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How to Become a Straight-A Student in High School

Paul has spent many years teaching English as a foreign and second language. He has taught EFL in Taiwan and Thailand, and ESL in the U.S.

When I attended middle and high school in the late 1950s and early 1960s, I was able to attain straight "A's" in all of my academic subjects. At that time, I attended small-town schools in southeastern Wisconsin. I went to grades seven and eight at a Catholic grade school in Waterford, and a four-year public high school in Burlington. All of my classes were small with no more than 20 students in any class. There were only 500 students in my high school.

When I went away to college at the University of Wisconsin in 1962, however, I struggled to make "B's." This was because I had more competition in the classroom, larger classes, very little personal contact with professors and teaching assistants, and had to do higher-level critical thinking.

In this article, I share the strategies I used to become a straight-A student and end up as valedictorian of my high school graduating class.

Thinking Skills


You Don't Have to Be a Genius

Any individual of average intelligence is capable of becoming a straight-A student. I make this statement based on critical thinking skills and personal experience. While I was attending high school, students were using only the critical skills of acquiring knowledge and comprehension in their courses. Very few subjects required the student to apply what they learned to life experiences. Furthermore, the higher thinking skills of analysis, synthesis, and evaluation were seldom used.

I was good at memorizing facts and formulas, but when it came to applying that knowledge and comprehension, I didn't do that well on the SAT, a physics aptitude test, and in many college courses.

Tips for Getting Straight A's

1. Make the teacher like you.

I wouldn't go so far as to say you have to be a "brownie" or "teacher's pet," but the teacher must get to know you with a good impression. You can achieve this by sitting in the front row of the classroom, smiling, and presenting a good appearance. Using polite language and greeting the teacher in the halls and on the school campus will go a long way.

2. Don't misbehave in class.

As a former teacher, I was extremely annoyed by misbehaving students who disrupted my class. Kids who threw objects in the classroom, talked out of turn, played with their classmates, or slept in the class left me with a bad impression.

3. Participate in class discussions.

Teachers usually base some part of a student's grade on class participation. An A student shows enthusiasm in all classes by asking and answering many questions. He or she will always volunteer to come to the board to answer questions and is always taking notes in class.

4. Prepare your lessons for each class.

When I went to school, many teachers assigned and checked homework every day. As a teacher, I also assigned homework and penalized those students who didn't turn it in. Before each class, I would do the teachers' assigned readings so that I could understand the lesson better in class. While doing my assigned readings, I would usually outline what I read to remember it. If you can write in your books, highlighting important facts and ideas would also help.

5. Study for quizzes and tests.

In addition to classroom participation, quizzes and tests make up a big part of a student's grade. For this reason, it is important to be well-prepared when taking a quiz or test. You do this by reviewing all of the lessons that will be on the quiz or test. When I reviewed as a student, I would go over my classroom notes, outline notes on readings, homework assignments, and any hint that the teacher would give about what was going to be on the test. I would then prepare a practice test and take it during a set time.

6. Get tutorial help.

If you cannot understand a lesson or homework, it is essential to obtain assistance from a teacher, parent, friend, classmate, or a paid tutor. Most teachers could answer my questions after class. When I was having difficulty with algebra problems, my father helped me very much. I also found that reviewing for tests with classmates increased my understanding.

Burlington High School Senior Honor Roll

The author as a member of the senior honor roll.  The author is top right in the bottom picture.

The author as a member of the senior honor roll. The author is top right in the bottom picture.


If a person like me, of average intelligence, can become a straight-A student in high school, you can achieve the same. I can't stress more the importance of doing daily homework, preparing lessons, and studying the correct way for quizzes and tests. Finally, it is necessary to be on very good terms with your teacher.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Paul Richard Kuehn


Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on December 21, 2019:

You are very welcome. I am happy you liked this article.

Christian on December 21, 2019:

Thanks for the advice

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on October 07, 2019:

If a student is sleeping in class, that student is not engaged in learning. As a teacher, I view this as bad behavior.

Ehi on October 07, 2019:

No offense but sleeping in class shouldn't qualify as misbehavior.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on August 26, 2019:

Thanks for your comment, Dan. Yes, if you work hard and are focused and determined, God will certainly help you.

Dan on August 24, 2019:

One can get an A if he or she is forcused and determined. Never give up just look forward and pray so that God can help you and remember God help those who work hard

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on May 17, 2018:

Thank you for commenting. I am happy you found my advice useful.

Josh on May 16, 2018:

thanks, I realy love Your advices. maybe they can help me in achieving what am after

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on March 30, 2018:

Thank you for reading, I am happy you liked this article.

aidan on March 29, 2018:

Thanks for making this

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on February 02, 2018:

Paula, I agree that making mom and dad happy was a big incentive for me making "A"s in high school. And yes, we did do as we were told when growing up in the 50s and early 60s. Thanks for commenting!

Suzie from Carson City on February 02, 2018:

Paul...This was quite a long, long time ago, but I do recall needing and having only one, simple incentive to strive consistently to be an A+ student.....our mother! (and I thank her to this day!) LOL

At the end of the day, the truth is, she & my Dad knew what we were capable of and would settle for nothing less! 1-2-3....easy as pie back in the '60's, we actually did as we were told. Imagine that!! LOL......Paula

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on February 01, 2018:

Thanks for commenting. When I went to high school years ago, online resources like this were unavailable.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on July 01, 2017:

I am very pleased you liked this article, Susan. on July 01, 2017:

Thank you

BODYLEVIVE from Alabama, USA on January 28, 2017:

I agree with your tips and the same tips and advice, I preach to my granddaughter.

Paul Richard Kuehn (author) from Udorn City, Thailand on January 07, 2017:

Yes, there is busy work in high school and students must be prepared to work and play the game if they want to get A's. My A's in high school didn't help me get A's in college because that culture, especially at a big school, is an entirely new ball game. I should have spent more time in the library, but I really hated reading at that time.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on January 06, 2017:

I am afraid I was NEVER an A grade student. Learning facts off rote was not my way and I was possibly a little disruptive! Not rude or naughty but disinterested would certainly apply. School bored me and I did not study for exams. On the other hand, I loved the library and spent most Saturday mornings there! Your ideas are great for helping someone become an A student, IF they are prepared to do the work.