I decided to share little snippets from my book Anyone Can Get An A+: How To Beat Procrastination, Reduce Stress and Improve Your Grades on this blog, as well as answer common questions on learning and studying, as well as share the resources, books, links that helped me the most. I find this subject fascinating, so as long as I am still interested in it, I will continue to read and try to share what I am reading, hoping that benefits others along the way.
So I thought I would start off with an obvious question and one that I usually answer when I talk to others about this book - why did I write it in the first place? What possessed me to add to the growing list of study guides and books on taking notes and highlighting and all the rest of it?
I wrote this book for every student who has ever said to themselves, “I can't do this”; “I'm not good at ___”; “I am too stupid to learn”. This book is for students who feel that they just can't understand certain subjects, or who have given up even before they have begun, resigning themselves to poor grades, because they think that somehow they aren’t ‘smart’ enough to do as well as their classmates.
I was always seen as a good student. In school I got prizes. At home I dutifully did my homework. I went to law school and did my Masters’ at an Ivy League university. I mostly got straight-As. I was the poster child for the perfect student. In reality, I struggled a lot with my classes and schoolwork.
I wrote this book because I wanted to share what I learnt with other students who may be going through similarly frustrating experiences in school. Knowing exactly what study strategies are effective, and which ones simply waste time, will help you to know what to focus your time on. I wrote this book because I don’t really believe that there are any inherently “good” or “bad” students. Some of us stumble onto study habits that are more effective than others.
Doing well in school isn't about spending all your time studying, or even about being exceptionally smart. It is really about building good study habits, being disciplined and willing to look at the areas where you are weak, and find ways to strengthen them - whether by asking for help, or putting in the time to learn it yourself.
It also means making productive use of your time, doing focused work when you're supposed to be studying, and then relaxing properly when you’re not. Breaks, fun activities and sports can all be scheduled around studying, and provided you have a strategic plan and follow it diligently, you can have a life and still do well in school.
Every strategy I wrote about is something I implemented myself, in some cases stumbling upon them by accident. Most of the advice here is also backed up by science - I have read dozens of books and articles trying to learn what are the best ways to improve one’s learning habits. Some of these lessons are ones I learnt the hard way, making mistakes and trying to be the perfect student. In many ways this is the book that I wish I had when I was a student.
I grew up in a country where getting good grades could make the different between going to college or not, having a job that can support your family or not. Each year the cut-of percentage required to get into Delhi University, a very prestigious and yet affordable university in the capital city of India, gets higher and higher.
When I graduated, near the top of my class and with very good grades, I had trouble getting selected for the courses I wanted because I barely made the cut-off percentage, or didn’t reach it in some cases. For some subjects it is now 99%. The whole subject surrounding grades and learning in India (and in many other countries) is so fraught with stress that tragically, many students contemplate drastic measures.
While I may not have the solutions to every problem a student faces, and I can’t really change the system, I wanted to add to the conversation in some way. This is my attempt to help those who are confused, stressed, willing to work hard but convinced that nothing they can do will make a difference, believing that they just can’t learn or can’t improve their grades.
I firmly believe that anyone can change their grades for the better, regardless of where you are currently, with the right mental attitude, and the right tools in your belt. I believe that anyone can master any subject, if they are motivated enough, and are willing to put in some time and effort. No matter what you may have been told by your teachers in the past, if you are willing to apply these principles, you don’t need to let arbitrary labels about talent or ability stop you from pursuing any field of study or academic discipline.