Recommended Study Guides


Managing Your Learning
By Geoffrey Squires (author)


The Foundation — New learning does not always build on old learning. Sometimes we start on a new subject or topic from scratch. But most of the learning we do builds in some way on our existing knowledge and skills, and that is why it is important to ask about foundation: the basis or baseline for our learning. The point becomes most obvious when the foundations are shaky.

Sometimes we realise when we have begun a new course or programme that we are simply not properly equipped to follow it. There may be gaps in our prior learning, holes which should have been filled in and weren’t. Perhaps we simply did not cover X or Y. And unfortunately, the teacher or trainer assumes that we did, and we can feel a bit foolish admitting our ignorance.

You may think that you lack the necessary foundations, but don’t under estimate your existing knowledge and skills, especially if you have acquired these through experience rather than formal study. If this is the case, divide a page into three columns. In the first column, under the heading ‘Experience’, list the main things you have done in the last five years. In the second column, under the heading ‘Learning’ list what you think you have learned from doing those things. And in the third and final column, under the heading ‘Topic’, list what parts of the course this learning may correspond to. You may find that you have learned several things from each experience, and that some of this learning cuts across several experiences (eg. managing time/money/people.) And if it doesn’t what should you do?

If you think your foundations are shaky for some reason, don’t just leave the problem and hope it will go away. If anything, it will get worse as you get further and further into the course. You should act now, and try to get help. It is not your fault that you did not cover the topic. Use the following plan of action:

Ask the teacher. Explain the problem, and see what he or she suggests. Teachers would much rather you were up-front about this than trying to hide the problem; and it is not always easy for them to diagnose individual difficulties in a large group.

Get additional or remedial teaching in certain basic skills, such as maths, computing and writing. Many institutions now offer top-up courses in such subjects, partly because people may not have done them for some time, and need to brush up their competence.

Pre-read about the topic. As there may be some self-help books or software that you can work on in your own time. If you have a long summer or other break, use some of it to do basic preparation before the course starts and pre-reading for the course to get yourself up to speed. 

This book is about analysing, understanding and managing the way you learn as a student.  Whether you are working towards a formal qualification, are undertaking work-related training or are learning informally by yourself. 

Managing Your Learning will help you assess and build on your strengths and identify and deal with your weaknesses.  Each chapter has sections for you to make notes about your own situation and there is practical advice (like that stated above) on study problems and study skills.  By the end of the book, you will have had an opportunity to develop an ‘Individual Learning Profile’ and work out a ‘Personal Action Plan,’ as this book is written in a clear and common-sense way to ensure you get the most out of your learning experience.

The Good Study Guide
by Andy Northedge (author)

“…it can be used either as an introductory workbook or as a reference book to help you refine your study technique…”

The Student’s Writing Guide to the Arts and Social Sciences
by Gordon Taylor (author)

“this book is designed to help students with the problems they face in their academic writing. Beginning with the premise that successful writing in the arts and social sciences goes hand in hand with understanding the subject-matter and finding out what to do with it, the book deals with the tasks that confront students as they think about a problem and explore possible answers for discussion essays…”


One of the most important abilities needed to master essay-writing in the humanities and social sciences is the ability to ask questions of the essay topic itself as well as of the books you will read. If you can develop a facility in asking questions and in reflecting on likely answers to those questions, it is possible for a general shape for your essay (though not its precise content) to become evident to you even before you have begun any detailed reading.

Good Essay Writing: A Social Sciences Guide 
by Peter Redman (author)

“…it shows you how to approach different types of essay questions, provides detailed guidelines on the various ways of supporting and sustaining key arguments, addresses common worries, and provides extensive use of worked examples including complete essays which are fully analysed and discussed. All of the key points are encapsulated in easy to digest summaries…”

The Manager’s Good Study Guide
by K. Giles (author), N. Hedge (author)

“…designed for management students, this book is a comprehensive and practical guide for improving your study skills.

Using practical exercises and examples from the world of management: The Manager’s Good Study Guide, will help you to read with understanding; make meaningful notes; write fluently and accurately; handle numbers with confidence; prepare effectively for exams; understand and use business diagrams and charts.

