Saturday, July 29, 2017

Getting Straight A's

GETTING STRAIGHT A's by Gordon Green, Ph.D. 
As school is about to start, I thought I should post a review of the BEST college "textbook" I've purchased, which is Dr. Green's Getting Straight A's.

I never took high school seriously, most likely because it was free, and there's something to be said of having to pay for something that makes it appear more valuable.

At any rate, when I started college, there was significantly less structure and less input on what is expected, as college affords tons more freedom, whereas high school tends to be spoon-fed to you. Therefore, I had no idea what I was doing, and wasn't doing well in my classes, which made me feel guilty as money was being thrown away.

I'm not sure how I came upon the book: if I found out about it after doing research, or if my friend showed me this book when we were both struggling with our classes, and told me how effective it was.

At any rate, when we both read this book together, it was a complete revelation; light bulbs were turning on, and angels were singing. The reason why this book is so successful is for four reasons.

The first is that Dr. Green understands how professors think. The concept behind his system is that your professors are presenting their entire life's work and passion, and if you parrot back exactly what they say on your paper and exams, they will give you an A, if not an A+. I can NOT emphasize how true this is! Since you're validating and showing your appreciation of their life's work, of course they'll shower you with praise and best grades.

Further, it shows to them that you are paying attention to them AND are equally passionate (after all you're memorizing everything they're saying), which further strokes their ego, especially if you further ask them questions to clarify.

When the tables were turned and I was teaching a class, it was so much easier teaching the same material to one particular class where the students were very enthusiastic who asked questions and were attentive, but extremely difficult and uncomfortable with another class where the students were not paying attention and were disinterested.

I can't impress how much I appreciated the first class, and I actually complained about how awful this second class is to my friends, constantly. We all have biases, and if you're an enthusiastic and respectful student, and your grade hangs in the balance between B+ and an A, your professor may give you the benefit of the doubt and give you an A. I know I will because I would think that you've put in a lot of hard work into the class, and deserve the higher grade.

At any rate, one comment on one of my college exams, which made me giggle, is a theory I wrote, which was literally verbatim what this professor said so many times, and he wrote (underlining the theory in question), "This is so brilliantly put, I never thought about that!", which he obviously has. I was not surprised that I got an A+ on this particular exam.

The second reason why this book is so successful is that it doesn't take a lot of time to do the system. I did NOT follow exactly everything the author recommended, but I still got A's. I do remember spending 1 hour a day of work, maybe a little more over the weekends (i.e up to two hours a day on weekends).

I distinctly remember that it was in fact just 1 to 2 hours because my friend and I were incredulous that her sister's boyfriend was studying "only six hours that day" instead of his usual 10 to 12 hours/day. We felt there's no way we can possibly study for 6 hours, not to mention 10 to 12.

The way to go about memorizing verbatim:
  1. Do the reading beforehand, so you can follow what the professor is saying more easily. Attend EVERY single class and borrow notes if you're sick (or have a friend record the lecture as long as the professor allows for it) and take your own notes when you're feeling better.
  2. Sit in the very first row up front to prevent distractions, so you don't miss a thing. Take notes verbatim. Write down EVERY word that they're saying. I scored "Brownie points" when I missed something, and asked professors to repeat what they said. If you're still unclear, attend office hours to clarify things, which I abused.
  3. As soon as possible after class (preferably that very day, ideally in between classes if you have free time), write question on one side of index card, and then answer on the back side of the index card based on your notes.
    • Ex. your professor said, "The best game is Dark Souls 1".
    • Front side of index card: "What is the best game?"
    • Back side of index card: "Dark Souls 1".
As I'm beginning to actually hate Breath of the Wild (probably due to the undue, over-the-top praise that's making me gag), do NOT test the professor by being cute and writing down Breath of the Wild instead of Dark Souls 1. I believe students might think if they give out original, creative thought, the professors would "appreciate it", which they might, but they're not going to love your ideas as much as their own.

I'm not sure what the next details are, but if my memory serves me right, over the weekend, take all the index cards and memorize the answers. Do the reading for Monday. I believe you then take all the index cards, and memorize all of them a couple of weeks before the exam. Day before the exam, go over the cards again. Then spit out the exact wording on the exams and collect your A+.

The third reason why this book is so successful is that you don't have to be organized. I read other books of this kind to see if Green's book is truly the "best" on the subject. When I read what these other authors advise you to do, it was so complicated that I need an organizational flow chart just to follow their methods!

Envisioning myself doing this, I felt so overwhelmed and overwrought. They even discussed scheduling your hygiene while in college, which is ridiculous. If, by their methods, you don't have enough time that you have to schedule when to brush your teeth, you know they're doing something wrong.

The fourth and last reason as to why this book is the best investment you can make in college is that you DO end up learning interesting things with all this memorizing, yet you only spend at most 2 hours/day on studying, and you have the rest of the time to have fun (hopefully you don't have to work during college).

So it allows you to have balance in your life as opposed to following ridiculous, convoluted organizational systems of the other books. By having a balance, you'll enjoy your college life.

I didn't have any issues with writing papers, but I believe there is a sizable section in the book that describes how to write papers successfully and efficiently that's a good idea to go through, which I believe I did back then, but I forgot the details.

There's also a sizable section on how to read effectively as well, especially with liberal arts majors, the professors often give way too much reading. If you're taking math and engineering courses, in addition to the above, Dr. Green suggests doing as many problems as possible, perhaps even more than required, until you perfect your performance. I did very well in my Symbolic Logic class because I did every single question on the software, well beyond the homework requirements.

This book can be used successfully in high school and college, but I think with the amount of memorization that's involved in law and medical school, the book may not be as effective.

