Ten (10) Ways to Cram Successfully

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Sound familiar?–It’s Sunday night. You’ve had a long, fun weekend of…things. Then, oh no! You’ve got a test tomorrow morning. It’s the end of the world, and you should just give up, bribe your professor, and then maybe flee the country, right?
Nope. With these 10 tools, you might just be able to rock that test tomorrow.
A disclaimer: Studying only the night before a test really isn’t a very good idea. These tips are meant to help you at the last minute, not to give you a reason to not study beforehand.

1. Go Somewhere else
Studying in your dorm, apartment, or whatever you have can be incredibly distracting. Grab the bare minimum (books, iPod, notebooks, computer only if you need it) and head somewhere else. It doesn’t need to be a library, necessarily- I’ve found coffee shops and bookstores to both be awesome places to work. Either way, make sure you find somewhere where you can really set up shop, and not have to move for a while.

2. Caffeinate
I know, everyone talks about how bad caffeine and sugar are for you, and it’s true. But let’s face it: your bodily cleansing, for this one evening, needs to take a backseat. Do whatever you need to do to stay alert and awake; nodding off while reading isn’t very helpful. Even just eating something while you study can be really helpful, as are coffee, soda, and the like. Make sure you keep plenty around, though, to stave off the crash.

3. Use the 50/10 rule
This is one of my favorite methods of studying, because it keeps me incredibly focused. Work- hard- for 50 minutes. No breaks, no distractions. Anytime you get distracted and stop working, the 50 minutes starts over. Once you hit 50, take a 10 minute break. Check your email, go to the bathroom, walk aimlessly around- whatever. Then, it’s back to work. Training yourself this way forces you to study hard 80% of the time, instead of half-studying all the time- it’s much more effective.

4. Rewrite
Though this tip doesn’t work for everyone, it certainly has for me. The way I study, for the most part, is to rewrite my notes into smaller pieces. Eliminate the filler, and whittle down your notes from every class or reading into a specific portion- a page, or 1/2 a page. This forces you to figure out what’s really important, and not waste your time reading through page after page of notes. Plus, you’ll be amazed at how much you learn simply by writing.

5. Study with a friend
Odds are, you’re not the only one who put off studying until the last minute. Find someone else to panic with, and you’ll be rewarded in two ways: you’ll realize how much you already know by asking and answering questions, and you’ll figure out what you need to study. Quiz each other, ask questions about what you don’t understand, and figure out together what you need to be thinking about. Two (or twelve) brains are always better than one, and studying is no exception.

6. Figure out the Big Points
Given that you’re studying the night before the test, odds are you’re not going to remember every minute detail of the material you’ve learned. That’s okay. Instead, spend your time focusing on major concepts, the 5-10 things you’ve talked about the most and need to know the most about for the test. You’ll learn more about the connections between topics, as well as be able to answer more questions intelligently. More often, at least in classes I take, the concepts prove more important than the tiny details, but it’s easy to get bogged down in remembering every piece of material. Focus on the big stuff first, and move on only if there’s time. Night-before cramming requires playing the odds, and your best bet is on the big stuff.

7. Chunk
Try remembering these ten numbers: 9-1-4-6-5-7-3-2-4-1. Not so easy? Now try remembering this phone number: 914-657-3241. Much easier, right? That’s a process known as chunking, which can help you retain information at a much higher rate. To study with this method, follow a simple process: Come up with important terms you need to know for the test, and define them. Come up with a few major concepts from the course material, and explain them each in a paragraph. Then, on a notecard or piece of paper, group your terms into the concepts. Practice going over a concept, and remembering the relevant terms and definitions. Learning the individual parts as they relate to a larger whole makes remembering and applying them much easier. About.com has a great article about chunking here.

8. Study out of Order
Most people study by reading their notes over and over again. This, believe it or not, really isn’t a helpful way of studying. Your brain doesn’t work in perfect order all the time, and neither should you. Instead, read your notes through consecutively only once. Then, randomly go back and read days’ notes, in no order whatsoever. This helps your brain remember the information on its own, instead of simply as a part in a series. If chronology is relevant, i.e. in a history class, be careful to note chronology, but still change your orders.

9. Study Out Loud
Read your notes out loud. Whisper, yell, sing, rap, whatever- say your notes out loud. I can’t overstate how much easier it is to remember something you say, hear and read than something you simply read. By speaking out loud, you give your brain three stimuli to remember the material instead of just one. Your retention skyrockets as you talk, because you’re forced to concentrate on the material. Don’t study in your head- study aloud!

