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Get Better Grades – Book Review

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Four different educationalists present an introduction to both the attitudes and techniques needed to succeed in academic exams. The book’s emphasis on self-reflection forces the reader to analyse his / her own current approach to studying. Written in an informal style, the information is easy to access and immediately easy to apply.

Chapters include: Attitude / Organisation and Resources / Listening and Note-taking / Reading Skills / Writing Skills / Revision / Exams

As a teacher and study skills trainer, I have encountered most of the skills and techniques presented in ‘Get Better Grades (Cool Study Skills for Red Hot Results)’. Nevertheless, I was intrigued by the structure of the book and the style of writing which immediately involved the reader. The book is structured as a set of eight chapters, divided into sections of two to four pages. Each section deals with an approach or tool that can be directly applied. This is an easy book to dip into and quickly learn a new technique. Some sections are much stronger than others. For example, the section explaining reading, writing and spelling tips is particularly engaging however the section on memory techniques is surprisingly poor. There are four different contributing authors in this book and I wonder whether more coordination between them might have lifted the weaker parts. The immensely varied graphic styles employed throughout the book give each section a different visual identity. This keeps the book interesting and reinforces the one-bit-at-a-time approach. The use of multiple typefaces and bold, graphic elements give the book high contrast and visual impact but become jarring if the reader attempts to read the entire book in one sitting.

The book is written in a very informal style. Many of the chapters offer a comparison between the behaviour of effective and ineffective students. This information pushes the reader to self-reflect, and tries to get the reader to adopt more useful strategies. The light and punchy tone of the book will appeal to a younger readership and there are some genuinely funny elements. I think the intended readership is students between the ages of 10 and 16. The content is perfect for those studying for 11+, Common Entrance and GCSE exams, though there are many techniques that would help those studying for ‘A’ levels. My only concern is that older students may find the tone too informal.

In conclusion, this is one of the better study skills books I have read. Where many others are rather dry and inaccessible to teenagers, this one is easy to read and absorb. All in all, an excellent little book which I will return to frequently.

Best question:

“Who is responsible for your education?”
a) The Government
b) Teachers
c) Parents
d) Yourself
e) Your pet

 

Book rating: D4

Written by Sander de Groot

 

Practical – theoretical rating

Very practical book, but based on theory 4
Mainly practical book 3
Mainly theoretical but some practice 2
Good on theory but not a practical book 1

 

Easy – difficult rating

An easy read D
Reasonably easy read C
Requires concentration B
Longish or requires quite a bit of effort A

 

Title: Get Better Grades (Cool Study Skills for Red Hot Results)

Paperback: 140 pages

Publisher: Piccadilly Press Ltd; New edition (28 Feb 2007)

Language: English

ISBN: 1853409014

Authors:

Margie Agnew: Teacher

Steve Barlow: Teacher

Lee Pascal: Lecturer and special needs teacher

Steve Skidmore: Teacher

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