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Lesson 2: The #1 Technique for Raising Your Grades

Gary North
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YESTERDAY'S ASSIGNMENT

Did you print out a copy of Lesson 1 for your parents to read? Did you hand it to them? If not, do this before you read Lesson 2. I mean this. I am trusting you to do this. I am not trying to sneak behind your parents' backs. Neither should you.

Lesson 2

THE #1 TECHNIQUE FOR RAISING YOUR GRADES

So, you want to raise your grades. Good for you. By beginning my course, you have made a commitment to yourself to make some necessary changes in your study habits, in order to achieve your goal of getting higher grades and attending college with less risk of dropping out or flunking out.

Your commitment, if it is backed up by specific actions, day by day, is even more important than your goal of higher grades. High grades are good; committing yourself to a program of self-improvement is even better.

Best of all is following through on whatever it is that you have committed yourself to do. As the old saying goes, "actions speak louder than words." Put differently, "talk is cheap."

You know the phrase, "put your money where your mouth is." I have a better one: "Put your time where your dream is." What I will show you in this course will cost you a little money. But the true "currency" of this course is time. To achieve your academic goal, you will have to budget your time.

Time is our only irreplaceable resource. When we waste it, it's gone forever.

Most of life is a trade-off between time and money. If you're short of money, you had better be long on time. If you don't have any money to budget, then budget your time. You can buy money with time. But, ultimately, you can't buy time with money. If you could, very rich people would live to be five hundred years old.

There are lots of people your age who are richer in money than you are, and they will remain richer in money. But, statistically speaking, you have just about the same amount of time ahead of you that they do. So, pay close attention what you do with your time. It's where you have something like competitive equality with everyone else your age. Don't waste it.


WHY MY COURSE IS UNIQUE

This is a unique course. It's not like any other how- to-study course. Here's why.

There are a lot of books on how to study. Each of them offers a few good ideas. But the books I have read share the same defect: they are not realistic. They are like diets that really do work if you follow them, but the food is so awful tasting and the portions so tiny that overweight people cannot follow them for long. This is why 95% of dieters who lose weight put it back on within five years. This fact creates a large market for new diets. It also creates despair in the minds of those who have failed to lose weight.

When I read most of the "how to study" books, I get angry. I don't think they are very helpful to most of the students who buy them. Page after page, recommendation after recommendation, I think: "Almost nobody actually does this." I earned a Ph.D. at a good university. I have never known any A-level student who has used more than a handful of the recommended techniques in these books. Scholars don't study this way.

I'm not saying that the books' recommended techniques don't work. I'm saying that great students don't use most of them, and good students didn't learn them from a book.

My course is different. It's real-world.


STOP WORRYING AND START WORKING SMARTER

Maybe you haven't had much success in school. Can you do significantly better? Yes. There is no question about it.

But WILL you do significantly better? The answer depends far more on what's in your heart than what's in your head.

In every required class -- not AP classes -- there are people who just don't care. They would never send an e- mail to receive a free course like this one. They are content with D's when they could make C's or even a few B's. Or they are content to make C's when they could make B's and a few A's.

You don't have to beat all the super-bright people in your classes. There are only a handful of people like that. You only have to beat the flakes. There are always flakes in class -- and life.

There is a story about two hikers who come across a huge grizzly bear. The bear rears up. They figure that the bear is going to make a run for them. One of them reaches down and laces up his shoes. "Why bother?" says the other hiker. "You can't outrun a bear!" The first guy says, "I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you."

That's harsh. But let's face it: you have to go to class. You're facing the academic grizzly. You can't outrun a grizzly: a classroom genius. But you can outrun the students who just don't care.

If 10% of the students get A's, maybe you won't ever be among that elite group. So what? You don't have to be a straight-A student to be a success. (I say this as a successful person who was not a straight-A student in high school.) Colleges accept students who receive all B's in their senior year. College entrance committees want to see a student's improvement. If you now are getting C's, you can get half B's by the end of next semester. Or if you get B's, you can get maybe half A's by the end of next semester. Even if it takes two semesters, so what? You will show improvement.

If you follow through, you will be successful. But will you follow through?


___________________________________________

Do You Follow Through?

Self-discipline is crucial. Do you have it?

Do you say to yourself, "I'm going to do that," and then fail to do it? Do you decide that doing something is a good idea, but then you just forget about it? If so, you're in trouble. It will hurt your grades.

