How To Become a Straight-A Student by Cal Newport – [PDF Download]

Most college students believe that straight A’s can be achieved only through cramming and painful all-nighters at the library. But Cal Newport knows that real straight-A students don’t study harder they study smarter.

A breakthrough approach to acing academic assignments, from quizzes and exams to essays and papers, “How to Become a Straight-A Student” reveals for the first time the proven study secrets of real straight-A students across the country and weaves them into a simple, practical system that anyone can master.

Some Points That Highlight Cal Newport In This Book:

  1. Streamline and maximize your study time.
  2. Conquer procrastination.
  3. Absorb the material quickly and effectively.
  4. Know which reading assignments are critical and which are not.
  5. Target the paper topics that wow professors.
  6. Provide A+ answers on exams.
  7. Write stellar prose without the agony.

A strategic blueprint for success that promises more free time, more fun, and top-tier results, “How to Become a Straight-A Student” is the only study guide written by students for students with the insider knowledge and real-world methods to help you master the college system and rise to the top of the class.

How To Become a Straight-A Student PDF

How to Become a Straight A Student attempts to provide study advice that has been recommended by other students. Since my last semester was not great, I had hoped reading this book would help me figure out more and better ways to study as well as open my mind to new techniques.

As a whole, this book seemed to think a little too highly of itself. I mean, I understand the importance of marketing but as I see it, I already have this book so there’s no need to market it to me. Instead of wasting page on convincing me why this book is going to be life changing, how about actually changing my life?

In many ways, this was frustrating. From the introduction and all the way to the end, the author kept trying to convince me straight A students all have this secret way of studying that only he has revealed and is now going to transform my life entirely because no one has ever considered recommended these pieces of advice. Needless to say, this is quite an overstatement.

Don’t get me wrong, the advice here is good. That said, it occurred to me that this book presents a lose-lose situation. If you already do most of the techniques here, there’s no reason to read it. If you don’t, there’s probably a reason why you don’t and it’s not because you’ve never considered doing it in any other way.

Sure, this book is great for people who have never studied before. If this is your first time in an academically rigorous place, this book will probably be very helpful. However, if you’ve already experienced intense studying, you probably already know the ways that work and don’t work for you so this book might provide some new ideas but as a whole, I don’t see myself suddenly giving up the things that work for me, even if they were not written here.

Beyond that, after the catastrophes of last semester, I found myself sitting down and questioning what went wrong. I’ve since changed my study habits based on my conclusions from that. We’re going to have to wait a few months to see the impact of this but even right now, 6 weeks into the semester, I feel a huge improvement.

In some cases, I did the exact opposite of what this book recommends because that’s what I need, personally (like, I obviously needed to spend more time going over lectures or stop skimming over the reading 10 minutes before class).

I think the biggest benefit for me here was understanding that there’s room to think critically about the techniques I use when studying. For example, up until now, I’ve never considered how I write essays. It’s always been a “brainstorming until an idea comes, writing tons of words until something makes sense, editing until it’s clear to everyone” type of thing.

It’s never occurred to me that perhaps there’s a different way to do it. That said, of all things, I’ve been getting good feedback on my essays which makes me wonder if since it works, there’s no reason to change it. As I see it, studying is a deeply personal activity. There is room to be skeptical of a book that tries to create a “one size fits all” studying formula.

I can say about myself that if I attempt to study in between things, I end up doing a haphazard job. I know this because last semester I did most of my class readings like that and sure, I was always on top of the reading but also, I had no idea what I was reading.

I think a book about studying should attempt to give you advice on how to find the right studying style for you instead of recommend one style. I often find myself dealing with studying dilemmas. How to increase focus abilities during long lectures? In the days before a big exam, should I focus only on the exam and ignore the rest of my studies (which will lead to falling behind) or should I juggle all of that?

If I feel out of focus, is it better to stop studying or to power through even though I’m not sure of the impact of the studying? I had hoped this book would give me advice for these moments, instead of general advice.

This book kept trying to claim these students all lead very exciting and active lives. It was trying to make it a selling point that they all study less than everyone but get better grades. Perhaps I’m a minority here (I’ve studied so much Statistics this week that my brain immediately pictured a bell curve) but this seems to be an overly rosy picture.

As a serial multitasker, let me just say that people don’t always see the toll it takes. It would have been better to show a balanced picture where yes, you do need to give some things up in order to get good grades.

This book recommends note taking based on the Question, Evidence and Conclusion technique. It essentially says that for every word based subject, from philosophy to anthropology, this can work. As a Politics and Philosophy student, that didn’t strike me as helpful. I find it more helpful to use lots of titles (Criticism, Methodology, Biography, etc) as a lot of my courses end up being a mish-mash of ideas, rather than a class with one or several main ideas. Sometimes my classes are things like, “let’s talk about the main EU establishments”. What would be the conclusion or evidence of this?

That said, this book was valuable in the sense that it made me realize that notetaking during discussions can be helpful for future papers. I usually rarely take notes during discussions, unless someone has said something remarkable. I can definitely see the benefits of taking more notes in discussions and will add that into my note taking.

To conclude, I think Newport and I do not see eye to eye about the act of studying. I’m here at uni because I want to learn and improve the way I think. I think there’s a lot of value in doing all of the reading because my goal isn’t to get good grades, it’s to gain knowledge in the fields that interest me.

Download The PDF

Author Cal Newport
Book Title How To Become a Straight-A Student
Language English
Pages 315
Size 843 KB

Leave a Comment