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Last Updated: Oct 21st, 2011 - 02:07:03

Reviews - Books  

Study Smart, Study Less - An Essential Guide
By Cynthia Kirkeby
Sep 24, 2011, 00:17 PST

Take a look at why Study Smart, Study Less is an essential book for students of every age, regardless of class level or curriculum....

Study Smart, Study Less - A ClassBrain Choice Book

Keith Williamson 2011 - CC 2.0

I frankly wasn't expecting much when I received this small paperback study guide tips book in the mail. It seems that people frequently think that they have a better way to organize other people, or help them study, or work more effectively. Most of the time, the books are dry, and organized strictly for linear thinkers. What a surprise I had!

It's not too often that I come across study tips that I think are sterling, let alone an entire batch of them. Anne Crossman takes a look at how different students learn, whether you are an auditory learner, a kinesthetic (movement) learner, or a visual learner. Then she also gives special tips for studying alone and studying in groups. Granted, a few of her "techniques" would probably be more distracting than helpful, such as Twisted Twister, but it could be a great way to get study group members to drop their guards and get to know one another.

Now, I'm a huge believer in flash cards for studying, but although they seem to help most people, there are a few people that seem to have a difficult time with them. Anne has some very good alternatives to traditional flash cards, such as paper flaps and memory fans, both of which I have used before. The interesting thing about Anne's book, is that she has put a new spin on a lot of standard ideas.

I have two kids, both of whom were diagnosed with learning disabilities, and both of whom are now in their final year in college on the Dean's Lists. My daughter is a Fine Artist. She was born with some heavy gross and fine motor skill deficits, her speech was delayed until she was three, and she is ADD. My son was born with a combination of dyslexia and disgraphia, he learned to read through brute force with flash cards, when all sorts of phonics systems failed. What worked for me, when I was a student, did not necessarily work for either of them. Each student has their own unique challenges and each one has their own learning style.

My daughter couldn't use a binder in school. Her school REQUIRED every student to use a binder for their school work. We tried everything to make it workable for her, and we failed miserably. Eventually I had to have a meeting with teachers, counselors, and administrators, to explain why she needed to use an accordion folder, instead of the mandated binder. Once we switched over, her organization level increase by leaps and bounds. Study techniques are just like organization techniques. They are unique to the individual, but once you figure out the best ways for you to do it, everything becomes so much easier.

In Study Smart, Study Less i even learned ways of improving my own study skills, which I had always thought were pretty darn good. One example is underlining material with highlighters. Anne suggests that you keep a set of colored highlighters at your fingertips. Now instead of highlighting everything that's "important" with the same color, you can set up a color chart for specific things. I especially like this for literature classes. You can use yellow for important quotations, pink for critical plot points, and blue for the first time a character appears. Putting a little tick of the color in the upper corner of the page would be a good addition to this technique.

Doodle and photo by Martin Thomas 2011, CC 2.0

Another excellent suggestion for visual doodling types is to make a set of study doodles that you use over and over, like a secret study language. So a little doodled person, becomes the first appearance in the book, a speaking bubble (like the ones you see in a comic strip) becomes a quote, and an important plot point becomes a jagged graph with a circle around a peak of the graph, or something else that makes sense to you.

Something that you shouldn't skip... seriously... DON'T SKIP IT.... is the little quiz on pages 13 and 14. Don't be lazy. Get up and get a pen or pencil. It will only take a couple of minutes. This little quiz will help you determine how you learn, and once you learn how you learn, it is easier to figure out the better ways for you to study.

My daughter is an auditory learner. If she hears it, she can remember it. She does amazing with languages, but only if she hears it. If she only reads the homework, it is much more difficult for her to understand and remember the assignment. Figuring out how you learn is the first step to a major improvement in your grades, and many times you may be surprised how you actually learn things. This goes especially for the adults who are going back to classes to complete or advance their degrees.

Anne Crossman did a great job keeping this book light, short, packed full of incredible information and actually fun to read in places. She is very aware that one of the last things a student is probably interesting in reading is a how to study book, but she will probably win over most of her doubters. Study Smart, Study Less really will probably help you and/or any other students in your family improve their grades, and study less while learning more. If I can learn a few new tricks on how to study after all the "how to study" or "how people learn" classes and seminars I've taken through the years, she really has something here!

This is an essential that everyone should have, not only in their library, but in their backpack or briefcase, so that you can read it on the way to work, or on your break. STUDY SMART, STUDY LESS is a ClassBrain Choice Book.

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