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Study Smart, Study Less Review by Kathy GelzerAnne Crossman
Ten Speed Press
6001 Shellmound St.
Emeryville, CA 94608
Here is a little, easy-to-read six-chapter book on study skills. The book begins by describing four different study personalities: the Unperfected Perfectionist, the Deadline Daredevil, the Mack Slacker, and the Brain Trainer. These roughly translate into: someone who studies hard but doesn't do well; a procrastinator; someone who just plain doesn't study, doesn't do well, and (supposedly) doesn't really care; and finally a pretty good student. These student descriptions are used throughout the rest of the book. The author recommends you read the whole book in order from beginning to end, but come back to the beginning to re-read the general suggestions which pertain to the type of study personality you have.
The next chapter talks about learning styles or strengths, especially as they relate to retaining information. A fun learning-style quiz is included.
Setting up a study space and adopting good study habits is the next chapter topic. There is some refreshingly good, old-fashioned advice here about studying at a desk or table instead of a bed or the couch, turning off the music when studying, and staying unplugged. "Give yourself the freedom and space to socially check out for a couple hours so you can get some work done. Your friends will understand, and if they don't . . . well . . . maybe they aren't such great friends."
Memory tricks based on color, movement, sound, and mnemonic cues, and coded by type of learner is covered in chapter four.
Chapter five discusses frequent errors made by students and how to avoid or correct them: how to take good notes, how to review your notes, staying awake and alert during lectures, how to tackle difficult literature, stress reduction, time use, making studying more enjoyable, and study groups/tutors are the topics addressed.
The last chapter covers learning disabilities, with a focus on de-phobia and alerting the student to a possible LD diagnosis. There is an appendix that lists some helpful resources for students with learning disabilities.
Subtitles and small sections, diagrams, quizzes, illustrations, bullet lists, and end-of-chapter outlines make this book accessible to even the most printed-word allergic student. The author has already done the work for you. Bolded sentences throughout this book contain the essence, meaning you could read only those and get the gist of the book. This will help you focus on the key points as you read. Illustrations of study aids the student can make and use are found in the appendices.
I really like how the book ends, with a half page admonishment to the student: if, after giving these suggestions a try for several months, you don't improve, talk to someone you trust and get help so that you can do and be your best, whatever that best is for you.
Study Smart, Study Less is one of the best books on study skills that I have ever read. It is a quick, easy read. It is succinct. It includes tried and true methodology as well as some innovative ideas. Buy this for your high schooler. If you have or know any college students, sneak this book into their backpacks next time you see them.