Learning How to Study

December 9th, 2012

It happens all too often: we pour ourselves a cup of coffee, sit down in front of our computers and books, ready to study, but find ourselves staring blankly at the blinking cursor. When it comes to studying, a lot of us don’t even know where to begin. This is not an issue of motivation; it is simply that we have never learned how to study. Sure, teachers give us all the information we need in class and we take copious notes, scribbling dates and facts down in our notebooks furiously. But what do we do when it comes time to remember all those little bullet points at the end of the semester? At the Study Hut, we specialize in the science of how to study. It may seem trivial, but we have found that most students really have no idea where to begin when it comes to preparing for exams. Unfortunately, this is something that can damage your grades irrevocably. Often final exams are worth fifteen or even twenty percent of your final grade. So what should you do, you might ask. Here are a few pointers to help you stay on track:

 

1) Flashcards are your friend. Sure, they’re annoying and seem to take forever, but just think: most of the time, once you’ve finished actually writing them out, you already remember them!

 

2) Define your terms. The best way to instantly forget something is to not understand it to begin with. When you are learning about a new concept or reviewing an old one, have a dictionary close at hand. That way, when you read over a word that doesn’t even look like English, you can figure out what it means and make it stick.

 

3) C.M.T.W.F.Y.: Create Mnemonics That Work For You. When you are desperately trying to remember something and it’s just not happening, try some mnemonics. Often times, if you create a silly song or jingle, the information will permanently imbed itself in your brain. Don’t believe me? This writer learned the quadratic formula over a decade ago and I still remember it perfectly. Why? I learned it to the tune of “Pop Goes the Weasel.” It may sound stupid, but it really works!

 

Of course, nothing can replace one-on-one tutoring for educational roadblocks, but with these simple tips, you should be on your way to A’s. Final exams can be scary and intimidating, but there is no reason why you can’t seize the opportunity to boost your grades! So go pick up your pencils and crack open those books! Good luck and happy studying!

 

Finals can be stressful

January 18th, 2012

Finals are the most stressful and overwhelming time of each semester. It was hard enough studying for each test the last couple of months, but how are you supposed to study for a test in every class covering everything you have learned! It’s a tall task, but it is manageable with the right tools and preparation. The tutors at the Study Hut are ready to arm you with the weapons necessary to conquer the dreaded week.

Probably the most important key to studying for finals is budgeting time. You have to have realistic expectations for each class and weigh the pros and cons of time spent studying for each class. If I have a C+ in math and need to nail my final to get a B, I’ll put more time into that class than in English which comes easy to me and I have a solid A. Once you decide how important each final is, now you have to make sure you set time aside for each, and work both diligently, and effectively.

A second key to studying for finals is simply knowing WHAT to study. Believe it or not, finals are usually far easier than the individual chapter tests. This is because on the final, the teacher is going to test the big concepts from each section, not the nitty gritty details like those tested in a chapter test. With the help of your Study Hut tutor, you can go through your old tests and assignments and realistically pick and choose what you must dedicate more time to studying.

So remember: Don’t panic, stay organized, take your tutors advice, and study diligently. Good things will come. Best of luck to you all.

Do Not be Fooled by Manhattan Beach Middle School students

January 4th, 2012

Dont let these Manhattan Beach middle school students fool you. Please stay active with them and keep them engaged.

Go through his “edline” acct with him and talk to him about each of his grades. He could use practice quizzes and he can make them himself.

He needs to focus on his daily planner too, as do ALL of our middle schoolers, and even most of our high schoolers, and have all his tests written on the day they will be given, and have a detailed study plan written out for the days leading up to his test(s).

The study tasks should say, “Make 20 flashcards for spanish verbs” and that would be on Monday for example, even if his test isnt until friday. The next day should read, “review flashcards for 2 [20min] chunks”…. you can make him difficult practice quizzes where you will be able to see if he is not only comprehending the material, but retaining it.

