How to Use This Course
The Smart Method is a teaching methodology developed after many years of running classroom courses for many of the world's largest corporations. We've had a 100% success rate when teaching our students Excel in our classroom courses.
If you follow our learning recommendations, there is absolutely no doubt that you will master Excel.
If you don't follow our recommendations, it's possible that you will learn Excel eventually. But if you're serious about mastering Excel as quickly and efficiently as possible you should follow the recommended learning method suggested on this page.
Three Important Rules
#1 - Complete the course from beginning to end
It is always tempting to jump around the course completing lessons in a haphazard way.
We strongly suggest that you start at the beginning and complete lessons sequentially.
That's because each lesson builds upon skills learned in the previous lessons and one of our goals is not to waste your time by teaching the same skill twice. If you miss a skill by skipping a lesson you'll find the later lessons more difficult, or even impossible to follow. This, in turn, may demoralize you and make you abandon the course.
#2 - If possible, complete a session in one sitting
The Basic Skills course consists of two Sessions (each containing a number of lessons).
You'll learn better if you lock yourself away, switch off your telephone, and complete a full session, without interruption, except for a 15 minute break each hour. The memory process is associative and we've ensured that the lessons in each session are very closely coupled (contextually) with the others. By learning the whole session in one sitting, you'll store all of that information in the same part of your memory and will find it easier to recall later.
The experience of being able to remember all of the words of a song as soon as somebody has got you "started" with the first line is an example of the memory's associative system of data storage.
#3 - Rest at least every hour
In our classroom courses we have often observed a phenomenon that we call "running into a wall". This happens when a student becomes overloaded with new information to the point that they can no longer follow even the simplest instruction. If you find this happening to you, you've studied for too long without a rest.
You should take a 15 minute break every hour (or more often if you begin to feel overwhelmed) and spend it relaxing rather than catching up with your e-mails and text messages. Ideally you should relax by lying down and closing your eyes. This allows your brain to use all of its processing power to efficiently store and index the skills you've learned. We've found that this hugely improves retention of the skills learned.
How to work through the lessons
Download the entire e-book
The Excel 2016 basic skills course is published as an e-book that you can either view online (one lesson at a time) or offline (by using the link at the top of the page to download the entire e-book).
We strongly recommend that you download the entire e-book as it has a lot of useful information in the introduction section that you'll miss if you just view the single lessons.
You can also print out the entire Basic Skills e-book. If you have a class to teach you might want to print a book for each class member. There are some suggestions on page 5 of the full e-book that will help you to print perfect copies of the free e-book.
You can still use the Excel 2013 video course with the Excel 2016 release
Our courses are usually published in both book and video formats. Each are self‐contained courses and it is possible to learn effectively from just the video (or from just the book). Because Excel 2016 is almost identical to Excel 2013 we will not be recording a new video course for Excel 2016. If you prefer to learn from video, you will still get great value from our Excel 2013 video course as any minor changes are easy to work around. Some learners may decide to use only the printed or e-book).
You'll need to experiment with both in order to discover the one that works best for you.
Use a book-to-video or video-to-book sequence when working through the lessons
If you decide to use only the book to learn Excel 2016 make sure to review the How To Use This Book section on page 12 of the full free e-book.
If you decide to make use of the Excel 2013 video lessons, there are two methods that work well with our courses. You'll need to experiment with both in order to discover the one that works best for you.
This is the fastest way to learn but can be more stressful.
- First work through the lesson using the paper printed book or e-book. Only refer to the video if you have difficulty with the lesson.
- When you have completed the written lesson, view the video lesson. This will consolidate retention of the skills you've just learned.
- At some time during the following day, watch the video lesson again. This will ensure that the skills learned are retained.
This is a less stressful way to learn but takes a little longer.
- First watch the video for an overview of the lesson.
- When you have watched the video, work through the lesson using the paper printed book or e-book. Only refer to the video if you are unable to complete the lesson.
- When you have completed the lesson view the video again, it will reinforce retention of the skills you've just used.
- The next day, watch the video again. This will ensure that the skills learned are retained.
Because you can watch the videos on any online mobile device (such as an iPad or Android tablet device) it is possible to do the recap anywhere (for example when travelling to and from work). All lessons have subtitles and interactive transcripts making it possible to view them in noisy environments (or in those where silence must be maintained).
At the end of each session
Complete the session exercise
Keep attempting the exercise at the end of each session until you can complete it without having to refer to any of the video (or book) lessons in the session. Don't start the next session until you can complete the exercise without assistance.
Review the objectives
The session objectives are stated in the e-book at the beginning of each session.
Read each objective and ask yourself if you have truly mastered each skill. If you are not sure about any of the skills listed, revise the relevant lesson(s) before moving on to the next session.
If you follow these recommendations, there is no doubt that you will master Excel. A little time and effort is needed but the skills you'll acquire will be hugely valuable for the rest of your life.
Enjoy the course – and if you found it valuable to you, I'd be very grateful if you spread the word to anybody else you think would find it useful.