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Is it possible to overstudy for an exam?  Yes.  Unfortunately, I see it happen way too often.  There is a point when studying can begin to have diminishing returns.  (My Economics students should understand that concept!)     I'm a marathon runner, and one important practice that marathon runners follow is a taper period.  It works like this:  In the months that lead up to a marathon, the training intensity and length of runs slowly builds.  About two weeks before the marathon, the runner has built up to one long run a week...perhaps 18 to 22 miles.  However, during the final two weeks before the marathon, the runs become shorter, tapering down to just a few miles a day before the big race.   This concept works well for studying as well.  If a student can maintain a disciplined study routine during the semester, then the few days before the final exam should be shorter and shorter "refresher" study... read more

Just the other day  I had a conversation with a parent about what's wrong with schools today.Among many things we agreed that students don't get the chance to really learn the material. They just don't practice the skills enough. Is it because they spend all their time preparing for standardized testing? Is it lack of time in the classroom? Or is it just plain old boring ? Well boring or not,  repetition is necessary. You heard me right. If you practice something over and over again you will remember it! I can prove it . Marketing gurus use this all the time.  How many of you reading this blog know about the Geico Geeko? Now prior to that commercial, how many of us would have known to call that green  lizard a "Geico" Very few I am sure. We would've just said it was a lizard but  because we have seen that commercial pop up on our screen thousands of times. We know about the Geico Geeko even if we didn't want to know about it.  Here's... read more

One of the biggest frustrations for students is getting something wrong that they know how to do. What is usually the problem?  Careless errors. Do students really care less? Probably, they care less for writing everything down step by step. They care less about labeling the formulas.  They care less about thinking about why they keep making that mistake. For some reason, I have found that students have the perception that smart people don't write stuff down. Students believe that "smart"  people hold it all in their heads. Well, here's the real deal. Smart people write almost everything down with meticulous attention to detail. They know that the "blackboard " in their head gets erased quickly. There's nothing more frustrating than trying to figure out what you did wrong when you don't have a record of what you did. I call it the dance in your head that leads nowhere!  What's the cure? If you believe that your student is being careless... read more

#1: Keep a smile on your face even when u have nothing to be happy about it makes time fly #2: Don't fell leftout because your friends are outside your makeing things better for all of your futures #3: When in doubt contimplate a new idea for fun #4: All the time you do get on the television look for the channels that have to do with your school #5: All the time you spent online is a waste if it isnt productive

I have noticed that a lot of students are bright, knowledgeable, prepared, and eager to succeed.     Yet, when it comes to test time, they might as well have not studied at all.  It's the nerves!!  I have no explanation for why nerves cause such problems, and I definitely don't have a fix-all.  Unfortunately, if you have anxiety, it's just something you'll have to deal with.     Here's a few tips:   No coffee before tests.  I know you think it relaxes you, but it doesn't.   no cigarettes.  Yes, believe it or not some high school kids smoke.  Wait until after the test to singe your lungs.   no cramming.  You either know it or you dont, so goto sleep and eat breakfast in peace.   try eating unsalted almonds or raw spinach, but defintely not salted almonds or cooked spinach.   if you're nervous, call your tutor. if you don't have a tutor and are nervous,... read more

I remember how nervous I was during every major test in my life. The SAT, AP Tests before undergraduate school. Then there was the dreaded GRE required for admission to graduate school. Fast forward: my master's degree test involved a full day of writing (with no notes or books). My doctoral exams involved a full day of writing, three times a week for one week (also with no notes or books). Talk about torture! And then there was the faculty review ... whew! But you know what? I needn't have been nervous and neither should you, because "testing" begins the minute you walk into the classroom door. If you pay attention in class, do your homework, stay focused (you can always "play" later), take good care of your mind and body -- exercise a little to relieve stress and stay healthy -- and create a peaceful environment in which to study a little bit every day during the school week, you should be able to retain information and write to the best... read more

Unless you are a "Home-schooled" student...- which in the Summer months you are unless you are attending an actual Summer School - ...you are literally Out of the Box, the Box being the school building. This is a good thing on many levels. You've heard that change is good, well, the Summer months allow for some very significant change. In the first place, you have time now to reflect and consider what you were taught during the school-year, and for most students, time for such reflection was NOT available while you were in classes. Secondarily, you can now concentrate on the things you actually want to study and/or learn about, which is not always in the school's schedule. Staying sharp and retaining knowledge is about keeping your mind active, NOT about reviewing all the details of what you've already been taught. You'll find that quite naturally, your mind will recall facts that you've learned as you go about learning NEW things, things that interest you, things... read more

