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How To Make Self Tuition Successful

By Anthony Keith Whitehead

Is it possible to study successfully on one's own? Certainly. Being taught something by someone else is usually the easiest way of learning but if, for whatever reason, that is not possible or just difficult, self tuition is a means to the same end that can be made to work for you.

There are four principles which one needs to remember to be successful: STRATEGY, MOTIVATION, APPLICATION and PERSISTENCE. These, in fact, are not too different from the requirements for success in any form of study. But their essentialities are all tightened up in achieving goals in self study.


A carefully devised strategy before considering anything else will pay great dividends later. So undertake it carefully at the start.

One needs to be clear about the ultimate objective. Ask yourself : where I want to finish up? What are the essential stages in getting? How do I keep my options open in case I need to make a change of direction or objective later on?

Most strategies in education and training will involve sitting and passing examinations. Make sure at the outset what the exact requirements are. Approach the organising body and get all the information you can. The same advice really applies also to examinations run by any official body which will validate your qualifications.

Setting Your Pace

This is where the self-tuition student can score an advantage. You are not constrained by the set progress of tuition classes. You can go faster or slower according to your own preferences and the date the examining body sets for its exams. But be honest with yourself in setting these time objectives.

Exam Strategy

An examination system sets (usually) rigid frameworks within which you must operate. Try to make them work for you. For example, exams often have elements of predictability. The subject areas are fixed and the syllabus is known in advance. The areas for exam questions can often be predicted from a study of past papers. Get hold of as many as you can and spend time studying them - just as important as studying your subject!

Programme Of Study

Buy whatever books are recommended for each subject. Don't skimp on this because they take the place of the teacher/lecturer and are essential.

Look at the number of areas within each subject. Compare these to (a) those which have come up most regularly in past exam papers. Then set out a programme for covering the areas you have selected for study. This programme must be completed well in advance of the date of the exams to allow time for revision. As a general guide, allow about two months to revise a subject.


Only you can establish and maintain this.

Do not let the subjects become boring. Find ways to stimulate your interest, to break down and attack the subject matter. Simply reading is difficult when trying to maintain concentration.

Try making concise notes of chapters and sections within them. Or use a text highlighter to pass over important passages - but don't use yellow because it fades too quickly and is difficult to see in some lights. Also, do not use a colour you dislike.


You may have seen or heard of the film "The Loneliness Of The Long Distance Runner". That is what you are! And that is what self tuition is like: a lonely activity. All study is ultimately the same, but in your case even more so.

You need to give priority to your objective or, unless you are exceptionally intelligent and capable, you are likely not to succeed. Always remind yourself of your ultimate objective


So keep the "winning post" always in view - and remind yourself frequently of where you are heading and what you are going to achieve. Whatever it is you want the exams for, keep that as your motivator - and keep applying yourself to that objective. Get used to the loneliness and even find enjoyment in it. This is just part of finding within yourself the quality of persistence.

Remember that exams are not the "winning post" and is NOT the ultimate objective. Exams are only a means to an end. It is whatever you want the exams for that is your ultimate motivator. Persistence in pursuing that is what will lead to success.

About The Author
Anthony Keith Whitehead

Web Site:


Experience: Over twenty years in Christian healing, teaching and writing.

Qualifications: B.A., M.Phil., Cambridge University Certificate in Religious Studies.

Conditions of use: This article may be reproduced on condition that it is unaltered and that all this information is included.


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