The Virtual Teaching Assistant Method
How to study thirty minutes a day and get a 4.0 GPA

By: Liam McIvor Martin
©2008-2009, All Rights Reserved


I have spent four years collecting and refining what you are about to learn in this book. It is the product of 5 years of teaching assistantship and research assistantship experience where I helped over 2000 university students through various classes. It is also based on qualitative interviews of almost 50 university students who quickly moved from the bottom fourth to top fourth of the class within a semester. Unlike other books of this type I have not interviewed students that have always been successful for the simple reason that people who will be reading this book need real help. If I interviewed students that have always been successful this book would be filled with information that you probably couldn’t implement. I have instead interviewed students who improved the most within the shortest amount of time. I learned that you shouldn’t model yourself after the MVP but the most improved player on the team. This is the premise that this book is based on which makes it unlike any study guides you’ve read. I’m also a sociologist; I’ve made sure to interview students methodologically using what we call grounded theory. You don’t really have to know the details of the method but it allows me to work from the ground up with no pre-conceived notions, getting to the core of what got my interviewees from bad to excellent students in the shortest amount of time. The book covers basic skills to stop studying and start enjoying university life to its fullest while getting high grades. I have cut this information down to the most crucial points so that you can get through this book quickly. You can go back to certain sections in order to reread and implement certain strategies. I have included a collection of scripts and forms that will help you implement these strategies and I encourage you to print them out. They are also available at the end of this book. On Adobe PDF viewer, go to the file menu, push print pages 164 to 167 and you will have all the forms printed and ready to use. The second major component that makes this book different from every other book out there is the support you get from the virtual teaching assistant. I have put together a team of teachers from some of the best universities in the world.


If you’re serious about studying less and playing more. Also let me restate. If you bought the full package we will be matching you up with a virtual teaching assistant within a few days. 250lbs. if you want other people to get access to the book. We give you some time to review the book and fill out the forms so that you’re ready to maximize the time with your VTA and get them working for you as quickly as possible. Not only is this stealing from me and stopping me from paying off my grad school bills. I’m not interested in making money off people who I do not help so please send me back the book if it’s not helping you. If you haven’t purchased the virtual teaching assistant program. send them to www. it’s going to be bad for you because I will send my attorney ‘He’s 6 feet. I highly suggest it. don’t start copying this book. However I GUARANTEE that these methods will help you achieve greater success academically and beyond so please send me a reason as to why you’re sending it back as I might be able to help you solve your problem.com and suggest they buy their own copy.virtualteachingassistant. It is probably the cheapest way to hire a PhD student to help you study and getting help is the fastest way to get yourself on track. If you are in any way unhappy with this book I encourage you to return it for a full refund within the first 30 days.virtualteachingassistant. kind of looks like a Viking’ and he will sue your ass! 4 . long blond hair. They have also gone through our training program where they have learned the ‘in’s and out’s’ of how to make you successful in the shortest amount of time and keep you there. give it a look at www.They are either masters or Phd students who are taking or have finished their degrees and they have all been teaching assistants at some of the most prestigious universities in the world.com.

5 . By purchasing this book you have agreed to the terms of conditions as listed on www. It is illegal to copy. distribute. you can be sure I’m going to sick my big Viking lawyer on you.Copyright Notice Copyright 2004-2009 all rights reserved. Understand that if you decide to steal my content. I have written this book and built this program to pay off my grad school bills which are now becoming quite significant. or create derivative works from this book in whole or part. On a personal note. Each of these books has been imprinted with a tracking number which is linked to your individual copy. If he finds your copy out on the internet. I have a guy who I pay to search the internet for copies of this book. you’re not stealing from a big corporation but a single person.com at point of sale.virutalteachingassistant.

........................................How to think faster automatically .....................................................................................43 ........My Story………………………………………………………………..........................................Asking intelligent questions .. 21 .............Computer organization .......How you should talk in class.............................Belief…………………………………………………………………… 17 ..............................37 Chapter 4: Organization..............................................On a macro level………………………………………………………...Where did working hard come from?...............................................49 Chapter 5: How to be a Star in Class..................................When you should study ..................................How Wikipedia and Google will make you look like a genius........................... 29 Chapter 3: Find your Learning Style ..............10 .................54 ...36 ........................................Appearing more intelligent……………………………………………...................... 28 .........Approach anxiety………………………………………………………....................Integrating all these methods.........Study space vs social space .....................................56 ....60 ..........................How this book is structured…………………………………………….........................The main learning styles.................................................Three methods of note taking that will cover almost all your classes in university..................Systematizing your notes..................................................................................... 22 ..............61 Chapter 6: How to Take Notes Down like an Academic Ninja ...........39 ................................34 ........67 6 ...64 ..................... 9 .....40 ........................Different types of Profs you will meet .................13 Chapter 2: Mind Shift: How to Think like a Winner and Win ‘even if you’re not’………………………………………………………………………....................................................................................... 10 ...........................On a micro level………………………………………………………................Your environment..........................47 ........................................TABLE OF CONTENTS: Chapter 1: Philosophy of this Book..53 .....................46 .......................47 ................Organization ............43 ................................................66 ...........................................33 ........................................................How to improve each method ....................................

- Power point lecture...................................................................................71 - Spoken word lecture .................................................................................72 - Reviewing notes before and after class ....................................................73 Chapter 7: How to Read Smarter not Longer .............................................76 - Philosophy of reading...............................................................................77 - Speed reading ...........................................................................................80 Chapter 8: Time Management: Spend more time Partying and less time Working ......................................................................................................87 - The main components of time management ............................................90 - The big picture for time management ......................................................94 Chapter 9: Stopping Procrastination...........................................................97 - My personal story, a case study in procrastination ..................................99 - How to solve procrastination....................................................................103 Chapter 10: Why Professors are your Friends ‘Or Should be’...................107 - How to deal with professors .....................................................................109 - On meeting with Profs..............................................................................111 - The theory of rapport................................................................................112 - Before you meet up with the Prof ............................................................113 - During the meeting ...................................................................................114 - Differences between TA’s and Prof’s ......................................................118 - A note on scare tactics..............................................................................119 Chapter 11: How to Take a Test .................................................................121 - Test preparation ........................................................................................122 - Three days before the exam......................................................................124 - How to code your notes............................................................................124 - Methods to remember notes .....................................................................125 - Before your exam .....................................................................................127 - Types of tests ............................................................................................129 - Final notes on tests ...................................................................................133 Chapter 12: How to Write an A Paper........................................................135 - The four stages of any paper ....................................................................136 - Research Stage..........................................................................................142


- Brainstorming Stage .................................................................................144 - Writing Stage............................................................................................148 - Editing Stage.............................................................................................152 - A note on plagiarism ................................................................................154 Chapter 13: Putting it All Together ............................................................157 - Review of all the chapters ........................................................................159 - How to use your Virtual Teaching Assistant ...........................................160 - The standard VTA package ......................................................................160 - Concluding points.....................................................................................162 Chapter 14: Forms and Activities ...............................................................163


Chapter 1: Philosophy of this Book
In this Chapter you will learn: - My personal story behind this book - How this book is structured - What you need to do to keep yourself accountable


I unfortunately broke my knee and went into a depression. I have put the information down in such a way so that you can read it as quickly and easily as possible and go back to various sections for review later. You might think this is impossible but I hope you will stay with me as the book is quite short and concise (as all things should be). moved back home. They keep this info quite because the information I’m going to share with you doesn’t work if everybody knows it. My parents convinced me to apply to university and I got accepted to a mid tier sociology program. But. I’d suggest only sharing this information with students that aren’t in your classes or a select set of friends. I actually didn’t really attend high school much at all. my name is Liam Martin and in the next few pages I am going to show you the secrets that successful students and graduate students at the best universities in the world have kept to themselves. I started buckling down in my second semester and significantly improved. Before I tell you about how this book is put together and the basics you need to succeed with this book please allow me to tell you my story (I swear this will be quick and it’s important). This was by far one of the lowest times in my life.Hello everyone. After high school I continued on with my skating career hoping to make a living out of it. I was working part time and holding up my grades was becoming a full time job. I had friends who seemed to have ten times more fun than me while getting better grades than 10 . started ‘moping’ quite heavily. I was able to take time off from school to skate. Due to my level of competition. spending six months on the couch. The last few credits I took online which was a huge mistake in hindsight as I only found my love for learning later in life. I couldn’t support myself. My Story I was a competitive athlete throughout high school and competed nationally and internationally in ice skating. it was really REALLY bad. Therefore. I’m going to show you how you can change your grades from C’s to A’s in one semester while working a third of the time. This helped pull me out of my depression as I had a lot of fun hanging out with a new set of friends and enjoying university life… until my first semester’s marks came back.

The big shift happened when I started picking the brains of students who improved the fastest in the shortest amount of time. I was studying about twelve to fourteen hours a week and friends of mine were on three to four per week. they also were being published in journals. Don’t believe me? Here are my transcripts… If you want a better copy just email me. From those talks I made four fundamental shifts in my academic paradigm. I realized that trying to model myself after ‘good’ students was the problem. getting early acceptance to grad school and generally kicking my butt academically. I first studied what was absolutely fundamental to my learning. 11 . These four fundamental shifts in my work ethic ‘in combination with a few other secrets I’ll show you later’ allowed me to go from a C/B student to an A/A+ student over a single semester. In my second year of university I decided that enough was enough. I was going to fix this problem as I had enough of studying and wanted to get back to the lifestyle that I enjoyed during my first semester and athletics career. some of them were good but most of them didn’t link up with what my buddies were doing to become successful.me. I started talking with professors. I became a teaching assistant. getting published in my undergrad and getting into one of the best grad school programs in the world. I started asking the ‘smart’ students about how they got away with high marks and little work but none of their explanations clicked with me. I finally had a epiphany that resulted in me getting an A average my last two years of my undergrad. I took an entire summer and applied myself to studying all the study books I could get my hands on. I started figuring out the easiest and quickest ways to get through papers and exams.

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I guarantee your marks will go up. .Get out a notebook or a few pages of lined paper. As you go through reading. I’m going to give you some activities to implement immediately. put it down for right now and come back when you have some time to read all the information. You have to implement these changes 1 Google scholar skill attenuation if you’d like to study this concept more. so what do you have to lose? Also studies show 1 that it takes on average three months for a new skill to become second nature. If you’ve purchased this book you’re obviously not doing well or your hoping to do better. . Therefore. take down notes.After you have finished reading the book. if you spend three months applying yourself completely to the knowledge in this book. The process was long and difficult for me but through this book and the virtual teaching assistant program I’ve made it incredibly simple and easy to use.Read this book straight through from cover to cover. Oh and here is the best part. nothing complex just jot down central points. This seems like a long time to apply yourself but let me give you a few pointers that will make it easier to first start and then keep your new resolution. if you don’t have a few hours. How this Book is structured There are a few rules that you are going to have to follow before reading this book.I also did this while getting a new girlfriend and starting a business. . First. I moved on to graduate school and have carried on the same study methods to succeed in the working world as well. This is by far the easiest thing to do when you have the right resources and teachers. I spent about half an hour ‘studying’ and the rest of the time hanging out and partying. 13 . This will wire your brain to remember a lot more of this book and will give you some reference points to look back on later. I would like you to make a semester commitment to the study methods and tactics in this book. If you feel like you can’t follow these rules you might as well get your money back right now as you won’t succeed if you don’t follow these general guidelines.

you can bring a horse to water but you can’t make him drink.right away because it will start the mental rewiring process.You’ve heard the old adage. Well everything in this book has a purpose. we will be emailing you to make sure you’re not falling behind. We are now both in this together. I could write in a more academic style such as: 14 . even my writing style. They are an immeasurable resource and they are going to try everything they can to make you succeed. you have backup and I’m not going to leave you high and dry. I can’t stress this enough. Well we are going to try to force you to drink! The representatives are professionals. Fourth. take the five minutes to read the free newsletters each month and update me. Send questions to updates@virtualteachingassistant.com and share with the community. up to date info on the latest study methods absolutely free each month. you might be asking yourself why I’m writing in such a colloquial style. Third. . I now have your email address which means your mine now! The virtual teaching assistant that has been assigned to you will be hunting you down and making sure you are accountable. I put out a great newsletter every month and the great thing about it is that you’re going to get new. Have an idea of what you want to achieve with this program “more on this later”. most of the activities only take 10 minutes or less. . not just in the first month but every month after that.He/she will be reviewing some of the goals you want to set out and figure out the best way to achieve them. Don’t worry. its really important. This book is just the first step in a larger study shift so if you think you’re just going to read this book and walk away. Have the book read by then! . I want you to know that I will be making you accountable. If you don’t email us. Second. You updating me and getting the newsletter acts as another accountability tool in your arsenal for academic success. tell me how you’re doing.You will be getting an email from your assigned representative in a few days. think again. they have teaching experience and/or grad student experience.

excel to extraordinary results. not to impress you with how many big words I know. keep practicing.Reading time approximately 3-6 hours . This book is simple to read. Just because you have more free time doesn’t mean you can’t have more. Now let’s get started. I write like I’m talking to you directly. . When you think something is impossible that’s exactly when you should be doing exactly that. Do not settle for acceptable results. as life is too short to screw around with melancholy when sad will do. Just because your getting A’s doesn’t mean you can’t get A+’s.“The incongruence with contemporary study methods in a neoglobalized study paradigm is inapplicable to the relations between present day student philosophies and the greater educational paradigm” But I’m here to teach you. Fifth.Activity time approximately 1 hour 15 . keep implementing and keep evolving. simple to learn and simple to implement.

Chapter 2: Mind Shift: How to think like a winner and win ‘even if you’re not’ In this chapter you will learn: .How to fix mental blocks .How believing you’re going to do well.Specific techniques to make you mentally expect success 16 . will actually make you do well .How you are defeating yourself mentally in university .

or more specifically that I wasn’t good enough and didn’t deserve to get that A. I didn’t know anybody in this class and I was seeing beautiful women everywhere! (This is also a big problem if not properly managed).. not managing my time and not getting help. I sabotaged myself. It was horrible. Sure I wanted to get straight A’s but a subconscious part of me believed I couldn’t do it.Belief I’m going to start off our little journey together with saying that the most important thing about success in university. thinking to myself that it was impossible for me to get all this work done along with the four other classes I had. I could have started to study for exams earlier but didn’t. I more or less defeated myself right out of the box. The rest of that semester I had the idea in the back of my head that I was never going to stay on top of what I was doing so I might as well not even try. Why? Was it procrastination. I just accepted that I wasn’t going to succeed and then made it a reality by not doing the readings. This is crazy. Deep down inside I already believed I was just planning on doing ‘alright’ in school. I’m going to premise this with a quick story. I never really consciously realized that I felt this way until I re-evaluated what was going on with my level of confidence and tried to change it. exams and university because you know you have the tools to succeed. Obviously… but it went a little deeper than that. I’m talking about a concrete belief that you are going to do well in quizzes. This resulted in a very interesting phenomenon that I believe most university students share. (as in life) is the belief that you are going to do well. did I have better things to do. I remember sitting down in my first class with approximately 300 of my fellow students and thinking. More than just procrastination. So I proceeded to write my papers and study for my final only a few days 17 . tests. I remember after that first class I took down 12 pages of notes with no method of selection. I’m actually in university what the hell have I gotten myself into! I had never been in a class of 300 before. I had gotten into university after being out of high school for a few years. As I said. was I just lazy?. I don’t mean some theoretical concept of success that you have in your head for a moment and then quickly leaves you. papers.

18 . the majority of parents do not follow their own advice. Being a sociologist I know that everyone has that little person inside of them that keeps saying “you can’t really do that. accepted the crappy marks I got back and ended up getting nice regular B’s. everything changed. Students started coming to me for advice. Have you ever looked at how good students act? Have you ever seen how they carry themselves? What about successful people in general? Have you ever tried to sit down and think about what makes them different from everyone else? The moment I made this shift from thinking to knowing that I would succeed. It’s a bit of a mind game to tell your kids that they can do anything. My marks magically went up. Ironically however. Whether in their jobs. bitch about their marriage and generally say the world is a crappy place. or you’re not good enough to do that”. Lets first look at why we defeat ourselves mentally. Write this down and underline it: The moment you shift from thinking you’ll succeed to knowing you’ll succeed your circumstances in university and life will completely change. even if I had only studied a little. me! At first I was confused but quickly took on the role of the smart student guru which only helped to feed my confidence in knowing I was succeeding in school. 2 This is based on lengthy academic research in the social sciences showing that we have been conditioned through nature and nurture to believe that some things are out of our grasps. Many of them settle for the status quo. 2 Anyone who is interested in looking at this subject matter. At first this may seem shocking as your parents probably told you that you could do anything if you put your mind to it. You can do this too in a short amount of time but it all starts with you looking inside yourself and figuring out whether you are sabotaging yourself.before they were due. google goffmanian lense for further information. their personal lives etc. If the parents hate their job. I became more confident in speaking to professors and opening my mouth in class.

your parents are not to blame. and I suggest not discussing this section of the book with them. and society at large. It’s called bell curving. or that relationship. When faced with their own mental sabotage people usually put up defenses in the form of emotional outbursts and reasons why things don’t work instead of suggesting something that will. The majority of them are locked into the same mental box like everyone else in society. It’s not their fault. Like the media. Macro level interactions are more broadly based. Those are the interactions between you and your close family and friends. But many parents and adults in general have been programmed to accept complacency. or that life in general without going out for what they really want. institutions. I commend you on taking the initiative for your children.Now. These defensive mechanisms are usually hard wired in between the end of their formal education and the beginning of their first job where they settle for that job placement. which in this case is getting incredibly high marks in school. 19 . For instance. I may have some parents who have bought this book for their children. it’s the process by which they take the average marks of the class and make sure they are distributed equally with the majority of the students getting B’s for instance and a smaller amount getting A’s and C’s on either side creating a bell shape. What I’m alluding to is what sociology calls cultural hegemonic micro level social interactions. Poisoned micro level interactions are the most effective way of losing track of your main goal. let me share a little secret with you up front that all university professors do in first and second year classes.

particularly at the beginning as they have no evidence of real success. The majority of people accept both the micro and macro system of cultural indoctrination. “Oh and yes.The marks are sometimes adjusted to meet the requirements of the university. and is actually sometimes against policy in some universities. their primary goal. This is a prime example of how the system is set up for the majority of students (those at the top of the bell) to settle for academic normalcy. instead of investigating as to whether the class worked hard or if the professor and/or teaching assistants did a good job they will move the marks down in order to correlate with the average mark of previous classes. Don’t let him. If the class has done too well on a course. 20 . People who do not take the road most traveled and attempt a mind shift appear out of the ordinary. he will want to get back in. Therefore they sometimes illegally change the marks without telling the students. Kick that little guy (internalized hegemony. They do this without telling the students… This is technically looked down upon. I’ve had to bell curve as a teaching assistant. Also the little guy or gal inside your head will be yelling at you all the time to go back to what you were doing. he is an agent for your failure and he wants you to fail. This great academic and all round cool French guy Michel Foucault said in essence that a lone man can’t be insane. conscience etc) out. But if profs hand in marks that are too high they will not move on to get tenure which is unfortunately for many professors. I’ll show you how to get out of this later in the book. this is just an example of how the university system screws students. I hope that I can make up for that sin by educating students through this system”. (I was ordered to) it sucks as I know many of the kids deserve higher grades. He is a product of the programming you’ll be working on getting out of your head and I’m telling you now.

Be mindful of what friends and family are implying when they discuss not just university but life in general. just because… (Proper response: shut the f—k up) You can usually catch people in their own programming using the Socratic Method of questioning. It is very effective as it leads to the other party getting to the core epistemological truth (In combination with other methods I’ll show you). For instance: Parent: Why are you majoring in philosophy.Do not share how you are attempting to change mind wise until you see concrete progress academically. where are you going to find money? (If you’ve got a degree you can usually get something) .Get your shit together and get your head out of the clouds it’s never going to happen (due to) money.You should really take that job. This is a process by which you answer every question with another question.You have to study more to get good marks (untrue) . . Therefore fellow students are ok but older people usually can’t take it. On a Micro Level . time.Your conscience. why don’t you switch to business? You: Why would I want to switch to business? Parent: Well don’t you think you’d have a better chance at a job? 21 . your family and society can be very VERY destructive towards your mind shift. Only share your journey with people you believe can handle your new ideas and will not sabotage your mind shift. people placing restrictions upon you are a prime example of hegemony. Many university students can deal with this type of information as they have not been hard wired into settling for the status quo. So here are some strategies to help you mentally free yourself from this process of hegemony. For instance. Some examples being: .

Fill your life with positive energy. People will talk for hours about things they like and usually forget about what they were asking in the first place. Or only interact with them in an environment where they are positive and not trying to mentally control you. umm… you just would. “so how is school going?” respond “Oh its going great. Don’t talk to your parents about their jobs if they don’t like their jobs. you’d be more secure. If some people are continually negative you have two options. if your parents are bitching about how you should change your major. But this technique is really fun. Are you ready…? 22 . On a Macro Level My next suggestion will kind of freak you out but stay with me here. positive subjects and positive people. As an example. You: Is it that you want me to get a high paying job? Parent: Yes You: Why do I need a high paying job? Parent: Well you just do! What’s wrong with you? (This will usually be met with frustration) You: Why do you think I would need more money? (This may be a little too far). change the subject. Most people presented with their own fault in logic realize their own hegemony which only helps them realize their own bias. Don’t talk to friends about classes if they think the class sucks. how is (insert the favorite thing they like to talk about here) going. when the question comes up. I don’t suggest you try this questioning until you figure your well into your mind shift.You: Why do you think I would get a better chance at a job with a degree in business? Parent: Well. Actually you better sit down for this one as your ‘little guy’ will start yelling at me and calling me crazy so get ready to shut him up. If they bring it up. Either cut them out of your life which is extreme.” Keep deflecting and talk about things they like.

I want you to do a time audit of your daily activities. You’re probably asking why I want you to do this. As a project. I want you to not watch the news. can give you more time to learn and gets rid of some of the mental blocks implemented by society there is a much more insidious reason. going to class.How much time do I take up each day looking at this stuff? Oh and here is a really counter hegemonic question… . don’t worry you can go right back afterwards… if you want. Yes I know your freaking out right now.How much of the daily news that I take in effects me as an individual? .Why am I really looking at this stuff? When I first tried this experiment I had quite a bit of difficulty.Ok. Yes. hanging out etc. the less they new about the war. watching TV. read newspapers. magazines. 23 . I found out for instance I checked my email 9 times in one day and spent two hours emailing people. Just shut up your little guy for a minute and stay with me. Find out how much time you spend on the internet. Ask yourself the questions: . eating. particularly with blogs and facebook which I have now weaned myself off of using some tricks that I’ll show you later. Just try it. By cutting yourself off from media I hope to show you that you don’t actually need it in the first place. blogs or listen to the radio for one week. The truth is that the majority of coverage carries a system of propaganda that will indoctrinate you on a particular position. I cut this down to 10 minutes a day using some methods I’ll teach you in later chapters and I’ve never been happier. he found that the more people watched coverage of the war on CNN. In a media study by Robert McChesney during the first Iraq war. studying. The more television you watch the more ignorant you can become. The results will amaze you. reading. Other than the obvious reasons that it helps you focus. even my blog (even though it’s awesome).

but pull through it. because I thought I could make money at it… again all valid answers. In the University box. because it was close to home. There is an exercise sheet you can print out at the end of this chapter. Be incredibly specific. We want to figure out exactly what you’ve done in university and where you’re planning on going. Put this down in the ‘Long Term Goals box’. because I liked it. don’t just write down get A’s. Outline what you think you’re going to need to get an A. The next step is figuring out exactly what your goals are with this program.The first few days will be HELL. degree and semester time lines. because my partner was going there… all valid answers. away from home. I want you to write down a few short term goals that you want to accomplish within the semester. write down the reason why you chose that degree. Next ask yourself the question: Do I like what I’m doing and ask yourself why or why not. First thing I want you to write down is what you hope to accomplish at University. Because I liked the major. put it down. You need to do this because when you get rid of all the media suggestions and know you don’t need them. make six figures a year. or are already implementing the suggested micro and macro changes to shift your mind. you can then add them at your leisure. if that’s have fun. Because it was my only choice. This exercise looks at your university. go to grad school. 24 . Instead of you being controlled by the media unconsciously you can begin to live consciously free from cultural hegemony. Next. So. I’m assuming that you have taken my advice and will implement. write down the reason why you chose that university. your virtual teaching assistant can help you with this. because my parents/friends were doing it. In the major box. I’ve also included a digital version of all these forms in an editable format which is the best option so that your VTA can have a look.

