Simple Ways to Make Studying Easier in the Classroom | Maximize Your Test Taking Skills

To improve your test taking skills you must begin with working on your mindset. To start, consider your learning through the year as preparation for the exam. Most students fail because they can’t make the connection between their daily homework, assignments and exams due to the long period of the course.

Shift your perspective and view all your academic work during the school year, semester, or summer as studying for the exam. The best way to get higher grades is to view your studying as small milestones leading to the exam as the biggest goal.

The following test-taking tips will greatly increase your test scores. These strategies will help you improve your studying skills by using the best tools for reviewing and keeping your motivation high throughout the year. If you apply them you’ll master the subject and ensure exam success.

Keep the Big Picture in Front of You

Review the course from start to finish or from the start of the unit to the end of the unit if preparing for a unit exam. Identify the hardest parts that will require more attention. Understanding the course overview will help you to understand its main topics and how they are scored. Once you’ve come up with your plan, put it on paper.

This plan will help motivate you and propel you to get higher marks. It’s easier to prepare when you know what you want and have a plan to show you how you’ll get it. Make it as detailed (and realistic) as possible.

Learn to Manage your Time

Time management is a wonderful tool you can use to help your study workload, get more done, and reduce stress. It’s the best way to get time on your side, instead of letting time slip through your fingers.

If you can control your time, you’ve won half the battle. Use a study planner so you can review your studying time on weekly and monthly basis. You can also use your study planner to keep track of assignment due dates, observe important quiz/test dates, and manage your studying time better.

Keep a daily study journal to know how you spend your time studying. It will provide helpful insights you can use to better allocate your time for more productive study time. Try journaling your other activities throughout the day so you can learn about the time-consuming habits to cut them out and replace them with positive habits that enforce your goal to get higher grades. On a deeper level, managing your time will help you control the time you spend with your friends and other social commitments you have during exam times.

Following the above will allow you can focus on your study without losing your mind over other responsibilities you have. Instead of making social commitments around your study time, make study time the priority and schedule your other activities around it. Make it your job to get higher grades.

Know Your Learning Style

Your learning style is a crucial element in your test-taking strategy. Learning styles are based on your five senses and how you best learn new information. You are either a visual, auditory, or kinesthetic learner. Each type has a learning mode that is most rewarding. Take this assessment by to identify your learning style.

Combined with your time management skills, your learning style will help you study smart, not hard. Your learning style is unique to you, so don’t try to copy other successful students’ styles! Tailoring your study method based on your learning style will certainly lead to better academic performance.

Keep the Small Picture in Front of You

Your exam success will rest on balancing between your big goal and the details that will lead to it. The small details include allocating enough time for each topic and assessing the amount of time you’ll need to dedicate to your study outside the class. Always keep a step ahead with a detailed study schedule.

Never Skip Reading

Especially for college or university students, doing preparatory reading will help you absorb new information like a sponge. Make sure you do the required reading before the class. This will make the lecture more fun and easy to understand.

Take and Organize Notes

Use apps like Evernote to take notes. Notes are most useful while you’re studying, they contain nuggets of information that will help fill in the gaps when you lose concentration. By taking notes you keep your mind engaged during the lecture and later, it’ll be helpful when you’re studying from the textbooks.

Go to Class

Don’t rely on your friend’s notes. Go yourself, and get involved! Become an active learner. Do whatever it takes to get engaged in the study material. Attending classes whenever you can helps you remember the information and when you take notes, it’ll help you focus on the lecture and prevent your mind from going off task.

Make Use of Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a tool to visualize key ideas and concepts in graphics. Use a mind mapping app such as XMind to create your mind maps. A mind map can help you pinpoint important information from lectures and study material. You can summarize a complicated topic on one page that will make the connection between various concepts and cement the information in your long-term memory.

Prime Your Mind

Priming is a psychological phenomenon. It’s a subtle technique you can use to influence your studying behavior and make your subconscious mind work for you instead of working against you. It’s much like a self-fulfilling prophecy. In essence, your mind makes connections between things to make it easier to remember. Neurons that fire together, wire together. It “clusters” your memories together for better recall. That’s why when you’re asked not to think of a pink elephant, you not only do think of a pink elephant, but you imagine it in different scenarios. And maybe you’ll see a pink elephant in a TV commercial the next day.