Intended for all business students and managers working for management qualifications, this book shows you how to develop effective strategies for studying to suit your own personal needs…”

The Art of Asking
by Terry J Fadem (author)


76. How do you evaluate new ideas?

Judgement is necessary but insufficient without a disciplined process for evaluating and reaching a conclusion. Subjecting ideas to a strategy to determine whether an idea is the best for the business [during a tutorial lesson with a teacher] given the circumstances of your business [or essay plan and subsequent essay] should improve ideas and their implementation.

Questioning New Ideas:

Ask question. What’s the idea? [Explain it.]
Probe to show interest. What else do you need to understand?
Avoid trick questions and derisive or sarcastic remarks.

What do you know?
Questions should be direct at finding what is true and certain.
Ask questions from a number of different and relevant perspectives.

What are we uncertain about?
Q. What would it take for you to move from uncertain to certain?
Q. What does your experience tell you?
Q. Have you seen this kind of thing before?
Q. What does the experience of the other members tell you?
Q. What is probable? [not what is possible]
Q. Is it reasonable?
Q. Is it likely? How likely?
Q. Is there any way to test the idea other than by fully implementing it.

A new idea is like a new product. It needs to be subjected to all the same kinds of scrutiny that you would exercise for a new car or new suit. You might not like it, but you really don’t know much about it until you take it for a ride or try it on to see whether it fits.

Of course, you need to know what to ask, how to ask it, of whom and under the right circumstances, and so on. “Just asking” will get “just answers.” What you want are the answers you need to improve [yourself in essays], solve the problem and develop new ideas.

To put simply in a guideline summary:

1. Enter all situations thinking about what you don’t know.

2. Consider all others with whom you speak as equals. They might not have your title or responsibility, but they know what you don’t, and they are probably expert at it. You need them.

3. Be yourself. Don’t fake a question or adopt a style because of this text or any other. Be yourself. If a style or type of question doesn’t fit you, choose one that does.

4. Always thank people for their answers. Do so even if the questioning was contentious and particularly difficult. This will go further in establishing your legitimacy as a student, then your skill as an interrogator.

Thinking Critically
by The Open University (author)

“…To think critically, is to weigh up all sides of an argument and evaluate its strengths and weaknesses. This is a skill that we use in many everyday decision making situations. This booklet shows how these skills can be transferred effectively to academic life. It explains why critical thinking is important, and contains advice on reading with a critical eye, writing with a critical voice and techniques to practice with others….”

Improve Your Punctuation and Grammar
by Marion Field (author)

This book overall informs you about the correct punctuation and takes you from the basic rules of grammar, to showing you how to improve your writing, by choosing the right words (like in these instances):

Knowing when to use the word who that is the subjective and whom which is an objective word within a constructed sentence. 

That is the word who is singular and used in a sentence would read ‘Who could be relied upon’, meaning one person could be reliable, like an individual. Whereas the word whom is plural and would read within a sentence ‘Whom the people could rely upon’, meaning many people grouped together as a single entity could be responsible, like an institution. 

And both carry the same implied meaning and usage; making it known the person (who) or persons’ (whom) is being mentioned to the reader and that they are stable. 

And the other instance, is knowing when to use the correct word for the right meaning to be conveyed, as in the word you that is the subjective word, and your which is an objective word within a valediction. 

That is the word your (objective) is only used with an unspecified person or people in general when you don’t know them, like for instance “Your welcome” in replying with gratitude, eg. newspaper online reader comment replies. Whilst the word you (subjective) is used with only a specific person or an individual when you know them well enough, like the case in point “You’re welcome” as in “you are welcome”, that is, its usage is to show one’s gratitude on a very personal level, eg. replying back to a ‘thank you’ message for a gift that was well received.

However, when writing ‘Yours truly’, ‘Yours faithfully’, and ‘Yours sincerely’, it means you are giving yourself as a possession to another person in a valediction of those associated values — faithful, sincereity, truthfulness — that you hold as a civilized person, but not as a subject with your whole being, as yours is still an objective word. Thereat its not a personal indication of your emotions but a civil politeness in general (and nothing to do with traditions, culture or modernity, for its transilient), therein it isn’t submissive when its applied; as you are stating that you are their equal on those terms.