Write down the classes you are taking right now. Be honest. if you haven’t started the semester just put the classes down. put it down. Why did I choose this class? If you had to take it that’s fine. put it down. 1. is this class important to my ultimate university goal? 3. If it’s because you think its going to be easy. How easy do you think this class will be in terms of work load? If you think it’s going to be too hard. What is the most important thing I’m going to learn in this class and how is this going to accomplish my ultimate university goal? 25 . In each class I want you to answer three questions. can you change. 2.Next let’s look at your semester. if you have started the semester put down your current average.

26 .

or fake it till you make it paradigm.If you like what you’re doing but find it difficult. 27 . write down the top three things that you find difficult about the degree. Hopefully you’re already becoming more confident and freeing your mind from thinking to knowing you can succeed at anything you do. Keep in mind that it doesn’t help yourself or your VTA to write down something that you haven’t really thought about so go over your answers and see whether you really want to answer each question that way. I suggest you spend 15-30 seconds on each answer and ask yourself. A better answer would be ‘I do not understand macro-economics use of keynesian theory to explain fiscal something or other. Ask yourself what action you should take to improve your university life. ‘have I answered that question truthfully?’ Mental techniques to trick your mind into thinking you WILL succeed.If you don’t like what your doing then investigate what you do like. .By now you should have a pretty good idea of what you want to get out of university and whether you’re getting it. . writing down ‘the readings are difficult’ won’t cut it. I’m talking about specific things. So the changes I’ve suggested above are about 75% of the things you’re going to need for your mind shift. Have a quick look at what you’ve written down and reflect on exactly what you want out of the university experience. Next. I have some suggestions.’ You’re going to submit this first exercise to your virtual teaching assistant when he/she contacts you in a few days. I’m going to provide you with some quick tricks that you can implement today that are going to support and supplement these longer term changes. put together a list of the three majors you would like to pursue and go to your academic advisor and/or professors in that major to ask them about the degree.

I knew I was going to kick myself later if I didn’t come up to say hello. For instance. Why do we feel nervous about public speaking. Here is a script you can use if it will make you feel less nervous. my name’s Ooglack. asking a person out on a date or talking to a professor about a lousy mark on a paper? I won’t take you through the neuro-psychological explanations so I’m going to provide you with a simple example to illuminate my point. Fear of rejection is not a product of nurturing but instead a product of natural genetic programming. So if ‘Ooglack’ the caveman addressed his tribe. I propose a bit of an exercise for everyone that I’m going to borrow from Tim Ferris’s book “The Four Hour Work Week”. just throw the contact info out after you’re done. I’ve used this many times and get a 90% success rate (I’m also no Brad Pitt so it has nothing to do with looks). If you go back and look at human society from an anthropological lens. or approached a female and failed. which you can buy here. “Hi. Next week during class I want you to approach five people of the opposite sex and ask them for their email address. Although we all know consciously that we now live in cities with millions of inhabitants. Tell the little guy inside your head to shut up for a second and just do it. If you have a partner. we see that the majority of societies had no more than 100-150 inhabitants in a single tribe. you seem cute and interesting. what’s your name” After a nervous laugh or pause “Sarah” 28 . when I was a skater before stepping out on the ice I would always get a bad case of nerves.Approach anxiety The thing that most people don’t realize is that many of the emotions we feel everyday are simply chemical changes in the brain triggered by social stimuli. our unconscious programming forces us to place ourselves in the same mindset of Ooglack the caveman. Keep an open mind with this exercise. it resulted in serious repercussions for his standing within the tribe.

Also the less time you spend talking. I have to get back to my friends. so write these down as single points in your notebook. It’s free.Get in. knowing is believing. This exercise is important because getting a phone number is a great way to become accustomed to dealing with approach anxiety. Your target has already made up his/her mind about you the moment they saw you. direct it towards their solar plexus as people will usually grab whatever is directed towards their chest as a defensive action).“Hi Sarah. Most people can make a judgment call on others within 1-5 seconds so don’t worry if you think this is too fast. .The very first thing you will say is “your cute and interesting” which makes your target understand your not just there to talk. get what you want and get out. Make the commitment to approach five people now and you’ll find that you won’t want to stop! Appearing more intelligent A person. It’s a sales technique called ‘assuming the sale’ which I’ll show you in a later chapter. put your email down so we can continue this conversation later” (Give her the paper and pen. also appears more intelligent. 29 . who appears in control. . Why this works. When you write her name down on a piece of paper it becomes more difficult for her to not give you the number as she already kind of agreed to giving you her number when you wrote her name down. Therefore I’m going to show you a few mental tricks you can implement that will make you appear more intelligent which in turn makes you feel more intelligent. the smaller the chance of you screwing up. . (have a pen and paper ready) “Do you spell that S-A-R-A-H” (write her name down on the paper) “Ya” “Great. this makes you look much more confident than if you beat around the bush.Notice how I never actually asked for an email or phone number. Again. it’s quick and there are literally an infinite amount of people to test this out on.

eating and if you can. This is the easiest and best way to instantly appear more intelligent. This also goes for your clothes. cool.. When I talk about intimidating people.When you speak. this can be in terms of walking. Don’t show up in a power suit. This is particularly advantageous when talking with fellow students in group assignments and with professors and teaching assistants because it may lead to academic respect. check out the debate here. Attempt to stutter as little as possible (this was personally difficult for me and took a few months). So don’t be a dick. I’m very good at discussing the concept of ‘Agency and Structure’ which is the theoretical debate that humans are either programmed to follow a specific destiny or are able to act independently of their natural tendencies and make choices that can’t be tracked. If your able to discuss a few specific things intelligently then people assume that you can discuss other issues with the same level of astuteness. . 30 . Do not speak quickly and keep your comments short and to the point. collected and above all humble. I’m simply suggesting that when people find you intimidating you usually gain respect. but appearing well kept will also make you appear more intelligent. speak in a slow.Move slower.Stop wearing contacts and start wearing glasses. general body language. the less intelligent you will appear unless you know exactly what you’re talking about. and when you’re humbly intimidating it’s even better. which is your friend. The more you prattle on. As an example. you appear to have precise movements which oozes confidence. This is important because when you slow down your body language. even tone. Now I’m not talking about brow beating people into thinking you’re a genius. .Become an expert at a few rare things that you can use in conversation with almost all people. be calm. . A study found that students found professors 10% smarter when they wore glasses as opposed to when they performed the exact same lecture without glasses.

31 .The changes I’m suggesting do not only apply to your university life but are also applicable to almost every other aspect of your daily life. These changes are really important as they make the next steps much easier for you to figure out.

.Mind shift on a micro level . . .Approach five people you’re interested in and ask them for their email. .Only interact with people who are going to support you .Make sure you’ve filled out your University Ultimate goal page and have it ready to submit to your VTA.Mind shift on a macro level .If you have to interact with them.Take a one week hiatus from media after doing a time audit on how much time you waste and answer the questions included in the activity page.Become and expert on a few rare things that you can bring up in any discussion. . make sure you talk about subjects on your terms.Start wearing glasses instead of contacts.Choose a week to speak and act slowly. .So in Review . 32 .

How to maximize each method 33 .The different kind of ways you learn .Chapter 3: Find your Learning Style In this chapter you will learn: .

If you seem to be able to remember things after only hearing it once your probably a very good auditory learner.You might not be aware. If you like learning off a blackboard. In my research I have found that the literature suggests one of two possible strategies when trying to understand learning style. If you’re good at solving rubik cubes. 3: I will show you the main ways people learn and get you to maximize EACH ONE. or if you have memorized notes off a page then you’re probably a visual learner. but there is more than a single way to learn information. Instead. geometry. telling you to throw out all the other styles and just learn their method. or any other type of visual puzzle your probably pretty good at visual learning. 1: They present the different learning styles and suggest you choose the one that you feel most comfortable with. Your own learning style probably prefers a single method. The Main Learning Styles Visual: Visual learning is the most straight forward style. 2: They present a different learning style and then tell you that their method is the best. they maximized them all and that is what I want you to do. Auditory: Auditory learners are the people who are great at learning information through lecture or from audio-books. Based on my interview research I have decided to give you a third option. 34 . You’re also a visual learner if it’s easier to make a picture of an idea rather than write it out. If you only used one of your senses and got rid of the others wouldn’t that be really stupid? In looking at genius students versus improving students I found that the students who improved the fastest did not restrict themselves to a single learning style.

This is by far the most effective way to learn. After you’ve figured out which methods you like and which you don’t. Dog. old man.Categorization/Sequential: Categorization/Sequential learning is a style where you categorize variables in order to understand them. cat. So having a class discussion. An example of this style would be when you take your notes and categorize them so that your mind can remember them. elephant. your job will be to become better at the other methods of learning. So I’d first like you to take a look at each method and think about how you learn. baby. Things that walk on four legs: Dog. The goal is to integrate all learning styles into a single metamethod. ostrich. asking questions in class or teaching what you’ve just learned to your study buddies are all perfect examples of this method (this is my favorite method). Cat. I’ll be using specific examples throughout the book as to how you should be maximizing each method of learning but I wanted to give you this information right now so that you can start to frame your own personal learning style and begin to improve it. I’m personally predisposed to active learning as I like to teach other people things the moment I’ve learned them. baby Things that walk on two legs: Old man. 35 . by doing that I hard wire the information. Here is an example. ostrich You can also just place things in order to remember them like this. The four stages of minority group integration: 1) Integration 2) Assimilation 3) Division 4) Normative Pluralism Kinesthetic/Active: Active learning is a method where you actively participate to learn the information.

I personally like graphs and symbolization as they are the best way to get complex ideas in a simple easy to understand form. If you can teach somebody what you’ve learned.How to improve each method So if you’re no good at a certain technique here are a few quick tips to help you work on each method of learning. They actually find me kind of annoying as calls at 3 in the morning aren’t usually received that well. the weirder they look the more you will remember them. Active: Begin teaching other people. After the two days are up try to integrate that style of learning into your learning method. Rewriting your notes in this way can massively bring up your recall. Also. Categorization/Sequential: Start to look at the organizational characteristics of seemingly un-organized pieces of information. Take the method you’re the worst at and choose two days to take every opportunity to learn in that style. Whenever I learn something new and interesting I usually call a buddy immediately. Watch a youtube video of something you’re trying to learn rather than just reading it out of a book. Auditory: Two words here. you’ll usually remember it for life. Audio books are great as you can listen to them on your mp3 player and can do other things while you’re learning. 36 . I’ve committed almost an entire chapter to auditory learning later in the book. Visual: Go to lectures! Watch the prof and draw pictures explaining what is going on. Get out a piece of paper and write them down. AUDIO BOOKS! They are totally awesome. Two days should give you enough time to work the bugs out and start to appreciate the learning style. make them as crazy as possible.

Attempt to integrate them. take any hard concepts and simplify them into pictographs (visual). For instance before an exam. then teach my notes to my study buddies (active). I’ll usually condense my notes (categorization/sequential). 37 . take those notes and record them onto my ipod (auditory).Integrating all these methods Once you get a general idea of each method and have tried them all.

So in Review Review each learning style: .Auditory (listening to lectures and AUDIO BOOKS!) . 38 .Categorization/Sequential (Making categories and lists) .Kinesthetic/Active (Teaching what you’ve learned to others) .Visual (making pictures and watching lectures) .Take two days to improve your worst learning style.

Chapter 4: Organization
In this chapter you will learn: - How people perceive work in North American Society - The fundamental problems with disorganization - The 5 ways to become better at organizing - How to keep on top of being organized


So, the front section of the book has to deal with your mental game, the second step is to start to deal with the exterior aspects of study. If you’ve heard the old adage a stitch in time saves nine, then you know how important organization is. I was a horrible organizer; I spent my first year of university with a bunch of loose leaf binders with notes that resembled a creative version of chicken scratch rather than a sane thought. It was hell when finals came and I had to make sense of my notes. It was… actually let’s not talk about that, it’s a dark memory for me. I know that everyone has gone through a version of this during their school years. It creates so much unneeded stress in your life as you can usually take care of it really quickly if you know what to do. I had the same problems with papers. I looked over them for this book and wanted to puke on them they were so bad. A lot of “what the hell was I trying to say” and “Wow, how did I manage to get a C on that” were my general thoughts in looking down my own personal academic memory lane. If you’re a fourth year student I suggest taking a look at your old papers, it will be hilarious I promise. Anyway, I know many of you have had feelings of anxiety being up at three in the morning on your twelfth coffee of the night. You are constantly checking the page count every 10 minutes and starting to wonder why you didn’t start this thing a week ago like you were supposed to. You finish up the night at about 5 in the morning getting that un-edited conclusion finished before you have to submit your paper at 8:30 the next morning. What if I told you that I could make it so you would never be in the situation ever again? What if I also told you that by using my method you’re going to actually get things done 50% faster (conservative estimate) and get better marks back? Well I have some great news for you. I’ve done this for many students in the past and your about to learn my secrets. This is very important so pay extra attention during this section. Where did working hard come from? Ask somebody about their work and the vast majority of the time you’ll get an answer like “Oh I’m so busy, lots of things to do,” or “work is hell, I’ve got (insert ridiculous amount of work to sound impressive here) to do and there aren’t enough hours in the day.” If you ask me about ‘work’


I’ll usually have this response; “Work is great (I then explain what I’m currently doing).” This really sends people for a loop when everyone has bitched about their jobs for 30 minutes. When its time for me to add to the pity party I don’t add to that cultural hegemon, I’m always amazed as to why people stay in jobs they don’t like. Now, this philosophy of negative work environment is not a global phenomenon. There are places in the world where people actually like their jobs and don’t see work as a badge of discontentment but more of a way of life. Take a look at Europe for instance or the Middle East and you’ll get a very different conceptualization of work. So the question is why does North America see work as being a negative and an unhappy process? A man named Max Weber was able to give us the answer. One of the most important publications in the social sciences The Protestant Ethic; explained in essence why Americans don’t like their jobs today. The majority of North America’s charter immigrant groups were protestant. Protestantism has an ideology of hard work and sacrifice as central to the greater glory of god. Therefore, the harder you worked and the more wealth you created, the better your chances of being seen as accepted into heaven. Success in work equaled success in the afterlife. Also, if you weren’t working hard you were going to go to hell. This ethic has evolved throughout the years and lost its religious component but the same feelings towards work are present in North American society today. So what does this mean for you? Well as simple as I can put it, you’ve been programmed to think that work is the only way to achieve happiness but that work is painful and a sacrifice. Anybody see a problem in that? You have to first accept some fundamental rules about work. These truths go against most of the things you’ve heard about when people talk about the ‘right’ method to work. So, keep an open mind and reflect on each of these rules for a moment before moving on to the next one. First, let’s define what positive and negative ‘work’ is for us. Negative work is anything you have to do more than once. Positive work is any work that is independently creative of its context. So creatively thinking about a paper is not necessarily work as your expanding your thoughts on a new subject. Writing the paper however is negative work as the actual


For instance. 42 . When you’re out of shape it takes a few weeks for your body to start to change. working for one hour can equal another person’s full work day. the better you will be. I accomplish this goal through three main tenants. bills. the parts of my mind responsible for creative thought will be suppressed and it will require a lot of work to get them working again. I know how much of the basic stable foods I eat a week. allostasis. Outsourcing: I outsource as many repetitive tasks as possible to others: taxes. the stupider you will become. Second. If you take a look at materialism this is what they call intellectual materialism. research. Allostasis: Very simply. repetitive work equals ignorance. The more organized you are and less time you take to get work done.process will be repeated throughout university many times. like REALLY lazy. This stability point (it’s called homeostasis) becomes your body’s new standard and it actually tries to stay at that set point. being lazy has nothing to do with working hard. reading etc. If I do a repetitive task that doesn’t require thought. I’m really lazy. If you work out hard for an extended period and eat properly your body achieves a point of healthy stability. I usually spend less hours ‘working’ than any of my friends. Third. So for me. I try to either get rid of these jobs or I make them as quick as possible. filling out forms. Maximizing positive work will make you a more intelligent and interesting person. So if I’m working out my mind and thinking creatively on a regular basis I will automatically stay creative. The more repetitive work you do the more ignorant you will become. shopping. outsourcing and thought mechanization. marketing. the process of allostasis is the adaptive efforts of the body to maintain stability in response to stressors. The goal is to try to minimize the negative and maximize the positive. The difference is that I organize my work in such a way and am so productive during the short periods in which I work that I’m able to produce content that is quantitatively and qualitatively superior to most people I know. That’s why when you’re in good shape for an extended period it becomes harder for you to get out of shape. A good analogy would be when you’re exercising. The more you waste your time doing things that you could systematize or replace completely with a different work strategy.

My main method is critical thinking which you will learn about later on. I get food orders every two weeks. note taking. What could you do with 144 more hours? Mechanization: The most complex thinking processes I have systematized so I know exactly what to do to break them down. research. your thoughts and your body organized. don’t look at the syllabus. U’huh. Your environment Here is a quick quiz question. First off. 43 . Think about what each ones means to you and where you are falling into bad habits of negative work instead of challenging your mind with positive work. I thought so. I have a system of steps that I take for everything I do from writing this book to taking out the trash which saves me years of my life. What I am going to be looking at is how to get your environment. This food is delivered to my door and costs me nothing as the supermarket loves that I have a standing order with them and they actually give me a discount. That’s 12 hours a month. Organization Becoming more organized is central to keeping yourself out of negative work and maximizing positive work. essay writing and test prep are all separate from this chapter so we won’t be touching on them all that much just yet. exactly what I want every time. 144 hours a year. I’ve calculated that I probably save about 3 hours a week doing this. Do you know when all your assignments are due in your classes for this semester? Like right now.Therefore. Review these rules and reflect a little on each one in your notes. freeing me up to do things I really want to do and getting more new experiences in my life rather than boring ones.

Planners: You first need a daily planner. Here are my two favorite digital ones: Ical: Great calendar program for Macs and can be synced up with your ipod if you’ve got one. I like digital ones but paper does just as well. What you need to do is develop a system to figure out when things are due. You will also need a semester whiteboard planner. Check it out here. it syncs up with a tone of other programs and most importantly it’s virtual. if you knew them all I would be both shocked and disgusted at how much of a dork you are. It’s also bundled with any Macintosh you buy so it’s in essence free if you have a Mac. its free. Google Calendar: Love this one. Check it out here.Don’t worry. 44 . If you have internet you can access this program from any computer. Here is an example of mine.

Do NOT do more than two things a day unless you have absolutely no choice. look at each thing you’ve written down and ask these questions. You must have a start date for each assignment that you absolutely follow. if so when will it be finished? . You should be recreating the same thing in your daily planner.Get my sociology assignment done .Do I have the time to do this.Email my VTA the outline of what I’d like to do for my economics paper before noon and ask that he source the top 5 articles for me. suggest Thursday at 3pm in starbucks his number is 555-5555 .Call Greg about when to meet for our group assignment. Create a to-do list for each day of work.Work out . Our bad list has 5 things to do and each point wasn’t described properly. For instance here is an example of how to do and not do a list properly. . Do not be vague. Each point is properly outlined and to the point.Notice how each course is a different color? Get a different colored pen for each course so that you can keep your thoughts straight. List two has two things to do. your VTA can keep you accountable as you’re going to need to submit assignments to your VTA at least a few days before it’s due for review.Do I need any more information to accomplish this? .Start researching my economics paper Good to do list: .Are there any things out of my control that will affect me finishing? 45 . I lovingly call this my battle map as I outline what I’m going to do all semester. Bad to do list: .Clean up the house . I like to use sticky notes as they are the perfect size for writing down one to two things that you must get done.Talk to Greg about the group project . Notice how I wrote down start dates and end dates for each assignment.

If people do bother me. I also use headphones and put the TV on mute to recreate some white noise. The couch in my apartment: I have a small table that attaches to the couch and once my laptop goes on it and I’m working everyone knows I’m working and should not be disturbed. I mean COMPLETELY SEPARATE. 24 hour coffee shops are great as they have internet access and they have the white noise of people walking around. I’m doing work on it. If they do bother you. I suggest you wear headphones and throw on some music as people will bother you less. In class: I’m all about work when I sit down for class. I usually say “I’m just in the middle of something and only have a minute. in a basement. Why? Well. Work spaces My teaching assistant office: Concrete walls. more or less the most boring place you could think of which focuses me to get work done. how can I help you?” Keep people to under a minute. Here are some examples of work spaces that I have used. please write that down. I sometimes let my study space creep into my social space but usually there is a strict division. 46 . I’m focused on paying attention. 24 hour coffee shop: I like to work at night a lot of the time. You can talk my head off before or after the lecture but during. if you mix your work space and social space your brain won’t know when to work and when to play. I use leechblock to keep me focused and have instructed people not to bother me. this will usually only happen once or twice before they get the message. Social Spaces The bar: Head out to my favorite bar and hang out with some of my buddies. no internet access.Study Space vs Social Space Keep your social space and your study space completely separate. My laptop: Usually when my laptop is open and my earphones are on.

If you don’t have a good one that is reliable. work out. don’t schedule early morning classes. This is probably the most important piece of equipment you’re going to need for university so get something that you’re happy with. Data shows that young people need more sleep than adults. Any time I’m eating: I try to make a division between eating and working as I prefer to enjoy my food. get a good breakfast in and get to school at my leisure. you should focus your schedule around your own personal circadian rhythm. if I’m studying and eating at the same time I tend to eat junk food which only makes my studying worse in the long term. If you know you want to stay up late. I have scheduled all my classes for noon or later so that I can adjust to my preferred sleeping schedule. I then go to bed for an average of 8 hours and wake up for my 11:30 class. It was found that a 24 47 . If I’m working while hanging out with them it makes me less fun and does not let me disconnect from work. Therefore. Also. When you should study This is a question that you’re going to have to work out yourself. go get one right now. it’s for work. If you’re going to sleep at 9 on the weekdays and going out till 4 in the morning on the weekends this is absolutely horrible for your circadian rhythm which studies show is connected with healthy brain activity. I know that sounds simple but many students do this and it hurts you in the long run. As an example I like to study from 10pm till 2-3am at my 24 hour coffee shop by myself or with my study buddy. A recent study has shown that monitor size is incredibly important for overall productivity. If I’m sitting there.My apartment except for my work spot: My entire apartment is a social space except for one spot on my couch. Look at your schedule and find out if you can reschedule classes so they all have minimum starting times. Whenever I’m around my friends: I am usually focused on having a good time when I’m with my buddies. I like noon as I can get up around 10. Computer organization Your computer is your main academic tool.

When filing course work on your computer you should have a very intuitive and easy to understand system. Below is a screenshot of how I organize my files. You can place digital articles on one monitor and write on the other. This saves you a tone of time having to switch back and forth and a nice flat panel monitor can cost you 150 bucks. I personally us a dual monitor system which I picked up through doing research for this book. Once you have your computer. your next step is to organize you’re your classes files.inch monitor in comparison to an 18 incher enables you to get work done 52% faster when using programs such as excel and Microsoft word. Here is a cross section of classes in my Undergrad: Here is an example of how I organize a class file: 48 .

Organize like tasks together and you will save a lot of time. I suggest taking a look at this later once you get the academic aspects of your life handled. what some people call batch learning. This will save you a lot of time later on and will quickly become second nature if you keep on top of it. take the time to work out a couple times a week or do some kind of extra curricular activity. However. friendlier and most importantly more intelligent! Not only will this help you appear more intelligent it will also literally make you more intelligent as studies show that healthy bodies are able to think faster than unhealthy ones. As an example. but it doesn’t really matter as this is all going to help you reprogram your brain. incredibly effective and again free! Oxygenating is crucially important to higher brain activity and can also increase your productivity. a quick run before a test is quick.A digital copy of the syllabus . I did this and automatically got better results. The ingenious nature of this system is that the more classes you add the bigger you database becomes which you can access in future classes. How to think faster automatically A great way to increase your thinking and organization skills is the strategy of putting like tasks together. They appear more attractive. Each class should have a few standard files in it.Your main assignments . I can also suggest a free program here which I know is effective.Any lectures the prof has posted. A recent study showed that three different types of plants placed in different locations throughout your home can 49 . Stay in good shape. I would suggest P90X as I went from 18 to 10% body fat and got a six pack in 10 weeks. So.Your class notes file .Each class gets a file. People who are physically fit are proven to be received better by society. and the title of the course (a complete stranger should be able to navigate your database). properly labeled You should make sure to log all files as you input them. easy. the file name should have the course code. . your not going to do your physics and english readings one after the other. A recent study showed that 20 minutes of cardiovascular activity three times a week significantly increased brain function. Whether these were real or in my mind I don’t know.

