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Highlights from the BFS Be An 11 Guidebook for Success.
By Greg Shepard
Published: Summer 2000


Elevens try to get the best grades for their ability. Elevens learn to play the game of grades. It isn’t much different than playing the game of life. Grades start counting for real in the ninth grade. Everything before that is just practice. Do smart kids get poor grades? Of course, all the time. They just haven’t learned the game or don’t care. Elevens care. The idea is to do your best.

Getting good grades keeps your options open. Getting poor grades eliminates the options that you have, especially in the first two years after high school. Studies show that college students with a 3.0 average do about as well as 4.0 students in getting employment out of college. However, high school grades are more important as far as getting into some colleges. For example, colleges like Harvard or Stanford will normally not accept students with grades under a 3.5 average. Even then, your ACT or SAT score must be really high.


ACT and SAT tests are standardized tests which are designed to predict a student’s success in college. The better the school the higher these tests scores need to be for acceptance. These tests are not foolproof. Some students with high scores do poorly at college. Some students with a great work ethic and study habits will do fine in college even though their test scores may be lower. However, colleges must have some way of weeding out applicants. Of course, colleges look at grades, the type of core classes taken (science, math etc.), the type of high school, extracurricular activities and recommendations. But, it is in any student’s best interest to get the highest score possible.

Generally speaking, the western states use the ACT test more, while the eastern states use the SAT test more. Many colleges will use either. I recommend that students take one of these tests early in their junior year. You may score high enough to gain entrance into the school of your choice and then you wouldn’t have to worry about that phase of life anymore. If you score lower than desired, you may retake the test as many times as you want. Colleges always take the highest score. Many students use study manuals to prepare and take practice tests. Others may actually go to special classes that specifically prepare students for the ACT or the SAT test.

Matt Davidson, a student at Siuslaw High School in Florence, Oregon, wanted to go to the Air Force Academy. His ACT test score was too low. Matt decided to take an eleven approach. He drove to Portland, which is a three-hour drive, once a week to take a special class to raise his score. To Matt, his low test score wasn’t a problem but a challenge. He was later successful in raising his score.

Anthony Lucas, an all-American wide receiver for the University of Arkansas in 1999, had a low ACT score in high school. Anthony drove about 30 minutes into Monroe, Louisiana for special help. It worked. Anthony’s ACT score rose high enough. “But I did not get my scholarship,” remembered Anthony, “until the following spring. I paid my own way at first.” Anthony received his degree in social work and set all kinds of career receiving records for the Razorbacks. Anthony is an eleven.


There are three simple rules that, when followed, will guarantee great grades in every class with every teacher. These rules are as follows:

1. Always be in class

2. Always be on time to class and
with assignments

3. Always turn in quality work


Two weeks before the grading period ends you should find out as best you can what your grade is in each class. Then ask what you can do to raise it a notch or two. Sometimes a teacher will have a mistake in the grade book like an absence or a missed assignment. The best time to correct an error is two weeks before, not after the grade is given. Two weeks prior is the time to make up shortcomings or add extra credit. Since most students don’t show this kind of initiative, many teachers will work with you to raise your grade. Going from a B- to a B+ is a good thing. Elevens want to do good things and get the highest possible grade.


Elevens see beyond the present. Many times it is not unreasonable to think that you would never use a certain subject matter, but don’t think in terms of subject. Think in terms of process. Elevens are processing information to find solutions in order to achieve good results. In your future, you will be able to use this road of processing, finding and achieving in your job and community. You will use this road often.

Elevens will take on a subject like a game or competition. Learn the game of grades. Think of getting great grades as a challenge.



You have just read a portion of just one chapter of the BFS “Be An 11 Guidebook for Success.” To purchase the entire book or to find out how to have a Be An 11 Clinic at your school call BFS at 1-800-628-9737.

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