Don’t you hate it when you’re talking to someone on the phone and you can tell they aren’t really listening? The pauses between your questions and their answers get longer and . . . longer. They ask questions that you’ve already answered. You know they aren’t paying attention.
Failing to pay close attention in class makes for missed details, frustrated professors, and poor notes. Missed details? What if one of those details is on your next test? You’ll be getting a lower grade. You might even fail–fates forfend! Frustrated professors and teachers–in smaller classes–often notice your lack of attention, just as you notice when your friend-on-the-phone is otherwise occupied. That frustration can make your prof angry and resentful; not the attitude you want them to have when they are looking over your latest paper with red pen in hand. Even in very large classes, professors notice when most people aren’t listening. Often that makes them Continue reading Maximize Your Free Time by Listening More Effectively In Class© Cody Blair, All Rights Reserved.
In the past, I’ve talked about exactly when to study for each class you’re taking. Follow that schedule and you will spend less time to get better grades!
But don’t make the mistake of blindly following anyone’s schedules or methods (mine included). It’s all about strategery, people.
Not all classes are created equal. Some classes you can cut that schedule in half and still get an A. In other classes, you may have to double up. Treat your schedule like a strategy game; carefully decide where you will get the most payoff and act accordingly.
Example; I took a class in Continue reading Are you wasting your time studying?
Taking a prep course is really an ideal first step for most students. If you’ve never built a house before, it would NOT be smart to go out and start pouring concrete and putting up boards on your own for a couple of months, and only then go talk to an architect/builder to find out exactly how to do things.
You normally start by getting with an architect to plan the building and by talking to a builder who knows something about exactly how to procede with each step of the process. Taking a prep course is like talking to an experienced builder and architect first. Although their services can come at a premium, they can help you make sure that none of your time and effort is wasted. In fact, they will more than pay for themselves!
A GRE prep course can raise a student’s combined score an average of Continue reading Should I Invest in a GRE Prep Course?
From the series Better Test Performance the Navy SEALs Way.
In a recently televised interview, the Navy SEALs command psychologist, Eric Potterat, listed four key mental techniques taught to SEAL candidates. Self talk, the third technique listed, concerns how we focus our thoughts in high-stress situations. Here’s how you can apply this to help increase your own test performance.
Students who panic on the SAT, GRE, or on classroom exams often have destructive patterns of self talk. They think to themselves, “Oh no. I missed those last two questions. I just know it! I’ll probably fail this whole test and make a D in the class. I’ll have to drop out of school. My parents are going to kill me! I’ll probably end up playing xBox 24/7, eating cheesie poofs out of the giant family-size bag, and drinking massive amounts of Mad Dog 20/20 just to drown the pain of the train wreck that is my life!”
Needless to say, that sort of thinking doesn’t help you solve the next calculus problem. In fact, it produces massive amounts of panic chemicals that make higher-order thinking almost impossible.
Solution? Instead of talking yourself into a panic, talk yourself into a better state. One easy way to put this into practice is a technique I call the personal cheerleader. Here’s how…
- Think of someone right now who encourages you when you feel defeated or depressed. Could be your mom, dad, a coach, a boyfriend, girlfriend, whoever.
- Mentally take that person with you to the test.
- When you start to panic, have your mental cheerleader give you a little pep-talk. “You can do it! Don’t worry about that question. Concentrate on the next one.”
- BONUS: You can take as many mental cheerleaders as you like to the test, and you can take whoever you want. Try Brad Pitt or the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders. Try Brad Pitt AND the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.
Changing the way you talk to yourself as a way to increase your success is supported by scads of great research. But it doesn’t work unless you do it. Put it into practice today!
Of the 1,200 entering freshmen at West Point in 1987, 100 quit within the first two months. Why? These are some of the best and brightest young people our nation has to offer. To even be admitted they must score high on the SAT, be in excellent physical condition, be top-ranked in high school, and have gone through a strenuous and time-consuming application and admissions process. What is it about those 100 young men and women that makes them drop out in sixty days or less?
Psychologist Martin Seligman thinks he has the answer. In his ground-breaking book, Learned Optimism, Dr. Seligman explains that the 100 who dropped out all explained events to themselves poorly. They tended to explain their failures in terms that were personal (“It’s my own fault”), permanent (“It will never change”), and pervasive (“It undermines everything I do”). In short, they were pessimists. Optimists, on the other hand, see their setbacks as not their fault, temporary, and not important in the long run.
Optimists turn out to be more successful than pessimists in many aspects of life. They make better sales people, they live longer, they are less likely to get depressed or quit, they do better in school, they do better at work, and they do better at sports. Optimist candidates are more likely to get elected. Optimists are even healthier!
How does this affect your test performance? If you are pessimistic you tend to see a low test score as a disaster that cannot be remedied. It’s your own fault for being lazy or stupid. It will never change. It will affect you entire college career. If that’s your take on things, why bother with studying next time? Talking to yourself in this manner causes you to give up prematurely.
Easy fix; change how you talk to yourself. Think right now about the last test you bombed. Why did you bomb it? Is it because you are dumb? Now argue with that reasoning! “Wait, I’m not dumb. I beat my roommate in chess all the time, and she’s got a full scholarship. Besides, I got an A in bio-chem last semester when half the class failed.”
Make excuses for yourself. “I stayed out too late the night before, and the prof put a bunch of stuff on there that she didn’t mention in class. Besides, we get to throw out one test score anyway.” All of these excuses are fixable. You can get to sleep earlier. You can go by during office hours and ask the prof to help you make sure you cover everything.
Martin Seligman’s book, Learned Optimism, is fascinating reading and provides some more in-depth hints on how to move yourself from pessimism to optimism. Check it out!
Study as long as it takes to master the material. For some classes, that means five or six hours a week; other classes may require 15 eye-ball-popping hours or more each week. It totally depends on your noggin, the course, and the test.
Have you heard the tried old nugget; “study two or three hours outside of class for each hour in class”? That is utter codswollop … no, I mean it, codswollop! Can you imagine a carpenter saying, “A cabinet takes eight hours to build.” and then he stops after eight hours, whether the cabinet is complete or not? It ain’t finished ’til it’s finished. Might take Continue reading How much should I study?