Success At School: This Factor Is More Important Than Grades, with Chloe Amen

Dr Daniel Amen and Tana Amen BSN RN On The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast

For some people, the education system can be a breeze. For others, struggle and frustration is the name of the game. However, when it comes to predicting success in life, grades aren’t necessarily the best metric. In this episode of The Brain Warrior’s Way Podcast, Dr. Daniel Amen and Tana are joined by their daughter Chloe, co-author of the new book, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades”, for a discussion on the most important focus points for students.

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Dr. Daniel Amen: Welcome to The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast. I'm Dr. Daniel Amen...
Tana Amen: And I'm Tana Amen. In our podcast, we provide you with the tools you need to become a warrior for the health of your brain and body.
Dr. Daniel Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is brought to you by Amen Clinics, where we have been transforming lives for 30 years. Using tools like brain SPECT imaging to personalize treatment to your brain. For more information, visit
Tana Amen: The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast is also brought to you by Brain MD, where we produce the highest quality nutraceuticals to support the health of your brain and body. To learn more, go to
Dr. Daniel Amen: Hey everybody, we are so excited. The next two weeks, we're going to talk about learning. One of the primary things that separate you from the pelicans I saw flying over the ocean this morning was we don't have to operate our lives out of instinct. We can learn. We are also going to introduce you to our new book, Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades, coming out September 17th, and you want to-
Tana Amen: Super special.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Introduce the world to...
Tana Amen: Yeah. This is very special. Because, on this book, our daughter Chloe, and our niece [Alisa 00:00:01:30], they were a part of writing it and that's really special for us. So today we've got Chloe... Actually, for the whole week, we've got Chloe here with us talking about being a good student and what some of the challenges have been for her and how she overcame them, and yeah, how to be a good student and how to optimize your learning.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And it's not just if you're in school, this is really important. Many of the principles we're going to talk about is, well, how do you get a raise at work? You learn new things, you make yourself more valuable. How do you prevent aging, is you learn new things.
Tana Amen: Right.
Chloe Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Change Your Brain, Change Your Grades. People who have gotten the prior version of this, which called Secrets of Successful Students, that actually wrote in 1982. It was a little before Chloe's time.
Tana Amen: A little before the internet.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But in 1982, when it happened. So I was a mediocre student in high school, like 2.8 was my GPA out of high school, which means I was paying attention to girls, not to my-
Tana Amen: grades-
Dr. Daniel Amen: Classwork. But out of college as a 3.93 and had virtually straight A's in medical school. And I taught a course in medical school. I was in the charter class, we didn't have upperclassmen, I was always, the oldest in our class was the first one.
And so I taught a seminar for students coming behind on how to do medical school. when I graduated from medical school, in 1982, I went, "Oh, I should probably write that." How does someone go from being sort of a mediocre student to a great student? There is a method for that and I love sharing it.
But then, recently, I'm like, "I need to revise that book." I realized the Internet wasn't invented when I had written that book, and computers-
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I actually-
Tana Amen: Hand writing your papers, probably, yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: I hand wrote the first version of this book.
Tana Amen: We had to sit in the library. I remember doing research in the library.
Dr. Daniel Amen: And so I tapped Chloe, who's actually a wonderful student, virtually a straight A student, and Alisa, who'll you'll meet, same thing. I'm like, "Let's update this." My sneaky purpose was I really wanted them to read the book and read the principles in the book and help me with it and which they did. So are you introducing Chloe?
Tana Amen: I did. I just introduced her. This is Chloe.
Chloe Amen: I got an introduction?
Dr. Daniel Amen: well-
Tana Amen: So Chloe is actually going to be a junior, so you just finished your sophomore year.
Chloe Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: And she's taking weighted classes and she got straight A's, which means she's actually above a 4.0 now, which is really fun and exciting. She's also volunteering. She does a lot of volunteer work. She's on the Mayor's Youth Council, she's on the National Honor Society and she's involved in a whole bunch of activities. And so yeah, we're really proud of her.
But we've always told her something really important, that I think is really important. I've never, I've never celebrated, or really... Like I've never made a big deal out of her grades. It's always been the effort. So it's always been the effort that we made a big deal. It's like it's how much work she puts in that is really important because we've often seen-
Dr. Daniel Amen: we actually recommend, don't tell your kids they're smart.
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because if it's hard for them, then they'll go, "Oh, I'm really not smart." But if you praise them for working hard, and Chloe works very hard-
Tana Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Then-
Tana Amen: And grades didn't always come super easy when she was really young.
Chloe Amen: No.
Tana Amen: And so the fact that she had to learn how to work hard is now why she does so well.
Chloe Amen: And I had to learn just like how I learned, too, because not everyone learns the same. Not everything works for everyone. It's not the same formula for everyone. I've had to kind of learn that as I've gone along.
And that I'm not one of those people who's just naturally, like it just comes easy. In order to get really good grades, I have to put in a lot of studying and a lot of time. It doesn't just like come naturally. But I've learned that that's just how it is. I think everyone has their different ways of learning, and when you really figure out what works for you and how you learn and you just accept it, you can make it a lot easier for yourself or you can make it a lot harder for yourself.
