Often, we hear that to be a straight A student, we have to give up our social life, study in ways that we’re not used to and spend all day studying. When we hear this, often we decide that it isn’t worth it to be a straight A student and just stop trying to be. I’m here to tell you that many of the things you’ve heard about being a straight A student simply aren’t true!
Of course getting good grades involves a lot of hard work, but it doesn’t involve giving up your social life! Here are a few things you don’t have to do to be a straight A student.
This may come as a surprise to many students, but you don’t have to rewrite notes to remember them! Make one set of nice notes and learn from them and only them. If you find it easier to learn while writing, you can invest in a whiteboard and explain concepts to yourself while writing on it- this will be much quicker than writing an entirely new set of notes!
I would highly recommend trying to write only one set of notes- try it out, but if it doesn’t work for you that’s fine! Everyone learns differently- you just need to find what works for you.
Instead of spending time making notes (again), spend your time doing one of the following:
Reread your notes
Instead of rewriting your notes, just reread them! You will refresh your memory on the concepts you already understand and have time to understand the harder concepts as well! It will take much less time as well.
Watch videos on difficult concepts
If you’re really struggling to understand a particular concept, try watching one or two YouTube videos on the topic. Chances are the video will explain the topic in a slightly different way and you’ll understand it in no time! Here are some of my favorite YouTube channels for a couple of subjects:
Math: Khan Academy
Do practice exams
Practice exams are super helpful when studying. Instead of just rewriting notes, you’ll actually have to apply your knowledge and attempt some questions. You’ll quickly realise your weak areas and know what to focus on in the future!
Here are some tips on how to get the most out of practice exams:
Only do practice exams if you have the answer key
If you don’t have the answers, how are you going to know if you are answering the questions right? This may lead to enforcing wrong concepts which will be very hard to unlearn. If you’re writing a practice essay, give it to one or two of your teachers to mark!
You don’t have to time yourself, but you can
Some people like to time themselves while writing a practice exam and others don’t. Find out what works for you and stick to it! Personally, I like doing a few practice exams without timing myself and then doing one or two while timing myself. This way, the first few that I do will help me fill in any gaps in my understanding and the last few will help me get my timing right for the real thing!
Be in a study group
How often do you hear people say that being in a study group will help you to focus, get more done and be the perfect student? The truth is- you don’t have to be in a study group to do well. It all depends on your study style.
Generally speaking, there are two types of learners- solitary learners and social learners. Below are a few questions you can ask yourself to find out if you are a social or solitary learner:
Do I like working in teams?
Do you remember things more easily when you talk about it with others?
Do you learn more from your teacher than your textbook?
If you answered ‘yes’ to most of these questions, chances are you’re a social learner. Study groups are probably a good idea for you- just make sure not to get too distracted!
If you answered ‘no’ to most of these questions, you’re probably a solitary learner. If study groups don’t interest you- don’t go and don’t feel bad about not going!
Spend all day studying
You may be under the impression that in order to be a straight A student you have to spend all day every day studying. This is simply not possible, probable or true!
The key to spending the minimum amount of time studying is prioritising your work.
When you are looking at the world’s longest to-do list, it can be easy to get discouraged. What you need is some prioritising! Start by writing the due date of all your tasks next to them. Next give each one a rating from 1-10. 1 being ‘very urgent’ and 10 being ‘it can wait’. Take into consideration when the task is due, how long it will take and how much stress it is causing you.
You’ll find that some tasks at the bottom of your list aren’t even worth doing. You’ll also have a very clear view of what you need to be focussing on and won’t try to think about everything at the same time.
Give up your social life
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to give up your social life to be a straight A student! You just need to learn how to work effectively and plan your study time well.
Plan your study time
One method of planning your study time is creating a study timetable in which you plan your study around other activities.
Next, start adding in all of the activities for the week (eg: Hockey practice, TV time, Hang out with friends).
Finally, find some time in-between all of your activities for study! This method works well for busy students who still want to do well at school.
If you need more help or examples on this, check out this article.
After you’ve created a great study plan, you need to stick to it and avoid procrastination. Here are a few things you can do to ensure you work effectively in your study time:
Turn off your phone or invest in an anti-procrastination app
Close your door
Clean your desk
Turn off the TV
Sit at a desk
There are a few different types of goals you need to set:
Overall academic goals
What do you want your final grade to be? Why? Is it to get into that one university, to show yourself you can or to get that job? Find your ‘why’ and remind yourself of it whenever you feel like quitting. Subscribe at the bottom of the page to download a free academic goal setting worksheet. This study planner is also great if you need some extra help setting goals!
What work do you want to get done this week? Write a do-to list and next to your tasks write when they are due. Decide for yourself which tasks you want to get done this week- you’ll have a better reason to do them and you’ll know when you’re done!
Study in chucks of one hour (at most). For every hour of study, you should know what you want to get done. If you’re studying ‘just to study’ you’re probably not going to get much done. Know why you are studying that hour. This will help you work harder in that hour to reach your goal!
Here is a great infographic I found on Simply Brilliant that gives some more guidelines on setting and achieving your goals!