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4.2 out of 5 stars48
4.2 out of 5 stars
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As I say in my title this is possibly the best study book I have ever read, and as a lecturer I have read a lot of them. This is a clear and straightforward book, with a lot of sensible hints, tips and suggestions which can be used to develop good study habits, and make studying a much more pleasurable experience. I am very impressed with this book, and I believe it stands out from the rest. I like the way it links things to multiple intelligences, which gives it a much more individual and personal feel. I would highly recommend this book to any student, and only wish it was around when I was a student. My students will certainly be advised to buy it.

As an adendum to this as a further recommendation, I have shown this book to my students and they also think it is excellent and are buying it. I think this is a recommendation in itself.
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VINE VOICEon 29 August 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The scope of this book is wide, meaning there is only room for an overview of the subjects. On the other hand sometimes what you need is the basics, with references that will guide further study. The design of the book is sober but this won't be a problem for dedicated students. While the look of the book may be mundane, the content shines. Did you know, for example, that the body language of a student can play a part in the quality of teaching on offer?

Each chapter includes an overview, a contents table and chapter summary. There are also case studies to digest, questionnaires to complete and spaces for self reflective writing. My favourite questionnaire identifies which of the eight different intelligences you prefer. Using this knowledge you can tailor your style of study to what suits you best. I had never heard of concept maps, ecology checks or Ishikawa diagrams, so this book has opened new avenues of learning to me. That's worth the price of admission alone.

I enjoyed the final chapter. It deals with a variety of decision making techniques including: free-fall thinking, balance sheet approach, Five Thinking Hats, decision trees, SWOT analysis and creative visualisation. Another highlight was the chapter about mathematics and numerical competence, which has given me confidence to improve my skills in this area. This book also explains the theory and practice behind referencing, so it is a good resource to have on hand.

I was drawn to this book because I am an adult education tutor. It's been a while since I was at university and I wanted to brush up on my study skills. I wish I had read The Ultimate Study Skills Handbook when I was a student. Sometimes we are so busy studying we don't spend time thinking about whether we are studying in the most effective way. This book will help you do this.
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on 22 May 2010
The Ultimate Study Skills Handbook has a clear layout and structure, providing tasks and questions for reflection on your study habits. As a graduate, I wish I had this book at University. I never understood my learning style and how best to manage my time. This book provides suggestions on how to improve these bad habits, and make the best of your study time. Even if you are a student just starting out this book is fantastic, as it provides the basics needed to survive your studies and get you organised. Skills you already possess are developed through reflecting on decisions (both positive and negative) you have made and past achievements, allowing you to evaluate what went well and what didn't.
The only thing that I can think of to improve this book would be a section on revision skills. Although I have years of practice at sitting exams, I still struggle with revision, so I was hoping there would be a section on techniques as I'm sure many students out there still have this problem.
My favourite chapter was the final chapter, about using what you have learned and making improvements and plans for the future. It allows you to establish what decisions need to be made and create a plan of your next steps, which is great for the transition from university to employment.
Overall, this is an excellent book for students, giving you practical guidance on study techniques and how to get the best out of University.
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VINE VOICEon 26 June 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Coming at this book as a university lecturer, I was hoping that it would give me advice that I could pass on to my students. Unfortunately, I don't think that's really the case; pretty much everything covered is stuff that by now strikes me as rather obvious and common sense. That doesn't mean that the book wouldn't be of use to those either in their first year or, perhaps better, about to go to university.

The book's thirteen chapters cover: 1) being an active learner, 2) talking to experts, 3) learning styles, 4) making notes, 5) research skills, 6) academic writing, 7) punctuation and referencing, 8) time management, 9) group work, 10) presentations, 11) managing stress, 12) numeracy, and 13) future decisions. That, I think, covers most of what students need to know from the academic side of things (the most glaring apparent error - exam technique - in fact occupies much of chapter 11). I would, however, have two main criticisms:

1) The material isn't as well-organized as it could be. I don't mind a bit of repetition, and I accept that some material would fit in different places almost equally well (for instance, the section on group presentations). Nonetheless, I often found chapters lacking any internal logic, so sometimes they were no more than disconnected points around some particular topic. Moreover, the chapter 'summaries' - while perhaps underlining the important take-home points - didn't do a very good job of summarizing the preceding material and, in a few cases I thought, made new points altogether!

2) Not only is the material often rather elementary, but it's rather padded out. The authors include a number of exercises for the reader, which I do not object to as such, since they serve to check understanding and encourage active learning. Often, however, these take up quite a bit of space, especially since blank boxes are given for the reader to write their responses in the book itself. I would have thought these unnecessary, given that a piece of paper would suffice (and allow the exercise to be used again). The consequence of all these various boxes, tables, and summaries is that what looks like 212 pages of text (excluding references and index) doesn't actually cover as much as it might.

In light of these criticisms, I don't think that I could give the book a particularly strong recommendation. That's not to say it's without use: most of the information and advice seems to me fairly sensible (though the authors do come close to endorsing, rather than merely acknowledging, essay writing all nighters!). While most students would no doubt acquire the necessary 'study skills' over the first year or two of their degree anyway, having the basics set out here can save the motivated student from learning the hard way. Perhaps, however, that's the biggest problem: I expect that the students diligent enough to read through such a book are the ones who least need to. On that note, the main message of the book is arguably that what students get out of their education depends on the work that they put in; a point worth underlining in the current age of consumerist expectations and for that reason alone I give it a cautious endorsement.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 2 September 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Having been studying for a number of years now and with a few distinctions to my name I thought I might be a good person to review this book and to be honest, was looking forward to picking up some tips (you can never stop learning short cuts and better ways to study - believe me). However, I honestly did not find anything in this book to whet my appetite.

