September 11, 2011
Getting an “A” Without Trying:
New Book Reveals How Understanding Memory Processes Leads to Academic Success
Kurt Eby’s new book, “Getting an ‘A’ Without Trying” sounds too good to be true, and at first, it even seems a bit far-fetched, but readers will quickly find that Eby not only has a method to his “madness” but he has actually developed a very logical and simple way of memorizing information through associations that can easily result in earning A’s in school. As Eby points out early, even though higher education tends to emphasize critical thinking, first you need to know the material before you can think about it critically, and most “knowing” is simply memorizing facts and figures.
At first glance, the methods Eby suggests may seem outlandish, even nonsensical—they are like crazy cartoons running through our heads—and his classmates concluded, from looking at his notes, that he was either a genius, a cheater, or nuts. But Eby does not claim to be any of the three—he is simply the inventor of a very logical learning method that also happens to be a great deal of fun.
The result of Eby’s method was that he received A’s in school. In fact, he was only the third person ever to graduate from Palmer College of Chiropractic West with a 4.0, and he did that while only studying 30 percent as much as his classmates. In his book’s introduction, Eby tells us, “The point of this story is not to brag about how brilliant I am, but as you will see throughout this book, it is rather about how ordinary I am, and about how anybody can do what I have done.”
So what is Kurt Eby’s secret? He has taken the time to understand how memory works, and then to build up associations for what he must memorize and to use visual representations of information so they remain firmly in his mind. Really, his method is not much more complicated than that, but the results are astounding, and anyone who reads this book and follows the exercises will quickly discover that he or she can do the same.
As a former professor and someone who has always enthusiastically been able to remember historical dates with little trouble, I think Kurt Eby’s method would be very beneficial to students. When a student, I created my own little methods to help me remember things, often associated with stories or using rhythm to remember vocabulary definitions, but I never formulated anything so elaborate as what Kurt Eby has accomplished. Nevertheless, because I have used some similar, though less developed methods, I can definitely see how his process would work effectively.
As a novelist, I also appreciate Eby’s methods because I have long known that storytelling is an effective way of learning material. Eby basically teaches us how to create story plots in our heads, associated with the information we need to remember. I think Eby’s methods only reinforce how powerful stories are as a way to learn that can also make learning fun as well as educational.
I wish I and all students were taught such a method in elementary school, and this method is so simple that even elementary school children could easily learn it—in fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if they excelled at it more than older students because they have spent less years mislearning how to learn. Furthermore, I think many people, as they read about Eby’s methods, will nod their heads and say, “I did something like that to remember X when I was in school.” Only, most of us did not take the time to develop such methods further and thereby missed out on the benefits Eby saw as a result.
Finally, I appreciate Eby’s practical advice not just about how to learn information, but the importance of the mindset required to learn and to succeed in showing you have learned the information. For example, he states:
Beyond strategies for memorizing, Eby also reminds readers how to think like teachers so they can take tests in a way to produce impressive results in their teachers’ opinions. Eby gives helpful advice for how to answer questions that might not be as easy as simple memorization, as in the case of writing in-class essays, or how to impress instructors during oral examinations.
This book may look small and its methods may be simple, but its information is revolutionary and life-changing nevertheless; buying this book and spending the small amount of time required to read it is well worth the hundreds of hours of study time you will save and the reward of better grades you will assuredly receive. The path to the A’s you have always wanted can easily be found within the pages of “Getting an ‘A’ Without Trying.”
For more information about Kurt Eby, his book, and his revolutionary study methods, visit his website www.GettingAnAWithoutTrying.com.
— Tyler R. Tichelaar, Ph.D. and author of the award-winning “Narrow Lives”
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