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How to Trick Your College English Teacher Into Giving You an A

Updated on September 26, 2012
IBS at Vilnius University Classroom
IBS at Vilnius University Classroom | Source

Did you ever notice that when you talk about your grades – regardless of whether it’s a single paper or a whole semester – you would say that your teacher “gave” you a bad grade, but you “earned” a good grade?

She gave me an F!

I earned an A!

Well, there are some tricks to getting your teacher to give you those good grades, and as both a student and a college English teacher, I’m here to share these seven simple secrets with you.

1. Go to every class.

It’s not just attendance points you’ll be racking up. You’ll also learn a bit through osmosis, assuming you don’t spend the whole class playing on Facebook, checking your email, or texting. Drop the electronic gadgets and ear buds into your backpack, and try to listen enough to stay awake. As Woody Allen said, ninety percent of life is just showing up.

2. Ask questions.

No, not, “Is your refrigerator running?” or “Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” Questions that are on topic. Don’t be afraid to tell everyone that you don’t know what a word means or you’re not sure how to write a character analysis. Chances are, you’re not alone, and those questions will do two things for you. First, they’ll keep you from being confused. Second, they’ll show your teacher you care about the class.

“You Are Not Special” Commencement Speech from Wellesley High

3. Do your assignments.

Maybe I should clarify this further. When it comes to assignments, there are four things that matter.

1. Follow the given instructions

2. Put effort into it

3. Turn it in on time

4. Don’t plagiarize it

Seems easy, right? Well, if you have any questions about any of those four conditions I’ve set out, guess what you should do about it? That’s right – see number 2: Ask questions! Don’t let a fear of doing something wrong make you plagiarize. Talk to your teacher if something comes up that will delay you – she might even give you an extension if it’s a good reason!

4. Read the feedback you’re given.

And make sure you understand it. I’ll be honest – in my first college English class, I got back a paper covered in red commas. It seemed like everything I thought I knew from high school was either wrong or had somehow vanished in those years I had taken off between high school and college. But my teacher was more than happy to explain what was wrong and how to fix it.

SBCA College Library
SBCA College Library | Source

5. Talk to your librarian.

I know, I know, who goes to the library anymore? Anyone who wants to trick their teacher into giving them an A, that’s who! You may not know this, but librarians actually have degrees in library sciences. And they know a lot more about the library and research than you might think. Some school libraries will even let you set up appointments with the librarians! Go in and ask for their help; you’ll both be happy that you did.

6. Hit up the writing lab or tutoring center.

Let’s say you have a question to ask, but your teacher’s office hours and your non-class (or non-work) hours don’t jive. Or maybe you’re just more comfortable getting help from an outside source, someone who won’t assign you a grade but is still willing to work one-on-one with you. They can’t give you the answers, but they can put you on the right track to finding them and learning how to find them yourself. (Plus, as an English teacher and student, I can tell you it always helps to get that extra set of eyes on your writing, looking for those little typos.)

7. Don’t cheat.

I know, I kind of brought that up before, but there’s no surer way of getting a bad grade than cheating. That means don’t engage in anything that can be considered academic dishonesty. Most teachers will include a copy of the school’s academic honesty policy in their syllabus. Read it and – this may sound familiar again – ask questions if you’re not sure. And here’s a tip – re-using the same paper for multiple classes may be considered cheating in your school. Be careful!

As I’m sure you probably figured out by now, this is a wee bit tongue in cheek. If you do these things, chances are, you’ll get that good grade you’re working towards. Congratulations on the effort you’ve put forth, and I wish you the best of luck!


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    • Distant Mind profile image

      Distant Mind 5 years ago

      Actually this is spot on, but I was hoping for something more along the line of "Cheat!" and "How to cheat!" instead of "Don't cheat!" and "Do all the work and extra!". I would feel that if I followed all your advice, I would have earned my grade fair and square and it would not simply be given to me by the teacher. ;)

      Great hub, indeed.

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      My mother an English teacher, used to correct the letters I wrote her when I left spite of that we still had a good relationship. :)

      Good article and good rules to stick with for academic success. I majored in History and minored in English and have always been glad I did both. Have a great day. Sharing.

    • KatSanger profile image

      Katherine Sanger 5 years ago from Texas

      English teachers are always tough and mean! :) Seriously, though, sometimes we tend to look too much at the rules and too little at the writing, which might explain why the other teachers would love your writing. They could see it without wanting to correct it. I am so horribly addicted to it that I recently corrected someone at a meeting who forgot an apostrophe. Ah!

    • RavenBiker profile image

      RavenBiker 5 years ago from Pittsburgh, PA.

      This is true in all university classes. However, my English teachers were tough (English was my major)---most were fair but one was a total female dog. However, my other professors in the other disciplines loved my writing. Strange how that works....

      Thanks for the hub! Marked it useful!

    • savingkathy profile image

      Kathy Sima 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great hub! This should be very helpful for many students.