You’re def going to want to make mini quizzes (they can be as small as 3-5 questions based on the material he just covered). If no practice quiz is given, there is no real way to ensure comprehension.

He can work on HW, but that shouldnt be his number 1 or even number 2 priority, unless the difficulty of the assignment is a pressing concern. He needs some management help, and probably a little conceptual help, you can evaluate the needs of all this at the beginning with an interview process. You will be able to gauge and feel more comfortable after working with him a second time…that kind of thing builds as you get to know your student.

Supporting the work of the tutor at home

October 17th, 2011

Tutoring for tomorrow’s schooling

Investing in your child’s future is both wise and commendable, but what exactly will
that future require from the next generation of adults? Forward thinking planning today can
reasonably be expected to pay off big dividends if you identify all the tricks and then avoid
missing any. Tutoring helps shore up gaps in your son or daughter’s education the same way
a professional athlete improves speed or batting skills. The way parents support their child’s
education, both in school and supplemental lessons, can be improved by taking into account
what’s known about tomorrow’s world of learning.

Contrary to nostalgic views, at no time in history have education standards been higher,
subject areas more demanding, and means of instructional delivery more diverse. Your
commitment to augmenting your son or daughter’s academic skills through tutoring largely reflects these realities. The probability that your student’s
post-secondary education will be a hybrid of a traditional and online school is high and should be taken into account when considering what
comprehensive strategies you, as a parent, can use to sustain learning. Here are some tips on how
to help your child’s educational experience in and out of the classroom.

No drama tutoring time

Tutor and student have a finite time to maximize their combined focus on a specific skill
during tutoring sessions. Arriving at the tutoring facility on time—at least 5-10 minutes early—
your learner’s mental attitude should be ready for learning. Helping to make every minute count
by clearing your schedule of potential conflicts immediately prior to leaving for tutoring can help
immensely. There’s no question that your agenda is already busy and tutoring is a sacrifice of
premium time, but blocking out some quiet time before leaving with plenty of margin built in
helps set the positive mood for the intense learning you expect and for which you’re paying.

Give your child an active role

One of the biggest shocks that college freshmen face when they arrive at college is that no
one makes them study. For many, college is the first time they’ve had to meet the expectations of
their own educational needs. Tutoring, while not the only instance for this practice, provides both
you and your learner the chance to make independent studying a good habit. Involve your child
in all communications with the tutor about his or her progress and areas of concern. This doesn’t
mean that a parent simply trusts that things are going well but that the parent encourages their
child’s full participation in determining learning objectives and problem solving when obstacles
arise in the tutoring session.

Trust but verify

The relationship between the tutor and your student must be one of mutual respect for the
task and for one another’s role. As a parent, you have the right to expect such a relationship
and the obligation to make sure all parties understand this. Sometimes, legitimate conflicts of
personality simply make the paring of one particular tutor with your child unworkable. Should
this happen, reaffirm with your child their role of active cooperation with their tutor, while at the
same time acknowledging that a better match is in everyone’s interest. From there, constructively
approach your tutoring company’s management, and involving your child in the process, arrange
to have another tutor assigned after ascertaining that the matchup is right.

Looking forward

While it’s your checkbook that pays for the service, it’s your child who, ultimately, has to
buy into his or her own learning. By involving your student in the process and allowing him or
her as much autonomy as possible in making the outcome of tutoring their own, you’re not only
preparing for this semester’s next grading period or an upcoming test, you’re teaching your child
how to engage a lifetime of learning.

Avoid the Last Minute Summer Reading Cramming

July 29th, 2011

I remember when I was a Mira Costa high School student, summer just starting, tried to forget about school as much as I could.  This behavior is quite common among high school student.  This ultimately would result with most of my friends and I spending the last weeks of summer reading non-stop all of our assigned summer reading books.  As my family usually chooses to go on our family summer vacation during those weeks, my memory of those vacations is marred with memories of: If Beagle Street Could Talk, The Crucible, An Affair to Remember, One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest, and the other books our teachers said we needed to read.

