What Is a Pass Fail Option – Mastering Pass Fail Classes

Pass/fail classes can help your grades and broaden your college experience. Learn when to use the pass/fail option and how to leverage its advantages.


Using the pass/fail grading option can provide students with key advantages. Primarily, it’s a way to earn college credits without affecting your GPA.

However, pass/fail classes aren’t always a good idea. Learn the implications of taking pass/fail classes and the best way to use them.

What Does Pass/Fail Mean?

When taking a course the regular way, your end-of-term grade would be the usual A, B, C, D, or F. However, when you take a course as a pass/fail, your final grade is one of two options: P for pass or F for fail.

Under pass/fail grading, earning a letter grade between an A and a D would be a pass. However, at some schools, a grade between an A and C is necessary to pass.
At your school, a pass/fail class may also be a credit/no credit class. That’s because passing will earn you college credits, but you’ll get zero credits if you fail.

Keep in mind that taking a class as pass/fail isn’t the same as auditing a course. If you audit a class, you won’t get a letter grade, nor will you receive credits for taking the class.

How Can A Pass/Fail Class Affect Your GPA?

Typically, taking pass/fail courses won’t affect your grade point average. The class is simply excluded from the GPA calculation.

However, at some schools, an F in a pass/fail class will count toward your GPA. In these cases, it’s better for your GPA to withdraw from the class than fail.

When Should You Use the Pass/Fail Option?

The pass/fail option is useful under the right circumstances. Students can benefit from P/F grading in these situations:

1. Low grade in a class: Earning a poor grade can bring down your overall average. In these situations, it may be better to take the class as a P/F than to receive a grade that lowers your GPA.

2. Get outside your comfort zone: For far-flung interests, students may choose to use the P/F option as a way to enrich their college experience without risking their GPA. Even Steve Jobs expanded his education with a calligraphy course.

3. General education requirement: That Senior Seminar class may be a requirement, but it’s not necessary to stress about getting top scores. Using the P/F option for general education courses can help you meet your graduation requirements without extra workload.

When Should You Avoid the Pass/Fail Option?

Using the pass/fail option isn’t always the best choice. In particular, you should avoid taking P/F classes in these three situations:

1. Within your major or minor: It can be perceived negatively to take P/F classes within your field of study. Take classes that are major requirements using the regular grading system.

2. Too many pass/fail classes: A good rule of thumb for undergraduate students is one P/F course per semester and no more than four P/F courses during four years of study.

3. Against university regulations: Colleges will have their own P/F rules, so read the specifics of your grading system to understand how it may affect your situation.

Does Taking a Pass/Fail Class Look Bad?

Several elite private schools only offer pass/fail grading. For example, Harvard Law School, Columbia Business School, and Yale Law School have a minimal grading structure by default.

This puts you in good company when taking P/F classes. While there’s no definitive answer about how P/F classes will look, consider the perspective of a mentor, grad school admissions officer, or prospective employer.

It’s likely that your overall GPA will be the most important consideration, and a deep look at P/F classes would be a rarity. This makes using the P/F option an excellent way to hack your GPA.

How Do I Sign Up for a Pass/Fail Class?

It’s possible to select the pass/fail option when signing up for a class, or you can switch to P/F mid-semester. Each university is slightly different, so consult your academic calendar to see when the cutoff is for switching to P/F.

Students can request the pass/fail online, but some schools may require that you visit the Office of the Registrar for a pass/fail form. You school may also require approval from your academic advisor or professor before you’re able to take a class on a pass/fail basis.

Find out how OneClass can help you get better grades.

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OneClass vs. StuDocu: Which Is the Best Academic Platform for You?

Are you curious about how OneClass and StuDocu stack up? Find out how the note-sharing platforms compare so you can decide which platform is right for you.

Online study resources are plentiful, which means there’s much to consider when deciding which platform to use. For example, note purchasers may be looking to access a large volume of high-quality materials, and notetakers may prioritize a platform that provides the most income potential. Yet, for most students, the best online note-sharing platform comes down to considering the total impact the tool can have on grades.

Both OneClass and StuDocu are leading academic platforms that provide access to shared academic resources. Students based in the Netherlands may also know StuDocu as StudeerSnel.

The platforms offer a similar set of crowdsourced learning materials, including study guides, lecture notes, exam solutions, homework help, and more. Each platform also offers Q&A tools for students to ask each other academic questions. OneClass named it Q&A app Solvit, and in addition to connecting you with a community of students, the app’s user base includes Certified Experts who provide quick responses and expert answers.

Despite the similar type of resources offered by OneClass and StuDocu, there are striking differences between the two platforms. In the comparison below, we’ll look closely at these differences so you can understand where each platform excels and choose the best academic resource for your needs.

Find out how OneClass and StuDocu compare.

OneClass vs. StuDocu: What Resources Are Available?

The vitality of an academic platform is a crucial factor when choosing which tool to use. The number of users, the number of documents, and relevance of the shared materials all factor into the strength of the platform’s knowledgebase.

Both OneClass and StuDocu have a similar sized user base. OneClass has 2.2 million users while StuDocu has 2.5 million users.

As for shared academic resources, OneClass offers more than 1.7 million documents have been shared by classmates. When looking at the total page count, that’s more than 10 million individual pages of academic material. StuDocu also says that it offers access to “millions of documents.”

Yet, the true value in crowdsourced academic materials is their academic relevance to your classes. When documents are shared by a classmate who sits a few rows away from you in class, the localized material can help you stay in step with the exact content that’s being explored in lectures rather than providing a one-size-fits-all approach.

When considering the value of localized class materials, it’s helpful to choose a platform that has the strongest presence at your school. The number of students using OneClass and StuDocu tells us that both platforms have a wide reach. However, while StuDocu currently supports 11,280 universities, it may not have a strong presence at your school or a school near you. For example, within the 50 universities that StuDocu lists as its most popular, only about 12 percent are in the U.S.

OneClass vs. StuDocu: Which Can Help You Get Better Grades?

When considering how an academic platform can impact your grades, the quality of shared materials is an important consideration.

