The school’s choice for “Most Likely to Succeed” was easy.
Gary always seems to have everything going in his direction. In all his classes, Gary is the first to raise his hand when the teacher asks a question, the one who always gets the highest grades. He’s a straight-A student.
He’s also active in his Scout troop and in school activities and plays baseball in the spring, tennis in the summer, football in the fall and basketball in the winter. How does Gary do it all and stay so relaxed and happy?
Here’s the secret to his success: Gary believes in himself, takes things seriously, works hard and knows what he is doing.
We can learn a lot from Gary. Here’s a 10-step program to get in on Gary’s secret so you, too, can become a straight-A student.
STEP 1: Take the right subjects (…and school will be a lot easier!)
You’re probably not ready to decide on a career. Even if you are, you’re probably not certain exactly where that career will take you. So take courses in school that give you the most possible choices later on. The three key courses: English, math and computer science.
Take as many courses in English and math as you can, even if you find them to be difficult. The more courses you take in these subjects, the easier they become—and the easier every other subject becomes, too. Computer courses, too, are important. Computer skills are required just to be considered for many jobs.
STEP 2: Work with your teacher (…because your teacher is your coach!)
Every teacher is looking for students who are serious about the subject at hand, who work hard in the classroom and who show progress and ability.
Consider your teacher a friend in learning, someone there to help you. Too many students think of their teacher as an enemy, someone who forces them to sit and be quiet then gives them assignments. Guess what? Your baseball coach tells you what to do and gives you assignments on the field. Is he an enemy? No, he’s a friend in winning. Your teacher wants to reward you, too.
Here’s how to work better with your teachers:
• Show respect and interest. Participate in class.
• Learn their style in the classroom.
• Get to know your teachers as people. Know their likes and dislikes.
• Think of them as coaches in the classroom.
STEP 3: Never miss a class (…it will always catch up with you!)
Most test questions come from material your teacher presents in class. Every day, your teachers cover the subjects they think are important for you to understand—some even tell students the specific questions that will be on an exam. Reading assignments alone can’t tell you that.
STEP 4: Always sit up front (…because that’s where the action is!)
You can use your brain more effectively if you are in a good environment. The best place to use more of your brain is in the front row, because this is not only where you will learn more, but also remember more.
STEP 5: Complete your homework before class (…so you will be prepared in class!)
Homework is not punishment. It is assigned to help you learn more about a subject.
Your first job is to find out what the teacher expects from you in the way of homework assignments. Make sure you understand exactly what to do. If you don’t, ask.
As soon as you get home from school, think about the homework assignments you need to complete before the next class. Then think about the order in which you will do them, and how much time you’ll spend on each one. The sooner you start, the quicker everything will be done. Then you will:
• Be prepared for the next class.
• Understand more of the teacher’s lecture.
• Turn in assignments on time.
• Ask — and answer — good questions in class.
STEP 6: Take notes during class (…so you will become an active listener!)
When you are trying to learn something complicated, it is much easier to learn and remember if you take notes. If you go into just about any college class, you will find that most if not all the students are taking notes. They know that taking good notes is one of the keys to making good grades.
Listen carefully, write down everything of importance (not everything the teacher says) and look for potential exam questions.
STEP 7: Review your notes before the next class (…it’s never too soon to start studying!)
If you are going to understand everything that your teacher says in class, not only do you have to take good notes, you also have to review and correct them before the next class. There is no other way to learn at the same rate that the teacher presents new information. And you have already started studying for the test!
STEP 8: Prepare for tests ahead of time (…by studying a week in advance!)
By doing your reading assignments and taking careful notes and reviewing them, you have mastered information as your teacher presented it to you. This does not, however, mean that you are ready to take a test without doing anything else.
Here’s how to prepare for an exam:
• Start studying a week in advance.
• Review your notes three times, leaving two or three days between reviews.
• Think about potential exam questions.
• Conduct your review in an organized manner.
• Never study up to the last minute. (This creates pressure in the final hours before a test.)
STEP 9: Be testwise and confident (…because confidence breeds success!)
Don’t be afraid of tests. Be confident. If you have followed the first eight steps of this plan, you should be confident that you will test well.
It sounds simple, but it works: Believe in yourself, keep an open mind about tests, know your teacher’s style and apply what you know. That’s confidence. That’s success.
STEP 10: Show what you know on the final exam (…because it’s a big part of your final grade!)
You have been working hard to prepare for the test, and everything is on the line. Don’t worry about all the effort you have put in, or how the teacher will grade your exam. Your goal should be to show the teacher how much you’ve learned.
How? Know what material will be covered. Start studying well ahead of time. Look for major themes that develop in your class notes. Review previous exams to learn your teacher’s style.
Then comes the final step: Ace your exam!
From HOW TO GET STRAIGHT A’s by Gordon W. Green. Reprinted by arrangement with Tom Doherty Associates LLC and available wherever books are sold.