Everyone’s schooling journey is unique to them. Some people are highly aware of the grades they’re getting from an early age in elementary school, while other students aren’t aware or couldn’t care less. As students progress into middle school, there tends to be more emphasis on achieving good grades, though some students don’t find it the be-all-end-all of school.
These middle years can be a trying time as we’re settling into changing classes throughout the day, navigating friendships, and even puberty changes. For many students, entering high school or going to college becomes a time of greater awareness.
Suddenly college applications or the thought of furthering your education will come to the forefront of your mind, and the idea of getting good grades can become overwhelming. If you’ve never been an A student before or you’ve been an average student, just about anyone can become an A student.
Not everyone is going to achieve straight A’s with the same method. Different students learn best in different environments and using different strategies. All you need to become a straight A student is to adopt a growth mindset and find a system that works for you.
What Makes A Straight A Student?
Herbert Walberg is a well-known scholar at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He paved the way for research into educational productivity and human accomplishments. You could say he’s well-versed when it comes to the educational system and how students make good greats.
What’s interesting is that Mr. Walberg doesn’t believe that those students with the best grades are necessarily the brightest, and he’s right. That means that if you don’t feel like you have natural abilities in every subject, it shouldn’t deter you from going after the grades you want.
Grades aren’t everything, but if you’re interested in getting straight A’s, nothing is holding you back. With a plan and a little bit of elbow grease, you’ll get the grades you want.
You have to find out what styles and techniques work for you and then master them. Below, you’ll learn a little more about learning styles and how to figure out what helps you learn what you need to know. If you’re familiar with your learning style, skip ahead to the last section, which includes tips and techniques for studying and achieving straight A’s.
Figure Out Your Learning Style
Many people recognize that they have a preferred learning style and technique. Likely, you won’t have one reliable preferred method but a mix of styles that work for you. Learning styles are like groups of common ways that people learn best. There are seven learning styles; you may find that you are dominant in one or more techniques, preferring small doses of the other methods. Here are the seven forms and what they mean.
- Linguistic – Verbal learning style. Your preference is to use words, often in writing and speech.
- Spatial – Visual learning style. You prefer to learn using spatial understanding, images, photos.
- Auditory-musical – Aural learning style. Learning to you comes most natural by using music and sound.
- Mathematical – Logical learning style. You prefer to learn using reasoning and logical systems.
- Kinesthetic – Physical learning Style. Learning comes to you best when using your senses and body, touching things, and doing things.
- Intrapersonal – Solitary learning style. Learning alone and using self-study techniques tends to work best for you.
- Interpersonal – Social learning style. Learning comes to most accessible within groups and working with others to study.
If you’re wondering why learning styles are essential, you might be surprised to find out that using the various learning styles will help you use different parts of your brain. If you’re not sure what your learning style is, you can check out the learning styles inventory here.
Here are our top tips for study techniques based on learning styles.
For those who need to hear rather than to read, there are plenty of tools to help you. You can find videos on the topic that you’re studying or choose to listen to audio clips of seminars and lectures to help you learn the material. Reading aloud can help you verbalize what you’re learning to solidify the concepts in your mind.
If you enjoy learning visually, try taking highly detailed notes in class. For a more structured note style, try Cornell Notes. You can also try watching videos on the topic if you didn’t get enough from your class, or you’re studying a problem that was covered several days or weeks ago. Using flashcards is another visual learning tool that works great for many visual learners.
Aural learners do well when discussing the topics they need to study out loud. If you can get a friend to help you or talk to your teacher or parents, it may be an effective tactic for you. You may not be into taking detailed notes, but listening to the material can help you ingest the information efficiently so, find several videos or audio clips on the topic to help you get enough information.
Logical learners learn best by seeing connections in the material they’re learning. They learn by connecting the relationships between information and investigating concepts. If you’re studying a big chunk of information, it can be helpful to break it up into smaller, digestible pieces. You may want to create charts, graphs, or outlines of the material to help organize your thoughts and ideas.
Rewriting your notes from class into a more logical sequence can help you understand the material more effectively if you feel like the lecture you listened to went from topic to topic.
If you’re into physical learning, it can be tough to learn concepts that require sitting and studying. In this case, you can give yourself frequent breaks to get up and walk around so that you can focus on short periods. If keeping your hands busy helps you, keep a pen nearby to twirl or click, or grab a stress ball. If sitting down isn’t your strong suit, try getting your study time in at a counter where you can stand or at a standing desk.
Solitary learners thrive on independence. Analyzing topics from multiple perspectives can be helpful to the solitary learner, as well as goal setting and planning things out. In case you become bored with a functional study area where you can be alone, make sure you have back up study areas that work for you.
Sometimes, you’ll need a change of scenery but can’t work with distractions, so you’ll want to be prepared. If you need them, keep earplugs on you so that you can get the quiet you need, anywhere you might need it. If planning helps keep your mind on track and orderly, follow a study schedule to help keep your focus over the weeks.