To encourage students to share high-quality notes, both platforms offer incentive programs for notetakers. In fact, OneClass’ Elite Note Taker program triples the compensation for students who share detailed and high-quality materials. This significant incentive is valuable to note takers who want to earn more while simultaneously benefiting note buyers who want access to high-quality content.

While we don’t know the impact that the StuDocu platform has had on its users’ grades, the high-quality materials shared on OneClass are so helpful that 90 percent of students who use OneClass improve by at least one letter grade.

That’s a significant academic impact that can have a short-term result of keeping a scholarship or qualifying for an internship. In the long term, a higher GPA could mean greater earning potential after graduation.

It’s not just the students who download notes that get an academic benefit; OneClass Notetakers have seen up to 3 grade point improvements on their transcripts. Students mention that being a notetaker helps them be study proactively for exams with improved focus during class and better comprehension as a result of summarizing lecture content.

OneClass vs. StuDocu: Which Is a Better Deal?

To help you determine whether OneClass or StuDocu is a better deal for you, let’s compare compensation for notetakers as well as subscription costs.

For notetakers, both OneClass and StuDocu let you earn cash from uploading class materials, or you can use your uploads to get access to other site materials. With StuDocu, there are no clear figures on a notetaker’s cash compensation rates, as the amount is determined by a combination of factors including the demand from other students and the readability and content of your notes.

On OneClass, students can typically earn between $75 and $470 per course for uploading materials. The higher levels of compensation are available to students in the OneClass Elite Note Taker program. That income can go a long way toward reducing college debt.

For note buyers, an annual OneClass subscription costs only $9.98 per month, billed in one payment of $119.76. That’s about the same price as an annual Amazon Prime subscription, but the impact on your education may make a OneClass subscription a far more valuable investment. After all, even one “A” can improve your GPA for the semester by as much as 0.6 points.

With StuDocu, a free membership provides access to a wide set of uploaded materials with a premium membership needed for full access to materials and the ability to download or print. The annual costs are between $41.88 and $53.88, depending on the plan you choose. This can be a good deal if the materials to help you get better grades are available on the platform. Otherwise, you could be wasting your money.

OneClass vs. StuDocu: Conclusion

When deciding between OneClass and StuDocu, the primary questions to consider are about the resources that each platform offers and their potential effect on grades.

While we don’t have data on the academic impact of StuDocu, 90 percent of OneClass users report improving by at least one letter grade.

The location of your school may also determine if OneClass or StuDocu has more relevant materials to your courses. OneClass provides a strong set of materials to support university students across the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. However, while StuDocu has a similar number of users, U.S. schools only account for 12 percent of StuDocu’s top 50 universities.

For notetakers, both OneClass and StuDocu compensates students with either cash or access to other students’ class notes. Additionally, each platform offers incentives for notetakers who upload high-quality content. In fact, students enrolled in OneClass’ Elite Note Taker program can triple the compensation they receive for sharing lecture notes and study guides.

* As of January 2019

Learn more about how OneClass can help you achieve academic success.

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How to Be a Millionaire Before Age 40

With the right financial strategy, you can go from college student to millionaire before you reach age 40. Learn the five stages to becoming a young millionaire.

Do you want to be a young millionaire? It’s possible to hit a million dollars before you’re 40; however, it’ll take dedication, smart decision making, careful financial planning, and taking calculated risks.

Find out how you can achieve millionaire status before middle age.

College Years: Start Your Path to Becoming a Millionaire

To make a million before age 40, three key things in college will lay the groundwork and set you up for financial success.

First, you should graduate debt-free, or with as little debt as possible. College debt can have a crippling effect after you graduate, which can limit your options and curb your upward momentum. As explained in the guide to hacking college debt, students can cut their debt by hacking college tuition prices, reducing living expenses, getting a summer job, and using side hustles to make money on things they’re already doing.

Second, make smart use of your time in college to get a degree that you can cash in on. Seek out fields of study that have strong entry-level salaries and a predicted increase in demand. In 2018, the highest paying majors were in computers, engineering, statistics, and nursing.

Third, use your time in college to prepare yourself for success after graduation. This includes networking, internships, and getting good grades by using resources such as online class notes. When applying for jobs at large companies, your GPA can be a major part of the initial employment screening, determining if your resume is even reviewed by HR. Additionally, when a potential employer does review your college transcript, your grades will reveal how hard you work, and your dedication to success, thus giving you a competitive edge.

After Graduation: Job Positioning and Investing

Use your first jobs after college to position yourself within the industry and learn the ropes. Even if your starting salary is relatively low, this time after college is key to gaining an understanding of your chosen field and growing your network of associates.

Additionally, now is when you should establish good savings and investment practices. It’s okay to start small. One 35-year old millionaire started in his early 20s by investing $66 per month into low-cost index funds. Having been praised by prolific investors such as Warren Buffet, index funds are known for their long-term growth strategy.

Be consistent with your investment contributions, and let the interest compound. For example, if you invested $66 per month for five years, compounded daily at a 7 percent return, you’d have $4,755 after five years. The compounding interest will have earned you 20 percent more than you invested. After an additional 10 years, your initial investment will have doubled itself.

Mid to Late 20s: Taking Calculated Risks

Now is the time to use your skills and knowledge to take calculated risks. Use the industry knowledge you’ve gained to identify business opportunities or ways to navigate your industry to grow your earnings.

Additionally, seek out ways to diversify your income sources. This will reduce your overall financial risk, helping you better weather industry trends and market fluctuations. Seek out startup businesses, real estate investments, or other high-income earning opportunities.

Remember, the key to minimizing losses when taking calculated risks is through logical analysis, discipline, and setting clear goals.

Thirties: Continue Your Strategy and Live Frugally

Now is the time to make a dedicated effort to consistently and strategically grow what you’ve built. If you’ve launched a startup, keep growing your profit margins. If you’re into real estate, continue using your property income to grow your holdings. If you’re a serial entrepreneur, continue to make smart business deals to grow your net worth.

The other critical component to becoming a millionaire is to keep your expenses low. Even when your income and holdings grow, living frugally will allow you to invest more and hit your financial goals sooner.

