How to Get an A+

DSCN8103-1I asked some students how they earned their “A+” mark in my courses. The following are their responses.

“At the beginning of the semester, I kept on track with readings and made my own notes as I read and highlighted. During lectures, I would write down what you indicated was important from each chapter. When it came to studying for the midterms, I would re-read the chapters and my notes until I was very familiar with the material. Attending class was rewarding because the midterms did closely reflect the lectures. I find that it’s easier to maintain my study habits throughout the course of the semester rather than rely on only doing well on the final. Of course, this takes a lot of dedication, planning, and time outside of class to do. As well, in general I find it’s best to put the same amount of effort into all of my courses, regardless if it’s an elective or not; it’s not enough to assume that I will automatically do well in an elective.”

“I first and foremost made sure that I attended every single lecture and took notes diligently. I also made sure that I read and highlighted every chapter of the required texts. From the chapters in the textbook and my class notes I would make flashcards and create my own questions to test my knowledge of what was covered during the lectures and what was highlighted in the required chapters in the text. In short the most important thing for me was always being in class and taking notes as well completing all the readings. Going to class helped clarify content in the textbook that was difficult to understand. Going to class also made it easier to understand what content was most important by recognizing concepts that were covered both during the lectures and the readings.”

“I attempt to read (when possible) the required chapter before attending class, highlighting passages that I believe to be important as I read. During class, any passages that are referenced directly by the professor are highlighted as well. When studying for exams, I re read what has been highlighted and the summary for each chapter when applicable. I make small notes summarizing the key themes of each chapter so that if a question arises in an exam that I do not know the answer to, I can make an educated guess based on recurring themes in the textbook and from the lectures.”

“Before even studying the most important thing I do is attend every class and depend first and foremost on the notes that I personally took. I truly believe its true when they say that sitting in the front row truly makes the difference. I make sure to have all the chapters read and summarized before attending each class. My studying habits consist of me taking the time to type all the notes I took in class; I literally write down almost everything the professor says, including most of the examples he provides. Secondly, I type down the chapter summaries that I made throughout the weeks. Having everything typed, I then sit down and begin to read, understand, and then memorize. As I got through the notes I’ve made, I begin to highlight what I seem to lack in understanding, and I then go back to the book and re-read the section until I finally understand. I do truly believe that and A+ is achievable in Professor Strangelove’s class. One thing to keep in mind when actually doing a multiple choice exam, is that you must ALWAYS go with your first instinct. I’ve learned that it is important to learn to trust yourself and your choices.”

“For study techniques: I made sure I attended all classes (and if I missed any I would get the notes from a peer), read each chapter at least once (sometimes twice), typed up and reviewed my lecture notes, wrote out and reviewed notes from the readings (which is where the bulk of my studying was allocated), and reviewed the YouTube notes you posted online. When it came to the actual exam, I read the questions slowly and guessed the answer before I looked at the options (so that I was not easily swayed) and finally checked my answers over for any possible careless errors.”

“I attempt to read (when possible) the required chapter before attending class, highlighting passages that I believe to be important as I read. During class, any passages that are referenced directly by the professor are highlighted as well. When studying for exams, I re read what has been highlighted and the summary for each chapter when applicable. I make small notes summarizing the key themes of each chapter so that if a question arises in an exam that I do not know the answer to, I can make an educated guess based on recurring themes in the textbook and from the lectures.”

“In order to prepare for your exams while reading I made sure to underline quotes (while making sure to underline who stated the quote-seeing as many of your questions ask who said what) and identify main themes and concepts present throughout the chapter. When studying I made sure to craft a study guide which synthesized all of my notes in class and my notes based on the reading. I broke down the study guide by chapter and also added a section based on some of your rants on counter discourse, capitalism, ideology etc. I also made sure to define key terms and provide examples for each term. I also condensed important quotes by author so it would be easier to identify who said what. (For instance, Baudrillard spoke mostly about the hyperreal, or Foucault on confession, Pierre Bourdieau on taste).”

“Being a high performance athlete that trains upwards of 26 hours a week, I don’t usually have too much free time (or energy) to spare outside of the classroom. That’s why I would say that not only going to every class but taking diligent, comprehensive notes and keywords down was instrumental to my success in the course. I would then review my notes at the end of the day to make sure I understood everything and the learning took care of itself!”

An A+ is possible in my classes, but you must work as hard as the best of your peers.

And the best are excellent.

Dr. Strangelove