1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Academic success

  1. Apr 24, 2009 #1
    Hi, i am an alien to planet earth. I have just found about this thing called "school". Will someone on this forum please write a concise guide on how to get and maintain a 4.0 gpa? I think i have come to the right place for this. thank you all for your postings and consideration!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 24, 2009 #2


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    A guide? It isn't like building a computer or replacing a roof...

    Study hard, do your homework, don't procrastinate, don't overload yourself on courses. Simple as that. Are you asking more of "why don't I have a 4.0?"
  4. Apr 24, 2009 #3
    i need to know what to do, which is why i say guide, because every single thing i try ends up not working
    i need to know things such as how to study, how long to study, etc etc etc etc
  5. Apr 24, 2009 #4


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    What level of schooling are you at?
  6. Apr 24, 2009 #5
    11th grade in HS (junior)
    i'm in algebra2, chem, business, spanish2, english3, and apush and have 4 as, 2 bs
  7. Apr 24, 2009 #6


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Well you sound like you're on the right track, where are you getting held down?
  8. Apr 24, 2009 #7
    apush and spanish 2
    those are def my weak points
  9. Apr 24, 2009 #8


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    Study harder... do the whole flashcard thing, talk to your teacher, whatever it takes. There aren't really any secrets to getting 4.0's that don't just have "study more" at their cores.
  10. Apr 24, 2009 #9


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Education Advisor

    A few tips:
    (1) Time in. How much study time are you putting in now? What's keeping you from putting more time in? How effectively are you you using the time that you have? The bottom line is that there is a direct correlation between time in and marks.

    (2) Make an effort to present yourself as a top student at ALL times. Do your homework on time, every time. Do bonus questions. Write properly - every when you're on an internet forum.

    (3) Ask questions. Think critically about the material that you're being taught. Figure out how concepts apply to situations outside of classroom examples.

    (4) Spend time with like-minded people who have similar goals. It's difficult to pull off high marks when the people you spend the most time with are all all content with average marks. Habits are contagious.

    (5) Your teachers know you better than we do. Ask them for assistance in improving your study strategies. Ask then what they need to see from you to earn a 4.0 in their classes.

    (6) Set specific, measureable, time-limited, achieveable goals for yourself. Tell other people about these goals and commit to them.
  11. Apr 24, 2009 #10
    1) Not everyone is capable of getting a 4.0 GPA. You require sufficient mental capacity, currently best measured by IQ. As IQ goes down, study time goes up, so that eventually you hit a barrier where you simply lack the time needed to get a 4.0. I would say a minimum IQ of 130 is required to maintain a 4.0.

    2) Not all institutions have the same bell curve. A 4.0 at MIT is a lot more difficult to pull off than a 4.0 at Rice University. Likewise, a 4.0 at a public highschool is probably easier than at a private school.

    3) Complete all the homework and have all assignments done ahead of time. Study smart, not just reading, but also thinking critically about the material as you absorb it. Budget time, it is not likely you will have time to do things the way you'd want ideally. Attend class and pay attention. Most importantly, focus on the things that get marked, with more focus to those that are weighted heavily.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2009
  12. Apr 24, 2009 #11
    1) Pay attention: I think Choppy mentioned this, but actively paying attention in class is very important. Don't just copy down what is being said, or written, but listen, think about what you're seeing/hearing, and then write it down in a form that is quick but understandable.

    2) Read Ahead: Start reading through a book as soon as you get it. Don't skim, they're not paperback novels. ;) Sit down, read a section or a chapter. If something doesn't click, pause and reflect. Try to figure it out on your own.

    3) Read Again: You've touched on the material before you need to, and that is a good thing. When your teacher says, "Next time you see me we'll be going over ____" read the chapter again. If your teacher does not tell you what you'll be doing next time, ask. Previewing the material for a class was one of the most helpful pieces of advice I ever received for studying.

    Hope these help. In the end, though, it's going to boil down to what works for you. There is no magic formula; each class is different, each teacher is different, and each student is different. Some classes will require a great deal of memorization. Break out those flash cards. Some will not require memorization of specific things, but demand that you have a firm grasp of concepts. Practice, practice, practice.
  13. Apr 24, 2009 #12
    A 4.0 doesn't nessesarilly mean a person is smarter than someone who does < 4.0. But it's a goal to strive for. Do your best, try for the 4.0 but, of you fall slightly short don't give up.
  14. Apr 24, 2009 #13

    I completely disagree that maintaining a 4.0 or close to it is only attainable by people with innate ability especially in high school. Almost anyone who is motivated to study and studies effectively can get near perfect grades. Sure there are people who are practically doomed to do poorly by the time they get to high school (they might have other obligations after school which interferes with studying, or be way behind in certain subjects so it requires a lot of effort to catch up because they may have been raised not to value education or for some other reason) but I think that most people can do well with some work.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2009
  15. Apr 24, 2009 #14
    Concise Guide on How to Get and Maintain a 4.0 GPA

    Step 1: Get a 4.0 GPA by obtaining A grades in all your classes.