Looking back I wished I started reading those books earlier in the summer.  There was no real need to wait so long.  I have heard kids make the excuse that if they start reading early in the summer they won’t remember the details and promptly fail the “rigorous” summer reading tests.  While that line of reasoning seems quite logical, it’s also been accounted for by the Mira Costa English teachers.  The summer reading tests are very simple short multiple choice exams, asking easy basic plot questions; the point is to just make sure that the taker simply had read the book.   Over the first few weeks class time is spent reviewing the summer reading books preparing the students for a more involved analytical essay.   So there is no advantage of cramming all the reading in the last weeks of summer.  Instead, start those books right now.  Read when you can.  Find your-self with a spare hour or two at home with no plans?  Spend some of that time on your summer reading.  By reading a few hours at a time throughout the whole summer you can easily avoid cramming them all at the end.  And in my case, I could have enjoyed my summer vacations much more.

You Are Not the Subjects You Study

May 18th, 2011

As a parent, you know that your child is a complex individual, full of surprises.  You know their dreams and aspirations, their fears and dislikes, what influences and what motivates them.  You know that though they may grow bored at school, frustrated with teachers or affected by their peers, that if someone could find the key to tap into your child’s potential they would shine as brightly as they do in your eyes.  It is this uniqueness that we try to cultivate.  There are a few special ingredients that make Study Hut such a sweet place to learn and one of them is that we recognize each student’s individuality.  Tutors are paired students that allow us to foster genuine connections and have a real positive influence.  That’s why we enjoy being tutors.  While many of our tutors can teach multiple subjects, Study Hut takes the time to place students according to their personality and ambitions.  Seeing our students strive for the same goals we’ve have strived for inspires us and we pass this inspiration onto our students.

A real understanding of who your child is also helps us tutor more effectively.  Biology becomes a basketball team, physics becomes skate boarding and statistics becomes the probability the Lakers will win the championship (100%, of course!)  Students are no longer just another face in a sea of students but part of the Study Hut family.  Every child learns differently, and relates differently.  Parents know this for their children; tutors should know this for their students.  We don’t just teach a child, we teach your child.

The Art of Studying for Tests

May 12th, 2011

From 3rd graders to high schoolers to college students, there seems to be a major misconception about what it truly means to “study for a test.” The common definition seems to be “that thing you do the night BEFORE you actually take a test.” And you know what? Sometimes that works. If you’re studying spelling words, or memorizing a list, studying close to the test is definitely beneficial. But let’s face it, high schoolers and collegiates: you’re not studying for spelling tests any more. The subjects you’re working on are harder, and the ideas you’re learning are more complex. The material has changed, so the way you’re studying for it has to change too.

Here at the Study Hut, we try to find out tests dates as soon as is humanly possible. Most tests require AT LEAST a week of prep time to be truly prepared (especially if you’re in an AP or Honors class).  Some tests require more, some less. Of course, as the class goes on, you’ll discover how much time you need to prepare. But that amount of time is NEVER one evening. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you can’t guarantee a good grade off one night of studying.

My most successful students are the ones that make a plan, and follow through with it. For example, I recently had a student who had a Social Studies chapter test coming up. He wasn’t doing particularly well on tests, so we set up a plan. We set aside a certain amount of time each night so that he’d be studying only one section at a time. That way, the night before the test, HE HAD ALREADY STUDIED THE WHOLE CHAPTER! All he had to do that night was review the concepts he was having trouble with and strengthen his understanding. No cramming, no headaches. And he did markedly better on his test! He broke the work down into manageable bits over the course of a week, instead of stuffing everything into his head the night before. And it made all the difference.

Finals Season!!

May 11th, 2011

I know we’re all feeling that summertime itch, but there’s one last hurdle
before the sun, sand and surf‹finals week.