10. Sleep!
This is literally the single most important thing you can do the night before a test. Studies have shown that you both remember incredibly more after 6 hours of sleep, and you perform terribly in pressurized situations without much sleep. This is a difficult thing to do, because, as I mentioned above, your instincts and caffeine will tell you to stay awake. Any sleep at all you can get is a crucial part of succeeding on a test, and the more the better. Balance caffeine with getting to bed at some point, and once you get in bed, forget about the test. Think actively about something peaceful, so nothing else enters your mind, and you’ll nod right off.

These aren’t always the optimal methods to study. They’re 0nly a way to help you out if you’re in total panic mode over a test you’re not ready for, and don’t have time to study for properly. Ideally, you should be studying all along, eating well, exercising constantly, and getting lots of sleep. But that’s not realistic, at least not for me. So, if you’re in crisis mode, take a deep breath, and good luck!

Reference

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Seven (7) Ways of Making the Best of Your Time

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1) Use The 20 Second Rule
Make things you shouldn’t do take 20 seconds longer to accomplish (moving the ever-buzzing phone across the room) and the things you should do 20 seconds easier.
I like to refer to this as the 20-Second Rule, because lowering the barrier to change by just 20 seconds was all it took to help me form a new life habit. In truth, it often takes more than 20 seconds to make a difference—and sometimes it can take much less—but the strategy itself is universally applicable:
Lower the activation energy for habits you want to adopt, and raise it for habits you want to avoid. The more we can lower or even eliminate the activation energy for our desired actions, the more we enhance our ability to jump-start positive change.

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2) Have A Solid Daily Ritual

STEP 1 (5 Minutes): Your Morning Minutes. This is your opportunity to plan ahead. Before turning on your computer, sit down with the to-do list you created in chapter 22, “Bird by Bird,” and decide what will make this day highly successful…

STEP 2 (1 Minute Every Hour): Refocus. …Set your watch, phone, or computer to ring every hour and start the work that’s listed on your calendar. When you hear the beep, take a deep breath and ask yourself if you spent your last hour productively. Then look at your calendar and deliberately recommit to how you are going to use the next hour. Manage your day hour by hour. Don’t let the hours manage you.

STEP 3 (5 Minutes): Your Evening Minutes. At the end of your day, shut off your computer and review how the day went, asking yourself the three sets of questions listed in chapter 27, “It’s Amazing What You Find When You Look.” Questions like: How did the day go? What did I learn about myself? Is there anyone I need to update? Shoot off a couple of emails or calls to make sure you’ve communicated with the people you need to contact.

3) Don’t Be Fast, Be Smooth
A Formula One pit crew — a group that depends on fast, efficient teamwork — found that they weren’t at top speed when they concentrated on speed. It was when they emphasized functioning smoothly as a group that they made their best times.

He seduces them with anecdotes about the effectiveness of operating goalessly, such as the tale of the Formula One pit crew with whom he worked, whose members were told that they would no longer be assessed on the basis of speed targets; they would be rated on style instead. Instructed to focus on acting “smoothly”, rather than on beating their current record time, they wound up performing faster.

4) Know The Best Times To Do Things
Know the optimal time to do things so you don’t waste time. Some notable highlights:

Best time to send emails you want read: 6AM.
Best time for thinking: Late morning.
Creative thinking: Creativity can be improved when we’re tired so try brainstorming when daytime sleepiness peaks at around 2PM.
Best day of the week to eat dinner out: Tuesday (freshest food, no crowds)
Best day to fly: Saturday (fewer flights means fewer delays, shorter lines, less stress)

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5) Hold Meetings Standing Up
Sick of time-wasting meetings? Bob Sutton’s great book Good Boss, Bad Boss: How to Be the Best… and Learn from the Worst points to a great trick. Hold your meetings standing up:
Sit-down meetings were 34% longer than stand-up meetings, but they produced no better decisions than stand-up meetings. Significant differences were also obtained for satisfaction with the meeting and task information use during the meeting but not for synergy or commitment to the group’s decision.

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6) Get More Sleep
Cheating yourself on sleep reduces willpower and it’s this same store of self-control that helps us resist all those bad behaviors like aimless web-surfing:
Researchers have previously argued that sleep is a means of recharging our regulatory resources, and these studies confirm that less sleep does indeed make us prey to counterproductive activities like cyberloafing.

7) Stop Sorting Email
Sorting your email into folders? Don’t bother: “…researchers discovered that those who did no email organizing at all found them faster than those who filed them in folders.“
If you’re the type to meticulously file your emails in various folders in your client, stop, says a new study from IBM Research. By analyzing 345 users’ 85,000 episodes of digging through old emails in search of the one they needed, researchers discovered that those who did no email organizing at all found them faster than those who filed them in folders.
By using search, the non-organizers were able to find the email they needed just as easily as filers. They also didn’t have to spend any time filing email in folders, putting them ahead overall.

