Ok, I wasn’t always a straight-A student, but that would be pretty boring if I was. I’ll be sharing with you the process I used to become a straight-A student.
The advice I’m going to be sharing with you today is advice you don’t hear often, but I digress.
I transitioned from an A/B to the occasional C (oops) student to a mainly straight-A student.
Then came college, where I graduated with the second-highest GPA in my major.
So, how did I do it? I’ll be sharing 9 Secrets to being a straight-A student.
To preface this, I never really cared about my grades until high school came around. I wasn’t always a straight-A student.
But because I wasn’t, I can personally tell you how I got there. From a mediocre student to a diligent and driven one.
When I was a Freshmen in high school, I started to actually care about my academics.
I made new friends — friends who were academically driven and motivated. This in turn motivated me to try harder.
I went from someone who skipped homework assignments to hang with friends to being an active participant in my education.
Through developing a work ethic, I was able to become a straight-A student. If you’re interested in my top secrets, continue reading!
Determine your Why
Before I jump in with my tips, I want to question why you want straight As.
Working towards getting straight As or a 4.0 GPA is a goal. With goals, it’s best if you have a solid reason behind them.
For me, I wanted straight As to maximize my chances of getting into a good University. I also wanted to be eligible for scholarships to help lift some financial burdens.
Some people may need straight As to get into medical school, law school, graduate school, etc. Maybe it’s something you want for yourself.
Whatever the goal is, be sure it’s something YOU want. You’re the one who’s going to put in the hours of work, so having that clear goal will help motivate you and help push you when it gets hard.
Now that’s been said, let’s get into the blog post.
1. Minimize your clutter and get organized
Friends, it’s time to get organized.
A big part of your grades is handing in your assignments on time, efficiently studying, knowing where all the information you need is.
To share my experiences, there was a time where I was an absolute mess. I clearly remember too many instances where I couldn’t find my homework.
If you know where everything is at all time, you’ll eliminate that stress and be able to channel that energy towards your studies.
With all my academic materials in one place, I spent less time and energy scavenging for my homework assignment.
Instead, I was able to channel that energy into double-checking assignments, reviewing course materials, and much more.
For one class, the majority of my grades were from 1, attending lectures every day, and 2, handing in my homework assignments on time.
2. Take the classes that are a good fit for you
This might be controversial, but if you know you can’t handle it, don’t overload yourself with AP and Honor Classes.
I know students who crammed 8 AP Classes into their schedules to find themselves overwhelmed.
Unfortunately, a peer I knew resorted to cheating in order to keep themselves afloat. As you can imagine, that didn’t end well for them.
I love myself a good challenge, but I also know my limits.
While AP courses do help polish your resume, save money, and stimulate your mind, they not necessary.
A university would much rather see you do well in classes suited for you as opposed to seeing you fail half your AP classes.
It also helps to know your goals. I understand if you don’t have it all figured out in high school or even college, but if possible, find classes that interest you or aligns with your future career goals.
It’ll either help prepare you for that job field or help you figure out that this certain field may not be for you.
After I took a computer science elective in high school, I could already tell that being a software engineer was not the career for me, and I’m glad I found out in high school as opposed to in college.
3. Take good notes (and retake them)
Taking good notes is the key to your success. Not any type of notes, but the style of notes that helps you best retain information.
Taking good notes is important because these are the notes you’ll be reviewing on a daily basis. You want to make sure it is easy for you to understand.
For me, I took rough notes by hand during lectures on my iPad.
Then later when I got home, I would retype these notes to one, help ingrain the course material, and two, to make it 100% legible.
My handwriting isn’t messy, but there were times where I had to write in cursive because the professor spoke way too fast. I tried to study off these notes a few weeks later and it was not legible at all.
Another key component about note-taking is knowing where all your notes are at all times, in case you want to review, re-take, incorporate your notes into a study guide.
It keeps all my notes in one place. If you use Goodnotes or notability, you can also search for content within your notebook, quickly finding the notes you need.
4. Squeeze in a little bit of studying every day
You do not want to save all your studying for the last minute.
Rather than cramming all your course material the night or week before your exam, take a few minutes out of your day to review notes and lectures. It can even just be 5 minutes.
