What does it take to be a superior student?
The most important secret to being a contender for the top of the class has always been effective reading—and that means reading that involves:
1. high-speed assimilation and comprehension of all sorts of subject matter; and
2. the ability to recall that subject matter later during testing.
The superior student, then, is one who first of all can read assigned books and handouts quickly and understand thoroughly what has been read. Second, he is able to collect the material he's read into well-organized personal notes and then draw on his memory of these notes when confronted with examination questions.
In addition to having outstanding reading abilities, the topflight student knows how to listen in class—knows how to absorb key concepts during oral presentations and how to take notes on lectures. Finally, he can recall what he has heard and use it effectively at test time.
In some ways, all this may sound quite simple. But let's be honest: We know that only a few students really know how to make this formula work. Yet when understood and applied, these skills are the foundation for what I call Mental Soaring—a phenomenon that goes so far beyond traditional studying that the best student seems to be flying through academic material at the highest levels of comprehension.
These are the basic skills—the secrets, if you will—that have been mastered by the elite students who get into the best schools. Furthermore, they are the skills typically used by the small percentage who perform with flying colors after they've been admitted to various colleges and universities.
So where does this leave the not-so-stellar student? Is it inevitable that these special skills and secrets must remain in the academic arsenal of only a small coterie of geniuses or near-geniuses?
Absolutely not! These techniques can enhance the learning potential of any student. The only problem up to now has been that no one has bothered to tell the average or mediocre student what the top academic performers already know: that good students aren't born—they're made.
To correct the misconception that academic ability is inborn, those of us in charge of the reading and learning programs at Evelyn Wood and the Britannica Learning Centers have decided that the time has arrived to reveal these fundamental secrets to academic success. Using the methods described in this book, many students have tripled their reading speeds and increased their comprehension in our Center programs.
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