How to Earn Awesome Grades with Thomas Frank

Session 116

Session 116

My guest for today is fellow podcaster and blogger Thomas Frank of, which is dedicated to helping undergrads be AWESOME at college.

He covers studying more efficiently and effectively, how to land the most awesome jobs, and paying off your loans the soonest possible. He paid off his loans while he was still a student.

In today’s episode, Thomas shares about his new eBook, 10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (While Studying Less)  and how as a premed you can take this information to improve your chances of getting into medical school.

Here are the highlights of the conversation with Thomas:

His inspiration behind starting College Info Geek

  • Coming from a failure to get hired from another site
  • Reading blogs like Life Hacks for Students
  • Working at his school as an orientation assistant
  • Writing a guest post to apply for a job and getting rejected
  • Starting his own blog on WordPress

The mindset of upgrading or doing things better

Thomas’ concept on “solution finding”

  • Being a solution finder
  • Being willing to put some effort in to figure things yourself

The Study Time Equation

  • Inspired by the “procrastination equation” developed by Piers Steel
  • The time you spend in class is constant.
  • The time you have to study is variable.
  • Both amounts of time put together are what you have to prepare for a test
  • Desired preparedness for your test = (class time x learning quality) + (study time x study efficiency)
  • If you want to decrease study time: Increase the quality of your learning initially and the efficiency of your studying and revising afterwards

You need to think about your methods applied to both learning and studying

10 Steps to Earning Awesome Grades (While Studying Less)

  1. Pay better attention in class.
  • Take care of your body first. – exercise, sleep
  • Come prepared for class.
  • Being more present and more mindful during class – The Fear Of Missing Out (FOMO)
  • Stay engaged as long as you can.
  1. Take more effective notes.
  • Paper vs. computer
  • Syntax vs. concept
  • Research shows that students who are able to take notes on paper were able to learn things more effectively.
  • Be mindful of what you’re taking notes in class
  • When it comes to learning, whatever works for you is the best system.
  1. Get more out of your textbooks.
  • Don’t do all of your assigned reading.
  • Gauge your classes and figure out what you’re going to be assessed.
  • Apply your reading time based on those assessments.
  • The Student Success Triangle: learning, value creation, and relationship building
  • The importance of taking breaks
  • Reading strategy: Summarize what you read.
  1. Plan like a general.
  • Better planning = better efficiency
  • Choice is not always a good thing
  • The “analysis paralysis”
  • Take time in your morning to plan your day out.
  1. Build your optimal study environment.
  • Find a location that works for you.
  • Tailor your environment for studying.
  1. Fight entropy and stay organized.
  • Organization to reduce friction (anything in the way of you and your task)
  • “Clear to neutral” strategy: when you finish a task, clear the space.
  • Having a planning day every week. Reset everything to zero.
  1. Defeat procrastination
  • The “procrastination equation” is Motivation = Expectancy x Value / Impulsiveness x Delay
  • Delay as the hardest to manipulate
  • Break down your one big goal into smaller goals that are going to be achieved in a shorter time period.
  • Give yourself a reward for achieving each small goal.
  • The Pomodoro Technique: Setting up a task for 25 minutes and devoting yourself to the task during the 25-minute session.
  1. Study smarter.
  • Replicate the test conditions
  • Taking the 8-hour MCAT test
  • Getting the closest representation to live match is the most efficient way to study
  • Build a study guide and questions that replicate what the test is like with the time constraints expected.
  • Override stress with mastery and reduce stress with practice
  1. Write better papers.
  • Doing a brain dump
  • The importance of writing a journal
  • Just start writing.
  1. Make group projects suck less.
  • Do your problem sets alone first.
  • Having one person to take the lead role

His best advice for premed students:

Just constantly ask yourself, “How can I do this better?”

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