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What is Preventing Me From Being the Best?

by bleedblue1234
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bleedblue1234
#1
Oct30-09, 10:24 PM
P: 143
Hi everyone,

I am an 11th grader currently in high school and have been on these forums for about a year now, and well I am just wondering why I can't be the "best" so to speak... I go to a pretty competitive high school (average ACT is 30, average SAT is 2000) and currently am taking 4 AP classes (Literate and Composition, Physics B, Computer Science A, and U.S. History) and currently I have 6 A's, 1 A+, and 1 B+.... but I just can't seem to be quite as good as some of the other guys. I do 4-5 hours of homework per night, but some of my fellow classmates continually do better on tests and quizzes and such so that they have nearly all A+'s and a few A's....

So is there anything else I can be doing to improve? I am already stretched for time with activities and such so that I get to bed around 12am every night... but is there anything else I could do to be more efficient and/or to be better? I am worried I will not be able to get into some of the super selective colleges next year, and I really need to make Junior year the best I can make it...

Thanks
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whs
#2
Oct30-09, 11:00 PM
P: 85
Why on earth do you care so much about high school.

4-5 hours of homework per night? That is ridiculous.

First, do you keep a scoreboard of all of your classmates grades, or do you just think they do better than you more than you them.

Second, not all people are the same. Some people are just simply smarter than others. Some people know how to study better than others etc.

Think of how hard a time you are going to have in one of these 'super selective schools' if you actually do get in.

These kinds of posts make me realize how many people don't give a crap about living their life.
General_Sax
#3
Oct30-09, 11:01 PM
P: 450
Sounds like you're working very hard. Instead of being so critical of yourself, try being more positive. Is school about learning, or is it about grades? I know institutions only 'care' about grades, but life isn't limited to these institutions (uni's etc.)

Also, book smarts aren't everything. Some people who obtain incredible grades are very good at memorization, yet not so adept at rationalization.

You're also young. Try and enjoy your youth. It's gone before you know it. You don't want to look back wishing you would've kissed that girl just once, or something along those lines.

whs
#4
Oct30-09, 11:05 PM
P: 85
What is Preventing Me From Being the Best?

To answer your question though, there is a ton of things you can do to improve.

Here is how it is done (also known as 'common sense'):

Step 1) You receive a paper/test/hw you get less than a 100 % on.
Step 2) You make sure you understand your mistakes on said paper.
Step 3) For the next paper/quiz/etc you should have a slightly better idea of said teacher's style, so try to predict the types of questions/concepts that will be on it.
Step 4) Rinse and repeat until you only get 100's.

Step 5) Realize you will never get solid 100's and none of this will even matter past high school.
JD88
#5
Oct30-09, 11:50 PM
P: 110
Quote Quote by bleedblue1234 View Post
Hi everyone,

I am an 11th grader currently in high school and have been on these forums for about a year now, and well I am just wondering why I can't be the "best" so to speak... I go to a pretty competitive high school (average ACT is 30, average SAT is 2000) and currently am taking 4 AP classes (Literate and Composition, Physics B, Computer Science A, and U.S. History) and currently I have 6 A's, 1 A+, and 1 B+.... but I just can't seem to be quite as good as some of the other guys. I do 4-5 hours of homework per night, but some of my fellow classmates continually do better on tests and quizzes and such so that they have nearly all A+'s and a few A's....

So is there anything else I can be doing to improve? I am already stretched for time with activities and such so that I get to bed around 12am every night... but is there anything else I could do to be more efficient and/or to be better? I am worried I will not be able to get into some of the super selective colleges next year, and I really need to make Junior year the best I can make it...

Thanks
If you want to be more efficient get more sleep. Seriously check out some of the studies about how important sleep is.

Also you need to learn that grades are not the only thing that matter. The best thing you can do is find someway to use all of these things you are learning and have fun. For example, become a scientist or an engineer and discover or build things. Being able to actually do something with your knowledge is what makes learning worth it.
Jack21222
#6
Oct31-09, 07:47 AM
P: 772
Quote Quote by JD88 View Post
If you want to be more efficient get more sleep. Seriously check out some of the studies about how important sleep is.
That's the thing that jumped out at me. If you're constantly only getting 6 hours of sleep, you're seriously hurting your cognitive abilities. This is especially true if you're sleeping on the same mattress you've had since 1st grade, like I was when I was in high school. Even when I wanted 8 hours, I'd toss and turn.

