In this article, I’ll explain the seven rules I followed to become a straight-A student.
(I’ve since completed my formal education.)
If you take my advice, you’ll get better grades. You’ll lead a more balanced life too.
But first, here’s some background information about me, to assure you that I have some credibility in writing this article. (I don’t say these things to boast, really!)
- I got 9 A1’s for the GCE O-Levels.
- I got 4 A’s for the GCE A-Levels, along with 2 “Special” paper Distinctions and 1 Merit.
- I received a full academic scholarship to study at Duke University, which consistently ranks as one of the best universities in the world. I graduated from Duke in 2011.
- I did a double major at Duke, and graduated summa cum laude (First Class Honors). My GPA was 3.98/4.0.
- Throughout my academic career, I never received a grade lower than an A- at a major exam.
Now, just to be clear…
Do I think I’m a super impressive person because of these achievements? No.
Do I think students should be obsessed about grades? No.
Do I think good grades are the key to long-term success? No.
But do I think that grades matter to some extent? Yes.
A strong academic record can open doors for you down the road. More importantly, through the process of becoming a straight-A student, you’ll learn values like hard work, discipline and determination.
These values will serve you well, long after you take your last exam.
So go ahead and pursue academic excellence. Just don’t let it become an unhealthy obsession.
Now that we’re clear on that, we’re ready to explore the seven rules, which include many study tips and more!
Rule #1: Always have a plan.
(a) As the semester progresses, keep track of key dates: tests and exams, project submission deadlines, term breaks, etc.
Enter these dates into a physical or digital calendar.
If you choose to use a physical calendar, I recommend that you get a management diary. This will allow you to see the week’s events at a glance. The inside of the diary should look like this:
If you choose to use a digital calendar, I recommend Google Calendar.
(b) Schedule a fixed time every week where you review your upcoming events over the next two months. Mark down when you’ll start preparing for that Math exam, working on that History project, or writing that English paper.
(d) Next, note your commitments for the coming week, e.g. extracurricular activities, family gatherings, extra classes. On your calendar, highlight the blocks of time you’ll have for schoolwork.
This planning process might sound time-consuming, but it’ll typically take just 15 minutes every week.
This is a wise investment of time as a student, because the rest of your week will become far more productive.