Paul Smith Rivas
3 Questions with Paul Smith Rivas
Author of This Book Will Not Be on the Test: The Study Skills Revolution

Paul Smith Rivas’s book is part on-the-ground college insider tell-all memoir and part study skills bible. It’s brutally honest, relatable, entirely free of jargon, and alerts parents to a huge problem in American education today—high school doesn’t prepare students to thrive in college. Offering explicit study skills solutions for the academic, financial, and mental health problems caused by this unfortunate reality, This Book Will Not Be on the Test helps students, parents, teachers, and administrators have more rewarding experiences in schools.
In this Q&A, we asked Paul 3 questions for our readers to get a glimpse behind the scenes.

1) Why did you write the book and what do you hope readers take away from it?
I’ve been a full-time study skills specialist for eight years now: three at U.C. Santa Barbara and five independently in the DC metro area. I wrote "This Book Will Not Be on the Test" to spread the word about the transformative power of study skills by making my system accessible to as many families as possible. The key takeaway for readers is that school is a simple game, but schools don’t tell you the rules. In order for families to get their money’s worth from their investments in their children’s education, they have to learn how to exploit these unwritten rules through a combination of study skills and soft skills.

2) Do you have a method, tool, hack, or quirk that helps you write?
My preferred way to write book-length projects is to hole-up and write all day from 9-5. That’s how I wrote the first draft of "This Book Will Not Be on the Test," roughly 25,000 words in nine days. A distant second-best is to list what has to be done, estimate how long it’ll take, triple the estimate, and schedule that many hours on my Google Calendar wherever they’ll fit reasonably and realistically. That’s how I completely overhauled the first draft of this book and wrote another 15,000 words, all of which took about three weeks. Both methods boil down to writing during every waking hour of the day when my brain is working well enough to write.

3) What is the book you would take with you on a deserted island?
Gabriel Garcia Marquez's “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” no pun intended. Seriously! For my money, it’s the ultimate book from which to continuously learn. It has tons of characters to keep track of, imaginative absurdities, and an epic narrative. This makes it the perfect book for readers to connect to their prior knowledge and experiences, which is the key to learning! I’d take the original version, in Spanish, for double the fun.

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