Luck is the result of preparation making or meeting,
recognizing, and acting on opportunity.
Southern University and A&M College
Entire books are devoted to the subject of studying. One of them is
"How to Study in College," by Walter Pauk. The few lines below provide
the essentials that, if practiced, could allow a purposeful student to
not only succeed in college but also to excel. Without much elaborations,
we note that these essentials are grounded into current knowledge in
cognition science, on memory, and on behavior. Two simple points
to always remember are the following:
- (a) "Practice partly begets and certainly enhances
sensory-motor (athletic), artistic (creative), and intellectual
(cognitive) abilities." Hence, over the years, people develop
and enhance the rational powers (i.e. intellectual skills or
attributes) they apply frequently. It is through practice
that expertise is developed --- in any cognitive endeavor.
- (b) The first-time memory retention curve, well
established in psychology, shows that only 25 percent (25%) of
extensive and new information is still in memory after 48 hours.
Of course this means that "bright" students will tend to study
their lessons, every one of their lessons, within 48 hours after
the classroom lecture, laboratory, or activity. In doing so,
they spend a lot less time on a lesson and it stays with them
a lot longer. Naturally, they have to review what they have
learned from time to time (see the importance of practice in
With the above points in mind, essentials of a successful way of
- Take as complete and clear notes in class as possible.
- Read the entire chapter in the textbook on the classroom lesson.
- Take extra time to understand anything that is unclear, in the notes or in the book.
- Use the chapter in the book to complete the classroom notes , if needed.
- Be aware of difficulties due to your background in the specific topic; consult teachers, professors, or tutors when multiple reading fails to clarify a point.
- After step 5 above, read/study the completed notes to find key or fundamental Definitions, Concepts, Principles, Laws, Theorems, and Skills (DCPLTS); note that the selected DCPLTS must be such that one can derive from them the entire lesson or lecture covered in class or in the textbook (see cognitive condensation).
- LEARN/KNOW these fundamental DCPLTS to the point of recitation.
(Understanding is not knowing; you can only use that which you know.)
- PRACTICE. USE the learned/known DCPLTS . See questions, homework, and problems assigned by the teacher/professor or in the book (Power Law of Practice).
- Schedule a review of the lesson from time to time (see Power Law
- Research results in Education, Vol. 115, No. 1, pp.31-39, Fall,
1994 scientifically proved that YOU have the intellect to excel
in any field; the question is one of background, efforts, and
of practice in applying and enhancing your intellect.
In science, the secret is to adhere to the facts (actual phenomena or
events, definitions, concepts, principles, laws, theorems, and specific
skills) and to formal logic. Take what is!
The Timbuktu Academy is funded by the Department of the Navy, Office
of Naval Reaearch (ONR), the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, NIST,
LaSER, and SUBR.