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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
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How to Get Straight A’s in High School

When people think of the stereotypical student that gains admission to a top university, a couple of things come to mind: some with a breadth of extracurricular activities, a strong work ethic, and, most importantly, straight A’s on every report card. 


Getting near-perfect grades in every class is widely accepted as a prerequisite for gaining admission to a top tier school. If you’re a driven student who wants to aim for straight A’s in high school, we’re here to help you determine how that strategy fits into your overall college goals and provide some expert tips on achieving that top grade in every class. 


Do You Even Want To Get Straight A’s? 


It’s not always reasonable to assume that a student would thrive in every single class they’re in. Normally, students thrive in certain subjects while taking a little longer to grasp others. College admissions committees understand this, so they won’t necessarily fault you if you don’t have an A in every class, especially the harder ones. 


When it comes to your transcript, colleges care more about whether you challenged yourself with your coursework rather than whether you got straight A’s in all of your classes. A student who got one or two B’s in AP classes is usually more impressive to a college admissions committee than someone who didn’t take any advanced courses but got straight A’s. So while A’s are a great thing to strive for, it’s more important to challenge yourself with your coursework, particularly in subjects that you are interested in. This will help you grow as a student and define your future goals far more than getting straight A’s in easy classes will. 


Tips For Getting Straight A’s in High School


1. Pick a Balanced Schedule 


Many ambitious students have a tendency to overload themselves with advanced coursework and extracurricular activities, and this usually results in lower grades for the student but also a ton of extra stress and burnout. So instead of piling on as many AP courses as possible while trying to juggle five other activities, take a minute to really think about how much time you have to dedicate to advanced coursework and what subjects you really want to challenge yourself in.


For example, if you want to study a STEM field in college and struggle in English, think twice before adding AP Literature to your course schedule, especially if you have other extracurricular commitments. On the flip side, if you know that being captain of a school sports team is going to take up a lot of time in your schedule, try to balance the number of honors courses and regular courses in your schedule. As a general rule, you can assume that each higher-level course you take will require 3-5 more hours of your time per week for homework and studying than the regular equivalent of the course. Knowing that you should be sure to choose a schedule that you know you can handle. This will give you sufficient time to dedicate to each course, maximizing your chance of straight A’s. 


2. Ask For Help Early On


Most advanced high-school courses are fast-paced, meaning that you will likely not focus on one topic for more than a few days. So if you are having trouble grasping a certain concept, you shouldn’t wait before asking for help and clarification. If you wait too long and don’t get your questions answered, the class may move on to a different subject, and you may fall behind.


There are several places you can go if you need help on a particular subject. If you just have a few questions, your teacher or even a peer can usually help you out quickly. If you find that you’re struggling with multiple concepts that a few questions won’t solve, try to schedule some time after-school with your instructor or a tutor to walk through the concepts again and cover anything you’re not understanding. With most courses, if you’re not understanding something, putting in a bit more time and asking for help can usually remedy the situation.


3. Follow a Routine and Stay Organized


The most successful high school students are usually the ones who keep a structured daily schedule with little ambiguity. As often as you can, try to plan in advance for a dedicated time in your day to study and complete assignments after school. Also, make sure to plan breaks in your day that don’t involve studying, extracurriculars, or any other type of work. Break time tends to do wonders for keeping students refreshed and focused when they need to be. 


Furthermore, it’s important to keep track of all of your assignments and projects at any given point in time. After all, you don’t want to run into a situation where you stayed up late working on a project for one class only to realize the next day that you forgot to complete another assignment for a different class. Having an agenda or daily planner can really help with this by giving you one place to write down all of your responsibilities, commitments, and assignments for the day in one easy place. As long as you update it regularly, you shouldn’t ever forget something that you have to do. 

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4. Form Study Groups 


As long as you’re keeping up with the coursework in your classes, study groups can be extremely helpful. Studying with your peers can do a lot to hold you accountable because you know you’re going to have to discuss it with people eventually. Also, if you’re not understanding a concept, you may find your peers extremely helpful because they can usually explain it to you in layman’s terms that are easy to comprehend. 


Now, if you’re one of those bright students who understand every concept covered in a class, you can still use the study group to practice explaining concepts to your peers. Explaining concepts and answering questions from people tends to help students retain concepts better and test their true understanding of a concept. 


5. Start Studying Early 


Don’t fall into the trap of cramming for exams the night before. Not only is it an incredibly stressful situation, but you are unlikely to retain as much information as you would have if you had spaced out your studying among a few days or even a week. Most students tend to perform better if they study in chunks over an extended period of time, as opposed to doing one long study session. So, if you have a big exam or midterm coming up, try to start studying for it at least a few days before. If it’s an even bigger exam, like a final exam, give yourself at least a week. 


6. If You Perform Poorly, Take The Time To Figure Out What Went Wrong


Unfortunately, most students do not perform well all the time. You’re bound to do poorly on a test or other assignment here or there, and that’s perfectly normal. However, you are not going to be able to improve unless you take the time to go back to the assignment and assess what went wrong. Maybe your thesis was weak, maybe you didn’t take the time to really learn a specific concept, or maybe you simply didn’t give yourself enough time to study. Either way, it’s important to identify what you did wrong so that you can make sure it doesn’t happen again. 


If your poor performance comes as a shock and you’re unable to figure out exactly what went wrong, talk to your teacher or a friend who did well on the particular assignment or project. If you compare with a friend, you might be able to identify what they did differently that earned them points. A teacher, on the other hand, can usually tell you exactly what it was in the assignment that deducted points, so you’ll know what not to do again.


7. Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses


A large portion of success in high school classes comes from simply taking enough time to study, understand, and apply what is being taught to you. This is usually easy to do in courses that come naturally to you, so you won’t need as much time to study in order to do well in those courses. However, for the courses and concepts that don’t come as naturally to you, it can often take you twice the amount of time to grasp the same amount of material. 


Most people are like this, but in order to get A’s in both the easy and difficult classes, you need to allocate more of your study time to those courses that are challenging for you. We understand that this isn’t always the fun choice, but it’ll be better for your grades in the long run. So if you know that you struggle in a certain subject, plan to spend more of your time studying that subject than you will a subject that you feel like you have a handle on. Who knows? You just might find that you understand the harder class better by the end! 


While you’re striving for perfect straight A’s across the board, you might be thinking about which colleges you’d like to attend. Well, as your grades start to come in, we can help you understand which colleges you’re most likely to gain acceptance to based on your academic and extracurricular profile. Our free chancing engine will tell you your chances of acceptance at the colleges of your choice so that you can start to form and narrow down your college list. As an added bonus, we’ll give you expert tips on how to improve your profile and make it more competitive for college admissions. Sign up for your free CollegeVine account to get started!

Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!