Introduction

 

How I Came To Write This Book

“I give up!  I can’t do this!” I mumbled to Gail, the woman who taught the art classes I took the summer before heading off to law school.  I was talking about a painting that I was trying to copy – I just couldn’t get it to look right.  As I sat there frustrated by my inability to do what seemed to be a relatively simple task, the idea to write this book emerged.  Now, you’re probably wondering how I can possibly connect my frustration in an art class to a book about getting A’s in university. Well, I promise you it will all make sense if you just keep reading. 

“So, the economics student’s having trouble painting, is she?” my art teacher teased.  “It couldn’t possibly be as difficult as getting into Harvard, could it?”

Then I started to think about what she said.  I’m certainly no genius.  Nor am I a bookworm, a nerd, or a browner.  However, I did get into Harvard Law School.  But it really wasn’t as difficult as my art teacher was making it out to be.  I’m truly convinced that pretty well anybody could get into an Ivy League school if they just had the right approach.

“Actually,” I explained to her, “getting into Harvard isn’t half as hard as painting this picture.”  Just in case you’re as confused by this comment as my art teacher seemed to be, I’ll explain what I meant.

The truth is, the people who do well in school are not necessarily the most intelligent or the most hardworking.  There are a lot of geniuses out there who will never be at the top of their class – I know a fair share of them myself!  And there are probably even more people who spend most of their waking hours immersed in schoolwork and still don’t get the grades they’re hoping for.  Those who do excel in school aren’t really any smarter than the average student.  So what do they have, if not ability?  Quite simply, they know how to do well. They’ve learned ‘the system’.  I’ve created my own system for getting straight A’s and I’m about to share it with you.

 

What Is This Book About?

School success opens the door to many opportunities.  An excellent transcript can get you the job interview you’ve been hoping for your whole life.  It can also get you into the graduate program of your dreams (as it did in my case).  So, making your mark in school can put you in the best position for your future, whatever it may be. 

But, how do you achieve school success?  I’ll tell you all about my personal system for success in this book.  I’ve developed, perfected, and promoted this system throughout my years in high school and university.  Within the ten chapters of this book, you will get to know the 10 Ways to Straight A’s.  The best part is, it’s simple! 

If you read this book, you will learn how to get the most out of being in class, what to do to prepare for class, how to study for exams, and how to write effective papers.  I will guide you through a step-by-step game plan for school success.  Inevitably, reading this book will save you the time and energy it would have taken to develop a successful system on your own by trial and error.   


Who Should Read This Book?

Are you currently a student, or are you soon to become one?  Or are you thinking about going back to school? If so, this book is a must for you.  The earlier you read this book, the better.  Any delay in reading this book and you’ll be forced to unlearn your bad study habits later on.  Read it as soon as possible for the best results.

While this book tends to focus on university and college, I have made sure that it is applicable to all students, as early as Junior High School and as late as post-graduate studies.  I present a method of school success that works, regardless of your current level of education.

I also want to make it clear that I use the terms ‘university’ and ‘college’ interchangeably in this book.  I understand that the term ‘college’ means something different in the United States than it does in Canada but let’s not get caught up with terminology.  Rather, focus on learning the techniques that I present for succeeding in school.  Most of them will apply to you regardless of where you are in your education at the present time.


What Makes This Book Different?
 
This book is different from any other book you’ve read on how to achieve school success and I’ll tell you why.  Frankly, I have a different theory about why some people succeed in school while others don’t.  I truly believe that nearly anyone can do very well academically.  It’s just a question of knowing what to do and then being committed to doing it.  It’s certainly not about how smart you are nor does it have anything to do with your past academic record. 

After one of my brothers read over the first chapter of my book, he challenged me.  “Now, wait a minute,” he said.  “Are you trying to say that anyone can get an ‘A’ or be at the top of his or her class?  How do you define success, anyway?”  We debated about whether people should set ‘realistic’ goals (i.e. aim to do a little better than the previous year) or whether they should just aim for ‘success’ in the general sense of the word.

I reminded my older brother that, ever since I was little, he had teased me that I was stupid.  You see, as a little kid I never could calculate math problems in my head the way he could, I wasn’t a fast reader, and I never pronounced words properly when I read them aloud.  In general, I just didn’t seem like a very bright kid.  Perhaps the repetition of him calling me “stupid” really stuck in my head over the years and left me with a bit of a complex.  Perhaps I really believed I was as stupid as he’d been telling me all my life. 

Fortunately, this complex only served to help me.  How?  Well first, it made me realize at a fairly early age that I wasn’t going to succeed in school on my brainpower alone.  I had to find a creative way to achieve school success.  So, what I set out to do was develop a foolproof system for doing well.  I have stuck to this system throughout my high school and undergraduate years and will continue with it into the next stage of my education.  My system has been instrumental in helping me achieve high marks, which in turn, has led to my winning numerous scholarships and awards that have financed my university education.  Now, this system has landed me at one of the most prestigious law schools in the world (with a fellowship to help pay for it).

