Can't get straight A's even if I try?

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    I’ll finish highschool in year and a half. I’m in in a very strong program where my group average is always 80%+. I thought about changing my program to something easier, but I decided to stay where I am because I had the feeling it would just be running away. So I’m trying really hard! I don’t have a job nor activities in my schedule. I don’t go out much with my friends because I want to study. So all I do is school then home then study then sleep and thats it. I even study during the holidays and the weekends when people of my class just go partying. But still I can’t get straight A’s!! I get a lot of C and B-. I just don’t understand. My classmates have busier life than me but they easily get A’s

    Honestly what is wrong with me? Am I not putting enough effort yet? Do I have a bad study method? What could I do? It’s so unfair!

    My friends are really smart, but when I ask them questions I feel like they get annoyed because I’m ”dumb”. And they keep bragging about their grades which just makes me feel miserable and drains my motivation and confidence. My study method is usually this:

    I read my books, take notes, (if its science and maths I do all the problems the teacher asks while trying to learn my notes) then I study my notes. I rarely learn by heart because I think understanding is way more effective than learning by heart and not understand the concepts

    PS: I used to get very good grades from elementary to mid higshcool


    Rock Banana

    1. Your grades have nothing to do with who you are. On the level of identity it doesn’t matter what grades you get. You are not clever, you are not dumb. All that stuff is conceptual. So relax.

    2. Study smarter, not harder.

    3. Have breaks. Relax. Have a social life. None of those things are going to get in your way. You are giving your brain extremely valuable time to have a break and consolidate information. More importantly you are going to enjoy yourself a bit. This is your life after all.

    4. There’s a Paul McKenna book “I can make you smarter”, take a look at that for some ideas on how to study smarter. There are lots of study methods you’re not using and you can find them in that book. Taking notes and looking at them is probably too passive. Using your brain actively will help.

    5. Put some activities in your schedule. Get some physical exercise. Go on runs etc. This will help you focus, give you more energy and give you something to do other than sitting around staring at notes.

    6. There’s a difference between putting time in and “trying really hard”. When you start tensing up and really “trying” to learn things, you can get in your own way. Sometimes it’s better to relax and soak in the information without all the exertion. Stressing out and “trying” aren’t the same thing as putting the time in to learn and getting effective results.

    7. What do you think achieving straight As will offer you? Being “clever”? Being “happy”? Well, “clever” is just a judgement, just a thought, it’s not actually who you are, so that won’t happen. And “happy” isn’t obtained through telling yourself you need to achieve this and that to be happy, it’s achieved by accepting whatever is happening in each moment. So I would seriously question why you want these As. If it’s to, say, get into a good uni or something then that’s fine, but why do you want to get into the uni? And can you handle the thought of not getting into the uni? If not you might want to explore the fear of failure that suggests.

    Good luck. Take it easy. Well done for putting the time in – now do that with the broader focus I’m suggesting here. The above 7 points are only SUGGESTIONS but why not see what it’s like to try them on and give them a go.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 2 months ago by Rock Banana.

    hi Marki,

    I’m going to write a long post and hence read it with some patience, I hope you will find something very meaningful.

    I think that there are three kinds of people. There are people who have good hardware i.e. these are the people who are naturally gifted with good brain , and hence they have very sharp memory and grasping skills by default. Then there are those who don’t have good hardware, but they have really fine tuned software i.e. Mind. (Yes I believe in the duality of mind and brain i.e mind and brain are different). These people who have good ‘mind’, somehow make very best use of the capacity of their physical brain.
    Now there are third kind of people, who don’t have good hardware and software both, i.e. they don’t have sharp brain and fine tuned mind, and these people face many problems.

    I think that we can’t make much changes in physical hardware i.e brain, but it is almost “possible for every person to fine tune his mind”. I believe that ‘mind’ of every person has similar potential, irrespective of their physical hardware. And I think that by fine tuning our mind, we can also bring changes in brain (Scientists call this phenomenon as Brain Plasticity) , which in turn can improve our performance substantially.

    Now the thing is how to fine tune our software i.e. Mind? And it’s answer is meditation. Actually there are thousands of variety of meditation techniques which can sharpen our mind. But I’ve experience in Aanapan and Vipassana Meditation. Hence I’ll write about these two only. As you are student, I’ll recommend you Aanapan meditation, because it’s foundation of Vipassana meditation and normally students prefer it all over the world.

