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you could also try double clutching.

in 1st, let off the gas, depress clutch
move gear lever into neutral
release clutch
depress clutch
move gear lever into 2nd
release clutch, press gas

With practice you're get really fast with it (you wont have to move the lever over into neutral, you'll just leave the clutch out between 1st and 2nd). I don't double clutch when driving around town, but if I need to get on up through the gears quickly I will.

Also RPMs have everything to do with it. Normally, I tend to shift around 4000 rpm in my CS and 3000 rpm in my Honda. Getting out of first as soon as the car has forward momentum will usually make the process smoother, but also a lot slower.

Good move learning to drive stick. I find it makes me more aware when driving, as you need to take a lot more into account, so you're in the right gear at the right time. When ever I drive an automatic, I tend to zone out.
 
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