Watch out for extravagances or lifestyle choices that can erode the wealth you’re accumulating. For example, consider the frugal choices of these billionaires: the founder of IKEA still flies coach, the founder of Zara eats with his employees in the cafeteria, and Mark Zuckerberg drives a VW hatchback.

Age 40: Your First Million

If you’ve worked hard, made strategic financial decisions, and invested wisely, you could see your accounts surpass a million dollars before you hit age 40.

In the United States, the average age for hitting the millionaire milestone is the late fifties; to be specific, it’s age 58.5 for women and age 59.3 for men.

“Saving consistently and investing in the stock market was key for those who reached millionaire status while earning less than $150,000,” according to a Fidelity Investments report. “Ultimately, those who start investing in their 20s, no matter the amount, will be better off.”

Find out how OneClass can help you launch your path to becoming a young millionaire with tools for getting better grades and earning cash from a note-taking side gig.

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How Does OneClass Differ from Other Online Academic Platforms?

Are you deciding which online platform is the best way to improve your grades? Choose the best solution by reviewing this side-by-side comparison chart.

Being a student is tough. Luckily, there are online tools to help you get better grades by providing shared resources, class notes, study guides, and more.

However, deciding which platform is right for you can be challenging, and it’s certainly counterintuitive that resources designed to make your life easier would require that you begin by wading through the details.

To help, we did the work for you to compare the services provided by five popular academic platforms.

What Are the Differences in Online Academic Platforms?

As a part of our analysis, we compiled information about each platform, including features, options, costs for subscribers, benefits for contributors, and more.

In particular, we broke out sections with information for note takers and information for note buyers. After all, those two categories of users would most likely have different priorities. Whereas note buyers might be thinking about the value they’re getting from each platform, note takers may be more interested in how much they can earn. The combination of the two perspectives contributes to the overall vitality of an academic platform.

Review the chart below to see the point-by-point comparison and understand which online tool will help you succeed in college.

download printable PDF comparison chart of five popular academic platforms

Do you want to take a closer look at the chart or save it for future reference? We’ve created a version that’s formatted as a PDF.

Download the FREE, printable PDF comparison chart of five popular academic platforms

Exploring How Each Platform Can Help Your Grades

While the above chart provides a helpful side-by-side comparison, we know that there’s sometimes a more nuanced answer than a simple yes or no. Therefore, we took a closer look at each of the platforms to provide more context beyond this chart.

In these four in-depth articles, you can learn more about each platform’s tools, including class notes, study guides, online solutions, textbooks, and flashcards, Additionally, for those who aren’t seeking a specific resource but just want better grades using whatever it takes, the articles will explain the platforms’ potential academic impact.

Learn more by reading these additional comparisons:

OneClass vs. StudySoup: In the article, we explain the similarities and differences between the platforms’ available resources. Notably, subscribers to StudySoup can only download a limited number of documents each month, and note takers are responsible for promoting shared materials.

OneClass vs. Chegg: This comparison article explains Chegg’s beginnings as a textbook provider, as well as how its online study tools stack up against OneClass. In particular, we explore the difference between OneClass’ shared documents that are specific to your class at your college, and Chegg’s generic subject resources.

OneClass vs. StudyBlue: In this comparison, we look at the different tools offered by the two platforms, their potential impact on your grades, and what each costs. Notably, we share some insights into how useful StudyBlue is based on your major.

OneClass vs. Course Hero: While these two note-taking platforms have similarities, the comparison article walks through an explanation of how the platforms differ. In particular, students looking for a side gig won’t earn cash from uploading their notes with Course Hero.

Your grades are important, and choosing the right academic platform can help you study more efficiently and fast track your way to academic success.

Learn more about OneClass and learn about how it can help you get better grades.

*As of November 2018

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Students in Movies: Comparing Top Students and Slackers

Students in the movies show a wide variety of study habits, grades, and intelligence. Find out which students performed the best, and which got the worst GPAs.

Movies about students may be ubiquitous, but not all on-screen students are academically inclined. From movies about smartypants students to those where college is a giant party, we wanted to take a closer look at some of the best and worst on-screen students.

Find out who got top grades, who were the fighters, and who were classic slackers!

Best and Worst Students in Movies

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Comparing Grades and Intelligence in the Movies

You’ve probably seen it in your classes; the smartest kids don’t always get the best grades. Conversely, the students that get the best grades might not be the smartest.

The same is true in the movies. Looking at on-screen math, science, and tech students, we considered a student’s grades compared to how much intelligence the character portrayed. After ranking the movies and plotting these two coordinates visually, we found that average students don’t often become movie characters.

Here are our movie rankings that compare grades and intelligence:

Revenge of the Nerds: LLewis and Gilbert (Grades: 5, Intelligence: 2) The nerds get good grades, but they don’t break ground with advanced theorems.

21: Ben (Grades: 4, Intelligence: 4) Ben was a top MIT Math major, except for that one incomplete that he got after spending too much time playing blackjack.

The Social Network: Mark (Grades: 2, Intelligence: 3.5): In 2004, The Harvard Crimson reported that Zuckerberg’s grades suffered while running his websites.

Back to the Future: Marty (Grades: 1.5, Intelligence: 1) Marty was busy with band practice so he finished his science homework at the last minute by borrowing something from Doc’s lab.

Proof: Catherine (Grades: -1, Intelligence: 4.5) Catherine was a math grad student, but was suspected of plagiarism as colleagues questioned if she was capable of developing an important mathematical proof.

Good Will Hunting: Will (Grades: -4, Intelligence: 5) Will sets fire to his homework in Professor Lambeau’s office, but he still receives plenty of job offers, including one opportunity from the NSA.

E.T.: Elliott (Grades: -4, Intelligence: 1) During science class, 10-year old Elliott releases all the frogs before they could be dissected, surely earning him a bad grade for the term.

Academically Challenged Movie Students

Some movies show students who’d benefit from additional resources that can help them get better grades.

The movie Animal House has some of the top college slackers. When meeting with Dean Worner, the Deltas learn about their midterm GPA scores. Hoover earns a 1.6; Kroger earns a 1.2; Dorfman earns a 0.2; Day got an Incomplete in all courses; and Blutarsky earned a 0.0 GPA.