The whole thing seems like it was written for 10 year olds rather than prospective University Graduates. I've studied with the Open University and Oxford University for a number of years and I am dumbfounded that anyone at this level could find anything inside this book that they hadn't already thought of years ago.

After you've got through pages of: this is what is what this book is all about, who wrote it, why we wrote it, here's all the chapter details and then at the start of each chapter what is in that chapter (again!) you come across the mind-numbingly crass statements like "people are different", "feelings matter" and "learning is a social process".

The whole book is littered with "buzz words" and lots and lots of blank spaces (for you to fill in your thoughts). I'm sorry - maybe I'm just too old for this stuff (in my 40s) and maybe this book isn't aimed at students of all ages - just those in their late teens - but anyone with a modicum of common sense and forethought is way beyond this banal simplistic book.

Can I find ANYTHING good about the book? Erm... I like the little owl picture on the front...
Sorry that's just MY opinion!
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VINE VOICEon 10 December 2010
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
About to start a higher education course but unsure whether you'll cope with the demands of student life? Do you know your subject, but despair of ever getting yourself properly organised? Do you struggle with any aspects of college life, such as essay-writing, group discussion or giving a presentation? Do you procrastinate endlessly or find it hard to make a decision? You may just have found a handy lifesaver.

This book is one of the best guides I've seen to the pleasures and pitfalls of academic work - ideal for anyone wanting to bridge the gap between school and college or university. It concentrates on the methodology rather than on any subject-specific content, making it applicable to pretty much any discipline or course of study. It encourages the reader to look at themselves via quizzes and questionnaires, analyse their strengths and weaknesses and make the most of their own abilities by working through problem areas. There are chapters on everything from spelling, punctuation and style to time-management, research and handling stress, and the final chapter deals with the adult decision-making necessary for juggling options such as further study, job offers or gap year placements.

The perfect Christmas present for any current or prospective undergraduate or further education student.
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VINE VOICEon 20 February 2013
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
As a handbook containing the basics of study I guess this is OK, but there are enough elements which are flawed to make this a limited, rather than ultimate proposition. For a relatively short volume, the book covers much, which means there will be some chapters where the reader will feel that there should be greater depth. Conversely, the overemphasis on exercises on study skills seem superfluous, study is a means to an end, rather than the end itself.

Those who might find it useful are those who have yet to encounter unstructured learning, so GCSE or perhaps A level students. Those approaching their first year at university should have done enough not to need this, but then again, perhaps I assume too much. More mature students might also find this useful as a reminder, and perhaps they have the experience to dip into the chapters which will be useful to them.

Perhaps that is the problem with the book; those who need it most will probably find the sheer volume of information daunting and give up, those who are suffuciently committed to plough through the book will probably have used that commitment on thier topic and so this will not provide a step change in their abilities/fortunes. A pity, though as a more focused book could have been useful.
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on 20 April 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is a really great item for any aspiring first year university student, or even an ambitious A2 candidate. The book is very definitely orientated towards first year degree students, and the most interesting chapters are the ones which differentiate University study from the study skills you should have acquired at school or college. I really admired the chapter which advised on ways of interacting with your tutor and /or lecturer with the aim of making the most of your academic interactions with them in the tutorial environment.This can be a really intimidating experience for the uninitiated, and the chapter was full of practical advice that would make the most of your university teacher's expertise.

Likewise I really enjoyed the paragraph on introducing students to accurate referencing, good academic writing practice, and how to avoid plagiarism. You'd expect a good overview on basic time management and study skills behaviour from a book like this, and it doesn't disappoint. There are many well presented and wise pages of advice here.

I am an A-level teacher, and I think the second year of sixth form wouldn't be too early to get your hands on a copy of the book like this, and start digesting it. Recommended.
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on 10 January 2011
Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are studying the art of studying or you are a teacher then this is a very good book indeed. If you are an over worked, short of time law student like me then this is a straw to break the camel's back. I have had this book for ages and found I could only read short bits at a time but this is possibly because of the sheer volume of actual study I have to do as well. It's well written and useful in parts but I'm afraid it served more as a refresher than a learning tool for me.
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Format: Paperback|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This book feels aimed at adult returners to full-time, part-time (or even spare time!) study - appropriately so given that it's published by the Open University Press - although the material covered would be useful to anyone 16+ contemplating serious study whether at uni, college or via distance learning. Topics in the book which I found particularly useful and well-covered included information on organising your time efficiently around your life and your studies (not just common sense - loads of good tips here!), good research practice, note-taking and even interacting with other students (online or in person). Skills such as academic writing and number-crunching (not just for mathematicians!) are also covered concisely but very clearly and simply.

It's not a huge book, but the authors pack a lot of information into it by presenting it all in a condensed but very easily readable way. As such it's a great introduction to good study skills if you've not followed a formal course of study before, or are returning to study after a long gap.
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