With final exams right around the corner, now is the perfect time for students to think about how effective their studying habits really are.
Let’s face it: ‘studying’ often means lounging on a couch or bed with earbuds in, Facebook and Twitter running, and a cell phone within reach. Is it that students aren’t aware of how multitasking affects their information retention, or is that they literally cannot keep themselves from checking email and instant messages while working?
Slate.com reports that investigators from the lab of Larry Rosen, a psychology professor at California State University–Dominguez Hills, watched students (263 students total in middle school, high school, and college) completing schoolwork/studying and recorded what they were actually doing once a minute for 15 minutes. The researchers checklists including expected studying behaviour such as writing on paper, reading a book, and typing notes, but also included activities such as looking at Facebook, texting, using email, talking on the phone, and watching television.
Even though the students were aware they were being watched, and were told to “study something important” researchers found that it “wasn’t long before their attention drifted: Students’ “on-task behavior” started declining around the two-minute mark as they began responding to arriving texts or checking their Facebook feeds. By the time the 15 minutes were up, they had spent only about 65 percent of the observation period actually doing their schoolwork.”
It seemed that the students were literally unable to work continuously for 15 minutes without “media multitasking,” a habit that has become all too familiar to students growing up in an ever-increasingly technological world.
It’s important to note that the evidence is clear: when students multitask while studying or completing homework, they do not learn as well as when the work receives their full attention. As Slate reports, they “understand and remember less, and they have greater difficulty transferring their learning to new contexts.”
According to Slate, some researchers are proposing that the ability to resist an incoming message notification or a buzzing cell phone is the new Marshmallow Test of self-discipline, and could determine students’ potential academic success levels. If students are unable to stop themselves from multitasking while in class, completing schoolwork, or studying, it could seriously affect their academic careers.
The important point for students to note is that “the brain simply cannot do two complex tasks at the same time.” Most students believe that they are able to multitask effectively, when the truth is that the brain simply cannot keep up. One task (usually the information retention) will therefore not be completed successfully, leaving students unable to recall what they ‘learned’ even 10 minutes prior. As well, the brain becomes fatigued when constantly switching from task to task, and although texting and tweeting don’t seem like complex tasks, they use the same area of the brain (the prefrontal cortex) that listening to and deriving meaning from a lecture does. While humans are able to do two tasks effectively if they use different areas of the brain (for example, folding laundry and listening to the radio), it is simply not true that students can learn as well while multitasking as they would if giving learning their undivided attention.
While students likely don’t want to acknowledge that “media multitasking” is a problem, studies undeniably show that being distracted by technology while learning leads to poor grades. In Rosen’s study, “students who used Facebook during the 15-minute observation period had lower grade-point averages than those who didn’t go on the site.”
So given that technology isn’t going away any time soon, what is the solution? Rosen suggests students take “tech breaks”: 2-3 minutes of texting/messaging/emailing after every 15 minutes of uninterrupted work time. Knowing that a “reward” is coming for working continuously for 15 minutes can help students stay focused and learn better.
To read Rosen’s study on “Media-induced task-switching while studying,” click here.
To read some of Oxford Learning’s tips and tricks for effective studying, click here.
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It is estimated that 70% of university students cheated at some point in their high school careers, and many continue to do so once they move on to post-secondary school. Experts say that in a society that promotes a ‘win-at-any-cost’ attitude, and an education system based on competition, it is no wonder our children often resort to cheating to get the grades they need.
‘Faking the Grade‘ is a one-hour documentary that looks at the many ways in which students cheat, and how it negatively effects everyone, including those students who are honest and hard-working.
For study tips to help you make the grade, not fake the grade, click here.
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They’ve written tests and exams.
They’ve handed in countless projects and assignments.
They studied hours upon hours.
They’ve written and passed entrance exams.
They’ve applied to schools and have been accepted.
But, just how ready is your teen for College or University?
Well, according to the US-based Alliance for Excellent Education, about one-third of college freshmen need to take a catch up course in reading, math or English. Other sources say that number of teens who are unprepared is as high as 75%.
The US is not alone; Some 55% of Ontario professors think that first-year university students are not as prepared as they should be, and are lacking in critical thinking skills.
And many students themselves share similar sentiments, worrying about handling the increased workload and academic demands of university.
So, what can be done to ensure that teens are ready for higher education and will be able to avoid the first year drop out crises?
If necessary, take a victory lap to review key subjects. Or, consider taking a year off to renew school motivation. Better yet, contact Oxford Learning to take a course that develops top-notch study skills, teaches test-taking techniques, perfects time management abilities, and improves critical thinking abilities.
Contact your local Oxford Learning centre to find out more about our College and University Prep Courses.
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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!