In National Lampoon’s Van Wilder, the title character is a 7th year college senior who is seemingly earning an advanced degree in partying.

In the movie Grease, the character Frenchy is a beauty school dropout who missed midterms and flunked shampoo.

Big Screen Studying

At OneClass, we think a lot about studying, including the best way to study, the best study tools, and if late-night cramming really works. This led us to consider the study habits of students in the movies.

We analyzed the study behaviors and academic results of each student to assign him or her a study score. Here are the results:

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure: (Study Score: 9) The duo time travels for the sake of their history class, which shows significant commitment to getting a good grade.

Legally Blonde: (Study Score: 8) Elle crams for the LSAT and scores a 179, which gets her accepted to Harvard Law School.

The Waterboy: (Study Score: 7) Bobby, a 31-year old, passes the GED with a 97 percent, allowing him to play college football.

The Great Debaters: (Study Score: 7) The debate team starts as underdogs and goes on to win the national championship.

Dead Poets Society: (Study Score: 6) Students start studying in free time, hosting poetry and literature sessions in a cave near campus.

Finding Forrester: (Study Score: 6) Jamal writes and rewrites, punching away on the keys of a typewriter.

Freedom Writers: (Study Score: 5) At-risk students fight to keep grades up.

Teen Wolf: (Study Score: 4) Being a wolf helps his sports game, but not his academics.

The Breakfast Club: (Study Score: 3) Not much studying happens during Saturday detention.

Mean Girls: (Study Score: 3) In the movie plot, studying doesn’t help your social life. However, for fans of the movie, there’s a class at Colorado College where you can study the film.

Half Nelson: (Study Score: 2) Things go downhill in this teacher movie with an unlikely plot.

American Pie: (Study Score: 1) There’s no studying in this high-school comedy.

Fight the (Grading) System</h3>

The movie, School of Rock, has some alternative teaching techniques and offbeat class lessons about “the man.” In a classic scene about grading, Dewey, pretending to be Professor Schneebly, says:

“If I was gonna give you a grade, I’d give you an A.
But that’s the problem.
Rock ain’t about doing things perfect.”

If that sounds like a good grading policy to you, then taking a music class might be a way to outsmart your grades to get a better GPA. After all, one “A” from an easy class can increase that semester’s GPA by between 0.2 and 0.6 points.

Supernatural Schools

Not all schools are for humans, and not all students are in favor choosing classes such as psychology and chemistry. Instead, some movie schools have a supernatural focus.

In X-Men, mutants can attend school at the X-Mansion, which is also known as Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters. In advance of the release of X-Men: Apocalypse, the movie studio produced a spoof ’80s style TV ad for the school that addressed the unique gifts of its students.

In Harry Potter, the arrival of students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is the beginning of their magical training. Class subjects include Charms, Potions, Defense Against the Dark Arts, and of course, mandatory flying lessons.

When Sully and Mike attend Monsters University, the scare majors get a taste of dorm life, and the movie’s study montage is a great look at what it takes to prepare for final exams.

Oldest Students in Class

There’s an increasing number of older students on campus. According to the NCES, students aged 25 and older account for 29 percent of all college students for which age was known. There are a few notable examples of older students in the movies.

The best older student was Billy Madison. He was up to 21 years older than classmates, returning to Grade 1 when he was 27 years old. He eventually graduates high school and enrolls in college to become a teacher.

On the other hand, one of the worst older students was Thornton Melon in the movie Back to School. The 47-year old CEO gets into college because of a bribe and barely passed his final exams with all D’s and one A.

Find out how using OneClass‘ online class notes and study guides can help you improve your GPA.

Hacking College Productivity: Strategies for Optimal Performance and Time Management

Do you want to get more done in less time? Find out the data-backed techniques that you can use to optimize your day and be more productive in college.

College life can be stressful at times, filled with academic and social pressures. After all, expectations are high, and perfectionism is rampant. With activities and lectures filling your daily routines, it may appear that there’s not enough time in a day. However, consider for a moment what you’d do if you had a few extra hours per week. Would you take some much-deserved downtime, have a fun night out, study a little more, or maybe earn some extra cash?

Well, you can have those extra-hours if you learn the trick of maximizing your productivity. Using your time smartly and strategically is the key to cracking the college experience, earning more time to do the things you love and still, acing your classes.

By using productivity data insights from researchers and scientists, you can learn how to manage your time better while you’re in college. Find out what behaviors and practices can help you hack college productivity.

Hacking College Productivity: Strategies for Optimal Performance and Time Management

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Scheduling Your Day

Popular productivity advice often focuses on adopting the schedules of famously productive people. It’s enticing to think that if you woke up at 6am as Steve Jobs did that you’d be building a company such as Apple. However, the data shows that you shouldn’t mirror your schedule to that of Steve Jobs. Nor would it help your productivity to start a pre-dawn workout as The Rock does, take a midday nap as Charles Darwin did, or sleep only four hours per night as Martha Stewart does.

Instead, following your own circadian rhythm is the key to being productive. Whether you’re an early bird, a night owl, or somewhere in between, developing a routine that’s natural to your rhythm is the best way to optimize your wake-time hours.

Majority of college students tend to be out of sync with their biological clocks, said an analysis about social jet lag from UC Berkeley and Northeastern Illinois University researchers. Early hours are often a struggle, and 50 percent of students take classes before they’re fully alert. For some students, their schedule is misaligned in the other direction, and 10 percent have already peaked before classes start. Only 40 percent of students have a class schedule that’s in alignment with their biological rhythms.

The alignment of your class schedule to your physiology has a direct impact on your grades. The worst average GPA occurs when night owls take morning classes. On average, night owls see the most impact from taking classes outside of their natural patterns, and they’re more likely to defeat themselves by taking more morning classes than the other two groups.

Master Your Schedule

Consider ways you can construct your daily schedule to optimize performance. First, your sleep schedule has an impact on all aspects of your day, including your class performance.

University of Washington student Matt Miani perfectly described the exact situation that should be avoided: “Sitting in that 8:30am lecture, valiantly attempting to pay attention to the history of some unpronounceable European country, but you simply can’t. Your eyelids feel like they weigh a hundred pounds each, and you spend more time fighting to stay awake than actually paying attention.”

