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Studying Tips - Cracking Tough Courses

Those who perform well on tests are not always the smartest or hardest-working students in the class. They often are the ones who have developed productive studying techniques. These skills can help you better understand the material and earn higher test scores. Here are some tips for improving your studying proficiency.

Before School Starts

For many college-bound students, high school did not require sophisticated studying skills. Things are different in college, which means you have to be prepared to work harder than before.

You are going to have to take more thorough notes in class. Writing in a conventional way, fully spelling every word, is too slow to keep up with a professor’s speech. You need to develop some sort of shorthand writing style. There are a number of methods from which to choose, or you can come up with your own way of doing it. You must write not only quickly, but also clearly enough that you can read your notes days or weeks later. Get separate notebooks for each class. Staying organized can help diminish the sense of being overwhelmed by the college experience.

In the Classroom

The information you have to know to pass a test is given to you in class. But a lot of other material also is presented. The challenge is to discern the topics that will be on the exam. That is the information you need to have in your notes.

Even if you could write fast enough to record every word a professor says, your notes would be too cumbersome to be of much assistance in studying for a test. Identify the lecture’s ideas and themes. Get a general idea of the concepts involved. Listen closely to the professor’s emphasis on certain facts, as it may reveal the relative importance of information. If the teacher writes something on the board, this is a clear sign that the material is likely to appear on the exam.

If you don’t understand what is being said, or if a word the professor uses is unfamiliar to you, do not be afraid to pose questions. It’s OK to ask for something to be repeated, if it has been presented in a rapid-fire manner. Keep in mind that if something doesn’t make sense to you, there’s a good chance other students in the class are similarly confused.

Between Classes

Look over your notes to make sure they are legible. You may need to rewrite some words, so they will be clear to you later. Reading your notes shortly after creating them will help you remember the information. Identify anything that you do not understand, so you know what questions to ask in class.

It should go without saying that staying current with reading assignments is critical. Once you fall behind, it can be difficult to catch up on your studies. Read ahead in the textbook, so you have some understanding of the material that will be covered in the next class. Look for section headings, bold-faced passages, and other words and phrases featured prominently in the textbook. These are likely the key concepts you need to learn. Chapters may contain introductions and conclusions that summarize the important material.

Don’t get lost in the details. Make sure you comprehend the ideas being presented. If the text doesn’t make sense to you, it’s going to be hard to remember it. Take advantage of review-and-study questions and other studying aids in textbooks. Compare your class notes with the book to see if there is any contradictory information that you need to clarify.

Studying for the Exam

You actually begin the process of studying for a test the first day of class. You continue by writing down what you hear, reading it later and confirming it by reading the textbook. Each time you hear, write down or read information, you are in effect studying it. This repetition helps your brain retain the material.

Find a quiet space in which to study. You need to feel secure, relaxed and physically comfortable. While some students can study effectively in the presence of other people and their activities, you might be able to concentrate better in an environment with few distractions or interruptions. Have all your notes, textbooks and other materials laid out in front of you, with good lighting. Take frequent breaks by getting up and moving around. Do some stretches and deep breathing.

Read your notes again. Highlight the essential points. You may want to rewrite certain information, to further secure it in your memory. Understand the big picture by organizing your notes in outline form, then reading them again. Look through the textbook a few more times, focusing on the relevant ideas and facts. You can design your own test, writing questions that you think may be posed and then writing the answers.

Cramming for a test is not necessary if you have kept up on your reading, and repeatedly reviewed your notes, throughout the course. Besides, not getting sufficient sleep the night preceding a big test is counterproductive. Also be sure to eat a meal and go to the restroom before class.

Conclusion

These are some of the things that have worked for many students. Keep in mind that you are an individual with your own strengths and challenges. What works for one person may not be an effective studying method for someone else. However, these studying tips have been proven effective in students’ retention of the information they need to know.

Exams – Overcome Your Horrors

Heading off to college is undoubtedly an exhilarating experience. However, final exams are definitely not! It is common to feel anxious about your exams – after all, we’ve all spent more time hanging out with friends rather than sitting in the library studying! So when exam season looms into view, they are more terrible than they initially looked at the beginning of the term!

Anxiety is the biggest foe of concentration. So when you are feeling all tensed, you are least likely to make positive choices. Examination is not just a test of your knowledge; it is a test of your stress management capabilities as well. Here are a few tips to get you through your examination horrors without losing your nerves.

