It’s extremely frustrating to work really hard in a class and still end up getting a B (or worse).
You’d think that getting an A wouldn’t be that much harder than getting a B, but sometimes it just seems impossible.
So what can you do differently to get that A?
Before I tell you, I’m going to be completely honest with you…
I’m not a straight A student. I’ve gotten lots of B’s. And even a couple C’s. Oops.
But the thing is, I decided a while ago that I didn’t want to be a straight-A student. Instead, I pick and choose which classes I want to get A’s in.
Sound silly? Let me explain.
Instead of trying to get A’s in every class, I decide which classes I want to get A’s in and make those my primary focus, while putting minimal effort and time into the rest of my classes.
So although I don’t have a 4.0 GPA (I have a 3.4), I have a pretty good track record of getting A’s in the classes that I choose to get A’s in, and I also have time to do things other than studying (like running this blog, which helped me get a high-paying internship last summer).
Success isn’t just measured by good grades.
That being said, if you really want to turn your B’s into A’s, here are some strategies that have worked for me.
Some of these (like #4), have literally helped me raise my grade from a B to an A with only a few weeks left in the semester.
Please keep in mind that none of these alone will get you an A. It’s the combination of doing all of them that will.
1. Make a good first impression.
First impressions are critical. After someone has formed an opinion about you, it’s very difficult to change that opinion.
If you make a bad first impression, people will be more likely to hold it against you — no matter what you do to try to redeem yourself later. The good news is that this is also true when it comes to good first impressions.
Your professor’s first impression of you can make or break your grade.
This is why I make sure to start every semester off strong by putting extra effort into my first assignments and participating as much as I can during the first few weeks of class. Putting in a little extra work at the beginning can go a long way later in the semester, when you might need to be cut some slack.
2. Study smarter, not harder.
If you really want to get an A in a class, you have to figure out what exactly is keeping you from getting it. Where are you getting the majority of your points docked? Is it from homework assignments? Tests? Participation?
Once you figure out your weak spot, focus on improving that area. Usually tests seem to be the problem. How many times have you been in the middle of a test and realized that you didn’t understand the material as well as you thought you did?
If that’s the case, you probably need to change the way you study in order to gain a deeper understanding of the material.
There are lots of ways to improve study habits, but here are a few that have saved me a huge amount of time:
• Avoid passive studying (learn the difference between active studying vs passive studying)
• Use the Feynman Technique to gain a deep understanding of complex topics (great for math and science subjects)
• Master advanced memory techniques, such as chaining and pegging.
• Learn how to speed read
3. Get to know your professor.
This goes back to the importance of having a good relationship with your professor. Professors are human, which means that they have biases. If you think that these biases don’t affect their grading, think again.
Obviously you’ll still have to put in the work, but if you can develop and maintain a positive relationship with your professor, your A will be a little more secure and you will also have a little more wiggle room.
A lot of students barely say a word to their professors throughout the entire semester. Don’t be that student.
Ask questions during class, and stay a few minutes after to talk to your professor, about anything. If nothing else, go to their office hours. At least once.
Even if you don’t have any questions or concerns. The point is for your professor to know who you are and to be able to put a face to your name. Few students ever go to office hours, so simply showing up once puts you in a better position than most of your peers.
Seriously. If you tell a professor that you want to get an A, it will stick in their mind.
Know what you want and make it known.” – Tweet This
Go to your professors office hours, or talk to them after class, and let them know that you’ve been working really hard, that you’re very interested in the material, and that you really want to get an A in the class. Ask them for their help and advice.
Professors like to see students showing an interest in doing well. They are usually willing to forgive a few mistakes if they see that you’re making a serious effort.
Simply having this conversation with the professor will most likely make them more lenient when grading your work. They won’t just give you free points, but they will give you the benefit of the doubt if they know getting an A is a serious goal for you.
So if you do have this conversation, make sure that you actually listen to what the professor says and do whatever it is that they suggest. Don’t tell them that you’re trying really hard and then start skipping class or assignments. Otherwise, this strategy will backfire. They’ll see through your words and your relationship with them will very quickly go downhill. Actions speak louder than words, so make sure they see that you really are making an effort to improve.
5. Decide if it’s worth it.
Getting A’s is not impossible, but it does require some extra effort.
Sometimes it’s just not worth that extra effort.
Every minute you spend studying for a class is a minute you could have spent doing something else. If it’s going to take you 10 hours of studying to get an A on an upcoming exam, but you could get a B with only 2 hours of studying, is it worth your time?
Always think about the opportunity costs of your time. Some classes require more time and work than others, so ask yourself how important each class is to you. Save your energy and put it where it matters most.
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