Straight-A students—the magical beings of high schools worldwide, those students who somehow manage perfection throughout their entire high school careers.
Though they may seem elusive, these perfect-report-card-bearing students are merely in on a few simple secrets…and you can be too!
Straight-A students are undoubtedly smart, but there’s undoubtedly more to it than that.
With a little bit of dedication, you too can improve your grades by emulating some of the highest achievers at your school.
These are the 5 Success Secrets of Straight-A Students
1. Straight-A Students Believe Time is of the Essence
Straight-A students separate themselves from the masses because they are good managers of their own time.
They are willing to put in the time to be successful.
They make every minute count—they’re finishing a book on the bus or reviewing flashcards while waiting at the DMV.
You may also notice that these students are often involved in at least one extracurricular: further evidence of their impeccable time management.
How do they do it?
Do you find time management tricky?
Being prepared to use your time effectively makes all the difference.
Make a planner or to-do list and stick to it.
Be realistic as you set your goals. Instead of setting yourself the task of finishing an entire exam’s worth of studying in one night, break it up into manageable chapters or sections.
Once you have checked off whatever is on your list for the day, you feel motivated, because you have successfully completed what you had to do.
These positive feelings give you the momentum to continue learning.
The trick is to know how long to study and when to take a break.
The human brain isn’t programmed to focus intensely on one thing for hours at a time.
Instead, focus on your homework or reading for some 25 minutes, and then take a short break. Do something you enjoy, get a snack, a little rest.
Then go back in for another 25 minutes.
This balance of study and break is based on something called the Pomodoro technique.
It has been found to strengthen recall and learning by allowing the brain to switch gears between focusing intently on details and relaxing to allow this information to settle and meaningful associations to occur naturally.
2. Straight-A Students Place Emphasis on Reading
While every student must do some reading, straight-A students know that great readers make great students.
Students who don’t focus on their assigned readings well (and, more importantly, fail to comprehend what they’re reading) may struggle in school at various grade levels.
High-achieving students learn to comprehend readings well, and they do it often, for school and even for pleasure.
If you tend to neglect assigned readings, try to brush up on those skills.
You’ll be surprised at how quickly and meaningfully it impacts every part of your academic life.
If you feel reading is not your forte, this could be because you haven’t developed effective reading strategies yet.
It could also be related to your learning style, which might prefer other learning methods over reading, challenges you are experiencing concentrating, or with the way you see the page.
For learning to be effective, start by figuring out what your learning style is, and structure study techniques around this.
Visit the optometrist and check if you might have any vision issues or other difficulties making reading challenging.
Conditions such as ADHD or dyslexia don’t mean you can’t be a capable reader.
It just means your strategies for reading will have to be adjusted to your particular strengths.
3. Straight-A Students Ensure They Follow Directions
This secret is so simple, yet so many students forget how crucial it is to success.
Straight-A students know how to follow directions regarding every detail. Whether instructions are given verbally or on paper, good students digest and internalize the guidelines, following each portion.
Many students lose points on exams because they fail to read and follow every part of the instructions, making mistakes as simple as putting their names in the wrong corner of the paper.
To raise your grades, make sure you’ve got a good handle on everything you’re supposed to do—and do it in a timely and thorough way.
You may think allowing your attention to wander in class once in a while is harmless, but the classroom is where many vital directions are mentioned.
Teachers might give you critical tips about how to score in an assignment, specific requirements for answering exam questions, and more.
Take notes in class, particularly when assignments and tests are being discussed.
Be aware that teachers often slip in crucial details and instructions when they are teaching relevant chapters.
If taking notes gets you distracted or you can’t keep up, make a mental note to compare what you got down with a friend later or ask the teacher if you can record the class to play it back to yourself later.
4. Straight-A Students are Good Communicators
Straight-A students know how to communicate, and they use these skills to open lines of dialogue with peers and teachers.
By doing so, they’re able to establish study groups with their classmates and get any missed information from peers when they’re absent.
They’re also able to communicate with teachers, giving them a distinct advantage over their less communicative classmates.
They aren’t afraid to ask teachers for help, clarification, and information about the semester going forward, which helps them plan and manage their time.
You’ll be surprised by how much of an improvement you can make by simply asking your teacher what you can do better, in general, and with specific assignments.
5. Straight-A Students Recognize the Importance of Balance
Straight-A students aren’t always those who are studying 24/7.
They know the importance of maintaining balance and have figured out ways to manage their time accordingly.
Sure, they’re putting in their time—but they’re also getting adequate sleep and keeping their minds and bodies active.
Similarly, they’re good at balancing each of their classes, allotting the most time to those areas that need it.
They’re also giving themselves much-needed breaks, which allows them to focus when they really need to (remember the Pomodoro technique we talked about?).
The Bottom Line
Straight-A students are successful for many reasons, but they aren’t all because of academic gifts.
By following some of their secrets to success, you, too, can improve your grade point average and academic confidence.
Now I’d like to hear from you.
Which of these areas do you think you’ll be focusing on improving?
Write in and let me know!
Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.
[ Updated : June 9, 2020 ]