How to Get an A

Four Parts:Planning AheadAcing Class WorkAcing TestsGoing the Extra Mile

Earning top grades in school requires commitment, creativity and organization. An “A” is proof of academic excellence and mastery of a given subject. You don’t have to be a teacher’s pet to get an A, but you must be dedicated to homework and class time.

Part 1
Planning Ahead

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    Read the syllabus. Know what’s expected of you at the beginning of the term, so there won’t be any surprises on an exam.
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    Pay attention to how much tests are worth. If a single paper is worth 50 percent of your grade, you should have your thesis in the back of your mind. Spend lots of time on projects that will significantly affect your grades.
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    Schedule regular study times for each subject. The syllabus should tell you how many hours of reading are generally expected in a week, so write it out on your calendar at the beginning of the term which days you are going to study for this subject.
    • Buy a term planner and organize your study time.[1]
    • Schedule a different subject every 3 to 4 hours so that your mind stays sharp.
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    Use technology to your advantage. If you are an auditory person, then you should tape all the lectures and listen to them later. If you are a visual person, you should take notes or video tape the class for easier revision.
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    Be proud of good grades and study habits. Don’t let friends tell you that you are a “geek” or “nerdy.” In most classes, you can’t get an A unless you are willing to study hard.
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    Take breaks every 45 minutes of study time. Your brain needs to breathe, rest and refocus.[2]

Part 2
Acing Class Work

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    Sit near the front of the class if the class size is large. You should be able to hear, see and get noticed by the professor if you have a question.
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    Read and reread the material. Retention rises dramatically if you reread it one or two times.
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    Revise right before you go to bed. Make bullet points as you go through the reading or homework, or review your annotations. Even if you are sleepy, your brain continues to process information as you fall asleep and doze.[3]
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    Study your assignment prompts very carefully. Ask questions if you don’t understand it. Think about it critically before you jump into the assignment.[4]
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    Start your assignment the day it’s assigned even if you have days or weeks to work on it. You will get the best results when the topic is fresh in your brain.
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    Annotate everything you read. Make notes in the margins, highlight terms and doodle illustrations or maps of the concepts. You can review the annotations more easily than an entire text, and you will think about the information more carefully as you read it.
    • Photocopy textbooks or write in pencil to avoid fines.
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    Be willing to get a tutor, if you need help with the basics. Math skills, science concepts and writing may require outside study time to master. The extra time you take now will benefit you in all future classes.
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    Do several versions. Always revise your first draft. Proofread and ask someone to review your final draft before turning it in.

Part 3
Acing Tests

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    Study for your test at different locations. Changing your study room can actually improve your retention of the material.[5]
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    Mix familiar material with new material. Studies have shown that the brain can make patterns between the things you already know and new data.[6]
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    Favor several study sessions per week instead of one long session. The more you are asked to recall the information before the test, the more likely you are to recall it during the test.
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    Search for sample tests online. Search for the topic and then “quiz” or “test” and time a test exam. If you can’t find any, use your textbook or team up with a friend and come up with 10 questions for each other to answer.[7]
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    Take a moment to relieve stress and visualize success before an exam. Try to look forward to a challenge, like a test, rather than shying away from it. Give yourself a treat, like a favorite snack or YouTube video before you take the test.
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    Cross out multiple-choice answers that are definitely wrong. You will get satisfaction from narrowing your choices down.
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    Understand grading on a curve. Your grades will be compared to others’ grades, so you must always be well above average on your test. Plan to study harder in any class with a curve, since earning a near-perfect score is the only way to guarantee an A on a test.[8]
    • If your course is advanced, getting an A will be more challenging, since the majority of the students are interested in the material.

Part 4
Going the Extra Mile

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    Go to office hours, if you have a question or you feel behind. Ask about the material and look for insights on how to understand the material.
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    Ask if you can revise a test. If you score low on a test or homework assignment, ask if you can redo a portion of it to earn a higher grade. Some teachers may not allow this, but others will appreciate your commitment to learning the information.
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    Do extra credit assignments. Start at the beginning of the term and always turn in extra assignments. You can’t get an A+ without doing extra credit.
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    Show up to class. Attendance is a good way to convince a teacher that you are interested. Listen and act engaged in the material and the teacher is more likely to give you extra chances.

Things You'll Need

  • Tape recorder
  • Video recorder
  • Term planner
  • Pencil/highlighter for annotations
  • Syllabus

Article Info

Categories: Improving And Maintaining Grades