Updated: Oct 25
I've written a new book! It's another “Self-Help” book, called "Study Skills for Success". You won’t find references in this book, because it's a quick-read for for students – school students, university students, anyone who wants to improve how to learn, how to succeed at exams, and how to impress the people who count in their world. Mums and Dads and other special people might also use this book so they can help the students in their lives too. In less than 3 hours, you will know what to do, and feel confident too!
So, why would I write this book? Well, I understand what it’s like to struggle with studying. When I was in primary school, aged about 8, I started learning to play the piano. My tutor, a very elderly Catholic Sister of Mercy, would hit my hands across the knuckles with a steel-reinforced ruler, and declare, “You haven’t been practising! You haven’t been practising!”. The fact was, I loved to play. I practised every afternoon after school, and no-one in my family told me to stop (and I’m from a really big family; my siblings would have told me if I was terrible!).
No-one said that my playing was awful. But this old nun thought otherwise. She erroneously accused me of not practising, and she underestimated my sense of justice. Finally, I stood up from the piano stool, looked her straight into her bespectacled eyes, and said, “I quit”. I calmly walked home (we lived nearby), and told my mother, who said,
I learned from that experience, that no amount of homework would please my teachers, and I stopped doing all homework for school. It didn’t matter that I would be punished with the boys who failed to do homework (girls in my class were obedient, boys weren’t!). Each afternoon, my mother would ask if I had homework, and I would reply, “no”, even though there was. She would tell me to read the dictionary. We had a great encyclopaedic dictionary produced by Readers’ Digest, which included Maori and Australian Aboriginal law and words, Greek and Roman mythology, and all sorts of other interesting stuff. It was informal and self-directed, which might have been great, but it wasn’t what I really needed. It was good to sit down and read each day (habit-forming), but not syllabus-oriented.
Regardless, I managed to do well in my secondary school entrance exams, even scoring 93.5% for mathematics in Year 7 (aged about 12ish). Things went downhill from there, though, because I hadn’t developed the habit of studying. I could read, very well, and I had excellent comprehension; but I had no idea of how to summarise, synthesise, analyse, and produce a critique of anything. You need these skills when doing exams!!
In Year 7, I had a friend, Evelina Michelini, who would call me every night at dinnertime and ask, “Have you done your maths homework yet?”. Of course, I hadn’t! Evelina would say she needed help, so I would get my books and go through the material with her over the phone. I credit Evelina with being my first study-buddy. And a great, cherished friend.
Unfortunately for me, she had less need of me in the intervening years, and my marks sunk. By Year 12 (aged about 16), my maths mark plummeted to 27%. I failed to get into university and had no idea what to do with my life after high school.
Fast-forward to the early 90’s, the first time I enrolled in university (after completing the Open Foundation Course for entrance). I had done pretty well to last 18 months at Macquarie University – I worked full-time (Monday-Friday, 9-5) and I went to uni 4 nights per week (Monday-Thursday, 6-10pm). Because I lived alone for the start, and didn’t have a TV, I got through my subjects. But I had to work, because I lived in Sydney, away from home.
Eventually, I stopped my degree, started TAFE certificates that were relevant to where I was working (first Property Valuation by correspondence, then Real Estate done face-to-face). I didn’t manage to finish any of those courses, because work got in the way. I was very close to having my Real Estate Certificate and licence, though. One semester off.
Meanwhile, I discovered I was a good masseur and did a couple of courses in that, which involved exams, but were awesome because I developed what they call “muscle memory” by practising therapeutic and remedial massage on classmates. I moved home from Sydney to Newcastle, and completed a Certificate in Small Business Management to set up my first business as a mobile remedial massage therapist. If only I had trademarked the name – Magic Hands Massage! They’re everywhere nowadays, and not related to my business at all!
Anyhow, things went well, but near the end of 1998, I got bored because I wasn’t doing any courses. So .. I applied to go back to uni.
In 1999, I re-started my Bachelor of Science, part-time, and my classes were mostly at night. It was hard to make friends with other students because we’d race from work to uni, then go straight home for a late dinner. We’d be exhausted. I was always the one to start my study groups though.
The Number 1 tip I would give you is: Start a Study Group.
Make sure you have one for each of your subjects. My marks went from passes and credits to distinctions and high distinctions when I was part of a study group. And you can see from my title, I now have a PhD. You can do it too, if you want!
This book, "Study Skills for Success", will teach you, pretty simply, how to use your brain efficiently to get information in, and to get information out. The sooner you start reading this book and using my tips, the sooner you’ll develop both the competence and confidence to succeed in your schooling and further education.
It's available as an e-book, and only from my website. Lucky you, it's in the Store tab, and hyperlinked right here. Please purchase it - for yourself, for the students you care about. And please, let me know what you think about it. Your feedback helps me to improve what I do too! Thanks!!
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