Unlike the popular myth that the early bird gets the worm, productivity isn’t improved by when you start your day, but by how you use your time. Be consistent about your own sleep patterns by going to bed and waking up at approximately the same time every day. This regularity has a surprising effect on grade performance, and researchers found that a 10 percent increase in the stability of sleep/wake times increased GPA by 0.10.

The second major aspect of mastering your time involves taking a close look at your class schedule. On average, evening classes had a 0.27 point higher GPA than morning classes. Although the cause of this is unknown, data indicates that it’s because evening classes are in better alignment with college students’ circadian rhythms.

It’s also been found that students’ grades are higher when classes meet more often. The lowest grades were in classes that met once per week. Classes meeting two or three times per week had slightly higher grades, and classes that met four times per week had significantly higher grades.

Realistic Ways to Improve Productivity

Instead of trying to run 10 miles before 5am, consider a more realistic approach to improving productivity.

An analysis published by the Harvard Business Review identified characteristics of super-productive people (those that ranked in the top 10 percent). These time management hacks are reasonable ways to start achieving more and to make better use your time.

Here are seven ways to be more productive:

#1. Begin: Starting can be the hardest step, but procrastination can lower grades. The Hechinger Report found that students who waited until the day before an assignment was due scored 3 percentage points worse than class averages. All other groups scored higher than class averages, with students that started two days before the deadline scoring slightly above average, and those starting earlier scoring significantly above average.

#2. Set Stretch Goals: Striving to achieve ambitious and challenging goals can help you accomplish more than you otherwise would. Be deliberate about setting appropriate challenges, and avoid the stretch goal paradox by understanding the context and capacity of what you’re trying to achieve.

#3. Be Consistent: A steady and productive rhythm gets more results than the ebb and flow of goofing off and all-nighters.

#4. Collaborate: The most productive people work well with others, and do so often.

#5. Manage Information Availability: Searching online for information and tutorials kills productivity. Consider using the homework help app, Solvit, to get answers quickly without the Google timewarp.

#6. Be Results Driven: Check things off your to-do list. Push for new accomplishments. Compete for new personal bests.

#7. Problem Solving and Problem Avoiding: Productivity roadblocks are inevitable. Use innovative strategies to steer your back into the right track instead of avoiding the problem.

Productivity Hacks to Improve Learning

Whether you’re in the classroom or studying before an exam, using productivity hacks to learning can help you save time and improve grades.

Class Participation

Participating in class, whether it’s raising your hand, engaging in class discussions, or listening attentively, constitutes active learning, which improves grades by 6 percentage points. That’s the difference between a B+ and an A. Interestingly, low-GPA students see the biggest impact from active learning techniques. If too much of your class time is spent taking notes to capture what the professor is saying, you can hack your education by downloading crowd-sourced class notes from OneClass. This will free you up from note-taking so you can be better engaged during class.

Incentivize Yourself

To be more effective when working on your homework, incentivize yourself. In fact, 22 percent of those aged 18-24 would be motivated by a reward. In one possible scenario, you could reward yourself with 10 minutes of YouTube after each hour of studying. Another possibility could be one bite of candy for every paragraph you read, as seen in this classic photo of using gummy bears to help motivate a student to read a textbook.


Another learning hack is to use a technique called chunking. By breaking up big concepts or long strings of information, it’s easier to remember them. For example, the text string “7133224754” is hard to memorize, but an easier option is (713)322-4754. Chunking can be applied to individual memorization points, to concepts, or to the material for a final exam. Learning smaller segments at a time will make your studying more effective.


It may seem counterintuitive, but strategic renewal improves productivity. Take some down-time, and make time for naps, workouts, daydreaming, and vacations. It’ll be good for your grades.

Find out how OneClass can help you study smarter with online class notes and custom study guides.

5 Ways to Study Better, According to Cognitive Scientists

Brain researchers have found 5 study methods that can produce better grades. Can your learning be improved by science? Try these study hacks to find out.

The science of learning uses cross-disciplinary research to identify the hows and whys behind learning. Much of the brain remains mysterious. However, the research of neuroscientists, biologists, and psychologists has identified habits and behaviors that can lead to improved memory retention and more efficient learning.

These five recommendations from cognitive scientists can help you optimize your study habits and get better grades.

1. Space Out Your Studying

Studying at frequent intervals is more than just a good habit, it’s a scientifically proven way to improve your learning.

It may seem counterintuitive, but the process of learning, forgetting a little bit, and then re-learning during your next study session actually improves your memory. It’s known as the spacing effect, and researchers found a positive correlation between these cycles of learning and final test results. It’s a way you can leverage the brain’s neuroplasticity as it creates new neural connections.

There’s even science behind the optimal study intervals. “If your test is a week away, you should plan two study periods at least one to two days apart. For a Friday test, study on Monday and review on Thursday. If your test is a month away, begin studying in one-week intervals,” revealed the research.

2. Practice Memory Retrieval

Re-reading can be a way to refresh your memory about the material that was covered in class. However, the problem with re-reading as a study method is that when the material is right in front of you, then you don’t build the necessary recall tools that you’ll need during an exam.

Instead of refreshing your memory with re-reading, repeating a memory retrieval process similar to exams is a scientifically better way to study. This can be done with flashcards, with practice tests in your textbook, or by building mock exams using OneClass Study Guides.

Even one session of practiced memory retrieval resulted in students of language studies achieving a 25 percent increase in scores when compared to students who study without practicing recall.

The students who scored the best, at 80 percent correct, were those who practiced memory retrieval at spaced out intervals, combining two study hacks. Therefore, the best way to study isn’t late-night cramming; it’s repeated practice testing over time.

3. Don’t Multitask

Multitasking can be a way to increase productivity by accomplishing more in less time. Even though multitasking can help you be more productive when you’re cleaning your dorm room or during your commute to UC-Irvine, you shouldn’t multitask when studying.

Cognitive scientists found that multitasking increases cognitive load, burdens the working memory, and slows cognitive function. In turn, this creates suboptimal conditions for studying.

