Self-sabotage affecting your grades?
Take some advice from Mark Twain.
By Texas State SLAC
“I have never let schooling interfere with my education.”
— Mark Twain
Mark Twain teaches a good lesson: Students can get so caught up making good grades that they forget to learn. Also, students sabotage themselves by practicing bad study techniques that further hinder their actually learning. Many of you know things you should and should not do before a test, but this will be a good reminder of good and bad test prep. Continue reading
Map your way to
successful essay writing
When you read an essay question, do you get a headache? Does your brain go blank? Try comparing taking essay tests to using Google Maps or another map search engine. Principles that achieve good map search results also work for answering essay questions.
1. GET DIRECTIONS
Read the question thoroughly. Details determine the route you take in your explanation.
Search tip: Identify specifics in an essay question so you don’t waste time on false starts and explanations that are loose or dead ends.
2. ASSESS THE MOST EFFICIENT ROUTE
Make an outline of relevant information to make clear connections, organized by main and subordinate ideas.
Search tip: Link relevant ideas into a navigable whole. If links or chains of reasoning are random or chaotic, your answer could miss the mark.
3. PLAN YOUR ROUTE
Visualize action words to find your lines of arguments:
- ANALYZE – provide an in-depth exploration of a topic, considering components of ideas and their interrelationships
- EXPLAIN – clarify, interpret, give reasons for differences of opinion or of results; analyze causes
- ILLUSTRATE – justify your position or answer a question using concrete examples
- TRACE – describe the evolution, development or progress of the subject step-by-step, sometimes using chronological order
- COMPARE/CONTRAST – emphasize similarities and/or differences between two topics; give reasons pro and con
- PROVE – argue the truth of a statement by giving factual evidence and logical reasoning
- CRITICIZE – express your judgment about the merit, truth or usefulness of the views or factors mentioned in the question and support your judgment with facts and explanations
- EVALUATE – appraise, give your viewpoint, cite limitations and advantages, include the opinion of authorities and give evidence to support your position
- INTERPRET – translate, give examples or comment on a subject, usually including your own viewpoint
- REVIEW – examine and respond to possible problems or obstacles in your account
Search tip: Use the essay question as your guide to choose the line(s) of argument that allows you to make your strongest, most concise argument. Then, map your answer!
4. PRINT OUT YOUR MAP
If your professor allows, take in an outline or more than one outline of essay questions, but be SURE this is okay before you do this. If you can’t take in an outline, go in with one (or more) in your mind and write it inside of your bluebook or on your paper first thing. This helps when you can’t remember something because of stress. It also helps you stay calm and focused during tests.
You’ve got this, Bobcats! For more great study tips, visit SLAC online.
Planners are great ways to keep you up-to-date and organized.
September is practically gone, but it’s never too late to remind yourself that school work now is crucial — especially considering extracurricular activities you may have committed to this fall. Make sure to keep up with all of the reading(s) and homework for classes. The longer you put them off, the harder it is to catch up, and the more likely you will become overwhelmed the night before a test or due date. Bad grades at the beginning of a course are very hard to bring up at the end.
Here are three tips to help you keep going:
- If you have any large papers or projects, spread the work evenly throughout the rest of the semester. Do not wait until the last minute. If the project or paper seems overwhelming, break it into parts and set deadlines for each.
- Refresh your connections to contacts in class. If you get sick and have to miss class, having people to get notes from will help you catch up.
- Finally, study groups offer one of the best ways to prepare for tests, whether you are doing well in a class or not. Learning from a peer can be easier than trying to increase your understanding alone. And helping others learn is the best way to retain and understand material yourself!
Whatever your strategies, don’t let other fall obligations lull you into inaction. That way finishing on a positive note won’t seem impossible later!
Posted in Students, Study Tips, Uncategorized
Tagged class, college, connections, homework, organized, papers, Planners, projects, study, Texas State, Tips
Time: Friend or Foe?
It’s 1:30 a.m.: you’re at your desk, a can of Monster precariously perched on the shortest stack of books and articles, with 456 words or 19 more algebra problems to go. Our advice? Go to bed, whether that’s a mattress, bunk or futon, and sleep. At this point, you are falling victim to the commonly held idea that you “work better under pressure.” In the summer, what this really means is only
that you are working under pressure because you no longer have an option to do otherwise. Working too close to deadlines also means not having a chance to problem solve if something goes wrong or if you have last-minute trouble with a concept. Besides, even if you do perform best late at night during the long semesters, summer classes are held every day ― days when you used to be sleeping after pulling an all-nighter.
