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Anyone Can Get an A+ by Geetanjali Mukherjee

Anyone Can Get an A+

by Geetanjali Mukherjee

Giveaway ends January 14, 2017.

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Sunday, July 17, 2016

My Struggles With Schoolwork

Something I have noticed with students who don’t always get the grades they would like, or who struggle with classes and schoolwork - they believe that the ones with “good grades” are lucky, or smarter, or somehow everything just comes super easily to them.

While of course it is possible that some students are naturally more inclined to certain subjects and topics, I think its simply a case of the fact that those who do well, just try harder or keep at it longer, or over time develop certain study habits or skills that work for them.

I know that was the case for me.

In high school, I struggled with math and science courses, frequently not understanding at least 80% of what the teacher said in class. I sometimes asked my friends for help with my homework, copying their answers because I had no idea how to even start working through it on my own. I vividly remember the panic and shame I felt, on a particular physics unit test, where unable to solve almost every problem, I would write whatever little I knew, put down the formulae, and then leave large gaps in the answer booklet, hoping that I could come back to it and magically find inspiration. Of course I never did.

I went through plenty of false starts, and even after I started to get the hang of the coursework, it took a while for the results to show in my grades. I used many of the approaches that I have outlined in this book, some by design, many others by accident. In my final year of law school I got the highest grades in some of my classes, despite fighting a mysterious illness (later diagnosed as glandular fever). In graduate school, I got As in most of my courses, and was inducted to a national society of honor students in my field. And in high school when I was struggling with most of my subjects - I improved steadily, and obtained the highest grades in my school in the O-level equivalent exams.

Here’s the thing – I don’t think that bad grades in school are necessarily the result of being lazy and not wanting to put in the work. I believe that sitting through classes not understanding a word, day in and day out, makes us start to doubt ourselves. We think, I am not meant to do this. We avoid trying. It’s scary, confronting our inadequacies and shortcomings, seeing in black and white that I am falling behind and don’t really know what to do about it.

Over and over in school and college, I had this feeling. Sometimes I got the hang of the course and got a good grade. Sometimes I didn’t. To a large extent it felt like a gamble, although I did see that working hard changed the odds more consistently in my favor. But I didn’t have a consistent set of principles that would always help me to do well no matter what course I took. And even while I was doing well, I was always stressed out, believing that maybe I would bomb the next exam and it would all fall apart.

I began to read many books and articles on a wide variety of subjects – psychology, neuroscience, improving productivity, overcoming procrastination and learning more effectively. I started to see patterns, and realized that the times I did well in school were when I put into practice the principles talked about in these books. I just didn’t know I was doing so, which is why I wasn’t always able to replicate my results.

This book grew out of a notebook I kept to jot down the things I was learning, and tried to find out what had worked for me and why.  When I read about the principles of learning and neuroscience that underlie most of the strategies in this book, I realized exactly why I went through those periods of peaks and valleys throughout my school life – whenever I worked with how my brain works best, I did really well. When I failed to apply these principles and studied haphazardly, without a plan, and without engaging my brain in the right way, I got average results. I still studied hard, but not in the most efficient manner.

This is an edited excerpt from my book "Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades".  It makes the perfect back-to-school purchase or gift. Click here to buy this book from your preferred retailer:

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