Interestingly, this multitasking effect applies to mental tasks as well as to combinations of mental and physical tasks. For example, researchers found that subjects who were walking while simultaneously learning a list of words had 17 percent less word recall when tested. As the physical task intensified from an oval walkway to a more complex pathway, performance deteriorated even further with resulting word recall at 32 percent less than that of seated subjects.

4. Switch Between Subtopics

Interleaving, the practice of switching between related skills or parallel concepts, can result in dramatically improved grades.

Scientific American explains it this way: “Whereas blocking involves practicing one skill at a time before the next (for example, skill A before skill B and so on, forming the pattern AAABBBCCC); in interleaving, one mixes, or interleaves, practice on several related skills together (forming the pattern ABCABCABC).”

In one example of using interleaving while studying, students at the University of California – Berkeley would start preparing for their Biology 1B midterm by selecting three concepts to study, such as bacteria, carbon-based lifeforms, and inorganic substances. In the first cycle, the student would learn a little bit about each topic. The student would then cycle through the topics two or more times, learning a little bit more during each cycle. After gaining an understanding of the material, the student would move on to another set of three topics, cycling through this new set three or more times.

Notably, this learning method may feel harder, but results can make it worth it. In one learning experiment, students who used the interleaving method performed 25 percent better than the control group when tested the following day. That’s significant enough on its own, but there were even more gains over time. The interleaving group performed 76 percent better than the control group when re-tested a month later.

5. Explain It

When you use the information that you’re learning, you activate it in your brain in a different way than if you were just passively thinking about it. That’s why teaching the concepts you’re studying to someone else is such an effective way to learn it yourself.

The theory that teaching helps people learn dates back to the Romans. More recently, it’s been discovered that this teaching effect also applies when explaining the material to oneself. Researchers found that people who use this self-explaining method have three times higher learning rates than the control groups.

With results that strong, you may want to pull out your class notes to recreate mini-lectures where you explain the material to a class of one.

Find out how online study guides on OneClass can help you improve by one letter grade.

image attribution: Jacob Lund – stock.adobe.com

Textbooks vs. Apps: What’s in Your Backpack?

Are you using the best study resources? This survey of college students reveals what tech tools can be most valuable. Don’t limit your studies to only textbooks while your friends get ahead using interactive apps.

Has the digital revolution saturated higher education? At OneClass, we were curious to find out if students are still carrying 16 to 20 pounds of textbooks to class each day or if e-textbooks have replaced them. We were also curious to find out what is the best way to choose the right apps that can help your GPA.
The question of high tech versus lo-fi learning tools is pervasive, but after surveying hundreds of college students, we got some valuable insights into how students prioritize between textbooks, interactive tech tools, and educational apps.

Find out what your friends are using to study.

Textbooks vs. Apps: What’s in Your Backpack

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Have College Classes Gone Paper-free?

When we asked what materials college students brought to class, we found out that 50 percent of college students didn’t bring any textbooks to class. Rather being used during class, many textbooks are being left at the dorms for homework assignments, studying, and reference.

About one third of college students use digital textbooks in class on their laptops or tablets. Only 16 percent of students carry printed textbooks.

What do college students bring to class?

Don’t bring any textbooks: 50.0%
Bring digital textbook materials on a laptop/tablet: 33.8%
Bring printed textbooks: 16.2%

According to an analysis from Morehead State University, the use of textbooks during college lectures has been impacted by the emergence of PowerPoint slides. In many cases, what’s covered in lectures is a better representation than textbooks of what the exams will include.

Additionally, the technology makes it easy for the professor to add a textbook snippet to a slide deck, which is arguably a better alternative than trying to get a lecture hall full of students to carry a 5-pound hardcover.

“If I use all of the class time to go over everything that is in the textbook, then we won’t have time to do anything else,” said one physics professor. Reinforcing how textbooks and lectures can be used differently, he added, “What’s the point of having a book if it’s identical to a lecture?”

Are Digital Textbooks the Preferred Choice?

The type of study material college students prefer is influenced by their reading habits, homework behaviors, and budget.

E-textbooks are used by just over a quarter of college students, with the remaining students opt for some form of hard copy.

What type of textbooks do college students prefer?

Buy used books (paper): 37.2%
Download e-textbooks: 26.7%
Rent books: 16.9%
Buy new books (paper): 11.8%
Borrow textbooks (classmate/friend/library): 7.4%

The most popular textbook choice is used paper books. Students choose secondhand textbooks because of their low cost. However, the price of e-textbooks has also been dropping. In the past two years, average prices of e-textbooks have fallen by 31 percent overall, and for subjects such as math, e-textbooks prices have decreased by almost 50 percent.

How Has Technology Changed Lecture Materials?

Textbooks aren’t the only aspect of college classes where digital tools are influencing learning. Note-sharing apps have created digital spaces where students can freely exchange materials.

The note-sharing app OneClass has been used by more than 2.2 million students, 90 percent of whom have improved by at least one letter grade.

Our student survey revealed that students find shared notes from math classes to be the most valuable. This is followed closely by notes for biology classes.

For Which Courses Do Students Find It Useful to Buy Online Class Notes?

Math/Calculus: 17.6%
Biology: 16.5%
Psychology: 14.1%
Economics: 11.8%
Chemistry: 9.4%

For many students, using online class notes is a good solution for getting better grades. Rather than generic concept explanations, the notes are shared by students who may be sitting just a few rows away from you. The class notes are useful if the professor moved too quickly during a lecture, if you’re struggling with the material, or if you’ve missed a class.

The benefits aren’t limited to accessing notes by other students in your class. Uploading class notes is an opportunity for students to earn cash or gift cards by sharing notes that they’re already taking. Some note-takers also use site currency earned from uploading notes to download notes for another class they’re struggling with.

How Do Students Evaluate Shared Class Notes?

Prior to online marketplaces for class notes, it was common to borrow a friend’s notes. Yet, only in the best-case scenario would that friend be the smartest person in the class.

The quality of shared notes is significantly important to students. With an unlimited subscription to online class notes, students are able to access all available materials and choose what notes are most valuable.

What Feature Is Most Important to Students When Buying Notes from an Online App?

