Mother, son team up for study skills book

Justin Muchnick likes to challenge himself to get good grades. At age 14 and away at Phillips Academy Andover school in Massachusetts he needs to live up to the challenge.

Muchnick, a straight-A student, is a scholar-athlete. He went through the Corona del Mar Sharks Wrestling Club and is now a freshman varsity wrestler for PAA in the 132-pound weight class. Away from the mat, he has also wrestled with time management and test preparation. When he saw his mother, Cynthia, writing a book about studying skills it made sense for him to offer his own tips, and make some edits.

Soon, his mother was offering him to help more with the book. Justin was all for it. All he had to do was convince the publishers that a 14-year-old could co-author a book with an accomplished educational writer.

Cynthia Muchnick, who lives in Newport Beach, has authored seven books. She is a private educational consultant who works from her home office.

She knew having her son as the co-author was the right thing to do.

Justin writes for The Bootleg, which is Stanford University’s sports news website on He publishes articles about college football.

After convincing the publishers, he became co-author of, “Straight-A Study Skills, 180 Essential Strategies to Ace Your Exams, Boost Your Grades, and Achieve Lasting Academic Success.”

Justin and his mother will offer tips, proven methods and strategies during a book signing at the Barnes & Noble book store at Metro Pointe in Costa Mesa on Saturday at noon.

“I do think this book is really helpful for scholar-athletes and kids who are committed to athletics,” Justin Muchnick said. “Time management is so crucial. I look at my own tips when I’m cutting weight for wrestling, or actually just practicing.”

Justin has two younger brothers, Jacob, 12, and Ross, 8, and one sister, Ally, 6. Justin said the book and tips have been helpful for Jacob, a talented soccer player who has a lot on his plate as he is in the Los Angeles Galaxy Youth Academy. Justin and Jacob have both become pros of time management. Jacob sometimes studies with index cards that he’ll go through during the drive to practice. Or, he’ll enter notes or ideas for class into his phone during the drive.

Justin usually has his school backpack with him while on the bus headed toward a wrestling competition.

There other topics in the book, ranging from where to sit in class to answering why extra credit is so important in academics.

“He did most of the heavy lifting,” Cynthia said of Justin’s role with the book. “He likes to analyze sentence structure. Our processes are very different. He tightened up what I wrote or he rewrote it. I think it was more of a 70-30 with him the 70 than it was a 50-50.”

Twitter: @SteveVirgen

If you go

Where: Barnes & Noble Metro Pointe, 901 B South Coast Drive, Suite 150, Costa Mesa

When: Saturday, Noon

RSVP: Vanessa Villa, or (714) 444-1653

Book price: $13.95

For more information on Cynthia Muchnick’s books visit