11 Tips To Excel In School, From A Straight-A Student

11 Tips To Excel In School, From A Straight-A Student

Start the school year off strong.

Struggling in school? Feel overloaded with homework, classwork, reading, quizzes and exams? Here are 11 tips to start the school year off strong!

1. Pay attention.

This may seem obvious, but it actually works. Pay attention when your teacher or professor talks, even if it seems like they're talking about the most insignificant of things. Many times teachers will put small, seemingly insignificant details on assessments just to see if you were paying attention. You could gain (or lose) a few extra points, which could mean the difference between a C and a B or a B and an A.

2. Expect the worst.

I've found this technique to be very helpful — basically, expect the worst, and everything will turn out better. The summer before sophomore year of high school, I was panicking, because I was going to take my first AP classes the coming school year. I had taken none in freshmen year, and I was about to take three. I kept on imagining scenarios in which I received failing grades on every assignment I turned in or when I was laboring hours and hours on endless homework. I expected these classes to be hard. Faced with that mindset, I walked into school expecting the worst — only to find that these classes weren't as hard as I imagined and that some were even interesting.

3. Exercise

You may think exercising is a waste of time, especially when you could be finishing homework or hanging out with friends, but it actually saves time. How? Exercise over time is proven to make you feel more energetic and healthy. That way, you won't feel tired all the time and might (not promising anything, though) perform better on tests or quizzes.

4. Study every day!

Even if you don't have any exams or quizzes the next day, find the time to study a little bit of everything. It will help you retain more information, and on AP exams, it will help so that you don't have to cram everything in the night before.

5. Take a break.

For every 30 to 45 minutes of doing homework, take a five- or 10-minute break. This break allows you to refocus and take your mind off work. You can eat a snack, or close your eyes. Taking a break prevents you from tiring out your brain and helps you to re-concentrate.

6. Be prepared.

This one is also a no-brainer, but be prepared — not only in bringing all supplies to class but also in terms of knowing the material. You never know when the teacher will give the class an unexpected quiz.

7. Ask questions!

If you don't understand something, ask questions. I used to not pay attention in class; then when my teacher asked the class if anyone had questions, I wouldn't raise my hand. The first few quizzes in that class were all below 80. But as soon as I started to pay attention and asked the teacher whenever I didn't understand anything, I grasped the concept faster and better.

8. Study right before sleeping.

Studies have shown that studying right before going to bed is helpful. You remember and retain information better, and your memory will drastically improve.

9. Review notes the day of the test.

Whenever you have time during the day of the test, whether it be during a free period or lunch, review your notes. That way you have the information fresh. However, keep in mind that reviewing notes the day of the test does not mean studying the day of the test. You should have studied the night before (at least a little), and reviewing the notes only means reading over them to keep the information fresh.

10. Don't procrastinate.

We're all guilty of procrastination. "I'll just do it tomorrow, it's not even due until Thursday." Then, on Wednesday night — frantically trying to finish. Procrastination isn't good. Plan your schedule so you will have additional time to start what you need to finish, and don't leave it all to do the night before. Some extra incentives of not procrastinating are extra time, more sleep and less stress!

11. Keep track of time.

This applies not only to homework but also to quizzes, exams and tests. Plan out mentally or physically how long each subject's homework will take you (and don't forget breaks). I also try to plan what time go to sleep and when to wake up, so make sure to take that into account too. On tests, exams, quizzes and even the SAT, know how much time you have, and if you're stuck on a problem, skip it and come back to it later. Who knows? Maybe the next few problems will give the answer to the one you didn't know.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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To The Teacher Who Was So Much More

Thank you for everything

I think it's fair to say that most people remember at least one teacher who had a lasting impact on them. I have been incredibly lucky to have several teachers who I will never forget, but one individual takes the cake. So here's to you: thank you for all you have done.

Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in the textbook.

Although you taught a great lecture, class was never just limited to the contents of the course. Debates and somewhat heated conversations would arise between classmates over politics and course material, and you always encouraged open discussion. You embraced the idea of always having an opinion, and always making it be heard, because why waste your voice? You taught me to fight for things I believed in, and to hold my ground in an argument. You taught me to always think of others before doing and speaking. You showed me the power of kindness. Thank you for all the important lessons that may not have been included in the curriculum.

Thank you for believing in me.

Especially in my senior year, you believed in me when other teachers didn't. You showed me just what I could accomplish with a positive and strong attitude. Your unwavering support kept me going, especially when I melted into a puddle of tears weekly in your office. You listened to my stupid complaints, understood my overwhelming stress-induced breakdowns, and told me it was going to be okay. Thank you for always being there for me.

Thank you for inspiring me.

You are the epitome of a role model. Not only are you intelligent and respected, but you have a heart of gold and emit beautiful light where ever you go. You showed me that service to others should not be looked at as a chore, but something to enjoy and find yourself in. And I have found myself in giving back to people, thanks to your spark. Thank you for showing me, and so many students, just how incredible one person can be.

Thank you for changing my life.

Without you, I truly would not be where I am today. As cliche as it sounds, you had such a remarkable impact on me and my outlook on life. Just about a year has passed since my graduation, and I'm grateful to still keep in touch. I hope you understand the impact you have made on me, and on so many other students. You are amazing, and I thank you for all you have done.

Cover Image Credit: Amy Aroune

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To The High School Counselor I Wouldn't Have Made It To College Without

I couldn't have made it through high school without her and now even college.


Dear best counselor ever,

When I came into Blake High School I had no idea what to expect. I was a scared, confused, lost freshman. Coming into a school that my sister had just graduated from there were some familiar faces, yours being one of them. You were my sister's high school counselor for four years and then mine. But, you weren't just a counselor you were a friend.

Anytime I came into to your office you were there for me. You became more of a mother figure to me than a staff member. The endless times I came into your office with endless problems you were always there to help. When we lost two seniors my junior year your door was open for me and the rest of your students when we couldn't bear to go to class. When I couldn't handle my biology teacher anymore you were there for me to vent to. When I had testing anxiety you opened up a quiet space for me to take my tests. When I didn't know how to apply for colleges or what I even wanted in a college you were there for me. When they tried to switch my last name to a different counselor you kept me.

You were truly the role model, friend, mom, staff member I needed at Blake. I loved coming into your office and just talking to you about everything. I don't know how I would've survived four years without you and even survive college now. Every time I come home which isn't often your door is still open. I come home you ask how college is going and you're proud. You expect the best out of me and it makes me expect the best out of myself. I know how hard you work and I just want you to know that I couldn't have done it without you. When I was scared to go to a school fourteen hours away, away from my family and everyone I knew, you told me to follow my heart. My heart led me to Alabama and I couldn't be happier.

As you go back to school from winter break I want you to know how appreciated you are because I really don't know where I would be without a great friend like you. I walked across the stage at graduation looking at all the faces I would be leaving as I took the journey to Alabama. When you called my name I knew that was where my journey started. They handed me a red rose at the end of the stage. We were told to give it to someone who made a difference in our four years at Blake. I gave it to you not only because you made a difference in those four years, but because you made a difference in my whole life and taught me so many lessons that I couldn't have taught myself. I am stilling learning so much and I can't wait to tell you all about it the next time I come to your office.


Your favorite student (hopefully)

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