Posts Tagged ‘study tips’

## The Problem with Math

April 10th, 2013 No comments

Studying for (and succeeding in) math is different than other subjects. Math is cumulative, meaning it builds upon earlier concepts/skills. This fact alone is not necessarily a problem, but the pace at which teachers must move through the curriculum certainly is. Students needing more time or extra help to grasp a math concept quickly fall behind and are rarely able to catch back up.

So how can you keep yourself from falling behind?

Check out these ten tips for succeeding in math class:

1. Do Your Homework: Obvious, right? Even if you believe you understand a concept/skill clearly, do all assigned homework to really cement it in your brain. Imagine the questions as practice test questions; complete them correctly as homework and you’re more likely to complete them correctly come test time.

2. Know Your Textbook: Since math is cumulative, your textbook is a chronological guide to what is coming up next. Review chapters BEFORE entering class to prep your brain for the new lesson, and to get a head start on seeing how new material connects to previous material.

3. Ask in Class: If you get a sense that a new concept is harder to wrap your head around, ask for clarification in class. Not speaking up, then finding out you can’t complete the homework because something is confusing, puts you a day behind. While in class, listen to other students’ questions as well, as they may help you understand your own, or offer to complete questions on the board even if you’re unsure what you’re doing. Practice makes perfect.

4. Understand the Method & the Process: Knowing formulas is important, but if you don’t know how or when to use them, you can’t be successful. Take the time to understand the principles behind the formulas to truly understand math concepts.

5. Prime Your Brain: Math is easier if your brain is ready for it. Do a few fun brain teasers before sitting down to complete homework or study for a test to get your brain in the math mood.

6. Practice, Practice, Practice: If a concept is still a bit fuzzy even after you have completed your homework, find some additional practice questions online. It is important to not only complete questions until you get the right answer, but until you understand HOW you got the right answer.

7. Don’t Stress: If you’re struggling with a question or concept, set it aside, take a break, and return to it later. If still having difficulties, call up a classmate or ask a family member for help. If no one can help you out, make a note of the problem and wait to ask your teacher the next day. Struggling with a problem that you can’t answer will only increase frustration and cause unnecessary stress.

8. Slow Down: Completing work in class or finishing a test is not a race. Take time to understand, complete, and double check your work. Taking your time also lessens your chances of making silly mistakes or scribbling answers that are not legible.

9. Analyze Your Errors: When homework and tests are returned to you, take the time to go over wrong answers. Figure out where you went wrong and do a few practice questions to get the correct method locked in your brain. Ask the teacher if you need help figuring out your missteps.

10. Insert A Tip/Trick Here: Have a trick or tip for succeeding in math class? Leave a comment and share it with us!

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## The Scientific Way to Study

September 24th, 2012 No comments

Our friends at The BestColleges.org created this great infographic:

## 8 Tips to Help Students Study Better

Click the image to read the full post and find out the 17 scientifically-proven ways to enhance study habits.

Thanks to Bestcolleges.org for sharing this post with us!

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## Five Memory Tricks the Pros Use

June 15th, 2012 No comments

Canada recently announced it’s first ever  memory champion. Memory might seem an awfully limited field to become a champion in,  but memory studies–and studies of neuroscience and cognition–have all been uncovering some interesting, important, and relevant information about how the brain learns and remembers; information that is useful to brains of all ages.

While remembering the exact order of five shuffled decks of cards or a list of 100 random words might not be a particularly useful skill to the average student, the techniques that the pros use can help even the most forgetful student improve recall for important tests.

According to the experts, memory skills aren’t something that people are born with–like  any other skill they need to be practiced to become perfect.

Here are some of the take-away tips to beat the “Why Can’t I Remember?” Blues:

### Tip 1: Visualize it

Create a mental picture for everything that is being studied. Create mental scenarios and imagine yourself moving around in them–a virtual “memory palace” where everything has a place. To recall something, go back into the mental room, locate the “object” and look at it visually.

