22 Jun

A Cure for Study Distractions?

You reach for your school text book and then … your phone buzzes with a text message.  You are  logging into the school test preparation web site and then this cool link pops up.  It looks a lot more fun.  You weren’t planning to skip studying today but somehow … it just happened.

Distractions.  They can drain your study time and leave you desperately cramming 10 minutes before the exam.

Your time doesn’t run out.  It drips out in a slow leak, one interruption after another.  So how do you stop the drip?

New York City celebrating the surrender of Japan. It's called taking advantage of the moment.

Don’t let this moment get away from you

First,  remember that time is incredibly valuable.  No amount of money can buy more.  Once it’s gone, it’s gone forever.  This moment you have right now will NEVER come again.  This is the only “now’ that vigrx testimonials will ever happen.   And if this minute of time right now is the only one you have  then how are you going to spend it?  Try asking yourself this question:

“What is the most valuable thing I can be doing RIGHT NOW?”

This time will never come again.  Do you really want to spend such a special moment on a web video?  Maybe the best thing you can do right now is close your study books and go visit your teacher.  Or learn a new song.  Or take a nap.  Or jam through your study mateirals so that you can have all day tommorrow free.

The cure for study distractions can be one simple question. “What is the most valuable thing I can be doing right now?”  Take a minute to ask yourself that.  Right now.

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.



27 Apr

Improve Your Memory with Word Pictures

School throws a lot of strange words at you. PhytoplanktonAdherent? Since you don’t use these words every day they tend to exit your brain as fast as they enter. Even if you know the word’s definition, your brain needs something more personal as a ‘hook’ to recall the word .

So how do you remember these words? Say them out loud all them time? Please say you won’t.

Elefants Never Forget by Sunny Marry

Photo credit: Sunny Marry on Flickr

While strange words can be easily forgotten, personalized pictures make a much stronger memory imprint  and ‘sitck’ in your mind longer. Try creating a ‘word picture’ for each word that turns the word into a scene.  These imaginary pictures can be strange or funny.  They work best if they are personal too.  Here are some examples:

Phytoplankton: These tiny, single cell plants float in the ocean like grainy spinach  soup.  Imagine yourself slurping up a big wet spoonful of greenish soup.  Then say ‘Uck! Phytoplankton!’.  Now that’s a personal picture.

Adherent: This is a person who is ‘stuck’ to a religion. Imagine a bottle of glue with the word “ adherent” stuck on the label.  Try writing the word Adherent out on paper using a glue stick as your pen.  We guarantee it will stick in your memory!

Independence: Wasn’t a pen used to sign the American Declaration of Independence? Imagine a pen dancing across the page of this classic document.  Then make up a crazy dance with your own pen as you write out the word on paper.

Word pictures are a fun way to spice up your study time. They work too! Give it a try today.


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.

09 Dec

Home Baked Practice Exams

How do you prepare for an exam? Do you read your classroom notes until your eyeballs hurt? Do you highlight your textbook with a bright yellow marker?

When teachers prepare tests, they don’t spend hours highlighting pages and neither should you. Instead, teachers read through the textbook and lecture notes, writing down possible test questions for each topic they want to cover in class.

It’s easy to become your own teacher. As you read your textbook and go through your lecture notes, write down the exam questions you would ask if you were the teacher. By creating your own exam questions, it makes your brain think ‘backwards’ about the topic and produces a great way to memorize information.

When you’re finished with your home baked exam questions, give them to a friend and ask him or her to quiz you. You’ll be surprised at how quickly and easily you remember things. If you miss a question, make note of which areas to study more. Take turns quizzing each other – after all, the best way to study for a test is by taking the test!

13 Oct

Isn’t There a Better Way?

How do you like to prepare for your exams? Read your classroom notes till your eyeballs hurt? Do you highlight your text book with a bright yellow marker? Isn’t there a better way?

Classroom Student Notebooks After all … an exam is nothing more than a list of questions. So why not make your own exam questions? Creating your own practice exam will greatly improve your familiarity with the material and help you remember information for the actual test. It’s also a lot more fun than grinding through your notes and re-reading the text book. Just use the right hand margin of your class notes to write up possible exam questions for each item in your notes. For classroom notes on a computer, insert text with ‘QUESTION’ and then write out a possible exam question for each item in your notes. For text book material use a separate sheet of paper or computer document to write practice exam questions as you read.

If you belong to a study group you can swap practice exams at your next study group gathering. Don’t be embarrassed. Everyone is working toward the same goal – great grades on the test. You will find other people’s practice test questions are great practice for you as well. So plan a ‘practice exam’ study group session the week before the real test and swap practice questions with each other.

Here’s one more way to have fun with your practice exam.

On the television show Jeopardy the host reads answers and the contestants must come up with the questions. Try a backwards exam with your friends. One person reads answers out loud and people try to figure out what the exam question would be.

Now before you say ‘that sounds like a lot of work!’ may we suggest you give it a try? Creating your own practice exam questions is faster than you think. Find a friend to practice with this week. You’ll have more fun studying and your test scores will improve as well!

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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.

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.