Be honest with yourself. Do you follow through?

In Lesson 1, I recommended that you get a debit card. That probably sounded like a good idea. Did you follow through? Did you ask a parent to drive you to the bank to sign up for a debit card? If not, why not? If you have your own bank account, you can get a debit card.

Do you have a bank account? If not, today is the day to get one.

If you just don't have any money, today is the day to find ways to earn some. What can you do before the end of the week that will let you open an account and get your own debit card? Make a list. Now. Get out a piece of paper and write down three offers you can make to a perent or a neighbor to earn some money.

_______________________________________________



PROFESSOR X'S TECHNIQUE

I have told you about Professor X's study technique. It is not that complicated. In theory, it's easy. In practice, it's not. You have to be highly motivated to adopt it. I mean HIGHLY motivated!

But you want to know who he is. You may also want to know who the student is who scored so high on the Graduate Records Exam in chemistry after adopting this study technique.

As far as I know, there is only one reference to Professor X on the Web. There are many Web pages where the former student, now a Ph.D., is listed. The student's name is Noah Robinson. His father is Arthur Robinson. I co- authored a book with his father in 1987, a book on civil defense. The story of what Noah Robinson did to break through academically at age 16 is found in an old issue of his father's newsletter, Access to Energy

http://www.accesstoenergy.com/view/ate/s41p834.htm

Here is his father's description of the problems that Noah was facing.

I noticed that Noah was experiencing a difficulty identical to my own experience when I was his age. One reads the book but doesn't really absorb it. Problem solving becomes an exercise in scrambling back through the text looking for formulas and combining these with computing tricks such as dimensional analysis. As the physics advanced, his error rate grew as high as 30%.

Then we read The Overnight Student by M. L. Jones, available from Louis Publishing, 1105 Inverness Lane, Bellingham, WA 98226. This book advocates that the student become an oral teacher of an imaginary class.

Noah tried this. Now, for about an hour each day, he closets himself in the press room where we have installed the equipment used to print and mail Access to Energy. There, he teaches the physics orally in small segments to an imaginary audience as he reads through the book. Students are naturally shy. None of us has heard him do this.

The result -- his study time is reduced; he understands the material better; and his problem solving error rate has fallen essentially to 0%.

I guarantee you, you would never have found out about this technique or Dr. Jones' book if you had not subscribed to my study course. His book out of print today. It's almost impossible to find. The publishing company is gone.

I call his technique "lecture to the wall." If ever a study technique is off the wall, it's this one.

Read a passage in your textbook -- maybe only a page. Then close it. Lecture to the wall. You summarize in your own words what you have just read. If you can't remember what you've just read, re-read the passage. Then try again.

I'm not asking you to do this with every course today. I am asking you to do it with one page of a textbook in just one class. I am asking you to test the waters.

If you are unwilling to do this -- one page in one class -- then you will not maximize the benefits of this free course. My other techniques will help you. But you will be missing out on the number-one technique in this course.

If you really do intend to do whatever it takes to do better academically, begin with just one page in one textbook in just one class. Lecture to the wall. Do it every day. It will get easier over time. Your rate of retention will climb. The mental discipline of summarizing and explaining what you have read will drill the information into your memory. Somehow, the technique of verbally summarizing what you have just read with your eyes makes it easier for you to recall the information.

You will eventually discover sections of some textbook that baffle you. This is what you need to focus on -- not the things you already understand.

Lecturing to the wall will throw light on what you don't know and what you do know. This is exactly what you need to know before you take an exam.

Most students can't psychologically face the reality of their own ignorance until they are forced to: during an exam. This is the wrong time to discover that you don't know the material.

Here are the problems you must solve in order to adopt this study technique:

Find a room where you can study alone.
Do something that initially seems silly.
Summarize and explain what you've read.
Face the fact that in some areas, you're weak.
Be willing to re-read and then lecture again.
Practice until the technique becomes easier.

This is the single most important technique of rapid academic success. This is a technique that your fellow students do not know about. Most of them would not adopt it if they did know about it. It's an easy technique to describe, but it's very difficult to implement because it seems so silly.

The sooner you begin using it, the sooner your grades will rise.

I will show you other techniques, but no single technique is likely to raise your grades higher or faster than this one.

Do this for one month every day, and your grades will start going up. You will see the difference.

