02 Jun

Learn How to Study with Free School Skills!

Are you ready to learn how to study easily and quickly?

School Skills study methods are scientifically based, easy to learn and fun too! School doesn’t have to be hard or take a long time. We’ve put together our top three test strategies into this short video.

They work for any kind of test in any school. Have a look.

Don’t let the simplicity of these methods fool you. They work great!

Leave us a comment too – we love to hear from you!

07 Jan

How to Remember School Facts with Visual Stories

Ever get stuck? You may have tried flash cards, iphone apps, chanting and more.  you still can’t figure out how to remember facts like the atomic weight of Molybdenum for your Chemistry class.  Why?  Because it doesn’t connect to anything meaningful or connected to your life.  Sure … there might be some Molybdenum somewhere hidden in your car or buried inside your cell phone, but what does that have to do with anything?

Memorizing this information will have hard time ‘sticking’ in your brain.  It lacks a connection to you or your experiences   It also has no emotional excitement.  In fact it’s fantastically boring.

Try this. Imagine yourself meeting a lady named Molly Bdenum.  She is 42 years old and hates the water.  She loves, however, to go to parties and mix with other people.  Her image and story will stick in your mind and … guess what?  Her story contains the key facts that you need for Chemistry class.  The metal Molybdenum has an atomic weight (age) of 42, has low solubility in water and is generally mixed with other metals to form carbides and other compounds.  Just like Miss Molly.

You could expand this imaginary story to include more facts about the metal.  Just weave them into Miss Molly’s story. Where does she live?  What does she do with her time? Your brain contains powerful cells for memorizing people and their life stories.  In fact, your brain has more capacity for visual memory than for printed chemistry fact lists. So don’t guess how to remember.

Use a mental story to help yourself remember the hard stuff.  Like Molybdenum.


01 Jun

Study Skills Go Social

click for a larger imageWhen OpenStudy picked up a very prestigious 2012 Edison Award for innovation we wondered … can online community really be as good as  live study group? We all  learn more when we learn together.  Why not just use Facebook? Or a chat group?

At first glance  OpenStudy  looks a lot like any other social network.  You make an free account to join, give yourself a cute name along with a funny picture and then start sharing messages.  The difference is that messages in OpenStudy are divided into areas by school topics.  Biology, Chemistry and Math all have their own ‘areas’ that you move into.  Once you are into the area you want, you can post questions and provide answers to others.  So what’s the big deal?

click for a larger imageThe  problem with any online discussion is you don’t know who is giving you good information and who is dumping mulch into your Horticulture homework.  That’s were  OpenStudy  jumps in. Every participant gets three little rating thermometers measuring their teamwork, problem-solving and egngagement.  The more you help, the more people like your answers, the more your ratings improve.  It’s pretty  addicting.  You can pump up your ratings by helping other people or Cialis posting good questions yourself.  When you help someone else they get to rate the quality of your assistance.   When you post a question, people can rate your question. If you have used eBay you already know about seller ratings.  It helps keep everyone honest.  You also get your own “fans”.  It makes you feel like a rock star.

Click to view larger

Overall OpenStudy is simple, fun and easy to use. It makes study time more focused and your personal study buddies are available 24 hours a day.  You might even have study partners on the other side of the world. Could you learn more French by studying with a friend in France?  Certainly. However, OpenStudy is not the only study tool you will need. You’ll have to look for practice tests, flashcards and research sources elsewhere.  Should you use OpenStudy? If you don’t have a living, in-the-flesh study group at school then we say … yes.  It works great as an online study group. But don’t forget the real people at your school.  Send them a message on Facebook and plan to meet up for study.  It’s always better with friends.



26 May

How to Break Through Study Barriers

Students Studying at Cathedral Senior High School in New Ulm, Minnesota...Sometimes you just can’t plow through your class study materials no matter what.  You’re stuck. Maybe you don’t enjoy the subject.  Actuarial tables? Bleh. Maybe you  are exhausted or maybe it’s you just have been studying too hard for too long.  Nothing works to get you focused.  And the test is coming up fast.

What do you do?

