Having stated that so boldly, I suspect I still have to convince some of you that spending any time trying to master this stuff—studying, learning, reading, note taking, writing—is worth your while.
There are, of course, some terrific reasons why you should learn how to study, why you really must learn how to study. But before I start convincing you that developing proper study skills is important—and why—let’s figure out exactly what we mean by “study skills” so were all on the same wavelength.
Yes, How to Study includes hints, advice, and techniques for taking notes in class, while you’re reading your textbooks, in the library, and online; how to prepare for tests; and how to organize your study schedule to get the best results in the shortest amount of time. But that’s only half of the book. There are essential skills you may think have nothing to do with studying, and important steps you need to take right from the start.
Developing great study habits is like a foot race between you and your friends. Before you can declare a winner, you have to agree on where the finish line is. In other words, how do you measure your ability to use these skills? What’s good? What’s poor?
But you can’t even start the race until you know where the starting line is—especially if it’s drawn at a different spot for each of you!
Chapter 1 starts by explaining individual study skills and clarifying how each can and should function in your life. Then you’ll be given the chance to find your own starting line.
In Chapter 2, you’ll learn the importance of where, how, and when you study, and you’ll start building the study environment that’s perfect for you. Why is this important? If you’ve spent three hours reading Gravity’s Rainbow with Outkast shaking the walls, it’s not surprising you’re still on page three. Reading about and understanding Mr. Pynchon might have little to do with increasing reading comprehension, rescheduling your time, or changing books…and a lot more to do with just turning down the volume.
There is no magic elixir in the study habit regimen. If math and science are not your strong suits, memorizing How to Study will not transform you into a Nobel Prize-winning physicist. Nobody is great at everything, but everybody is great at something. So you’ll also get a chance to rate the subjects you like and dislike, plus those classes you do best and worst in.
“What one knows is. in youth, of little moment; they know enough who know how to learn.“
Are You Ready to Learn Something?
The book you are holding in your hands is now in its seventh edition, and has been helping students and parents (and even teachers) for more than 20 years. (The other books in my How to Study Program— “Ace” Any Test, Get Organized, Improve Your Memory, Improve Your Reading, and Improve Your Writing—are also available in new editions.)
Thank you for making these books so successful.
Learning shouldn’t be painful or boring, though it is occasionally both. I don’t promise that How to Study will make everything easier. It won’t. It can’t. And it may actually require some work to achieve what you want. But How to Study will show you the path, give you directions, and make sure you’re properly provisioned for your journey.
You will not understand everything the first time you read it. Or, perhaps, even the second or third time. You may have to learn it slowly, very slowly. But that doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you. It may be a subject that everyone learns slowly. (My particular nemesis was organic chemistry.) A poorly written textbook or unmotivated teacher can make any subject a torture.
Parents often ask me, “How can I motivate my teenager?” Well, there is an answer, but it’s not something parents can do—it’s something you. the student, have to decide: Are you going to spend the school day interested and alert or bored and resentful?
It’s really that simple. Since you have to go to school anyway, why not decide that you might as well be active and learn as much as possible instead of wallowing in misery? The difference between a C and an A or В for many students is, I firmly believe, merely a matter of wanting to do better. When you graduate, you’ll quickly discover that all anyone cares about is what you know and what you can do. Grades won’t count anymore; neither will tests. So you can learn it all now or regret it later.
You will also inevitably decide that one or more courses couldn’t possibly be of any use later in life. “I don’t have a clue why I’m busting my hump to learn calculus (algebra, physics, chemistry, European history, fill in the blank)!” you lament. “I will never need it.”
Trust me: You have no idea what you may or may not need, use, or remember next week, let alone in a decade. I have found in my own life that a surprising amount of “useless” information and learning has been vitally important to my career.
‘Learn as though you would never be able to master it; hold it as if you would be in fear of losing it”
So learn it all. Get excited about the process of learning, and I guarantee you will not ever worry about what you need to know in the future.
Chapter 1: How to Start Out Right
Chapter 2: How to Organize Your Studying
Chapter 3: How to Read and Remember
Chapter 4: How to Organize Your Time
Chapter 5: How to Excel in Class
Chapter 6: How to Conduct Your Research
Chapter 7: How to Write Terrific Papers
Chapter 8: How to Study for Tests
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HOW TO STUDY by Ron Fry (Course Technology PTR) – 7th edition (pdf)