Archives for Self-Knowledge

How To Begin Studying For Final Exams

The way to begin, is to begin. -Eleanor Roosevelt   The best students don't work harder; they work ahead. Often, students put off studying for final exams because the process seems overwhelming and they don't know where to start. The good news is that just getting going is what matters. There's no need to worry about studying in a certain order, studying material that then doesn't wind up on the exam, confusing yourself, or other such concerns.
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How To Help Kids Make Knowledge Stick

Kids tend to under-prepare for tests and be overly optimistic about the quality of their writing, and parents may suspect laziness or lack of motivation. However, much of the problem can be the student's fuzzy sense of what "knowing the material" means or what "a good essay" is. The ability to "know what you know" is called metacognition, and it's one of the big developmental tasks for maturing students. The younger the student, the less perspective they have on their own knowledge.   Here are some ways adults can help young learners develop their logic and make sense of the world around them:
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Unfortunately, Ignorance Feels Blissful: The Dunning-Kruger Effect

In my last post, I wrote about a student who couldn't tell whether or not he "knew" the material for a history exam. At least my student was knowledgeable enough to have doubts about his knowledge. Ironically, the truly clueless often don't wonder; they tend to be quite secure that they've got it knocked! Psychologists call this the Dunning-Kruger Effect, in which ignorant people often have great confidence in their "knowledge," whereas better-informed people tend to doubt themselves. 
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Study Gradually, Starting NOW, To Be Ready For Final Exams

Many otherwise good students didn't do as well as they had hoped on their midterm exams. They couldn't remember the quantities of material, or they couldn't pull isolated facts and procedures together and use them in a coordinated way. What's the point of working so hard to learn, a student may wonder, if the material is just going to fall out of my head?  The brain holds onto information which it has used actively and repeatedly. Research shows that the way to get information to stick in long-term memory is to keep quizzing yourself, using flash cards and practice tests. Try these study strategies to hold on to what you learn and be ready for final exams in May or June: Study a bit every day. Cramming might get you through a test, but what you "learned" will then quickly fall away, leaving you to study the very same stuff all over again before the final exam. You should be studying all along, by taking some time every day to rework a few math problems from old tests or homework, rewrite a paragraph from an essay that was returned to you, flip a few flashcards from a previous chapter, etc. Study the same way you'll be tested. Rereading notes and highlighting aren't great study strategies, because on the test you'll need to retrieve and apply the material, not just read it. Study by using flash cards, working math problems on paper, and writing short answers and paragraphs, because these methods are similar to what you'll need to do on exam day. Strive to understand. Your brain is very practical, and it doesn't hold on to material it doesn't understand (because what good is that?) So, make sure you take the time to understand what you are learning; this is hard at first when you know very little, but it makes learning easier and easier as you become more knowledgeable.
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Willpower-Friendly Tips For Students And Adults

Willpower is strongest at the beginning of the day and when glucose levels in the bloodstream are adequate.
You can perform better and succeed in getting tasks accomplished if you plan accordingly:

Bring a snack to long exams such as the SAT.
Avoid making decisions before lunch or at the end of the day.
Plan your day ahead of time (that morning or the night before) and then follow your schedule. Don't just float through the day...
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The Surprising Key to Willpower

New Year's is the classic time to resolve to form new habits, but most of us then abandon our good intentions by mid-February, if not before. It turns out that our willpower comes, not from the sincerity of our resolve, but from the glucose level in our bloodstream.The brain runs on glucose. Even when not working hard, the brain consumes 25% of circulating glucose, even though it only takes up 3% of the body's weight. Decision-making is especially taxing, and the brain burns glucose like crazy when it's forced to make lots of fine-grained choices over an extended period of time.
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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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