Class rank, the ordering of students based on academic performance, is a tactic high schools use to compare a class's overall achievement. Although the College Board reports that colleges consider it less frequently than they used to, many universities still look at class rank as an admissions factor. Whether you're aiming to become valedictorian or just want to graduate in the top half of your class, you can improve your class rank by changing your study habits and carefully choosing your courses.

Know Your School's Method

Class rank is typically calculated by dividing a student's cumulative GPA by the number of credits attempted, then ranking the resulting number from highest to lowest. However, many high schools include other variables in calculations, such as granting extra points to AP or post-secondary courses. Your first step in raising your class rank is to meet with your guidance counselor to find out what method your school uses. Your counselor can also tell you how many credits you've earned so far and your cumulative GPA, giving you a starting point towards your goal.

Study Habits

Because GPA is the number one factor in determining class rank, assessing your current study habits can help you determine an action plan for getting the best possible grades. Thinking about your strengths and weaknesses in different areas lets you figure out how much time to spend on each subject. For example, if you excel in math, but struggle with English, you might want to devote more time to your homework in those classes. Finding a quiet place to study, limiting social activities with friends during the week and staying organized can also help you improve your studying and grades.

Advanced Placement Classes

If your school factors in extra points for AP courses, consider taking them in areas where you excel. Be aware, though, that AP classes require extra study time and effort in order to get an A for the maximum possible class rank points. If you have an AP class on your schedule, you'll want to plan your evenings accordingly to allow time for homework and assigned reading. Even if you get a B in an AP class, your efforts show colleges you aren't afraid of a challenge.

Extra Courses

Because the number of courses you attempt is also a factor in most formulas, taking extra classes can increase your class rank. Summer classes are one way to do this; many high schools offer basic classes like gym and health during vacation to let students get them out of the way in a shorter period of time. This frees up time in your schedule to take electives during the school year. You can also consider taking post-secondary classes, the opportunity to take actual university courses as part of your school day.