### Tip 2: Study in different spots

Memory uses cues from the external environment

Where studying and learning happens is an important part of the study process, as background sights and sounds can cue recall.   Studying a particularly challenging bit? Move to a new location to help this bit stand out in your mind.

### Tip 3:  Move around

The same research also shows that movement can help a memory. Act out a scene with pantomime. Use hand gestures, or choreograph some footwork as you review. There are no rules that say that you cannot shuffle your feet at your desk while writing an exam!

This is also the same reason that creating studying notes is so effective.

### Tip 4: Say it out loud

When reading over your notes, read out loud. Then again with eyes off the page. Keep reciting out loud. This is probably one of the oldest and best memory tricks—it existed even before writing did, when stories only existed orally.

### Tip 5. Give yourself time to forget

First, give yourself time to memorize something, then wait a few days or a week, and try to remember.  Then, take note of what parts you forgot.  Pay attention to what was forgotten—that’s the stuff that you need to review again… by changing locations, walking around, writing it down, and reading it out loud.

##### Memory Bonus*

The process of committing something to memory—reading it over and over, writing it down, reciting it out loud, and thinking about it actually helps improve comprehension and understanding. And, understanding is better than memorization any day.

No tricks required.

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## Get on Track with our Fall/Winter 2011 Newsletter!

December 8th, 2011 No comments

Download and share our 4-page newsletter; it’s packed with great learning strategies and school tips for both parents and students! Plus it’s completely free!

• Active Learning
• Homework Tips
• Study Tips and How-Tos
• Getting Involved in Your Child’s Education

click on image to download the newsletter

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## A Simple Guide to Study Notes

February 10th, 2011 No comments

We know that creating hand-written study notes is a surefire way to maximize your study efforts. It turns passively reading over notes into an active endeavor that uses multiple senses and helps to improve recall.

But just how do you create study notes, and what should you look for? The main thing to remember when creating study notes is summarize, summarize, summarize! Study notes are all about the art of condensing.

Here’s how to begin:

1. Grab a pen and paper. To maximize the benefit of studying, study notes should be written out by hand. Studies show that the act of writing is more beneficial than typing study notes on the computer.
2. Write down Key Words. Start by identifying all subject headings/subheadings/bolded words. These are the main ideas of each section and unit, and identify what the section is about.
3. Summarize. Under each heading, summarize the information. Use bullet points. Be brief. The point is to jot down the main ideas, not re-write the chapter.
4. Paraphrase. Read over a sentence and then say it back using your own words. What two or three words stand out as most important? Write those down.
5. Get Messy! These are your study notes, so develop a system that works for you. Colour code. Triple Underline. Sketch. Whatever will help you remember—and understand—is what will make your study notes successful.

As you practice creating study notes, you’ll get better and better at picking out the main messages and the key words to remember. This means that your study notes themselves will condense. The first time you create your own study notes, your might have multiple pages; as time goes one, you’ll be able to summarize your study notes onto on single, easy-to-refer-to page.

Want more information about creating study notes or other study tips? Your local Oxford Learning Centre can answer all your questions, and tell you all about a program that can help make studying and learning easier. Call today!

Categories: Homework Tags:

## Make Studying Hands-On

February 2nd, 2011 No comments

What do your fingers and hands have to do with how well you remember what you study?

Well, new research is showing that the physical act of handwriting stimulates critical activity in specific areas of the brain that develop a sort of visual memory of words and letters.

In the study, researchers asked two groups to learn an unknown alphabet. One group studied the alphabet by writing the letters out by hand. The other group read solely off computers.

It shouldn’t surprise you that the group who wrote the letters out had better recall and did better on tests of the alphabet.

The Take Away:

There are many ways to go about the process of studying. One of the tried-and-true study techniques is creating study notes using pen and paper.

It may seem an old-fashioned practice given the abundance of personal technology that students have at their fingertips, however, the act of physically writing creates a “motor memory” in the brain that helps both the brain, and the body, remember.