. . This option is very useful if you live in a cold climate and spend the winters inside.Dark green vegetables such as Kale or Spinach can provide you with most of your vitamins and minerals in a single cup with very little calories. .Banana’s. I like to eat one full egg with 2-3 egg whites a day which you can buy separately. go here for a great recipe. fats and fibre while minimizing simple carbohydrates and bad fats. 50 .Fish oil. If you’d like to take a look at the study go here. . eat brain smart foods. . Mother-in-law’s Tongue (converts co2 at night and should be placed in the bedroom) 6-8 plants are required per person. I eat guacamole almost every day and it’s so easy and tasty to make. I try to drink 4 liters a day but I would experiment with different amounts so that you can find your optimum ratio. Here is a quick rundown of the best foods to eat for increased mental acuity but a general rule is to eat foods that are high in protein.Eggs are incredibly high in protein. avocados and olive oil are all positive fats that help you think faster and help you lose weight.increase human productivity by more than 20% and increase blood oxygen levels. flaxseed oil. good carbohydrates. Eating properly is very important. This will help your metabolism which makes you think faster as well as keeping you in better shape than sitting down to larger meals. Money Plant (removes formaldehyde and other damaging toxins) 2-3 plants throughout the home per person. blueberries and other berries are high in anti-oxidants which are linked with higher rates of mental acuity. Don’t eat junk food.Drink a bucket load of water every day which can increase test scores by 20% in some studies. .Eat 6 small meals a day instead of 3 large ones. The three plants are: Areca Palm (removes co2 and converts it into oxygen) 4 plants are required per person.

Ever notice after a large meal you feel sleepy and slow? Congratulations. Sugar and fat intake slows down your metabolism and blood flow which in turn slows down the blood flow to your brain..Try to suppress your sugar and fat intake. studies show you’ve literally made yourself about 20% stupider (in terms of IQ) for 2-3 hours! 51 .

So in Review .Review the tips on how to think faster 52 .Get yourself a daily planner and white board planner to mark out all your assignments. outsourcing and mechanization .Define your study space and social spaces .Mechanize your computer filing system for easy access to course material and easy recall later in your degree .Review the fundamental aspects of allostasis.Review where working hard comes from to free yourself from that mental burden . Make sure you write daily to do lists to focus your day. .

CHAPTER 5: How to be a Star in Class
In this chapter you will learn how to - Become the smartest-sounding person in class - Specific strategies to differentiate yourself from everyone else


Different types of Profs you will meet First thing you have to know about how most university courses are put together is that they’re built on a lecture not teaching paradigm. The professor is unable to interact with students on an individual level which is the best way to teach a student. The average first year class contains about 250 students with usually a small army of teaching assistants that are both underpaid and over-used. You also may think that these professors are making either a large amount of money or really enjoy lecturing. Again, this is wrong… dead wrong. Most profs that are teaching first year classes got stuck with them. The majority of profs that get stuck with these large classes can be categorized into lecturers and researchers. Lecturers are the foot soldiers of university education. These are graduate students or professors that do not have a full time position at your university and do not do any/much university funded research. From the interviews that I have done, the average income for one of these people is approximately 4-5 grand per course. Yeah, that’s not a typo. The $20,000 a year that you’re spending for university is being used on an overworked and almost criminally underpaid prof that has to deal with 250 students per course for the entire semester. - These people are usually pretty bitter - These people are usually pretty stressed out - And, they usually don’t really care about most students If they’re a graduate student they have their own research to deal with. They’re usually doing this course for the money as they have tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and need to eat, or they are doing it for their resume. You should hope for the second option as the prof will care about the student reviews and will be more attentive. If they are full time lecturers they usually do 4-5 of these classes to make ends meet. Full time lecturers are either young profs who are trying to get full time positions, (which is again not a bad person to have teaching as they are VERY concerned about the student reviews) or they are a professor who has never gotten a full time position, does no research and just teaches classes. These profs you usually want to avoid as they are bitter about not getting full time positions and could care less about you.


If you can get out of these classes, get out NOW! I’m serious, get on the net to check out your options right now - just do it. Trust me on this, your life will be easier. Unless the class is incredibly easy or you really want to take it, drop it. Try to research whether the class will be given by a full time professor next semester, or if you have to take the class, see if there are classes which have a smaller student lecturer ratio. As a special note, go check out www.ratemyprofessor.com for valuable ‘intel’ on profs. You get ratings and personal comments from students. The second group is what I’m defining as the researcher group. These are professors who usually have full time positions at your university. They are teaching these courses because they are forced to by the department, straight up. They don’t want to be there, they would much rather be researching full time. But, unless the professor has tenure, or is an upcoming star they usually have to deal with those big disgusting classes. This has advantages and disadvantages for you. These profs usually have more free time for office hours, they usually have their own office and don’t share it with other professors. For anyone who is interested in graduate school, these are the people that should be writing your letters of recommendation. So standing out to them as early in your university career as possible is usually a great idea. Keep in mind that these profs are research minded so they usually offload most of the class work to their teaching assistants. They sometimes get the teaching assistants to give the lectures and you may only see the prof a few times during the year. Overall, if the prof is teaching the class, you can get more face time with the prof, and you’re going to get better course content. Better content only helps you develop a better base later in your university career. So you’ve made your decision on which type of prof you’re going to choose. Class is the usually the first place to impress the professor and teaching assistants. Your ability to appear intelligent is the best way to plant the seeds of a high final mark (whether you’re actually intelligent isn’t usually all that important). With that in mind, I have a few suggestions about what should be doing in class.


Some classes can last three hours. Would you meet a boyfriend or girlfriend looking like that? Dress up in what you feel confident in. If you feel powerful you’ll project that feeling onto other people (which is the point). When I suggest that people dress confidently comfortable. . and I know one guy that lost his thesis! There are some programs that will do it automatically for you but I personally use an usb key with auto backup. Even if you have a laptop. For instance. I’d suggest the second row as you have a great view of the prof and the board while still keeping your distance and not openly sucking up to the prof. sneakers or leather shoes and a plain t-shirt. primarily through debating that are completely applicable and crucial to asking intelligent and thoughtful questions in class. Asking intelligent questions There are specific techniques that have been developed. notebooks are an excellent idea because they act as a backup for your laptop and are quite easy to use when writing graphs/equations. This is often cheaper than you think. . 56 . All my stuff is clean and most importantly I feel powerful when I wear it. and remember to back up as much as possible.Your laptop with a good battery. a single large notebook with divisions for different classes are fine but just make sure you can divide your class notes for study later. I usually dress in some dark wash slim jeans. I’ve lost assignments. that does not give you free reign to show up in your pajamas and that ripped spring break t-shirt you got on your trip to Jamaica. But let’s first go through how you shouldn’t ask a question in class. My outfits usually cost me about 150 bucks.Dress for confident comfort.A notebook for each class. You’re going to be taking down your notes on this thing all day so make sure it’s up to the task. . I’ve had students who have lost assignments. shoes included. your going to need to make sure your laptop can get through all your daily courses without being recharged. Sitting in the back won’t get you access to the professor and will not enable you to ask validation questions (I’ll get into that later). Do not use loose leaf pages.Sit in the proper spot. You can get a good notebook for a buck at any school supplies store.. Don’t sit in the front of the class and don’t sit in the back.

57 . We as TA’s and profs do not want to hear this. But under no circumstances should you be combative without offering constructive solutions or criticism of the statement. Example: Asking a question in this manner is ok… . You should be accustomed to recognizing these fallacies in lectures so that you can deconstruct them and be comfortable enough to recognize them in your own questions. Generalization argument: Extrapolating an assumption of an entire group based on a small sample. You can challenge a question.What you just said isn’t making any sense ..I don’t understand how (this concept) works with (this concept) .Nobody wants to hear what I’ll call ‘your personal story question’. So all blonde girls are dumb is a great example. Another word for this would be stereotyping.Questions that are obviously combative are also not a good idea. You find these questions are mostly posed by adult students and most of the time the questions are just stories about something that happened to them that relates to the lecture. This went on for a few minutes.Can you explain how (this) and (that) connect? Asking a question in this manner is not ok… .How does this have anything to do with (point of lecture)? So what should you use to premise questions that appear intelligent and well thought out? Here are some general strategies that debaters call fallacies of argument. In a lecture on bureaucracy I was TAing. this is boring. I’m only going to review the main fallacies here but I’ll have some more resources to follow up on this later in the chapter. a student who put up her hand and proceeded to discuss how when she was working in a law office she had to fill out forms for her boss. adds almost nothing to the course content and slows down the entire lecture.Well I don’t really understand how… .I’m sorry but that doesn’t make any sense . She didn’t really understand why they were necessary as the cases were already over and the court had already filled out the very same forms but the law office was…. You can even respectively disagree with a question. blah blah blah. .

Post Hoc argument: Assuming just because one action happened after another that the first action resulted in the second. The guy doesn’t know the difference between a test tube and a Bunsen burner. Just because everyone agrees doesn’t mean you should. This argument is usually supported with statistics. I would ask which studies you citing and to explain the imprecise words such as ‘significant. In reality. This is a tricky fallacy to spot. Studies show that smoking pot leads to significant brain damage is a great example. therefore you should accept 58 .’ Ad populum argument: Everyone is agreeing with me so you should too. An example being. Just because 90% of people believe that. Ooglack’s study has shown that marijuana does not create brain damage but I know him and he’s the biggest pot head I know. I’ve also heard this being called the slippery slope argument.Weak analogy: Comparing objects that have only a few similar characteristics or objects that have weak similarities. marijuana being a gateway drug to harsher drugs is a popular chain reaction argument. Authority argument: Using a respected source to reinforce the evidence supplying the conclusion. Their may be other factors that led to a higher mark such as reading this book. Great way to challenge this argument is to investigate the source. hemp has an insufficient amount of THC to get people high and should not be compared to pot in terms of getting high. Ad hominem argument: This is where the person attacks a person rather than his/her argument(s). So studying a lot results in a high mark is a post hoc fallacy. doesn’t mean they are right. is the core of this argument. 90% of people polled in 2008 say that marijuana should be legalized. So marijuana and hemp both come from the same family of plants therefore they should both be banned. Chain reaction argument: If we start one action it will result in a chain reaction that will lead to an undesirable conclusion. Ignorance argument: The argument is premised on the idea that there is no conclusive evidence to prove the conclusion. try to look at whether the comparison being made relate to the same premise. For example. For instance.

“Actually. Whenever an argument is too simple.S. As an example for the following argument I could suggest that the same risk factors for brain damage could be found in liquor or cigarettes. “pot heads want to legalize pot so that they can smoke all day and screw around.their conclusion. Straw man argument: When you build up a wimpy version of your opponent’s argument and then defeat it. This argument does not take into consideration the social capital the U. If the United States leaves the Middle East we will help to breed terrorists. An example being. These are the major arguments you’re going to encounter. the majority of politicians and criminologists suggest that legalizing marijuana will lower the instances of crime and suppress higher marijuana use through taxation and regulation.” Oversimplification argument: When an argument excludes the more complex premises that effect the conclusion. An example being. you should usually be looking for other factors that will be making the ideas more complex. is losing in remaining and the larger international variables. I’ve found some excellent online resources here and here that have helped shape this section. Even if we aren’t sure pot creates brain damage it shouldn’t be legal because there might be a chance that it does create brain damage.” A defense for the straw man is to restate your argument in a stronger way. Best way to break down this argument is to study the evidence that the conclusion is based on. I use to pull this on a girlfriend all the time when we went to the movies and asked her if she wanted to see Batman or Spiderman for instance. Best way to get out of this situation is to think outside the question and suggest different solutions like watching ‘The Notebook’ for instance (which I actually liked). Usually everyone uses a version of these arguments to prove their points so train yourself to recognize them and you’ll be able to respond in an intelligent way. Hobsons choice: You are forced to choose between conclusions that the arguer has forced you into even though there are other possible avenues of choice to investigate. 59 .

pause for half a second before speaking. . He is one of the best contemporary examples of a great public speaker.Speak slowly: Speak in a low. take your time.Pause: When the prof asks you to speak. . not what you say.How You Should Talk in Class Sometimes it’s not what you say but how you say it. Trust me it works. He commands respect without being overbearing.” I know it sounds dumb but it has to do with neuro linguistic programming (as do most of these tips). its going to be something really deep we better pay attention. keep it short and above all try not to stutter. Have you ever looked at speeches and tried to figure out how one person can produce a great speech and another guy saying the same stuff falls flat? Well it’s because it’s all about how you say things. he seems polite but still dominates most people he interacts with. There are a few general tricks that many politicians use to engross their audience that you can practice to automatically demand more attention while asking a question in class. this projects a feeling of ‘laissez faire’ and instantly makes you look more confident in your statement. .Lean back: Lean back in your chair when you speak. When you ask a question or make a comment in class you want everyone paying attention to you. Do not speak quickly. even. I’m going to have you take a look at this video of Barack Obama giving a speech. If chimp one and two give really badly formulated answers to a question and you show up with a really good answer that is well thought out. calm voice.Wait for ‘chimps’: Let one or two other people answer that same question before you then answer it properly. you automatically look smarter than the others. . I’ve used this in smaller classes and within that half second you get everyone looking at you immediately. almost as if you’re thinking about what you’re going to say. 60 . There is something about everyone paying attention to what you say that makes it much more important than if some people are busily tapping away at their laptops or whispering to each other while you’re speaking. They are all thinking “why isn’t he saying something? Oh. slow.

Be about 10% cocky and 90% inquisitive (warning: don’t be an ass when you’re answering the question).Eye contact: Make eye contact with the prof. How Wikipedia and Google will make you look like a genius The greatest tool to help put intelligent and thoughtful questions together is your laptop on the internet.Your answers should be a gift: Appear kinda like you’re doing the class a favor by answering a question or asking a question yourself. Go to www. Make a connection. It’s the greatest library ever compiled at your fingertips. it therefore cannot be used in an academic article.Don’t be a suck up: The main idea is to get respect from speaking in class. . I use Firefox because it’s fast and free. I want you to take your web browser out. Do NOT use Wikipedia as an academic source in a paper. profs don’t like suck ups. only answer questions you think you can answer. Just drag the website address down into the grey area below the address. I know this as I’ve sat down for beers with profs and they rip on students like that all the time. Short. If you’re still nervous. I suggest writing out the main points on your notebook so that you have a clear concise idea of what you want to say.. By this point with the other exercises you’ve done. Don’t suck up. and don’t worry about being nervous. It is not a peer reviewed journal. but the prof should be the one to break contact first). What you can use Wikipedia for is to get a general idea about almost any subject. I suggest 61 . .Be selective: Don’t answer every question. . TA’s hate this and will automatically remove marks for using it in papers. Only ask questions that you really think need to be asked. they are annoying and we don’t really like them. It presents information in a quick and easy to read format. sweet and to the point will make the most impact without getting lost in the statement. Don’t prattle on and keep your statements to under a minute. focus in on the left eye as it’s less intimidating (warning: don’t stare the prof down. you shouldn’t have a problem looking a prof or anybody for that matter in the eye. Don’t suck up.org take the front page and turn it into a hot button that you can put right in your browser. get respect.wikipedia.

Just remember to not literally read from your laptop.that before you ask a question just confirm that what you’re basing your concept on is correct. put the question in your own words and you look like a genius. look them in the eye. You can also throw in some advanced knowledge which will undoubtedly impress the prof. 62 .

change right now! .Don’t ask combative questions and review the classic argument fallacies .Make eye contact .Pause before speaking .Have everything prepared in class. notebook.It’s usually not what you say but how you say it.Don’t suck up. 63 . dress.Make sure you have Wikipedia or google available all the time. this automatically makes your questions and answers better. where you’re going to sit. .Be 10% cocky 90% inquisitive .Figure out what kind of professor you’re getting for each class (lecturer or researcher) . review good speeches and make sure you .Lean back . laptop.Only answer the questions you know .Be calm .If you feel like the class is going to be too difficult and you can change.So in review . get respect .Don’t answer first .

How to figure out what you should and shouldn’t write down .The best note taking method 64 .Chapter 6: How to Take Notes Down like an Academic Ninja In this chapter you will learn: .How to take down notes in half the time .

If you write down 10 pages of notes for each class. multiply that by 24 classes and you end up with 240 pages of notes! I know that’s an extreme example but I’ve had students who have done it and very quickly get lost when exam time rolls around. Notes come in many forms and I’ll be going over different methods that I’ve encountered to take down notes for social sciences. First. let’s look at the philosophy of notes. Notes are only supposed to grasp the main ideas of the lecture. writing a paper or doing the assigned readings. The majority of exam questions come from lecture. This is crucially important for two reasons. As you can see. 65 . when it comes time to review it for the exam. not the profs ideas themselves. arts and pure sciences. they are not a transcription. but to lines ‘I’ could understand. you’re not going to understand it. when reborn these actions will affect you. 3. Karma theory: your actions accumulate.Taking notes is more important than preparing for an exam. Notes are a reflection of the lectures. The professor is in essence pointing a big neon arrow at what you should be studying and what you shouldn’t. you really don’t need to put together another one in lecture. This is based on about 10 minutes of lecture. Zoastriansim: human suffering explained by dualism in god. Calvanism: God is all powerful and transcendent that we cannot understand god’s actions. The professor might talk about a concept and if you mindlessly record it. 1. I want you to make sure you record your interpretation of the profs ideas. So. I’m always amazed at the amount of students that come to me for help and don’t go to lectures. This is a really important point to keep in mind while recording notes. good god/bad god 2. all the information was boiled down. here is a sample of notes I took down in a course on religion. They are left with a textbook of notes and since you already have a text book assigned to you for the course. not just to a few lines. With that said. However there are some fundamental aspects of note taking that every student should implement if they want to be successful.

This will massively increase your recall ability. So let me show you. if the information is rewritten in your own words. I personally use an easy to use short hand that you can apply to most classes. any long words. It is a pain to have to spend time re-reviewing a concept in your notes because you don’t understand what you put down.gbz Globalized –gbzd 66 .’ You probably know that subconsciously. you want to shorten down to a single syllable. this presents the information in an easy to read way. You write something down and think to yourself. Everyone has been stuck trying to keep up with a prof who is teaching too quickly. Some students restricted themselves to one page of notes per lecture. not for the present. write notes for an unforeseen future. Just like the way I write this book. you won’t. You can shorten words used in specific courses Globalization. you are in essence teaching it to yourself again. I’ll know what that’s going to be about in a few months. write your information like you are talking to yourself. I use the 40 year old rule. which brings me to my next point. Very simply.5 hours of lecture. developed a note taking shorthand and usually took down 3-4 pages per 1.First. Therefore. ‘oh. I’ve seen a lot of different strategies from the students I’ve interviewed. This is crucial. The most successful students however. Some student’s audio recorded lectures and didn’t write a thing down.. Ever time I review my notes I ask myself whether my 40 year old self will understand it. Systematizing your notes One of the most important goals for any student is to take down notes in a fast and efficient manner.Second. Take down notes so that you’ll still be able to learn from them 20 years later. .

Work on shortening them first and then see how far you can take your system.bc Difference. Don’t assume your going to know what gbzd is going to mean in a few months./ Does not connect.= This idea has three.Dif You can also use symbols across all your notes Therefore. The majority of professors teaching these classes produce lectures with a few main points 67 . These are classes like Sociology Psychology Philosophy English If there isn’t math in the class and you’re looking at theories rather than hard facts. Remember to create a legend at the beginning of your notes with all these terms and add terms to the legend as you work through your notes.-/ Correct.Transnationalism. And. Two methods of note taking that will cover almost all classes in university Method 1: Sequential Method The first method I’m going to define as the Social science method of taking down notes.Tran Because.followed by a right bracket >) I encourage you to go through your notes and pick out what words you use most often. The majority of students that should use this method are going to encounter a humanities or arts class in university. If you are using equations in lecture the same method can be used but I would suggest you use a notebook as I have yet to find an effective equation word processor.. components. four. use this method of note taking.3 4 (the arrow symbol is made with two dashes .:.

Each has a function. Traditionally. consequences etc. social class as the main variable. and actual or potential partners in social conflict. Assimilation seen as negative. Assimilation as a positive force. Approaches to Ethnicity and Race: (Main title of lecture) Three sociological paradigms: (First main point I’m going to discuss. I would be expanding on each point but for the most part I’ve only put down the central points and then discuss those points in greater detail in lecture. Power (a scarce resource) also central. Could be dysfunctional as well. Symbolic interactionism: (Third main point) 68 . Ethnic groups seen as actual or potential interest groups. Some have unintended. Here is an actual example that is directly from one of my lectures. Conflict paradigm: (Second main point) Conflicts and struggles central. Look at ethnic relations to see how it contributes to integration of society.and supporting evidence in a sequential format. Some social patterns and relations contribute to social solidarity. negative consequences. which will have three components) Functionalism: (First main point) (Look at how I explain each paradigm in the same general format) Social reality as a whole –a system made up of interdependent parts.

Ok so this lecture would take maybe 45 minutes to complete with many examples and questions from students. and the “others” important determinant explaining how and why we act the way we do. It could be significant. Ethnicity as an aspect of one’s system of meanings. Perception of our own group. Conflict not neglected. some may have unintended negative consequences. Race. or by the needs of the system.IE. as defining one’s identity. Symbolic Interactionism) Func: social reality is a system made up of interdependent parts. Assimilation a negative process – especially at the individual level. and given the existing social structures. Here is an example of what my notes would look like if I were a student. Notice my use of PN (personal notes).Individuals creating meaning within different social contexts. ethnicity as resources in defining situations and as bases of interaction. This allows me to reorganize my thoughts in my own words which are particularly useful when you review. 69 . March 5th 2008 Legend: Soc= sociology/ical Soli= solidarity PN= personal note Pheno= Phenomenon Indi= Individual Approaches to Ethnicity and Race: Three soc paradigms: (Functionalism. Symbols important in the creation of meanings. Conflict. some patterns may reinforce soli. each with a function that may help or hinder the system . Inter-group relations not defined by conflict.

ie one’s identity. I personally do not use this method as it requires you to reorganize your notes from the stereotypical sequential format. Try experimenting with this method and see if it works for you. Method 2: Pictographic method This method uses pictographic representations to explain complex subjects. if you’re a visual learner or are learning complex or abstract concepts. From the example below. .Assimilation seen as a positive force. But.Assimilation is seen as negative Symbolic Interactionism: Individuals creating meaning in diff social contexts within the existing social structures with symbols important to the creation of meaning. you can see that I’ve represented a lot of the complex concepts with pictures. Inter-group relations are not defined by conflict or the needs of the system. This method is also a pain to digitize as you have to write it out on paper then scan it if you want it on your computer. From experimentation with the pictographic method. PN: Like the Asian American Group tries to push forward pro-asian ethnic issues and by consequence is doing this in comparison to other racial groups. PN: Like a black criminal seems dysfunctional to soc but also reinforces white social stigma’s and solidarity. Ethnicity is a part of the system of meanings. Conflict isn’t neglected as it may determine why we act the way we do PN: Individual people. especially at the indi level. Conf: Struggles are central with social class and power as the main variable. The pacman represents the dominant group and the pacdot represents the minority group. through symbols (of which ethnicity is one) inhabit and evolve the social structure. 70 . For instance. The more extreme you can make your imagery the better. functionalism is represented as two puzzle pieces and assimilation is represented by a pacman eating a pacdots. -Assimilation seen as negative. Conflict is just a large version of this pheno. Ethnic groups seen as potential interest groups or partners in social conflict. this method may be useful to you.. I found that I recalled more but also left out more information than the sequential method. You may be surprised by the result.

71 . If your prof is going to give out lectures pre-emptively. Profs don’t have to write anything down on the board and they can post the lecture before class so that students can download the presentation and follow along on their laptop.Power point lecture There are two fundamental ways in which you’re going to get your lectures from Profs. The majority of young profs use powerpoints as they are an easy way to get the information out to students. you’re in luck as this is relatively rare.

