How to Get an A Without Reading the Book

It happens. You had so many other assignments for so many other classes that you just didn't have time to cram everything in. This article will help you manage to swing an A without reading the book. Note: this focuses chiefly on literature, but the method can be applied to any book or class with some slight tweaking.


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    If there is a movie adaptation of the book, watch it. If there is more than one movie, watch as many versions as you can. Read the first and last chapter of the book, as well as the summary on the back or inside flap.
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    If the book has a Wikipedia page, read it.
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    Go to the Sparknotes and/or CliffsNotes websites. If your book is considered literature, especially classic literature (i.e. written before 1950), it is probably featured on one or both of these sites. These websites summarize, analyze, and give context for various books. They also give detailed character and quotation analyses. Take note of the major themes and symbols as well.
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    If your book is not on these websites, do a Google search on the book title. If the book you did not read pertains to math, science, or social studies, a topic search might also be helpful.
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    Your search will yield thousands of results. Don't waste time sifting! Choose sites that end in .edu, .org, or .gov; these are more reliable for trustworthy information. If you come across any online book reviews from magazines and/or newspapers, read those too. If you learn plenty of information about the book, you'll be more likely to get a better grade.
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    Take notes. It may seem painful, but do it anyway. Learn everything you can about major conflicts and plot points, setting, characters and key themes, symbols and motifs.
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    Your teacher will likely expect you to do one of two things: turn in a paper or pass a test taken in class.
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    The key to getting a satisfactory result on a paper is to sound like you know what you're talking about. Make yourself a solid outline so you remember to stay on topic. Make sure every point relates back to the book and to your thesis statement. If you can find quotations, structure your paper around them (one paragraph for every quote). Literature is highly subjective and open to interpretation, so as long as you don't go crazy-Freudian you should be safe. Bolster your paper with things your teacher says in class, but re-word it so it doesn't seem like you're just parroting it back. Use plenty of literary terms (metaphor, symbolism, imagery), but be absolutely positive you are using them correctly. You can also ask to borrow a friend's notes--or casually ask what their favorite part was--if you need to glean more information.
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    For tests, the key is to remember the context of the book. If it's set in the Victorian era and there's a multiple choice or True/False question that references modern technology, you know that answer is wrong. While watching the movie or reading online articles, pay close attention to key plot points, causes of conflict, and characters' personalities. Memorize as many details as you can, including when and where the book was written, and any information you can find on the author. Carefully analyze each question and eliminate as many possibly incorrect answers as possible.


  • If possible, turn your work in early.
  • Don't breeze through True/False questions. It is not uncommon for teachers to hide trick questions in True/False sections.
  • Keep caffeine in moderation. Too much will give you a psycho-buzz and you won't be able to focus.
  • On in-class tests, take as much time as you can. If you finish in a rush, your teacher will suspect you of cheating and your "A" will be compromised.
  • Be cheerful and relaxed in front of the teacher, but not overly so. If you comment on how you had to rush to finish, or seem stressed, your teacher will suspect you cheated. Sad but true.
  • Get enough sleep and eat healthily. You want all your wits about you at a time like this, not struggling against you.
  • Make sure your spelling, grammar, word choice etc. are all correct. Make sure it's written or typed neatly, double-spaced and with correct indention for each paragraph. You want to draw as little attention to yourself as possible. If your paper and/or essay looks good on the surface, chances are your teacher won't put much effort into grading it. If it looks sloppy, or if it's riddled with editorial mistakes, he or she will examine it more closely.


  • Don't skim the book for details. The last thing you want to do is get something out of context.
  • Make sure you know the ending before you write your paper or take the test.
  • Even if you watch the movie, you still need to go online and find a summary of the book. Many movies radically change many elements of the books they are based on, especially the ending.
  • Do not plagiarize or cheat! Yes, it's tempting and a time-saver, but it's the quickest way to get a zero. Your teacher knows what you are capable of and what your writing style is. The point of this article is to help you get an "A" that you--let's be honest--do not deserve. If you copy a paper or cheat on a test, you will probably end up with a big fat "F." Even worse, you will have lost your teacher's trust and he or she will suspect you of cheating for the rest of the year, making your life even harder to deal with.
  • Even the best students sometimes find themselves in a pinch. Do not do this for every assignment or your teacher will become suspicious. Also, there is a reason why certain books are assigned in the first place. Works like "Their Eyes Were Watching God" or "The Great Gatsby" may seem stuffy and old-fashioned but are truly amazing pieces of writing. If you don't read, you really are missing out.

Things You'll Need

  • Internet access
  • Pencils, pens, paper
  • Notes from class (if applicable)
  • Copy of the book

Article Info

Categories: Improving And Maintaining Grades