Lesson 8: Review of the #1 Learning Technique
LECTURING TO THE WALL, PART 2
Are you really doing this every day? Or are you
procrastinating? This is the #1 study technique. It's the
one that will give you a unique advantage. You should be
using it. Are you?
In Lesson #1, I told you about Noah Robinson. When
Noah took the Graduate Records Exam for chemistry, which is
the SAT/ACT for graduate students, his scores were 800
(perfect), 800, and 770. As far as I know, in the year
that he took the GRE, he scored highest in the nation in
chemistry. CalTech granted him a full scholarship. He
earned a Ph.D.
He had always been a very good student. He had not
always been a great exam-taker. He got 1480 on the SATs --
very good, but not spectacular.
Noah quizzed out of his first two years of college,
saving his father $20,000, minimum. Two years later, he
blew away the GRE exam.
He is now Dr. Robinson.
The problem with this technique is that very few
students ever apply it, even when they know about it.
Have you begun to use it? You have known about it for
Again, it's like a diet book. Knowing how to lose
weight is not the same as actually losing it.
THE OVERNIGHT STUDENT
The book Dr. Robinson refers to, The Overnight
Student, is a truly inspiring little book. Sadly, it
is out of print.
The author was a slightly above-average student in
high school: mostly C's and B's. At college, his first
semester grade point average was 1.9 -- low C's. Then he
hit a brick wall: straight F's. He was put on probation.
He did it again: straight F's. They expelled him for two
Two years later, he got permission to re-enter, but
only if he got a B-average in correspondence courses, which
he did, barely. But he feared that he would hit the brick
wall again when he re-entered as a full-time student.
In college one more time, he struggled. Then he met a
girl who told him she rarely cracked a book, but she got
good grades. She said she took good notes.
He became a great note-taker. I will cover note-
taking in a tomorrow's lesson. But, in reviewing his
notes, he stumbled onto the technique that turned him into
a straight-A student.
He found that he could not remember all of his
detailed class notes. His grades improved, but he was
still not an A student. Then he adopted a new technique.
He would read his notes silently to himself. Then he would
turn his notes face-down, stand up, and begin lecturing.
There was no one in the room except him. But he would give
a lecture, putting the notes in his own words. He found
that he did better while walking or pacing.
He did not parrot the notes. He pretended that he was
explaining his notes to a class. When he forgot his point,
he knew where the gap in his knowledge was. He could
review his notes, find the missing piece, and start over.
Wouldn't you like to be able identify whatever you
don't know and then learn it before you take an exam? You
can. Lecture to the wall.
From that day on, he never received any grade lower
than an A. He graduated from college, went to graduate
school, and earned a Ph.D. He never stopped using this
Simply by putting his class notes into his own words,
and speaking these words out loud as if there were an
audience, the author transformed his academic career. His
book has transformed other people's academic careers.
Maybe it will transform yours. Have you been doing
WHY NOT TRY IT? (FINALLY)
There are lots of reasons. The technique sounds
goofy. Nobody else does this. Nobody teaches it in
school. You don't have a deserted place to lecture to the
wall. You don't want to be regarded as crazy.
But, if it would mean a college education for you,
would you try it for a month?
If you have struggled with studying, why not see if
this can help you? If you're embarrassed by your high school grades,
why not try it? If you worked really hard, yet you choked
when you took exams, why not try it?
Is doing something new and strange so frightening to
you that you would rather spend the rest of your academic
career afraid of exams? If it would mean that you would no
longer get scared before taking exams, would it be worth
trying for a month?
I don't know if this technique will work for you. I
do know that if you have tried everything else, and nothing
has made you a good student, then it would be wise to try
something that has worked for other people.
DO YOU FEEL ALL ALONE?
When you're lecturing to the wall, you should be all alone. But what about the rest of this course? Do you feel as though you're the only person doing any of this?
You're not. All over the country, students are going through this course. Some of them will actually finish it. Of those who finish a few will implement some of what they learn here.
Of course, only a small percentage of students will implement the entire program. That's true of every self-improvement program: weight loss, strength training, speed reading, etc. A few start. Fewer finish.
It's good to do things as part of a team. That's why Alcoholics Anonymous exists. That's why Weight Watchers exists.
If you feel the need to get outside confirmation from others who are going through this course, you should join this site. Talk over matters with others who are struggling to make the necessary changes in their study habits. You can join here: https://www.garynorth.com/public/5.cfm
Take better notes. Then lecture to the
Re-read this lesson. Then turn the
print-out face-down. Then whisper or talk to the
wall. Explain to that stupid wall what the
lesson means to you. I assure you, the wall can
hear your whisper just as clearly as it can hear
If the lesson doesn't mean anything, sit down,
re-read it, and then lecture to the wall. The
wall won't get any smarter, but your
understanding of the lesson will get clearer.
Don't forget to lecture to the wall: one page,
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