Even if you have the powerpoints on your laptop. Powerpoints offer you a few great advantages. a lot of profs don’t really know what they want to say or don’t have a lecture prepared until the day before. You don’t want to look like your whining about not being able to keep up. You can always review them later but it’s more important you take your own version of the information that was written by you so you can interpret them easily later. or better yet convince one of your friends to bug the prof instead. You can also review each powerpoint at your own pace as apposed to the prof just talking where you may lose some relevant points. I would suggest whispering to buddies stuff like this.’ I’m going to assume the worst-case scenario. It’s no use copying bad notes. or at the least the professor is highly considering putting them on a test. I’ve used that excuse a few times. tell him/her very politely to slow down. In comparison to lectures. “Are you keeping up with the powerpoints?” “Is it just me or is he/she going way to fast?” “We should get him to slow down” “I wish he/she would slow down” You can also use fellow student’s laptops as secondary note screens. This lecture method is mostly used by older profs and you don’t usually see much of this lecturing style in pure science classes. Rewrite all powerpoints in your own words. they are very easy to read and understand. You can bet that they will be on the exam. take a look at what your neighbour has written down and pick up a few points. take your own notes independently of the powerpoints.‘Profs who don’t give out lectures before class usually say it’s because students don’t pay attention to the lecturer if you’re staring at your laptop. 72 . Just make sure you’re sitting next to people that know what they are doing. if you miss a point. If the prof keeps flying through powerpoints. This is half true. that the prof has not submitted the powerpoints before class so you’re following along with your laptop. Spoken word lecture Spoken word lectures are somewhat more difficult to turn into notes as it’s harder to figure out the most important points to take down.

Let me restate. It is very difficult to write down the last thought while trying to interpret the next.Even though this method of lecturing is quite a bit more difficult than the powerpoint method. You want to appear like you know what you’re doing. no powerpoint. He had no notes. unless it’s a class on transcribing then by all means knock yourself out :) If you can’t keep up with the prof. he quietly walked into the room and made sure he had four to six clean blackboards. Fight this urge. you’re not transcribing the lecture. he just talked. Have a note pad where you can jot down a couple notes but don’t break your concentration until he/she is finished with their point. but don’t sacrifice your notes for it. no acetates. Students have a desire deep inside of them to write down everything as quickly as possible which I understand as I did it myself. but if you came back the next semester to the same lecture. he was a lecturer (not a researcher) who had been doing classes for years and he had first year sociology courses down to a science. you speak up. If nobody will speak up. He was old school. Some profs do this but if they need to cover a lot of material or if they’ve just run out of things to say for the current slide or point. Once they are finished reinterpret the point in your own words and put it down on the page. Before class started. If you mindlessly try to write down what the prof is saying at a continual rate you’re going to lose crucial points in the lecture. He would take one blackboard and write a short review of exactly what the last class 73 . his lecture would be almost indistinguishable from the last semester. you can always ask him/her to repeat points or just reuse the lines I’ve given you above to try to get others to bug the prof for you. I always listen for keyboards and look for pens before moving on to another slide. Reviewing notes before and after class I learned this trick from an old professor of mine. You can still get great notes with a couple little tricks. Profs sometimes get lost in the moment and don’t watch the room for pens to go down before moving on. But he did something that I haven’t seen any other prof do anywhere near as well. Pay attention to what the prof says when he/she is speaking about a particular issue. they usually move on.

It’s only going to take a minute and doing this will help hard wire the main idea of the lecture. write it down. it will probably save you at least a few hours of study time at the end of the semester. ‘what I’ll call’ pre-post lecture layout method is a general trend that I found in most of the successful students I’ve interviewed. He then proceeded to lay out the lecture on the remaining blackboards from beginning to end. Main points only. when you finish the lecture. Integrating this yourself will completely change your recall and review abilities during exam time. 74 . Pop it down at the bottom of your lecture. take a quick skim (I’m talking under a minute) and come up with the central point of the lecture. what I’d call the ‘meat’ of the last lecture. Also. it’s also the simplest thing in the world to do! Before class starts I want you to read over your notes and write down a maximum of three points that were central to the previous lecture. This. This will not only help you remember the lecture before class but it will also help you when you’re reviewing your notes for the final exam. He would spend the first 10 minutes of the class going over what we had learned in the last lecture and then describe what we were going to learn today. He wrote maybe 20 points down on the board along with some graphs or pictographs which helped him describe his ideas. Don’t worry about everyone jumping up and your friends wanting to leave.was about.

you’ll understand them .Write notes so that when you’re 40.Notes are a reflection not a transcription .Use a coding method.Review the methods of note taking and pick the method that’s best for you . writing gbzd is faster than globalized .Use the pre-post layout method to hard wire lectures 75 .Notes are only supposed to grasp main ideas .So in review .

To read 200% faster in 5 minutes .To get your comprehension up by at least 50% 76 .Chapter 7: How to Read Smarter not Longer In this chapter you will learn how: .To cut the amount of reading you have to do in half .

You are given 3-6 months to read 200+ books and about the same amount of articles. Nope that’s not a typo. you’re throwing them to the back of the line. if we have time we can get to them. what is suggested and not required readings? Are there readings you’ve already done in other classes? Are there readings that will be covered in lecture? Get all suggested readings on the back burner. talk and take’ Throw: Look through the readings that you have. 77 . if you’re already in university and have done a few classes you probably haven’t done most of the readings you’ve been assigned. They go through a process I’m going to call the ‘academic sift’ The first step in this process looks at how we can cut the fat which I’ve broken down into the three T’s. Once I decided to figure out the keys to academic success I jumped my readings up another 5%. You’re then given one question that you have 24-48 hours to answer. There are these things called comprehensive exams. Grad students don’t do this. During my undergraduate degree I probably did 20% of the readings in the first few years (which is the average for university students in North America). I know this as I usually didn’t do most of mine. I almost imperceptibly increased my readings and went from B’s to A+’s. implementing all the works you’ve read. they suck. and you’re making way too much work for yourself if you attempt to do this as well. ‘throw.Ah readings. try grad school. How did I do this you ask? Well settle down I’m going to tell you! First let’s talk about readings in general and the philosophy behind them. Philosophy of readings If you think the amount of readings you’re doing now is bad. If you tried to read 400 separate pieces of work in three months your head would explode. they are last priority.

Make a list from most important to least important right now. New technology has come along that can scan books automatically into pdf formatting. With the use of mp3 players like IPods it becomes incredibly easy to get the info into your head without actually picking up a book. Many of the readings that are being distributed to university students today are available as audio books. Think of this. The second step is to take these readings and turn them into different forms of media or increase the speed in which the information gets into your head. Fellow students or your virtual teaching assistant are best but TA’s and even profs are good options as well. From this simple academic sift you should have cut your readings down to around 50%. Isn’t technology wonderful! There is another option that I would suggest to get rid of a significant chunk of your readings without actually reading them. Not the ones that are the most interesting as those should be second priority. go for a run and get a few chapters of your reading done. instead of sitting down in your dorm room with your roommate nagging you and the TV blaring. Go to somebody that knows about these readings and ask them. but I’d take another look at your readings and try to cut a little more fat. These go in the talk pile. Take: Figure out which readings are the most important to you succeeding in the course. You can grab your IPod. A short qualitative audit of syllabi that I performed found that 25% of student’s readings in first and second year social science classes were available on audio book. Talking about a subject is a much better way to learn than reading (see kinesthetic/active learning). Studies have shown that hearing information is much more effective that reading information for both recall and comprehension. The equipment hasn’t been around for a while but I’ve tested a few of these methods and they are close to perfect.Talk: What readings are either not central to you understanding the class or are incredibly complex. I have a worksheet at the end of the chapter that can help you out with this. I’ve recently tested a few of these 78 . We are half way there! If you’re not at 50% that’s ok.

On average you have let’s say 10 readings a semester Multiply your average readings per semester times four years. They have a huge collection and can offer you discounts on larger orders. You can also buy textbooks here for cheaper than the campus bookstore.machines with dictation software attached.com The first stop for audio books. If you find it cheaper to go this route than it may be a good option for you. Websites that carry audio books: www.com and once we confirm that you’re a student with us we can send you the discount. Amazon is better. Take a look to see if your campus bookstore is owned by a large corporation.25 per scan. www.amazon. but if you’re starting university this is going to pay for itself many times over. Or do it for free and become the dorm hero! Print shops will also offer to scan your book for a price. but the technology is about 95% accurate and if you can afford it I highly suggest this option.itunes. If you’d like the discount just contact www.virtualteachingassistant. www. try to give them the business. divide that by the price of my favorite scanner (500 USD) and you’re looking at 6. 79 . if it’s a mom and pop store.com The biggest book store in the world with a large collection of audio books. As an added bonus you could always make a little extra money scanning other student’s books for a price. Think of it this way.com You can download many audio books off the itunes library and pop them directly into your IPod. Also I don’t make any profit on passing the savings on to you. This option is expensive. 4x20=80 readings scanned. So once your book is scanned it can be turned into guess what… an audio book! Obviously this won’t work for some readings like textbooks with lost of information boxes. If not.Audible. As a bonus to readers I got you a 10% discount on my current favorite which you can take a look at here.

shhh it’s a secret! Book Viewers: www.apple.com Adobe Reader is the best pdf viewer and it will also dictate text to you if you get the professional version. I’m also going to suggest a few programs that I’ve looked at which will really help you double or even triple your reading speed. this could be a good option for you. Eye Focus: As you’re reading this line your eye is darting into various other parts of the page. Speed reading So hopefully you’re left with something close to 25-35% of your readings at this point. I know it still looks like a lot of reading. I personally would suggest you go with this option first. There have been quite a few speed reading programs and techniques out on the market for years. They also offer a free version that I suggest you start out with.com IPods are great. But what if I told you that you can read this information twice as fast in 5 minutes? Step three is all about speeding up your reading. I’m going to give you an overall breakdown of the best tricks to speed up your reading. Included are a few speed reading packages you can buy below. I haven’t tested it all that much but if you have one already. There are a few techniques on speed reading and I have tested them all. By using a pointer.adobe. The three most useful tricks I’ve come across are as follows. Another important thing to remember is that your vision has a hot spot of about the size of a quarter if you took that quarter and held it out as far as 80 . This significantly slows down your reading speed.kindle. you can get them as cheap as 70 dollars currently and if you are registered as a student go here for a 10-15% discount. www.com This little guy can also dictate audio books. For instance you might be reading this but also see ‘other’ which is right above this line.Mp3 Players: www. so if you’re interested go check them out. your finger or a ruler for each line you can focus in on exactly what you’re reading and cut down on interference.

Get a watch out and read 3 pages of a book. Expanding saccades: Most people don’t read individual letters or even individual words. You will actually read significantly faster than if you hadn’t sped up in the first place. Within your reading hot spot you don’t just scan each-word-individually but instead look at a grouping of words and translate them all into knowledge at the same time. Same premise is found in reading. popularly known as margins :) If you’re seeing them with that quarter you’re wasting valuable visual hot spot. It takes some practice but after a few hours of continual reading it will become second nature. Ever notice when you start driving on the street and switch to the highway then switch back to the street the street feels incredibly slow? You then end up unconsciously developing a lead foot. Notice the big white gaps on either side. then (my dog spot ate a bug) and so on. Passive reading: This method is meant to speed up your reading rate while only losing a small amount of comprehension. not speed. You want to get to the point where you only have to make 2-3 saccadic movements per line to quickly understand the entire phrase. This process of grouping words is what speed readers called saccades. Next I want you to read 6 pages as quickly as possible applying the eye focus saccadic movements and comprehension reading techniques I just 81 . A free option however is to try to train your eyes to take in larger amounts of words in a single look. force yourself to look at (my dog spot ate). we see it as a single symbol. I’ll explain this through the example of highway versus street driving. You can expand your saccadic movements and there are a few great computer programs that can train your eyes to improve the size of your saccades. Here is a quick experiment you can try to test these strategies. Read the following pages for comprehension. look at ‘side’. Read a few pages as fast as possible so that you are barely hanging on to your comprehension. So instead of just looking at (my dog spot).your arm could reach. Unfortunately when we move from line to line we usually start at the very beginning of the word. You do the same thing with words. We don’t look at apple as a-p-p-l-e. This will be your average reading speed. This area is where the majority of your conscious reading takes place. Instead move your eye focus one word in from each line so instead of looking at ‘either’. Your hot spot will pick up both words simultaneously.

When you cut the readings up. Regardless of what the prof says. You can fire up your reading speed by 300% and don’t lose any comprehension. you may be doing some readings in between which will lower comprehension and recall for your final exam. you have to review what had happened before. A précis is a review of the article’s main thesis. Again use the same fundamental rules that you applied in the note taking chapter. This is really important because your recall rate will be significantly higher. If you’re reading a book.com The best one I’ve come across. Apply these methods to the remainder of your readings and you should be getting them finished in at least half the time. I suggest this route. When you’re finished a reading. and write for your 40 year old self. It’s pretty expensive but if you feel like you need a boost and have the extra cash. There are a couple really quick things you can do to help remember readings after you’ve finished them. After completing a reading I want you to do a précis. I suggest that these all be digital as I’m going to show you how to turn these into a database in a later chapter. preferably in a single sitting. Now to make sure that this information stays in your head. I have an example and a blank précis form that you can use as a guide. If you can teach something you usually know it. read the whole thing. talk to another person about it as soon as possible. 82 . If you’re still interested in speed reading and want to learn more. On average you should have increased your reading speed by 100-200%.used. My personal choice for discussing readings are fellow students. Great cheap option for somebody who just wants to get started on speed reading. Keep it short. write simply. www. don’t cut them up. any crucial points you needed to put down and any quotes that you’ll need for papers later. Try to keep the précis short and to the point. Right after you finish the 6 pages I want you to read another 3 pages while timing yourself. here are a few programs that I’ve tested and found really useful. try to do the readings in bulk. This refers back to the teaching method of learning and the second T in the academic sift. you can check it out here At this point you should only have a few of the readings left.pxmethod. Break through Rapid Reading by Peter Kump. with them either on your iPod or being read at 200% the regular speed.

83 .preferably students in your class as they can either add to the conversation or be incredibly grateful your teaching them the reading.

TA’s Profs. Students etc) Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Take: (Define which books you need to read in order of importance for each course) First Priority: __________________________________________ Second Priority: __________________________________________ Third Priority: __________________________________________ Questions to ask: Which of these books can I turn into Audio books? Which of these books can I simply skim through? Which of these books need my full attention? 84 .Academic Sift Throw: (Which readings are not important to complete to get an A on the course) _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ Talk: (Which of these books can I learn through discussion with VTA.

Précis form: (This will also be available in a word file. THINGS THAT RANG FALSE. feel free to shorten or expand on this form as you see fit) AUTHOR: TITLE: LEVEL OF USEFULNESS FOR PROJECT/EXAM RANKED FROM 1 .10. (Idea here is whether it is directly and highly related. HYPOTHESES. 85 . or whether it might be tangentially related and or whether it might be useful in veering in another fruitful direction given the data/ideas being pursued. ETC.) TOPIC AND THESIS: DATA USED AND SOURCES: KEY FINDINGS: OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION: REFERENCES OBTAINED FROM BOOK/ARTICLE: IDEAS THIS BOOK/ARTICLE GENERATED: THEORETICAL.

if you can teach it. throw.Cut down your readings using the academic sift method . speed reading techniques .Step two. talk and take . you know it 86 .Step three.So to review .Make sure to talk to somebody about the reading as well.Step one.When you finish a reading. turn readings into audio books . do a précis of the article or book so that you can use it later .

To focus other peoples concentration (Group work) 87 .To use stress to your advantage .To focus your concentration .Chapter 8: Time Management: Spend more time partying and less time working In this Chapter you will learn how: .

I suggest you read this chapter over again if you find you haven’t gotten the concepts down or if you find yourself slipping (which will happen).Time Management is one of the most difficult skills to master in university but one of the best ways to free up time. Constant procrastination led to me starting to write papers at 8pm for a 9am class the next morning. Ever 10 minutes I would stare out the window. This chapter is the ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ masters course. it’s foolish to think that you can keep yourself on the straight and narrow at university when you 88 . I can remember sitting down and looking at a data set I had to program for a stats class and realized that I had 9 hours of me pushing the same keys on a computer over and over and OVER again. We have already touched on the main concepts behind organization so I’m going to concentrate on the management of your time. All of a sudden. studying for tests an hour before I had to take them and not even opening books. I had an epiphany. So I suggest you don’t manage your time at all. Write that down. I really started to become a great manager of my time in graduate school. Keep in mind that organization is the base you need to properly build strong time management. I’m going to present you with some outside the box thinking in this chapter that has only become available within the last few years with the rise of technology and globalization. The best way to manage your time is NOT to manage it at all. or many other things that drew the entire process out. I have always been challenged with time management. The way in which I conquered time management was kind of counter intuitive. do some pushups (it does help me stay on track sometimes). Students who can’t manage their time properly can improve to a degree but don’t get anywhere near those genius kids that always seem to have their work done and projects finished. Get ready for this one. like a lightning bolt.

proofreading papers. what the hell am I supposed to do with this chapter. 89 . I got burned a few times with virtual assistants that didn’t get me the results I wanted and didn’t get work back to me on time. They are all professionals who have had teaching assistant experience and are either finished or going through graduate school. If you just decide to start working out with a plan you put together yourself. to managing my facebook profile (which wasn’t all that successful). your chances of success is pretty low.” Well here is the second component.couldn’t during high school and grade school. But. “Ok.Virtual Assistants: I hired virtual assistants to manage everything from helping me with research. I went through a large amount of trial and error with these people. I’ve worked very hard to take this idea and turn it into the virtual teaching assistant service that you’ve signed up for. everything changed. do not manage your time get others to manage it for you! Let’s take an example of working out at a gym. . Once I had this realization. Your brain is pretty much hard wired at this point. You can improve your time management skills but a complete shift is doubtful. I used three main sources to manage my time. So you’re asking yourself. How often do you get your own PhD student to look over your papers personally? The VTA program is the best option but if you don’t want to go this direction I’ll have a couple more options for you throughout the chapter. what do you think is going to happen? I think you already know… It’s amazing how we get experts to train us on so many things but one of the most fundamental skills you need help with you’re left with no help or direction at all. if you sign up for a trainer who teaches you the best techniques to work out effectively and every time your at the gym he’s yelling at you to push harder and keep going.

you can share the load with fellow students on tests and assignments which can halve or even quarter the time you’ll need to get a great mark. you do NOT want to be around. They have also seen or in some cases written the exams. They are smart. First. define your work space and your social space. Keep them divided and you’ll actually have more time to socialize. the bar is a social space. period. I made sure I had a buddy in each class that was interested in getting things done as efficiently as possible in each class. Hang out with them after class. The dorms are a social space. In class is not a social space. study hall is not a social space. papers and final exams. keep away from them in class.. they are going through the same thing as you and they won’t sabotage your time. if you are interested in moving on past your undergraduate degree.TA’s and Profs: I started to make sure I was emailing and talking to my prof’s and TA’s. In the five years I was a teaching assistant I got a line up out of my office door the week before midterms. If they are friends of yours. 90 . Let’s go through the main components of good time management. Second. Some TA’s will hand over exactly what’s on the exam if you come to their office hours (when you ask the right questions). First week of classes I came in to talk to professors and TA’s about courses. they pass you silly notes all the time and they can’t stay on task when you set up a study date. they are easier to talk to then professors and they will be marking your tests and papers. Other than that. Profs are also useful. Teaching assistants are this amazingly free resource available to all students. . Main components of time management So what are the main components of time management and how can you outsource these responsibilities. I got maybe one student a week.Fellow Students: Other students will keep you motivated and are a huge resource. Study buddies are great for a few reasons. Students who regularly see their TA get higher marks. they will take less time to talk to you on average in comparison to teaching assistants but. I suggest talking to them soon and often. TA’s are also starved for attention throughout the semester. As I said in the organization chapter. These people. A ‘time sabotager’ is somebody who asks you about your weekend in class. It never hurts to know the person in charge of your final grade.

read the title and think about what the book will be about and what you are looking to get out of the book. Make sure to develop good 91 . Ever read the same line 10 times over? If that happens. This method is also very useful if you’re stuck cramming for an exam or have to quickly come up with something creative to say for a reading in class. If you’re absolutely stuck with reading. Open up your book and look at the title. But there are a few points you should keep in mind when you’re trying to manage your reading time. The majority of the time they will give you exactly what you need to know without asking whether you’ve done the reading or not. Share the load with other students and get them to teach you sections that you haven’t read. If you’re stuck with actually reading something that cannot be turned into another form of media. This method is to be used as a LAST RESORT as it will not replace full comprehension reading. open the book and get lost in the book. Go to your TA and ask one or two questions about the readings. This will focus your mind onto the task at hand and remove stray thoughts that may encroach on your focus.Note preparation Reading Preparation: We already went over reading methods in the last chapter. After completion write down your précis as you will not be able to retain this information for longer than a few hours. get it done as quickly as possible. Go directly to the conclusion and read the last paragraph. Spend 10 seconds trying to understand the title and theorize on what the readings going to be about. a very easy fix is to switch to the next page. Take one to two minutes before you begin.Paper/project preparation . If you absolutely can’t stand the reading you have to complete there is another great strategy to get about 90% of the comprehension in a very short period of time. go to a work space. It will launch you right out of your procrastination and get you back on track.Reading preparation . read the first line and last line on every paragraph and any bolded or italicized text if present. Then go immediately to the beginning and read the first three paragraphs. Note Preparation: As I already reviewed note taking in an earlier chapter I’m just going to throw in a few extra points. From then on.Test/Exam preparation ..

If you pull it back earlier. Your first meeting will be to go over what you have studied ‘I have a specific exam study method later in the book’. putting an hour in to figure out a great system at the beginning of the semester will save you days worth of headaches and hand cramps. don’t socialize till you get to a social space. and see if they match up. investigate as to whether you’re studying the right material. Get a study buddy. the system I’m suggesting for maximum retention will not be effective (i. If the meeting is finished and you want to socialize. If people get off track. Figure out what you’re going to be doing. So just do them! I’ll deal with procrastination next chapter but keep in mind spending a little time at the beginning can save you a tone at the end. figure out what your study buddies are doing. Figure out when all your exams are. Showing up to actually ‘take’ notes is really important. a half an hour would be best and have this meeting in a work space. I would rather you miss the readings than the lecture. Lecture is the most productive learning period during an entire course as you can successfully integrate all learning styles simultaneously. Here are some steps I want you to take when exam time rolls around. this can be done the day before or the day of the exam.shorthand for your notes. suggest you all go out to the bar for a drink. don’t poison your work space with socializing. most of the information will leave you before you take the exam). or buddies to go over the test material with you. Talk to your study buddy or the TA/Prof.e. The second meeting is what I call the confidence meeting. Keep this meeting short. Throw out a quick email and you usually get a response that is to the point and can quickly be integrated into your notes. Exam Preparation: Exam preparation is an accumulation of your note and reading preparation. 92 . You are going to be spending 10 times the amount of time studying for the exam if you don’t have good notes and haven’t done the readings. A meeting three to four days before the exam and a meeting either the day before or day of the exam. Anything you don’t understand should not wait to be understood later as it usually is forgotten 5 minutes after the lecture until it’s time to prepare for the exam. get them back on it. I want you to set them a day back on your calendar. Make sure to review notes after each class. If they don’t. You should usually have two meetings. It’s important that you only move it back by one day. A method I use which I find the most time effective is to just email them.

Try to write the paper in a single sitting. How long do you think it takes to turn on your computer. I could write a paper on migration theory in a heartbeat but string theory… not so much. If that were true then all professors would be liable due to their army of research assistants writing all their books for them. They can also suggest specific directions to take the paper that you probably didn’t think of. you’ve blown an hour. Virtual TA’s are also paid professionals. Paper/project Preparation: Paper and project preparation is one of the greatest black holes for time management. Profs and other students but this is by far the fastest and easiest way.You’ve gotten all the needed information in your mind. Again. You shouldn’t be learning anything at this point. First. Get a clear idea of your thesis. I’m a sociologist. Let me make this incredibly clear research should be outsourced. Usually choosing a subject that you’re interested in and has been touched on in class is best. If you start and stop four times. if you stop and start not only will this stop your thinking process you will literally lose time restarting a paper. I’ll have specific procrastination strategies you can implement later in the book. your class or any other averaging behavior that TA’s and profs are forced into. get out your sources. the university. and it usually takes another 5 to put everything away. But just try to keep in mind that if you’re 93 . For right now let’s talk about how you can cut down the amount of time it takes to write these things. Don’t spend more time producing bad research when your VTA can do it better than you in a fraction of the time. re-read what you’ve written and get yourself in the state of mind again to write? Conservatively it takes 15 minutes. Do not start a paper without knowing something about the subject beforehand. Nothing in a test is more powerful than knowing that you know all the material by heart. you’re just reviewing and building up your confidence. pass it by your VTA or your TA/prof and class mates before going forward. You can get the same kinds of help from TA’s. they are interested in you succeeding and don’t care about bell curving. Your virtual TA will be able to do this faster and better than you. This will help to make sure that the project is doable and will also get you an idea of what kind of research has already been done on it. figure out exactly what you want to do. You know it forward and backwards and are ready to quiz each other. I’ve dedicated a whole chapter to papers and projects later in the book. Let me state first that this is not plagiarism to have somebody else do the research for you.

