There’s A Will There’s an A
Claude W. Olney, professor, Arizona State University.
Recording of a live seminar, © 1990.
I checked this set of tapes out of the library for my older son before he left for college. He listened to some, and asked me to listen to the rest and send him the highlights. Here's what I came up with. (Wouldn't it be great if students graduated from high school actually having practiced some of these? What if a teacher made it a game, say by setting up teams to compete to see which one could come up with the most questions that would be on an exam that he had prepared before the class started?)
classes you are interested in, even if they’re “hard”; your interest will
insure your best performance. And
seek out the best professors. Do
your homework on the available courses before you sign up.
Be looking ahead to next semester and next year and ask those who are in
classes you might want about the course, the professor, etc.
Keep notes in a folder organized by course.
Then learn the tricks to working the registration process in your school.
early (before class). If the
professor lectures from the book, you’ll know it and can follow along making
little notes and listening for emphasis, rather than focusing on note-taking.
If he doesn’t, you’re still ahead because you’ll pick up more on
the things that weren’t in the assigned reading (and they’re likely
important to the professor or he wouldn’t have mentioned them).
attendance. Studies clearly show
that missed classes correlate with missed points on tests.
first and last minutes of class are most important.
Professors often come out with the most important point first.
Then, if there’s something that’s going to be on the test that they
didn’t get to during the class, they’ll “throw it in” right at the end.
just read; do “active reading”.
out exam questions and answers as you read.
topic and sub-topic headings into questions
away the highlighters – that’s just a promise to learn it later.
Learn it as you go.
mnemonic techniques to
achieve rapid memorization where necessary.
short learning sessions move material to long-term memory better than a few long
key information early in the course – you’ll retain much more of the rest,
& you’ll then start learning to “think” in the manner of the
discipline you are studying, and that’s the surest way to an A.
Professor Olney told of his son taking a Mexican art course, blowing the
first quiz, then figuring out he could identify the artists by little things
about the way the professor had taken the slides.
For example, in one museum, the professor had used the wrong filter and
the slides were all slightly yellow – easy to remember the artist that was in
that museum! And, once he had that,
he relaxed and really looked at the slides and listened to the lectures.
Not only did he get an “A”, he really learned to appreciated Mexican
art and now has quite a collection!
some to find out what they should look like.
Check with students from prior semesters to see if you can read theirs.
Volunteer to read and comment for friends -- it'll make yours better.
the garnishes. Presentation matters.
it in on time.
outline (use mind map techniques if you know them)
in the paragraphs
to set it aside for a day or two.
the “flow.” Does your “hook” work? Does it make sense the way you
thought it would? Do some points
seam weak? Have you got a clear
each paragraph. Strong sentences,
active writing where possible.
set it aside if you can.
refine, read out loud, ask for help.
neat (presentation counts)
in the blank, True/False, & Short Answer
o Trust your instincts. You’ve been studying smart and hard, go with your first impression