Here are some quick fixes that work great:

1) Get some sleep.  Drink a big glass of water and make sure you have a good meal.  Then snooze.  It’s the only real cure for old fashioned exhaustion.  8 hours of sleep and 2 hours of study is more effective than 10 hours of foggy eyed, exhausted cramming.

2) Exercise. If there is a  magic potion that helps people focus – it’s excercise.  Drink it! Go for a run, play some soccer or dance with your friends.  Exercise kicks up your blood flow, boosts brain oxygen and burns off stress. You’ll be clear headed and ready to study when you are done.

3) Find someone who loves it.  If you are studying a required subject and, honestly, you buy cheap cialis site espharmacycom hate it then there is only one answer.  Find a friend who loves it.  Then study with them.  Their excitement will rub off on you.

4) Laugh (a lot). Watch a hilarious movie that just makes you smile. Share some jokes with a friend. Laughter has a wonderful way of making everything easier.  It also helps you relax. Take a 5 minute break.  Watch something that makes you bust out with laughter.  Can’t think of a funny video? Try Judson Laipply’s Evolution of Dance for starters.

5) Use a clock and race.  For those super-competitive people who love to race you can beat the clock – with your homework!  Make a guess about how long the study session will take.  Write down your guess. Then start your stopwatch.  And beat it!

Extra Credit Tip

Energy drinks loaded with sugar and caffeine work great … for about two hours.  Then you will crash.   Their short term energy boost actually robs your body of energy, drains your brain of calories and leaves you more exhausted than before.  It’s not worth it. Try a quick nap or a fast run around the block instead.

18 May

Study with a Better Batch of Flashcards

click to view larger pictureWhat did 50 million  students  do last year?  Study using flash cards in Quizlet!  If that seems like a lot … it is.  Quizlet was started by high school student Andrew Sutherland back in 2005 to help him study for French class. He wanted the computer to flip over his flashcards on screen instead of the paper card decks we all use. It worked so well he shared it with some friends. And they shared it. And so on.

The Quizlet of 2012 brings some great additions to the basic flip-and-check flashcard drill. You can build a deck of flashcards with pictures or words on either side. Then Quizlet will turn them into a practice exam, or a game or review session for you. You can study the same materials multiple ways. You can also share your flashcard levitra coupons 30day free deck with friends in your class and they can send you theirs. Or browse through more than 11 million existing flashcard decks to find one you like.

click to view larger pictureWe love Quizlet for its easy setup and sharing along with a huge library of existing decks you can borrow. Creating a new flashcard deck is simple. The games are pretty addicting too as you race to finish with the highest score and lowest time. Study groups should love sharing their workload by sharing their study materials. Strangely we did not find many flashcard decks that appeared to be created by teachers.  Why not? Couldn’t your instructor create a flash card deck and share it with the whole class?

Overall we found Quizlet simple, fun and joyfully effective.  But don’t take our word for it.  Try it yourself. Merci beaucoup Andrew.

24 Mar

Study Skills from Colleges and Universities

Schools all over the United States have ‘how to’ pages and test taking tips for their students. Why not?  They want their students to succeed.  Your school might have an Academic Skills center on their web site too.

Here are links to some of the best ones we’ve found:

Belinha has more than good looks

Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Francisco Martins via Compfight

26 Jan

Writing for Essay Exams

Have you ever faced an exam with only one question? It’s the essay exam that we all dread. You’ll get a single question on the page like “Explain the causes of the American Civil War including parties involved, issues and key people.” followed by 2 hours and 1500 words to answer.

It might be the toughest type of test there is.

The best way to prepare for essay is exams is … to write essays.  And nothing helps write academic essays better than Gerald Graff’s book They Say, I Say: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. If you haven’t yet checked this slim gem out from your school library we recommend you do payday loan consolidation. Soon. Be prepared to get in line with a lot of other people who want help with their essays too. This little book helps you write persuasively and conversationally with the ‘academic’ flavor needed to win good grades.

We recommend working through this book as a group or with a writing teacher since the best practice is … practice. Find topics that excites you, like the newest snowboards, and then turn out 1500 words to amaze and educate your friends. Or start a blog and write weekly about skirt styles. Whatever works best to get you writing.