I promise. computers and phone calls attacking them beyond the 9-5 day. Keep yourself on track and write dammit! Stress is sometimes the fertilizer of creativity. The big picture for time management The key to time management is to understand when you’re working and when you’re not working. write from beginning to end. Ever think about how amazing a paper is going to be but when you actually write it all your ideas come out like verbal diarrhea? It’s sometimes better to get your ideas out improperly than properly. The goal is NOT to work all the 94 . I know that this seems like you’ll be creating more work for yourself. The way you can turn this into an advantage is to move your assignments back on your calendar and write everything in a pre-defined amount of time. Finish that paper in two days. everything second. no networking sites. Keep a strict division between the two. Write first. Ever just write a paper from start to finish the day before it was due and get a better than expected result back? Well that is the great phenomenon of allostasis which I discussed earlier. getting the paper done as quickly as possible. blackberries. it sometimes takes a long time to get back in. But if you just write your ideas. That means no instant messaging. Don’t spend days writing when an hour will do. The great thing about our method is that you will be forced to hand in assignments that need correction by your VTA at least three days in advance of the actual submission date. no blogs. This brings me to my second point. In some instances you’re absolutely right as you’ll have to rework some of the sections that didn’t come out quite right. This takes you off your main goal. If you get out of your writing zone. just you and the material. So you won’t be managing your own time. Once you have made the decision to write stick with it.writing. do not multitask. not two weeks. they have moved from your head to the page which is the biggest step. Through using my method I’ve had students write 20 double spaced pages of A+ material in two hours. The assignment you have usually expands into the time you have to complete it. Facebook will still be there after you’re done. Your time audit that you’re going to do or already have done should show you how much time you spend doing those things. A lot of people today constantly have email. If you have two days to complete an assignment its usually just as good if you had two weeks. Don’t let them draw out. the system will do it for you.

95 . University time management can be conquered by getting rid of those distractions.time. and check your voicemail ONCE A DAY! Those messages don’t have an expiration date. If you’re not doing something new. Get that protestant ethic OUT and you’ll manage your time better than you ever have before. Try to mechanize and systematize as many repetitive processes as possible. Check email ONCE A DAY. you want to get information in as quickly and richly as possible so do things right the first time and stay focused. Remember. it usually isn’t important and doesn’t need your attention. As I have said in previous chapters. check your social networking site ONCE A DAY.

.Paper/project preparation .Review the management plan for the four components of time management . you want to get information in as quickly and richly as possible 96 .The best way to manage your time is to get somebody else to manage it for you.So in Review .Note preparation .Test/Exam preparation .Capitalize on Profs and TA’s.Remember.Reading preparation . . fellow students and most importantly your virtual TA.

How to solve it.Chapter 9: Stopping Procrastination In this chapter you will learn: -Why we procrastinate -Why procrastination isn’t your fault . 97 .

Now. I have also interviewed many successful students that are horrible procrastinators and are incredibly productive. The most illogical reason is that ‘you just didn’t wanna. Take a minute right now. Why this afternoon? Well because I’ve set up a meeting with my accountant and if I miss it. Let’s first go over why we procrastinate. I have read a mountain of books on how to become productive. I’ll wait… Ok now you should have fallen into a few categorical excuses. If that’s you I would suggest you take a deep look inside yourself 98 . Instead. I would suggest you look at this process from the opposite point of view. You are probably procrastinating for the thrill of failure or that you had an overly structured childhood and are rebelling against that structure. I’m going to get you to force yourself into being productive by removing most of the avenues of procrastination. Wait… what? How can I be productive and a procrastinator? Well its simple. I therefore have placed that onus of self regulation on other systems to force myself into productivity. I’m a procrastinator that realizes that I’m terrible at being responsible for my own actions. I’d like you to pause for a minute and give me the reason why you procrastinate.’ This is a valid answer but is based on some deeper psychological basis that I can’t really get into right now. I’ll be charged for the meeting without getting anything done.Ok I’m going to give you another weird concept to get your head around so get ready… I have become one of the most productive people I know and I’m also one of the greatest procrastinators I know. I want you to first go back to a point in your mind when you were procrastinating. I’m going to include my version of those strategies throughout this book but the chances of you implementing all of those strategies are slim to nil (I know this from personal experience as I struggled with procrastination all my life). You might be procrastinating on something right now! I have my taxes on my desk which I’m going to send out to my accountant this afternoon.

what you need to do is break down the information as quickly and as easily as possible. it’s actually implementing the program they have set up which gives them trouble. Many procrastinators can manage their time perfectly. Keep in mind that procrastination is not about time management. Looking at the new skills you have to learn and the amount of work you have to do to accomplish a task can be daunting. stress can actually be positive and can make you complete certain tasks faster and better than if you weren’t stressed in the first place. Now if you can’t get out of the class that doesn’t meet those criteria. You can also have a fear of decisions. Here are the anti-procrastination steps I took to complete the course easily and with a mark that I was happy with (A-). a case study in procrastination If you’re interested in getting the highest marks possible and suppressing procrastination you usually must choose classes and projects that: you are interested in. Another reason to procrastinate is when you lack motivation. are as easy as possible. Here is a great starting link. I have come across this reason quite a lot in my personal life and my research. 99 . You can have every reason to start a project and then lie to yourself saying “Oh. Don’t fear the consequences or believe a project is not important. You know exactly what you have to do but you don’t make that initial decision to actually do it. As a personal example I had a statistics course that I had very little experience in but had to take. have great content. it’s about making a decision to stay on task. My personal story.and ask why you just ‘don’t’ want to do things as you must conquer that form of procrastination to be successful throughout your life. Another good reason for procrastination is that you lack the skills to accomplish the task. I’m going to be showing you techniques on how to suppress or force you out of these excuses but keeping yourself internally accountable for your success is paramount (read chapter two again if you need more help on this). are based off information you already know and that you have a good support group in. I’ll do this tomorrow” even though deep down you know you never will. A student called it the ‘failure to launch’ phenomenon. You probably have mom/dad issues and I suggest you read a little bit on the psychological basis of these problems. Stress and fear is usually seen as a negative thing but research has shown that in completing tasks.

3 A Job Talk is a term used in academia for the interviewing process of new professors to a department. At this point he actually told me that the textbook wasn’t all that important as most of the stuff I would need to learn would be covered in class and that I should use the book as a reference tool. . I’m also making sure he understands that I’m looking for an A (See the chapter on befriending professors to understand why this is important). .Next I asked him what kind of content we are going to have and what the best strategies were to learn them as easily as possible. .1) I first had a meeting with the professor to have a chat. 2) The second thing I did was look over the content for the course to find out some shortcuts. . I searched for the easiest and shortest guides. I said I wanted an A in the course and wanted to learn how to run and interpret regressions so that I would appear like I knew what I was doing during a job talk 3. there is a great resource here that gives you notes on most subjects.I asked “What is the course exactly about?” (in this case the class was about statistics and regression analysis). .I told the professor exactly what I wanted to accomplish in the course and asked him how difficult it would be to achieve that. The second part of this statement is crucially important because if you simply ask for extra content the professor will usually name off 10 incredibly complex books that you don’t have time to read.I asked them how difficult the course was and the main problems they faced with the content and prof. . 100 . Another book on the not read pile Hooray! 3) I had a conversation over beers with upperclassmen who had taken the course already. It is a good term to use with profs as it suggests that you are working towards the goal of teaching yourself one day (even if your not) which makes you more relatable than the majority of students.I emailed the prof and after reviewing the content asked whether certain pieces of content would be covered through lecture.The internet had a lot of easy to use guides on regression analysis.

As I said in step three. Getting your assignment started is the best indicator of completing it. I made accountability meetings with my prof and study buddies. I used the rules from the group assignment chapter to make us all accountable for assignments being finished on time. I convinced the best student in last year’s class to help me with the course..We shared content and in essence broke the work up three ways which enabled me to work a third of the time while still understanding the main concepts behind what was being taught. I’d like to take 15 minutes to ask you a couple questions on running logit through STATA and whether you 101 .I got myself two study buddies who were at the same overall level as me.When I had an assignment due or specifically when the final project was due. Here is an example of an email I sent to my prof. He helped me through all the assignments and practically handed over assignments to me when I couldn’t understand them and coached me through the difficult theoretical concepts.Most of the time the reason why you can’t finish a project is because you can’t start it. .I asked if they knew what I should do in terms of keeping on task and if anyone could ‘help me out’. 5) I got two study buddies . When an assignment was given to us I would spend 5 minutes opening up a new word file. The preparation is already done and all you have to do is open up the word file to start typing. . 7) I made accountability meetings . Dr I’mnottellingyouhisrealname I’m thinking of doing my project on resource based transnational statistical indicators using logit regression. (I got the best student in last years class to personally tutor me from this talk) 4) I got a Tutor. I paid him in beer. writing the title and introductory paragraph with a general outline of what I wanted to accomplish. 6) I started assignments immediately .

think the subject will be viable as a final project. this is so much work.I broke every project I had down into its base parts and started grouping them together so that I could do like tasks together. I then asked him whether this would be viable as a final project (this is code for. This allowed me to start projects immediately as I usually could at least do a part of it without any prior knowledge . writing and editing is this going to take? Yet. plus whether he will be available at that time. (I did a little of my own research in conjunction with my tutor and a few buddies who work on the same thing all throwing in some articles) I had a main statement of intent (i. Let’s take a look at a classic example of an essay that has to be completed. 102 .During that meeting I had a few things ready. I finished my research and had a theoretical basis of what I wanted to do my project on. If you’re looking at a 10 page essay you might think. I first said exactly what I wanted to do.The purpose of the meeting was to get me motivated to finish the first sections of the project. Remember that it doesn’t matter if you have five days or one. . 8) I looked at projects in pieces rather than a single job . you’re usually going to produce the same quality of work. I said exactly what I needed from him and when I’m going to meet with him. how much brainstorming. I restricted his options to meet with me to a specified period (in this case the remainder of the week). if you instead look at it in terms of writing a thesis statement. figuring out the main components that support that thesis statement. If he won’t be available. If that’s not a good time.So if you look at this email. is this project going to get me the mark I want). You will embarrass yourself if you aren’t prepared. . I’m thinking about meeting you at your office hours on Monday. research. Next.e. what I wanted to accomplish in this project).This is really one of the greatest problems for procrastinators in my own personal experiences and in interviewing students. what other time can I meet with you this week? LM . it’s better to automatically make a meeting first then work towards that meeting through the fear of embarrassment. there are some very important tips you should keep in mind.

In group work. I don’t want to get into the methodology of this just yet as we will be covering how to break down this process formally in future chapters using the critical thinking method. I like to study from 3-3:30pm Monday to Friday. Take your project and break it down into chunks. making a promise to be finished my part of the project three days before its due forces me to work on that part and allows the other parts to be done automatically for me way before the due date. Just Start it Dammit!: Start everything. I have no choice.researching each component. I know this seems like a bit of a waste of time as you might throw out that initial start but the point of starting a project is to make it less scary. think of it like brushing your teeth or taking a shower (I hope you do that every day). I can study at other times but that time is for me to lock myself down. How to Solve Procrastination Here are some important rules to take into consideration when dealing with procrastination. not the beginning (more about that in a later chapter). The longest journey begins with a single step… so step. once you break it down into its components its usually very easy to accomplish in a short amount of time. Just keep these idioms in mind and you should become more accountable to your work instantaneously. right now! Set Study Times: You have to study every day. A one minute email to a prof forces me to have half the project done. Fear and stress is only useful at the end of a project. each being relatively achievable in a short amount of time. Break it down: Don’t look at a project and get scared… ever. This will be hard at first but it will get easier 103 . Talking to my tutor about an assignment forces me into an hour long discussion on the assignment. writing each component separately etc… You begin to realize that the essay is not a single project but a multifaceted set of smaller projects. So you can see that there are many avenues that you can take to become more accountable without concentrating on consciously being accountable.

after about two weeks. You can expand on your study time but try to keep it small initially so you don’t get frustrated and fall out of your new routine. Accountability Backups: There are a few accountability systems you can implement immediately to force you to stay on task. Your virtual teaching assistant can be your first line of defense. You can set up your VTA to email/phone you when you need to accomplish a goal. As an example, VTA’s need a minimum of three days to turn a paper around. It’s much safer to fail your VTA then it is to fail your prof. You can also set up accountability backups through your study buddies. They particularly like this as they get something out of it as well. Visual Reminders: I like sticky notes, you can post them anywhere and they are a great little reminder when you unconsciously fall off task. I have a buddy that had horrible posture; he solved the problem by writing down ‘Posture’ on a sticky note and putting it on his monitor. Here are a couple anti-procrastination notes you could use to stay accountable that I use. - Is what I’m doing important? - Stop playing and work for 5 minutes. - Work now - Don’t procrastinate Study Space: Again this relates to time management but is central to procrastination as well. If you have programmed your mind to only do work in a certain spot, all you have to do is force yourself to that spot. How long do you think you’ll last in front of facebook, a couple friends and the TV blaring before you fall off task? Focus your environment and you will focus yourself. Make your tasks meaningful: If you have to do a task that you’re really not interested in, try to make it interesting (even though its not). Just like you trick yourself into thinking that you’ll ‘get that done tomorrow’. Trick yourself into thinking that what you’re doing is interesting and meaningful. Write down what you’re going to do and do it: Make a list of what you’re going to do and make sure it gets done. Write down achievable and specific points, putting down ‘finish paper’ won’t do. A better point will be ‘Will research 5 articles on jewish immigration rates by 3pm tonight, go to


Blackwell-snyergy.com to start search.’ This gives you a concrete completion date and a specific target that you have to meet. Get a timer: Get a timer for study or paper writing and set it for 5 minutes. For those 5 minutes do NOTHING BUT WORK. Anybody can work for 5 minutes uninterrupted. The trick is that after the alarm goes off you’ll be in such a great work flow that you won’t want to stop. Keep the timer around for when you lose your focus and just reset the timer for another 5 minutes. Procrastination is hard, but failing is harder. Keep points like that in mind whenever you feel yourself falling back into the deep dark hole of time waste. Use the systems offered by your VTA’s and this book to keep yourself from wasting time. Remember stopping the pattern is much easier when you systematize your success.


So in Review - Review the reasons why you procrastinate so that you can figure out how to conquer it. - Review how you solve this problem by: - Breaking it down - Just starting it dammit! - Creating accountability backups - Using visual reminders - Using your study space - Make your tasks meaningful - Write down what you’re going to do and do it - Getting a study timer


‘Or Should be’ In this chapter you will learn: .How to deal with female and male professors .How to change your mark after your test/paper has been submitted 107 .How the university system is put together .Chapter 10: Why Professors are your friends.How to hold off taking your exam or test .Why TA’s are your friends .

I just want you to understand the way the system is set up. Once you know how universities work. .More part time profs are being hired than ever before which saves the university money and creates two different types of profs. Now. the universities main goal is making money through research and to raise their state/national/international ranking. I found university one of the best experiences in my life and there are many committed profs out there. . Universities primary concern is research funding. Unfortunately this same trend is becoming more popular with professors. Universities are not really interested in teaching students. low paid teaching lecturers and highly paid research profs. I can show you strategies to circumvent these pitfalls and maximize your chance at success.Student reviews are becoming less important to profs getting promotions as the university accounts for them less and less. the advantages of going to a really good university offers you great advantages in terms of access to great professors and job opportunities after you get out of school. it doesn’t matter how good the teacher is or how well the class does. . The vast majority of professors have no formal training in teaching.First and second year classes have a minimum and maximum average that the university sets and the professor cannot mark out of.I have an unfortunate truth that I’d like to share with you right now. If you doubt this take a look at the highest ranked universities in the world and how much they make from research.School teachers have to get an undergraduate degree plus teaching college.Tenured professors do not have to teach any classes. Here are some points that will scare you. . Research becomes increasingly important the more important your university is. whatsoever. don’t fool yourself. These facts aren’t meant to scare you. Therefore. the majority of students must get B’s. . your going to get a little depressed about this but don’t worry.Most university students rarely interact with a tenured professor during their undergraduate degree. They frankly could care less about the students. don’t get me wrong. 108 . . keep reading. But.

Take Barrack Obama again as an ideal example of what you want to communicate. I’m not saying that you should be browbeating people. During your undergrad you are mostly seen by professors as a student. 109 . you’re usually going to get the same responses from profs. I’ve come up with some fundamental ideals that every professor and for that matter person. graduate school gave me the opportunity to be treated more as a colleague rather than a student. You usually find this in class lectures as some professors can make the content really exciting.How to deal with professors The following sections come out of my experiences from interacting with professors during my undergraduate. You switch to first names with your profs. you go out to the bars with them etc. Respect: Having respect for your prof is crucially important. The adage “you catch more bees with honey than with vinegar” can sum positivity up quite nicely. However. Respect is not sucking up. Based on conversations with profs. while other profs present the content in a flat and really boring way. graduate and teaching career. If you suck up and kiss his/her butt the prof will usually say to themselves “oh another one of those” and count the tiles on the ceiling while you try to tell him how much his paper meant to you. Confidence: Being confident is probably the most important thing to be when interacting with any person. Instead. respects. intelligent faults in a paper he/she wrote and asking him/her for clarification will get you a tone of respect if it reflects the subject of your class or an assignment you are doing. you will usually get the same passion back. finding respectable. Positivity: Negative people are generally much less successful in society than positive people. Passion: If you’re passionate about what you’re doing. One of the main reasons why this is true is because they are generally received by people better and are able to convince people to their way of thinking better than negative people. If you’re not really interested in what you’re doing. Chapter 2 should help you with becoming more confident in a very short time. you work on papers together.

This relates to being prepared but more importantly it relates to being on task. JUST STOP! Your marks will go up by 5-10% just from doing this one thing guaranteed. this bugs the hell out of profs. I’ve heard it dozens of times). Don’t waste their time and they will thank you for it. I’ve had students that have come to see me and been uncontrollably shaking.Composure: If you’re composed and calm. Kids who are trying too hard infuriate professors as they usually waste their time. 110 . Have a specific point to the meeting. This wastes my time and unconsciously makes me place the student in a negative light. It is ok to be nervous but use the strategies throughout this book to cut down on this. Lack of focus: If you make an appointment about a paper with a prof and talk about 10 different things of which maybe one is directly related to the assignment. People who react sharply to a situation do not gain respect from others. I’ve actually told some to calm down and take a deep breath. it’s important. chapter 2 will help you to get over this. So just keep at it. I have had hundreds of students come and see me who wanted to talk about an upcoming test or assignment and have no preparation whatever. Preparedness: The last and probably most important ideal. being prepared in front of a prof is next to godliness in their eyes. Most profs are actually a little harder on these kids as they feel like they should be punished for wasting their time (every prof will deny this publically but it’s true. They will see you as someone who can’t keep it together. There are also fundamental ideals that every professor and person does not respect. Trying to Hard: Most profs I’ve talked to after a few beers have told me the absolute worst kind of student is a ‘suck-up’. this shows everyone around you that you are in control of your environment. Be PREPARED. stop right now. Nervousness: If you are nervous. If this is you. Also the more you do something the easier it will be. They waste time through asking questions that aren’t relevant and ask ‘story questions’ rather than directed questions.

I’ve had kids come in two days before an exam with loose leaf notes from three different subjects as their study material. If you’re unprepared. Well here is another point you should right down. This is linked to confidence and respect. neuro-linguistic programming or low level hypnotization. If you’re not prepared to talk to profs they won’t give you the time of day and will see you in a negative light. 111 . non-verbal communication. It definitely is a positive trait… to a point. I have also found this trend in the students that I interviewed and in my own personal experience I believe it gave me approximately a 10% jump in my marks overall. Don’t apologize for your work. This can be accomplished in many ways. Being Apologetic: This last point may seem somewhat counterintuitive as being apologetic would seem like a positive trait to have. If you completely crumble on the slightest critique of your work. If you expect a prof to have a godly sense of equality. think again. A lot of students that read the first draft of this book told me they didn’t understand the importance of talking to profs. prepare for and go to a meeting. On meeting with profs Ok. It shows that you’re thinking and that you’re not willing to go down without a bit of a fight.Unpreparedness: Read the section on preparedness above. now that you have the general ideals down lets go through what you need to do to actually set up. whether through directly being impressed by the student. Why is that? Well profs like any other human on this planet are open to persuasion. embrace it and take the initiative to discuss and even ‘respectfully’ challenge their critique of your work. they have favorites and you want to be one. I was a salesman during my undergrad and I learned a tone of tricks from the marketing and sales world that are applicable to convincing profs to do what you want. it’s better to not even talk to the prof. Meetings with profs are the easiest way to bring up your marks without study. profs will not respect you.

The archetypal extrovert. Student two goes to the prof prepared with reasons why he should have gotten a higher mark and gets one of two outcomes. They are usually a little introverted and try to control situations in order to gain social acceptance and power. Artist: The person who wants to be the life of the party. Even if they know almost nothing about a subject they can still convincingly make a statement. First let’s break down what kinds of profs you’re going to meet and how to deal with each type. They can adapt to different social situations relatively easily and can speak to anyone about pretty much any subject. Theorizer: This individual looks to come up with new and interesting theories all the time. Yet I will guarantee that he does automatically get a higher mark later on as the prof remembers him and doesn’t want to go through the same process again. They want to micro-manage students and will give you incredibly detailed notes for instance for an assignment. Student one goes and bitches to his fellow students that he should have gotten a higher mark because the questioning was unfair and vague. both students get a B+ and aren’t happy with their results. I’ve built this categorization system off Jungian archetypes and the Myers Briggs test for personality types. they like speaking and can go off topic very easily.The theory of rapport Let’s take a look at the story of two students. There are four types of professors you’re going to see. He either gets a higher mark on the quiz or he doesn’t. They are usually the smartest out of all the groups but have a very low emotional intelligence and lack significant socializing skills. Controller: Controllers always have to have a project on the go. Each have the same level of intelligence and have the same study habits. 112 . On the first quiz. They are also very intimated by confident people. Many students are intimidated from trying this stuff but if you take the time to learn how to approach and convince professors your GPA will thank you. They are usually introverted and are uncomfortable with the opposite sex.

Take into consideration that the majority of the profs you meet are going to be prepared for you. Profs like all people. check out the Myers Briggs test which has 16 personality types. This is a sure fire way to not get what you want. Also remember to speak and move in a slow 113 . this person is usually less creative and more matter of fact. I would suggest talking to a few friends or the secretarial staff before going to see the professor. will help students who work hard. You can also go to www.ratemyprofessor. so you better be prepared for them. They are excellent managers and are incredibly logical. Before speaking to your professor. Analyzers will look at an issue from all directions before coming to a conclusion. Unlike a theorizer however. Talk to other people: Talk to students and even other profs about the professor in question. It gets your mind in the mood to converse and will calm you down if you’re nervous. They lack the ability to think outside the box which they secretly wish they could always do. They will usually be able to tell you quite a lot about the professor and what they are like. are nice and don’t suck up. Write it out on a piece of paper and define exactly what the problem is and how you would like to solve it. You must build rapport with your professor if you hope to get a higher mark. If you would like to study some more complex models. Before you meet up with a prof Warm the Pot: Do not have a meeting with a prof about upgrading a mark if you haven’t had a meeting with him before. Be Prepared: Do not walk into a meeting without knowing exactly what you want the meeting to be about. You can use these personality types to decide on which strategies will work best with each professor.com which will give you a break down of what the professor is like and whether other students have found him/her easy to work with. you should try to place them in one of these personality types. Loosen yourself up: Loosen yourself up before you speak to the prof.Analyzer: Incredibly analytical.