Source

Tonight Is A Record-Breaking Supermoon – The Biggest In 68 Years

A supermoon rises behind Glastonbury Tor, Somerset in 2015. (Credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

There will be an amazing spectacle tonight as the first supermoon in almost 70 years appears in the night sky. In fact, if you’re younger than 68 you have never witnessed this record-breaking supermoon in your lifetime.

Tomorrow morning, November 14th, the moon will be the closest it has been to Earth since 1948. It will appear 14 percent bigger and 30 percent brighter than the average monthly full moon. Of course that’s dependent on hopefully viewing the supermoon without the obstruction of a cloudy night. Thankfully it appears most of the United States will remain mostly clear for tonight’s supermoon.

If you happen to miss the moon tonight, you’ll have to wait until November 25, 2034 so take some time to go outside tonight and witness the impressive moon.

What Is A Supermoon?

A supermoon typically refers to the concurrence of two phenomena. One is when the moon is within 90% of its closest position to Earth in its orbit. Since the moon’s orbit is elliptical the moon during perigee is about 30,000 miles closer to the Earth than the apogee. The other phenomenon is syzygy, which is when the Earth, sun and moon all line up as the moon orbits Earth. When both a perigee and syzygy occur and the moon is located on the opposite side of the Earth from the sun we get a supermoon.

A supermoon sets behind the Statue of Liberty, New York in 2015. (Credit: Gary Hershorn/Corbis)

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Tips to Enhance Learning

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5 Ways to Enhance Learning

We all know that we should use smart study strategies for learning. But what is the science behind effective study strategies?
The tips below come from scientific studies that examine the difference between memorizing for short term and learning for the long haul.
1. Quiz Yourself Daily
Studies have shown that the best way to remember the information you’ve read or studied is to test yourself. Why?
It seems that the mere act of pulling information out of your brain and tucking it away again works like a sort of “body-building technique” for memories. Through a process called retrieval practice, it seems that information becomes sturdier and more embedded as we exercise it.

2. Reduce Your Cell Phone Use
It should come as no surprise that spending too much time on the cell phone can affect your grades. But the relationship between phones and grades is not simple; it’s not just a matter of time spent wisely (or not).Studies show that there is a relationship between cell phone use, anxiety, and student performance.
Increased time on the phone seems to be linked to increased feelings of anxiety, and that leads to lower student performance.Another relationship has been noticed between increased time on cell phones and a decrease in physical activity. Students who spend more time on phones, in other words, tend to be less active – which also causes a buildup of stress and anxiety.In fact, science also suggests that students who take part in aerobic exercise benefit from better long term memory.
It’s just a good policy to limit time on cell phones and increase physical activity. By reducing the anxiety in your life and getting in better physical shape, you’ll free up your brain to learn and retain!
3. Stop Trying to Memorize
Mnemonic devices are handy when you need to memorize a list of items that you intend to recall in the next day or two. Memorization is a skill that comes in handy for short term memory. But short term memory is only good if you’re cramming for a test and you don’t care about learning. Long term memory is the goal for truly learning from the material that you cover in class.
A recent study shows that memorization impairs your ability to recall details – and that can be a problem if you’re taking a test with essay or multiple choice questions!To commit information to your long term memory, you will need to venture beyond memorizing facts. You must strive to gain a meaningful understanding of concepts beyond the words and names on your list of terms. This leads to true learning – as opposed to short-term memorization. Long term memory comes from getting active with material and studying the same information several times over a few weeks.
4. Use Music and Actions
The more active you become when it comes to studying, the more you will be able to commit the information to memory. If you’re studying foreign language (or any other subject that requires you to learn new vocabulary) it seems that singing is helpful.
Singing new vocabulary and definitions taps in to your auditory learning skills and helps you recall more readily, according to one study. It’s certainly worth a try!
Another study shows that you can benefit by taking your class notes by hand instead of using a keyboard to type your notes. The act of writing words out by hand enhances the comprehension of concepts.
In one study, students who took notes on a computer could recall facts as well as those who used hand-written notes, but they could not grasp concepts nearly as well as the pen-and-paper students.
5. Use a Sleep Strategy
Common sense tells us that students need to get enough sleep to perform well in school. But there are some surprising findings when it comes to how and when we sleep, as it pertains to our ability to learn. It’s not about the amount of sleep you get, necessarily.
The timing of your sleep patterns also matters.Consider the following findings about sleep and study:A regular bed time is important, but students with later bedtimes have lower grades than students with earlier bedtimes.When you sleep right before study time, the information seems to sink in as you sleep and soak into your long term memory.
Sleep actually reinforces learning.The information will transform from short term memory to long term learning if you go straight to bed after reading. However, if you start reading Facebook posts or do any pleasure reading between study time and sleep time, you clog your brain with useless information and stop the potential for learning while sleeping.Study and then go straight to sleep: that’s they key!
Sources and Further Reading:

