Saturday, November 30, 2013

The Study Skill that May Save Your Life

There is no question that in order to maximize your academic performance, you need to master your study skills. Note taking, organization and memorization are all skills necessary to prepare for exams, projects and the day-to-day grind of school.

While these study skills are certainly practical, there is only one study skill that could save your life: curiosity

Wait a second, how can curiosity save your life?  

Let's answer that by first pointing out that curiosity gets a bad rap. "Curiosity killed the cat" is a famous proverb that would seem to warn people against curiosity. Even Curious George, while adorable, gets into hot water every time he explores his curious side. So curiosity is dangerous, right? 

Wrong. Curiosity could very well save your life

Consider Dr. Sanjay Gupta's advice on how to keep one's mind sharp as one ages. He claims that staying sharp as you age means "to train your brain constantly to do new things." Dr. Gupta additionally cites diet and exercise as other major factors to stay sharp as you age but the point is clear: to avoid losing your brain's functions as you age, stay curious and engage your brain.

Larry King, the iconic radio and television host for over half a century, seems to support Gupta's point in a recent interview with Esquire magazine. King claims that the secret to his "success is brevity. Sincerity. And above all else, curiosity." 

King and Gupta might agree: curiosity isn't so much what kills the cat, it is what keeps it alive! 

In your studying, be sure to engage your curiosity. There is no doubt that many of your assignments will be boring and routine. So instead of dreading these assignments, train your brain to do things in a new way. Get curious with the assignment and dig a bit deeper than the teacher expects. Repeat the question "why" in your mind and see if you can uncover the answer on your own.

Your studying, and your life, may depend on your curiosity

Learn more about study skills and academic preparation from CROSSWALK, the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for academic tutoring and test prep.

Learn how to approach the SAT with some basic life skills by reading 2400 SCORES by Brooke Higgins now available on Amazon. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Do-It-Yourself SAT and ACT Prep

While private tutoring and group classes can lead to improved scores on the SAT or ACT, not everyone has the time for a group class or the money for private tutoring. 

Luckily, test prep is not rocket science. As long as a student is motivated and dedicated, she or he can prepare for both the SAT and ACT on his or her own. Even better, it won't take inordinate time and/or money to get ready on your own. 

Here are six steps to ACT and SAT prep for all you Do-It-Yourselfers:

1) Buy a Reputable Test Prep Guide Book: I generally recommend the Official SAT Study Guide for SAT prep and the Real ACT Prep Guide because these books are produced by the test writers. Better to use a guide that matches the test as much as possible. 

2) Take a Practice Test: Take just one of the several practice tests found in your study guide (there are 10 in the SAT book and five in the ACT book). 

3) Score Your Practice Test: Based on the scoring systems detailed in the guide books, figure out your Raw score. Note that the SAT is scored differently than the ACT. Be sure to read the scoring guidelines detailed in your book to understand how to calculate your Raw Score. Each guide book will also give you an estimated conversion table so you can figure out your Scaled Score. The Scaled Score is a maximum of 800 on the SAT and a maximum of 36 on the ACT. Understanding the scoring for both tests is an important step towards understanding how to improve your score. After all, it is simply a numbers game

4) Analyze Your Results: Find out what areas present challenges to you and what areas were relatively easy. For example, maybe Math is a challenge while English was easy on the ACT. Or even more detailed, maybe the Algebra problems on the SAT were easy but the Geometry problems were hard. Knowing your areas of strengths will enable you to score points quickly and accurately on test day. Along those lines, understanding your weaknesses will allow you to study up on those areas that need some extra time. 

5) Devise a Game Plan to Maximize Your Score: Each student should have their own personal Game Plan for test day. For some students, this might include strategies for each question type. Other students will want to figure out which questions to guess on or skip altogether. Your Game Plan should entail ways to address your weaknesses. Ultimately, every Game Plan should address the scoring system (see Step #3) and ways to manage both strengths and weaknesses (see Step #4).

6) Practice: After you set up your Game Plan, take a practice test to evaluate the success of your Game Plan. Repeat all of the steps after each practice test and see if you are moving your score. If you are not seeing any improvement, analyze your results again and see where you can score more. 

Above all, remember that in order to get better at anything, it takes some work. You have to be willing to put in some time if you want to see results. You may not need a 12-week course and you may not have to spend thousands of dollars. But if you want to maximize your score, you need to put in some effort. Do nothing and nothing will happen. 

Find more useful study tips by reading 2400 SCORES by Brooke W. Higgins now available for your tablet at Amazon. Or contact CROSSWALK today. CROSSWALK is the Monterey Peninsula's local resource for tutoring in all academic subjects, ACT/SAT Boot Camps and private ACT, SAT or PSAT preparation.