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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $99.99

352 pp.
44 figures; 10 tables, 7" x 9"


Copyright Year:

Imprint: OUP Canada

Making the Grade

A Guide to Study and Success, Canadian Edition

Iain Hay, Dianne Bochner, Carol Dungey and Nellie Perret

Filled with practical strategies for today's student, Making the Grade is an insightful, easy-to-use guide that will help readers develop the skills they need to excel at the university level. Classroom-tested and authored by an international team of experts, this text has been thoroughly updated to reflect the changing reality of the Canadian classroom. Suitable for students in any discipline, this current and comprehensive resource is essential reading for students at the start of their university careers and beyond.

Readership : A student success text for first-year students in all disciplines at universities.


  • "The writing style is the best I've encountered. No jargon, but not too simple either. Just right. The best skill sets text for university students on the market."

    --Robert L. Nelson, University of Windsor

  • "A major strength of Making the Grade is its comprehensiveness. I have not yet come across a one-volume published work that covers all the issues this book covers."

    --Reuben Gabriel, University of New Brunswick

  • "We liked the cleaner and more academic format. Many of the texts we reviewed were choppy, full of pictures and gimmicks, and they tended to convey the message 'this is high-schoolish'. We wanted something that appeared more 'serious'. We were also pleased with the careful attention paid to communication."