    Once you’ll become mature in Aanapan meditation, your performance will certainly improve, and you’ll certainly experience it on your own after practicing it for one month atleast. But don’t try this on your own. First you’ll have to attend either 1-day or 3-day Aanapan course, whrere you will be taught this meditation under qualified teacher. These courses are held all over the world. Just find out suitable course location from site “http://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index”. And these courses are taught free of cost completely.

    This meditation will increase your mindfullness and awareness and in the process will increase your concentration. With proper fine tuned mind, one can have very well organised thought pattern, which is must for anyone who wants to succeed in their respective field. Some people have these well organised thought pattern by default, while some peole develope these with the help of good schools and teachers, and there are some who develope organised thoughts with the help of meditation.
    Many time we hear words such as “Hard Work” and “Smart Work”, what exactly is meant by “Smart Work”? Actually smart work means tuning our mind and then doing our work, so that we won’t have to put unnecessary extra labour doing the same thing.
    There is no doubt that hard work is required and essential for every success, but without proper ‘mind’, one might not get desired result even after putting every bit of their strength.

    Therefore I think you should give Aanapan meditation a try. If practiced properly, it can be a big asset for rest of your life.
    Once you will have clear and calm mind, your decision making power will increase and you will devise best study plan for yourself as per your needs.

    I hope you will take proper decision after reading above information.
    All the best!!

    PS: Take a look at small documentary on Aanapan meditation, which is also available free of cost for either download or streaming: “http://store.pariyatti.org/Seeds-of-Awareness–DVD_p_2574.html”

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 2 months ago by ginkosan.
    • This reply was modified 9 years, 2 months ago by ginkosan.
    Cassie H

    Hi, Marki.
    That’s a very interesting question, and I understand why you feel concerned about not getting straight As.
    So the question is why, consider that you used to?

    Because you feel like you are trying really hard, I’m wondering if you may have some aspect of a learning deficiency?
    There’s a couple of causes: high stress and burn out usually makes it harder to get good grades because it is harder focus and remember concepts well enough to build a foundation to understand instead of route memorization.

    The other one is just the way you were born, as we get older, the academic work can get harder.

    I highly recommend to see if you can somehow figure out if you do have a learning problem. If there is, there are definitely ways to work around it. But you have to be specific what learning problem it is.

    I was in the same situation you were in. It didn’t matter how hard I try, I kept on getting bad grades in the upper high school grades and completely lost it in university. I was diagnosed with a learning problem, specifically, with anxiety and symbol conversion (math was my toughest subject) and short term memory deficit. What I will tell is that even if the test results come back and there is something in deficit, there are ways to work around it. I recommend seeing if you can see a psychologist that will run a test for you. I was tested for 3 hours, they used laptops to check for ADHD and reading and numerical skills. They will give you a series of tasks for you to perform, and the materials they used are only be able to be purchased by licensed psychologists.

    The other tip I’d suggest is to look at your track record of marks in high school and figure out which subjects you were weaker at and which subjects you were stronger at, it might give you an indication of your weaknesses. Like, if you weren’t strong in English, maybe it’s because there’s a certain deficit in your literacy skills due to your eyes not being able to track lines.

    It might require money but will make your life easier if you get a diagnosis.
    You might find that certain career prospects just can’t be for you due to the competitiveness of needing high grades, but it doesn’t mean you won’t be able to find a career you love. I was crushed and relieved when I found out that I had some problems with learning.

    Other suggestions:
    1) this could be a problem due to stress and pressure
    2) study in a group
    3) Get a blood test done to see how your health is? Are you suffering from fatigue and while you’re spending time studying, you’re also spending a lot of time sleeping due to hormonal problems?
    4) How is your vision? Do you need glasses?
    5) You’re not actively engaging in the learning process, but learning passively.

    • This reply was modified 9 years, 2 months ago by Cassie H.