Being chronically sleep deprived is a good way to slow your mind and hinder information retention. Here's an article:

http://nymag.com/news/features/38951/index1.html

The effect was indeed measurable—and sizable. The performance gap caused by an hour’s difference in sleep was bigger than the normal gap between a fourth-grader and a sixth-grader. Which is another way of saying that a slightly sleepy sixth-grader will perform in class like a mere fourth-grader. “A loss of one hour of sleep is equivalent to [the loss of] two years of cognitive maturation and development,” Sadeh explains.

Sadeh’s findings are consistent with other researchers’ work, all of which points to the large academic consequences of small sleep differences.
Emphasis mine. The article goes on even further. So, trust us. Get some sleep.
mal4mac
#7
Oct31-09, 12:30 PM
P: 1,054
As well as more sleep, make sure to eat a good diet & get enough exercise. Also read books on how to learn - Tony Buzan is a good author. Also ask the A+ guys how they do it, and try and organise a study group with the best of them.
sr6622
#8
Oct31-09, 02:12 PM
P: 36
I don't think you should worry about your classmates that much. As others have said, try to be more focused on getting something meaningful from your courses more than anything else. Although high schools don't really foster that nowadays, it is important that you go beyond just a grade.

Also, you are worrying about something that is relative in the first place. Don't forget to be happy with where you are - you seem to be doing a fine job. I'm sure other students would like to be in your place.

In terms of studying, I honestly think the best thing you can do is try to understand the best way you learn and adapt your study habits to fit your particular learning method.
arildno
#9
Oct31-09, 02:44 PM
Sci Advisor
HW Helper
PF Gold
P: 12,016
bleedblue:

There are many who are naturally gifted who need not even open their books, and STILL get their A+!

That's of course bloody "unfair"!

It's called life.

However, study HABITS is in the long run way more important than mere giftedness.

Precisely because those naturally gifted need to do so little in order to get high marks, they never get the incentive to work hard.

For some of them, they are going to "crash" wen the REAL work begins, in college.

To people of your sort, having already acquired study habits, you might well experience it being paid in the end.

But, don't forget:
Try to get something out of your years now IN ADDITION to studying and getting good grades.
Otherwise, you are going to regret it for the rest of your life.
Bourbaki1123
#10
Oct31-09, 04:35 PM
P: 326
Truth be told our valedictorian was kind of a slacker. The thing was; he scored 30 on the ACT in 7th grade (did the Duke TIP program) and knew most of the high school curriculum before he got there.

How do you compete with that? If you happen to be a very gifted under achiever you might be able to do so with strong study habits. If not, then you don't really stand much of a chance. There was a girl at my high school who was fairly intelligent and worried about school all the time. She put in an incredible amount of work in order to achieve her goal of being in the top ten in the class, but she still finished in 11th or 12th. There were just too many students who were brighter and just as motivated as she was (along with one absurdly bright one for whom it was all review anyway).

So what's the good news? Being in the top ten is outstanding, but being in the top 10% is still pretty damn good. There is nothing preventing you from going to a top school especially if you have good extracurriculars and great test scores. So realistically, you are getting diminishing returns from pushing for that top score on the test. Go learn outside material and do something interesting and unusual that will make you stand out. Conduct a few experiments. Learn a programming language and write a few programs. Learn some math or physics or chemistry if that interests you. Try reading some science journals and look up what you don't understand along the way; a few hundred wiki crawls go a long way.
DaleSpam
#11
Oct31-09, 04:41 PM
Mentor
P: 16,981
There are around 6 billion people on the globe. The odds of you being the best in any specific category are 6 billion to 1. Enjoy life, don't worry about being the best, just worry about what you want for yourself without comparison to others.
rubrix
#12
Oct31-09, 04:41 PM
P: 136
personally i don't think there is such thing as "naturally gifted". If someone is good at something, it simply means they have done it before (be that a different variation) or have done a something that prepares them for the said task. There was a guy in our python programming course, we thought he was smart, afterall he understood everything that was taught in class and turned in his projects ~2 weeks before most of us (no lies). At the end of the semester, I found out he have had a another programming course in Java.

