The Vital Study Skills System

A Systematic, Evidence-Based Approach To Learning Strategies

Our holistic approach to learning addresses the 3 fundamental strategies

that allow you to not only repeat the material for a test, but to actually know it for life.

Time Management

How you spend your waking hours

Body Management

Getting proper sleep, nutrition and exercise

Mind Management

Learning focus, concentration, and self talk

Vital Skills Learning Process

  • New Info
  • Pre-Read
  • Structure
  • Review & Self Test
  • Access & Apply

Reinforced Learning

  • Pre-Read: Activities are used to stimulate prior knowledge and build new knowledge. Pre-reading helps students become more active and engaged in classroom lectures and increases reading speed and comprehension.
  • Structure: Students learn how to structure the material as they listen to lectures and read the texts. The structuring phase helps them internalize the information and build mental models.
  • Self Test: The information is encoded in long-term memory by a structured approach to spaced reviews and self-tests.
  • Apply: Having stored the information in long-term memory, students are able to easily access and apply what they have learned. This step is typically demonstrated in examinations and laboratory work.

Vital Study Skills in Action


In a Vital Skills Workshop students learn to:

  • manage their time
  • get the most out of lectures
  • organize study notes
  • improve long-term memory
  • increase concentration
  • reduce test anxiety
  • prepare for exams


We’ve taken our years of research and workshop experience and distilled it into workbooks for self-study.

We present self-diagnostic tools and strategies that can be applied by students of any discipline. These skills are a must for any student embarking on a rigorous course of study.

For students who do not have access to one of our workshops, our workbooks can be used in a small group setting. Our books are also an excellent resource for counselors and teachers.


Here is some of the feedback we’ve gotten from students, faculty and practicing professionals

The Professionals

Our Team of Experts

Kathleen Straker

Kathleen Straker is president of The Straker Group, LLC. She is a master’s-prepared educator and reading specialist with two decades of experience in teaching study strategies. The workshops she teaches have helped thousands of students graduate to careers in nursing, allopathic and veterinary medicine and research.

Tony Moore

Tony Moore is a Certified Performance Technologist and president of Moore Performance Improvement. MPI is a virtual company, networked with other consulting companies around the country that share the same stringent standards and systematic approach to improving performance.

Rick Straker

Rick Straker has more than 20 years’ experience in a variety of consulting, training, and management roles in the public and private sectors. He is a Certified Facilitator, a Certified Performance Technologist and has extensive training in performance improvement best practices. He is co-founder of The Straker Group.

Eugenia Kelman

Eugenia Kelman is a cognitive-behavioral psychologist. She has served on the faculty and in the administration at Colorado State University in Ft. Collins, CO; University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, TX and at Cornell University in Ithaca, NY. Her favorite question is, “What can I learn from this?”

Conference Speaker

A popular speaker for both faculty and students groups, Kathleen Straker knows her audience and subject matter well. She presents her work on learning strategies in a way that is interesting and memorable.

Kathleen regularly speaks at international conferences and is the go-to person for local student organizations.

Some of the organizations that have invited Ms. Straker to present include:

  • Generalists in Medical Education (GME)
  • Student National Medical Association (SNMA), UT Chapter
  • Education Policy Institute (EPI)
  • Undergraduate Medical Academy (UMA) Pre-Health Science Summit
  • National League for Nursing (NLN)
  • Camp Cardiac
  • Professional Nurse Educators Group (PNEG)

Our Clients

Contact Us

In addition to Student Workshops, we also provide Faculty Seminars.

If students declare they “study ALL the time” but don’t understand the material, what can you do?

A faculty seminar will provide tools to help faculty determine what the underlying issue may be, without having to re-teach the course to each student who comes for assistance.

Increase student persistence, retention and graduation by hosting a Vital Study Skills Workshop or Faculty Seminar. For more information write or call us:

  • 281-894-5610