To put priming into action, immerse your mind in your study life. Make a lifestyle out of it. Create an environment that constantly reminds you of your study work. Hang study posters in your room, write study notes on mirrors and stick notes on your doors. That way you influence your mind to recall the information. Your mind picks up these “signals” and makes connections on its own, outside of your awareness. Try to mix in your mind maps to improve your recalling.

Concentrate When You Study

Concentration is the secret. One hour of concentration while studying is better than 10 hours of distracted study. Top performers around the world in every field are those who are single-minded, focusing on a single task for a given amount of time. If you take one tip from this article, make it the secret of concentration. This alone will get you ahead of 97% of other students and you’ll achieve better results in less time. So, turn off your cell phone notifications and concentrate on one task at a time.

Train Your Memory Muscle

Your memory is like a mental muscle. It improves if you train it, and atrophies if you don’t. One of the best memory-improving techniques is the mnemonic device. Take the time to master it as it’ll greatly improve your academic performance. Furthermore, understand how your memory works, and find more techniques to improve it.

Quiz Yourself

The best way to wrap up this article is with a bonus tip for students. If you can dig up previous exams from past years or find exams you can study, it’ll be great. This will not only help you prepare for the real exam, but it will also teach you what to expect. You’d learn about the questions, the style, and the format of the exam. Studying past exams will enhance your academic confidence and the more you solve them, the less the real exam will intimidate you.

Always remember that the difference between an A+ student and the F student is in the preparation. As inventor Alexander Graham Bell once said: Before anything else, preparation is the key to success. So, before you go to an exam, make sure you’re prepared. Now, you are ready. Good luck!

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Back-to-School Time Capsule | A Fun Way to Start and Finish the Year

It’s Time

Heading back to school can be a tough transition for kids and their parents. Summer seems to halt abruptly with the pressure to get school supplies, fill out forms, attend orientations, and so on. Students, on some level, may be happy to get back to class and see friends after so many weeks of free time.

However, back-to-school time may also create some anxiety for students who are facing unknown teachers, schedules, classmates, and academic challenges. This is especially true for younger grades who aren’t as seasoned at seeing summer end.

The new school year can be an anxious time for parents as well, who also face unknowns such as potential homework issues, friendship struggles, and other unforeseen challenges for their kids. It can be a helpless feeling for parents of all grade-level kids as the first day of school gets closer.

The good news is that by focusing on all the learning and positive changes that will take place in the upcoming school year, the back-to-school transition can be much less worrisome for parents and students. One way of making the hopes and worries of a new school year both tangible and manageable is to create a back-to-school “time capsule.”

Looking Forward

The purpose of a time capsule is usually to put an assortment of small, meaningful items into a container to be opened in the future. Heading back to school means a new future in many ways. Therefore, parents can help their kids put together a time capsule of meaningful items at the start of the school year to be opened at the end. This will be a tangible way for students to see their progress and the challenges they’ve overcome.

Kids of all ages can decorate a box or other container to be used as the time capsule. Parents can help make decisions about which small items might be meaningful to put inside. Young students can draw pictures of what they hope will be great about the upcoming school year or something that worries them. Older students can write a letter about their hopes and worries for the school year, put “before” pictures of themselves in the capsules, or even create a list of their favorite music, movies, and books to compare at the end of the school year.

Looking Back

Surprisingly, the school year may go by so quickly that it’s summer soon again. Both parents and their students may forget all about the time capsule and miss the opportunity of opening it on the last day of school. To avoid this, families can mark it as an event on their school and/or personal calendars. Another suggestion is to put the time capsule where summer items are stored, so it’s sure to be found when school is out.

Families can create their own traditions when it comes to opening the time capsule. Some students may prefer to do it away from other family members, whereas others may want everyone to participate. Perhaps a family tradition might be to open the capsule(s) each summer and then add to them for the next school year to accumulate a multitude of memorable items from each grade level.

Most students will be surprised at what they decided to place in the capsule nearly a year ago, and how different they feel compared to that time. They may laugh at their worry list or pictures and be proud of achieving things from their hope list. Overall, the back-to-school time capsule should represent to students and their parents that there will always be hopes and worries as things change but learning and growing is constant and precious.

Tips on How to Get the Kids Ready for Back to School

The transition from summer to school could be a challenging process if not properly planned.  The change in routine for both the parent and children is a consuming process. It’s upon the parent to design a proper formula for the children to follow to make the imminent changes easier to bear. Here are a few proven techniques a parent can follow to make the back to school process as smooth as possible.