I am begging you to lecture to the wall for one page of one textbook in one class each day. It's not hard. It's merely different. But if you want to improve your grades, you must do things differently -- differently from the way you have been doing them, and much, much differently from the way most students -- even excellent students -- do things.

You must find a competitive edge in your courses -- something that will enable your performance to stand out as exceptional. I am telling you that lecturing to the wall in your own words is going to give you a tremendous competitive edge.

I know this is difficult to believe. I am asking you to test me for the next month. See if I'm telling the truth. See if things get easier for you to remember. See if your comprehension is better after you have lectured to the wall. See if you discover gaps in your knowledge BEFORE the next exam. Then fill in these gaps by re- reading the material and lecturing again.

Technically, what I'm telling you to do is easy. Psychologically, it is a barrier that you will find very difficult to overcome. But find a way. This is the key to my program. It will make it far easier for you to raise your grades by half a grade point in one semester . . . and then do it again.

Why does this technique work? Because of this inescapable fact:

If you can't put something in your own words, then you don't really understand it.

Simple, isn't it? I think most people don't want to face the fact that they don't understand things. They don't want to be reminded.

Students would rather walk into an exam cold than face the fact before the exam that they just don't understand the material. The want to put off the day of judgment. They think -- or want to think -- that something will turn up, somehow, that will enable them to take that exam and do well.

Isn't it wise to take the exam early, in front of a wall? The wall can't flunk you. The wall can't laugh at you. The wall can't talk behind your back about how stupid you are.

Lecturing to the wall will let you judge your own performance early, before class time, before the next exam.

Do you really want to know in advance whether you are on top of the assigned material? If you do, then you can find out.

Lecture to the wall.

Why does this technique work? Because by reinforcing what you have just read by verbally expressing it, you drive the information deep into your mind. Your mind filters it, grabs hold of it, reworks it in a way that is consistent with you. After all, it's your mind!

The new information is transformed by verbalizing it. Without talking to the wall, the facts in your mind are like a jumbled mess. The theory and the facts just don't seem to fit. But by processing this information through speaking -- mentally putting things together so that you can verbalize them -- you convert chaos into order.

Why would you walk away from a learning technique so powerful that it transformed a mediocre student -- Dr. Jones -- into a straight-A student who later became a university professor? Why would you pass on a technique that will give you a tremendous competitive advantage, not just in school, but in whatever line of work you choose after graduation?

Will you at least try? Will you lecture to the wall every day for the next month, summarizing just one page of just one textbook per class? Will you test my proposition, namely, that this technique will give you a significant competitive edge?

It boils down to this. Professor Jones' technique is so crucial to my recommended strategy for raising your grades by half a point in one semester that I cannot pretend to guarantee this result if you don't adopt his technique for all of your courses. Follow the rest of my program, and you will do better in school. You will gain skills that will stay with you for the rest of your life. But I cannot legitimately assure you of half a grade point increase in one semester.

A variant of this technique is called SQR3. For a paper on this tecnique, click here.


TAKE A DAY OFF EACH WEEK

Every week, you should take one day off. Don't do school work. Don't go to a job. Rest. Trust me on this: you must take off one day in seven.

On that day, don't read a lesson in this course. Skip it until the next day.

That's why this 27-lesson course is really a 31-day course. I am deliberately leaving out four days of rest.


REVIEW

Time-management is basic to success.

You must learn how to cut corners.

My course is not like any how-to-study courses out there. It's a real-world course.

You don't have to beat the straight-A students. You will be successful when you beat the "don't care" students.

Adopt "lecture to the wall" as a way to spot your weaknesses.


ASSIGNMENT

Find a room where you can be alone. Get a textbook in history or English or social studies. Read the day's entire assignment, but read it fast. Skim it. Don't read to memorize it. After you have done this, re-read all of it, section by section, more slowly than before, but speedily. Then select one page. Re-read that page carefully, take a few brief notes, close the book, and lecture on what it means. Explain it. You may use your notes. If you can't recall what you have just read, re-read it. Lecture again. Do this for one class. Of course, you should do it for all class assignments, but this is a real- world course. I'm trying to get you started. I'm trying to prove to you that you will remember more of the "lecture to the wall" page than anything else in the book that you read today.

PREVIEW OF TOMORROW'S LESSON: Your level of commitment

Any time you want to ask me specific questions regarding your plans for college, you can find out where to contact me by clicking this link: Answers.



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