    --David Creelman, University of New Brunswick

Part I: Successful Study
1. Starting Out: University Study and You
What is University Learning All About?
Learning: How Do You Go About it?
Learning in Lectures
Learning to Listen
- Barriers to effective listening
- Techniques for effective listening
- Effective listening in lectures
Taking Good Notes in Lectures
- How many notes should you take?
- Hints for better note taking in lectures
- Editing your notes
- Sharing notes
- Recording lectures
- Using lecture handouts
Learning in Tutorials, Seminars, and Workshops
- What is the difference between a tutorial and a seminar?
- Getting the most out of tutorials and seminars
- What is a workshop?
- Joining facilitated study groups
Classroom Etiquette
Learning and Listening
2. Clocking In: Managing Your Time *
Studying Outside Formal Classes
- Planning your study time
- Monitoring yourself
- Drawing up a personal study timetable
- Planning your semester
- Chunking
- Back-planning
Juggling Competing Demands
- Setting priorities
- Co-curricular activities
- Planning your week
- Finding time for yourself
- Give yourself a break
- Long- vs short-distance studying
- Watch out for procrastination
Studying at Night
- Studying productively at night
3. Reading Up: Strategic Reading *
Approaches to Reading
Practising Reading
- Improving reading speed
- Skimming texts
- Reading for different purposes
- Getting started on your reading
- Reading to find information
- Reading to remember
- Taking notes to help you remember
- Taking reading notes for tests and exams
- Reading for assignments
Making Notes for Essays and Other Assignments
- Some practical suggestions for making and storing research notes
4. Thinking Through: Critical Thinking *
What is Critical Thinking?
- Putting information in context
- Determining purpose
- Look who's talking
- The implied audience
- Identifying the thesis
Considering the Evidence
- Where does the evidence come from?
- How reliable is the evidence?
- How relevant is the evidence?
- How current is the evidence?
- Is there enough evidence to support the claim?
- Are there biases in the selection (or omission) of evidence?
- Conflicting and confirming evidence: watch out for your own biases!
Looking at the Argument
- Thinking about theory
- Structuring the argument
5. Teaming Up: Working in Groups
Why use Groups for Student and in the Workplace?
What Does Group Work Offer Individuals?
What Kinds of Tasks are Appropriate for Groups Rather than Individuals?
What Makes a Group Effective?
How Can You Make Your Group Effective?
- Group development
- Getting acquainted
- Understanding the project
- Allocating roles
- Organizing your time
Maintaining an Effective Group
- Group roles
Supportive Behaviour within the Group
Problems With Working in Groups
Collaborative Writing of a Group Project
Making A Group Presentation
6. Facing Up: Coping with Tests and Exams
Why Have Exams?
Types of Exams
Preparing For An Exam
- Review throughout the term
- Find out about the exam
- Find a suitable study space
- Keep to a study schedule
- Get started and maintain a positive attitude
- Concentrate on understanding, not memorizing
- Vary your revision practices
- Practise answering exam questions
- Seek help if you need it
- Maintain regular patterns
- Watch what you eat!
- Dress appropriately
- Pack your bag
- Get to the right exam in the right place at the right time
Writing Exams: A Guide
- Check that you have all pages, questions, and answer sheets
- Read the instructions carefully before beginning
- Work out a timetable
- Read the questions carefully before beginning
- Plan your answers
- Begin with the answers you know best
- Answer the questions asked
- Attempt all required questions
- Grab the marker's attention
- Emphasize important points
- Support generalizations
- Write legibly and comprehensively
- Leave space for additions
- Keep calm!
- Proofread completed answers
Specific Advice for Multiple-Choice Exams
Specific Advice for Oral Exams
Specific Advice for Open-Book Exams
Specific Advice For Take-Home Exams
Online Exams
7. Finding Out: Becoming Well Informed
Why are Research Skills Important?
Becoming Familiar with the Library
Using the Library Catalogue
Locating Material in the Library Building
- The physical collection
- Classification systems
- Call numbers
The Virtual Library: Using Electronic Collections
- Databases
- E-journals
- E-books
- E-reserve
- Simultaneous or federated searching
Finding Information for Your Assignment
- Steps in a search strategy
- Example of a search strategy
Summing Up
Part II: Successful Communication
8. Writing Up: Essay Writing
Why Write?
How do you Write a Good Essay?
What Are your Essay Markers Looking For?
- Quality of argument
- Quality of evidence
- Use of supplementary material
- Written expression and presentation
- Sources/referencing
The Matter of Scholarship
9. Arguing Through: Preparing and Presenting Written Argument
How do we Define an Argument?
- Inductive and deductive arguments
What Makes a Strong Inductive Argument?
What is Acceptable Reasoning and Evidence in Developing an Argument?
- Deductive reasoning
- Valid cause-and-effect reasoning
- Argument by analogy
- Argument based on empirical generalization
- Valid research
- The opinions of those who are acknowledged experts in their own fields
What is Unacceptable Reasoning or Evidence?
- Unsubstantiated generalizations
- Isolated individual examples
- False analogy
- Irrelevant or insignificant statistics, examples, or other information
- Hearsay
- Unqualified opinion
- Personal attack
- Quoting out of context
- Omission of inconvenient information
- Arguing from ignorance
- False dilemma
a: A Word of Warning
A Summary of the Requirements for a Strong Argumentative Essay
Some Hints for Planning an Argumentative Essay
10. Stating Facts: Writing Research Reports and Laboratory Reports
What are Report Readers Looking For?
General Layout of a Report
- Preliminary material
- Introduction: Why did you do this study?
- Materials and methods: How did you do this study?
- Results: What did you find out?
- Discussion and conclusion: What do the findings mean?
- References
- Appendices
Written Expression and Presentation
- Language of the report
- Presentation
Writing a Laboratory Report
- Setting out a laboratory report
11. Making Sense: Writing Annotated Bibliographies, Summaries, and Reviews
Preparing an Annotated Bibliography
- What is the purpose of an annotated bibliography?
- What is the reader of an annotated bibliography looking for?
Writing Summaries or Précis
- What is the reader of a summary or précis looking for?
Writing a Review
- What are your review markers looking for?
- Description: What is the reviewed item about?
- Analysis: Details of strengths and weaknesses
- Evaluation: Contribution to the discipline
- Written expression, references, and presentation of the review
- Some examples of reviews
12. Writing Well: Language and Sentence Structure
What is Good Writing?
Achieving the Goals of Good Functional Writing
Choosing the Right Word
- Be concise
- Be precise
- Avoid slang or colloquial language
- Avoid jargon
- Beware of easily confused words
Using Non-Discriminatory Language
- Using language and descriptions that refer to both genders
- Using language that avoids stereotyping and discrimination
- Avoiding racist language
Structuring Clear Sentences
- Writing complete sentences
- Keeping sentences short
- The run-on sentence or the comma splice
- Using active and passive verbs
- Using parallel structure
Finding Out About Correct Grammar
13. Dotting "I"s: Using Punctuation Correctly
Why is Punctuation Important?
Using Abbreviations and Other Shortened Forms of Words or Phrases
- The correct form for abbreviations
- Using acronyms
Using Apostrophes Correctly
- Using the possessive apostrophe
- Using the apostrophe to show contractions
Using Capital Letters
Using Colons
Using Semicolons
Using Commas
Using Ellipses
Using Periods
Using Numbers
Using Quotation Marks
- Placing punctutation when quoting
Finding out More About Punctuation
14. Owning Up: Acknowledging Sources
The APA System
- In-text references
- List of references
The MLA System
The CMS N-B System
- Footnotes and endnotes
- Bibliography
The CMS A-D System
Notes and Note Identifiers
The Importance of Acknowledging Sources
15. Speaking Out: Public Speaking
Why are Public Speaking Skills Important?
Preparing to Give a Talk
- Establishing the context and the goals
- Organizing the material for presentation
- Structuring your talk
- Preparing your text and visual aids
- Rehearsing
- Final points of preparation
Delivering Your Talk
Coping With Questions
16. Showing Off: Communicating with Figures and Tables
Why Communicate Graphically?
General Guidelines for Clear Graphic Communication
- Good graphics are concise
- Good graphics are comprehensible
- Good graphics are independent
- Good graphics are referenced
Different Types of Graphs
- Scattergrams
- Line graphs
- Bar charts
- Histograms
- Population pyramids or age-sex pyramids
- Circle or pie charts
- Logarithmic graphs
- Elements of a table
References and Useful Resources
Appendix: Weekly Study Grid
* New chapters to the Canadian edition

