By Sarah Wright
Reason 1: Understand Your Grade
Whether you're pleased or angry with your grade, it's a good idea to understand why and how you got it. What did you get right? What needed improvement? Not only can you use this information to shape your future work, but knowing the scoring specifics might help you feel better if you're angry about the grade. It can also give you something to discuss with your professor if you want to ask him or her to change your grade.
Reason 2: Know What to Avoid
Let's say you worked hard on a 10-page paper, and you're excited to see what your professor thought. You get it back a few weeks later, and to your surprise, it's covered in red ink. In situations like this, it can be tempting to throw the thing away and forget it ever happened. But in doing so, you miss the opportunity to avoid the same thing happening in the future. Reading the comments and studying the editing marks on your papers can help you understand where you went wrong, even if it's painful to do so. Maybe you have a bad habit of using incorrect punctuation, and your professor's notes include instructions for the proper use of semicolons. Or maybe you took a wrong turn somewhere in the paper and your professor has suggestions for how to avoid that.
If your hard work seems diminished by those marks and notes, just remember - your professor worked hard giving you that feedback. It'd be a shame to make waste of both your efforts by ignoring what he or she has to say.
Reason 3: Find Things to Repeat
If your paper comes back to you covered in red, that doesn't necessarily mean that you've done a bad job. Professors also often comment when a student does things correctly. It's as important to be aware of the what you're doing right as it is to know what you're doing wrong. Reviewing your successes will help you be able to make use of the same strategies and techniques in the future.
Reason 4: Learn From Mistakes
On tests and quizzes, it can be hard to go back and look at the questions you missed, particularly if some of those misses were simple mistakes. But it's important to know the correct answers to test questions before moving on to the next thing in class. Using graded tests can be a great study tool when you're reviewing for exams, and having a graded test in front of you during a study session is like a personalized roadmap to the concepts you need to reinforce. You can also use your correct answers to study as well, since the answer to the question will be right in front of you.
Reason 5: Keep Tabs on Your Professor or Instructor
Paranoia that your teacher is out to get you isn't always in your head. We're not saying that your prof definitely hates you - it's not likely that your bad grades are due to anything but your own mistakes. But if you check your graded assignments, you can get proof that there isn't a vast conspiracy to keep your grades down - or IS THERE? (There isn't.)
Your syllabus can help you understand how your final class grade will be determined.