Last Day to Get The Secrets of Top Students for $2.99

Today is your last chance to get The Secrets of Top Students ebook for only $2.99!

This book includes tips and techniques that every student should know. For example:

  • What is the first thing you should do when taking a math test?
  • What is an often overlooked place for coming up with a thesis?
  • What music should you listen to while studying?
  • Why is it bad to be a perfectionist?
  • What are the good and bad types of motivation?
  • What foods should you eat to boost your brainpower?
  • How much do top students really study?
  • Should you bring your laptop to class?
  • What are three game-changing learning techniques?
  • And much, much more.
The Secrets of Top Students: Special Sale!

The Secrets of Top Students: Special Sale!

Here’s what people have been saying about the book:

Praise for The Secrets of Top Students

“An insightful guide for high achievers—and those aspiring to such status—from an authoritative source, Stefanie Weisman, a Columbia University graduate and former valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School, two of the best schools in America. Stefanie Weisman’s book about the secrets of academic success is all the more amazing, given the learning disabilities that she overcame to become the ultimate academic overachiever. As a graduate of Stuyvesant High School myself, as well as a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Brown University, I believe students can find happiness and achieve great things at any number of schools, and Stefanie Weisman offers hard-fought wisdom about how to get there.”
Alec Klein, Northwestern University professor, bestselling author and award-winning journalist

“Although the target audience is high school and college students, the book is a must-read for students in middle school and up, teachers, parents, and guidance counselors as 21st-century students learn to excel in the new educational landscape in which they find themselves.”
Tammy Turner, Centennial High School, Frisco, TX; School Library Journal, July 2013 issue

“We wish we had Stefanie Weisman’s new book . . . when we were in school, but our loss is your child’s gain as this book goes beyond advising how to test better; it’s loaded with strategies on how to get the most out of school in a healthy, well-rounded way that will continue to serve your scholar well throughout their life.”
Lisa J. Curtis, Brooklyn Family Magazine, August 2013 issue

“A student who followed even half of the suggestions in this book could come away from college with both a greater understanding of the material and a significantly higher G.P.A.”
Dr. Mindy Marks, Associate Professor of Economics at Washington University, St. Louis, and Co-Author of “Leisure College, USA: The Decline in Student Study Time”

“This is perhaps the best and most pragmatic guide to academic success I have read that is relevant to today’s students. One thing that sets this book apart is that it provides special information for students interested in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, aka STEM subjects.”
Stuart Nachbar, President of Educated Quest,

“Undergraduates who want to excel in college will find a helpful resource in this book.”
Joseph Adegboyega-Edun, Counselor/College Adviser, Walter Johnson High School, Bethesda (MD)


The Best Birthday Present Ever

My copies are here!

My copies are here!

Today is my birthday, but more importantly – for me, at least – it’s also the official release date of my book, The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College! As a birthday gift from my publisher, I got fifty free copies of my book – which I now have to distribute to influential people, I suppose. (Anybody in the media or education want a copy?) But it’s such a cool feeling to hold my own book in my hands. It’s kind of like holding your baby for the first time.

It’s also been a crash course in marketing and publicity for me. I’ve already had some mentions in the press (for example, in the New York Post and the IMT Career Journal). And I’m lining up talks and at least one book signing. It’s pretty exciting, and a bit overwhelming!

I’m in the process of making a nice-looking flyer for my book, but for now, here it is in draft form:

Want to get better grades?

Then get The Secrets of Top Students:
Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College

Written by Stefanie Weisman,
Valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School
Highest GPA, Columbia University

With insight from 45 of the best students in the country

• How to take killer notes, improve reading comprehension, and write amazing papers
• How to get and stay motivated
• 50 Grade A test-taking tips
• Three game-changing learning techniques
• The mind-body connection
• And much, much more

“An insightful guide for high achievers—and those aspiring to such status—from an authoritative source.” –Alec Klein, Northwestern University professor, bestselling author and award-winning journalist

Available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other fine booksellers.
Published by Sourcebooks, Inc. ISBN: 9781402280795

Do’s and Don’ts for How to Focus While Studying (Guest Post)

Guest Post by Katherine Laramie.
Katherine is a freelance writer who lives in Orlando, Florida.

Your textbook is open, your notes are out and a highlighter rests in your hand. You have an upcoming exam and the best of intentions to prepare for it. After reading one paragraph, your mind starts to wander and somewhere between understanding “fundamental visual development principles” and “thematic and design ideas using visual media,” you’re on Facebook, and it’s not where you should be. It hasn’t even been 20 minutes, and you’re shutting that book thinking, “I’ll study tomorrow.”

