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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

4.5 out of 5 stars 276 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“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.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Three Rivers Press; 11/26/06 edition (December 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0767922719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767922715
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 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 (276 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,238 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
I rate this book 4 stars only because there is tons of great study advice on his blog that should be included in this book! This book does have some "basic" advice in it as other reviews stated, but combined with the info on his blog and your own personal study habits you can really cut down on "grinding".

For instance, in this book Cal points out the pitfalls of highlighting: You have to go back and read it again, which wastes time. He also discusses taking notes in the QEC format, and mentions how having your readings for technical classes available during class make lectures easier to follow and understand. While QEC notes are great, it is hard to do this in class, even with a laptop. His blog mentions the "morse code method" where you essentially identify the components of your potential QEC notes by marking a dash next to main ideas in your reading material, and mark dots next to information supporting that idea. When I'm in class I jot down as many questions as possible. These questions capture big ideas of the lecture, and help me create a practice quiz for later. During slow moments in lecture I skim the reading and mark up my book with the morse code method. I then read the text after class (as recommended in this book) and take QEC notes based on the questions I captured during lecture, and the morse code marks I put in my book, which makes note taking that much easier. This is more efficient than highlighting, because it doesn't just say "hey this is important" but also says "this is a big idea, and this over here supports this idea."

One thing that is definitely lacking in this book is advice on how to deal with memorization. You've all been there: languages, cellular respiration, medical terminology, taxonomy and phylogeny, functional groups.
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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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