It’s been proven that distributive learning over time promotes long-term learning, as opposed to learning in immediate succession.
Basically, what this means is that if you space out your studying over time, you’ll retain information better than if you cram in all your notes days before your exam.
I remember cramming all my psychology notes days before the exam. I didn’t do too bad, but I couldn’t remember anything when I had to take a more intermediate psychology class.
As opposed to my art history class, where I reviewed course materials every night, retook notes, and engaged with the reading on a daily basis. Many years later, I remember almost everything from that class.
5. Attend office hours
For high school and college, there should be a time where you’re able to receive extra assistance from your professor or teacher.
If you do have this assistance available, please, take advantage of it.
During office hours, you get specialized attention compared to a lecture with hundreds of students in it. You can bring forth your questions, concerns, and more and you’ll have the complete focus of your professor, teacher, or TA.
If you ask a question in class, it’s likely the teacher won’t go too in-depth with it because of the limited time. However, during office hours, you’re much more likely to get the answer you need to hear.
There’s also the side bonus of building a relationship with your professors and teachers, which will make asking for things, such as references and letter of recommendations, a lot easier.
6. Sit in the front of the Class and participate
In college, I made it a habit to always sit up front.
It’s been shown that students who sit up in front performed better and got higher grades.
From personal experience, I can say that it worked for me. Because I sat in the front, I was more engaged and would actively participate in class discussions.
If I sat in the middle or back, it was much more likely for me to slack off, doodle, use my phone, or maybe take a nap like the many other students I saw.
If you’re taking online classes where there is no front or back, I highly recommend you to participate whenever you can. Actively take notes and engage with the lecture so you don’t zone off or get distracted.
The more engaged you are in class, the more information you’ll retain. Actually getting information out of lecture will save you a lot of time and studying.
7. Eliminate distractions
Imagine studying in front of a cluttered desk. Papers, pencils, and pens are everywhere. On top of that, you have the TV in the background and Facebook blowing up your phone.
In that type of environment, how much effective studying do you really expect to get done?
For the best results, I recommend you eliminate any distractions when you’re doing homework, finishing projects, studying, or any schoolwork at all.
You want to make sure your study environment is clean and clear of distractions.
You also want to keep in mind your digital environment. I practice digital minimalism, which helps tremendously when I’m trying to get my work done.
To help you get started, turn off all the distracting notifications when you’re studying.
If you need to, install a plug-in to prevent you from surfing the web when you’re doing work. You don’t want to lose hours of study time to watching memes on Youtube.
I recommend the Block Site chrome extension. It is designed to help you block distractions and to stay focused! You can set a focus timer to block the site for a set period of time. You can customize it for your needs.
8. Create Study groups
The power in numbers is real when it comes to studying.
Having peers to study with and rely on makes studying more fun and less isolating.
Personally, having a study group motivated me. The people in my study group were supportive and we definitely motivated each other when it came to our academic goals.
When I’m confused about a specific subject, there was almost always someone who could help me. If we were all confused on a topic, we would work together to reach an understanding.
It’s also nice to rely on your peer’s resources, such as their study guides, Quizlet study decks, notes, and more!
9. Use an Agenda to stay on top of your academics
As a student, you’re going to have to juggle multiple homework assignments, projects, quizzes, exams, and more from multiple different classes.
And with that much to do, it’s going to be impossible to memorize all your assignments. Assignments due tomorrow, the next week, the week following, the next month, and so forth.
Trust me, I tried to go without a planner. Unfortunately, that ended with me forgetting multiple assignments and majorly embarrassing myself.
Not only can you keep track of all your daily assignments, but there is an academic section. There are pages for your book log, a course log, assignment tracker, project planner, study planner, and so much more.
Getting Straight As isn’t everything
While this blog post is about getting straight As, it really isn’t everything.
Having straight As does not guarantee you success. It can be an indicator of your work ethic, but even if you aren’t a straight-A student, you are still capable of success.
Being a straight-A student should never be your identity. For me, I saw getting straight As as a means to a bigger goal, such as getting into a good college, receiving scholarships, etc.
What’s most important is that you develop a strong work ethic that will help you persevere in whatever goal you set for yourself.