The Spring 2014 semester has ended, along with my first full semester of tutoring. Reflecting back on my roster of students, there’s one piece of advice I want to offer the next batch of students. If you’re starting to struggle in a class, find a tutor NOW. Don’t wait. Why the urgency, you ask? Because once you start to slip behind in a course, it’s an uphill battle to regain the ground you are losing. I think there are two connected reasons for this: 1) You start spending your time worrying about your performance and your grade. You aren’t focused on learning the material; you’re focused on your anxiety. 2) Because you’re worried about your performance, you are losing valuable time that you could be spending on your studies. As a tutor, I can help you learn the material. I can offer you insights on how to improve your performance. And with more time to work with you, I have a better chance of helping you reach your academic goals. Tutors... read more

Like the end of a race, students, like athletes, experience a "sense of pending mental euphoria."  It is because of this, students simultaneously feel stress and anxiety and become more tempted to procrastinate. I have 4 tips to help you through this "final stretch." I know you can and will do well!    1. When you feel anxiety approaching or procrastination settling, take a deep breath or breaths. Remember that it is almost over! There are just some strategic steps to get there.    2. Create a study plan that fits your needs (or child's needs). Plan should include pacing for review. For instance, how many days and how much time during each day is needed to prepare? What topics will be reviewed on each day during these times? Do you need to plan to get help from my tutor or teacher during this time? Plan to begin studying at least a week before the exam.   Ultimately, creating a plan with incremental goals... read more

1. Make a study plan – The default mode for studying for exams? Wait until one or two days before the test and study – hard! But with several of material to review, your brain needs more time to re-assimilate the information, and you probably won’t have enough time to review it all in 2 nights anyway. So start studying a minimum of one week before the first exam, and write out a detailed schedule - which subjects you will study and for how long (giving more time to the earliest exams) and when you will study. Be specific and concrete – write out your plan, and assign (realistic) times for each day you will study. Write where you will study and what you should have with you. 2. Hit every subject, every day - Certainly you should give more weight to the first exams, but spend some time each day with every subject you will have an exam for, even if it’s just 15 minutes for those subjects with later exams. 3. Overlap your reviews - When you sit down to review a... read more

I just began tutoring a new student in 10th grade Biology.  Biology is my favorite subject and as we were going over terminology and concepts and processes in each section I thought it might be helpful to outline elements that can help in the general study of biology.  I thought this would be a great time to reference some good study techniques from a biological perspective:  I organized my notes into list of 4 valuable concepts.   1.  Take notes:  Obviously right? of course but listen... More than any other subject taking notes in biology is crucial.  Almost all the information that is introduced each lesson is packed with new terms, new concepts and new images of the material.  Taking notes in the form of term definitions, paragraphs describing a process, or drawings is a way to stay on top of complex new material.  I recommend taking notes on a white piece of computer paper without lines, this helps the student to learn... read more

After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – “insert subject here” and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc. And let’s be honest – in most high school classrooms, students are essentially graded on their ability to keep track of, complete, and submit paperwork (i.e. homework), instead of their mastery of the material. (Not a good state of affairs, but... read more

Unless you are traveling in a spaceship and moving close to the speed of light, time passes at the same rate for everyone. The Earth takes approximately 24 hours to complete one full rotation on its axis, which has resulted in a day being 24 hours long. So why do some people seem to be able to accomplish so much more when we all have the same amount of time in our day? Simply, they have mastered good time management skills. I have summarized 3 Time Management tips that I have condensed from a number of different resources. Hopefully, these will help you finish more tasks and get you closer to accomplishing your goals. 1) Create a Prioritized To-Do List At the beginning of every day, take 15 minutes to consciously decide how you want to spend your time. This is also called making a plan for your day. Write down everything you need to do that day. This list should include steps needed to complete a S.M.A.R.T. goal, tasks or project items for work or school,... read more