E-Book (ISBN 9780199000005):
Available through CourseSmart.com
Instructor's Manual:
Chapter summaries
Key concepts
5-10 discussion questions per chapter
5-10 additional readings per chapter
5-10 additional online resources per chapter
Suggested projects/activities
Teaching notes/sample syllabi
Test Generator:
800 questions in total
25 multiple-choice questions per chapter
15 true-or-false questions per chapter
5-10 short-answer questions per chapter
Complete answer key with page references for multiple-choice and true-or-false questions
Suggested answers for short-answer questions
PowerPoint Slides: Prepared by the Canadian adapter, Dr Nellie Perret
20-25 slides per chapter
Student Study Guide: Prepared by the Canadian adapter, Dr Nellie Perret
Chapter summaries
Lists of key terms with glossary definitions
Printable activities, including templates for note-taking and samples of effective notes
Self-grading quizzes featuring 10 multiple-choice questions per chapter along with an answer key and page references
10-15 true-or-false questions per chapter with an answer key and page references
3-5 reflection questions (in short-answer format) per chapter with an answer key and page references
Short talks from the Canadian adapter, Dr Nellie Perret, have been carefully matched to each chapter. Topics include 'Making the most of your lectures', 'Tracking your time', and 'Strategic reading'
Bonus Chapters:
Ch 17: Finding Ground: Making Maps. Introduces the various types of maps, graphs, and charts that exist and their key components, while offering advice on how to properly create and include these figures in common assignments.
Ch 18: Pasting Up: Preparing Posters. Explains the importance of academic posters as a useful way of presenting research results and other information, with step-by-step instructions on how to design an effective poster.

Dianne Bochner worked for many years in the English department at Flinders University, where she taught professional writing and communication skills as well as literary studies.

Carol Dungey is library site manager, Defence Science and Technology Organisation, South Australia, and former campus librarian at the University of South Australia.