For those who prefer social learning, likely, your communication skills are up to par. Whether you prefer to speak or write, you tend to do well through the use of interpersonal interactions.
If you can find friends or family who will participate in group study sessions with you, you may be able to discuss topics openly, bounce ideas off one another, and hear more than one perspective. You can also work through problems out loud with others rather than trying to sort through them yourself.
Don’t be afraid to explore learning styles that you may not think are for you. Sometimes, a new study technique will surprise you. When you get stuck in the same routines, it can be helpful to change up your style and add in a few twists to keep things fresh and engaging.
Tips for Always Getting the “A”
No matter your learning style, or what subjects you need to study, there are plenty of habits that you can adopt to help you get the A’s you’re seeking. Keep reading to find out what practices you’re missing and what habits you’re already finding success using.
Start with A Plan
If you’re the type of person who likes to wing things, we’re not going to tell you that you can’t make straight A’s by winging it. You may be able to achieve that in some classes. However, we highly advise that you start planning things out. If you have more than one subject to remember dates, assignments, projects, group work, or otherwise, it’s wise to use a planner.
If you’re not up for using a dated planner, you can always keep a notebook to write down important information that you don’t want to forget. As the semester progresses, keep track of your calendar so that things don’t come as a surprise. Writing the occasional paper on a whim the night before it’s due or studying hours before the test can be OK once in a while, but you don’t want to make a habit of it if you plan to get straight A’s.
Once you write essential dates into your calendar or program them into your digital calendar, if you prefer, fill in some time blocks with appropriate homework and study time. If you have to work or have other obligations, write those in too. This way, you know that if you miss something, or don’t complete all of your homework, you don’t think you have extra time when you don’t see another obligation scheduled.
Having multiple classes can get unorganized really quickly. Choose a large binder with dividers for different courses, or keep smaller separate binders. Rather than throwing things to the wind and hoping for the best, keep handouts and past assignments organized by filing them with the correct subject, in date order so that you can access them later.
Keep a Running Homework List
Whether you like to write homework assignments in your planner, keep them in a task list, or use an app to keep track, it’s merely necessary to have it all readily available. One popular website and app you can use is Trello, which works great for people who thrive on visual representations.
As you receive new homework assignments, add them to your list. You’ll want to note the due date next to the task so that you don’t mix due dates up or overlook any upcoming assignments.
Now, when you sit down to do assignments, you have them ready and prioritized. You can also flip through your planner to see how much time you might have in the future to do each assignment based on other planned study time, class time, and obligations.
Make Your Health A Priority
As a student, and a straight A student, you might be feeling run-down and tired from all of the upkeep you’re doing in regards to studying, class time, and assignments. If you’re adding in sports or a job, it can be a recipe for disaster.
Rather than putting your health last on the list, prioritize your time so that you can ensure your health doesn’t dive. You don’t want to be cramming for a test from a hospital bed. Your physical health being in tip-top shape is going to be one of the things that keep you going through the semesters as you maintain your straight A status.
Get Some Sleep
You wouldn’t believe the number of people who are getting by on such little sleep that it is physically ailing them. When your body doesn’t get enough sleep, you can become more susceptible to a lack of focus or concentration, you’re less able to remember things, and you’ll be at a higher risk for succumbing to colds and illnesses.
Instead of staying up till all hours of the night, work your sleep into your schedule and color out blocks of sleep time in your planner if you need to.
Sometimes, setting an alarm that means its time to put the books away and commence your before-sleep routine can help you keep to a better schedule and remind you that “studying for just a little bit longer” isn’t ideal.
A study done by Harvard found that regular exercise helps your brain to improve memory and thinking skills. Although the optimal time for physical activity is 30 to 45 minutes per day, at least three times per week, you can reap the benefits with as little as a daily 10-minute brisk walk.
If you find that you’re having a hard time concentrating through large blocks of study and assignment time, take the time to have a walk around the block and drink a glass of water. The fresh air and physical activity can help you come back feeling refreshed and ready to study again.
Get An Accountability Buddy
If you have several classes, choose a few people from each class that you often see. You can help each other stay accountable and check in with progress. Since you’ll be making friends with this person, you’ve also gained someone to ask questions or have discussions with if you don’t understand something fully or need a new perspective.
Help Others and Let Others Help You
On a similar note from having an accountability partner, it’s an excellent idea to get some study time with other students of varying skill levels. Although you may be tempted to study only with those you view as smarter or more prepared than you, there are benefits to working with students less ready than you.
As others ask you questions and you answer them and explain to them, you get a deeper understanding of the topic and a chance to test your knowledge. You might find in your explanation that there is a part of the concept you still need to study further.
Students with more skill than you, in turn, do the same for you and gain the same benefit.
Have A Designated Work Area
Gone are the days when you snuggle up in your bed to get your homework assignments done with stacks of books and papers piled everywhere. Although some people find the chaos freeing and easy to work with, most people will do better with a designated, clean space to work.
