Striving for Excellent Grades: My Top 10 Tips

Disclaimer: I am not boasting about my grades in this post. I am simply sharing what has worked for me to achieve these grades, and what has not. Similarly, some of these tips may work for you, and some may not. These are merely my recommendations.

I am currently an incoming senior, and so far I have earned all A’s on my transcript. This is probably one of my proudest accomplishments, considering the fact that I’m not the best test-taker in the world (in fact, I’d say that the math sections of my SAT and ACT scores were barely above average). All weaknesses aside, I still prioritize achieving high marks on my report card, regardless of the painful hours of studying it requires.

Whether you are a seventh grader, a freshman in high school, or a third-year student in college, these tips that I am about to share will be of great benefit to you. They are universal, easy (well, most of them), and most importantly, helpful.

Here are my top ten tips I used to earn all A’s throughout middle school and high school:

  1. Working hard is much more effective than simply being intelligent. One of the most common misconceptions students believe from a young age is that being smart will help you out in school, while being “dumb” puts you at a disadvantage. I am here to tell you that is absolute and complete BS.
    Sure, being a “smart” student may help you to some extent, but if you fail to put in the work, your smarts won’t take you anywhere.

    You are wasting your intelligence if you do not work as hard as your potential allows.

    So, as Wiz Khalifa once rapped, “Work hard, play hard.” Without the hard work, your grades are going to remain the same that they have always been.

  2. Reward yourself for your accomplishments. This goes along with the “play hard” aspect of Khalifa’s song. I know that, as someone who likes to be labeled an “overachiever,” it can be difficult to celebrate my own successes because there will always be someone who has a higher grade or score.
    But learn to be proud of yourself and your achievements thus far! The only way change will happen is to be content with the way you are right now, and then improve.
    This may also be difficult, but do NOT compare yourself to other students. This may be tempting, especially if you are in an academically competitive environment. But comparing your grades to those of your peers will only make you more insecure about yourself if you do not measure up. So if you do end up sharing your test scores with your classmates, take theirs with a grain of salt and realize that you showed your absolute best effort on the test. That’s worthy of celebration!
  3. Use a planner, and treat it like your Bible. I am serious about the Bible part. Write everything that you plan on doing for the day in your planner. Heck, you can even write down your entire month in advance. Stick to the schedule you write for yourself, and always remember that you are accountable for everything you write in your planner.
    I like to use my planner to write down every single assignment or task I have for the day, and I sort each item in order of importance by its deadline. For example, if I have a biology packet due on Friday and an English paper due tomorrow, I will prioritize working on my English assignment first, and then if I have time at the end of the day, I will do a couple of problems in my biology packet. Budgeting your time is key, and utilizing a planner on a daily basis is essential to effective time management.
    If you have yet to purchase one, I recommend buying your planner from Barnes & Noble. They have the most amazing planners I have ever used at the best price range. Other stores that sell great planners include Target and Staples.
  4. Find your favorite way to study. The fact that you have the study is a given for any successful student, but you need to know the way you like to study.
    What does this mean? There are four main methods you can study: visual (sight), auditory (hearing), tactile (touch), or a combination of any of the three. Personally, I am a visual learner, which means that I prefer reading material and watching videos rather than listening to audiobooks or performing hands-on demonstrations.
    The best way to assess which one is your brain’s favorite method of studying is to test each one out! Here are general rules of thumb for you to refer to:

    1. If using flashcards, taking notes during lectures, watching videos, and studying graphs or diagrams are more effective for you, then you are a visual learner.
    2. If reading out loud, listening to audiobooks or recordings of your lectures, and reciting poetry out loud helps you retain information best, then you are an auditory learner.
    3. If doodling in your notebook, chewing gum while reading, tracing words, and participating in hands-on activities (like painting) helps you focus, then you are a tactile learner.
    4. If you like to utilize a combination of any of the methods above, then you are more than one type of learner!

      Whatever study technique you like best (visual, auditory, or tactile), make sure that you are using that the most whenever you study to get the most out of your study sessions!