Thus for me, I use the valedication of ‘I remain’, as in a shortened version of “I remain yours”, with the associated value of gesturing a loyalty, that is absolutely gender neutral when written. Which is also very personal and means I’m very close to that particular individual, because I’m there for them with my whole entire being, (but not my subjective self), as if I were actually in their presence. Just so yous knows it…. [Aside Comment: I’m replying to all of my friends here at one time, as in “You lot”, in a very familiar manner with a heart-felt gesture of good-will.]

Weblink Info: Sample of Professional Valedications 

And further examples of using the right words for a sentence:

Thereat – for that reason, or on account of that.
Therein  – in that circumstance or respect.
Thereby – by that means; because of that.
Therefore – consequently.
Thereof – concerning this, that, or it.
Therefrom – from that cause or origin.
Thus – in this manner, or to a stated degree, or extent.

As well as this book covering the topic of varying your sentence structure. For example:

As in the use of the semi-colon; a symbol for the words ‘that is’, which was brought into the punctuation rules in 1644 from England to use in their written work.

Whereas the colon: a symbol for the words ‘which is’, ‘which is that’, ‘which is the’, ‘which was that’ and ‘which was’ had been adopted into the English language in the sixteenth century.

And both of these are explained within the book and examples given in how to use them appropriately in written work. 

Additionally, a punctuation mark that looks like an extended hyphen comes in two sizes: a short line mark, called the en dash, and a long line mark, which is called the erm dash. As explained below:

An erm dash —  so symbolised here is used to mark a break inbetween a sentence instead of using a comma to introduce something that develops, or is an example of what has gone before.  

And the en dash – so symbolised here which is used in the English language to show sequences as in ‘from and to’ and there is no space before or after it, for example 1987–2010. 

These aren’t the same as using a hyphen – which is so symbolised here as a minimal line, that is used to link compound words.

Or a dash – that is so symbolised here and is used in a syntax to construct a sentence for the purpose of reading words that naturally would flow together. For example: ‘I wonder if he’s thought of a ready-to-wear collection’, as opposed to ‘I felt newly sophisticated and was ready to wear black with aplomb!’ which makes sense when written without the dash inbetween the words joining them up.

Weblink Info: Accessing punctuation signs from a computer keyboard

Also in this book as well, is explaining the various parts of speech; the intonation element of the pronunciation, as intonation refers to the musical ‘tune’ of a sentence, for intonation is used in many different ways to put a ‘spin’ on a spoken sentence, thereby showing what role they each play in a sentence, for example:

Assessing the Mood

The mood refers to the particular attitude of the speaker or writer contained in the content of the sentence. There are three moods ― the declarative mood, the interrogative mood and the imperative mood. As explained below:

Making use of the declarative mood

The declarative mood is used when you are making a statement. So this is the mood you are likely to use most frequently as its very specific in nature; both when used in dialogue and in written form, and properly constructed sentences will be used too.

For example this declarative mood will be found most often in the essay work of students; like writing an issue exposition when you are spelling out the basic ideas, and your declaring a position of thought on the subject using an argumentative essay format.

And in business when job hunting; writing cover letters and replying to the employment rejection letters, then it is used for making statements of known facts, and in any other type of formal business correspondence such as reports or presentations, thus making statements of known scenarios.

Utilising the interrogative mood

The interrogative mood, as its name suggests, is used for asking questions, such as those seeking guidance, being inquisitive, or wanting further information. Its very reflective in nature both in dialogue and in written form. That is they are the type of sentence or clause used to ask questions, and there are four main types of question:

either/or questions.
tag questions.
wh- (who, whom, whose, what and which) questions.
yes/no questions.

And in the essay work of students it is used to start their line of questioning on the exposition of choice; like in a discussion essay in answering advocacy questions, as to outline or explain and illustrate a particular topic.

But the interrogative mood is more likely to be used when you are writing dialogue. For example: “Is there anyone there?’ he called. ‘Where are you?” It is also sometimes effective within a narrative to create a particular effect such as intimidation by drawing upon a conclusive line of questioning like “you did see him didn’t you?” rather than open-ended questions such as “could you have seen him?” And is a mood that is mostly used when written to draw and keep the readers interest in what you are trying to obtain in the end; even if its not what you wanted as a reply, which would put one in an interrogative mood.

