The Rule of 3

The rule of 3 is a concept I teach my students regularly for learning and remembering information, academic writing and presentation skills. 

It’s a simple concept which has proved very effective for both my students and I. Whether you are a student, career professional or business person, the rule of 3 is a classic and useful approach to presentations and good communication in general.

The Rule of 3 is one of the oldest in the book – Aristotle wrote about it in his book Rhetoric. Put simply it is that people tend to easily remember three things. – Charles Hooton, Presentation Skills,  BEO Masters Programme 2016

Rule of 3 in presentation skills

In regard to presentation skills, the rule of 3 can be summarised and remembered as follows:

♦ A good presentation is divided in three parts; a beginning, middle and an end. Therefore, you should plan in advance the information to present and what section it should be included in.

♦ An audience is highly likely to only remember three  things from your presentation, so carefully consider the three key  things you want them to take away from your speech. Here you are only concerned with important information and not every minor detail.

♦ Famous speeches, past and present focus on three major points, for example;

Veni, vidi, vici (I came, I saw, I conquered) – Julius Caesar

This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning – Sir Winston Churchill

Friends, Romans, Countrymen – William Shakespeare in Julius Caesar

Rule of 3 in academic writing

In academic writing, the rule of three is also useful and applicable;

  • Just as in a presentation, an essay structure also consists of an introduction, main body and conclusion. In order to present information in a logical, interesting sequence which can be understood by the reader, you should also plan the information to include and what section it should be under.
  • When making a point or argument, the basic structure should include the following three; statement of the point/issue/argument, evidence to support the point, analysis and development of the point and evidence.
  • When writing an essay, the standard and minimum number of times you should draft and write it before submission is 3; you should write your plan, write a draft version and then re-write a final piece.

Rule of 3 in wider learning, work and/or business

Rule of 3 is also an effective method of organising and managing content for study and revision of topics for tests and exams.

♦ Some useful tips for work, study and exam revision:

  • Divide long tasks into 3 smaller manageable ones over a 3 separate periods (e.g.: days, weeks, etc).
  • Write three key points per post it note or flashcard, this makes it easier and quicker to take in important information especially when reviewing and revising for tests and exams.
  • Use three different coloured pens or highlighters to underline important information contained in pages of long texts; decide what colour represents what, for example – pink for important dates, yellow for names of places, blue for names of people. This makes it easy for you to see important information quicker when skimming through large pieces of information.

I hope you have found this post on the rule of 3 useful and more importantly I hope you find ways to make it work for you for work and study and improving your presentation skills. Please share this with others who you think may also benefit from it.

~ Nafisa

5 Basic Elements of Good Academic Writing

There is no magic wand for learning good academic writing, however, there are ways to make it easier, more manageable and fun. Here are my 5 simple tips for good academic writing:

♦ Remember, you can download your free PDF copy of these 5 basic elements of academic writing here. Print and use it to help you study.


~ Nafisa



Hello November!

Happy 1st of the month! If you follow my blogs, you’ll know how much I love new beginnings. To share my excitement about the beginning of this new month, I’m sharing my November 2016 30 day calendar.

It’s in PDF format so you can download it here and print in any size you want to insert in your planner or folder.


Nafisa ♥

Hello November – Month view calendar. Download your free PDF copy now 💕



Using Word Tables for Learning Academic Nouns, Verbs, Adjectives & Adverbs

There are many words in English that have forms of nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs. For example; beauty (noun), beautify (verb), beautiful (adjective), beautifully (adverb).  It is very useful to learn as many of these common words used in academic writing in their noun/verb/adjective/adverb forms. However, there are also some words that do not always have all 4 forms.

Here is a list of common words with their noun/verb/adjective/adverb forms and academic word table to organise other words you learn.

Here is an academic vocabulary worksheet with activities to check your understanding.

You can also check your answers to these activities using the answer key here.

Academic word table, exercises and answer key available to download and print, click the links above this photographs to download yours.


~ Nafisa

English Grammar – Using Definite & Indefinite Articles ‘the’/’a’/’an’

I have often come across many students and second language speakers of English (many of whom have a high command or are almost fluent) that find it difficult to remember when to use ‘the’/’a’/’an’. Some languages (mostly Slavic) don’t have definite and indefinite articles, so it is particularly difficult for speakers of Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, Lithuanian etc to understand when to use the articles. I have taught many lessons on this and have found that it is necessary to understand and remember the general rules and exceptions of when to use both definite and indefinite articles.

In this post we look at when to use ‘the’, ‘a’ and ‘an’ and some common mistakes students make and how to avoid them.

When do we use the definite article ‘the’?

We use the definite article ‘the’ in front of a noun when

  1. we think a person knows exactly what we are talking about e.g.: my bag is on the chair (I am talking to my friend, we both can see the chair in the room)
  2. if there is only one of something in the world e.g.:

The Pope is visiting Russia.

The moon is very bright tonight.

The Queen of England is Elizabeth II.

In all of the above sentences there is only ONE subject, there aren’t 10 popes in the world or 20 moons or 5 Queens of England at the same time

3. because there is only one in that place or in those surroundings, for example:

We live in a small village next to the church. (there is only ONE church in our village)

‘Dad, can I borrow the car?’ (our family has only one car)

This is why we use the definite article with a superlative adjective because there usually is only ONE biggest/smallest/nicest something e.g.:

He is the tallest boy in the class

It is the oldest building in the town

She is the prettiest girl on TV

That is the most expensive ring in the shop

This is the most beautiful flower in the garde

MissPhDiva - English Grammar a/an/the

General Rules:

  • We don’t use ‘the’ for people’s first names unless we are talking about a whole family e.g.:

The Obamas live in Washington

The Beckhams are from England

The Khans bought a new car last week

  • We don’t use ‘the’ for countries like England, France, Zimbabwe, Spain or India unless a country is a group of islands or states, a kingdom or republic e.g.:

The United Kingdom

The Republic of Ireland

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

The United States of America

The Democratic Republic of Congo

The People’s Republic of China

The Netherlands

We don’t use ‘the’ for cities like London, Paris, Tokyo except for cities/states like The Hague, The Vatican City

  • When do we use the indefinite article ‘a’/’an’?

1. We use the indefinite articles ‘a’ or ‘an’ before a singular noun when we mention something for the first time in a paragraph e.g.:

We have a new student in our class. His name is Guru and he’s 19.

2. We use ‘a’ if the noun doesn’t begin with a vowel (letters a/e/i/o/u) e.g.: a  book, a pen, a computer

3. We use ‘an’ if the noun begins with a vowel e.g.: an apple, an explanation, an essay

4. We also use ‘an’ if the noun begins with the letter ‘h’ which has a silentsound e.g.: an hour, an honest person

5. We use ‘a’ or ‘an’ for a singular noun which is one of many and not specific e.g.:

I found a great book in the library (there are many books in the library)

A student from our university lost his phone (there are many students in the university)