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Archive for the ‘Study Skills’ Category

6 Steps to Stay Organized for the Rest of the Year

Friday, January 5th, 2018

Organize your backpack

Did you start out the school year with a nice, neat, color-coded binder, folders for every subject and great intentions about how organized you were going to be this year? Did you keep up with that system, or is your bookbag now in total disarray? With winter break coming to an end and a new year starting, now is the perfect time to get re-organized so you can tackle the rest of the year with ease.

Here are a few steps to get organized in both your physical and virtual worlds:

Step 1: Clean out your backpack
The first step in getting organized is to start at ground zero: your backpack. Dump everything out onto the floor, throw away any trash, and then go through all of the loose pieces of paper and put them into the folders where they belong. Next, replenish your notebook paper and pencils — just like you did on the first day of school — and return everything to your backpack so it’s nice and neat. Trust us, this will feel amazing! (Another tip: Try doing this once a week throughout the rest of the year to keep the bookbag from becoming a disaster area again).

Step 2: Clean your bedroom
If you do the majority of your homework in your bedroom, it’s important that it be a clean, inviting place where your important school papers won’t get swallowed up on your desk or on the floor. Take some time to go through your clothes, books and other knick-knacks and throw out whatever you don’t use on a regular basis. The cleaner your space, the more clearly you’ll be able to think. (Again, this is a great habit to get into at least once a week.)

Step 3: Go through your handouts
Right after final exams is usually a great time to sift through all of your handouts from the last semester. Typically, you should keep a folder for each class and put every handout your teacher distributes into that folder throughout the semester. Alternately, you can hole-punch each handout and put it into a binder where you have divider tabs separating sections for each class. What not to do? Tuck handouts inside a textbook or stuff them randomly into your backpack where they may never be seen again.

After each section or unit, move those handouts into a box or folder you keep at home so your binder doesn’t get too cluttered. Then, before final exams, go through your box at home so you have everything you need to study from the whole semester.

Step 4: Organize your Google Drive folders
Electronic files are just as important to keep organized as your physical files are. Shockingly, many people just throw documents onto their Google Drive with no organization at all, which ends up wasting tons of time when you’re trying to find something you need.

To keep your files organized, make sure to create one folder for each class, and then subfolders for different types of documents or assignments. You can even make each folder a different color so they all stand out easily. Just click on the file and in the dropdown menu, select “change color.”

Step 5: Give your documents specific names
Another way to keep your electronic files organized is to give your documents specific titles. Like it or not, you’re probably going to write many essays in English class each year. Naming them all “English essay” in your Google folder is not going to help you find things easily. Instead, use specific titles such as “Great Gatsby paper.” Google docs will keep track of your version history for you, but if you’re working in Microsoft Word, it’s helpful to put the date in each file name — and update it each time you save — so you know when you most recently worked on it.

Step 6: Set up reminders
Want to keep these good habits going? Put a reminder in your phone or assignment notebook to spend 15 minutes cleaning out your backpack or organizing your electronic files each week. And when the alert goes off, make sure to actually do it! A little bit of weekly maintenance will keep your mental and physical clutter to a minimum and make a huge difference in how calm you feel.

Do you have any other tips for how to keep yourself organized? Share them with us in the comments below!

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10 Tips for Studying for Final Exams

Monday, December 4th, 2017

final exams

The end of the semester is almost here, and that means one thing should be at the top of your mind as a high school student: finals week. And since final exams can count for as much as a month or more worth of regular school work in the grade book, it’s important that you do your very best.

Although it may seem overwhelming to study for a massive test covering everything from the entire semester, it can actually be very manageable if you know how to study smarter, rather than harder. Here are our top 10 tips on how to prepare for final exams.

  1. Start two weeks early
    Don’t wait until the night before the test to start studying for your exams. Instead, create a schedule for how many hours you will spend studying for each course in the two weeks leading up to your exams, and break your studying up into manageable chunks of time. This will also give you enough time to make appointments with teachers or tutors to ask for additional help if you need it.
  2. Find out what will be on the exam
    Wait, you’re allowed to find out what will be on an exam? Yes! It’s ok to ask your teachers what sections they plan to cover and what format the questions will take (i.e. multiple choice, short answer or essay). This will help you strategize about how to study.
  3. Gather materials
    The next thing you need to do is find all of the materials you have from the course and get them organized. Look for your course syllabus (this will give you clues about the main topics that were covered), class notes, returned homework assignments, returned tests and quizzes and graded essays you did throughout the semester. You’re going to need to review all of these materials as you start studying.
  4. Think like a teacher
    This is probably the most important one on the list. If you were the teacher, what would you ask on the exam? Think about the big picture. What are the major concepts that they have been trying to teach you all semester? Make a list of all of the units/chapters or big topics that you have covered in the course, writing each big topic in all caps so they stand out. Under each heading, list the key concepts you discussed in each unit with a few details you should know about each one. For example, if you did a chapter on minerals in earth science, you probably discussed subtopics like classification of minerals, how to identify different minerals and how each of these minerals is formed.
  5. Create flashcards/timelines, etc.
    Once you have a list of the big concepts covered in the class, it’s time to delve more deeply into each one. Create flashcards for key terms, dates and names you’ll need to know and describe each one on the back of the card. You can also write a one-sentence summary of the main idea of each section of class notes or create a timeline of key events.
  6. Go over past tests, quizzes and homework
    When you’re studying for an exam, you have to use your time wisely. Instead of reviewing material you already know, make sure you spend time understanding questions that you got wrong on previous tests of quizzes. If you still have questions, this is a good time to seek help from a teacher or tutor.
  7. Create a practice exam
    One really effective test prep strategy is to create a practice exam with questions similar to those you think your teacher might put on the exam. Exchange your test with a friend and try answering each other’s questions. It’s a great way of getting inside your teacher’s head and rehearsing your answers in advance!
  8. Focus
    Do your best to concentrate and stay focused on your studies during finals week. Start by turning off your cell phone and the TV for at least an hour at a time. Vow not to log on to Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or any other social media platform, and don’t respond to any texts during your study time. For more on breaking your cell phone addiction, check out this recent post on the Learner Blog.
  9. Reward yourself
    To keep yourself going, set short-term goals and then reward yourself when you meet them. For example, tell yourself that after you spend 60 minutes studying — reviewing a stack of flash cards until you know every one or re-reading one chapter — you can reward yourself with 15 minutes of checking social media, watching a show, or having a snack.
  10. Stay calm
    On the day of the exam, try to stay as calm and relaxed as possible. Spend some time doing deep breathing or meditation. Think positive thoughts, such as “I am doing my best, and that will be enough,” to relieve your anxiety and avoid psyching yourself out. Once you’re taking the test itself, try not to think about how long the test is taking you or how your peers are doing. Pace yourself, focus on one question at a time and do your best!