Who knows what would have happened had I set more “realistic goals”.  I doubt that I would have been where I am today.  I believe people have to stop thinking about their limitations and start thinking about their possibilities.  If you want to really achieve, you need to think big!  That is, you’ve got to realize that there is nothing keeping you from making your mark in school, however big you’d like that mark to be.  All you really need is some know-how.  That’s what I’m going to share with you.

In this book, I provide you with the tools that you’ll need.  It’s all pretty straightforward.  If you follow my system for achieving school success, you should have no problem achieving your goals.  So, set your goals high and hold on tight.


How To Learn The 10 Ways To A’s
 
Each chapter in this book presents a separate step in achieving school success.  I’ll take you through each step slowly and carefully to make sure that you fully understand what I’m trying to say.  To help these lessons really sink in, I’ll highlight important points throughout each chapter.  I’ll also include various exercises to get you involved along the way.

The best thing you can do is sit back and immerse yourself in this book.  It’s easy to read, and after you’ve put it down, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve learned in such a short period of time.  Pretty soon, you’ll notice that you’re becoming a more organized and focused individual who knows how to do well.


25 Skills You Will Acquire From Reading This Book

If you follow my suggestions, you’ll develop the skills to achieve school success:

1. Setting your goals for school success – and setting them early.

2. Prioritizing your activities and responsibilities at school.

3. Determining where academic success fits into your priorities.

4. Letting go of misconceptions that will only constrict the way you
 think.

5. Choosing your classes before heading off to school.

6. Deciding where to live while at school.

7. Financing your education (by looking for jobs, getting financial aid, or applying for scholarships).

8. Always attending classes and tutorials.

9. Preparing yourself properly before you go to class.

10. Taking complete and accurate class notes.

11. Using a method for taking thorough notes from textbooks and articles.

12. Keeping yourself organized during the school year.

13. Completing assignments and exercises correctly.

14. Forming positive relationships with classmates, older students, and professors.

15. Getting the best reference letters possible from your professors.

16. Preparing your notes and getting them ready for exam time.

17. Creating a schedule for yourself (using the Wrap Around Scheduling System) to keep you on target during exam time.

18. Using past exams to supplement your studying.

19. Finding a study method and sticking to it (the ICE Method: Issue Condensation Method for Exams).

20. Writing multiple-choice, open book, take home, and essay exams.

21. Surviving exam time by keeping calm, getting into a routine, and finding a good place to study.

22. Writing excellent papers and essays.

23. Using a method to essay writing that includes choosing a topic, doing the research, writing the paper, and editing it.

24. Learning how to avoid plagiarizing by footnoting properly and
 consistently.

25. Having a life at school by being well-rounded, taking care of yourself, and putting things in perspective.


Overview Of This Book

Each chapter of the book discusses one of my 10 Ways to Straight A’s.  In each chapter, I lead you step-by-step through the process of achieving school success.

Chapter One: Shows you how to get your mind set on school success by setting your goals, prioritizing, and doing away with preconceived ideas that will only constrict the way you think.

Chapter Two: Teaches you how to prepare yourself before you head off to school.  You’ve got to choose your classes, decide where to live, and determine how you will finance your education.

Chapter Three: Instills in you the importance of going to class and tutorials, and teaches you how to prepare for them.

Chapter Four: Leads you through the process of taking notes in class, from textbooks, and from articles that you are assigned.

Chapter Five: Discusses the importance of networking.  You’ve got to know how to form positive relationships with your classmates, older students, professors and teaching assistants/fellows.

Chapter Six: This chapter will help you organize yourself for exam time.  You need to prepare your notes, make a schedule using the Wrap-Around Scheduling System, and obtain resources such as past exams to study from.

Chapter Seven: You’ve got to use a study method for exams.  I’ll teach you about my own study method, the ICE Method (Issue Condensation for Exam Method).  It works, it’s efficient, and you can use it to study for almost all of your courses.

Chapter Eight: I’ll show you how to get through exam time with your nerves intact.  I’ll give you tips on how to keep calm, get into a routine, and find a comfortable place to study.

Chapter Nine: In this chapter I give you a step-by-step process for writing excellent papers and essays that includes choosing your topic, doing the research, writing the paper, and finally, editing it.

Chapter Ten: Success goes beyond school.  You’ve really got to balance life while you’re at school.  You do this by being well-rounded, taking care of yourself, and putting things in perspective.

Follow the 10 Ways to Straight A’s and you’ll breeze through achieving the school success you desire.

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