Pay attention to their non-verbal communication and copy it. Try this with friends. you should cross the opposite leg creating a mirror image.calm manner. profs will look at you as a student who is simply coming in for a shot at higher marks. If/Then statements are not as combative as making a straight demand on a prof. by copying the movements you seem less combative and friendlier. The key is to walk a line between being demanding in your statement while only giving the prof a few select socially acceptable responses. For instance if the prof crosses his/her legs. A recent study showed that when people used the word because in a request they tripled their success rate in getting what they wanted. Here is an example of an If/Then statement. If not. So here are some examples of what I mean. that isn’t really interested in the class at all. Mirroring: During the entire conversation you will want to use the method of mirroring to non-verbally copy the profs movements. There are complex neuro-linguistic explanations as to why this works but very simply. Take the time to go over the strategies for compiling good questions and come up with a few main ones with some backups in case the primary ones are easily thrown aside. this will loosen them up and help the befriending process. Prepare good questions: Again take a look at chapter 5 for a full workup on how to put together a good question. Before the meeting. This non-verbally communicates that you are in control of yourself. “I need to hold an A average because I’m applying to law school next year” “I think I should have gotten a higher mark on number 5 because I went through the entire equation and only got the last section wrong” You can also use an ‘if then statement’. During the Meeting Befriend the professor: If you are speaking to the prof about a mark that you want upgraded you better have spoken to him/her earlier about the course to befriend the prof. it really works! Using the word because: Using ‘because’ is incredibly powerful in heightening your chance of getting a higher mark. 114 . ask the professor how they are.

Start with the question you believe is the most difficult to win over the prof with first. The same premise can be applied to professors meetings. Salesman will never say “so do you want to buy this product?” Studies have shown that the majority of the time. you’re automatically going to have little problem with the other two. The assuming the sale technique requires internal and external preparation. Do not give them your entire story up front as you are allowing the prof to discount all the questions at the same time. If he/she gives you extra marks. This seems kind of obvious but before going to the meeting take a minute to reinforce the idea that you’re prepared and going to succeed. Before going into the meeting it’s important to believe that you will get what you want. people will say no if you give them the option. You’d be surprised how many times students don’t take this step. You don’t ask a person for their phone number. you ask them your name (99% of the time they give it to you) then you write it down and hand them the page telling them to write their email down. then I’ll lose my scholarship” “If I don’t get a an A in the final I won’t be able to play on the football team next fall” Assuming the Sale: If you’ve ever listened to a great salesman they never ask you a direct question that you can answer no to..“If I don’t hold an A average. you’re right about that one” You: “As you can see I finished the entire equation and only got one section wrong” Prof: “Yes I see that” You: “Great. I thought this would be worth at least 7-8 points” (notice how you give a range so that you’re only giving the prof two options) Prof: “How about I just give you 8 points on that question” Deal with each issue separately: If you want to speak to your prof about three questions that you think you should get a higher mark on. The phone number pick up in chapter two is a perfect example of how you assume the sale. even if they want to product. So. saying something like You: “I found many of the students I spoke to had a problem with this question” Prof: “Ya. deal with each issue separately. If he/she doesn’t give you a higher mark on your first question you have two other questions that are easier to convince 115 .

Again the better you get at it. “Any reason in particular?” “Can you explain to me why this doesn’t deserve a higher mark?” (After the explanation be ready to discount it) This will usually stop about 25% of all no’s. “Prof Jones is only giving us one long answer question for the final exam” “Prof Jones cancelled the final exam because he knew we didn’t have the time to study” “Prof Jones gave me an extra week to finish my paper because he knew I had a lot on my plate. It’s based of a sales technique in the 50’s where neighbours became increasingly competitive to get the next consumer product.” Yes sell: This is a low level form of hypnotization that you can use to get your professor to say yes to things he/she wouldn’t have previously. Most of the time a ‘no’ response is a reflex reaction to a question. It’s used in sales all the time and is built on the premise that if you say yes to a bunch of easy questions (usually 7 is the best number). Salesman would say.the prof of. you could ask questions like: Is the paper due next week? Is that a picture of your daughter? Did you go to school at Yale? Ask any question as long as you know the answer is 116 . Do not just take a ‘no’ as the end of the conversation. Here are some examples of what you can say after the no. the higher your ratios will go up. well your neighbour ‘The Jones’s’ just bought this vacuum cleaner. This one technique helped to convince millions of people to buy worthless junk and it is still just as effective today as it was 50 years ago. Real-estate salesman do this ALL THE TIME. they will always show you the best house at the end of the day after you’ve seen all the terrible ones. You should be ready to figure out exactly why he/she said no. Get rid of the No’s: So what do you do if the professor says no. So for instance. it’s much easier to then say yes to a difficult question. Jonesing: Jonesing is a classic sales technique that has been around for more than 50 years and is still incredibly effective in convincing profs. Try practicing this with friends in discussions as well to refine your own personal technique. Here are some examples you can use.

The idea behind this strategy is to use silence to make the other party nervous. You have to be ready to quit the class if you’re going to try this technique. The silence sell: This technique is best to push a professor or teaching assistant that wants to give you the mark but is apprehensive. it doesn’t bode well for them. I’ve personally tried it three times and it’s worked twice. If you’re interested in going on to a graduate degree. Make it up later sell: This is quite effective if you have already tried all the other techniques. if you’re an active student.‘yes’. I’ve had multiple students try this and I’ve gotten a full grade upgrade from this technique. The options sell is an extreme If/Then statement. 117 . this technique is very important as you want to hold an A average. Most of the time. I have gotten a 15% and 10% jump in my midterm using this technique and another prof called my bluff where I actually dropped his course. Then ask for an extension or a mark upgrade and you automatically will have a better chance at getting a positive response. Options sell: (WARNING) This is somewhat of an extreme technique that I suggest you only try at your own risk. DO NOT SPEAK UNTIL THE PROF SAYS SOMETHING. The reason why this technique is so effective is because the university tracks how many students leave a course and that information goes on professors permanent records. You can ask to supplement your bad mark in a test or paper with writing another paper to either replace or upgrade your low mark. Give this a try with friends first to refine your technique. the prof usually doesn’t want to lose you as they usually love students that answer and pose interesting questions. This can last 30 seconds to a minute. the person with the most options seems to win in negotiation. Here is an example: Prof: “Well I really don’t see what else we can do to move your mark up” You: “Look the prof in the left eye and BE ABSOLUTELY SILENT. Also. If they have a trend of students leaving their classes. If you’re feeling really nervous sing a little song in your head or sing the alphabet. You can usually get 90% of your tuition back from a class if you drop it within the first few months and it is far better to get four A’s than three A’s and two B’s. If I don’t get what I want then I’m going to drop the course.

you should absolutely take it. I suggest you do NOT try this at home as you can get into pretty big trouble but I’m giving you this example to show you the options you have. Most universities do not have any rules against students and TA’s dating but it is privately not encouraged. Be courteous and friendly with a slight undertone of flirtiness or friendship and you will probably help warm the pot for a higher mark. 118 . I can’t believe I’m writing about this stuff! It is a personal choice. if you have the opportunity to become a teaching assistant.Differences between TA’s and Profs Think of teaching assistants as younger more overworked versions of professors. don’t go in and wear a low cut top and start bouncing around the office. The ones that are openly trying to flirt with me I usually give out a lower mark to. Teaching assistants are usually the ones that are marking your tests. It will also show you how tests and papers are put together and marked which is very useful when you have to take tests. It is useful to target the teaching assistant first rather than the professor. I’ve had some students come in and try to seduce me throughout my TA career and I would say I have been somewhat biased with some of them. Let me get this out of the way first. They usually are given more of the heavy work like marking tests and papers. Another option that I have found as a general trend in my interviews is befriending teaching assistants on a personal level. Ask them out for beers with a couple students. test preparation and sometimes lecture preparation. Now girls. But try adding your TA to facebook. got a 10% upgrade on a paper then went to the professor and got another 10%. You can usually be more direct with them and if you fail in convincing the teaching assistant you can always go to the professor. It is by far the best way to implement the rest of the strategies in the book. the ones who are honestly interested in me however I have been somewhat more lenient on. if you feel that what I’m suggesting is a little too far then don’t do it. TA’s will see through this in a minute. They are usually graduate students but sometimes (like in my experience) they can also be undergraduate students. I interviewed a student that went to the TA first. Students who befriend and/or flirt with their TA’s have told me that they usually get a higher mark.

The professor or teaching assistant has already defined you as a ‘good’ student and you will usually get a higher mark.A note on scare tactics Professors and teaching assistants have some scare tactics they use to get students to not come to their office hours for higher marks. If you’ve gone through all the other tactics in this chapter you won’t have any problem with those scare tactics. A popular example is the suggestion that you might get a lower mark if you come to the profs office hours to argue a mark. They are usually implemented about 10% of the time. I have known about 100 teaching assistants and I’ve only known of two incidents where a teaching assistant gave the student a lower mark. Statistically your chances of trying are going to result in a much higher ratio of success then if you didn’t try in the first place. 119 . The vast majority of these are just a bunch of hot air.

Options sell: Higher marks or I go (if then statement) 120 . Assuming the sale Deal with each issue separately Get rid of the No’s Jonesing: Dr Jones is only giving us one long answer for the exam (in passing).So in Review: Methods to convince profs: Before you speak to them: Talk to other people Loosen yourself up Be Prepared How to ask a good question During conversation: Befriending: Have a respectful friendly relationship with prof Mirroring: Move the same way as the prof Get you’re because ready: I need an A because I’m applying to grad school.

Prepare for an exam .Chapter 11: How to Take a Test In this Chapter you will learn how to: .Conquer the different types of tests 121 .

you might want to be as happy and stress free as possible so that you can come up with interesting ideas on how to put the paper together. This chapter is going to concentrate on how you can become better at the art of test taking. Conversely. However. they were more creative in accomplishing tasks. A really interesting experiment by psychologist Alice Isen looked at the difference between focused and creative intelligence 4. So for instance. that has very little to do with the actual method of writing and being marked on a test. However. This ranking process usually has nothing to do with how much somebody has learned or their level of intelligence (so don’t feel bad if you’re no good at tests). Your primary goal should be for you to get an A on the test and the secondary goal is to hope that you learned something during the process. So. I know that sounds incredibly depressing. you have to be good at taking the test. if you’re stressed out and anxious. In a perfect world we could each just learn. Extrapolating from this theory. the harsh reality of society is that we need to rank people. if you were in the beginning research stage of a paper. when you’re happy you do out of the box thinking. has little to do with the art of learning. 122 . I personally believe (and this is backed up through research) that if we removed tests. which ironically. I myself am a learner. this stifles creativity but can focus your mind on a single issue such as writing the paper. Many students who have learned relatively little can do well on tests and other students who know all the material but aren’t good at taking tests do badly. Test preparation Let’s first review the two mental states during tests. students would learn much more than they usually do.Tests are really a horrible way of tracking how much information you have learned. In essence you don’t have to be good at understanding the content. She found that by giving candy to groups of people which made them happy. it’s best to be 4 Here is a great Youtube video reviewing the experiment. I like understanding how things work and thinking critically about how ideas and arguments are put together. when you’re stressed you can achieve a focused goal.

When you’re taking a multiple choice test. that doesn’t require much creativity. 123 . Get your army ready for battle. Thinking outside the box may give you an interesting answer but tests usually don’t want interesting. Don’t just ask fellow students as they can often be wrong. TA’s and students in that order. 5) Email your virtual teaching assistant about the test. Figure out when you should have your notes reviewed. Figure out exactly what you need to study from profs. Your VTA may have some great intel or secondary sources that can make the content easier to understand. They can also make you accountable by keeping you on track with your exam preparation. With creative vs focused mental states in mind here are a few questions you should ask yourself before you take your test. 1) What kind of test are you doing? This is important as some tests require completely different preparation than others (ie creative vs focused mentalities). being stressed can actually be an advantage. Also upperclassmen can give you great intel on whether the professor is really going to have ‘that chapter’ on the test or not. Many tests are simply based on rote memorization and therefore creativity is the enemy. explain your situation and they will usually let you take a look at and photocopy the exams. whether you can cut up the work load etc.happy when taking a long answer question test. when you should meet to review the content. Just go up. this is a good time to make friends with a librarian as well. outlining exactly what the test is going to be on. This is HUGE! Wanna know what the profs tests are like? Most universities keep tests on file at the library. If you think creatively during a multiple choice test your chances of success are probably going to be lower than if you were focused. 3) Go to the library and get last years tests. 2) What content are we being tested on? You’d be surprised how often students study stuff they don’t really need to know for the exam. Very few students know about this. They want correct. 4) Review your plan of attack with your study buddies.

If you’re reviewing your notes before and after class and asking questions on points you don’t understand. This is a waste of your time. or short answers which are worthless to memorize two weeks before the exam. Your three day study schedule can be broken down in three very simple steps. Before I go any further. I cannot stress the three day study schedule enough. All major questions should have been answered by the teaching assistant or preferably the professor. The majority of tests are based on multiple choice. When you code your notes for an exam you are not writing for your 40 year old self. Instead of memorizing. How to code your notes At this point you should have a good collection of course notes that have been reviewed and that you generally understand. you should already have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. three days before the exam.Three days before the exam Most books on exam preparation suggest you start your studying a week to a few weeks in advance. I’m not saying you shouldn’t know anything about your notes up until three days before the exam starts. Most rote memorization only lasts in our mind for three days. When coding notes. When you wrote out your notes you were writing them well enough so that even your 40 year old self could understand them. Day one you should be all about coding your notes. information compression is your primary goal. I’ve tried studying from weeks to hours before an exam and the three day window is by far the most effective method. Plus you should know all the major concepts in the course. In some cases it might depend upon what kind of exam you’re going to do but overall studying should be started at the earliest. it is much better to understand the content holistically before the three day window as this will stick in your head longer. This is your study window for rote memorization. In most of my 124 . In general you should feel confident in the main concepts that the content is trying to communicate. Day two should be your actual study day where you implement your favorite memorization techniques. Day three should be your review and confidence day where you review your material and prepare your mind and body for the coming exam. DO NOT memorize anything outside of the three day window.

Keep in mind that these notes are for my purposes only. Assi seen as negative. In my own experimentation with students. Inter-group rela not defined by conf or needs of sys. One other note. The ability to quickly review and take all your notes in within a few minutes is really important to memory recall. but conflict isn’t neg’d as it may detrm why we act. Eth and Race: 3 soc para’s (Func. (ex: AAG) 3) Sym Int: Indi create meaning in diff soc context within soc struct with sym’s to create meaning.d. Conf. Assi seen as negative. may help/hurt system. each part with function. (Indi’s through sym’s inhabit/evolve social struc) Methods to Remember notes Rote Memorization: The simplest and most basic form or preparation for an exam. You should then be playing it back for yourself over the three days. (ex: parts reinforce or hinder soli) 2) Conf: Struggle central with social class and power central. Sym Int) 1) Func: soc reality system of parts. you are dead wrong. Ethn is part of ones i. So although I can understand them. But do not discount this method as you should always have 125 . Eth groups seen as potential int groups in soc conflict. others may have difficulty. the act of coding notes will cut your recall times down by at least 50%. Based on this coding I’ve turned 22 lines of notes into 9 lines. I suggest you do the same. I have provided you with an example of how I code notes below (I’ve used the lecture notes from chapter 6). the new coded notes are much easier to review and the papers can be taken with you anywhere. Also notice how I bold certain terms so I can passively scan my notes and further increase recall. This is important as you cut out the majority of redundant information in the notes. I would suggest that you record a dictation of your notes with short explanations of the main concepts. Even if you sacrifice a few secondary points keeping the notes short should be your primary concern. if you think that you can get away with not coding your notes. esp at indi level. Assi seen as positive. You simply re-read all the content until you have it memorized.classes I was able to boil down my notes to approximately 2-3 pages. This will maximize both auditory and visual forms of learning styles and can significantly cut your memorization time. Many books suggest other methods to memorize information that I will review later.

boat. Try looking at a collection of points and going over them on the page. toaster. brick. doctor. apple. It is also useful to not memorize your entire notes in order. Our doctor is pretty angry about this so 126 . Quick warning here.this as a backup method to remember things effectively. Try to remember each one in order. A dog is walking through a field and finds an apple which starts talking to him about how his fellow apples are being held hostage on a magic boat. Randomly pick out sections so that you can recall your notes in any order. Dog. Our dog hero uses a flame thrower and sets all the ninja’s on fire. now I want you to go over this story in your minds eye. Mnemonics are very useful for connecting like terms if you need to link random concepts. They go to the boat and the dog is immediately attacked by ninja’s. writing each one down in your minds eye. It is also simpler to remember a mnemonic device rather than directly memorize everything that is within it. Mnemonics: Mnemonics is a way to link a collection of connected terms together into a compressed piece of information. fire. ninja. For instance KISS is a perfect mnemonic device for Keep It Simple Stupid. You can open up the device during the exam and work out all the components. kinesthetic/active learners and is useful to remember information that doesn’t have an obvious logical order. The ships doctor comes in to help the ninja’s burns but is all of a sudden hit in the head with a brick by more ninja’s. Let me take you through a quick picture linking exercise. flower Ok. Picture linking: This method links pictures in your mind together through a mental rehearsal or ‘play in your mind. don’t just remember the mnemonic device and trust that you’ll remember the components during the exam. I suggest you make cue cards from your coded notes for this exact purpose.’ It is usually used by people that are good visual. Now. Look at these words for 30 seconds then look away and try to remember them. put your hand over the content and recreate the same points in your mind.

Integration: Each group exchanges cultural aspects (I take my two hands and interlock my fingers) Normative Pluralism: Each group does not share their culture but live in the same community (Two fists side by side) Division: The two groups are divided from each other. not exchanging culture and not living in the same community (Two fists apart from each other) Assimilation: The dominant group forces their culture on the minority group (One hand covers a fist) You kind of look a little stupid during exams but it works like a charm.grabs his trusty toaster and beats up the remaining ninja’s. doctor and apple place flowers on the dead ninja’s and live happily ever after. by coming to the session you are statistically giving yourself a better chance at getting a higher mark. It is very useful if you are an active learner. An example I’ve remembered for years is the four different types of minority group vs majority group relationships. if there isn’t one offered ask your TA to put one together. I’ve used this method to memorize everything from very complex sociological theories to numbers. Each bolded word should be the central part of each scene. The session is usually offered a few days before the exam. trick your mind to create links between random pieces of information. Although their might have been a selector bias (only good students came to the session). You’re hard wiring your physical body to mental concepts and I have found it very useful in long term recall. The more extreme the story is the better. The dog. In preparation for this book I performed a quantitative analysis of student’s marks and found that students who attended my session had a 10% higher overall average on the exam than students who hadn’t. You in essence. Kinesthetic memorization: This is where you literally connect movements of your body with concepts. it forces your mind to remember all the components in an interesting way. Before your exam Go to an exam prep session if it is offered: I have given over a dozen of these sessions and they are the most useful way to understand what content is being presented. 127 .

If you run out of chocolate you will crash which will undo the cramming. sit down and take five minutes visualizing yourself successfully and confidently handing in a test that is absolutely perfect. and it works. Try eating some chocolate every half hour to hour as this will keep you on a quasi sugar high. I’ve had the pleasure of being taken through this process with a few Olympic athletes and it allows you to do amazing things. I think dark is the best as I can hold myself back from eating buckets of it. Never study till the last minute: This is really important as this is only going to make you feel less confident. if for some reason you haven’t taken any of my advice up until this point and the exam is tomorrow and you’re going to cram till three oclock in the morning for an 8 oclock exam it’s actually better to only sleep for 15 minutes instead of a few hours. One thing I will officially recommend for cramming is chocolate. Trick your mind 10 minutes before the exam starts that you’re completely ready for the exam and that you’re going to get an A. As I discussed earlier in the book. Keep your cool. make sure you have enough to make it through the night and exam with plenty of water. Now. Don’t go for the reboot and just take a quick cat nap. yep I said chocolate. They actually time they’re visualizations as well. trick your mind into being confident. visualizing a 10 second 100 meter sprint in 10 seconds. Meditation/Visualization: Many Olympic athletes use meditation right before they go out to compete.Be satisfied with your studying: You must be confident in your studying as this will be the most important determinant of whether you will be successful in the exam. Don’t mentally 128 . There is quite a bit of research on why this works but it’s more or less linked to stages of sleep and how longer sleeping periods requires a reboot of your brain when you wake up. These athletes get in a comfortable state of mind and visualize themselves completing the perfect dive or the perfect run. Get a good night sleep: This means 8 hours for most of us. Visualize success and it will literally happen. It’s called positive reinforcement. Your brain will work much slower if you don’t get 8 hours of sleep if you are below the age of 30. The same concept can be applied to taking an exam. The caffeine nap is another popular option you can try which I’ve included in the blog as I’m not going to officially recommend that in the book.

Multiple Choice: Multiple choice questions are usually the most popular kind of questions in first year courses for a few reasons. I’d time yourself on your next exam so that you can get a general estimate of your test writing speed. it is very difficult to get a perfect mark on multiple choice tests as you must 129 . You may also be tired from writing for the past two hours and not be paying attention to how the question is worded. However. The majority of questions on M/C’s are not made by the professor or TA’s but come from the teacher copy of the textbook which comes with a database of 1000-2000 questions.sabotage yourself by allowing negative thoughts into your mind. get away from them immediately. an outline will actually save you much more time and get you a better answer. Types of tests Long Answer Questions: A longer review of long answer questions will be covered in the next chapter on essay writing as they are in essence the same thing. But. If you are talking to students who are trying to sabotage themselves through negative reinforcement. .Figure out how long you have to apply to your essay question: You can usually write down a single page in 10 minutes. They require no marking as they are run through scantrons which do all the marking for the prof. Fortunately for you. Pay special attention to adverbs and descriptors within the question as they can completely change the question.Write out an outline: Although it appears as if this will waste time.Read the Question: Some professors will try to trick you in the way the question is put together. There are some tips that I can give you right now that specifically relate to essay type questions. there thoughts can easily infect your mindset. They are easy to put together as you can easily come up with 50-60 M/C’s in two to three hours. . Read the question over and ask exactly what is being asked of you. . multiple choice questions don’t require you to learn any of the content in a significant way to get a high mark. Always look over your material. Have a scratch sheet available at all times so that you can quickly write down what you want to say. including mnemonic devices so that you can expand them on the page. Give yourself adequate time plus five minutes to review the material.

One answer has nothing to do with the question . Here are a couple ways profs usually cover their butts on these types of questions. 130 . I can usually cut this down to two questions and make an educated guess which I have a 50/50 shot at. It sucks. 120(minutes)/90(questions) = 1. Remove 20 percent of that time and that should be your average time per question ratio.hold your focus through the entire exam. Some profs are worse than lawyers using terms like “circle the answer that is the most correct” which is a way to cover their butts if one of the M/C’s are incorrect. Statistically the chance of you making a mistake in many M/C questions is higher than a few longer form questions. Keeping that in mind there are specific methods you can use to completely obliterate the M/C exam.06(minutes per question) This will give you one minute and six second for each question with approximately 25 minutes to review questions afterwards. For instance. Make sure to read the beginning of the test very carefully.3(minutes) – 20% = 1. but you can usually break them down if you come in prepared to argue. You should be figuring out how many questions you have and divide them by the amount of time you have for the exam. I’ve had tones of students come in to argue questions I knew were correct but my boss told me NOT give in.One answer is the right one . if you have 90 questions to complete in 2 hours the equation would look something like this.One answer is loosely related Usually your first insight is correct 80% of the time. so I didn’t. they can just make a qualitative call. It is important if you are still not sure about the answer to * the question for later review. The questions themselves usually have four to five options that follow this kind of general outline. When you first look at the question note which one jumps out at you first. .One answer is close . What about the other 20% of the questions? Those questions can usually be answered through a process of elimination. It’s also easier to argue long form questions. this is usually the right answer.

one question could be “which one of these people were central to world war one” I could reword it to mean something completely different by saying “which one of these people were not central to world war one”.Many questions will have the statement “As defined in class. A and D relate to Marxist ideals and would be a great answer but in reality C is the right answer which seems like the stupidest answer when you first read through it. You can usually argue out of these questions if you can prove there is a discrepancy. it was Marx.Opinion questions are really horrible as there can be a few correct answers (which is where the whole ‘most correct’ questioning comes from). for instance if I were to pose a question such as: Why did Adam Smith famously state that “The workers of all lands should unite”? A) Because he believed historical materialism was the only way for the people to gain their independence. B) Because he believed capitalism was the greatest option for social solidarity. or as defined in the readings” This is there so that if lectures and readings contradict each other they can cover themselves by returning to the source they used. . B relates to Adam Smith but he did not make the statement in the initial question.. . As an example. especially if you have evidence to back up your claim.Questions will sometimes switch between choosing the correct or incorrect answer to confuse the student. Keep your eyes open for these as they trick many students. C) I don’t think he did D) Because he believed a revolutionary moment was inevitable. 131 . These are ridiculous questions but fortunately you can usually argue them.Some questions are half right and half wrong. . Here is an example: If two coworkers have a disagreement between each other and come to you for advice should you: A) Go to your supervisor B) Tell your coworkers to go to your supervisor C) Do nothing. This is especially frustrating if you’re quickly reading the questions and miss the ‘not’. it’s not your problem D) Deal with the problem yourself Each answer is based on personal preference.