So if you want to maximize your study time, improve recall on tests, and get better grades, grab and pen and paper, open your textbook or notebook, and start making study notes!

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## 5 Secrets to A Better Memory

October 28th, 2010 No comments

Kids forget stuff all of the time. Where they left their book bag. What day the next soccer game is. When Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.

Before writing kids off as hopelessly forgetful, consider that they may have simply never been taught how to remember.

As the World Memory Champions can tell you, there are tricks—simple tricks—that everybody can use to improve memory abilities.

So what’s the secret?

When it comes to improving your memory, the most important secret is … imagination.

And luckily for forgetful students, kids have a natural abundance of imagination.

Telling stories and visualizing details improves the ability to recall details. That’s because visual memory is larger and stronger than logical memory.

The main memory technique involves making visual associations. This is where imagination comes in. The associations do not have be logical or make sense. They only need to be relevant to the individual.

For students, it might be the only instance where being illogical, nonsensical, and random pays off in school.

Here are some of the best tips that filmmaker Josh Freed learned while filming his documentary
Where Did I Put My…Memory?

1. Numbers: Imagine numbers as shapes or common images. For instance, the number 5 could be a snake, the number 8, a snowman. Then, recall numbers by crafting a story around the numbers. This technique could be very helpful in helping young children remember phone numbers.

2. Placement: Always remember where you left something by imagining it blowing up. Rather than dropping off a book bag in the front hall, pause and visualize it blowing up. Or, maybe a less violent image for younger children—perhaps the image of taking a nap would work.

3. Names: Visualize something about a person’s name. Associate the first letter of the name with an object. For instance, the name Laura could be associated with a shamrock because she was wearing green when you met her, and shamrocks are lucky. Lucky and Laura both start with the letter L.

4. Singing. There has been much success with singing instructions and repeating the chorus. The Alphabet Song has been helping preschoolers learn the alphabet for years, while teacher Alex Kajitani has become known as the Rappin’ Mathematician for using rap to teach math skills to students.

5. Making up stories. Making lists and writing things down is a tried and true way to avoid forgetting, but when these sorts of memory aids are not available, making up stories can not only help people remember important tasks and details, it can actually help make the brain stronger, and less reliant on outside tools to aid recall.

Check out the article The Secrets of Mastering Your Memory for more information and for information about how technology will help memory in the future.

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## The Pros and Cons of Cramming

October 15th, 2010 1 comment

Raise your hand if you’ve ever left studying to the last minute, then stayed up too late, trying to review as much material as possible.

Keep your hand up if you’ve ever been reviewing your study notes right up to the last second as you walk into the classroom.

Cramming is a study technique that we are all familiar with. And despite what teachers and parents say, it’s one that has actually been proven to have a beneficial outcome for students.

Cramming is even a recognized study habit, with universities providing how-to guides for students to maximize their minimized study time.

If you MUST cram, there is a right way and a wrong way to go about it.

But we’re not saying that we condone cramming tips. While we do support the getting of better grades, in the long run, cramming is not the best way to go about it.

In terms of what’s going on in the brain, the neural connections being formed during the cramming process are temporary. All of the information being stored is in the short-term memory. So while cramming can help you rock that test tomorrow morning, when it comes to long-term remembering, it’s utterly useless.

That’s because in school, learning is incremental. Students need to remember—and understand—the material they study, because lessons tend to build upon what was taught previously. Learning only for the test is not helpful when considering what will be taught next year, or the year after that.

After all, you can’t perform quadratic equations if you can’t remember how to multiply.

It just makes sense that students take the time to learn and understand the material.

The best way to study for long-term recall is with a technique that experts call the “spacing effect.” This technique doesn’t require longer or more intensive studying: it simply means that students space out their study time. An hour here, and hour there, makes for a more effective—and long-lasting—approach to studying.

When it comes to education, better grades on the next test are important—and cramming can get you there—but better grades quickly are not as important as developing solid study habits that won’t leave you stressed and scrambling at the last minute.