Note quality: 54.7%
Note legibility/organization: 21.5%
Affordability: 13.3%
Large number of materials available: 5.6%
Compliance with university guidelines: 4.9%

To encourage note-takers to share high-quality materials, OneClass’ Elite Note Taker program increases compensation threefold for students who take superb notes. Raising the bar for shared notes also increases the quality of notes that are available for download by other students.

The increasing availability of digital tools such as online notes and e-textbooks are creating more opportunities for students to study smarter and get better grades. Learn more about how OneClass’ shared class notes and study guides are helping millions of students improve their GPA.

Do You Know How Much Your GPA Can Be Affected by Class Difficulty?

Across the country, students strongly agree on which college classes are the easiest and which are the hardest. Find out how your classes can impact your grades.

You may know what subjects you find to be easier or more difficult. However, do you know which college classes are statistically easier or harder for all college students?

To find out more about class difficulty, and how it affects grades, we surveyed hundreds of college students. Our findings reveal clear winners for the easiest and hardest classes on campus. At OneClass, we care about how well you do in your classes. Using the information below, you can better understand the impact of your courses on your grades, so you can build the best schedule.

Guide to Choosing Your College Classes

What College Classes Are the Easiest?

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When it comes to choosing the easiest classes on campus, there’s a clear winner. More than a quarter of our surveyed students said that psychology was their easiest class. Of these students who selected psychology as their easiest class, 54 percent thought it was easy because they enjoyed the course material, and 33 percent thought the class was easy because the information that was covered in class wasn’t difficult.

Top 5 Easiest College Classes

1. Psychology 27.5%
2. English Literature 15.7%
3. Sociology 14.0%
4. Underwater Basket Weaving 6.2%
5. Gender Studies 5.6%

Following Psychology, English Literature is the second easiest class. As students at Cal State San Bernardino know, English Lit classes typically include familiar formats of readings and essay writing, making it an easy class in which to get a good grade.

Notably, some students said that Underwater Basket Weaving was their easiest class. These students with a sense of humor were jokingly referring to non-academic electives that are typically less book-intensive.

Beyond these top easy five courses, a diverse combination of courses ranked 6-10.

Additional Easy Classes

6. Bird Watching 5.2%
7. Theatre Production 2.8%
8. Math/Calculus 2.8%
9. Sports Management 2.4%
10. Biology 1.9%

In this next tier of easy classes, we see math and science mentioned, as well as theatre, sports, and bird watching. Bird Watching is a fun college class that provides plenty of opportunity to get outside the classroom. Similarly, Theatre Production isn’t a book-focused class, but instead, it covers production areas of set design, sound, and technical direction.

Calculus and Biology are surprising inclusions in this easiest class list. However, even though the course material is difficult for many students, students who find these classes easy are well positioned to help other students who are struggle with it.

What College Classes Are the Hardest?

Our survey revealed that students are split in their opinions about the most difficult college class. Organic Chemistry and Calculus tied as the most difficult class. Overall, 57 percent of students thought one of these two classes was the most difficult.

Top 5 Hardest Classes

1. Organic Chemistry 28.5%
2. Calculus 28.5%
3. Statistics 9.4%
4. Economics 7.2%
5. English Composition 6.5%

Even though Organic Chemistry and Calculus tied, they were chosen for different reasons. 82 percent of the students said this class was the hardest because of difficult coursework. For those who selected Calculus as the hardest class, 62 percent said the course material was difficult, and 15 percent cited exams as the reason.

In the next tier of difficult classes, Math and Science classes were chosen by students.

Additional Hard Classes

6. Philosophy 5.0%
7. Anatomy 3.7%
8. Math 2.0%
9. Physics 2.0%
10. Business/Accounting 1.7%

Although Philosophy can often be seen as a class with no wrong answers, it’s a difficult class that covers complex logic models, analytical thinking, and writing assignments. Physics is also one of the most difficult classes. Two percent of all students said that physics was their hardest college class, the subject ranked as the top two most difficult classes at UCLA.

What’s the Impact of Easy or Hard Classes on Your Grades?

When taking easy or hard classes, your grade for the class can diverge from the grades that you typically receive.

According to our survey data, students who took a psychology class received a grade that was an average of 1.3 letter grades higher than their overall GPA. That means that a C minus student would, on average, get a solid B in the psychology class.

Keep in mind that some students will see more or less of an impact on their grades. For students taking a psychology class, 3 percent scored three letter grades higher in the class than their overall GPA. About 10 percent of students scored two letter grades higher, 15 percent scored one letter grade higher, and 11 percent scored ½ of a letter grade higher in the class as compared to their overall GPA.

On the other hand, Organic Chemistry students saw the opposite effect on their grades. On average, class grades were 1.8 letter grades lower than their overall GPA. In other words, students who typically get solid A’s would on average get a C+ in Organic Chemistry. Don’t feel too bad about that C+ though because reputation of the class’ difficulty was enough to inspire a NY Times articles titled, How to Get an A- in Organic Chemistry.

Again, there’s a range of impact on grades. For Organic Chemistry students, 7 percent of students scored only ½ of a letter grade lower than their overall GPA, 16 percent scored one letter grade lower, 7 percent scored two letter grades lower, and 4 percent scored three letter grades lower than their GPA.

However, there were some anomalies in the grade data. When taking classes in their hardest subjects, some students got grades that were the same as or better than their overall GPA. We’re impressed! Maybe they were using OneClass’ study guides and shared class notes to improve their grades!

Find out how OneClass has helped 90 percent of its 2.2 million users improve by at least one letter grade.

Most Popular Majors at Each University of California Campus

Are you curious about the most common degrees in the University of California school system? This UC guide shares the most popular majors on each campus.

According to the Princeton Review, the #1 major in the country is computer science. However, tech degrees aren’t common at all schools in the country.

Do you wonder what degrees are popular at each of the University of California campuses? This guide breaks down the top majors at each of the 10 UC schools. Find out how each campus compares.

Popular Majors at UC Campuses

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University of California – Berkeley

UC Berkeley is a large school with more than 42,000 students. The science and technology programs have produced significant discoveries over the years, including the atomic bomb, CRISPR, the flu vaccine, GIMP, the polygraph, and others.