And in the business environment the interrogative mood is used to seek further clarification and/or evaluating a proposition that is being made to the company, as in writing a market analysis report or a business model based upon the ‘what if’ question.

Using the imperative mood

The imperative mood is more likely to be used in dialogue, and its a mood that is very direct in its approach and very frank in its nature; both in dialogue and in written form with very short burst in its sentence structure. 

However it is also used frequently in the business environment for the writing of memorandums to get things done. It is also used for following commands such as instructions in a manual, and to make commands for example:

Come here.
Put out that cigarette.
Stop talking.
Go to bed.

And this imperative mood is usually set in a sentence with ditransitive verbs, and these include words such as – bring, give, offer, send, show, leave, take, tell, hand, pass, get and inform.  They include these verbs that refer to transferring something from one agent to another.

All of these words form the sentences and follow the rules but the subject; ‘you’ (second person ― singular or plural) is very much understood and you’ve explained what needs to be followed, as you’ve written it in a non-personal way. The person being given the orders is ‘you’ (second person singular or plural) when you read the words and the action that must be taken. And is most likely to be received in an inferred personalised manner, therein making it an imperative mood.

Thereat this book will help you master the basics of the English language and write with greater confidence and clarity, for its also written in a simple readable style and is a book for anyone who wishes to improve their standard of English.

Rulebook for Arguments
by Anthony Weston (author)

“A Rulebook for Arguments” is a succinct introduction to the art of writing and assessing arguments, organised around specific rules, each illustrated and explained soundly but briefly. This widely popular primer – translated into eight languages – remains the first choice in all disciplines for writers who seek straightforward guidance about how to assess arguments and how to cogently construct them…”


Typically we learn to “argue” by assertion. That is, we tend to start with our conclusions ─ our desires or opinion ─ without a whole lot to back them up. And it works, sometimes, at least when we’re very young. What could be better?

Real argument, by contrast, takes time and practice. Marshalling our reasons, proportioning our conclusions to the actual evidence, considering objectives, and all the rest ─ these are acquired skills. We have to grow up a little. We have to put aside our desires and our opinions for a while and actually think

Writing Exposition
by Writing Strands (book imprint) 


In the process for getting into an expository paper, about 95% of your writing in college [or higher education] will be the type called expository; both argumentative and explantory. The other few papers you will be asked to write will be your reactions to pieces you’ve been assigned in magazines or journals.

And when looking for and identifying the elements such as introduction, main body and ending, it should be noted that the conclusion has to it three parts, four for an argumentative exposition, that is:

1. Is a restatement of the contending idea but does not use the same words to describe it as you used in the introduction.

2. Is a reintroduction of the organisational aspects of the process but does not use the key words used in the process in the introduction;

3. Is a connection you make between the background, contention and body parts of your paper; and,

4. In argumentative exposition only, is a final statement relating to some action or thought process that the writer and/or the reader should go through because of the conclusion drawn from this experience.

Preparing Assignments
by The Open University (author)

“…writing good assignments may not come naturally to any of us but you will find useful guidance and tips within this booklet. It also contains advice, quizzes and exercises to help you improve your assignments…”

MHRA Style Guide
by Modern Humanities Research Association (author)

“…it provides comprehensive guidance on the preparation of copy for publication and gives clear and concise advice on such matters as spelling (including the spelling of proper names and the transliteration of Slavonic names), abbreviations, punctuation, the use of capitals and italics, dates and numbers, quotations, notes, and references in standard essays, but also includes reference guidelines for: illustrations, recordings, films and digital media…”

Skills for Study: The Different Structures of Essays

“…Various types of assignment may be required, even within a single course. Check your assignment instructions carefully before you look at the question itself. As many assignments need to be written in the form of an essay. There are four main types of essay: argument essays; discussion essays; comparison essays and multi-task essays. The structure of essay-style assignments is very open but generally includes an introduction, a main body and a conclusion…”


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