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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 281 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 (281 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,726 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 am a financial consultant that works with parents (with a high school student) to reduce their college expenses and assist them with helping their student create the best college experience possible. I found a recommendation for this book on an education blog and ordered it to see if it might serve as an appropriate gift for the students I work with.

I have a son who is starting his sophomore year in college. He was home this summer so I thought he could serve as the perfect reviewer. (Just to give you a little background, my son is a very strong student that is very organized and feels he has developed good study skills. Yet he admitted that he found the coursework at college to be very different than in high school and that he was caught off guard during his first freshman semester.)

I asked him to read the book and let me know if the author's tips would be helpful to him or other students. As he read, he made various marks in the book to indicate where various pieces of advice given is relevant and helpful. Once he had finished reading the book I went through it and boy did it have lots of marks noted throughout! He highly recommends the book and believes it will greatly assist him with his studies in the coming year. He feels the book would be most helpful to students once they complete their first semester in college. He believes this because until students have experienced classwork at the college level, they will not be able to relate to the material nearly as well since the author shares so much about his personal academic experiences. Having already completed his freshman year, my son said he could totally relate to many of the examples the author cited, which helped make the author's suggestions more credible to him. My son is typically a tough reviewer, so his enthusiastic endorsement of this book confirms for me that it will serve to be a great gift for the students I work with.

Deborah Fox
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