Top 5 Majors at UC Berkeley

1. Computer Science
2. Electrical Engineering & Computer Science
3. Economics
4. Political Science
5. Business Administration

Even though choosing which classes to take at Berkeley is a tough decision, there are more than 12,000 shared documents on OneClass to help you study more efficiently and get better grades.

University of California – Davis

Located in Sacramento Valley, UC Davis ranks as the third largest student body within the UC system. This large university began as an agricultural college, but today, its most popular programs are in business, science, and psychology.

Top 5 Majors at UC Davis

1. Psychology
2. Managerial Economics
3. Economics
4. Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior
5. Biological Sciences

In addition to these popular majors, there are nearly 100 other undergraduate programs, including one on winemaking. However, winemaking isn’t the easiest class at UC Davis.

University of California – Irvine

An Orange County school, UC Irvine has 13 schools of study that cover a broad range of science, business, engineering, health, and the arts. The most popular major, however, is Computer Science, where more than 2,000 undergrads take classes in computer architecture, software, networking, data, and AI.

Top 5 Majors at UC Irvine

1. Computer Science
2. Business Economics
3. Psychology and Social Behavior
4. Mathematics
5. Criminology Law and Society

Are you thinking of attending UC Irvine? Check out these essential UC Irvine websites to help you survive, discover which easy courses can help your GPA, and learn 15 common sayings that you’ll hear around campus.

University of California – Los Angeles

UCLA is a highly competitive public university, with only 16 percent of 2017 applicants being admitted. It was also ranked as #1 on Forbes’ list of Best Value Colleges 2018. The school’s most popular majors span across science, business, and social science.

Top 5 Majors at UCLA

1. Political Science
2. Psychology
3. Sociology
4. Economics
5. Biology

With more than 125 undergraduate majors offered, OneClass can help you keep your grades up by using the 16,000+ pages of class notes and study guides that have been shared by fellow UCLA classmates. On the other hand, if you need more help with your social life than with your academics, be prepared to meet these eight types of UCLA students.

University of California – Merced

UC Merced is the newest addition to the UC system. It’s a relatively small school with nearly 8,000 students and 23 undergraduate majors. The school is rapidly improving its reputation, jumping 29 spots in this year’s overall ranking in U.S. News and World Report

Top 5 Majors at UC Merced

1. Biological Sciences
2. Psychology
3. Management & Business Economics
4. Mechanical Engineering
5. Computer Science & Engineering

These popular majors cover a range of science, business, technology, and social science topics. Even though you’ll face some challenging classes while attending UC Merced, there are plenty of easy classes to help boost your GPA.

University of California – Riverside

At UC Riverside, more than 80 majors span the school’s five colleges. Areas of study include engineering, business, agriculture, public policy, and humanities.

Top 5 Majors at UC Riverside

1. Social Sciences
2. Business Management & Marketing
3. Biological and Biomedical Sciences
4. Psychology
5. Engineering

No matter what you major in, you’ll likely take a wide variety of classes, including top-rated classes, easy classes, classes with great professors, and classes that you’d rather skip. No matter what your course schedule, OneClass is a helpful way for students to share class material. Uploading class notes can earn you cash rewards, and downloading material can save you valuable study time.

University of California – San Diego

The coastal school of UC San Diego has produced notable graduates such as Billy Beane of the Oakland Athletics; Mike Judge, the creator of King of the Hill; and Bill Atkinson, who helped create the first Apple Macintosh computer. Notably, many of these famous alums studied something quite different from their eventual career. For example, Mike Judge studied physics, and Billy Beane studied economics.

Top 5 Majors at UC San Diego

1. Biology
2. Mathematics
3. Economics
4. Computer Science & Engineering
5. Chemistry

Based on these popular majors at UCSD, we see that top degree choices are in STEM areas including math, science, and technology. Even if you’re finding your college classes challenging, you can boost your GPA by signing up for one of the 10 easiest classes on campus or by using the 10,000+ pages of online notes and study guides that UCSD students have shared.

University of California – San Francisco

At UC San Francisco, more than 3,000 graduate students are studying to get degrees in the health sciences field. According to U.S. News and World Report, UC San Francisco ranked as #2 for the best primary care medical school, #2 as the best global university for immunology, and #3 in microbiology, neuroscience, and clinical medicine.

Top 5 Majors at UC San Francisco

1. Medicine
2. Pharmacy
3. Dentistry
4. Nursing MS
5. Biomedical Science

While the fields of study at UC San Francisco are very focused, the city is also home to San Francisco State University and the University of San Francisco, which offer a wide set of undergraduate majors to consider.

University of California – Santa Barbara

UC Santa Barbara is a large school with more than 25,000 students. Admission is selective with 32 percent of applicants being accepted in the fall of 2018. There are many notable faculty including Nobel Prize winners, Academy and Emmy Award winners, a recipient of the IEEE Medal of Honor, and a Fields Medal winner.

Top 5 Majors at UC Santa Barbara

1. Biological Sciences
2. Economics
3. Psychological and Brain Sciences
4. Communication
5. Sociology

Popular majors include the sciences, social sciences, and economics. However, students in all degree programs have the option of taking some of the school’s easy classes to boost their GPA, some awesome classes to make college more interesting, and classes from the school’s top professors.

University of California – Santa Cruz

The 18,000+ students at UC Santa Cruz are seeking a degree from one of the 63 undergraduate majors. While the school offers many concept courses and interdisciplinary programs such as Computational Media, Digital Arts, and the History of Consciousness, among others, the school’s most popular majors cover traditional areas of study such as social science, technology, biology, and economics.

Top 5 Majors at UC Santa Cruz

1. Computer Science
2. Molecular, Cell, and Developmental Biology
3. Psychology
4. Economics
5. Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

While several reasons exist why you might want to skip class at UCSC, a few strategies can keep your GPA up so you can keep enjoying the college experience. Try adding some easy classes into your schedule, and start using the 2,000+ pages of online notes and study guides that your classmates have posted to OneClass.

Find out how using OneClass is helping University of California students improve their grades and save study time.