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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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Dylan shares lessons that he learned in his first year in high school.
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.
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We’re an advanced species. We have so many useful gadgets to make our lives easier. But it seems to me that schools have not yet accepted this fact.
We still write tests and exams even though we have all the information that we’ll ever need right at our fingertips. With a single push of a button on our phones or iPods, we can figure out the first 20 digits of Pi, what to do if you’re trapped under a building in Haiti, and what happened in 1812. So why do we take tests and exams? Is it to make us take school seriously or is it just to show our commitment to our promising future careers?
About me: I go to South Secondary School in London, ON and I have two younger siblings. I have always been a movie guy. Whenever my friends call or text me to go for a walk or to meet up at the school my only response is “Nope. Movie or bust!” Needless to say I usually get my way! 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. I know, right? How often do you come across a teenage guy who uses the word beautiful when not talking about that hottie across the hall? But there’s more weirdness than that! I also like to bake and listen to old music. OMG! You’ve just entered the Twilight Zone! Anyway, hopefully you’ll enjoy my new posts! Remember to leave feedback and comments at the bottom! – Dylan.
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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:
- What am I about to learn?
- What do I already know about this subject?
- 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?
- 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:
- Maximize their ability to remember material
- Study less
- Achieve greater exam success
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The answer is no, according to a new report released last week from the National Association for College Admission Counseling. The report criticizes common test preparation courses as costly, ineffective, and a poor investment.
That’s good news for Oxford Learning!
That’s because our SAT and ACT Plus™ Programs are so much more than “common.”
Oxford Learning’s SAT and ACT programs take what is typically considered test-prep—cramming, short-term gains—one step further, giving students who take the program a considerable edge.
So just what takes Oxford Learning’s SAT/ACT program the extra mile? Well, it is the only test-prep program on the market that isn’t focused on short-term gains for students, and it’s the only SAT/ACT prep course that looks beyond the entrance exams to prepare students for what comes next.
After all, getting into the best school is only the first step. Research shows that up to 35% of students who qualify for university or college with high entrance exam scores drop out of college or university in their first year.
This means, that if these students purchased or relied on traditional test-prep programs to boost their exam grades and get them into college or university, they were cheated. The program may have helped them cram for the SAT/ACT exam, but it did nothing to prepare them to deal with the rigors of college or university.
There is no easy solution for college or university preparation. A quick fix that promises to raise entrance exam marks is only a temporary solution. To prepare high school students to take the entrance exams successfully and fully realize the intensity of what higher education entails, takes time and commitment from the student.
The Oxford Learning SAT and ACT Plus™ Programs have a home component that encourages students to take initiative, be responsible for their learning, and invest in their own future. If students are unable or unwilling to take on this responsibility before heading to college or university, then they won’t be ready to stay in university and succeed.
The Oxford Learning approach to the issue of test-prep is a world apart from the rest. We offer a program with integrity that looks well beyond the entrance tests and prepares students for the future, which is always a good investment.
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- Get Organized. Avoid last minute cram sessions by using an agenda or calendar. Plan out a study schedule. Working backwards from the test date, allow plenty of time to review all materials.
- Review with a Pen and Paper. When reading over notes, write down all of the subject headings, subheadings, and bolded words. This will help provide a clear picture of the material. Plus, the physical act of holding the pen and writing makes study time active rather than passive.
- Ask Questions. By starting the review early, there is plenty of time to ask the teacher questions about material that may be confusing.
- Put it in your own words. Rather than trying to commit facts to memory, try explaining what was just read to an imaginary person without reciting from the text. This process helps will help students develop real understanding of the material, as opposed to simply memorizing it.
- Be efficient. Before beginning to review a chapter identify which parts are well known. Once these are identified, students should focus on studying the material that they are least familiar with. A common mistake is spending too much precious review time going over material that is familiar.
- Use mnemonic devices. To remember all items or examples, write the first letter of each example and create a sentence from that acronym. For example, to remember all of the great lakes use HOMES, or Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, and Superior.
- Make jot notes. At the end of every class students should take jot notes in the margin of their notebooks while the material is still fresh in their minds. This is as simple as identifying key words or phrases so that the entire lesson can be recalled more quickly.
- Test yourself.Test memory and understanding with a quick self-test:
- Read over all notes
- Cover them up with a sheet of paper or another book
- Recite aloud what was just read, paraphrasing when possible
- Check the facts. Were all the details and facts recalled correctly? Pay attention to any missed facts or examples. Chances are if any facts or details were missed during the self-test, they’ll be missed on the exam as well. Review the details that were missed until they are remembered during a self-test.
Summer programs now available at all Oxford Learning centers—a great way to build better study skills all summer long! Click here to find a location near you.
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