In David Glenn’s essay “Procrastination in College Students is a Marker for Unhealthy Behaviors” in The Chronicle of Higher Education, procrastination is referred to as “anxiety avoidance” and “self-defeating behavior.” The article suggests that procrastinators are less worried about future success or failure, and says they experience high anxiety because of the negative feelings associated with committing to a night of doing schoolwork. If you’re guilty of postponing your studies, “wishful thinking” and “rationalizations,” then the following tips may help you improve your performance for a class or achieve that online art degree.

photo by xb3

Disassociating Anxiety from Studying & Test-Taking

Your future depends on graduating from school. Graduation depends on passing classes. Passing classes depends on high exam scores. Scoring highly on an exam depends on excellent studying skills. Ah, the anxiety sets in. Physiological stress follows. Failed attempts at studying are the end result. By eliminating the anxiety that’s associated with school work, you can eliminate subsequent negative, self-defeating feelings that disrupt your academic focus and obligations.

As you blindly stare at a power point on your laptop or gaze at a textbook, create positive associations with studying. Combat procrastination with the following tips:

  • Free your mind from external stressors, agendas and obligations.
  • Remind yourself that you’re nurturing your brain and acquiring knowledge. Embrace that you’re educating yourself. You actually want to improve your mind with this subject matter.
  • Focus less on the exam. By putting less emphasis on scoring highly, you’re alleviating yourself of pressure — and thus anxiety that pushes you to delay your studies for another day.
  • Replace rationalizations and wishful thinking. To handle the negative feelings associated with studying, you may respond by making excuses. Take accountability for your responsibilities and self-defeating behavior. Replace rationalizations, such as “I’m really tired tonight and not even retaining any information anyway,” with “I’m going to maximize my time this evening. There’s no better time than now to prepare for my upcoming exam. Cramming only stresses me out.”

Refocusing: It’s Never Too Late

Losing focus and succumbing to distractions is natural and to be expected while studying. Don’t be defeated by these moments of weakness, which can manifest into negative thoughts and abandoned studying. Take a small break, breathe and get back in the game.

Re-focus by:

  • Changing your scenery and location. If you’re at home, move to a different room. If you’re at the library, change floors and desks.
  • Drinking water. Hydrate and refresh your mind and body.
  • Playing music. The soothing and calming music of cellist Yo-Yo Ma can provide new sensory that re-energizes your studying.

Editor’s Note: My new book, The Secrets of Top Students, contains lots of advice on how to study for exams and avoid procrastination. Order it now on Amazon!

For more tips on studying and much more, order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

New Book Reveals How to Get Better Grades

The following is my book’s official press release.  It’s getting closer!

Secrets of Top Students

Valedictorian Reveals Secrets to Being a Top Student

New Study Aid Features Straight Talk and Practical Advice on Making the Grade

Stefanie Weisman is the epitome of the successful student—valedictorian at Stuyvesant High School and recipient of the Albert Asher Green Prize for the highest GPA in her graduating class at Columbia University, among other honors.

How did she achieve academic success?

It may be surprising to learn that Weisman developed the skills that led her to become a top student because of an undiagnosed learning disability in which she struggled with listening comprehension.

Weisman, along with top students including valedictorians, Rhodes and Fulbright scholars, and even a National Spelling Bee champ, shares learning tips and techniques in her forthcoming book, The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College (ISBN: 9781402280795; MAY 7, 2013; $14.99 U.S.; Study Aids; Trade Paper).

Weisman contends that being a top student is a lifestyle and outlines practical strategies for studying smart, learning well, and staying motivated.

The Secrets of Top Students features a holistic approach to learning that includes:

  • How sleep, diet, and exercise can affect a student’s GPA
  • What motivates top students to academic success
  • 50 “Grade A” test-taking tips
  • Three game-changing learning techniques
  • The trick to taking killer notes and improving reading comprehension

Written in a conversational, down-to-earth tone, The Secrets of Top Students shows students how to maximize learning and get the grades they want.


About the Author: Stefanie Weisman was born and raised in Queens, New York. She was valedictorian of Stuyvesant High School and graduated from Columbia University with the highest GPA in her class. She has a B.A. in history, a B.S. in computer science, and an M.A. in art history.  Stefanie has received numerous awards including Best Performance in Columbia’s Core Curriculum, Best Senior Thesis in History on a non-U.S. Topic, Phi Beta Kappa, and Summa Cum Laude.  She was a Craig Hugh Smyth fellow at NYU’s Institute of Fine Arts, where she specialized in ancient Greek and Roman art. She works in the technology industry in New York City.

Media Contact: Liz Kelsch – Asst. Publicity Manager – 630-536-0595 –

How to get rid of test anxiety

Do you do great on homework and essays, but freeze up on exams?  Do you have nightmares about the SAT?  Two recent articles in The New York Times and Time magazine address this common malady, and they have some interesting advice on how to bring your nerves under control.

