Top 8 Study Tips for Finals

June 13th, 2014
Top 8 Study Tips for Finals

1. Start Early! – This is the most important one. The internet provides plenty of ways to waste your study time, but you’ll be happy you stayed away from Netflix and Reddit when the final finally comes.

2. Study in Chunks – Your brain works best in 50 minute intervals. You may feel studious after your 6 hour study marathon, but a tired brain doesn’t absorb information like a fresh one. Take 5-10 minutes breaks every hour to make sure you’re making the most of your study time.

3. A Clean, Well-Lighted Place – Studying in bed may sound like a good idea, but once you’re in bed, so will a nap. Find a place that works for you. It should be somewhere where you can focus, spread out your notes, and get in a studying groove. And if you get sick of one place, switch it up!

4. Know Your Teacher – Ask questions, take notes, review old worksheets. Figure out what your teacher thinks is important because that’s what will show up on the final.

5. Study Alone – Start with what you don’t know. Review your old tests, quizzes, and homeworks, and take notes on what you missed. Then spend some time on your own with each of these topics. Write down any questions you have because the next step is…

6. Study in Groups – Once you’ve figured out your own strengths and weaknesses in each subject, form a study group. Here you can ask questions you had on your own and answer some of your study buddies’. Explaining concepts and hearing them explained in new ways will strengthen your understanding of the material.

7. Exercise – Exercise increases blood flow to the brain, and you may need all the brain blood you can get for finals week. It’s also a great way to take a break from book to soak up some sun.

8. Sleep – It may be tempting to cram all night, but
it may not help as much as you think. Give your brain a rest! When the night before the test comes around, be confident in the studying you’ve been doing all week and get some extra sleep.

A Personal tutoring session

May 22nd, 2014

Today I got to work with one of my students, Eric, on his ninth grade biology homework assignment covering natural selection and evolution.  He has a quiz coming up so his homework reviewed the sections in the book.  While working through the problems, Eric and I had a great discussion about each of his answers.  We came up with lots of examples for the different terms he had to know.  The example that stuck most with Eric was how the finches that flew to the Galapagos Islands represented the founder effect of genetic drift.  By geographically isolating a small population of a species, the genetic variation is limited causing the species to change and adapt to the new environment.  He enjoyed thinking up other situations in which the founder effect could be applied.

The one topic that confused Eric was the Hardy-Weinberg principle for genetic equilibrium.  This is a tough concept to understand because it theoretical and complex.  First off, we had to memorize the conditions that are necessary for this equilibrium to take place: very large population, random mating, no natural selection, no immigration/emigration, and no mutation. We talked about why those criteria are necessary for keeping the allele frequencies constant and that helped him remember each of those restrictions.  After establishing the basis for the Hardy-Weinberg principle, we went over how to calculate allele and genotype frequencies.  This uses two different equations and can be confusing at first.  After showing him how to use the equations to solve for the frequencies, I gave him some practice problems.  After a rough start, he did really well by getting the last three questions right.

After a quick review at the end of the session, Eric was much more confident about the material that was on his quiz.  We got a lot done during the session and he improved a lot!

Memorization

March 25th, 2014

Memorization is a constant struggle for most people. One of the best (and immediately useful) classes in college I took discussed how people learned different material. We also went over various memorization techniques. Here at the Study Hut, these skills are obviously applicable and important to our students.

We all know about short-term and long-term memory. But did you know that your brain often filters out information it does not think is useful to you? So when you are trying to study for that geometry test, and you keep telling yourself that the material is not important, this can definitely work against you. That is why repetition, used as a memorization technique, is often useful. Your brain thinks that if you come across that piece of information so much, it must, and should be worth memorizing.

You also learn information in groups. Information can be grouped together either by the environment in which you learned or encountered the information. This is why smells and sounds, like songs, can bring up many other memories. It is then not surprising, that when college students ate dark chocolate in a research study, and then during or shortly before an exam, they were able to recall more information. Taste is mostly olfactory in nature; which means taste is mostly constituted of smell. The researchers also theorized that the caffeine in dark chocolate might have also played a part, but the results were not conclusive. In addition, because we learn information in groups, it can be far easier to remember associations between words, rather than simply the individual words or terms themselves. When studying vocabulary, try to connect meanings and sounds to each other in a story or sentence. When studying history, try not to memorize random dates but connect the important events in a story. This will also, of course, give you a deeper understanding of the meaning of events and no doubt help you write more introspective essays.  In science, try not to remember individual terms but how they connect to one another in a process or function.

 

Tips to Avenge Your Finals Without Pulling Out Your Hair!