If you have a desk or a kitchen table that works for you, set it up. Keep a container of writing materials that you like to use – pens, pencils, erasers, and highlighters if you use them.
If you have a filing drawer to keep your binders and notebooks in for easy access, that’s great. Otherwise, you can stand them up or stack them neatly in a corner to reference when needed. Working where there is a good light source is a good idea, as well as being in a place that’s relatively free from distraction.
You don’t want to be battling the sound of the television in the living room if you don’t have to, or in a playroom where your siblings may be running around often.
Enlist Your Teacher’s Help
From the very beginning of class, you should be enlisting your teacher as your coach for that class. Your teacher knows best what kind of quality work he or she expects from you. They also have some excellent insight into their students, since it’s their job to teach!
When you first meet a teacher, take some time before or after class to talk with your teacher about the course, the material, and whether or not they have any additional resources they believe would be helpful.
Raise your hand in class if you don’t understand something, your teacher wants to do well and learn the material. They will be glad to answer your questions. If you’re shy about speaking during class, have a notebook handy for writing relevant issues down to ask after class.
If you had trouble with previous assignments or missed points on them, ask the teacher questions about what you did wrong or didn’t understand. It’s better that you find out now, in case any future tests require cumulative knowledge from the semester. You’ll also gain insight into fixing errors so that you don’t make the same mistakes on future assignments.
If you know that you may be absent, take the time to ask your teacher about turning in assignments ahead of time, or getting the information you missed. Your teacher will appreciate your promptness and willingness to go above and beyond.
Learn the Right Way to Read
Have you ever wondered how in the world you were going to read 2 + chapters of material from your textbook in the next several days, on top of what you may need to read for other classes? Reading books can seem impossible, boring, and like you’re not retaining information from them.
That’s because there is a right and wrong way to ingest information through reading materials like that. Reading your text isn’t like reading books for enjoyment. You’re looking to learn information, retain it, and be able to apply the knowledge in real-world applications.
If you can take a speed-reading class, you may find it highly beneficial to your studies. Otherwise, there are plenty of resources to help you get started with speed reading.
Study to Understand
We just discussed reading for comprehension, and this is a similar technique. Rather than going through your study materials and memorizing facts, try studying to understand the content. Memorizing facts can help with short quizzes, but it may not help you in the long run when completing assignments and taking exams.
Instead, try to gain a deep understanding of the material you’re studying and practice applying the information in scenarios that may better prepare you for your class assignments.
It’s common to hear the music can help you study. But does it work? In theory, music has many benefits to the brain and body, including that it activates both hemispheres of the brain, which improves memory. According to one source, listening to music can help ease the stress you feel as a student, reduce test anxiety, help you focus more, and improve your performance.
If you aren’t keen on listening to music while you study, you might try having a 20 minute per day music break to reap some of the same benefits.
Remember that plan you developed earlier? You have it for a reason. Stick to it. Getting things done at the last minute is stressful and puts pressure on other items you have going on. Starting your assignments as soon as you get them can help you feel like you have a leg up. It’s an effective way to boost your confidence.
One of my favorite ways to do this is to pull all the research or materials I may need for an assignment and have them ready. This way, when I’m ready to begin the task, I don’t have to go searching for things I need or spend any time I need looking for references or materials to use.
Being a straight A student sounds stressful enough as it is. There are tests to study for, scheduling to stick with, teachers to talk to, study groups to make, and dealing with other life obligations. It’s enough to make anyone a little crazy.
While you’re studying hard to make straight A’s, it’ll be easy to become wound up, anxious, and overwhelmed. Make sure that you take some time out each day to do something that helps you feel relaxed.
You can schedule in time for a hot cup of coffee in the morning and a few minutes to scroll your feed, or you make time for a lunch date with your best friend. Whatever you choose to do, make sure that homework or assignments aren’t consuming your thoughts. Aside from being a student, you’re a human with other needs too.
If you need to take a mental health day, do it. If you need to take a Sunday morning to enjoy brunch with friends or lounging around in your sweats, do that too.
Celebrate Your Successes
Finally, as you navigate your way through each semester, don’t forget to celebrate your successes. It’s easy to become consumed with achieving your next A, figuring out ways to boost your scores when you miss a few points on other assignments, and the likes. That’s why it’s so important to celebrate yourself with every little achievement.
Just because the standard is an A, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t celebrate each time you do well on an assignment. Give yourself the same support that you would give a friend or loved one if they had achievement with something they worked hard on!
Wrapping Things Up
No matter which of these tips you choose to focus on, you should see a boost in your grades and feel more confident in your abilities as a student. While you see a rise in your scores, you’ll be developing several other skills that will not only serve you well as a student but will help you as you progress through later schooling years and entering the workforce.
These study tips will help you develop skills like problem-solving, analytical thinking, understanding and following instructions, building communication skills, and time-management skills. By taking the time now to developing efficient and effective studying habits, you’ll be setting yourself up for future success.