    Step 2: Maintain a 4.0 GPA by repeating Step 1 every term thereafter.

    Soon I will be coming out with my guide to always scoring par in golf.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2009
  16. Apr 24, 2009 #15
    Like I said, public schools are usually easier and hence it may be no feat getting perfect grades regardless of abilities. If you're in some accelerated AP program, it will be extremely difficult to pull it off.

    I am not sure how you define "almost anyone". "Almost anyone" in your high school? No, you are gravely mistaken. At least half the students in any public high school will never learn calculus (let alone algebra)... no matter how hard they try. They simply lack the ability to grapple with abstract material. How do I know this? I have tutored a load of high school students. You can blame it on a lack of requisite background, but more often than not, its always the same siblings struggling. "Almost anyone" in your science courses? That is a lot more reasonable. But again, that depends on the school.
  17. Apr 24, 2009 #16


    User Avatar
    Gold Member

    That's ridiculous. 130 is the top few %. I've known people maintain 4.0's with moderate to little actual intelligence. It's about playing the system for some people. In high school, 0 AP courses, few honor courses, "iffy" methods... easy 4.0. In college, easy courses, light workload, properly "researching" your professors....
  18. Apr 24, 2009 #17
    I exaggerated when I said almost anyone but I think that at least ~60% of the average public school is capable of being at the top of their class with enough work. In most high schools you only need to get up to trigonometry by senior year so there is no need to grasp abstract concepts. In fact, in my high school, you don't even need go outside life sciences (where some people initially have trouble) to get four years of honors science courses by senior year (freshmen science -> Bio -> anatomy and physiology -> AP Bio). College is a different story but I think the 130 IQ mark was way off.
  19. Apr 25, 2009 #18
    I suppose I just have high standards when it comes to secondary education, unlike most of the country today. What I consider "typical high school" may actually fall under "accelerated learning" with a healthy dose of AP science and math. In those classes, one student got a 4.0. I already said that it depends on the school, so likely most people (most schools are public) will be capable of perfect grades.

    I find this is getting ridiculously off topic. Mister "Alien", the best thing you can do is focus on work that is marked. Focus in class and understand the work you do, not merely hand it in.
  20. Apr 25, 2009 #19


    User Avatar

    On your 1st point thats complete bunk I doubt anyone can say you need an 130 IQ score to get a 4.0 especially since in HS and college your GPA is tied to your course selection and course load.

    On the seconf point I would have to agree , I doubt a 4.0 in Stuyvesant means the same as a 4.0 in a standard HS.
  21. Apr 25, 2009 #20
    thanks for the replies so far, does anyone else have any ideas?
  22. Apr 25, 2009 #21
    First off, you obviously didn't watch Stand and Deliver. Secondly, I did calc 2 in high school while my sister barely got thru algebra 2...so there goes the sibling theory. I might also mention that I hope that no one is taking you seriously...it's quite obvious you have no idea what you are talking about.

    As for the OP...I like the advice from the guy who is writing the golf guide.
  23. Apr 25, 2009 #22
    comon guys, stick to the topic >:(
    the alien needs to know what needs to be done to get straight as. The alien understands this concept of studying, and learning 90%< of presented material, but what else is there? and what ways are there to study for people who like doing things by hand?
  24. Apr 25, 2009 #23
    1. You might want to read bunch of articles here: http://supermemo.com/ only on your spare time

    2. Visit http://www.mnemosyne-proj.org/ or http://ichi2.net/anki/ Those two flashcard systems should help you with the Spanish. I prefer Anki.

    Consider these facts, alien:

    1. Humans are run by emotion. If you are crap at regulating them you'll break.
    2. There are decisions to be made. These are called sacrifices; enslave yourself for high grades, or find the perfect balance for success to preserve your sanity? Or overachieve and lose your sanity in the process?
    3. How good are you at time-management?
    4. How good are you at preventing procrastination?
    5. We don't have a hyperbolic time chamber... at least not yet.
    6. If all of us had the capacity of someone like Leonardo DaVinci, then there wouldn't be such thing as "genius" anymore.


    1. Put good food in you. Keep your brain nourished. Avoid fast food, avoid pop cans... avoid junk.
    2. Forget about exercising, honestly... if we'll use the fact that you are nothing special (no offense, 99% of people are), that precious 45 minutes is needed. Unless you actually used exercise as an escape once you're finished studying. Although, I doubt this. I don't know how good or bad it will be for you if you exercise right before sleep.
    3. Don't do all-nighters. Don't underestimate the important of sleep. Trust me, get 3-4 hours of sleep for 2-3 days, and try to learn new material. How does it feel?
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 24, 2017
  25. Apr 25, 2009 #24
    Thanks for the post Raizy!
    yeah, I've got a problem with both time management and also procrastination, and i think i am a visual/hands-on learner. Thanks!
  26. Apr 26, 2009 #25
    Hmmm this one doesn't seem right. Physically fit people generally have more energy. The time doesn't have to be completely dedicated to exercising, for example you can plan out an essay while you take a run.
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook