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It's fairly likely that you've heard someone talk about "mindfulness." It's less likely that you know exactly what mindfulness entails, and even less likely that you've heard of Ellen Langer, the "mother of mindfulness" in Western academia. In fact, even if you Googled mindfulness you'd find credit for its popularity in the West given to a man named Jon Kabat-Zinn. Langer's name doesn't appear anywhere on the first page of Google's results, so you probably wouldn't learn that she earned her PhD and began her line of research around the same time as Kabat-Zinn, and that the groundbreaking nature of her work led her to become the first woman tenured in the Psychology Department at Harvard in 1981. Her research has had profound effects on how we think about everything from aging and mental health to decision-making and learning. So even if you don't know her name, it is likely that in one way or another you are familiar with some of her research. The focus of this... read more

Marshaling the cognitive resources and committing the amount of time required to earn good grades and high test scores takes effort. The rewards from these achievements are often delayed, while the rewards from having fun with your friends, playing video games, interacting on social media, watching tv, etc. are more immediate. What strategies can you use to help overcome this mismatch? In the framework explored in this paper, the authors propose that the decision to delay gratification is mediated by two systems: a "cool" cognitive system, and a "hot" emotional system. The more the hot system dominates, the more likely you are to succumb to temptation. Thankfully, as we get older, the cool system matures and thus makes it easier for many of us to delay gratification. We are most vulnerable to the hot system when we are young. You’ve probably seen the marshmallow experiment in which young children are placed in front of a table with a marshmallow... read more

When you're studying before a test, the question of how to allocate your study time inevitably arises. What should you study first? Where should you spend the most time? Janet Metcalfe and Nate Kornell designed three clever experiments to find out. In the first experiment, participants were allowed to choose how to allocate their study time. They were tasked with learning English-Spanish word pairs of varying difficulty (easy, medium, and difficult), under three different timing conditions (5s, 15s, or 60s). In each trial, one pair from each category appeared and participants could choose where to spend their study time. The most important takeaway from this experiment was that, under tight timing conditions, allocating study time to the easiest items was the most effective strategy. However, Metcalfe suspected that advantage would shift to medium items if participants were forced to spend the bulk of their study time on them. So, in Experiment 2, participants... read more

Here is a study tip for all you science students.     Go to the library and find all the textbooks you can on your given subject - especially for Organic Chemistry.  Since I am referencing Organic, I will use the subject as an example.   When I was in first semester Organic Chemistry, there was an Emeritus Professor who left the department.  He was a great teacher, but more than that, he was a mentor and a friend to many of the undergraduate students.  When he left, his office still had all of his books in it and come to find out, he left all the books to the department.     There were only a handful of students who went to collect books and see if we wanted any of them.  I found a page labeled with the semester, year and exam number next to a problem.  That gave me the idea that there are books with old exam questions.   So, I not only took all the books that I could to practice the problems... read more

As a college student with a difficult major and two minors, my timetable is my best friend.  It's not an exaggeration when I say that I live and breathe by it.  I don't schedule anything without looking at it, and if anyone (friend, professor, boss, etc.) asks me, "Do you have free time at [X]?", I just email them a copy of it.   If you don't have a timetable, then that might be why you can't seem to manage your time properly.  And I don't just have my classes scheduled.  Every single thing I ever have to do is logged in it.  This includes, but isn't limited to :   Classes Work study Work (outside of work study, like here!) Meal times Homework times (further divided up by class) Tutoring appointments (for me and my classes) Extracurriculars (the number of which has shrunk as my college career has gone on) Cleaning the apartment Me time (because who can live without down time?) Sleep time Now,... read more

Sure, we have all heard our math teachers say "Study for your test tomorrow." While we can all agree the importance of studying and getting prepared for an exam, not many math teachers actually tell you HOW to study. I am sure we have all spent time making flash cards, staring at our notes, or watching last minute videos on youtube, only to realize the test results often don't correlate to our effort. Before long, these upsetting experiences and test results created a scar in our minds, that statement we have all heard before: I am just not good at math.   The truth of the matter is, many people who have expressed their inability to understand and perform well on mathematics simply don't know how to study for a math exam. After all, those negative signs and multiple choice questions are often so tricky, even though you calculated every step correctly until the very end, all it took was one single mindless error that can well ruin the entire result. If we closely... read more

You won't pass the exam because you are listening to people who took the exam 5,6 or even 20 years ago. The advice most of my students get is "just take a lot of questions,don't read the book" That is a sure way to fail,yes there are some people who can just take a lot of questions and "game" the exam but they are the ones you were always envious of in school, they looked like they weren't trying and still aced the exams. Almost every single student of mine says that is the advice they get from their supervisors. I have even heard of a few getting yelled at because they were reading the book. Some of those people took the exam in the 90s,when the exam questions were drastically different and the Vendors were actually helping write the questions on the exam. FINRA (formerly NASD) ended that practice a long time ago and there may have been some lingering questions from the "good ole days" they are pretty much gone now. This is not your father's... read more

There are two basic levels of study skills with which I attempt to help people. The first is what we might call basic or rudimentary skills. These have to do with establishing good habits that lead to successful study. The latter is more advanced and has to do with conducting research, discerning the authenticity and value of sources, and so on. The purpose of this article is to provide basic advice to those struggling with basic study habits.   Difficulties with basic study habits are usually rooted in a lack of understanding of the subject being studied -- leading to frustration -- and general distractions. If you are having trouble progressing in your studies consider trying the following:   Study at the Same Time Every Day Find a time of the day when you typically feel calm and there aren't a lot of interruptions. Make that your routine study or self-improvement time. With practice, this will condition your mind to go into "study mode"... 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 Gecko? 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 Gecko even if we didn't want to know about it.  Here's the... read more

I know it may be a tedious thing you have to do but it's essential to get back on track. Once you get out of the laziness of summer, then it won't be hard for you to catch up in the fall once the school year begins. Review last year's curriculum so that you can remember what you were taught and it's like getting back on the bike again because you never really forgot to ride, you were just out of practice. If you can find review work books at a book store like, "Barnes and Noble" then I recommend a few that will be at your current level and a few that are advanced because it will give you a bird's eye view as to what to expect from your teachers during the upcoming year. Teachers don't like to have to waste time by going backwards with a student who isn't interested in going forward. She will assume that your previous teacher didn't do her/his job properly if you can't keep up with the rest of the class or that you are in need of tutoring. So try to avoid those circumstances... 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 that... 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 months 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... read more

Tutoring an academic subject is almost pointless if the student has trouble concentrating or thinking clearly in general. Many students have difficulty learning because they (often unintentionally) do things that sabotage the learning process. The following document contains a summary of what I learned about improving my mental clarity, focus, and mental stamina while I worked on my B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in physics. I hope this is helpful for other people.   http://www.wyzant.com/resources/files/261780/tips_for_optimal_learning_and_mental_clarity   This is a very short summary. If you have questions, let me know!

Many students now are just gearing up to go back to school. The first week should be just sitting and easing into it right? Maybe this year we should start off differently. Instead of just throwing that textbook to the side until they ask you to open it how about familiarizing yourself with it? Try these steps to start off any class well at the very start of a new class. 1. Look through the textbook for extra help pages or extra practice. 2. Read They first chapter before you start it or finish the lesson. 3. Wrote down three thing you don't understand about the topic. 4. Ask these questions when its appropriate during or after class to the teacher. Best wishes for your school year. Start it off right.

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