Tag Archives: Tests

09 Jun

Essay Exams Get a Deadline Makeover

Can your own writing learn from fast and furious newspaper writers? You bet it can! An essay exam is a race to finish your story in a desperately short time. Did your teacher ask for  1500 words on the causes of the American Civil War? You have one hour to write. Just like a newspaper reporter racing to publish the latest news.

So how do reporters turn out great writing in a short time? First, they make a quick outline of the topic – picking no more than three main points. For exams you’ll want to use a separate sheet of scratch paper. Here’s an example

Outline = Causes of the American Civil War

  1. North and South divided over issue of slavery
  2. Southern fear of growing northern federal control of their states
  3. Cultural and economic differences between North and South

Be sure to leave lots of blank space after each of the three items.

Next list any key facts that you have in your mind for each of the three main points. How many slaves were there when the Civil War started? What new laws did the Federal Government enact which threatened the Southern States? What social and economic practices characterized (and divided) the North and the South? Dump all the facts you can think of into your outline page.

July 29, 1938

Typesetting a newspaper in Ireland

Now it’s time to write! Start at the beginning and create a where to buy discounted viagra, lavitra & cialis story which moves from the first point, covering the facts and then moves the second point and then the third. This is where the magic happens. The dry facts should come to life as a rolling, flowing tale. Don’t think about it too much. Just imagine you are telling your Civil War story to a friendly 9 year old child. Make it fun and factual at the same time.

Wait! You’re not done yet. Your essay needs one final cherry on top. A great title.Create the title once you have finished writing the whole story. Now re-read your essay from the beginning and look for the emotional ‘hook’ which would make a reader want to read it. Here are some examples of great ‘hook’ titles from the news:

  • World’s Highest-Paid Athlete Reports To Jail
  • Deadly Kissing Disease Spreads to Schools
  • Piles of Cash Found on Subway
  • For Sale: Baby shoes, never worn
  • Family Receives Son Back from the Dead

Could one of these examples inspire a great title for an your exam essay?  How about “World’s Greatest Nation Rips at the Heart” or “How Could I Shoot My Brother and Son?”.  Look for the human side of your facts and turn it into a catchy title.

Practicing this fast paced writing technique should help you relax during the test.  It might even make your next essay exam … fun.  Reporters learn to love deadlines for the excitement they bring.   You might too.

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.

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

14 Mar

Thank You Ethiopian Goats

Legends tell of a lonely shepherd, wandering in the mountains of Ethiopia, who notices his goats eating the blackened berries from one particular bush. After eating the berries, the goats begin to dance and kick and run around in crazy circles. Fascinated, the shepherd  picks a handful of berries for himself. He eats them all and soon the shepherd, too, is dancing and kicking and running around in circles. His new discovery?

Coffee.

Students on campuses everywhere regularly energize themselves with a sip of Goat Berry Brew from the campus coffee shop. It’s fun, it tastes great, and it also helps you stay up Semenax late to study for an exam.

Coffee cupBut does it help improve your grades?

Research studies show the answer is yes — and no. Drinking smaller cups of coffee during a study session or before a test helps your brain stay alert, improves your memory and your grades too. Drinking a large amount of coffee, however, actually makes it worse. Your brain becomes highly stimulated by the caffeine and has trouble focusing. Your grades go down and studying becomes a frantic, useless jangle.

So, the next time you need a kick from the goat berries to help you study, please remember — small doses work best.

04 Feb

Better Grades in only 6 Seconds?

Could you use a fast way to improve your grades? Then get ready to slow down. Many exam and test errors come from the same source. Not reading the question well. We get stressed and hurry through the tst questions, missing the main points. We trip onto an answer that ‘looks right’ because we haven’t fully comprehended the question. And we end up getting the question wrong.

Here is how you can fix it.

Each time you come to a question on a test or exam STOP and count three long, steady breaths.

In.

Out.

Breath slowly and easily while your eyes scan the test question and possible answers. 

one … ( IN … OUT)

two … ( IN … OUT)

three … ( IN … OUT)

As you breath slowly and count, let your eyes slowly read the complete exam question and ALL possible answers or options.  There is no hurry.  Please read every word even if you think you know the question or the answer seems obvious.  There are often hidden traps or nuances to test questions that Pele miss.  Slow down.  Read everything. Breathe.

Now here’s the kicker. After counting out three long breaths and reading everything thoroughly, ask yourself “How would my instructor answer this question?”. This prompts your brain to recall the class when your teacher discussed the topic. Don’t try to force yourself.  Just imagine yourself asking the teacher and then imagine their answer.  This removes the focus from yourself and your stress. It also turns on your visual memory – the most powerful way to remember things.  Now you are ready to answer the test question.  Go ahead.

This three breath method may feel like it takes a long time.  It doesn’t.  Using a stop watch you will find that it takes less than 4 seconds per test question. If you use the three breath method on a 60 minute, 100 question exam, you will be done in less than 45 minutes, leaving lots of time for review.

Most people actually finish there exams faster with this method. And they get better grades too.

We suggest you pick up a practice exam and with each test question repeat this pattern until it becomes automatic:

(breath) one …

(breath) two …

(breath) three …

(think)“How would my instructor answer this question?”

Try it today. It works.

 

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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!

04 Nov

The Only Drug You’ll Need

Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy a pill that made you smarter? Just pop one or two of these little babies into your mouth and you’re going to the top of your academic class. Amazing grades are yours without breaking a sweat. A ‘smart pill’ would be easy, fast and probably … totally illegal.

InhaleA recent study of academic performance on tests actually did uncover a drug that can immediately and safely increase your grades. Oxygen. It turns out clean, pure oxygen is the fuel that fires up your brain to perform at it’s best. How did they uncover this? They compared the exam scores for students who played 40 minutes of sports before an exam to those who sat quietly studying. Who did better on their exam? The sports group! The activity got their blood flowing, their hearts pounding and their lungs heaving. It poured extra oxygen into their brains and they got … smarter. Their test scores went up and they had fun at the same time!

So the next time you think about reaching for something to help you study, why not consider a fast walk around the block instead? Or a quick game of soccer? Or even a few push ups. Any activity that gets your heart beating faster and your lungs drawing in air will pump up your brain as well. You’ll feel great and your grades will go up too.

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.