Prepare Well When You Have the Time

This seems to be the most obvious yet most ignored solution to all exam problems. You need a study plan put in place well before your examinations. This helps you learn your course and practice it bit by bit periodically so you do not need to cram it all in the night before the exam. When you have the time, make the most of it! Leaving it all to the very last moment will have you picking and choosing topics you think will come in the paper – if they do, you are in luck; if not, there’s always next term!

Try to practice as many questions as possible from your course materials and time your answers. This will help you in budgeting your time appropriately during the actual examination session.

Do Not Over-stuff Information before the Exam

Moments before the examination, it is best not to open your study notes. You may realize just then that you probably forgot something and in a frenzy to practice it, you may put your learning in chaos. Prepare well beforehand so you do not need your study notes on the exam day. Also, maintain your composure and do not fall for these nerve traps. It is better not to know a part of a question rather than not knowing all of it!

Sleep Well the Night before Your Exam

This is a common mistake done by most students during examination season. Most students like to stay up late at night learning and revising the course material – even if their brains are sleeping. This is a sure recipe for disaster. If you do not feel fresh during your exam, your concentration and contemplation capabilities tend to get diminished. Get a good night’s sleep before your examination – you need it more than preparation.

The Peace Motto

Feeling afraid? Counter your negative emotions with positive self-talk. You need to push the negative feelings out of yourself in order to have space for the examination. It is not a matter of life or death, and definitely isn’t the end of the world. Your examination paper was not made from alien resources. So be confident you would know how to go about it!

Read Carefully

Skim through the whole examination paper once to get an idea of what all it contains. Apportion your time accordingly so you have some left for a final go-through. Also, make sure you read the questions carefully and understand them in their context. Your examiner will be pleased to see an answer to the question that was asked rather than what you wanted to answer!

Eat and Drink Well

Refresh your energy reserves before heading into the examination hall. Never go in on an empty stomach or your stress and acidity will not allow you to display your true potential. Also, do not try out stimulants just before the exam – energy drinks can make you feel jittery and uncomfortable, making it difficult to concentrate on your work! Be comfortable before and during the examination.

Avoid Announcements

Tempted to announce to the world that you are headed off to the examination hall? Well, nip it in the bud. You do not want to go through anxiety associated with others’ expectations with you on top of the examination fears themselves. There is always time for announcement once you’ve cleared it with flying colors!

Relax! It’s Not the End of the World!

Still feeling too stressed out? Well, just remember; it isn’t the end of the world. And when this isn’t the case, there is nothing to be “so” stressed out about! Just give it your best shot and hope for the best!

Looking for a Job? Prepare for a Psychometric Test

Employers are looking for candidates that prove to be the ideal fit for a position. They want a candidate with the right set of skills, personality, cultural perspective and intelligence. One of the ways employers test prospective candidates today is through psychometric tests. This testing method provides employers with your personality characteristics, aptitude or intelligence level as well as your behavioral profile. The test usually consists of various aptitude tests and personality tests. It indicates the way you resolve problems, whether you work well individually or in a team and other relevant details. If you are appearing for an interview that will include a psychometric test, there are various ways in which you can prepare for it:

Gain a better understanding of the test

Perhaps the best way to prepare for a psychometric test is by getting familiar with the format of the test and the typical questions that are asked in the test. Psychometric tests are timed and may include numerical or verbal aptitude tests with multiple choice questions. Depending on the nature of the job, the questions may be for topics like human resources, economics, marketing or science. Certain tests also include an abstract test where shapes are used as test questions. Such tests usually do not require candidates to have detailed knowledge of the area. However, spending some time getting familiar with the nature of the test will provide you the edge and confidence you need.

Talk to the recruiter

Before the test, talk to the recruiter to understand what type of questions the psychometric test will include. Some employers allow the use of tools like calculators for the test so you may want to ask if you can use one. Practice using these tools, if allowed, in advance so you will be able to use them with ease and speed during the test.

Practice online

Before the test, practice as much as possible to improve your test results. Test questions are easily available online today. Practicing will help you train your mind for the questions you can expect. Most employers administer psychometric tests online so it is important to use the same medium for practice.

Be honest

Psychometric tests will also include personality tests. Always provide honest answers to the questions instead of trying hard to portray yourself as what you consider to be a good employee. These tests are designed to measure the consistency of your answer so fake answers may be easy for the employers to spot. There are no wrong answers in a personality test so just be yourself and allow your real strengths to shine.

