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How to get an A without studying

You know that kid in all your classes that always does well on the tests, but never seems to study?  I'm that kid.  I hate studying.  I have always hated studying.  How do I do it?  Am I just that smart that I already know everything and don't have to study?  LOL - not at all - in fact if you talk to my family, they'll tell you I'm, uh... "selectively smart".  So what's the secret then?  It's fairly simple actually... 

Study smarter... not harder

There are a lot of people that figure out how to do this all on their own, which is why you all know someone like the person I mentioned above.  But the fact of the matter is that most people don't know how to do this, and bury themselves for hours in a book "studying".

I have to tell you, nothing was ever more dissapointing to me in school than when my classmates would tell me how they spent 3 hours a day for 2 weeks straight studying for a test, and got a lower grade than I did, when I spent less than 1 hour outside of class studying for the same test.  It's not because they're dumb, it's because they never learned how to study efficiently.  In fact most of these people are much, much smarter than I am.  They just need to learn how to study.

I absolutely hated, with a passion, when a professor would tell you us that we need to spend 3 hours studying outside of class for every hour we spent in class.  That is the biggest myth EVER.  If you have a typical load of 4 classes that you spend 3 hours a week in, that is 12 hours.  Multiply by 3, and that is 36 hours.  Add in that original 12 hours spent in class and you have 48 hours spent studying every week.  You have got to be kidding me.  There is absolutely no way that I'm going to spend that amount of time on my studies, especially when you throw in another 6-12 hours spent in the lab every week.  Now don't get me wrong, I know people that made it through school, getting better grades than I did, by doing just that.  If you need to get all A's, and are motivated enough to spend that much time studying, go for it.  For the rest of us though, there IS a better way.

Just for full disclosure, I do have to mention that there are certain classes where there is no way around putting in extreme amounts of time studying - any class that requires memorization (such as, Biochemistry or Biology) will require you to spend some time memorizing things.  I hated these classes by the way, never saw the point in memorizing something that you can look up in seconds on google.  But they are still classes and people still need to do well with them.

So what are my credentials here?  Well my college required us to take something called "cumulative exams" during our senior year in order to graduate.  Imagine 4 tests, that cover EVERYTHING you have learned about chemistry over 4 years in school - Organic, Analytical, Inorganic, Physical, Biochem... They used the standardized ACS (American Chemical Society) exams for this, and if you haven't ever had the extreme displeasure of taking an ACS exam, be very very happy - they are beyond hard.  Naturally, my classmates were a little freaked out about this, and some spent MONTHS studying for the exams.  I spent less than 8 hours total, and 5 of those were spent going over Organic (which is very much memorization based).  The other subject areas, I just kind of reviewed some basic information to refresh my memory.  How'd it turn out you ask?  I got the highest score out of all my classmates on 2 of the 4 exams (analytical and physical).  All while spending MUCH less time studying than my classmates.

I had actually planned on spending much more time studying (these were important tests), but once I started going over things, I realized that I still knew everything.  I had actually LEARNED the information, as opposed to memorizing what I needed to for a test.  Because I had really learned the information, a quick once over of all the information was all that I needed to do well.  In this lies the secret to doing well without studying - LEARN the information, don't memorize it.  Things that you learn stay with you forever.  Things that you memorize you will forget.

How you learn is a very personal thing, different for everybody that I've met.  But there are some common techniques and tricks that will help anybody.  I started to write about all of these tricks - a "how-to" of sorts - to learn how to learn.  How to study smarter.  How to spend next to no time outside of class studying, and still getting better grades than the people in your class that spend hour after hour studying.  Then I found that somebody beat me to the punch.  The book is already written!  So of course I ordered a copy to check it out - and it has pretty much everything I wanted to include, and more.  The book is geared towards a general audience, not chemistry specific, but everything in it is very applicable, and if you really want to learn how to study efficiently - I have yet to find anything better.  To be perfectly honest, the author, Dr. Dussault, has written a book much better than anything I could have on the subject of learning.  I highly recommend you check it out.  

 Click Here to get to the book


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