Iain Hay is Australian Learning and Teaching Council discipline scholar for the arts, social sciences, and humanities and professor of geography at Flinders University, South Australia. He completed his PhD at the University of Washington as a Fulbright scholar and recently received a LittD from the University of Canterbury for over twenty years of post-doctoral work on geographies of domination and oppression. He is author or editor of ten books including Money, Medicine and Malpractice in American Society (Praeger, 1992) and Qualitative Research Methods in Human Geography (Oxford, 2010). He is general editor of Springer's new 'International Handbooks of Human Geography' series and has had editorial roles with journals that include Applied Geography, Ethics, Place and Environment, and Social and Cultural Geography. In 2006, Iain received the Prime Minister's Award for Australian University Teacher of the Year. He received the 2009 Taylor and Francis Award of the Royal Geographical Society (with the Institute of British Geographers) and the inaugural Association of American Geographers' E. Willard and Ruby S. Miller Award in 2010 for 'outstanding contributions to the discipline of geography'. Iain is currently President of the Institute of Australian Geographers.

Nellie Perret received her Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from the University of Toronto. She has been teaching Canadian university students for over thirty years with a particular emphasis on supporting diverse learning styles. Working closely with faculty, colleagues and students, she has developed and delivered a wide range of programming to promote students' academic success, including workshops and lectures on time management, reading and note taking, preparing for exams, dealing with perfectionism and procrastination, and developing strategies to improve memory and concentration.

Making Sense - Margot Northey and Joan McKibbin
The Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes
The Concise Canadian Writer's Handbook: Student Workbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, Judy Brown, Ramona Montagnes and Peter J.W. Chambers
The Concise Canadian Writer's Handbook - The late William E. Messenger, Jan de Bruyn, Judy Brown and Ramona Montagnes

Special Features

  • Canadian content. Introduces students to life at Canadian universities, the expectations Canadian professors have of their students, and the facilities and resources available on the average campus.
  • Skills-oriented. Offers proven advice for building core skills such as time management, strategic reading, active listening, effective note-taking, critical thinking, and much more, making this an indispensable resource for students in any discipline.
  • Authoritative. With over 20 years of teaching and coaching experience in the area of student success, Dr Nellie Perret offers expert guidance and original exercises to prepare students for university life.
  • Current. Incorporates coverage of new technology including course blogs, podcasts, and online class discussion boards, reflecting the ever-changing reality of postsecondary education.
  • Versatile. Each self-contained chapter deals with a particular skill necessary for university success; the book can be read cover-to-cover or used as a reference.
  • Accessible. The writing style is clear and direct without being condescending to the student reader.
  • Practical and user-friendly. Includes sample student notes, carefully chosen figures, and examples from real textbooks, as well as templates for reading logs, flashcards, and checklists, inviting students to apply the techniques described in the text to their own studies.
  • A wealth of exercises. Integrated throughout, these exercises illustrate and reinforce important concepts, while marginal icons direct students to online self-grading quizzes and exercises for additional study and review.
  • Inclusive approach. Recognizes that students face a variety of personal and academic challenges when starting university life and integrates themed boxes throughout to address these challenges. Boxes include:
  • 'Tip' boxes offer brief insight on various scenarios and aspects of undergraduate study
  • 'Tips for EAL Learners' boxes offer concrete advice to English as an Additional Language (EAL) students
  • 'Navigating Learning Challenges' boxes offer specific suggestions for students with learning disabilities
  • Student-friendly pedagogy. Includes bolded key terms, boxed key concepts, chapter glossaries, suggested further reading, related websites, and answer keys to the exercises, helping students grasp the material.
  • Appendix: Weekly Study Grid. Tear-out weekly scheduling grids at the end of the book provide students with a helpful template to organize their time.
  • 'Brain Boosters: Study Tips'. Found on the inside front cover, this handy list helps students effectively prepare for assignments and tests with tips such as knowing the right time to study, studying actively, taking breaks, asking questions, and participating in study groups.
  • 'Stress Busters: Managing Stress'. Found on the inside back cover, this helpful list offers advice on stress management with tips such as making time for yourself, getting involved, eating well, exercising, and asking for help.
  • Online support. Key concepts of the book are reinforced by a comprehensive suite of online resources designed to facilitate studying and teaching; includes a Student Study Guide, podcasts, two bonus chapters, a Test Generator, an Instructor's Manual, and more.