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How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less Paperback – December 26, 2006

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How to Become a Straight-A Student: The Unconventional Strategies Real College Students Use to Score High While Studying Less + How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country's Top Students + What Smart Students Know: Maximum Grades. Optimum Learning. Minimum Time.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767922719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767922715
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“This book delivers on its title 100 Percent. I wish I'd had a copy when I was in college—I would have had a better GPA and a better social life!”—Jason Ryan Dorsey, author of My Reality Check Bounced!

“A smart, concise, fun, and above all informative guide on how to ace college by being smarter about how to work . . . This book is a must-have for anyone who wants to do well at college and enjoy it too.” —M. Cecilia Gaposchkin, Assistant Dean of Faculty for PreMajor Advising, Dartmouth College

About the Author

Cal Newport graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Dartmouth in 2004, where, using the strategies outlined in this book, he earned thirty-six straight A’s in a row. Also the author of How to Win at College, he is studying for his Ph.D. in computer science at MIT.

Customer Reviews

Buy the book, and read the blog.
Most of the tips and study methods in this book are focused on time management and effective use of time.
I will recommend this book to high school and new college students.
Tisha King

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

219 of 234 people found the following review helpful By JT on September 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I'm currently a student at Tufts University, and before reading this book I was a real "grinder" when it came to trying to get a good GPA. I really didn't have a stellar social life because, due to my previous study methods, I needed to study for hours on end in order to excel academically. I did well, but not insanely well, and it always felt like I was under a time crunch to finish my work.

But the most frustrating aspect of my early college career was the sacrifices I had to make to my social life to get an above-average GPA. Every time I tried to make time to go out and have fun, my grades suffered.

Enter Cal's book. After reading this book and applying his techniques, I was able to take the hardest course load I ever took (5 science/engineering courses), play rugby, and go out, on average, 3 times a week while pulling off a 3.8 GPA for the semester.

The techniques in this book will vastly improve your quality of life in college. His time management techniques are worth the price of admission alone. I HIGHLY recommend it, Two thumbs up.
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317 of 346 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 3, 2010
Format: Paperback
This book really got me excited about my second semester of college. Immediately before reading this, I had just finished reading and learning the method in Adam Robinson's "What Smart Students Know" - which Newport bashes rigorously in his introduction. I too was under the impression that Robinson expected too much of the typical college student, and Newport's book was totally the relief I was looking for.

What I loved about "Straight-A Student" was that it provided a great framework for understanding the system that you have to work within. The time and focus management, and organizational part have helped tremendously. It also separated out the difference between technical and non-technical courses and the methods by which you should approach them. Even the writing portion makes sense. My total approach to college and classes has been simplified by these things.

So why only three stars? Well, in my literature class I applied all the "big idea" methods and did great in all my discussions and essays. I couldn't believe how easy it all was. Then I took my first exam. It was hard for me let go of my usual "grind" ways and trust the process, so I decided to study half Newport's way and include half Robinson's way (which requires a lot less time than the author suggests). You couldn't imagine my dismay when I open the exam only to find that the questions were requesting very technical details of the reading material I demoted because neither the teacher nor students ever referred to them at all.

On the half of the questions that applied to the material I studied using Robinson's method, however, I didn't even have to think. I knew the answers and was able to answer easily.
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29 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Derek M. Gless on June 27, 2007
Format: Paperback
I've read many many books on this subject, and this is the best one I've found so far. Cal Newport does a fantastic job presenting his finds on how to get straight A's, without the BS that you'll get from 90% of the books out there.

The main source of information for this book was interviews with real, straight A students at schools like Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Dartmouth, Brown, etc... Newport sent out surveys around the country to these students, and even interviewed many in depth in order to devise the strategies that these students are using.

The book is broken up into three sections: Study Basics + Time Management, Quizzes + Exams, and Essays + Papers. In each section, Newport carefully outlines the strategies real students use to gain an academic edge. Some of these include how to plan out your day in only five minutes, how to win the war on porcrastination, and how to come up with killer ideas for essay topics. At the end of each section, the author presents a "Case Study" on one or two student, where he goes through a typical day/week with a college student who implements these strategies. At the end, I found myself feeling empowered and motivated, like there was no academic challenge I couldn't overtake.

And here's the real good stuff: the author shows you how to do this WITHOUT having to study for 16 hours a day, only get 3 hours of sleep, and spend every spare waking moment with your nose in your notes. In fact, Newport deliberately discarded any interviews with students who followed strategies such as this.

I'd reccommend this book to any student at any level who wants to learn how to live up to their full potential. It's easier than you think.
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105 of 123 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on January 6, 2011
Format: Paperback
*read the comments below this review for more info if you really need help! :D*

I saw the raving reviews for this book so I bought it. I must say, I rather enjoy it. It gives simple, concise advice. No BSing around. Only the bare minimum of what you need to make straight As. I agree with what everyone has said.

The problem comes when you've got a learning disability. I have reading and ADD. Some of Newport's advice simply will not cut it for me. For example, he talks about how you shouldn't waste time reading the assignment before class. Instead, go to class taking good notes (& of course there is a section explaining his minimalist approach to good notes). This plan of action is disatrious for an ADD student. We struggle to pay attention. We have a tendency to not "move on" to the next topic without an understanding of what we see. We miss the lecture, essentially. For me to NOT do the reading before hand is actually a strategy for failure. Reading material beforehand gives me understanding of the lecture so I can focus, ask questions, etc.

That was just an example of how some methods in this book may not work. So, unfortunately, not all of us can cut as many corners as Cal could... For some of us, we need to take time, but we can be smart about how the time is used.

So i you get this book and find that something is not working for you, don't blame yourself. Find a new strategy and check out other books.

But no matter who you are, if you are beginning your research on the most effective study plan FOR YOU, this book is an awesome place to start. It will give you a good foundation of no-nonsense, modernized concepts that permeate throughout the "how to study" book options.

Currently, I am using more of the "Guaranteed 4.
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More About the Author

Cal Newport is a writer and a professor of computer science at Georgetown University. He is the author of four books and runs the popular advice blog, Study Hacks, which attempts to decode "patterns of success" in both school and the working world. His contrarian ideas on building a successful, meaningful life have been featured on TV, radio, and in many major publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and New York Post.