    It might be that the classes are too hard for but maybe not. I’ll share some of my personal experience with you, maybe it will help you. In high school, I was one of the people in your classes you describe. I took hard classes, excelled in them, worked part time, had friends, and did competitive dance. It all came easy to me. I was in the top 10% of my high school class. I volunteered in clubs. But when I went to college (currently a freshman) it was a whole different experience. No longer was I on top, but everyone was on my level or better. I took anatomy and phys my first semester and got a 79. Granted college is harder but a 79 was totally unlike me. I vowed to get above an 85 on the next test, hoping for over a 90. I “studied”, stopped going out with friends and spent all my time on bio. All of this to get a 61 on the test. I was devastated. The other people in my class were going out getting drunk every weekend, hanging out with friends all the time and still scored 20 points higher than me. So I totally get how you’re feeling. The first thing I did was meet with my professor and talk to her about what she thought I was doing wrong and how I could improve. That was really helpful so I recommend meeting with your teachers. It can be hard but truly they want nothing more than to see you improve. It was hard for me to swallow my pride and ask for help but I did. Second, improve your study strategies. Again, your teachers can help with this. What I now do is review my notes after every class, if shes talking about something during lecture that I don’t get it, I go and see her to have her explain it better to me. I downloaded a flashcard app on my phone. I make a study guide before every test and email it to myself so I can read it on my phone where ever I am. The third test I took I got an 85 on. From a 61. I also didn’t spend every waking moment studying. If I wanted to watch Netflix I did that. I made sure I went to the gym and hung out with friends. I went out at night and studied in the afternoon. Restricting yourself so much doesn’t give you a break. Give yourself time to let loose, whether that’s through video games, going out to the movies, whatever you enjoy.Grades are not everything. They matter but when it comes time to apply to colleges, they want to see what clubs, activities, sports you were in. If you had a job. They don’t just look at GPA and SAT/ACT. Also don’t compare yourself to others. I was always really competitive with everything, including grades, but it did nothing but stress me out even more. So meet with your teachers, try to stay calm, get involved in other things besides just studying, and most of all give yourself a break.

    Martina Weiss

    Getting straight A’s is not really important. It seems like you only feel good enough about yourself when you are as good as your classmates, but that isn’t the truth. Probably, you are afraid of not getting the approval and love from the people around you (parents, friends, etc.) which is why you are beating yourself up so much of not getting straight A’s. It breaks my heart. You probably believe that only if you get those straight A’s you are worthy and good enough.

    Let me tell you something. You are good enough just by being you. There is no need to learn more or perform better for you to be more worthy. Our society puts a lot of meaning in working hard, and being the best in school, however, what this does with its individuals is them to believe, that they are nothing without it. This is the major reason today for those horrendous numbers of people with depression and anxiety. Because they were told in their childhood and adolescence that they are not good enough or loved if they don’t fulfill certain expectations. I know this might sound strange to you right now and overwhelm you. However, please see, that you are amazing the way you are without performing well.

    I know what I’m talking about. In high school, I was the one with the worst grades. And I ask myself the same question you ask yourself now: “What is wrong with me?”. Now I know the following: Nothing is wrong with me. It just was really hard for me to learn things by heart and just reproduce facts. At university it turned out that I’m someone who needs to produce, to philosophize, to discuss, to create. We all are different. Systems like society and school try to make us fit into one box, it’s clear that there are some people who don’t fit in and never will.

    The most important thing in life is this: Finding out who you are without all those voices around you, figuring out what makes you happy and brings you joy (which is at the same time what you’ll be great in) and creating the life you love. On that way, you won’t get everyone’s approval for your decisions, but this is your life. So live it the way you feel is right.

    All the best for you!


    I’m going to tell you about two different study styles and why one is not necessarily better than the other.
    I am a perfectionist and I worked way too hard on my homework to get good grades when in fact, as long as I graduated, it didn’t really matter. Unless you are trying to get in to a top college in which case you may need to go to a two year college and then move up after you have sorted some things out. No employer has ever asked me what my GPA was.
    My son is MUCH smarter than I am…as the person above stated, he has the hardware and the software. He went through a 5 year university program in 4 years with a double major in Biochemistry and Math, was the captain of a rugby team that made it to the national finals, partied with his friends frequently, drove two hours each way to come home to hang out with his old childhood friends on many weekends. His philosophy is and was “C’s get degrees”. He is now a 3rd year medical school student and his philosophy has not changed. As long as he passes, test taking does not necessarily make a good doctor. Once he decides his specialty THEN he must learn the ins and outs but medical school is about learning EVERYTHING about the body. No one doctor needs to know all of it. My point is that if you just keep going and finish knowing you did your best, that is ok. And make time for a social life! It is important to rejuvenate your mind!
    I know you are still in high school and it is a bit different but remember, it might not be ideal but C’s get degrees.
    Oh, and consider a tutor, mentor or a study group where you can see different learning methods from your peers. You sound very dedicated and I am sure things will work out for you in the long run!


    WOW thank you everyone for your advices!!
    I will try to stop thinking about it too much and start doing other things than just studying. It’s true that it just stresses me out a lot. I didn’t expect a lot of answers so I’m surprised. I will definitely take all of your advices into consideration 🙂


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