As human beings with limited time, energy, and resources, we naturally desire to get the most done with the least amount of work possible. From reading books and experimenting throughout the years, I have accumulated a collection of techniques that maximizes efficiency and has allowed me to achieve a 3.93 GPA while studying less than three hours a day. Below are some of these techniques. Although I have separated it in general and chemistry study tips sections, these study tips can be applied to every class you will ever take in high school & college. Furthermore, some of these tips, especially the blocking technique, will skyrocket your ability to get more done in less time not only in school, but in life in general. I hope these tips will benefit you as much as they have and continue to help me. General Study Tips 1. Study in purely focused block periods Our body functions in cycles. For example, our circadian rhythm dictates when we sleep... read more

1.  Turn off the electronic devices - I would post links here that point to studies that support this, but is there really any need?  Every time you're tempted to just veg in front of the TV, read a book instead.  It's so easy to just read a book in a similar genre of what you were going to watch on tv.   2.  Eat healthy - More links could be posted on here, but I think this is also a given.  Green veggies and healthy fats from cold-pressed coconut/olive oils are excellent.  Also, consider getting tested for food sensitivities.  Applied Kinesiology is a great testing method.  Remember, not every food sensitivity has digestive symptoms.  Sometimes, the symptoms can be very difficult to identify, but have real, long-lasting effects on your body. 3.  Exercise - Even if you have to stay indoors to exercise, it's still worth it.  Remember to exercise a variety of muscles on all parts of your body.  Isolating... read more

Now that finals have passed for most of the college students on the semester schedule, I'd like to reflect on the panic that arises when students in required introductory physical science classes come to the end of a course and realize that they haven't retained anything! What is the correct approach to triaging such situations? Of course, the best way to engage with material is by answering questions that are similar to those that will be on the examination, and most professors will be kind enough to tell you what the format and types of questions will be. Generally, there are two types of questions you will find: qualitative and quantitative. I'll deal with the best way to study for each type of question in turn.   Qualitative Questions The tendency here is to think that cramming and memorizing facts is the best way to go to answer such multiple choice, free response, or essay questions on qualitative subjects. However, this is not often the case.... read more

I am a firm believer that one does not truly know something until she can put it into a new format. You can take notes from a book or from lectures all day, every day, but until you can put the information into a new shape, you haven't actually learned anything. Make a concept map, put facts and vocabulary into tables or categories, write flash cards, and/or rearrange the information in a new outline. Go really crazy and write a song or a poem, draw a picture, even make something in 3D. What you do or make depends on your learning style, but it has to be something new. I also believe that you only know something if you can summarize it. If you know enough about a subject to condense it into something really compact, like a “cheat sheet,” then you’re doing pretty well. You can capture its meaning in much less space than a textbook chapter. I actually do make “cheat sheets” for most of my tests. I condense all of the information I need for the test onto just a few pages,... read more

Ask any classroom full of students how they study, and you're likely to get a lot of different answers. There will probably be many similar answers, but most people have different methods, locations, and techniques that shortens their study time somehow. Sometimes shortcuts are a great thing- like a shortcut that avoids heavy traffic. The trick to using shortcuts with studying is knowing which ones work, and which ones don't! One of the best ways to ensure that your study time will be used effectively is to take notes during class. Ensuring that your notes make sense to YOU is really important. Your class notes should translate what your teacher is telling you into something that you can remember. For example: the definition of onomatopoeia is, 'the formation of a word from a sound associated with what is named.' If you have a long list of literary terms, the strange spelling of onomatopoeia might get lost with your other lit terms. Writing "sizzle" or "buzz"... read more

Picture it: The gentle rustling of papers flapping and pages turning, the scratching of pens on notebooks, the snoring of the kid next to you, and your professor lecturing at a speed that makes you wonder if she's going to combust. Odds are, somewhere in this scenario, if you are like me then you're lost and writing furiously trying to take some kind of notes before the slide changes for the 47th time. But there's a problem; the professor is moving faster than you write. Typically the best thing to do is to raise your hand and ask her to slow down. The next step however, comes the point of this Note. The best way to take notes is to take as few as possible! By this I mean why write two words when you can write half of one? It'll allow you to keep up with the professor and return your attention to the board or the slides. "But how do you do this word-cleaving Black Magic, Frank?" you ask? You don't need seven years at Hogwarts for it. It's simple: short hand.... read more

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