How to Become a Straight-A Student in High School

Updated on November 18, 2017
Paul Kuehn profile image

Paul has spent many years teaching EFL and ESL. He taught EFL in Taiwan during the 70s, ESL in the U.S., and most recently EFL in Thailand.

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. Actually, 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 due to the fact that 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 wind up as valedictorian of my 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 it is important that the teacher gets to know you with a good impression. You can achieve this by sitting in the front row in 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 class definitely left me with a bad impression.

3. Participate in class discussion.

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, outlined 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 period.

6. Get tutorial help.

If you can not understand a lesson or homework, it is very important to get 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.


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.

Questions & Answers

    © 2017 Paul Richard Kuehn


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      • Paul Kuehn profile image

        Paul Richard Kuehn 3 weeks ago from Udorn City, Thailand

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

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        aidan 3 weeks ago

        Thanks for making this

      • Paul Kuehn profile image

        Paul Richard Kuehn 2 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

        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!

      • fpherj48 profile image

        Paula 2 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

        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 Kuehn profile image

        Paul Richard Kuehn 2 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

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

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        Mike Haord 2 months ago

        Good post! I applied some of these hacks in high school, was the teachers' favorite. They'd never think I used this service to get help with my homework. Still waters run deep, you know :D

      • Paul Kuehn profile image

        Paul Richard Kuehn 9 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

        I am very pleased you liked this article, Susan.

      • profile image 9 months ago

        Thank you

      • bodylevive profile image

        BODYLEVIVE 15 months ago from Alabama, USA

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

      • Paul Kuehn profile image

        Paul Richard Kuehn 15 months ago from Udorn City, Thailand

        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 profile image

        DreamerMeg 15 months ago from Northern Ireland

        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.