Tana Amen: But one thing I do notice is you tend to remember things, because of the amount of studying you put in probably.
Chloe Amen: Yes.
Tana Amen: So she tends to remember the information.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So you to take it seriously?
Chloe Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: One of the things that I learned, so trick number one is, before you go to class, read what they're going to talk about in class. So that way... Because so often students are completely clueless and they come unprepared.
Chloe Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: But I learned, if I read the chapter or whatever we're going to talk about, ahead of time, then the teacher would then reinforce it. I would ask smart questions which would embed me in their head as someone who actually cared. I've noticed, Chloe, that you actually outline what the lesson is, so...
Chloe Amen: Right and I have-
Tana Amen: She could sell those notes.
Chloe Amen: I have a system for that, but I also have kind of a little bit of an advantage in that sense, because I do online. So I get all of my notes in front of me, so it's-
Tana Amen: Let me clarify that. What she's saying is we homeschool. She has an online program that she does, an online school program.
Chloe Amen: So it's the same lessons, but all of them are online, and I just have to read them kind of through myself. I don't really have a teacher that guides me through it, which at first was really hard for me, because I'm used to having a teacher like, "Okay, these are the important parts. These are what you really need to take notes on."
Tana Amen: This is what's going to be on the test.
Chloe Amen: Right. The teachers give you the little like, "Oh, pay attention to this part."
Tana Amen: Pay attention.
Chloe Amen: I don't have any of that, but I've learned to kind of outline the important parts. But translating what you said about reading the lessons first. I think when going over to high school, that can be hard sometimes because if you've ever been in a high school class, they are very unpredictable. So sometimes the teachers are like...
Kids come in, and they're talking, and it's hard to focus. But if you go in, if you're in high school, and you go in ahead of time at lunch or whatever, usually, teachers will help you out. If you say, "Look, I want to just kind of get ahead. I want to know what we're learning today." They'll usually help you if you take the time to go in.
Tana Amen: Because you haven't always done-
Chloe Amen: But college classes, if I'm right, I think with college classes, that's a little bit easier. [crosstalk 00:08:25].
Tana Amen: They have class hours. Or they have teachers hours or professors hours. But she didn't always do homeschooling. You were in a traditional school up until the middle of eighth grade, almost the end of eighth grade.
Chloe Amen: Mm-hmm (affirmative).
Tana Amen: So she knows sort of the system, how that works too. In one of these episodes, we're going to talk about the difference. For those of you who either are in homeschool programs, or are interested in them, or you want to hear the differences between the two, it's really interesting, because it's different.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Well, we can talk about it in a little bit. And [inaudible 00:08:58] in traditional school and we'll hear from her next week. Chloe's not. One of the reasons I really like it is sleep.
Tana Amen: Yeah.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Because when you're homeschooled, you are much more likely to get seven or eight hours of sleep.
Tana Amen: Or nine.
Dr. Daniel Amen: It might sound like Chloe's working all the time and it's just not true. I think now she actually has a much more balanced life.
Chloe Amen: Right.
Dr. Daniel Amen: That we can sit in the morning, and have coffee, or tea, and chat. It's not running out of the door and you're actually missing all the time. You have to get your makeup done, you have to get to the bus, you have to come home.
Tana Amen: Well, it's an hour from the time you walk out the door to get to school.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So sleep is the most important thing for me, because the brain is developing.
Tana Amen: And the rate of depression in teens that get one hour less of sleep is... What is the increase?
Dr. Daniel Amen: Significantly higher and suicide is higher in kids who don't...
Tana Amen: Get one less hour.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Sleep.
Chloe Amen: Well, if I can add something to that too. Just getting alone just more sleep is beneficial, but also the reason why I like it is because people, their prime time for productivity changes between people. So I have friends who work best at 2:00 in the morning. That is not me at all.
Come 6:00, I like can't focus on anything. Like just nothing. But I can focus at 6:00 in the morning. When you're in traditional schools, sometimes you just don't get that option, because there's like set hours. But that's why I like what I do, as well.
Tana Amen: Because it's flexible.
Chloe Amen: Also for that reason. So if you would rather sleep in until nine, and then get up.
Tana Amen: Work late.
Chloe Amen: And do whatever, and then work later, that's fine. Or get up earlier and then you have the afternoon.
Dr. Daniel Amen: So the second tip is know your sweet spot.
Chloe Amen: Right. Know your best time.
Dr. Daniel Amen: Know your best time.
Chloe Amen: For the book in general, I think this is one of the tips that I added in there. Know what time of day that you study better. So it's almost like doing an experiment. For one test, study at this time, and see how you do. For the next test, study at night rather than in the morning, and see how you do, and see how much of the information you retain. then, you know, oh, I study best and I take in most of the information, or more of the information, at that time.
Tana Amen: Yeah, you're like me. I'm a morning person.
Dr. Daniel Amen: After each podcast in the next few weeks, we're going to give one of the books away. If you go to, leave a comment, and in the subject line, put change your brain, change your grades raffle. We will enter you into the free drawing. We're going to talk about relationships with teachers in one coming up.
Tana Amen: If you're enjoying The Brain Warrior's Way Podcast, please don't forget to subscribe so you'll always know when there's a new episode. While you're at it, feel free to give us a review or five star rating as that helps others find the podcast.
Dr. Daniel Amen: If you're considering coming to Amen Clinics or trying some of the brain healthy supplements from Brain MD, you can use the code Podcast to get a 10% discount on a full evaluation at or a 10% discount on all supplements at For more information, give us a call at 8559781363.