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How to Become a Straight-A Student

How to Become a Straight-A Student

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Every good student needs to have a system. In “How to Become a Straight-A Student,” Cal Newport puts forth innovative ways to study smarter instead of harder. This book shows how you can earn top marks without giving up your fun or social life. Newport interviewed a large number of high-achieving college students, and he condensed their advice into this guide. He details what he calls a “lightweight” time-management system that he gleaned from the most successful students interviewed. Using his strategies, you will find that there is plenty of time in a day for a successful student to study, work, and play.


Newport’s personal experiences as a college student guided him to eliminate from his interviews all the students who “grind,” or study in large blocks of time, to get top grades. Instead, he keeps his focus on students who efficiently strategize their learning. Topics in this book include working through procrastination, targeted notetaking, and no-nonsense exam prep, among many others. He points out that the brain does not cooperate well when you try to do all your work at once. To prevent you from resorting to cramming sessions, he teaches you to use your calendar to keep a no-fuss, up-to-date to-do list each day.


This guide advocates for practically the opposite of putting your nose to the grindstone. Amount of hard work does not always equate to positive results, explains Newport, especially if it is distracted work. He guides you to study for only one hour three times a day instead of studying for three hours at once. Readers also learn to take care of their other needs in between the work so that those things do not distract them. Newport lays out some of the best study techniques to use in those one-hour intervals. This guide offers many adaptable approaches that you will want to come back to time and again.

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