Essay Writing
Mission Possible
Myth Metaphor and Science
Mission Possible: The Study Skills Pack

What is 'Mission Possible' all about? Why use this material?
Many students, at some point in their study, find themselves apparently powerless to improve. They may get stuck in the same old problems. Their grades refuse to budge. Coursework becomes a chore. Other students might actually be doing very well, yet seem thwarted in their attempts to hit the very top notes of achievement.
Mission Possible
offers all such students and their tutors, at the very least, a partial remedy. This diverse palette of Study Skills resources has been developed over a number of years by Mario Petrucci, Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, and with the bogged-down student very much in mind. It is free for anyone to use, student or tutor, either in personal study or as part of a tutored course (though not for publication or resale, see Conditions of Use below).

The Pack is already tried and tested, and has proved invaluable to students in the preparation of essays, dissertations, talks and presentations, as well as for anyone attempting to survive exams. Many of the techniques, though, go further than that: they also help with 'life skills'. That is, the ideas can be adapted to all kinds of situation – anything from the design of a clear and energetic CV, to giving an impressive job (or radio!) interview. The benefits are lifelong.


Student Version

Tutor/Teacher Version


Who can benefit from this Pack ?   
Anyone interested in self-development through reading, writing and study.

Mature students and sixth-formers preparing for the independent regime of university study, along with its various and demanding tasks (essays, exams, presentations, vivas, etc).

Students already at university (post-graduates too) motivated to find new stress-reducing study techniques or ways of enhancing grades, confidence and (yes, it can happen) their enjoyment of courses.

Tutors and Teachers, and their departments, seeking support or fresh ideas in establishing (or augmenting) a rigorous, effective and student-friendly approach to Study Skills.

RLF Fellows in academic/ writing institutions, involved in 1-to-1 or group work where Study Skills are an on-going concern, or dealing with repetitive study-based problems.


What kinds of topic are included?
Speaking & Presenting in Public     
Design & Delivery of Overhead Transparencies
Voice, Body, Breath; Nerves     
Creating a 'Core Statement' (for essay plans, etc)
Essay Plans       
Making sure you answer the Question
Building Your Argument: '13 Ways'     
Modes of Reading : 'Skim/ Scan/ Spiral'
Memory and Revision       
Mnemonics (making memory easier)
Memory's Wheelbarrow       
Strands of Study (a strategy for the entire year)
Managing Tasks: the 6-Stage Attack   
Building 'Personal Modules' (your knowledge base)
Proofing & Checking       
The Five Writers (how do you work?)
Basic Study Skills: a summary     
Building English (eg for overseas students)


What the Pack doesn't do…
Mission Possible is by no means exhaustive, nor is it a cure-all for every type of difficulty one encounters in essays, exams or research. There are gaps which, given the space and time, I would have liked to plug (including that fraught issue of how to adjust the work to meet a required word count). Moreover, there are common queries in essay-writing – such as the conventions for bibliographies, quotes, etc – which I keep silence on, partly because they are dealt with so thoroughly elsewhere (for instance, a mere click or two away on this very site, in David Kennedy's excellent guide). I focus instead on a number of key skills in study, planning and presentation, often of deep concern to students but not always dealt with in the 'How-To' books. I also introduce new, unusual or revitalising techniques to cope with some of the perennial problems. As ever, though, one cannot find all the answers in one place – one never does! – but I am confident Mission Possible will give its visitors a good start.


Conditions of Use
I am entirely happy for any of these handouts and exercises (or adaptations of them) to be copied and used for educational purposes, subject to the following conditions:

Please ensure each sheet or excerpt retains the copyright notation:
© Mario Petrucci 2005;

No idea, text or image may be reproduced or re-published in saleable form.

Use of ideas or material in articles, journal papers, etc. requires the usual courtesy of acknowledgement.


'Mission Possible' background: how it came to be; where it's going.