HOW TO STUDY
by Ronald C. Blue
Permission granted to duplicate for non-profit educational or research
Countless times students have asked me what is the best way to study.
While the recommendations that I am about to make to you are no guarantee
of success, I believe they will optimize your chances of success.
Perspectives on the problem:
Research shows that the average student will study for a test. The average
person will study four hours for a daily quiz, four hours for a weekly quiz,
four hours for a major test, four hours for a midterm, and four hours for
a comprehensive final. The outcome of this four hours of study will vary
from an A for a daily quiz to an F for the comprehensive final. This means
that in high school grades are strongly determined by intelligence since
everyone studies the same amount of time.
College is different. Most of the students are highly intelligent and
some are highly motivated.
In almost all college courses if you have a poor vocabulary and do not
really like to read, you are in serious trouble. If you can succeed with
your weird teachers, then you can succeed with your even weirder bosses.
Your study habits formed in high school may vector you toward failure because
you have never experienced what it takes to perform at the college level.
That is why the freshman year is the hardest year you will ever experience
It takes about one year to learn how to learn at a college level. Most
people never learned to learn at a college level. They then encourage their
children to get the education they never got. They rarely read and talk
about intellectual ideas, thereby predisposing their children for low academic
You should break the pattern. There is no gain in life without some pain.
Based on my extensive observation of student performances on college
tests, I recommend the following study time per test: (For Tests every
3 to 4 weeks in a 15-week class)
||HOURS PER WEEK|
|22 hours for an A
||6 hours per week|
|16 hours for a B
||4 hours per week|
|14 hours for a C
||3.5 hours per week|
|10 hours for a D
||2.5 hours per week|
|0 hours for an F
||0 hours per week|
An hour of study is defined as studying for 45 minutes and a break of
15 minutes. Ten hours of continuous study without a break is defined as
one hour of study.
The brain does not process and store information the way students prefer
studying. Occasionally, some succeed by studying at the last minute, but
they are exceptions to the rule. Some people's brain and life experiences
reduces the time required to learn particular types of material. In other
types of material they have to spend more time to master the material.
Research suggests that the slowest 10 percent of the students may need
5 to 6 times as much time to learn the same material as the fastest 10 percent.
Each person is highly likely to have strengths and weaknesses. Overcoming
your weakness increases your strength.
In other words, you can succeed if you pay the price necessary for success.
The price of success:
The price is too high, you say? Or I would like to succeed but don't
have the time? It isn't fair, you say?
Life is not fair. Reality is not your parents. There is no free lunch.
Anything of value requires great effort. If you pay the price, the price
required of you in the future will be less. In the past a college degree
has meant about $100,000 to $250,000 more in a lifetime than when there
is no degree. Each college test is worth about $36 per hour of study or
$800 over the course of your life.
If you were offered $1,000,000 if you had an A in a college course, could
you accomplish the goal? Probably. You do not have to be a genius to graduate
from college. You have to work hard, be persistent, and pay attention to
details. These traits - plus the capacity to learn - are ultimately why
a college degree is valuable.
How to get started:
Believe you can succeed. Be willing to pay the price. The price is always
what you don't want to pay. Make success in college your number one goal.
You cannot have multiple goals. Everything comes in its own season. There
is a time to learn; a time to play; and a time to work.
Failure begins in an excuse, a short cut. There is no royal road to learning
or achieving excellence.
Do the following without wavering.
Ron Blue, in memorium
Lehigh Carbon Community College