January 26th, 2013

 

 

 

Finals week is coming quick and you might start feeling that uneasy shadow lingering over your shoulders, but luckily there are several tips, tricks, and techniques to make the next few weeks bearable. First of all, you need to make the trade and remember that drowsiness, exhaustion, and brain drain will all pass, but your GPA is forever. Accepting the climb ahead of you will set you on the right path for success. Regardless of the subject matter, people all learn the same which is why you know that cramming doesn’t work, taking long exaggerated breaks, and side tracking yourself is all sure ways to fail your finals. Thus, find an absolutely quite and if necessary (desolate) place to buckle down and really hit the books; this is a great time to turn off your cell phone and get away from your social notifications. Make goals for yourself and set time limits on how long you will study before you take a scheduled break. Don’t feel the urge to work in study groups if you know they will distract you, instead work on as much material as you can and save all your questions for your teacher, tutor, or friends for later. It’s important to build on what you know rather than give yourself test anxiety on what you need to know. Evaluate how your teacher or professor has given previous tests and quizzes and determine a study strategy that will most likely reflect you’re finals, midterm, test, or even future quiz. Then chunk the material into pieces and absolutely take your time learning the material – It takes more than an hour to digest a century of history! Finally, you need to make it interesting. Take pride in what you’re learning and mentally dazzle yourself.

Biology Study Techniques

October 27th, 2011

Many students fear science like it’s the plague, but like any subject one can succeed in science if the WORK is put into it. For biology, there are three most effective techniques to receive an A. These three techniques can actually be applied to all subjects, not just to biology. They include: 1. paying attention in class (diligently listening to the instructor’s lectures), 2. understanding what is happening in the laboratory sessions (for other subjects, presentations, videos, handouts, etc will fall into this category), and actively reading the textbook when studying.

The first technique involves listening to lectures in class. This means actually going to class and staying awake! The best idea is to bring the textbook to every class in order to follow along in the textbook as the teacher is presenting the concepts. If you come across a topic that does not make sense to you, you can ask the teacher to explain it right then and there. This will help you associate the pictures/diagrams/graphs that are in the book with the teacher’s explanation for later recall. Attending lectures this way will help the student learn the material in two different ways (visually and auditorily).

The second technique is to understand the laboratory work you do in class. For 99% of the time, the labs will coincide with the concepts that are taught in class. By understanding the labs, you are able to understand the concepts in greater depth and to relate it to a real life example. The labs also serve as an aid to recall the concepts with a hands-on experience. Oftentimes, teachers will also give some exam questions about the lab as well. These will definitely serve as easy points on the test.

The third technique would be to read the textbook! Most students who do not understand the concepts did not actually read the textbook! The textbook is where all the answers are! Reading the textbook will definitely help one understand the material (if the teacher’s explanations are not enough). But one must read the textbook ACTIVELY. This means taking notes in your own words and making flashcards using the textbook which will further help in memorizing and understanding the material. Most students only do the assigned homework but do not actually read the textbook. All the information is given in the textbook and it serves as a great tool in studying.

Although the type of assignments teachers give will always aid students in learning the material, if the student does not take out the time to learn the material or do the assignments, they will definitely not do well. It is the same for every subject, not just biology. If you want a high payoff, you must do the work and put out the TIME.

The Purpose of Good Tutoring

September 27th, 2011

One of the biggest misconceptions about tutoring is its purpose. Many a time, students will come expecting one of three things: that we’re here to do their homework for them, that we can help them cram 5 chapters of material in one night for a test tomorrow morning, or that they’re done for the night the second their tutoring sessions over.

Needless to say, these ideas are false. Tutoring is not, nor ever shall be, a substitute for actual, nose-in-the-book work. We’re not here to do the work for you, teach you short cuts, or help you simply “skate by”. That might help you get a decent grade on tonight’s homework assignment, but you’d be in major trouble the first time a quiz came along. And we’re not here just to help you with the next test, or tomorrow’s assignment. Here, our focus isn’t to teach you the material. It’s to teach you HOW TO STUDY the material. Our major goal is to make it so that you don’t need us anymore. We want to get you to a point where you know how to break down a chapter, write an essay, compose an outline, and solve an equation without someone looking over your shoulder. But, of course, if you still need our help, we’ll still be here to help you again. Doing well in school is not a sprint. It’s a marathon.

Time and time again, the students that I’ve seen do the best are the one’s working before the come in, and ready to work after they leave. They’re the students who have already read and outlined the chapter, but are coming in to help with understanding it. They’re the ones who just spent an hour and a half working with me, and are already putting together a plan for what they’ll work on at home. These are the students who are not only preparing themselves for tomorrow, but for the rest of the year.

Tutoring is meant as a supplement to your learning. If you rely on it completely, without putting in the extra work, it’s not going to be effective. But if you truly work your butt off, utilizing as many advantages as you can (including tutoring at the good ol’ Study Hut), you’re going to see the kind of change you want.