. There are sometimes mismatched amounts of terms in the two groups. Equation questions: These are questions where you are given the answer to a question and are then given a collection of possible equations that will get you the needed answer. burglary. True/False Questions: True false questions follow the same logic as multiple choice questions and are usually easier to answer. The best strategy is to use intuition first. so it becomes difficult if most of the answers do not automatically present themselves through intuition. These types of questions are horrible for people that think creatively as they rarely use the ‘prescribed’ methods to come to a conclusion. The answer was quite obviously C but professors can make these questions much less obvious which again makes them very difficult to quickly answer. I’ve found that students usually use the system of elimination when they do not get the answer through intuition. assault. and other street crimes.Comparison questions are where two separate issues are presented to the student and you are asked as to whether A is (like/compares/does not compare) to B. white collar crime costs about: A) One-tenth as much B) Half as much C) 88 times as much D) 14 times as much That answer had never particularly been given to the students. Try to figure out what methods will not work to get the answer and then discount those possible answers. Statistically you can always get at least 50% on true false questions so your rate of success on these questions should be significantly higher than multiple choice questions. They are particularly tricky as they require you to think on the fly and make judgment calls. Matching Questions: Matching questions are usually found in first year classes and mostly found in the arts or humanities. Here is an example from a test I gave: Compared to the cost of robbery. You will usually only end up with one or two possible answers. Two groups of words or terms are presented and your job is to connect each term in the first group to a term in the second. go back through the list and use the process of elimination to get the remaining terms. 132 .

Usually if your logic is good you’ll come up with the right answer or you’ll be able to argue the point later.Fill in the Blanks: These types of questions are found rarely in university but students have told me they have found them in history and language exams so I’ll go over them really quickly. If the fill in the blanks are linked in a paragraph this should help you answer the other questions that you passed over. Ask yourself what the sentence is about and what it logically could be. Remember that the exam has almost nothing to do with your learning. NOT at exam time. Final notes on tests If there is a single point I need to hammer into your head it’s that 90% of the tests you will take in university have nothing to do with creative knowledge. You probably won’t encounter any questions that require creativity until your last year of your undergrad or graduate school. Learning content should be done during the semester. Take a look at the questions that are being posed and try to answer as many as you can through intuition. 133 . Ironically if you answer a question creatively it will usually result in you getting a lower mark than if you just answered it legitimately in the first place. therefore the goal is not to learn the content but to get an A.

Matching .Equations . learning is secondary.Day one.True False .So to Review Test Preparation: (Code your notes. Use your favorite study methods to get all the info in your head . 134 .Multiple Choice .Day three. Code your notes and make an audio tape .Long Answer questions . Reinforce and get confidence Types of test: (Review each question type you think you’re going to encounter) . reinforce) .Day two. memorize.Fill in the Blank Remember: The goal is to get an A.

How to read and code an article .How to create an academic database .How to use the critical thinking writing method 135 .Chapter 12: How to Write an A Paper In this chapter you will learn how to: .

Wallerstein and Huntington: Globalized Avatar and Identity Dialectic In recent years the debate over how world politics and globalization should shape their ideology of the world community in the guise of international terrorism. Brainstorming: The most important stage of your paper. I want you to take a look at a paper that I wrote for a third year course. I went from hating to loving paper writing once I learned how to break down the fundamental aspects of what a paper is. Editing: A crucial stage that many students don’t give the proper attention to and can seriously affect the quality of your paper. I’ve left all the mistakes intact to show you that even with the following paper you can still get an A+.The four stages of any paper Whether you’re in physics or English literature. Another 136 . realistically there are only four major components to each paper. One side lead by Immanuel Wallerstein sees globalization as a long term process of capitalist appropriation of the weak and at the same time a reinforcement of the strong. culture and other global issues has been at the forefront of the social consciousness both for society at large and in relation to individual identity. I initially got a 95% on the paper and later argued it up to 100%. I’m going to be using this essay as an example throughout this chapter so passively read over the essay to pick up the main points. Research: The first stage of any paper and the stage that sets the tone for the rest of your assignment. If you don’t have good ideas you’re not going to be able to accomplish much of anything. Before we get into the steps. everyone has to write at least a few papers in university. Writing: This is the meat and potatoes of the entire process but probably only consists of about 10-20% of the actual work for the paper. Although most papers look foreboding. Barber. consumerism. In this debate we have found that there are major disagreements as to how society ‘particularly western society’ should react to and impact the issues globalization and identity. the next highest paper in the class of 130 was an 85%.

87) In the same breath Wallerstein also sees particularisms as the response to universalisms.84) On top of this process he also sees separate ideologies of the interstate system which he calls universalisms. polarizing system. What is important to understand is that although there are various universalisms in play throughout the world stage each is seen as an absolute by the people who follow it. to the degree that they can. Therefore. To further define the previous statement that appropriation and enculturation both impact society and individual identity we must look at Benjamin Barber’s Jihad vs McWorld which sees society in much the same way. The forces of McWorld wish to construct a single unified concept of society. by using Huntington and Wallerstein as the forces of mechanical and organic ideology framed through Barber’s concept of Jihad and McWorld we will hope to understand the crucial aspect of individual identity in globalization which is not given enough attention in all three articles.” (Wallerstein p. Barber states that two forces are currently working in global society. (Wallerstein p. One can argue that Wallerstein’s concept of global society is not necessarily negative but arguably pessimistic coming from a Marxian perspective. Barber in Jihad vs McWorld provides an excellent frame to understand how these two forces work against each other on the macro scale but does not provide an adequate micro analysis which is central to understanding the dichotomy between society and the individual. humanist scientific and imperialist. whose political structure is that of an interstate system in which some states are manifestly stronger than others. Conversely. We will begin by looking at the main usable components of each theory: Wallerstien’s concept of universalities and particularisms on the basis of classic worlds system theory provides an excellent basis to understand the homogenizing aspects of global identity. Both Wallerstein and Huntington have merit. Looking at these three concepts of globalization and the individual we can see many similarities within the three views. Huntington’s concept of religiocultural division provides an excellent basis for understanding the de-fragmenting aspects of global identity. politics or civil society but on the fault lines of cultural religious/national ideology. however in reality both capitalist appropriation and cultural shifts both impacts global society and succinctly individuals’ identity. Each individual view has a component of global identity but no one theory adequately produces the concept so the purpose of this paper will be to combine all three views to conceptualize a complete theory of global identity. both concepts produce a macro/micro concept of how society and the individual is shaped and counter-shaped by globalization.side led by Samuel Huntington sees globalization as a system poised to force civilizations into a ‘clash’ not based on economics. succinctly the particularisms which clash within this system do act on the individual to a 137 . In furtherance of the process of the endless accumulation of capital. the major ones being religious. unequal. stronger states are constantly imposing on weaker states their will. In his work “Cultures in Conflict. Who we are? Who are the Others?” Wallerstein sees the global society through the eyes of world systems theory which sees globalization as “a hierarchical. Together. the forces of Jihad wish to deconstruct McWorld and revolt against its imposed singular view through mechanical systems of domination such as religious or tribalistic ideologies.

history. Huntington sees this clash happening at two distinct levels: At the micro level he sees violent clashes on the fault lines of civilizations like Israel and the Middle East. and the E.176) Before continuing we must look at Huntington’s argument in the contemporary context comparatively to the early 90’s when this article was first published. at a macro 138 . However. civilizations which are “groups of nations sharing the same language.175) will inevitably clash on the geographic fault lines where contrasting cultures come into contact. p. Protestants and Catholics in Ireland are producing one of the most peaceful and profitable countries in the world.U. The central critique of Huntington’s argument is primarily that cultural civilizations exist but that this produces micro level conflicts where the two civilizations come into contact. if one looks at civilizations in society closely we possibly find a very different story.T. Also one can see tensions between India and Pakistan ‘Hindu’s and Muslism’s’ South America and the United States etc. Other civilizations that Huntington defines as ideologically apposed get along very well together or have recently settled their differences since Huntington’s publication. Although. India and South Asia “Hindu’s and Buddhists” are producing supply chains along with China to produce the greatest export industry the world has ever seen.F. Therefore.point but are only shaped in relation to universalisms. An example of this phenomenon would be the universalism of religion being particularized by contemporary new age religion such as Raelian. Another example of this concept would be Canadian culture being created in relation to Western and more specifically American culture. there are some fascist backlashes against these unifications on a micro level. The classic argument to confirm Huntington’s thesis is Islamic tensions due to Israel which is backed primarily by the United States or Judeo-Christian ideology. Finally. This is not simply an issue of dialects but more importantly new age religion and Canadian culture is a product of Catholicism and American domination which exists simply to redefine the individual rather then truly assimilate him/her as apposed to Wallerstein who sees particularisms as possible safe havens of identity.A. Due to this difference which Huntington believes is the base for conflict. religion customs. Russians and Chinese are creating a trading block that may rival N. self identification…” (Huntington. Also there is a clash at the macro level through states competing for economic and military power to promote their own civilizations cultural values.A. looking at the issue nationally. Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” looks at cultural division rather then economic or political division of groups of nations that have a culturally different way of looking at the world primarily based on religion. These religions are only a response to universalism and cannot exist without its religion of context ‘in the west being Catholicism’. p. Western Budhism and other religious movements. (Huntington. Scientology. Canada has produced the most diverse religious nation in the world today and possibly throughout history with arguably some of the lowest rates of sectarian violence in the world as well. the model of universalisms and particularisms are a perfect way to understand how the individual’s identity is shaped by universalisms and reshaped by what appears to be particularisms but in actuality a response to universalisms and therefore another form of universalisms homogenizing tendencies.

or where Huntington suggests possible tactics for all societies to reinforce their own culture but instead on how the west can combat these civilizations and remain the dominant power in global society ‘the west vs the rest doctrine’. if there are so many examples where Huntington’s thesis fails then why is this view at the forefront of the political sphere and is being implemented throughout the world?.level. whether it is 139 . by producing facts to appear as material reality one can produce a real material reality from a social construct. In looking at Barber’s “Jihad vs McWorld” we see what is arguably the most ‘correct’ concept of global identity in comparison to Huntington and Wallerstein. Number two. all these societies are working together in relative harmony in their singular desire for capitalist greed resulting in inevitable cultural and ideological exchange. not enough attention is placed on the individual identity of the consumer of the product. the forces of McWorld and the forces of Jihad. “This struggle has been called a clash of civilizations…We are fighting to maintain the way of life enjoyed by free nations. This fact of the matter is embraced by both sides because it reinforces both parties by creating a global identity of fear in the individual in relation to the world giving both sides a mechanical grasp on its people. meso and micro levels. this further reinforces western ideology to alienate the west from other cultures. Barber sees global conflict stemming from two major forces. We must now ask the question. Looking at contemporary politics we find that Huntington’s views have become dominant primarily among the right. Simply put.S. This produces two large problems for the article. McWorld is seen as a macro process affecting the society and succinctly the individual. An example of this would be McDonalds coffee vs fair trade coffee. in conflict to this process Jihad is built on the micro level but produces conflict that is macro in scope. The only major aspect that Barber is missing in Jihad vs McWorld is how this dialectic affects the individual. Number one. Therefore. Although McDonalds goes from macro to micro and fair trade coffee started at micro and now goes to macro. To answer this question we must look at the second major section of Huntington’s work which is based not on how civilizations can end their differences and come together or on a relativistic basis.’ politics implements Huntington we can look at Myra Hird’s concept of ‘Fact of the Matter’. it produces a view that cannot be adopted by anyone who does not define themselves as belonging to the Western civilization. 9/11/06) In understanding why right wing ‘particularly U.” (Bush presidential address. Therefore. by producing the perception that the west is in conflict with the Muslim world rather then simply being in conflict with extremism one can create the reality that the Muslim world is in conflict with the West and ironically not only the west but the Muslim world embrace this ideology and make it a reality. Huntington’s Clash of civilizations creates a stage for the deconstruction of global society through reproducing cultural conditions to appear material which succinctly allows individual identity to be shaped on a mechanical basis and impact social reality to combat ‘the other’ on macro. The two forces of homogenization and upheaval work in dialectic to continually construct and deconstruct global society. Primarily Barber looks at the forces of Jihad and McWorld as a macro process that can affect change from the societal level to the individual level but he sees this process as a one way process and not stemming from the individual.

producing through the fact of matter a global identity of fear. Huntington being the ideal type for Jihad and Wallerstein being the ideal type for McWorld in the global typology construct. If the debate can be simplified. politics. oppression and revolt. This is where the implementation of Huntington and Wallerstein are crucial. we can define Wallerstein’s world system theory as the forces of McWorld that wish to impose a singular concept of universal truth throughout the world ‘whatever that may be’. the family self’ disconnected from the individual that helps to keep the individual safe from being completely dominated by the forces of Jihad or McWorld. the two actions are counterproductive and hypocritical of each other but are necessary to both try to change the world while still living within it. In reality the individual is not only central but is the basis on which global society is shaped and can change the reality dependent on what we will call the identity dialectic and the globalized avatar. All three articles are missing. the academic self. In doing this we create a Hobson’s choice. we can define Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations as the forces of Jihad. Creating a new model based on the three reviewed articles we can use the frame of Barber’s Jihad vs McWorld to conceptualize the two major forces that shape our world today. It is the individual conflict between organic and mechanical solidarity or the conflict between what we should do and what we want to do. All three authors see the world in context of society imposing its views upon the individual. On top of the identity dialectic there is also the production of the globalized avatar as a result of individuals finding the medium between Jihad and McWorld. whether it is through simplifying people as citizens. a secular institution and a fundamentalist religion are counterproductive to each other but in relation to the individual the student must attend school to gain secure employment but in doing this he/she is exposed to concepts alien and possibly destructive to religion. that being the ability of the individual to shape society in relation to their own identity which will be discussed in the following section. Again. This produces a conceptualization of macro/micro identity much like Huntington’s ‘west vs the rest’ perspective on society where one is defined by the society they live in rather then their own actions/identity. A more subtle example can be a student attending university and at the same time being a fundamentalist Christian or Muslim. religious/nationalist/cultural pawns or choosing simplified universalities. or overlook a crucial aspect of the debate over global society. An example of this may be 140 . we can choose whatever universal concept of reality as long as we make a choice rather then instead choosing not to choose (Barber. religion or any other global issue or object. consumers.222). The globalized avatar is a representation of the false self enacting primarily in McWorld but also in Jihad as well. p. The identity dialectic quite simply is the conflict between homogenization and creativity. A blatant example would be an individual working at McDonalds knowing that this adds to homogenization of society but on the other hand protesting against the world trade centre. As Barber states Jihad “Identifies the self by contrasting it with an alien “other” and makes politics an exercise in exclusion and resentment… creating a world where belonging is more important then empowerment” (Barber p.coffee. It is a production of the self ‘a version of ones identity that is used in various spheres such as the business self.220) Conversely. nationalism and cosmopolitanism etc.

Furthermore. Huntington and Barber have a good grasp of the macro concepts of identity but lack the micro concepts of identity. more importantly then that it is reinforcing ones digital avatar in the south. For instance. Wallerstein. We must be able to create the identity dialectic and the globalized avatar to protect our true self and to produce counter identities to combat global hegemony from the bottom up not just for ourselves but for the rest of humanity. 141 . ones globalized avatar can also allow for the self to enjoy dialectically apposed concepts. Also. This is true to a point. When an individual purchases a product from the southern world it is not simply just a purchase.the McDonalds employee and the protestor. when choosing a single way of thinking regardless of relativity one is again creating an avatar that gives that movement force. globalization can shape one’s identity but we can create a counter movement by taking control of our secondary selves and forcing these avatars into acting between the extremes of Jihad Vs McWorld. The major problem occurring in society today is the feeling that the individual is powerless in society and globalization is free to shape our identity. Instead the power is handed over by the individuals global avatars. wearing a Che Guevra shirt that is manufactured using southern labour allows for the protestor self to make a statement and the consumer self to follow the logic of free market capitalism. however. most people are unaware of the impacts of their global avatar on the world. products and ideologies at the same time. Furthermore. it is possible… and more importantly it is going to become crucial as globalization increases its ability to shape individual identity. Although micro identities can impact that of the macro identity in globalization one must also state that a bottom up process is arguably a much more complex and harder to reinforce then a top down process of identity. Both are constructs that are due to globalization but both cannot exist within the same person at the same time so they are able to present themselves only in the right times and the right places. Through using the concepts of the identity dialectic and the globalized avatar we can produce a system of global identity that does not simply look at how society impacts individual identity but also how the individual identity can impact global society. reinforcing religious politics that gives politicians the social capital to enact policy that is in no way religious and protesting against working conditions forcing corporations to go to less developed markets where labour laws are more lax are all examples of the globalized avatar. The final aspect of the global avatar is that large actions like McWorld and their dialectic relation of Jihad are not just a macro action which is imposed by large corporations or religious zealots. For instance making tax contributions used for military pre-emption. investing in corporations that impose harsh labour laws on southern countries.

they will only be able to point you in the right direction and possible suggest a few general readings. You start with 5 random articles on the subject you’re interested in and figure out what the most popular sources are. a five page paper should probably only need a handful of sources to get a good idea of the subject matter. One of the most destructive things you can do to your paper is researching too much content and/or researching the wrong content. I’m going to suggest a few methods for research that you can use to hopefully concentrate your time and effort. Discard articles that are only mentioned once 142 . They will be able to collate the appropriate material for you in a fraction of the time that it will take you. If you don’t have a VTA: If you don’t have a VTA you can take a look at professors. they will not do research for you. Here is another counterintuitive point I want to make so write this down. By outsourcing research to your VTA you can cut your research time down by at least 75%. if your writing a PhD thesis you should know pretty much everything about your subject. the amount of research you should be doing changes based on what kind of paper your writing. teaching assistants and study buddies as resources. So what is the appropriate amount of research? Well there are a few schools of thought on that. Your VTA: Your virtual teaching assistant should be your first stop for help on researching your paper. the first step to any paper is an appropriate and selective amount of research. However. each of which has their own logic.Research Stage I have spoken to dozens of students in preparation for this book and have personally gone over thousands of papers. For instance. They have been trained in exactly this task and are an invaluable resource. They will also be able to point you in the right direction for further research. in comparison. The meta sourcing method: If you have to do your own research the best method I have found is what I’ll call the ‘meta sourcing method’. Fundamentally.

Don’t waste your time reading an article unless it is central to your field of study or paper. Endnote is a program you can install on your word processor that takes article you download and records all the reference material along with a pdf of the article. There are a collection of products out there and I have found Endnote to be the best and most effective. When you come to a section of the paper where you want to reference the article you simply click on the insert citation button. I have my main endnote database set up with all my undergraduate and graduate notes with all the fundamental books and articles I need for sociological research. You can see how a program like this can simplify your life. endnote just doesn’t stop at articles. You can also check for articles that provide an annotated bibliography which are an excellent resource to stop mindlessly walking through the forest of academia. Since I have written all my notes down on the computer and have scanned all my books I have my own personal library at my fingertips. You need to create a quick to understand précis that your 40 year old self can go back to. Most university libraries will give you this program absolutely free for your personal computer! Here is a quick run down of exactly what the program does. Your VTA will preferably be working in endnote when transferring you articles so I suggest you install the program within the next few days and review the main commands in their attached instructional booklet.or twice and you’re usually left with 5-10 articles that you can concentrate on. everything will be programmed into your endnote! Coding Articles: Coding articles is the second crucial part of paper writing. by third year you won’t have to pick up another book again. Also. If you start in your first year. The vast majority of students have no idea that there is a vast collection of data basing programs for academic papers. Data basing articles: This is the most important step for long term success in paper writing. The goal is to create a great network of articles for you to constantly work from. I’ve included a form that I use for breaking down 143 . the program can database any book or set of notes you want. Any student can use these to completely remove the sourcing and bibliographies from any paper. choose your sources and the source is placed in any format you want along with a full bibliographic reference at the end of your paper.

articles and I suggest you use it to break down any academic work. Ask the professors permission to write something on a different subject from the assigned paper. In my experience this is the be all and end all of brainstorming methods. If you’d like to learn more about these methods I suggest you check out Critical Thinking: A Concise Guide or 144 . The prof sees that you’re taking initiative in what you’re doing. This can automatically set you up for a good mark for a few reasons. If you’re enthusiastic about the subject matter you usually will always get to go ahead with your own project. Critical Thinking: Critical thinking is the ability to reason about a problem or issue and mount a reasoned argument for your point-of-view and the conclusions you come too. Pull every piece of information you can out of them so that you know exactly what the prof wants in the paper (many students skip this step as a rookie mistake and end up writing papers that don’t relate to the assignment). When you have completed each précis I want you to attach it to your endnote network. Since you’re choosing your own subject you’ll be more interested in it and it will hopefully relate to work you’ve already done. First step is to get out the syllabus and talk to the professor and TA’s about what they want. Brainstorming Stage The most important stage of your paper is trying to figure out exactly what you’re going to say. I’ve put together a step by step guide that will simplify the process. it’s an incredibly rare occurrence. a quick version of this critical thinking exercise should be used before starting research. Now here is something that is a little counter-intuitive but always works. It is the process by which you can think your way through your paper prior to actually writing the paper. I’ve personally never been denied by a prof and based on my interviews. Without a clear vision of what the papers about you’re going to constantly tweak your papers construction taking twice as long to finish. This only increases the speed in which you can create and analyze sources as now you only have to take a look at the précis instead of the entire article. Even though I put research as the first step. Many books on this subject are pretty complicated which has stopped critical thinking from becoming useful to the average student.

mutually compatible and possibly identical cultural identities or whether globalization is producing antagonistic dichotomies. Question four: What information do I need to solve this problem? This is somewhat simple but a crucial question to ask. I wrote this up at the top of my outline. Question one: What is being asked of me? Some papers will be asking you to answer a question or to address an issue. You are not looking for a thesis statement. Figuring out this problem led me to realize that I didn’t have to choose whether globalization was making us the same or different but was actually making us both same and different at the same time. This is important because it allows you to get to the core issue being discussed. So for my paper I came to the conclusion that I needed two pieces of information. Although this seems kind of redundant it’s actually a huge breakthrough. I needed to find evidence on whether globalization was making us all the same. Question two: What exactly is the problem? Each paper has a problem that it must engage. The globalization paper’s problem is that we don’t know if our identities are coming together or becoming different. I also needed to find evidence on whether neither of these things were happening 145 .check out the official website for critical thinking here. The assignment was asking me to identify where I stood on globalization and how it impacted and shaped collective identities. I needed to find evidence on whether globalization was making us different. Question three: How can I simplify this problem? The next step is to take the problem and break it down to its simplest form. I was to answer whether globalization is creating a collective. Specifically. Unless you are given completely free reign to answer an essay question this should be the first question you ask yourself. Let’s use my paper on globalized identity as a model. further differentiating collective identities. Whenever I got lost this would bring me right back to the focus of my paper. You are instead asking yourself what this paper is going to address and investigate. The problem for my globalization paper was that we didn’t know whether globalization was moving collective identities towards a single globalized culture or further dividing us up into multiple identities.

this shows that. therefore. Write down why you believe or don’t believe what the author is saying. You can usually quickly decide on whether you believe or disbelieve the author’s conclusion based on their premise. Question six: Based on the author’s evidence. provided that. provided. if' only. Through using my ‘meta sourcing method’ I boiled this down to three central articles. The special generative words that works well for premises are if. Why do I hate dogs? If each dog I meet bites me. Immanuel Wallerstein “Cultures in Conflict. consequently. take each article that you are going to use as an authoritative defense of your position in your paper and write out the author’s main premises and their conclusion. A premise is the general statement of truth or proposition that an author gives to base his conclusion upon. To really get at the truth of an author’s views and conclusion it is 146 . As an example if you believe that each dog I’ve ever met has bitten me then your either incredibly naïve or dumb as bricks. Anytime you see the special generative words such as therefore. So in your paper. Some of these words generate premises. Now I want you to break down the actual conclusion and ask whether it is valid. Who we are? Who are the Others? Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” Benjamin Barber’s “Jihad and McWorld in the New World Disorder” Question five: How do the authors come to their conclusions? You should boil down each premise to its absolute conclusion. if it is true that ever dog I have met did bite me then it would be reasonable for me to hate dogs. as such. because. Here is one as an example: Dogs hate me. a premise formula could be established with the two generative words if and then. look at the statement before the connecting word or phrase and you should find the premise followed by the conclusion. do you believe their conclusions? Question five asked you to find out what was the author’s reasons for coming to his conclusions. For the conclusions just finish this sentence (This is true because…). I suggest etc. However. In other words it is highly unlikely that every dog I have met has bitten me and therefore it is highly unlikely that I hate dogs because they bite me (I may hate dogs for other reasons but those reasons have not been stated). thus. then. others generate conclusions. then I will hate dogs. In fact.or a combination of the two. only.

