How to be an A Student When You’re Really a B

  1. Sit at the front of the class.

It is much harder to fall asleep when you sit at the front of the class. This ensures that on those days when you’re really tired you will still stay awake until the class is over. Sitting at the front of the class will also allow you to hear more easily. Some teachers won’t wear microphones, or they may have an accent. Trust me, you do not want to have to focus on what they are saying, decipher their accent and strain to hear their actual words. Don’t sit in the back just because you are scared of being called on. Let me tell you a secret, there are more people called on who sit in the back half of class than the front half. Sitting in the front also makes it easier for the teacher to remember you, and believe me that’s a good thing.


2. Don’t miss class.

Do I always want to be in class? Absolutely not. But it is very important that you go to class, even when you don’t feel like it. (Unless you are contagiously sick, then PLEASE stay home!) Even if you don’t have an assignment due or a quiz on a particular day the teacher might decide to give a pop quiz. From my experience, pop quizzes are generally not that hard, so glean all of the points that you can! Just showing up will almost guarantee you a C at least. In all cases, a C is much better than a 0. One time, three-fourths of the students were missing from one of my classes, and the teacher gave a pop quiz. Guess what was on it? Question 1: What is your name? That’s it. People failed a pop quiz because they weren't there to write down their names. The teacher could also give out extra credit. There have been several times my teachers gave out points because most of the student were missing. Also, this may sound shocking to you, but if you’re at every class, even if you’re barely awake, you’ll soak up at least a little bit of what your teacher is talking about, and who knows, maybe they’ll give you a hack for remembering information. It’s happened to me before.


3. Always take notes.

The more you write down, the deeper it will sink into your mind. As the teacher is speaking, jot down something that will help you to remember the information. Like how the plant family, “Malvaceae,” all look like marshmallows. You can also condense your notes later to make a study sheet for tests. Some professors allow one sheet of notes to be used on exams.


4. Know the name and contact information for at least one person in every class.

You never know when you’re going to get sick, so you might need to call a buddy for the notes from class that day. You might also need a study buddy down the road. You can help remind each other of assignments that are due, and you can work together on projects. (I do not condone copying each other. I only mean bouncing ideas off of each other and helping to check for common mistakes you might have made in a paper.)


5. Introduce yourself to the teacher the first day of class.

At any opportunity, give the teacher a chance to learn your name. When they care enough to know your name, they know you enough to understand that you are trying to do well in their class. This is the classy way of buttering up your teachers.


6. After the first test, go to the teacher and review your grade.

This is not the time to ask for a different grade, but rather to ask what you did wrong and how you can be better prepared for future tests. Understanding what you messed up in the first few weeks will ensure you don't make those mistakes on the next test. This is another way that helps the teacher know you care, and they will remember you better. I once got a paper bumped from an 85 percent to a 95 percent just for showing up and asking how I could improve my next one. Several weeks later, I ended up with a 90 percent in the class. That paper may have been what bumped me from a B to an A.


7. Always be looking for extra credit.

Students that I've met tend to ask for extra credit closer to the end of class. This is not the way to go! Teachers are much more likely to give out extra credit early on, not in the last two weeks of school. It’s important never to assume that extra credit adds a percent or two to your final grade. Remember that class I mentioned earlier that I got a 90 in? I went to three extra credit events, each lasting an hour for a total of 2.5 percent added to my final grade. Let me say that again, I got about one percent of extra credit for an HOUR of my time. That doesn’t seem worth it does it? However, I got an A instead of a B, solely because of visiting the TA about my paper, and showing up to listen to someone talk at a few events.


8. Keep track of where your overall grade is at.

If you check your standing grades in all of your classes at about week six, you will get a pretty good feeling of which classes need more work, and which ones you can ignore on the weekends. This will also allow you to gauge what you need to achieve to get the grades you will be pleased with.


9. Do the reading assigned and go to the review sessions.

I’ll admit, sometimes I skip the reading. But if you know you're not doing too well in a specific subject, you need all of the immersion you can get. By going to class, talking to your teacher, taking notes, and doing the reading, you are immersing yourself much deeper into the class. In doing this, you will pick up more information than if you just think about the class when you’re in the class, which may be only three hours a week. It is also very handy to go to the review sessions. This is when teachers are more likely to hint at what will be on the test. When they narrow it down for you, it will give you less that you have to study. It’s a win! Trust me, teachers notice when you are taking your valuable time to go to their study sessions, and just like pop quizzes, the less people at the study session the more likely your teacher is to giving out major hints and freebies.


10. Find something you enjoy about that class.

Not all classes will be fun, but if you find at least one thing you like about every class you will have something to look forward too in every class. It is also a proven fact that you learn things faster when you find an interest in them, or something that will be applied in the future. Find a reason for doing what you're doing. This will help you succeed.


I hope I have helped you gain some secrets in getting those A’s. I realize some of these tips are well known, but I’m also sure some of them are not, or they are never explained fully. Anyway, I’ll see you all next week. Until then,