THE Secrets of Straight-A Students

They arent always more intelligent, but they do work smarter. Heres how.


Ø 1) Are you a straight-A student? Do you know any straight-A students? Have you ever asked him/her how he/she manages to make straight-As in all subjects? Do you use any of his/her ways in your studies?

Ø 2) Read the text and copy out all the secrets of straight-A students. Make a comment whether you agree or disagree with them.

Everyone knows about straight-A students. We see them frequently on TV and in movies. They get high grades, all right, but only by becoming dull grinds, who work very hard and their noses are always stuck in a book. They cant do anything at sports, are boring when it comes to the opposite sex and wear clothes that are not fashionable.

How, then, do we explain for Domenica Roman and Paul Melendres?

Domenica Roman is on the tennis team. She also sings in the choral ensemble, serves on the student council and is a member of the mathematics society. For two years she has had a 4.0 grade-point-average (GPA), meaning As in every subject.

Paul Melendres, now a freshman at the University of New Mexico, was student president at school, he played soccer and basketball, exhibited at the science fair, was chosen for the National Honor Society and National Association of Student Councils and did student commentaries on a local television station. He got a GPA of 4.4 straight-As in his regular classes.

How do super-achievers like Domenica Roman and Paul Melendres do it? Brains arent the only answer. Top grades dont always go to the brightest students, declares Herbert Walberg, professor of education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, who has conducted major studies of super-achieving students.

Hard work isnt the whole story either. Its not how long you sit there with the books open, said one of the many A students we interviewed. Its what you do while you are sitting.

The kids at the top of the class get there by mastering a few basic techniques. Here, according to education experts and students themselves are the secrets of straight-A students.

Set priorities. Top students let no intrusions on study time. Once the books are open or the computer is booted up, phone calls go unanswered, TV shows unwatched, snacks ignored. Study is business; business comes before recreation.

Study anywhere or everywhere.Study times and places are strictly a matter of personal preference. Some work late at night when the house is quiet. Others awoke early. Still others study as soon as they come home from school when the work is fresh in their mind. All agreed, however, on the need for consistency. Whatever I am doing, I leave some time every day for studying, says a student from New Jersey. One student posted a vocabulary list in the bathroom, thus learning a new word every day while brushing his teeth.

Get organized.In high school McCray ran track, played rugby and was in the band and orchestra. I was so busy, I couldnt waste time looking for a pencil or missing paper. I kept everything right where I could put my hands on it, he says.

Paul Melendres has two folders one for the days assignments, another for papers completed and graded. Traci Tsuchiguchi, from California, has another system. She immediately files the days papers in color-coded folders by subject so theyll be available for review at exam time.

Learn how to read. The best class I ever took, says Christopher Campbell, was speed-reading. I not only increased my words per minute but also learned to look at a books table of contents, graphs, and pictures first. Then, when I began to read, I had a sense of the material, and I retained a lot more.

In his book Getting Straight As Gordon W. Green, Jr., says the secret of good reading is to be an active reader one who continually asks questions that lead to a full understanding of the authors message.

Schedule your time.When a teacher assigns a long paper, Domenica Roman draws up a time-table, dividing her project into small pieces so it isnt so difficult.

Paul Melendres researches and outlines a report first, then tries to complete the writing in one long push over a weekend. I like to get it down on paper early, so I have time to polish and review.

Take good notes and use them.Reading the textbooks is important, says Paul Melendres, but the teacher is going to test you on what he or she emphasized. Thats what you find in your notes,

The top students also take notes while reading the text assignment. David Cieri uses his homemade system in which he draws a line down the center of a notebook, writes notes from the text on one side and those from the teachers lecture on the other. Then he is able to review both aspects of the assignment at once.

Just before the bell rings, most students close their books, put away papers, whisper to friends and get ready to rush out. Christi Anderson, an athlete, student-council member and top student, uses those few minutes to write a two or three sentence summery of the lessons principal points, which she scans before the next days class.

Clean up your act.Neat papers are likely to get higher grades than sloppy ones. The student who turns in a neat, says Professor Olney, is already on the way to an A Its like being served a cheese-burger. No matter how good it really is, you cant believe it tastes good if its presented on a messy plate.

Speak up.If I dont understand the principle my teacher is explaining in economics, I ask him to repeat it, says Christopher Campbell. Class participation goes beyond merely asking questions, though. It a matter of showing intellectual curiosity.

In a lecture on capitalism and socialism, for example, Paul Melendres asked how the Chinese economy could be both socialist and market-oriented. I dont want to memorize for tests only, he says, better grades come from better understanding.

Study together.The value of studying together was demonstrated in an experiment at the University of California at Berkeley. Uri Treisman, who did the research, suggested teaching group-study methods on the basis of his findings. Once that was done, all the groups performed well.

Test yourself.As part of her note-taking, Domenica Roman highlights points she thinks may be covered during exams. Later she prepares tentative test questions based on those points and gives herself a written examination before test day. If I cant answer the question satisfactorily, I go back and review, she says.

Experts confirm what she has figured out for herself.

Do more than youre asked.If her math teacher gives five problems, Christi Anderson does ten. Part of learning is practicing, she says. And the more you practice, the more you learn.


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