  1. Health Behavior News Service, part of the Center for Advancing Health. “Teens with late bedtimes have lower grades.” ScienceDaily, 10 November 2013.
  2. Kent State University. “Frequent cell phone use linked to anxiety, lower grade, reduced happiness in students.” ScienceDaily, 6 December 2013.
  3. KTH The Royal Institute of Technology. “Online time can hobble brain’s important work.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 20 September 2013.
  4. Mary A. Pyc and Katherine A. Rawson. Why Testing Improves Memory: Mediator Effectiveness Hypothesis. Science, 15 October 2010.
  5. Michigan State University. “Out of shape? Your memory may suffer.” ScienceDaily, 2 May 2014.
    Universitaet Tübingen. “Sleep reinforces learning: Children’s brains transform subconsciously learned material into active knowledge.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 February 2013.
  6. University of Texas at Austin. “Daily online testing boosts college performance, reduces achievement gaps.” ScienceDaily, 21 November 2013.
  7. Z. M. Reagh, M. A. Yassa. Repetition strengthens target recognition but impairs similar lure discrimination: evidence for trace competition. Learning & Memory, 2014; 21 (7): 342.

source: discipline.com

Tips for Setting Limits on Electronics and Screen Time for Kids

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There are lots of reasons why it is important to establish electronics rules for kids. However, many parents aren’t sure how to go about setting limits with TV, cell phones, video games, computers and other technological devices.In addition to your house rules, kids and teenagers need specific rules with their electronics.

Follow these tips to help you establish healthy guidelines for your children’s use of entertainment media.
1. Model Healthy Electronic Use

It’s important to role model the behavior you want to see from your kids. Therefore, monitor your own electronic use to ensure you are setting a good example. If you’ve always got the TV on or you find yourself spending hours on the computer, don’t expect your child to behave any differently.
2. Educate Yourself on Electronics

Today’s kids are technologically savvy and the vast majority of them know more than most adults about various electronic devices. However, it’s important for parents to be up-to-date on the latest cell phone app or the newest social media craze.Educate yourself about technology and media by conducting research. Subscribe to newsletters or forums to help you connect with other parents to discuss ways to stay up-to-date on the latest trends.
3. Create “No Technology Zones”

It can be helpful to establish zones in your house where you just don’t allow technological devices such as TVs, laptops, or video games. For example, the dining room can be a great technology-free zone that is reserved for meals and family conversation.
4. Establish Unplugged Time Frames

Set aside times for the entire family to become unplugged from technological devices. For example, the dinner hour or an hour before bedtime can be great times for the entire family to have quality time together without TV, video games and computers.
5. Use Parental Controls

Protect kids from explicit content on TV and online. Use parental controls that allow you to monitor what your children are viewing on TV and what they’re doing online.
6. Talk to Kids About Risks

It’s important for kids to have a good understanding about the risks of too much screen time. Kids who understand, “It’s not healthy to watch too much TV,” are less likely to try and break the rules compared to kids who seem to think the only reason there are rules is because, “My parents are mean.”In an age appropriate manner, explain how violent video games, movies and images can be harmful to kids. Also, discuss potential dangers of online predators. Discuss how you can work together as a family to reduce potential risks.
7. Obtain Your Child’s Passwords

Depending on your child’s age and your values, it may make sense to obtain your child’s passwords to any social media accounts or online accounts. It can also be important to establish rules about social media and what services you’ll allow your child to participate in.Many children lack the maturity needed to handle online problems, such as cyberbullying. Therefore, it’s important for parents to really take responsibility for helping their child stay physically and emotionally safe if they are going to use social media.
8. Encourage Other Activities

Kids are so used to using technology that they’re sometimes stumped about what to do when they’re unplugged. Encourage your children to become involved with other activities and to develop other interests outside of video games and social media.Encourage participation in sports, clubs, volunteer activities or music to help them focus on something other than electronics.
9. Use Screen Time as a Privilege

Screen time should be a privilege and not a right. Take away privileges, such as TV time or computer use, as a negative consequence. Once you’ve set a limit on how much screen time is allowed, don’t allow kids to earn extra time as a reward. Instead, stick to the daily limit and offer other free or low cost rewards.
10. Don’t Allow Screen Media in Your Child’s Bedroom

It’s impossible to monitor a child’s screen media use if it’s allowed in the bedroom. Don’t allow your child to have a TV, video game system or computer in his room. This includes hand-held devices that many children use late at night, which can interfere with their sleep.

source: discipline.com