Tips to Be a straight A Student ✔

reading time: ca. 5 min

For me working at my bachelor thesis is just around the corner, and for some of my friends their a-level exams begin this week. It's the grand finale now. Am i nervous? I don't know, maybe. I guess i'm just glad to get active and get this over with. Of course i want to do my best, and get good results, who doesn't? So here are some tips to get A's in college or school. I've divided my tips into three parts: Before School, During School and After School.

Before School

Buy a planner/calendar. This will provide you with an overview of your schedule. If you have deadlines, add them to your agenda! (Also, in case you're already dreading this date: draw a smiley face next to it, tricking your brain into actually "looking forward" to this date.)

If you can, take classes you know you can pass (same goes for advanced courses in your a-levels). Challenging yourself is a great thing, but don't mistake this for the vanity to prove yourself and give yourself a hard fight. Instead, make use of your skills and preferences. Don't make life harder than it is.

Don't overreach. Especially if you are starting college (or if you are like me, lol) you tend to bite off more than you can chew. Contrary to school however, college classes involve more than just the scheduled seminar units. It needs preparation, post-processing and independent working. For every seminar unit, add are around two to four hours for off-class work.

This is probably a tip for all sorts of life situations: Be organized. Get yourself a number of folders, ring binders and notebooks for each class. You'll thank me later.

Skim your textbooks every day before bed or, at the latest, before class. Highlight all key statements, and write down pending questions. Those you can clear up in class.

During School

Sit near the front. This will help you concentrate on what your teacher/lecturer says, and to have the mindset of an "A student". A.k.a. Fake it till you make it ;)

Make study buddies. Exchange information and be part of a study group. It's also just a great way to make (new) friends.

Take notes. This is one of the most important and helpful advices there is. Taking notes - handwritten! - will guarantee you to keep a record of all discussed subjects. Also, writing something down helps memorize it better!

Use your textbook as a worksheet. Textbooks should be a tool to educate yourself, so use them as such! Scribble all over them, mark unclear points and add additional information, making the books more helpful to your individual learning plan. I find that highlighters and post-its come incredibly handy for that. Colour code everything, e.g. teal for English, red for chemistry, green for maths, etc.

Ask questions. If something is unclear to you, clear it up.

It also helps to do extra credit if offered. In school this might be a bit of an issue (getting labelled a striver or teacher's pet), but in college being striving and ambitious is actually something desirable.

After School

Don't cram. Do your homework/assignments in time. Don't procrastinate, or you'll be stuck with a giant pile of work at the end and no time to do it.

Instead, space out your studying and form a habit to spend at least a short time of 30 minutes per day to review and prepare for later exams. Study step by step instead of being a lazy bum all year and then having to take one enormously huge step when the exams come around.

If you stumble upon an unknown name or circumstance while reviewing, do your own research. This is actually the most effective way to memorize something: by actively educating yourself.

Figure out your learning habits. Everybody has their own style of doing things. Personally i can learn best by writing everything out by hand, having only soft music in the background, and being by myself. (Music to Help be Productive) Others draw motivation from studying in groups or sitting in the garden. Can you memorize things better by reading it out loud? Maybe you have to keep moving while studying, or maybe it's easier for you to record yourself reviewing and listen to the recordings afterwards. Some find it helpful to concentrate when sitting in a café environment while working, others enjoy the environment of a park. Find out what makes you tick, and use it to your advantage! 

That what you teach is that what you learn. Whether you think to know something or not, try explaining it to someone else, and you will realize whether or not you have fully understood the matter.

Go to office hours or get a tutor, if you feel overwhelmed or seek further advice.

Rest well and sleep enough. Resting is important to restore physical and mental endurance, especially if you are taxing your brain, like studying or writing papers. Try to either get 7-8 hours of sleep every night, or take 20-minutes long naps in-between.

College is temporary. It's just a short period of time, so use what you got and get your priorities straight. Maybe you're focusing too much on something else? Or on too many things at the same time? If your grades don't turn out the way you'd like them to, or this one course is frustrating you, don't just drop everything like a hot potato. Concentrate on one thing, then the other.

Don't thing of College as killing time. You are there to learn something, learn something for life (as cheesy as that sounds), so enjoy this great opportunity! It's a brilliant way to experiment and dive into various exciting topics! 

I'm not super smart and i definitely can't teach you how to be more intelligent - but i can encourage you to invest in yourself. Intelligence is not something you gain by reading books - Intelligence is experience and curiosity and the versatility to explore the unknown. *
After you've finished your A levels, you will notice that in retrospective A levels really aren't such a big deal.

[When I was in my final year of school, people told me to enjoy my time at school and that college was going to be like doing the A levels all over again every semester. (thanks for such a great pep talk, guys.)
In a way it's true. Exams and term papers are going to be part of your everyday life as a college student. But it is not going to feel like such a huge challenge any more. You get used to the workload, you grow with it.]

When i say investing in yourself, i mean thinking long-term. Look over the rim of your tea cup: You will need much more than an overnight cram session to achieve true success. Do you want to leave college knowing you've just wasted several years of your life?

So i guess what i'm trying to say here is: if you want to be a straight A student, don't focus too much on grades. Focus on learning. And by learning i mean understanding. I find that trying to get A's no matter what can backfire easily because you are putting too much pressure on yourself. 

So don't hassle yourself to be the best student ever. Just be the best student you can be.

Good luck ~ 

Another school post you might enjoy:

Tips to Write a Seminar Paper

* According to my personal philosophy:
Knowledge = theoretical collection of facts.
Experience = practical exercise of knowledge.
Wisdom = reflection of experience taking account of knowledge.
Intelligence = flexibility of the mind.


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