnight you are willing to spend on each subject, it is then important to take a micro approach to each subject.

This is when you need to consider your academic performance for a subject over an extended time period, usually between two consecutive tasks.

For instance, if your Mathematics mark did not improve substantially from Tasks 1 to 2, then it is clear that your approach to Mathematics needs to be improved.

This is because, despite spending a great deal of time practicing, your study approach is not developing your exam technique or approach to questions. There could be several reasons for this:

  • Perhaps this means you need to decrease the amount of time you spend doing textbook exercises and increase the amount of time spent doing past paper questions.
  • Or, you may need to review the topic examined in Task 1 because the mistakes you were making were misunderstandings you had about the mathematical concepts.
  • Or, you may need to spend more time reviewing the past papers you completed, as when similar questions pop up you find it difficult to remember the technique.
  • Or, you may need to be stricter when documenting your mistakes, as you are repeating the same errors each time you come across a similar question.

With this self-reflection, you will be able to reschedule your plan for the following fortnight and observe whether you see any changes in your progress.



Step 4: Review your study environments and times

Using self-reflection to improve your marks also encompasses thinking about how and where you are performing your study habits.


1. Make a flexible timetable

If you have noted that your schedule is very difficult to follow as your extra-curricular or family commitments often get in the way, think about how you might make your schedule more flexible.

This could involve removing strict time stamps from tasks. That is, instead of allocating 6-7pm for reading your English prescribed text, perhaps you can set the more specific goal of reading up to page 200 of the text by Tuesday night.

Adopting a to-do list is much more effective than planning your day down to the hour.


2. Study in different environments and times

In addition, think about where you are most productive.

If you find that you are tired at the close of the day before you have completed all of your tasks, then perhaps you have not been as efficient as possible with your time.

Explore the options of completing tasks in new environments such as the school or local library. The more focused and involved you are in what you are studying, the more effective your improvement in the subject.




Step 5: Stay organised

It is important to stay as organised as possible. You’ve done all this hard work, it is better to maintain the effort and stay on top than to slack off and have to catch up again!

So, note down all of your tasks and keep track of your marks and ranks.

Then, on a fortnightly basis, you can reflect upon what has been effective for your study and improvement.

You should repeat this process and consistently reflect on what is working for you and what is not working. For example, perhaps where you need to reallocate more or less time. Keep track of your progress and the changes you make in a diary. this will allow you to track what is working and what is not working.





Written by Guest Author

We have regular contributions to our blog from our Tutor Team and high performing Matrix Students. Come back regularly for these guest posts to learn their study hacks and insights!


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