Book by Ron Fry
Review by Linda Mayhew, Ph.D.
Department of Asian Studies
The University of Texas at Austin

When students enter college, they must adapt to coursework more rigorous than their high school curriculum.  This challenge continues throughout their college education, as they transition into advanced classes where they read more sophisticated texts and produce more insightful research papers.  The ability to adapt to these increasingly higher expectations ensures academic success and empowers lifelong learning after graduation. As an advisor, my individual meetings with students often include a discussion of how to modify study techniques to meet various levels of academic demands. In reading Ron Fry's How to Study, advertised on the cover as one of the "best selling study books of all time," I hoped to find some innovative ideas to incorporate into these conversations about study skills.

How to Study guides students through the entire process of developing a plan of action for studying.  The book begins with some short quizzes to help students evaluate their current study skills and consider their ideal study conditions. It demonstrates how to break down various aspects of the study plan, such as managing time and researching and writing papers.  Fry's suggestions to improve reading and test-taking skills are straightforward and practical, i.e. skim through a chapter before trying to absorb all the details; answer all the easy questions on a multiple choice test first.

Fry does an excellent job of addressing his book to a wide audience. Students will find his writing style extremely accessible; his wording is clear and not weighted down with terminology. The annotated questions in the introductory quizzes wonderfully exemplify the broad appeal of this book, as the author's comments guide the reader through analysis of his or her own educational predilections and enable a more accurate response.  In keeping with the theme of breadth, non-traditional students receive attention in the section "Studying with Small Kids" (p 46-47).  In addition, Fry tailors many of his time management suggestions for both types of students, writing: "No one tends to telephone you at the library and little brothers (or your own kids) will not find you easily among the stacks of books" (p. 39).

Advisors, professors, and experienced learners will recognize the tips in How to Study and find few thought-provoking insights. Likewise students struggling with learning disabilities receive little assistance from this book. The suggestions in this book will be most useful for students who sit down to work and either don't know where to begin or cannot accomplish their tasks.  The study techniques will be especially valuable for students new to college, especially ones who succeeded in high school without putting much effort into reading textbooks or researching papers. All in all, Fry's How to Study provides simple and solid advice on organizing study time and planning out memorization, research, and writing.  

How to Study (Sixth Edition) (2005). Book by Ron Fry. Review by Linda Mayhew, Ph.D. Clifton Park, NY: Thomson Delmar Learning, 238 pp. $12.99. ISBN # 1-40188-911-5
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