Avoid stress

Stressing out before the test will only affect the results of your scores. Get a good night’s sleep, be positive and confident and avoid feeling overwhelmed. Psychometric test is usually only one part of the entire assessment process so even if you don’t perform well in the test, you may still be able to get the job based on your other strengths.

9 Tips for Taking Exams

Taking exams is much more than what happens on the day. In fact, to do well, you can easily break down taking exams into two main parts. These are:

A.    The Preparation

  • Passing or failing will depend on whether you took the time to prepare. It is important to revise before your tests. If revision classes are offered, make every attempt to attend. Take practice tests if possible to get a feel for what to do.
  • As simple as it sounds, make sure to have pens and pencils with you if you are taking a written test. If you are taking the test online, you may still need a writing implement so that you can jot down your thoughts before typing your answer.
  • Get enough rest the night before any test. While some people can function on just a few hours of sleep, most students will be better able to focus after a good night’s sleep. You should aim for between seven and eight hours of sleep on the night before an examination. Sometimes this is not possible, but at least three hours of sleep is necessary.
  • Try to get to your exam site before the starting time. Any number of things can happen that can cause a delay.

B.    Taking the Exam

On the day of the exam, your level of preparation will make all the difference. This goes without saying, but some good tips for doing your best are:

  1. Relax. Nervousness can prevent you from thinking clearly. Wear suitable clothing to help make sure you are comfortable.
  2. Read the instructions carefully. Many students have failed not because they did not know the correct answers, but simply because they did not read and interpret the instructions correctly. Take your time, and re-read the instructions just to be sure you understand what is being asked. Depending on the type of exam, some instructors (or invigilator in some counties) will provide clarification.
  3. Look at each question before starting. This the best way to determine how much time each question should take. This also helps in identifying the easier questions to start with.
  4. Determine how much time to spend on each question. This is a good way to ensure that you attempt each question. Without budgeting your time, you can easily run out of time to complete all of the questions. Having a watch with you will help you keep track.
  5. Make an outline for essays. If you are working on essays, create an outline of what you know about the topic on a blank sheet of paper or in the margins of your working papers. Useful information includes dates, and names of people and places.
  6. Work on what you know. If you come upon a difficult question, do not think about the parts you cannot remember. Focus on the parts you do know, and sometimes that will be enough to get you through that question.
  7. If you are stuck on a question, leave it and move on to those that you can answer. If time allows, go back to it after you have completed all the others.
  8. Try to answer all the questions on your paper unless you will lose marks for incorrect answers.
  9. Take breaks. Take periodic breaks by closing your eyes and clearing your mind if possible. If you begin to feel stressed or anxious, this can help you to regain focus.

Finally, proofread your work before handing it in if time allows. At this time, do not change the answers unless you are sure that the original answer is incorrect.

After the exam, do not stress over how well you did. The exam is over and you cannot change your scores at this point in time. Becoming good at taking exams is a habit you develop over time. Find what works for you to ensure your success.

6 Way to Prepare for Your Next Exam

Acing (or even just passing!) your exams, requires planning ahead with a clear focus more on the preparation stage than just studying the night before the big day. There are some proven methods used by successful students to ensure that you are well-prepared, focused and can deliver the best of your knowledge without stressing yourself out. The below guide will give you the three most successful exam preparation methods.

1. Use of Flow Charts

If your course consists of subjects heavy in theories and postulates, there is a good chance your memory has failed you on a few occasions – resulting in – exam grades that you would rather not write home about. The best way to overcome this difficulty is to create a pictorial representation of the relationships between concepts, theories, practice. Irrespective of how complicated the course material is and how many theories you covered: a flowchart will always help you understand the genesis and evolution of ideas and concepts. This method is also highly effective when revising history studies with loads of dates and events.

2. Watch Videos and Presentations

You, as a college or university student are likely to be a visual learner. If you have problems with understanding some of the content you need to study, videos will help you a lot, you would be surprised that there are tons of videos and tutorials available on almost every topic under the sun. Thankfully, there are many presentations available on college sites and sites like slideshare.net. You can read PowerPoint presentations available online on the topic, and this will help you better grasp and remember the most important points of every topics.

3. Create a Power Point Presentation for yourself

If you cannot find supporting presentations or videos that help you understand the topic better, you can always create one on your own. It is not hard, and you will certainly not spend more than an hour on developing the summary in Power Point. You would be surprised as to the enormous impact it has on your learning and grades.  Not only will it help you create a quick reference for last minute revision, you will start to understand the topic better during the process of creating the presentation, and you can revisit the content over and over again, so you keep it fresh in your head, without having to read the books from start to finish.