Find Out About the School

Find out about your kids’ school, ensure they are ready. During this period, you can decide whether your kids will be attending the same school or you have to find them a new one. Ensure you know the school leadership and some of its staff members. This way, you will know where to go or who to talk to when you have a problem.

Adjust Schedule in the Last few Weeks of the Summer

The last few weeks before school resumes are the most important for getting back to the rhythm. The last week before school opens is when you need to start making all the changes. You need to get back to the right sleeping routines…make sure everyone sleeps and wakes up early. This way, it will be easier for both you and the kids to adjust when school finally opens.

Secondly, there is a need for you to adjust the eating schedule. During summer, meals like breakfast are taken late because children sometimes sleep into the morning. To make sure this is not a problem, change the eating routine. Adopt a school-friendly eating schedule, one that will accommodate you and the children when school finally reopens.

Purchase What Is Required

Back to school comes with new and existing demands from the children and schools. The school has a set of resources they require from all the learners. As a parent, make sure you know about these resources in time. Talk to your children, confirm with the school, plan early and then buy them.

By buying these resources early, you help avoid the last-minute rush that comes with going back to school. It ensures you and your kids are ready for the new session.

Involve the Kids

Make sure your kids understand what is expected of them by you. Keep them informed about their routines. Let them know why they need to follow them. With this information, they will find it easy to adjust to school reopening.

As a parent, most responsibilities fall to you. Being organized will be a big plus for you. You can never be too prepared, keep yourself ready and flexible at all times. Have a plan, follow it and all will go well.

Back to Learning | How to Learn about Learning

Defining the Big Problem

Most students are somewhat excited to get back to school and see their friends, begin new activities, and even to learn. However, once the novelty of the new school year wears off, many students tend to find themselves struggling with the same academic problems as the previous year, or years.

Little classroom time is spent teaching students how to go about learning, so they repeat the same behaviors and mistakes when it comes to their academic approach. This can lead to frustration and resistance to long-term learning. Even top academic students are vulnerable to counterproductive learning due to the pressure they put on themselves to get “good grades” in the short-term.

The good news is that students can turn this around pretty easily before they even begin their first day back to school. Much of the time students are grappling with managing their approach to academics rather than the material itself; and until they can define the specific problem, they won’t have the tools or means to change it. However, once the academic “diagnosis” is made, the remedy can be applied.

Diagnosing the Details

Summer is an excellent time for taking a break from formal learning. It can also give students perspective about their finished school year when it comes time to consider the next one. One way that students can prepare to get back to learning is to review their previous academic year and make an honest diagnosis of what worked for them and what didn’t. Doing this before the first day of school can help set the tone for avoiding the repetition of academic mistakes.

This diagnosis isn’t to identify which subjects they found hard or easy, but rather which of their learning approaches were effective and not effective. Students can start with listing one behavior for each. For example, if students feel they participated well in class then they can list that as an effective approach. More importantly, they should explain why it was effective and beneficial to their academics. Perhaps participating in class kept them engaged with the material so they absorbed more of it. This will give them a clear idea of which behaviors to continue for academic success.

The tougher task is naming a non-effective academic approach. Students may have trouble admitting to procrastination, missing due dates, misunderstanding assignments, and so on. Or they may not know exactly what approach they are taking that makes their learning counterproductive. Parents can help by not judging, and simply asking what didn’t go well the previous year or what they might like to change. Perhaps they want to be more organized in planning research papers, so they spend less time staring at a blank screen worrying about what to write. Or possibly they remember a missed deadline that resulted in a poor grade. Talking it through can bring clarity and a sense of ownership.

Future Reward

Once students clearly identify non-effective academic behaviors, they can figure out how to change them. There are a variety of resources that offer help, such as time management exercises and organization tutorials. The key is to understand that not diagnosing ineffective behaviors will only lead to their repetition. Behaviors and approaches can’t be changed until they are identified. This diagnosis sounds like end-of-summer homework, which can seem unfair. Yet taking time to identify effective and non-effective academic approaches before school starts can save students stress and frustration throughout the year and long-term. It will encourage them to make goals to improve their approach to learning, find resources to help change non-effective behavior, and take steps to becoming more effective in school years to come.