The secret to success on essay exams is learning to write great essays. On any topic.

21 Oct

Day Dreamers Rejoice!

Quick – who gets better grades? The student who stays up all night studying textbooks through foggy eyes or the student who studies in 90 minute sprints, then wanders off to daydream for a while?

Research on the brain function and learning tell us student number 2 is the overwhelming winner. Your brain can only ‘tighten up’ and focus for so long. Then it needs to rest. When you push it hard for too long it just can’t absorb anything more. It needs time to relax and unwind. And your brain’s preferred method of unwinding is unfocussed, random thoughts. That’s right. Daydreaming. You need time to let your mind wander wherever it will after you have been concentrating hard. Daydreaming is your brain’s equivalent of a hot bath or a relaxing massage. It just gets to rest.

Think of this article as your permission to do nothing. To space out. To let your mind wander without purpose or plan. Because when you do, your brain recharges itself.  Your next study session will be much more productive and focused. We suggest setting a time limit – say 20 minutes of unwinding before you dig back in to History of Ancient Mesopotamia. And if someone accuses you of wasting time you can tell them ‘Yes! and it’s improving my grades!’. Because it does.

08 Oct

Cut Your Study Time in Half

Ready to spend less time studying and more time doing the stuff you enjoy? Consider these two items from fancy, PHd university research studies:

1) Most people are interrupted by text messages, phone calls, walk-in friends and other interruption about 20 times per hour these days. Yes – twenty times each hour. That’s once every 3 minutes.

2) It takes most of us 10 to 15 minutes to fully re-focus on a task after we have switched our attention to something new. This is called ‘switching time’. It takes your brain time to switch gears from one thing and fully move on to something else. Like when you look away from studying, see an interesting text message on your phone and then click through to the attached video. You watch the dancing puppy video and then switch back to studying. Your eyes may return to moving across the pages of your text book but inside – your brain is still dancing with the puppies. It takes a while to fully switch back to studying.

So what would happen if you cut out all the distractions? Some quick math shows that fully focused, uninterrupted study would cover 3 hours worth of study material in 90 minutes. That’s right. High focus will cut your study time in half.

So why do we let ourselves be interrupted all the time? Well … a lot of school subjects are dry, dull and not anywhere near as interesting as the distractions. We actually enjoy the interruptions. A text message from your friend is a lot more interesting than Molecular Biology. But what if you turned off your phone, step away from Facebook and left the refrigerator closed while you completely focused on studying? You could finish your work in half the time and then actually go spend some in-person time with your friend. Doing something fun too. Not just texting.

Think about it. What could you do if studying only took half the time?

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Looking for more ways to relax and be successful on tests? Check out our book 101 Secrets to Passing Any Test for more easy ways to succeed in school or sign up for our monthly email magazine just bursting with fun ways to get better grades.

24 Sep

Time to Own Your Time

Fall is back to school season. Whether you’re going to high school, college or professional education the cool crisp air and new friends you meet in class make this season alive and exciting. Fall is exhilarating. School hasn’t turned boring (yet) and everything is new. It could be a good time to start some fresh new habits too. How did your study sessions and exam preparations work for you last year? If you think they could have been better then … now is the time to make them better. Here’s how:

Get a personal schedule book or iPhone app. It’s your time this Fall. You own it. So plan how you are going to use it by setting aside time slots for study sessions, exam prep and the work slots you will need to be successful in school. Be sure to schedule time for fun stuff and recharging as well.

Study in short 90 minute sessions. Research shows that people can maintain a very high level of concentration for about 90 minutes. Then they need a break. And not just any break. People need a ‘brainless’ break where their mind is free to wander and relax. Think walking in the park and letting your eyes wander to whatever they see. So mark out 90 minute study sessions in your personal schedule for each of your classes. If a class needs more than 90 minutes of study – make two study sessions at different time (or with a break in between).

So turn over a new leaf this Fall. Own your time and make it work for you. You’ll have more free time and get better grades when you do.

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Looking for more ways to relax and be successful on tests? Check out our book 101 Secrets to Passing Any Test for more easy ways to succeed in school or sign up for our monthly email magazine just bursting with fun ways to get better grades.