How you can get more A’s, easier B’s, and pass life’s tests in 9 easy steps.


By David Joel Miller

How to get an A or study less and still get a B.

Good Grades

Good Grades.
Photo courtesy of Flickr

If you want to get more A’s in school here is a system for improving those grades. This system will also help you get B’s more easily if that is your goal. (Check out the post on Why B students are happier.)  This system with some minor modifications will work for aceing other of life’s tests like job interviews.

Most of this has to do with college classes. This is the point where a lot of us really stress. If you do well in college more possibilities, like good paying jobs, open up to you. If you are still in high school or some other learning environment adjust the ideas to your situation.

Get a running start on the grade you want.

Be on time for the first class; maybe even get there a little early. Getting to class late that first night puts you behind the rest of the time. You may be able to catch up but why take the chance?

Not being on time leaves you looking for a parking space, hunting for a seat, while the others are taking notes.

Also, come prepared, paper pen all that stuff. If possible have the textbook.

Coming late may mean you miss hearing about an important class requirement. What if there is a must go on a field trip later in the semester and you are not able to get off work on weekends. You need to work out the requirements before you find yourself in a bind.

Read the syllabus.

Every semester I hand out a syllabus. Later in the semester people are surprised to learn that they have a major paper due or there will be a midterm next week and that is the week their spouse has planned a trip to see the folks.

Not doing the paper on time or missing the midterm are sure ways to blow that A. They are also easily preventable if you just read the syllabus and plan ahead.

If your instructor does not hand one out, pay special attention to the things they tell you, write them down and ask questions if it is not clear exactly what you are expected to do this year.

Do what the syllabus says.

If there is homework – Do the homework. If you need to read a chapter in the book – Read that chapter. Make sure you write the paper or do the project and turn it in, on time is a good idea.

Amazingly, that when all else fails read the directions approach, does not get you to the finish line on time.

Read assignments before class.

Try to read the chapter before class each session. You may not understand it all but you will find the terminology and the general subject that is about to be discussed. Look up words you don’t know. Most books have glossaries in the back to make that easy.

By reading ahead you can recognize what your instructor is talking about and you can ask more intelligent questions.

Take notes.

Some of you are visual learners, some auditory, some kinesthetic. Reading, hearing and writing all utilize different circuits in the brain. The more of your brain you involve in learning the better your chances of remembering.

Taking notes helps even if you never look at them again.

Read the material again after class.

Rereading the chapter after class really helps store and consolidate the information. Things that did not make sense or did not stand out now become very important. You now know what your instructor emphasized and you want to make sure you have that material clear.

Review your notes.

Go back over the notes. Do you get it? What you feel unsure about, that part is what you may want to study.

Schedule your life to be there for tests.

We all have lives, especially college students who may be working and have families as well as attending school. Emergencies do happen. Plan ahead to reduce the problems.

Most instructors at many schools do not give makeup tests. Especially they do not give makeup midterms or finals. Don’t just plan to be there. Open up some extra time around the exam.

Tell your boss that you have a big test that night and see if you can make arraignments to leave work a little early. Nothing so blows a semester’s work as getting caught up in a crisis at work and arriving after the final exam is over. Also, tell your family or partner and enlist their support in being to the test on time and prepared.

Yes, traffic is sometimes bad or you get a flat. Planning ahead reduces the chances that this inconvenience turns into a disaster.

Learn test taking skills to get the best grades.

People who are good at taking tests do better than those who are poor test takers even when the test savvy students have done less studying. If you are one of those who finds taking tests difficult, learn test taking strategies and practice taking tests until you get good at it.

If you have test anxiety – work on getting your anxiety under control also.

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For more about David Joel Miller and my work in the areas of mental health, substance abuse and Co-occurring disorders see the about the author page. For information about my other writing work beyond this blog check out my Google+ page or the Facebook author’s page, up under David Joel Miller. Posts to the “books, trainings, and classes” category will tell you about those activities. If you are in the Fresno California area, information about my private practice is at counselorfresno.com. A list of books I have read and can recommend is over at Recommended Books

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