  5. Do every single homework assignment, and turn in every single one on time. This is one of the most difficult pieces of advice to follow, especially if you are used to turning in your assignments two months after they’re due.
    Even though it is a universally accepted fact that homework assignments are merely added stresses on your plate, they are actually some of the most vital tools you can use to study and raise your grade.
    Remember that learning is not limited to inside the classroom – it is also crucial to go over the material at home, which is what homework helps you do! Skipping out on any homework assignment will not help you retain the information that was covered in class, and may result in a minor or dramatic drop in your grade.
  6. Hang out with friends who are equally as motivated to achieve good grades as you are. This is another tip that many students struggle to realize. Your friends are almost a direct representation of what your values and beliefs are. This means that if your friends do not care about their academic success, then maybe you do not, either.
    Sounds harsh, right? It is the truth! But by choosing your friends wisely, you all can motivate each other when your classes get increasingly demanding and create mini study groups. If you do study in a group setting, make sure that you and your friends are actually being productive rather than gossiping about your personal lives the entire time.

    Surround yourself with success – you are who you hang out with.

  7. Be flexible with your study locations. Some students may feel more comfortable studying in their rooms or dorms, whereas others like to go to their local Starbucks to study (Exhibit A: me). But whichever study location you prefer most, be sure to switch it up every once in a while to avoid monotony.
    Personally, I love spending hours solving math problems at Starbucks with a grande Very Berry Hibiscus Refresher next to all my books, but every so often, I like to go to my school library to read. There is absolutely nothing wrong with switching up your study location – in fact, it may help you look forward to studying when you go to a different place rather than sticking to the same old area all the time.
  8. Get used to studying at the same time every day. In other words, create a daily study schedule in which you set aside a little bit of time every day to study your notes from your classes. This does NOT mean spending one hour studying René Descartes’s philosophical views and another hour studying the War of 1812. By this, I mean spending at least fifteen minutes studying each subject to ensure that you are well-prepared for your next quiz or test.
    This studying technique is less stressful and more effective than cramming three month’s worth of information into your brain the night before your final. It saves you precious times and energy, which are both vital components as a straight-A student.
  9. Get a good night’s sleep and exercise frequently. You are probably wondering, “What in the world do sleep and exercise have to do with getting good grades?” Well, they actually play a major role in your brain’s functions.
    When you are running off three hours of sleep, you (obviously) feel lethargic, which will NOT help you concentrate in class. As a matter of fact, lack of sleep may result in a much higher risk of depression, impulsive behavior, heart attack, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stress. That sluggish feeling you get throughout the day may also decrease your motivation to study, which, in turn, could lead to a rapid decline in your grades.
    Hand-in-hand with sleep comes exercise. It is a scientifically proven fact that exercising at least three days a week for thirty minutes each day can help you sleep at night and boost your overall mood.
    Hate exercising? Find a physical activity that you love and wouldn’t mind doing every day! This can include walking your dog, hiking, doing yoga at home, attending a Pilates class at your local gym, or swimming in your neighborhood pool! Anything helps as long as your blood is flowing and your heart is pumping. If you’re already involved in a sport at school, this will make your daily dose of exercise much easier to obtain!
  10. Stop copying other students’ homework assignments. As a matter of fact, stop cheating in general. If you really want to commit to achieving A’s in all your classes, you are going to have to learn the value of learning material on your own, which is the exact opposite of copying and cheating.
    This is going to sound like your least favorite teacher giving you advice, but by copying your classmates’ homework, you are essentially cheating yourself. You are placing value in someone else’s work – not your own – and not giving yourself the opportunity to learn for yourself.

    Additionally, it is blatantly disrespectful to the student whom you are copying, as he/she spent valuable time and effort working on the assignment, whereas you are taking credit for your lack of both.

    Please do yourself a favor and put in the work yourself. It saves you the chance of getting caught and shows that you are a person of honesty and integrity.

I hope that these tips help you out! If you ever have any more questions about earning straight A’s, please do not hesitate to reach out to me and I will gladly respond!

Love, Roselyn

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