Remember to work through these questions before writing your outline. Question nine: Are there alternate ways to come to the same conclusions? If there are other ways to come to the same conclusions as the author. In other words an author’s truth’s (premises) and therefore the conclusions can be questioned for their validity. In my globalization paper I asked what the implications for a homogenized singular culture and a multifaceted set of different cultural identities would be. It is instead a way to get to the core problems that your paper will address and the evidence that you are going to present. A possible bias of his argument is that he is a staunch conservative and this article was central to the Bush administrations policies of international diplomacy. You can use them to reformulate your papers argument to integrate or improve the author’s arguments into your own. Question eight: What are the implications if the author’s conclusions are correct/incorrect? This is an important question because it will allow you to explore each author’s argument to its logical conclusion. investigate them. As an example Samuel Huntington in his article “Clash of Civilizations” sees culture homogenizing into civilizations that will inevitably lead to ‘clashes’ and that the western civilization should suppress this inevitability as long as possible to retain dominance over the world. In my paper this led me to come up with the concept of the globalized avatar which my professor loved. At this stage you should have more than enough information to write as much as you would like. Critical thinking is not an essay outline. Question seven: Are there any hidden bias or assumptions in the authors argument? This question tries to figure out where the author’s coming from. Only when you have this information can you put together an effective outline. 147 . You should also have information that your professor will think is ingenious.helpful to know something about the subject and to be able to reason about how likely the statements are to be true. There are usually a few biases or assumptions for each argument that can be found in the premises that are untrue or lack sufficient evidence to support the conclusions.

and your point of view. This may seem obvious but from my experience with marking thousands of essays. your own sources. I presume that you have written a paper before so I’ll skip the breakdown of the three issue thesis paper as any high school has already taught you that. 150 essays have to be finished by tonight and your TA is on 113 which just happens to be yours. Writing an Outline: Once you finish your critical thinking exercise you should put together a solid outline. Your outline will be your main thesis statement and the points you will take to support your statement.Writing Stage If you have properly followed stages one and two. first he/she is going to look at your title page. I’m going to use a sociological term ‘verstehen’ to explain the first step. Use the critical thinking exercise to guide your outline and it should be very simple to put together. Put down the main ideas and their supporting evidence. 148 . you should have absolutely no problem with the writing of the paper. but complex in terms of ideas. Therefore your success depends on convincing the reader that your paper is worth an A. many students fail this first simple step. The writing stage like the brainstorming stage can be mechanized into a few key concepts to make your paper A worthy. Take a minute and think about what he/she is going to look at first -Ok. One trend that I found in interviewing newly successful students paper strategies was that they made their papers incredibly easy to understand in terms of diction. Ease of Understanding: Making your paper easy to understand is deceivingly easy. What most of those high school teachers failed to teach you was that a paper is completely qualitative. Verstehen is a tool sociologists use to try to understand and interpret how people act in society by imagining how their subject acts. So let’s use verstehen to take a look at your average teaching assistant while he/she is marking a paper. A few marks will be taken off for form errors like the class name being misspelled or the date put down in an improper format. So it’s probably 2am. You’re coming up with your own subject.

properly sourced and unimaginative paper will beat the overcomplicated. -Your TA will then take a look at the marking key and approximate what you should be getting. -They then look at what evidence you’re going to use to support your thesis statement and underline each one so they can go back to it if they forget it (remember its 2am and he/she has been working for 9 hours). Congratulations you are officially ordinary even though you potentially had A+ ideas. which unfortunately for you since you screwed up on the fundamentals is a B-. they will usually ‘passive read’ the first page until they find a thesis statement. The content of your paper is not as important as its context. If your bibliography is not according to the prescribed format you lose massive marks. They have amazing ideas but since they can’t communicate them onto the page they are doomed to failure. -Any large style. I’ve sat in 149 . -Sourcing incorrectly has lost you a couple more marks. It’s kind of harsh but an easy to understand. badly sourced imaginative paper almost every time. that’s more marks off. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had students come in and talk to me about their papers after the fact. Here is something you should write down. So how do we fix this? Well first. If they have to look for it. have fun being frustrated and unsuccessful in university. What should you learn from this little exercise? Well your paper has very. However. When I figured this out I had a big wow moment. -They are then going to completely disregard all the information except for you answering the supporting evidence in your paper. I could suggest you go check out a writing course to make your writing better. most of them suck. VERY little to do with what you’ve done and much more to do with what you have not done. if you have the minimum number of sources you’ll probably be losing a few marks. -Next they look at your bibliography. There are tones of them at universities and most offer some free programs for students.-Next. format or grammar errors will lose you more points.

This program is about 10 times better than the grammar and style check on Microsoft word. Fourth Edition by William Strunk Jr. not simpler. Most papers are either written in MLA style or APA style. I’m writing right now with a pair of JBL earbuds and listening to some techno. this ties back to being prepared with a good outline. It is a little expensive but there are some free trials available which you can try out. The great thing is that endnote will do all the formatting for you except for your title page so just by using endnote you’re going to be cleaning up most of your source formatting. Save the complex writing for somebody else. Put on some music. not to have an interesting paper (although that doesn’t hurt). How to streamline your writing: When you sit down to actually write there are a few tricks you can use to make your writing flow faster. The program can completely revolutionize the way you write and can make it eloquently concise. the GOAL is to get an A. which is my personal favorite. and when your brain is trying to write something and 150 . Your TA can offer some broad suggestions but usually cannot guarantee you a mark as they need to cover their ass. There are a few books out there on the subject such as The Elements of Style. you can pretend you didn’t hear them. Your buddies will not help you here because they have no experience in marking exams. Make sure your VTA has taken a look at your paper.. One of the best resources I have found to automatically make your writing simpler and easier to understand is a program called stylewriter. simplicity should be your goal. Make sure you know what your writing about. Remember that multitasking is bad. Formatting: The next step is to figure out exactly what kind of style you’re supposed to be writing in and know it forwards and backwards. Why techno? It has no lyrics! Studies have shown that listening to classical music increases test scores. Remember. Your VTA can be as harsh as possible and can offer suggestions to make the paper more streamlined and simple to understand. The paper should already be written up in your head (and in your outline). I have found in my experience through experimenting with different types of music that the determining factor to focus is the lack of lyrics. if you are continually pausing to think of what to come up with next you’re going to be wasting time.on a couple and they teach you how to make your writing more complex. I like using ear phones as it cuts out outside distractions and if people start bugging you.

Here is an example from my globalization paper. Here is a good point that’s worked for me at the end of my undergraduate and throughout my graduate degree. Whether you agree with what the prof says or not. (That guy who talks about transnational Trinidadian technology) states that. If you’re going to disagree with what the prof has to say. P??). I really don’t know why this ratio is so effective but I’ve based this off my own personal experience and reviewing which students got A’s in papers from profs. many of the social relationships between immigrants and the national project are tied to their translocal identity (Trini guy. make sure you batch your activities. agree about 80% of the time and disagree about 20% of the time. Instead just pop a little note in your writing. I have tried some different ratio’s and have reviewed other profs high grades after they have finished marking papers. I found that if you agree with what the prof has to say. Therefore. but music is too distracting. As the organization chapter states. try a coffee shop or bar. It seems to work so give it a try if you have the chance. by producing facts to appear as material reality one can produce a real material reality from a social construct. This gets you out of your flow and opens up opportunities to procrastinate. If you’re not using endnote you’re going to be sourcing by hand. it will save you time. I would even suggest you provide a few different examples to explain the same concept. I later go back over my article and pop in the references during the editing stage. I also like the random white noise of coffee shops as all the words meld into an indistinguishable mass. Here is a perfect example. by producing the perception that the west is in conflict with the Muslim world rather than 151 . Provide many examples: Make sure you have provided examples for every concept you discuss. Do NOT stop to look up sources while you’re writing. I promise.trying to understand what the hell Britney Spears is singing you’re going to be pulling your mind in two different directions. when you write the paper do not completely support or deny his/her position. Simply put. This is important because this only makes your initial point easier to understand. If you need sound. This is going to save you massive amounts of time. agree about 20% of the time and disagree about 80% of the time in the paper.

This fact of the matter is embraced by both sides because it reinforces both parties by creating a global identity of fear in the individual in relation to the world giving both sides a mechanical grasp on its people. Knowing where to concentrate your time and resources is crucially important to getting you’re A. I have had some really badly edited papers. Editing Stage Editing is a pretty important step in the paper writing process but most students don’t give it proper attention. All these problems can be solved with a quick 10 minute review which you should absolutely be doing. misspelled the professor’s name etc. If you read my globalization paper I kept the concepts very simple and obvious but my diction is complex. Marking Keys: Knowing what you’re being marked on is the most important thing to remember when editing. My main concept in blue is supported by three separate pieces of evidence that say in essence. I’d like to concentrate on the philosophy behind the editing process from the mindset of the prof and teaching assistant. By using those terms I can make my professor believe I know what I’m talking about. I’m also using specific terminology that only social scientists use. Even if you’re passively reading this paragraph you will grasp onto the main concept. I’m writing at a university level throughout that paper. Below me is a copy 152 . I would suggest you tweak the preceding writing strategies a bit. left a page of a different paper in their essay. even if I don’t :) Take the time to bump up your writing level a little bit for profs if they only have a few papers to read because they will take more time to review them. Since you’re going to have your VTA help you edit most of your papers. Now. A warning if your prof is correcting your paper: If you know your professor is going to mark your paper.simply being in conflict with extremism one can create the reality that the Muslim world is in conflict with the West and ironically not only the west but the Muslim world embrace this ideology and make it a reality. I’ve had kids who have rewritten paragraphs. the same damn thing! I could have written this in about half the space but by providing so many versions of the same concept the main idea is pushed through into the subconscious mind.

if one section is particularly bad take off more. Find your own biases and account for them: Once you finish the paper it is useful to apply some of the critical thinking steps for your own paper. Marking Key: 25% of final grade Style 5 marks: ASA sourcing. The rest has to do with the sourcing. The most important of those is to look for your own biases and account for them in your paper. if you even just make attempts to account for them this can completely change your marks. good evidence to support main point. 5/5 must be perfect Content 10 marks: Clear thesis. style etc. bibliography. are only the minimum amount of sources being used. Keep in mind that a perfect paper has to actually be imaginative. Most of your markers are going to be able to catch logical fallacies in your conclusions very easily. only about half the paper has anything to do with the content of the paper. Each mistake takes off one mark. So you can see very clearly that out of the three main categories of marks. Overall Flow 5 marks: Is the writing of proper academic quality.of a marking key I had used for a first year class that has been edited slightly to protect the class and the professor who wrote it up for me. This can be the difference between an A and A+ paper for many TA’s and Profs. but a paper that isn’t technically perfect will have a hard battle to get up to the A range. give me a call at 555-5555555 if you need me to explain anything. Insightful conclusion. Proper bibliography. Proper amount of sources. Title page intact. here is a general outline for the papers. Mark the first 50 and give me an idea of where you’re at. Each worth two points. clear concise content. Hey Liam. reflects question asked. 153 . I’m thinking we should be fine as long as you keep it around a 70 as they did a little too well on the midterm. Are the conclusions logical. Are you convinced of the thesis? Only perfect papers can get a 5/5. Grammar/Spelling 5 marks: Each major mistake take off one mark.

sometimes a student representative is also included) and formal charges are brought up upon the student. This is harsh but I didn’t spend the better part of a decade working legitimately for students to poison the system. A board is formed (usually three profs. If the student is found guilty of plagiarism they can get anywhere from a suspension of their academic records for a few years to a full ban from the university and a black listing that will follow you to other universities. They then give it to a second reader who confirms the plagiarism. DON’T PLAGIARISE! Please don’t do it. I suggest you throw yourself on the mercy of the court. You will be reported to the university and your VTA will be fired. The TA or professor will first find a paper where academic plagiarism is suspected. Read over you paper and ask yourself if a fifth grader could understand the main concepts of your paper. I have gone after people for academic plagiarism so I’d like to take you through the steps.Don’t be ambiguous. and if you get caught you can have the class to your entire degree taken away from you. If you fight it. Profs usually understand and you’ll only lose a course or semester at the most. 154 . The student will be forced to take an F for the course. 99% of the time they go the informal route and talk to the student. The key is to make the main points as easy to follow as possible. be logical: If your ideas or evidence aren’t clear through convincing evidence or adequate examples. It’s really dumb. as an extra note. With that said. If the student denies that they plagiarized it then become a formal matter. If you do get caught. At this point the prof can go the formal or informal route. If I find that you have convinced your VTA to plagiarize. your marker will get confused and bored. given an F on the paper or forced to rewrite the paper. If it isn’t clear make it clear! A note on plagiarism Plagiarism is an increasingly difficult problem in university students and academia in general. you’re an idiot because I have not heard of anybody winning. your VTA knows the difference between plagiarism and tutoring you so don’t try to convince them to write your papers for you. Also.

Critical thinking Quick Guide: This is the 9 critical thinking questions you should be asking yourself during the brainstorming stage of your paper. For more detailed explanations for each question go to page 141 (You can also submit this to your VTA for quick review). do you believe their conclusions? 7: Are there any hidden bias or assumptions in the authors argument? 8: What are the implications if the author’s conclusions are correct/incorrect? 9: Are there alternate ways to come to the same conclusions? 155 . 1: What is being asked of me? 2: What exactly is the problem? 3: How can I simplify this problem? 4: What information do I need to solve this problem? 5: How do the authors come to their conclusions? 6: Based on the author’s evidence.

So in review There are four stages to a paper (research.The content of your paper is not as important as its context .Get your VTA to help you .Writing Stage . editing) . writing.Use Critical thinking to get to the core of your papers problem .Research Stage .Editing Stage .Get your VTA to help out Plagiarism: DON’T DO IT 156 .Make sure you use your academic database (endnote) . brainstorming.Brainstorming Stage .Make it just as important as any other stage .

Learn how to use your VTA 157 .Get everything together for your VTA .Review the major concepts of the book .Chapter 13: Putting it All Together In this chapter you will: .

Review the classic argument fallacies. or use my method. A fun activity is to try the approach anxiety script (if you feel nervous try doing it with a friend). notebook. Make sure you are able to understand the micro and macro aspects of your mental mind shift. Define your study and social spaces. Please look over the information to see if there is any information you missed or would like to review. Choose a week to reform your non-verbal communication and take a look at what may make you more confident in feeling intelligent. Review how to ask effective questions and how they should be presented. study buddy and place you’re going to sit.Here is a quick review of the content that we have covered. outsourcing and mechanization. a white board and daily to-do lists to keep yourself accountable. Remember the reasons why society values hard work to further cement your mind shift. Notes are a reflection of the lecture not a transcription. Review the main tips on how to think faster. Look at the three main components of academic success: allostasis. Make sure you are prepared for class with a laptop. As a review: Visual learners learn through pictures and watching things happen. Take an hour to mechanize your computer filing system. Check your schedule and availability of other classes for possible options to rearrange your schedule. Auditory learners learn from listening to lectures and audio books. Review the different 158 . Develop a coding method to shorten notes. Fill out your university goal form so that you can submit it to your virtual teaching assistant. Take a look at each learning style and try to improve the styles you’re not good at. Kinesthetic or active learners learn through physically doing and through teaching others what you are trying to learn. Make sure you have a daily planner. Define whether you have a lecturer or professor in each class. Make sure you have Wikipedia available to reinforce intelligent questions with hard facts. Just grasp the main ideas in the lecture and write them for your 40 year old self. Sequential learners learn by categorizing and putting points into lists.

159 . Get your VTA. When you actually meet the prof use the prescribed methods in order: Befriend. talk and take your needed articles then investigate whether you can turn your remaining books into audio tapes. Remember that the goal is to get an A. Review the steps to solving problems by: breaking it down. Deal with each issue separately. Mirror. use your favorite study method(s) to memorize the information. TA. Remember to do a précis of the reading after you finish it. talk to somebody about the reading after you’ve finished it. Text/Exam. It is also important to review what kind of test you’re going to take and apply the applicable strategy to each type of test. Jones. creating accountability backups. Day three. Review the four cornerstones of time management: Reading. writing down exactly what you’re going to do and getting a study timer. Also. it will help your recall for the exam. Day two. Throw. be prepared for the meeting and ask effective questions. review the three day system for test preparation. Cut down on your readings using the academic sift method. Read the remaining readings as quickly as possible through using speed reading techniques. making tasks meaningful. using your study space. Before taking a test. Before you meet with a professor to argue a higher mark: Talk to other people to loosen yourself up. Day one you should code and turn your notes into an audio book. Review your own personal reasons for procrastinating and how you can conquer it (this relates to your mind shift). Get rid of the No’s. starting. Paper/Project and Note preparation. Options sell. using visual reminders. you want to get information in a quickly and as richly as possible. reinforce your confidence by reviewing notes and visualization. Assume the sale. Remember. tests are about memorization not learning.methods of note taking to figure out what the best fit is for you. prof and fellow students to keep you accountable through mechanization. I can’t stress this point enough: The best way to manage your time is for somebody else to manage it for you. Because close. Remember to use a pre-post review method to hard wire lectures.

download a copy of skype which allows for free phone calls between users.Researching 5 articles and databasing through endnote: . In a few days you’re going to get an email from your VTA to submit your university goal form and any online syllabi you have.Reviewing a 10 page first draft with grammar edits: .Skype call for in depth explanations: 10-15 minutes 15 minutes 15-25 minutes 30-35 minutes 5 minutes 15 minutes by the minute 160 . The research stage should be run through your Virtual Teaching Assistant and your endnote database to quickly file and review each article. not a content rich exercise. How to use your Virtual Teaching Assistant Your virtual teaching assistant is the linchpin that makes this program work. Make sure to have everything ready. The standard VTA package The basic monthly VTA package includes one full hour of service plus a free initial one hour assessment.Reviewing a 10 page first draft with simple edits: . remember this is not an academic article it is an undergraduate essay which are two very different things. Your VTA can help edit your paper as well.General email inquiries (one question): .Time management reminders for a test or assignment: . use the critical thinking exercise to problematize your papers main purpose and supporting evidence. Write clearly with supporting examples. During the editing stage make sure to spend just as much time on editing as you did on writing.Reviewing an outline for a paper: . You will then get a report from your VTA through email or by phone of what direction he/she thinks you should go.Review the four stages of a paper and use the step by step system to produce an A paper. The writing stage is a context. You can choose exactly what you’d like to spend time on with your VTA but general estimates of assignment times are as follows: . The VTA’s can help you break down every chapter in this book and will be your academic guru you can turn to for anything university related. In the brainstorming stage. Above all. under no circumstances should you plagiaries. If you’d like to speak in person.

Remember that VTA’s require a 3 day turn around time for all assignments so schedule your papers and tests accordingly. To make the most effective use of your time I would suggest you email your VTA clear and concise emails that explain exactly what you would like and by when. If you require more time with your VTA you can double or triple the allotted time. some assignments may take longer or shorter than the general estimate. Example of a good VTA email: Dear VTA Thanks for getting that last paper back to me so quickly. If there aren’t any problems with the outline. I’d like you to research 5 articles on the subject and send me back the endnote file by the 28th. dependent upon the quality of submitted work. I’ve already written out an outline and would like you to look it over and give me advice on whether the thesis is A worthy. I need to write another paper on Chinese immigrant identity. Please email me if you have any questions. Ooglack 161 . I have included a copy of the essay requirements. Just confer with your VTA to make sure he/she has the time and your VTA will make the appropriate changes to your account.Take into consideration that these are only estimates.

If you’ve gotten this far then I suggest you check out www.com/blog for free tips and information that me and my VTA’s post. I would also suggest that you join my emailing list to get even more free tips and tricks and to keep yourself accountable to becoming a 4.virtualteachingassistant.com. I love to hear your stories and use them to motivate others to become better students. Hoping for your continued success Liam Martin 162 .Concluding points I hope that this book has inspired you to completely rethink the philosophy of work and how you can maximize your university career. If you have any questions or success stories I want you to email me at lmartin@virtualteachingassistant.0 GPA student.

guides and activities in one place 163 .Chapter 14: Forms and Activities In this chapter you: .Will get all the forms.

164 .For a review of how to fill this form out go to the second chapter. check out the attachments. Also for an interactive copy you can email to your VTA.

TA’s Profs. Students etc) Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Reading________________Who do I speak to?______________________ When can I speak to them?______________________________________ Take: (Define which books you need to read in order of importance for each course) First Priority: __________________________________________ Second Priority: __________________________________________ Third Priority: __________________________________________ Questions to ask: Which of these books can I turn into Audio books? Which of these books can I simply skim through? Which of these books need my full attention? 165 .Academic Sift Throw: (Which readings are not important to complete to get an A on the course) _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________ Talk: (Which of these books can I learn through discussion with VTA.

10. 166 . or whether it might be tangentially related and or whether it might be useful in veering in another fruitful direction given the data/ideas being pursued.) TOPIC AND THESIS: DATA USED AND SOURCES: KEY FINDINGS: OTHER IMPORTANT INFORMATION: REFERENCES OBTAINED FROM BOOK/ARTICLE: IDEAS THIS BOOK/ARTICLE GENERATED: THEORETICAL. (Idea here is whether it is directly and highly related. ETC. HYPOTHESES. THINGS THAT RANG FALSE. feel free to shorten or expand on this form as you see fit) AUTHOR: TITLE: LEVEL OF USEFULNESS FOR PROJECT/EXAM RANKED FROM 1 .Précis form: (This will also be available in an interactive format.

Critical thinking Quick Guide: This is the 9 critical questions you should be asking yourself during the brainstorming stage of your paper. do you believe their conclusions? 7: Are there any hidden bias or assumptions in the authors argument? 8: What are the implications if the author’s conclusions are correct/incorrect? 9: Are there alternate ways to come to the same conclusions? 167 . 1: What is being asked of me? 2: What exactly is the problem? 3: How can I simplify this problem? 4: What information do I need to solve this problem? 5: How do the authors come to their conclusions? 6: Based on the author’s evidence. For more detailed explanations go to chapter 12 (You can also submit this to your VTA for quick review).

time management isn’t a problem. Not just in the social scientists but for all academic writing. Fundamentals of Social Research: An excellent book on research. This makes sure you keep on track.criticalthinking. best BEST book for anyone that wants to improve their writing. A nice resource for anyone that wants to stay on top of contemporary study methods. Remember. The book also includes a full formatting reference guide.org: The best site for everything critical thinking. I was personally trained by one of the authors in graduate school and she completely revolutionized my study methods and how I break down my writing. www. http://calnewport. if you have systems in place.com/blog: Here you will find weekly articles on our newest research and get access to the mailing list.leechblock. read this book.com: Here you can get a great program that will restrict your time on whichever websites you choose. Writing for Social Scientists: The best. 168 . www. www. It is required reading for most graduate students and you should really take the time to give it a read.Other Resources that can help you study and resources that have been central to my own academic development.virtualteachingassistant. I set the facebook for 10 minutes a day and I set entertainment sites like youtube for a full ban from 9-5 on weekdays. It is a great read and is a better reference tool while you write. Some of the concepts are somewhat complex and they don’t offer any simple guides like I do but a great resource if you want to follow up on critical thinking. I would suggest you check out the site and register on the mailing list as I give out lots of free tips and tricks.com/blog/: Great website on various forms of studying strategies. Elements of Style: If you have problems with grammar.

but if that isn’t possible this is a great mobile tool. I would suggest you actually buy a book for this. 169 .Online Formatting Guide: Here is a free online formatting guide that reviews most of the popular formatting formats.

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