If your classmates are doing better than you then A) they are more well equipped for the material than you are or B) they study more (study more does not necessarily mean putting more hours. One can "study smart" and master tasks in an hour while others would take hours and still would not be able to understand it. But that is a different topic i suppose) than you do. There is nothing more to it.

BUT i personally don't bother comparing myself with my classmates and i would suggest you to do the same. Fact is everyone comes from a different background, has different interest, and are well equipped (plus devoted) for some concepts than others. At some point there is a time when you simply have to let thing go. For instance, not devote much time in your English paper in order to study for your major subject...and you end up getting a A- instead of a A+...it happens.

Another thing is, in high school you keep coming across same folks over and over again...and i suppose you want them to look upto you or something else. But in college, you'll lose track of people. There are so many ex-classmates that i simply have not seen around. I can't even remember most of their names (given that i ever knew their name lol). Point being, people come and go, what matters is you.

More importantly, what matters is your understanding (AND appreciation) to the subject. Sure the grade is a representation of your understanding in some way but it isn't everything. I know a bunch who got A's in some courses but did not appreciate the course at all...and in some cases did not even understand the concepts and ideas taught in the said course.
Bourbaki1123
#13
Oct31-09, 06:53 PM
P: 326
Quote Quote by rubrix View Post
personally i don't think there is such thing as "naturally gifted". If someone is good at something, it simply means they have done it before (be that a different variation) or have done a something that prepares them for the said task. There was a guy in our python programming course, we thought he was smart, afterall he understood everything that was taught in class and turned in his projects ~2 weeks before most of us (no lies). At the end of the semester, I found out he have had a another programming course in Java.
I think that this is half true. There are certainly people who are prodigiously talented to the point that simple training doesn't explain it. There are also some people who can not come close to functioning at a normal cognitive level no matter how hard they try. There doesn't seem to be any reason to think that there isn't some degree of variance in ability. However, chances are the guy in your class has seen it before and therefore has an edge. Most people you deal with are probably going to be in the same ballpark as you intelligence/ability-wise. Really, if you want to know how they do so well, find a guy who is getting top marks and ask him. Hopefully he will be friendly and tell you. It might turn out he has a photographic memory and learned calculus at the age of two, but chances are pretty slim. Its more likely that he has a better system for studying than you, and if he isn't a douche he might give you some pointers.
rubrix
#14
Oct31-09, 07:56 PM
P: 136
Quote Quote by Bourbaki1123 View Post
I think that this is half true. There are certainly people who are prodigiously talented to the point that simple training doesn't explain it.
then you are prolly being fed with half information about that person. If someone is catching up exceptionally well in highschool algebra then chances are s/he has a darn well background prior to that, which includes mathematics taught by parents in home, taught in midschool (or elementary school) by teachers, or learned on their own.

Quote Quote by Bourbaki1123 View Post
There are also some people who can not come close to functioning at a normal cognitive level no matter how hard they try.
imo those people lack background. If someone flunked mathematics course in highschool and is takes Calc in college all the sudden...he'll have a hard time. And of course there are those with deformity.

Quote Quote by Bourbaki1123 View Post
Really, if you want to know how they do so well, find a guy who is getting top marks and ask him. Hopefully he will be friendly and tell you. It might turn out he has a photographic memory and learned calculus at the age of two, but chances are pretty slim. Its more likely that he has a better system for studying than you, and if he isn't a douche he might give you some pointers.
not to brag but i have scored top marks in several courses (big and small) and tell you what...i don't have a photographic memory, i don't memorize a thing, i don't study all the time and i sure don't see anything "gifted" about me.
sportsstar469
#15
Oct31-09, 08:05 PM
P: 92
ive got an above average memory, not photographic but id say its kind of close. i can create a perfect picture of my great grandmother when i visited her one one day about 16 years ago. her earings her scent she smelled funny) etc. however thats all thats gifted about me. to expect someone who doesnt have this memorization to score as well as me on an exam with memorizing is not fair. just like saying people dont have natural abilities isnt fair also.

btw the funny thing is i remembered all that stuff, but i just guessed it was sixteen years ago could be 12. not photographic but close.
bleedblue1234
#16
Nov1-09, 01:18 AM
P: 143
I don't think I really phrased my first statement correctly or it got misinterpreted: I am doing pretty darn well (I just got my report card and I had a 3.9 for the quarter) but I just am wondering how I can improve to get better marks.