And, better grades quickly are not as important as putting in the time to develop real and lasting understanding.

To sum up:

Cramming PRO: A quick way to review material and re-familiarize yourself with concepts to get a decent—even awesome—mark on a test.

Cramming Con: Reviewed material leaves your head as quickly as it’s stuffed in there.

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## What I Learned on Grade 9: The Basics

August 8th, 2010 No comments

Dylan shares lessons that he learned in his first year in high school.

The Basics
I just finished grade nine and I have to say, it wasn’t as bad as far as high school stereotypes go. But, there are still some things kids should be aware of before starting grade nine.

1. Popularity. It’s a good idea to develop social skills earlier in life rather than later. It will help you a lot in high school and in the future—whatever your career might be. However, getting too hung up with the idea of “being popular” can lead to potential problems, the worst being unsuccessful grades.

2. Confusion.  One thing you do not want to do in high school is fall behind. Confusion is usually the first step in falling behind. If you are confused about something, always ask questions about it. You may get made fun of, but the only thing that you have to worry about in high school is yourself. In the long run, you will succeed, but only if you listen to yourself and not to others.

3. Don’t Cram.  Probably the number one thing you don’t want to do at any point in high school is cram for tests. In most cases, cramming leaves you sleep-deprived and completely clueless. Trust me, you’re much better off studying for and hour or so a night up until the test. This way you’ll have a firm grasp of the material, and you will be well rested for the big day.

4. Examinations.  Everyone fears examinations: it’s fine if you do. The only advice I can really give you is to review and be prepared. Even if you feel that you have a good grasp on the subject, it is always a good idea to review every night. If you wait until a week before to start studying, you end up cramming.  By reviewing every night, you have a much better chance of receiving a high mark on the final.

My Mistake:  A mistake that I made this year was that I didn’t change my schedule before the year had started. I had Math, English, Geography and French in first semester, and my two electives, Gym and Science, in the second. I had one hard semester and one easy one. It is better to balance out your courses if yours are set up like mine. The workload becomes much easier to manage when more challenging courses are spread out evenly between each semester.

About me: I go to South Secondary School in London, ON and I have two younger siblings. I have always been a movie guy. But movies aren’t the only thing I enjoy. In the summer I love to bike with my friends down to the Thames River and ride along the trails. The sights and the entire ride are always beautiful. Anyway, hopefully you’ll enjoy my new posts! Remember to leave feedback and comments at the bottom! – Dylan.

Categories: High School Tags:

## The Secret to Exam Success

May 21st, 2010 No comments

As the school year begins to wind down, exam pressure begins to build.

So, what’s the one thing that students need to know in order to study successfully and beat exam stress?

Well, there are more than a few study strategies that help students study smart, not hard. It’s also important that students give themselves plenty of time to study so that they don’t end up cramming, which rarely works for remembering material long-term.

But if there is one thing—one secret—to effective studying it’s this: turning on the brain before hitting the books. Active learning. No, it’s not a buzzword—it’s a proven technique that gives students an edge.

Without it, students are just moving their eyes over the page, and that’s a very ineffective way to study—it takes longer, and gets less results.

So, how do students engage their brain while studying?

In order to properly engage the brain during studying, students need to be continually asking themselves questions before, during, and after study time:

### BEFORE STUDYING:

• What am I about to learn?
• What do I already know about this subject?

### DURING STUDYING:

• How does this information fit into a bigger picture?
• Do I understand what I have just read?
• Can I paraphrase it?
• Are there any key words that I need to write down? Why are these words key?

### AFTER STUDYING:

• What do I remember from what I studied?
• What materials do I need to go over again?
• Is there another way that I can think about the material?
• Can I see the material in a way that I didn’t see it before?

These questions help students to “turn on their brain.” By “turning on the brain” during study time, students:

1. Maximize their ability to remember material
2. Study less
3. Achieve greater exam success
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