There aren’t many moms or dads in America that can brag that all three of their college kids received a 4.0 Grade Point Average this spring semester.  But we can!  And my wife and I want to give all the credit to them – but we can’t.  We have to take some for ourselves.

Seriously, we are very proud of our students (two sons and a daughter) who have successfully navigated their classes in College Station, Texas to achieve the goal of all students when they receive their syllabi the first week of classes. But this is not a particular surprise because our kids are all “Old School.” They have bought into The Old School program over the last few years and it is paying off for not only them – but other students from whom I frequently receive a “thank you” for introducing them to the Old School Advantage techniques.

With over 800 tips, nuggets and techniques in my book, I believe one of the most important areas of instruction which has aided my kids in their efforts (Did I already say how proud of them we are for all of their hard work?) is time management.

Wordsworth said, “To steer is heaven, to drift is hell.” One simple way we teach Old School students to “steer” is by planning the day the night before in writing. The mere act of having a definitive written schedule and action plan reduces their stress. Preparing tomorrow’s activities the night before doubles that peace of mind. By reviewing tomorrow’s tasks sometime in the evening, your mind can actually be working on issues you face the next day—while you are sleeping.

Research by a leading expert on the positive benefits of napping suggests that rapid eye movement (REM) sleep enhances creative problem solving. Furthermore, research shows that your brain becomes very active when you sleep, and that during certain phases of sleep, your brain becomes even more active if you’ve just learned something new. That “something new” can be the class you just had or the study material you just learned for the exam tomorrow.  So do the heavy studying at night and let your mind work while you sleep.

“Habits, like trees, are strengthened by age." —J. C. Ryle
Another important aspect of time management – especially in our age of the tyrannical e-rectangles is to schedule in time blocks.

You are no doubt familiar with the mantra “A goal without a deadline is just a dream.” It is generally applied to long-range planning goals. By scheduling time blocks throughout the day, you are applying this principle of “working to a deadline” on a short-term basis as well. This technique will provide much greater efficiency in the completion of your daily “things-to-do” list.

If you are a student, use the time block method to segment your study time. This assists you in prioritizing the more difficult or time-urgent subjects instead of leaving them for last—as is always the temptation. Always wait until the end of each time block to check texts and e-mails. Not only will the attention to organized segments of time help you manage your tasks more efficiently, avoiding these every‐other‐minute distractions could do more for your success at school than anything else. I estimate this simple tip will add a quarter- or half-point to a student’s GPA.

Finally, it is important to be time-efficient on exams. Here are a few of the test-taking tips which save time and points when it’s exam time: 
  • Round One: Answer easy questions first—skip the more complex.
  • Round Two: Count remaining (harder) questions and divide your remaining time. Leave ten minutes to review.
  • Circle crucial words in questions.
  • Multiple-choice questions usually have two obviously wrong answers. Eliminate them first. Then, one of the remaining two or three is correct.
  • Take each remaining option as an independent true or false question.
  • Don’t be intimidated by multiple-multiple choice tests. They, too, are simply a group of true or false questions.
  • C is not always the best answer to guess. Be more methodical.
  • On essay questions tests, remember - the grading is relative to other students, so the more facts you include, the better.
  • Use stock phrases from lectures (professors like seeing their own terms).
  • If you don’t know the answer to the essay question(s) asked on the exam, answer one you do know. You will likely get credit for it—even if not full credit. (It’s better than nothing, and showing that you know the subject well in some way cannot hurt you.)

Don’t forget: It is never a waste of time to get to class early and stay late or to sit on the front row and smile.

Do you know anyone that wants a 4.0? 

I am wondering if they too can benefit from The Old School Advantage?