4. Mock Tests / Presentations

You would be surprised to discover the total impact of a number of minor factors that contribute to your grades, these may range for budgeting your time to using a different pen that allows you to write with less effort.

If you know the likely exam format, you should solve of sample test papers or practice your presentation with a room-mate or in front of the mirror. This helps you iron out any minor kinks in your preparation and approach.  It also builds up your confidence, and pre-phrase key words and phrases that you will need to readily express yourself at the critical instant without suffering from information block due to anxiety. Rehearsal should be a key part of your exam preparation, whether it is a a verbal or written test you have to get ready for.

5. Collaborate

If you feel like the subjects, books and ideas to be covered are simply overwhelming, you should not panic. Other people in the same course will certainly feel the same way. Get together with your friends from the class and distribute the topics, subjects and theories that need to be studied for the exam. Assign each member of the study group with the task of creating a presentation, speech or summary of their selected topic, once everybody is done with their material, have a group presentation with each person sharing their summary material, this saves you time since you do not have to dig through all the books and references, and all members can develop a basic knowledge of all the topics, while saving time on your exam preparation.

6. Set Deadlines

Last but not the least – nothing gets done without a deadline so set timelines and deadlines for your preparation.

Boost Academic Performance by Eating Healthy

Numerous studies have validated the claim that healthy eating boosts academic performance. Students who do not eat breakfast tend to have difficulty in memorizing and paying attention in class. A recent study in Canada followed 6000 students in Toronto schools and showed positive results. 70% said having breakfast boosted their energy levels while 61% exceeded provincial reading standards. Countless studies have also been conducted in the US which also further help in pointing that a well-balanced nutritional diet boosts academic performance and overall health of students in high school.

Mixed-Grain Diet and Cognitive Functioning

Mixed-grain diet has found out to improve cognitive performance in students. A study conducted in 2012 revealed less mental fatigue and higher level of protein in the brain, by eating mixed grains, indicating a healthy brain. Sugary sodas and a junky diet cause childhood obesity which decreases cognitive functioning.

Poor Nutrition and Lower Test Performance

Poor nutrition produces a stress hormone cortisol in excess. This hormone affects the brain and impairs learning, memorizing, paying attention and controlling impulse. Students who eat unhygienic, highly processed poor food have been found to score less on tests and exhibit behavior problems compared to well-nourished students.
A study conducted in 2011 found that drinking milk is associated with better performance. Sweetened beverages tend to impair alertness and understanding. In the study, students who ate regular breakfast scored higher on math tests compared to those who skip on their breakfasts. Other factors which help boost performance on tests include physical activity and eating healthy food.

Regular Breakfast Improves Memory

Regular breakfast no wonder provides with the required nutrition to function properly through the day. One study conducted by Gregory Phillips of college students showed that those who ate breakfast regularly passed their biology exam. It is also recommended to have a snack in between breakfast and lunch. Having a mid morning snack actually improves memory. Blueberries and yoghurt have been linked to improve memory in some studies. A hardboiled egg is also good to have in breakfast as it contains choline, a nutrient which has been found to improve memory in animal studies.

Proper Nutrition Helps Stay Alert

Inadequate nutrition, calories and junk food makes students feel lethargic and participate less in school activities. Eating proper, healthy and hygienic food prevents them from falling ill and helps them stay alert in school and focus on lectures and understand better. It helps the student to be more positive and show enthusiasm for a better learning.

Food Quality and Academic Performance

Spanish studies have found out that the quality of food students has also affected their performance academically. The study showed a direct relationship between food quality and academic performance. As food quality increased, students academic performance also increased. Certain mental processes such as comprehension, memory and concentrationwere affected more than others when food quality differed.

Physical Activity is also Important

Countless studies validate that eating healthy improves functioning of the brain. It helps the mental processes in understanding, interpreting, focusing and keeping alert in school thus, improving academic performance. Proper nutrition is like food to the brain and a balanced diet keeps students both active and prevents them from feeling tired.
Apart from maintaining a healthy diet, daily physical activities are necessary. Eating right is one part of the game, but if students take part in extracurricular activities and stay physically active and fit, studies have found them to perform better in classes. It improves attention and concentration in class. The oxygen which reaches the brain helps with better functioning and also prevents obesity in students.

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