However, if you're a high school or college student, this book is a life saver! I know I tend to recommend borrowing books first and see if you find them helpful before buying, but in this situation, I would buy the book right now so you can read it before high school/college starts. Then, you can have the book with you during your school year to refresh and refer back to if you hit any stumbling blocks.

The How of Happiness Review


  1. I'm sad to say this wouldn't help me in the slightest, however it is curious to see just how different school's are between the US and the UK. Here in england, at least at the moment anyway, we've lost a lot of freedom when it comes down to grading. It's all done very systematically, very anonymously. Everyone is taught and graded against the same syllabus (Naturally this system has quite a few problem's, and hopefully we'll be far far away from it as soon as possible.)

    However whilst it may not be of any use in UK, in American school's this is quite the opposite, and I can see trick's like these being very very useful indeed. A professor isn't likely to downgrade their own work, so if a student's view on things, mashes with the tutor's, naturally they're going to be a bit biased about it. Even more so if the teacher and student have a good relationship going, the tutor is directly invested in that student by that point, so they better succeed or he himself will feel like he has failed his student. Sucking up to a tutor might seem a little low, but it is a very good way of ensuring you receive your tuition's worth from the tutor.


  2. Well, some aspects of US schools over the last decade-plus have become very standardized, if less so at the college level than in the 12-grades beforehand. Amusingly, to me, some of my best grades did come from challenging the teachers and professors in both high school and college, though some of the worst in a few instances as well. The rigidity of the English teacher who wrote on my first paper in a HS American literature class "This is beautifully written, but it's not a thesis paper. F." literally because I hadn't written "My thesis is [this]. and this is how I intend to prove [this]" as the last sentence of the first paragraph was not one I was likely to get along with. But, then again, she was already upset with me because our university-like scheduling put her class and my third-year Spanish class at an overlap of 15 minutes, and so I was (as were a number of students in similar situations with other classes) always coming in about seven or so minutes late for that class, and she was precisely the sort to take this bit of ridiculousness on the part of the administration out on her students.

    1. I suspected they might be, in school anyway. Because it's more of a curriculum, more of a required baseline of education for society, I completely understand the reason behind keeping it all by the book (whether I agree with it or not) But even for College and University, if you take the more traditional courses like A-level's, you can expect everyone in the country to be doing the same 2 or 3 exams, marked by the same 2-3 companies, even classes like Literature or Art are marked the same way, though they don't fit the shoe's properly they're kinda forced into it.

      I know exactly the kind of tutor you're talking about, My Art teacher and I fought a lot, we had a lot of contrasting opinion's regarding artwork, considering Art was one of my strongest subject's, she couldn't outright fail me for it, but it was obvious something was up with my G. Especially interesting when I got my work back from her and not everything was there. I don't blame her for what she did, it was unprofessional sure, but I was hardly a model student for her either.


    2. I think based on UK studies, this book will work very well, since everything's standardized, you can just memorize the answers.

      I wasn't a robot in class where I repeated the Professors, because I think it's fun to ask questions, present different views and your own thoughts in class, just, on exam, to make sure you repeat verbatim what the professor says!

      I do blame your professor--you can't just steal someone's art work!! If that ever happens, this needs to be reported to administration.

      I'm fortunate b/c my professors ALL loved it when you ask questions and present different ideas b/c they love debating and discussing their life's work, and it shows that the students are engaged.

    3. You can just memorise the answer's, actually that's what they do in A-level classes and one of the reason's I hated them so much, dropped out after a year of them after I already had my more american style BTEC. It felt like they were teaching us to pass the exam and get the qualification instead of teaching us the subject, and that's not what education is to me. I couldn't give two fucks for my certificates, it's what I learned in that time that I cared about.

      Regarding my art teacher, there's a lot I've left unsaid. I'm actually really lucky I wasn't kicked out of school for how I treated her, not exactly something I'm proud of, nor comfortable revealing. I agree it was unprofessional and petty to take it out on my grades in a way, but considering the circumstances I was happy just letting it slide and going our separate way's, let her have this one.

    4. Good ol five paragraph theme

  3. I played it safe, and repeated the professors' exact words, and got straight A's. I think it's best to just repeat their words like a mantra. After all, tuition for colleges can now reach 75K/year, and you don't want to risk getting C's and ending up 300K in debt! Better to be anti-intellectual and follow the book to get guaranteed A's.

    Further, jobs are so hard to get for millenials, so a job will chose someone with straight A's over someone with C's if all is otherwise equal. Even when I graduated from college, I do remember the interviewers looking very close at my transcripts, so it's doubly more competitive now!

    1. I paid for a chunk of my own schooling, and almost always had some sort of job during that time, and was lucky enough to go when public universities were still in their last semesters of reasonable tuition fees (and I had always resented the expense of my private Hawaiian high school being hung over my head...while finding it far less taxing to deal with than the bad behavior of other students that was too often indulged by my New Hampshire public high school before that). I should've gotten better grades in at least some o the classes I let slip...but I certainly got something out of nearly all of them. (I also never made anything easy for myself in HS or university, with rare exceptions, usually maxing out the credit loads in each semester, taking 15 credits n my first semester of grad school).

    2. we were lucky that college was considerably less expensive, college tuition is now so outrageous! I think if I were going to college right now, I'd be so afraid to make a mistake, since they can become costly!

  4. I'm looking at the book as i type this!! And yet I never read it and still got (mostly) straight As!! cuz Alice told me all about the parroting effect!!! College is obnoxiously expensive!! $13,000 in debt now, with more when you factor in my grad school loans!!!!

    1. I feel even more confident in my review then, because just the simple step of repeating the professors' verbatim will get straight A's, if you incorporate the other techniques, it will solidy the A's even more!

      This also makes me even more convinced that it's better to parrot as hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake!


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