For instance, on our physics test today I could not do the problems as quickly as I would have liked and as such I believe I made a few errors. I spent a considerable amount of time studying and felt I knew the material, but I still made these errors.

I spend atleast 4 hours on homework a night because its a necessity for me... I have atleast 8-10 full pages of AP US History notes that take an hour, physics problem sets that take 45min, English papers/reading that takes half an hour, russian studying and grammar study, and it all adds up...

But, some of my friends still manage to do better than me.
aquitaine
#17
Nov1-09, 02:11 AM
P: 200
Don't worry about being the top, since lots of people in high school pad their GPA with easy classes. Just shoot for the top 5%. Grades aren't the only things universities look at.

Actually what you're doing is good preparation for university, so unlike the majority of American's who go to university you won't smash into the wall that is the difficulty gap between high school and university, followed by crashing and burning leading to a humiliating and soul crushing drop out experience.
Klockan3
#18
Nov1-09, 04:01 AM
P: 614
Quote Quote by rubrix View Post
then you are prolly being fed with half information about that person. If someone is catching up exceptionally well in highschool algebra then chances are s/he has a darn well background prior to that, which includes mathematics taught by parents in home, taught in midschool (or elementary school) by teachers, or learned on their own.
I find this hilarious since I didn't thought that people in general had problems with high school algebra and that most who studies at higher levels later did ace it without studying at all. High school algebra is extremely intuitive and is a prime example of a subject where many people can get it all instantly.

As an example I have two younger siblings in the high school age, one of them is going to an accelerated maths program and is among the best in it while the other can't even grasp the concepts of the decimal number system. Note that these went to the same schools, neither of their parents knows any maths above basic high school level and I have spent more time teaching the ones with problems since the other is just interested in gaming.

And saying that she is just a special case and that most people are exactly the same is just ********. Where do you draw the line where after it people are the same?
Quote Quote by rubrix View Post
not to brag but i have scored top marks in several courses (big and small) and tell you what...i don't have a photographic memory, i don't memorize a thing, i don't study all the time and i sure don't see anything "gifted" about me.
You can't divide the population in discrete steps, small variations matters too. If it takes someone else 30% longer to understand things than it takes for you, that is a quite large difference but it isn't something that you would notice if you didn't do a full scale study of both lives.

You agree that we can have retards. You must also agree that not all retards are as retarded. Parts of what makes those retarded are in everyone or normal people wouldn't be able to have retarded kids, so in essence we are all "retarded" but to different degrees. Then talented people are those who are less retarded than most.
Quote Quote by bleedblue1234 View Post
I don't think I really phrased my first statement correctly or it got misinterpreted: I am doing pretty darn well (I just got my report card and I had a 3.9 for the quarter) but I just am wondering how I can improve to get better marks.

For instance, on our physics test today I could not do the problems as quickly as I would have liked and as such I believe I made a few errors. I spent a considerable amount of time studying and felt I knew the material, but I still made these errors.

I spend atleast 4 hours on homework a night because its a necessity for me... I have atleast 8-10 full pages of AP US History notes that take an hour, physics problem sets that take 45min, English papers/reading that takes half an hour, russian studying and grammar study, and it all adds up...

But, some of my friends still manage to do better than me.
To get to the top of the top you need understanding, not just learning how to work problems. The problem with understanding is that it is a very fuzzy term and it is very hard to teach/learn in a good way. Some understands a lot with almost no explanation while others never understands much at all.

Anyhow, to improve your understanding read the text book. Don't read it in the same way as other books, make sure that you understand exactly what each sentence says. Remembering things is worthless if you don't understand the meaning of them. Yes, this will take a lot of time, but in the long run it is worth it and there is really no other way.


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