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General

Exam Tip: Make the Cheat Sheet You Wish You Could Use

Teachers often allow students to bring "cheat sheets" to exams.

A cheat sheet is an index card or single sheet of paper which the student can fill with all the facts and formulas she needs to know but is afraid she doesn't have by heart. (When given only a 3x5 space to fill, many kids can achieve some truly amazing, near-microscopic handwriting).

Even if you can't actually bring a cheat sheet to the exam,...
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General

3 More Tips to Feel Ready for Midterm Exams

Big exams can seem overwhelming, but there's plenty you can do to get ready.

Here are three more tips (I posted the first three here); pick and choose or try them all!

Tackle the easy stuff first. Cover the material you know pretty well and then cross it off your list. Start by going through your old tests and quizzes and reworking all the easy problems. This will give you a sense of accomplishment and progress, which will lift your spirits.
Let parents help. During stressful times, support from other people can be invaluable. Let your parents remind you to study every day, allow them to clear the family calendar of non-academic events, and let them quiz you, bring you tea or just keep you company.
Study alone, then with pals. Don't arrive at a group study session unprepared and clueless. Study alone first so you come equipped with a list of questions plus some knowledge to contribute.

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Emotions and Feelings

3 Tips to Reduce Midterm Exam Anxiety

Big exams make just about everyone feel anxious.

Here are three tips that can help make exam season go smoothly:

Get started now. Anxiety builds as you worry and do nothing. It may feel very difficult to get started, but you will feel immediate relief once you do.
Begin reviewing now. You need not wait until teachers hand out review guides. Get out your old tests and quizzes and begin reworking them. (Don't merely reread the questions and answers; you need to cover up your old answers and actually rework each problem on paper).
Do an overview. Use your notes and/or textbook to write a list of the topics you'll need to know. Making this outline will give you a feeling of control and a realistic sense of the task ahead.

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General

Tests Are Valuable Learning Tools

When students get a test back, they typically glance at the grade and then stuff the test in their backpack, never to think about it again (unless, of course, the test has a refrigerator-worthy high score).

Meanwhile, teachers invest time and effort making careful corrections and thoughtful comments. This feedback is meant to help kids learn and improve. Reviewing test results with students and helping kids digest the information is an important part of what we tutors do, and parents can do the same.
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Education

Closing In On “Close Reading”

If you haven't heard this latest buzz phrase, you will soon. Standardized tests and schools alike are shifting their focus towards cultivating not just more reading, but reading that is deep, thoughtful, purposeful...close reading.

This is good news, because close reading is one of the skills that well-prepared, informed, mentally active and employable adults need in order to thrive in our increasingly complex and sophisticated world.
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General

Notes From My Habits Class For Students

I just finished teaching Making and Breaking Habits, a class I designed for my local community college, targeted towards high school and college students.

We had such wonderful discussions, and at the end of each session I jotted down the notes from the board:

What are habits? Things we do a lot, without thinking, on auto-pilot.

Why do we need habits? Most of what we do is automatic. It would be a big problem if...
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