Study Success: 11 Books & Articles to Help Students Hack Their Education

Today’s article is slightly different from what I’d normally write about, but I’ll use the excuse that the next academic year is approaching. Also, perhaps one or two of my readers are students (do lifelong students count?)

I’ve always enjoyed reading about learning techniques and study hacks, particularly when it comes to increasing efficiency and recall. Considering all the facts and dates I’ve forgotten from school, I don’t want to do the same with my degree just yet.

Here are the books and articles which have most influenced my studying. Some of which have helped me pass exams I thought I wouldn’t, while others have just provided me with useful and unconventional learning techniques.

11 best books and articles for study success
What books and articles have helped you to develop better study habits and learning methods? Image from picjumbo.

How to Win at College by Cal Newport
How to Win at College by Cal Newport

1. How to Win at College: Surprising Secrets for Success from the Country’s Top Students – Cal Newport

Cal Newport’s research is fascinating, and he’s achieved a lot. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 2004, went on to get a Ph.D. from MIT in 2009, and is now an Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Georgetown University.

In addition to his academic work, he’s published four superb books, largely focused on “contrarian, evidence-based advice for building a successful and fulfilling life” both in school and after graduation. How to Win at College may seem a bit unoriginal if you glance at the title and subtitle alone, but there’s much more to it. Start by having a look at some of Newport’s articles (linked below) on Study Hacks.

2. How to Get a First: Insights and Advice from a First-class Graduate – Michael Tefula

If you’re at a British university and aiming for the top, you’ll want to get a 1st class degree. This book is a bit more generic than Cal Newport’s research, but it’s still useful, particularly when it comes to investigating “the growth mindset”

3. The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You’ll Ever Need – Daniel H. Pink

This is next on my reading list, as a book I’ve heard plenty of good stuff about. In descriptions of the book we’re told that “the unlikeliest career advisor” gives six essential lessons for “thriving in the world of work”. I’m certainly interested.

4. So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love – Cal Newport

Daniel H. Pink study and career advice book
The Adventures of Johnny Bunko
by Daniel H. Pink
The premise of this book is that “following your passion” is bad advice and we’d do much better to cultivate our skills. It’s more directed at the world of work than Newport’s three other study-skills books, but we’d all do well to read it, students or otherwise. Newport’s certainly convinced me not to become too wrapped up in the “passion myth”.

5. Hacking Your Education: Ditch the Lectures, Save Tens of Thousands, and Learn More Than Your Peers Ever Will – Dale J. Stephens

Yes, the title of this one is slightly pretentious. However, Stephens helps you to create opportunities for yourself and tailor your curriculum – inside and outside the classroom. Whether you’re wanting to travel, start a company, or succeed in business, this book has some great advice of how to get started now instead of waiting for graduation.

The best articles for students I’ve come across:

6. My plea to college students looking for a job or internship (Michael Adams)

7. How to Ace Your Finals Without Studying (Scott Young)

8. Studies and Studying: How Do Top Students Study? (Quora)

9. The Einstein Principle: Accomplish More by Doing Less (Study Hacks)

10. The Romantic Scholar: A New Approach to Student Life (Study Hacks)

11. The Notebook Method: How Pen and Paper Can Transform You Into a Star Student (Study Hacks)

Here’s to a great academic year, both for the college students and the lifelong-learners! Do you have any other books or articles to add?

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