Thinking about test anxiety.

Thinking about test anxiety.

Advice from the Time magazine article “Relax, It’s Only A Test,” by Annie Murphy Paul (Feb. 11, 2013)

1.  Engage in “expressive writing.”  Spend ten minutes before the exam writing about your thoughts and feelings.  This helps you cast off your anxiety and focus on the task at hand.

2.  Do a “values-affirmation exercise.”  Choose something that’s important to you – for example, music, family, religion, anything – and write about why it matters to you.  Research has found that minority and female students who did this improved their test-day performance.

3.  Write down positive statements, self-affirmations or mantras and keep them in a handy place.  The article describes how girls at the Laurel School in Ohio were given “special test-day pencil[s],” which were wrapped in pieces of paper that contained encouraging (and true) statements such as, “Girls get higher grades than boys.”

4.  Make sure you’ve prepared for the test the right way!  It may not be enough to read and re-read your notes and books – you should also take practice tests, ask yourself questions about the material, and try to predict what’s going to be on the exam.

5.  Do relaxation exercises, such as yoga.  The article describes how third-graders who were taught breathing and relaxation exercises showed a significant reduction in test anxiety.

Advice from The New York Times article, “Why Can Some Kids Handle Pressure While Others Fall Apart?” by Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman (Feb. 6, 2013)

This article’s a bit more scientific and complex.  Its basic premise is:

Understanding their propensity to become stressed and how to deal with it can help children compete. Stress turns out to be far more complicated than we’ve assumed, and far more under our control than we imagine. Unlike long-term stress, short-term stress can actually help people perform, and viewing it that way changes its effect. Even for those genetically predisposed to anxiety, the antidote isn’t necessarily less competition — it’s more competition. It just needs to be the right kind.

The article talks about the COMT gene, which has two variants: one that slowly removes dopamine from the brain, and another that clears it quickly.  People carry one variant or the other, or a combination of the two.  Studies have found that under normal conditions, those with the slow-acting variant have a cognitive advantage.  However, in stressful situations – e.g., test time – the people with the slower enzyme can’t remove dopamine fast enough, and those with the speedier kind take the lead.  They’re often the ones who do better on tests.

Some researchers have labeled those with the fast-acting enzyme “Warriors” and those with the slower variant “Worriers.”  One isn’t necessarily better than the other, it’s just that the Warriors may have an advantage in situations such as tests.  About half of us are a mix between Warrior and Worrier, while a quarter carry Warrior-only genes, and a quarter are Worrier-only.

So are we all predestined to be good or bad test takers, based on our genes?  Researchers say it’s not that simple.  People who are Worriers can significantly improve their performance if they are exposed to stress the right way and allowed to acclimate to it.  Based on their research, here are some more ways you can become a grade-A test-taker:

1.  Tell yourself that stress is beneficial.  It may sound weird, but it works!  Here’s an interesting tidbit from the article:

The first experiment was at Harvard University with undergraduates who were studying for the Graduate Record Examination. Before taking a practice test, the students read a short note explaining that the study’s purpose was to examine the effects of stress on cognition. Half of the students, however, were also given a statement declaring that recent research suggests “people who feel anxious during a test might actually do better.” Therefore, if the students felt anxious during the practice test, it said, “you shouldn’t feel concerned. . . simply remind yourself that your arousal could be helping you do well.”

Just reading this statement significantly improved students’ performance. They scored 50 points higher in the quantitative section (out of a possible 800) than the control group on the practice test. Remarkable as that seemed, it is relatively easy to get a result in a lab. Would it affect their actual G.R.E. results? A couple of months later, the students turned in their real G.R.E. scores. Jamieson calculated that the group taught to see anxiety as beneficial in the lab experiment scored 65 points higher than the controls. In ongoing work, Jamieson is replicating the experiment with remedial math students at a Midwestern community college: after they were told to think of stress as beneficial, their grades improved.

The study found that the students were still stressed, but that “it had different physiological manifestations and had somehow been transformed into a positive force that drove performance.”  The researcher also found that “the people told to feel positive about being anxious had their blood flow increase by an average of more than half a liter per minute, with more oxygen and energy coursing throughout the body and brain. Some had up to two liters per minute extra.”  Amazingly, hearing that stress is beneficial can improve your cognitive function!

2.  “Inoculate” yourself to stress by engaging in competitive activities you might actually enjoy, such as math competitions, trivia contests, spelling bees, science fairs, chess teams, etc.  Although these things can be stressful, they can also be fun and rewarding.  And getting used to competition will make it easier to take tests.

Good luck!


For more tips on studying and much more, order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!