 

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Homework Stressing You Out? Here Are Some Time Management Tips

Tuesday, November 14th, 2017

planner

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed with everything you have to get done that you don’t even know where to start? When you’re faced with a mountain of work, it can be tempting to crawl under the covers and hope it will go away. But a better solution is to start practicing some good time management habits.

Sure, some of these tips may not give you the adrenaline rush that comes from waiting till the last minute, but working under pressure really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Giving yourself a little structure and discipline will not only help you feel calm, even in your busiest times, but it will also give you a life skill to carry into adulthood when you have even greater responsibilities and commitments.

Get started with these useful time management tips:

  1. Remember, Academics Come First
    We’ve all been there. You have a huge English paper due next week, a science test on Monday, and your volleyball team has a tournament all weekend. While we don’t advocate quitting a team or dropping out of the school musical at the last minute, it is important to remember that schoolwork should come first. If you are absolutely at your wit’s end, or you have noticed that your grades have started to suffer because you’re over-committed, you might need to cut back on your extracurricular activities.
  2. Buy a Planner
    This may seem obvious, but you’re not going to be able to start planning anything if you don’t have a place to write it all down. Put everything in your calendar, including homework assignments, tests, social events, and family responsibilities.
  3. Plan Ahead
    Here’s the thing: Your volleyball team’s schedule was probably given to you at the beginning of the year. And most teachers give you a syllabus outlining when big papers and tests will be given throughout the semester. So busy weeks really don’t have to stress you out — if you plan ahead. When you know you have a busy week coming up, make sure to work ahead in the few weeks before so you can keep everything under control.
  4. Prioritize Your To-Do List
    If you’re feeling overwhelmed, one of the best places to start is just writing down everything you can think of that needs to get done. Include school and non-school related things — whatever is weighing on your mind. Next, go through your list and identify which items are most urgent and need to get done immediately. Then identify which tasks are important, but don’t necessarily need to get done today. Too often, students just deal with the urgent things, and once they’re done they slack off and do something fun. Instead, if you have any extra time, try to do at least one task that will help get you ahead — such as brainstorming for an upcoming paper — before you take a break.
  5. Estimate How Much Time Something Will Take
    When you’re trying to prioritize what homework to tackle first, one good method is to estimate how much time each task will take you. If you’re not sure, you can start by keeping track of how long each type of homework takes you each night. After a few weeks, average the times. Once you know how long something generally takes, use those estimates when planning what you’ll get done each day.
  6. Do the Worst Stuff First
    Do you love English but hate math? If so, it’s best to get your math homework done first. The more distasteful a task is, the more you should put it at the top of your to-do list. The sooner you get it over with, the more productive you’ll be with other tasks because the icky thing won’t be hanging over your head.
  7. Take Advantage of Study Hall and Travel Time
    If you have open blocks during the day, use them do get as much homework done as possible. You’ll be more awake during the day than if you try to cram late at night, and you’re probably less likely to get distracted at school than at home. Also, if you have a long commute to and from school, spend that time getting your reading done.
  8. Break Down Big Assignments
    If you have a big research paper due in two weeks, you don’t want to start writing it the night before, pull an all-nighter and turn in something half-baked. Instead, when you first get the assignment, spend a few minutes mapping out when you can tackle smaller parts of the project. Work backwards from the due date, giving yourself time to brainstorm, write an outline, write your first draft, revise and proofread before it’s due.
  9. Use a Homework App
    One great way to stay on top of your assignments and manage your time is to use a homework app. One that gets great reviews is iStudiez Pro, which can manage your class schedule, teacher contacts and upcoming assignments and tests. Another popular one is MyHomework App, which lets you track your classes, homework, tests and assignments in an easy-to-read calendar display and gives you handy homework reminders.Whatever method you choose, remember this Educational Endeavors slogan: Structure equals freedom! By putting systems in place for handling your workload, you’ll gain freedom from worry and stress.

Do you know any other great time management strategies? Let us know in the comments section!

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