5 Most Common Mistakes “B” students make – and how to get the A

Student peering over book
Written by Oklahoma DaVinci scholar, Director of Launch Academy, and University Guest Speaker


Has it been awhile since you got an A?

Just can’t pull up past that 89.4% mark? Having trouble asking that lady friend to go see Dark Knight Rises with you and your friends?  Well, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.  If you want to bust this B-plateau, then discover the 5 most common mistakes that are made and how you can turn them around.  And chances are, you’ll probably get that lady friend’s attention in the process.

1. FOCUS LIKE A JEDI – They say the average person’s natural attention span (in minutes) is the same as their age.  If you’re 15, you can focus naturally for about 15 minutes on something before switching gears or getting distracted.  But “A” students are not natural.  They are jedis.  So next time you sit down in that B-grade class, if you “force” (pun intended) yourself to fight your natural want to squirm, you’ll become stronger and getting the A will become all the easier.  Need help focusing?  Try doodling as you pay attention.  Kinesthetic movement aids in learning.

2. BE CREATIVE – One reason that some “B” students never rise to become “A” students is their note-taking stinks and it doesn’t click with them.  Then change it!  Be creative in your note-taking. “But I’m not creative!” Hogwash.  Everyone is naturally creative (go watch a kindergartner for a couple of hours) and a great way to get your creative juices flowing is through mind maps.  The concept it easy and business leaders use it all the time: Write down what you’re trying to remember (usually a word or two), then draw branches extending out from it with descriptive words.  Then extend branches from those descriptions to describe each of those words.  You can continue as deep as you like, but periodically ask “how does this connect with the original concept?”  It’s a wonderful exercise and may be the key to unlocking your A.

3. STUDY IN “FUN-SIZE” PORTIONS – Remember “fun-size” candy bars?  Well, just like those bite-size goodies, you should take studying in bite-size portions.  It’s exponentially better to study say 15 minutes every day for 12 days, rather than cram for three hours the night before an exam (do the math. they add up to the same about of time.)!  Don’t have the self-discipline to study 15 minutes outside of homework?  Get a buddy!  You’ll both be much happier in the end, I guarantee it.

4. BECOME FRIENDS WITH “A” STUDENTS – If you really want to get to know somebody, check out the friends they hang out with.  Think about it.  When a person is smart, he or she attracts people who are also smart. Your life is too short to associate with people because they “don’t have any friends.”  Don’t get me wrong, I believe 100% in charity, but if you’re simply investing your time & friendship into a black hole (you know who I’m talking about), you’ll both be empty and poor in the end.  It may be hard to break off some friendships and awkward to create new ones, but if you truly want to be successful, not only in this class but over the broader span of your life, this is something you must learn to do.

5. CHECK YOUR ANSWERS – Attention: this is the BIGGEST mistake made between “B” students and “A” students!  One decimal place too many, and it’s all over.  You put 1429, instead of 1492.  The answer was 41 and you drew a picture of Donald Duck.  Little errors can bring big differences.  In the same token, little checks can bring big differences too.  Check as you go, BUT ALSO check everything again before turning it in.  This step alone could be difference between a 3.9 and a 4.0 in the end.

PS. As far as your lady friend goes, remember: If you don’t ask her, she’s essentially saying no.  If you do ask her, she may say no, but she may also say yes.  Either way, you don’t lose any ground from where you are now.  

Stay Smart!


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