The Bookworm Sez
The Bookworm gives ‘Make the Grade’ a solid B+

“Make the Grade” by Lesley Schwartz Martin; c.2013, Zest Books; $14.99 / $18.99 Canada; 143 pages
By Terri Schlichenmeyer

Your grades were an embarrassment last year.

Sometime over this summer, though, you realized something that everybody had been saying for eons: you can do better. You have potential, so you’ve decided that you’re going to study harder, work smarter, and get good grades.

Problem is, you don’t know where to start. How do the best students get the best marks? In “Make the Grade” by Lesley Schwartz Martin you’ll find out how, and how you can do it, too.

There are kids in your class who seem like a different species. They’re super-smart, get good grades, and they make it look easy. The thing to remember is that if you can learn to prioritize and follow through, you can get better grades, too. Bonus: the skills you learn will help you when you look for a job or go to college.

Terri Schlichenmeyer

Your starting place is with goal-making. Figure out where you want to be in school by using SMART goals: be Specific, make it Measurable, make your goals Achievable, make them Relevant, and make them be Time-Based by setting a deadline.

Next, take a look at your current schedule. Write it all down, then take a hard look at it. When are you doing homework? Do you have enough time for sleep, hanging out with friends, watching TV, recharging? If not, then (this is gonna hurt!) what can you drop or put off – at least temporarily?

Next, get your parents on board. Tell them that you want to do whatever you can to get better grades and how you’ll do it. This will “reduce your parents’ anxiety and nip interrogations in the bud.” Then tell your teachers, too.

Even after all this, there might be problems, though…

What if you’re absolutely not interested in a certain subject? What if you positively can not stand the teacher? What if you get lost in class or fall behind? Is there a fail-safe way of making sure that you remember what your instructor said? How do the smart kids stay organized? Can you learn to do better on tests? And finally, what’s the best single thing you can do to improve your memory?

No doubt about it, “Make the Grade” is pretty basic.

For students with room for improvement, though, I think that’s perfect. Author Lesley Schwartz Martin takes readers step-by-step from goal-setting to grade-getting – including the harder parts, like paring a schedule or dealing with personality conflicts between students and teachers.

Though there are minor glitches in this book, I was impressed by that latter point; many how-to’s of this sort don’t touch upon such truths. I was also glad to see lots of tiny, easy-to-implement tips that, when done, can seem like big progress. These things make this a happy book to give to a student who’s struggling and vows that that’ll end.

While this book is meant more for high-schoolers, I think a determined middle-schooler will get a lot out of it, too. Overall, for that student, “Make the Grade” gets a solid B+.

The Bookworm is Terri Schlichenmeyer. Terri has been reading since she was 3 years old and she never goes anywhere without a book. She lives on a hill in Wisconsin with two dogs and 12,000 books.