And so, we will divulge a few finals tips to the stressed-out students out
there:

1. Take care of yourselves. Drink water, eat healthy and get lots of sleep.
Being sick on exam day is definitely something to avoid.
2. Take breaks. Try not to study for more than an hour at a time without a
10-minute break. Keeping your mind fresh is key to making the most of your
study time.
3. Write out a study plan and stick to it. Ideally you should have a study
plan for each of your subjects for at least a week before the actual exam.
1. E.x. MONDAY: U.S. History (World War II): 1 hour; Biology (Nerve System): 1 hour
4. DON’T CRAM. The chance of burning yourself out is too great, and sitting
through an exam with a semi-functioning brain is a special kind of torture.
It is much better for your G.P.A. and your sanity to pace yourself and allow
that knowledge to sink into your long-term memory instead of hoping it will
stick around in your short-term memory.

Keep these tips in mind as you head into the last weeks of this semester,
and from all of us at the Study Hut, “GOOD LUCK!”

Bringing Down Goliath: The best way to Study Biology

May 2nd, 2011

So you have a huge end-of-the-year comprehensive biology test coming up, and since you’ve been cramming every chapter test since the beginning of this year, you don’t remember anything. What do you do? Where do you even start? To begin, you should realize that for a huge subject such as biology, cramming all the details just isn’t going to work. There are way too many intricate details to be able to memorize each and every one from all the chapters. And before you think about cramming again for this final, consider this: most science majors require at least a year of biology in college, and a good chunk of the information is overlap from what you learned in high school. Therefore, the better a foundation you set for yourself now, the more it’s going to pay off not only now in high school, but in college, and maybe for the rest of your future as well.

To begin, break down biology into manageable chunks of information. Don’t just rush through reading every chapter and then realize you’ve already forgotten everything, but break it down by paragraphs and really try to visualize what’s going on. Carefully analyze the diagrams, draw your own pictures, watch (relevant) youtube videos, etc. There are lots of excellent visual resources online that can make understanding the material much easier, and they’re free! After visualizing the information, you’ll find it a lot easier to memorize, and then it’s just about reviewing the information consistently to reinforce what you’ve learn, while slowly adding more details to your knowledge.

Another great way to study biology is to review the information with your friends. Choose a topic, and popcorn each other to begin describing everything you know about the topic. Everyone always focuses on different aspects, and you’ll be able to take notes on what points you forgot to pay attention to.

Remember: there’s something in biology for everyone! Whether or not you love or hate science, biology plays a very relevant part to our everyday lives. Whether you want to learn the most effective way to work out, want to learn what to do to eat healthy and stay fit, or just how to prevent breakouts, biology will teach you the basics of how the human body works and allow you to make educated decisions to improve your health!

This is why I love tutoring at Study Hut

April 8th, 2011

A friend of mine recently asked me what I like about tutoring. I thought it was a strange question, because to me it feels to me like the perfect part time job. When I told him this he just shook his head and said that he was so glad that he didn’t have to read Jane Eyre or touch a geometry problem for the rest of his life. That made me smile, because his job – car salesman – is something that I know I would absolutely hate. It’s good to know that there’s an ideal job out there for everyone, and that it’s different for everybody.
So what is it that I love about tutoring? What is that drives me to help my students, makes me review statistics and calculus at home, causes me to dream up new explanations and tutoring techniques while I drift off to sleep at night?
It’s really two things. For starters, I genuinely find high school math and science genuinely interesting. A lot of people like sudoku and word problems. Me? I like SATs and word problems. There’s a puzzle behind every exam and homework assignment; when you sit down pencil in hand it is a battle of wits between you and the teacher. Although I must no longer take those tests myself, it is still a vicarious pleasure helping my students wrestle with a tough problem, turn their mental gears, and finally achieve that eureka moment.
Secondly, I really like helping people. That sounds cliche, but it’s the truth. When I was in school I struggled with a lot of my subjects and fell behind. It’s the worst feeling, and one we are all familiar with. Who hasn’t had that dream where you’re taking an exam for a class you’ve never attended? Well my students are still going through that, and I love be able to hoist them back onto dry land.