• Shane Dillon

The Last Study Tip You Will Ever Need

Updated: Feb 8


Why isn’t there a cheat code or a study tip to end the memorization involved in test taking? Why can’t learning be fun? The story I am about to tell you will not only help you ace your next exam but it will also help you excel in life.


Throughout my life, I have been an average student. Largely due to the fact that I hated memorizing seemingly useless information. Learning sucked.


I didn’t think it was fair to be graded on our ability to memorize definitions from a textbook. As a creative person, the established system did not support creativity.


Everything changed in graduate school when I finally figured out how to become a learner. I went from an average student to a great student by following this one life hack.


The Smartest Kid in the Solar System

In high school, it was my good fortune to be classmates with the smartest kid in the solar system, let’s call him Lucas.


Lucas and I grew up in a depressed part of the solar system, a place where all students of all levels of intelligence shared the same classroom. In my school, there were no advanced classes;

all students received equal instruction and attention. Much like the old model of the one-room school, with all of the students attending the same core classes. As a result, I shared classes with Lucas, the genius. Lucas was so smart that he was actually teaching our classes by his sophomore year in high school. I think it was the only way the teachers could challenge him.


THE LIFE HACK IS COMING

One day out of curiosity, I asked Lucas how he studied or prepared for a test. His answer was so mind-blowing that it would stick with me for the rest of my life.


Unfortunately, at the time I didn’t really care enough to utilize his advice. It wasn’t until many years later that I realized how a simple change in study habits could make such a difference in my ability to learn and retain knowledge.


Our conversation went something like this:

“So give it to me, Lucas. How is that you get a perfect score on every test? I know your smart and all, but you must have the answers or some sort of cheat code,” I asked.


“I just read the whole textbook in the first two weeks of school,” Lucas responded.


“exsqueeze me baking powder. Your joking right? You can’t read a whole freaking textbook in two weeks,” I interrupted.


“Yeah, I can actually read three or four textbooks in that amount of time,” Lucas humbly said.


“Dude, you must have no life,” slipped out of my mouth.


“ Actually, I have more of a life than you would think. You see, by reading all of my textbooks at the beginning of the semester; the rest of the semester is a review. For example, when the teacher is going over the material in class, I am already familiar with the material the teacher is discussing. The teacher’s lecture acts as a review because I am exposed to the material for the second time. When it comes time to study for the actual test, I am reviewing the material for the third time. At this point, I am so familiar with the subject matter, I hardly have to study, which leaves time for doing the things that make me happy!” Lucas told me.


BECOME A ROCK STAR

That’s right, Lucas would actually read the whole textbook from cover to cover in the first two weeks of school. At the time, I thought it was impossible,and that Lucas was just a nerd. But Lucas was actually a rock star! Luckily, I never forgot his advice.


LEARN TO PLANT SEEDS

After obtaining my bachelor's degree, I spent the next seven years working in finance and oddly, the wine industry.


When my thirtieth birthday rolled around, I decided it was time to go back to school to get my MBA. Everyone knows that you get paid the big bucks if you have an MBA, at least that is what I thought!


I continued to work full-time in the wine industry, while taking graduate classes at night. It was not easy.


I barely survived my first semester of graduate school. I wasn’t certain if I could cut it in grad school. All I did was work and study. And I was still barely making the grades to stay in the program. What was the point?


Life is Full of Tough Decisions

Over Christmas break, I regrouped and thought long and hard about how I could overcome the obstacles of working full-time while going to graduate school. I had always been a hard worker, but this time it didn’t seem to matter. My problem was that I didn’t have enough time for both graduate school and my day job. I decided to figure a way to become more productive or risk dropping out of the program.


It hit me like a ton of bricks!


Then, I remembered Lucas’s advice from thirteen years ago. It was clear as day, I still remember Lucas and I having that conversation before Mr. Argon’s chemistry class.


Lucas said with a smirk, “I just read through the textbook in the first two weeks of class and then the rest of the semester is a review.”


Learn to Study for College and Life

It was a minor miracle! After all of those years, my conversation with Lucas came back to me.


From that moment on, I knew what I had to do. I was going to start reading my textbooks in the first two weeks of the semester. I put Lucas’s technique to use and excelled.


It was the most amazing thing in the solar system.


If not for Lucas’ advice, graduate school would have been a huge struggle, at best, considering I was working fifty hours a week at my job. By hitting the books hard during the first two weeks of each semester, I was able to coast through the rest of the semester. Those first two weeks were difficult, but the sacrifice was worth it. I would find a quiet corner in the library and read for hours on end.


At the time, I didn’t realize it but my new study habit was teaching me to be a better employee. Lucas’ technique became invaluable to me throughout my illustrious career!


NEVER FAKE IT UNTIL YOU MAKE

The brilliant part about this technique is that it applies to everyday life as well.


For example, when I was promoted to Vice President of National Sales at my last job; I applied Lucas’s technique by working tirelessly around the clock for two months to learn everything I could about my new position.


I knew that by sacrificing a small amount of time on the front end, I could build my expertise on the back end.


I always hated the old saying “fake it until you make it” and I wasn’t about to start then. I had received a promotion for a reason and I wasn’t about to fake anything. I was determined to become an expert in my new role.


The Library is Underrated

I went to the library and checked out every book I could find on sales. I also cold-called around to other sales professionals and asked them for advice regarding my new role. If my employer thought I was qualified enough to represent the company nationwide, I was going to make sure I was a professional and well prepared to do my job.


MISTAKES MAKE YOU STRONGER

Don’t get me wrong,mistakes have been made along the way. We all make mistakes, that is part of learning.


Mistakes are opportunities to learn, and should not be viewed as reasons to doubt yourself or your ability.


Just remember, preparation and hard work pays off in the form of confidence. And confidence leads to more new opportunities to learn. Basically, learning and curiosity are the keys to happiness!


Action Item: Put this blog post to use by going back to school or becoming an expert at your job. Maybe you have always wanted to master Microsoft Excel or Adobe Illustrator. Go for it!


Reading Material: You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero



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