Are you worried about making it through your first year in university? Do you think you might not be able to get the grades to even apply to the college you want? Or are you stuck in a low-level job and looking for something better, but afraid you don’t have the qualifications you need? In any of these three situations – and in many more as well – the secret is in how you study, learn, and remember the information you need to succeed. As Marc Dussault says, “Don’t study harder, study smarter!” At his website, www.GetBetterGradesNow.com, he provides access to tips and techniques that will help you quickly learn the ways to maximize your study in the minimum amount of time, and get the high grades you want. We asked Marc about some of these techniques, and how he used them to write his own success story.
7S: Some students take five or six years to complete their thesis papers, and other students decide against even trying to get an advanced degree because they’re afraid of all the time and effort it would take. You’re living proof that getting a Masters or a PhD doesn’t have to involve round-the-clock study for years on end. What’s one thing that helped you reduce the time you spent getting these degrees?
MD: Two things helped me get degrees more quickly than usual – first and most importantly was my ability to speed read. I completed 4 of my 5 degrees while working full time, so my time was very limited.
Speed reading was the only way I could cope with the huge reading lists the profs gave us. The second thing, related to speed reading, was the ability to complete all my reading before class, take notes and use the class/lecture time to ask questions about anything I didn’t understand.
Most students would show up to class, totally unprepared and as a result didn’t know what questions to ask. By the time they did figure it out, it was too late!
7S: It seems like strategies for learning could go beyond exams and essays; we’re always learning new things. Do the tips you provide help outside of the school setting as well?
MD: School, like competitive sports, teaches you discipline and the strategies that produce results. Once you become a speed learner, you realise that it’s not about how smart you are, but more about HOW quickly and efficiently you learn.
For example, if you learn by watching rather than by listening or doing, than means you can apply that skill to other things in your life or career. We all go to school to learn skills to eventually work. What many people don’t realise is that we don’t stop learning after graduation, in fact, once you graduate your learning curve has to accelerate BECAUSE without the structure of an academic curriculum, you’re on your own. No one is going to help you to learn how to do your job, develop your craft or professional skills.
Here’s the thing a lot of people don’t recognise. Generally speaking, the faster you can learn, the more money you will make. Think about it.
If you can learn in 1 month what others take 1 year to learn, wouldn’t you outperform them at work? Wouldn’t you get the promotions and pay raises? Wouldn’t you get the best appointments and projects to work on?
But here’s the thing – to learn quickly, you need to develop the skills – like a muscle you need to train, your brain needs to be taught how to learn… faster.
7S: Many people are overwhelmed by the amount of texts and written material they have to deal with in school. Does speed learning require that people learn how to speed read as well?
MD: Simply stated, you can’t be a speed learner without speed reading. They go hand-in-hand, but are two separate skills that need to be developed in tandem, at the same time. Often, what happens is that a student learns to speed read beyond his/her comprehension or retention level. That means he/she hits one or both walls at the same time.
Not comprehending fast enough means you can’t keep reading at top speed. You have to slow down to your speed of understanding. If you don’t develop speed learning techniques, you won’t be limited by reading speed, but processing (understanding) speed.
A less common wall some speed readers hit is reading really fast and understanding what they read AS they read it, but not being able to recall or remember it later when there is a test or exam. They often blame speed reading, but the truth of the matter is “you can’t remember something you never learned in the first place.” The speed learning techniques I teach are especially important for speed readers BECAUSE they get through a lot more material than non-speed readers. That means they need to be able to remember MORE.
7S: One of the bonuses you provide is a set of “mind maps” illustrating the study methods and strategies you teach. Are mind maps one of the tools that you recommend for improving study habits?
MD: Even if you are auditory (you learn by listening or talking) or kinesthetic (you learn by doing with your hands) it has been proven that visual cues – especially vivid and colourful ones help you retain more information for a longer period of time.
MindMapping is one of the most powerful and effective note taking strategies students can learn. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to know how to draw. It’s about links and associations, not artistic talent.
7S: Parents are always looking for things that can help their children get better grades in school. How soon can younger children start using the techniques you teach?
MD: I tell parents all the time that as soon as a child can read, he/she can/should speed read. I believe if speed reading is learned early on, it will become the natural way a person reads for the rest of his/her life.
To me, it’s the ONE skill that is literally life-changing. I have read over 1,000 business books, 5,000+ academic articles and probably more than 300 fiction novels. That doesn’t include all the magazines and industry / technical journals…
I have been able to do that in LESS time than most people read a fraction of that information.
What many people don’t realise is the life-long impact of speed reading and speed learning. Here is some contrast for you:
A regular student doesn’t read most of the course material. A speed reader and learner reads it all, PLUS supplements it with additional material to better understand specific points of interest or those subjects he/she has trouble with. By speed reading, he/she has the time to do the additional research or study. Without speed reading, there is no time.
A regular person (according to many reports) won’t read another book after graduation – a speed reader and learner will read hundreds in his/her lifetime/career.
But you know what?
It all starts one book at a time.
Imagine you were able to read 1 book per month, that is 12 books/year. Within 10 years that is over 100 books. If you did that, you would become an expert within a decade.
But if you accelerated your learning and reading to 1 book/week, you would get to the 100 books and become an expert in less than 2 years…
That is the power of speed reading and the benefits of speed learning!