The fact is that time in summer school is unrelenting. Use the self-discipline you dredge up to take care of your body, to make yourself read or study earlier in the day, to start preparing for midterms and finals and to e-mail or talk with your professor about tests and papers ― including the invisible professors in your online courses. Do it now. Check TRACS and Bobcat Mail each day, and sometimes several times a day. In summer school, falling behind in sleep, your studies or your communications is even more destructive than during fall or spring. It’s time to make time your friend.
The Upside of Summer Session
Check out SLAC for tutoring in a wide variety of subjects.
Ah, summer school! Parking is closer and traffic is lighter. You can turn left without a car bearing down on you or a bicyclist whizzing past. The river and its banks are less crowded. You can park on Town Square! You can walk on campus without dodging skateboards. Classrooms seem bigger. You don’t trip over backpacks as you squeeze between desks, and if professors don’t mind, you can prop up your flip-flops.
There’s only one problem: If you don’t get textbooks and syllabi early so that you can read any material your instructors might have assigned for the first day, you could saunter into a lecture unprepared. When possible, get your first week of reading done before classes even begin. Expect papers each week (or two), tests on Mondays, and homework every night, because you have only four and a half weeks to cover 13–14 weeks of course material.
But intensity has its benefits. You’ll be working with focused students broader in age range and experiences; some will be returning professionals honing skills or redirecting careers. As a result, in-class discussion can be more interesting and study groups can draw from the variety of students’ experiences, so use each other’s strengths. Also, motivated students in small classes can make your professors even more involved and accessible.
Of course, campus study and recreation resources are still available: The Student Learning Assistance Center (SLAC), the Writing Center, Math Lab and many other tutoring labs will be open during the summer sessions. In addition, the Alkek Library, LBJ Student Student Center and Rec Center are not only open, but they probably are far less crowded than during the fall and spring semesters.
Summer school equals work but it’s also a great introduction — or a refreshing return — to one of college’s best experiences!
Preparing for your future at Texas State and beyond
Make sure you apply for available scholarships. [photo by 401(K) 2013 / flickr.com]
As semester’s end approaches, consider the following for future semesters:
Will you be able to get relatives and/or friends to help financially?
Can you find scholarships for which you are eligible at Texas State or other institutions? Go to Financial Aid and Scholarships (J. C. Kellam, Suite 240, 512.245.2315, www.finaid.txstate.edu/) for information and check with your major department every semester as scholarships they offer vary from semester to semester. Also, ask friends, employers and contacts for leads: Some organizations and churches offer scholarships. Keep in mind that scholarships can be an asset to your résumé or vita!
Can you get a job while attending college that doesn’t interfere with your studies or, better, one that augments your education? If you’re a freshman, check with Personalized Academic and Career Exploration (PACE) in the PACE Center and online at pace.txstate.edu/. For on-campus jobs for all Texas State students, check out Texas State’s Career Center at www.careerservices.txstate.edu/, including Jobs4Cats, and ask places on campus (or off) that you frequent (like SLAC, the library, the student center, or a local coffee shop) to see if they are hiring. And don’t forget to consult Financial Aid to see if you are eligible for assistance via work-study funding, as this makes you a more desirable applicant for on-campus jobs.
Do you need a loan or grant (local, state, or federal) to continue at Texas State? If so, will one be available? Again, look to Financial Aid and Scholarships for information. Remember that you can add competitive grants to your résumé /vita.
Keep in mind that what you do now to be financially solvent, academically successful, build your work experience, and win scholarships and awards will prepare you for life beyond college!
Good food for studying
Steer clear of the junk food aisle when you’re choosing your studying snacks. [photo by gruntzooki / flickr.com]
Does your all-night studying include all-night snacking? Do you keep your brain and body going by working your way through packages of Oreos, bags of hot Cheetos, Dr. Peppers, Red Bulls, and a thick crust pepperoni pizza . . . one chapter at a time? Do you overeat to cope with the stress of last-minute studying?
Filling up with junk food can actually sabotage your efforts to prepare for final exams. Continue reading