Study Tips for Midterms and Finals

As midterms/finals approach, both students and teachers become very stressed. It seems that the only thing on anyone’s mind is how much work they have ahead of them, yet how little time to do the work there is. Because of this, students tend to shut down to the pressure and give up. They tell themselves they’ll pick their grades up next year and let whatever happens, happen. This is the wrong mindset.

Despite how it may seem, finals do not have to be all that stressful if you have the right approach. If you start with these simple tips and tricks, finals will not be as bad as everyone makes them out to be.

  • Start by reviewing the topics you have covered throughout the year and make some notes on your weak areas that way you can come back to them.
  • Based on your weak areas, make your own personalized study guide.
  • Be sure to write down any questions you come across on a separate piece of paper so you can ask the teachers quick and concise questions as their time is just as limited as their students!
  • Be sure to go in for any tutoring sessions available to you! More often than not, your teachers will teach during these final/midterm tutoring sessions to the very material on the test itself.
  • Be sure to start the studying process early. As the time gets closer to finals you do NOT want to be overwhelmed studying for 4-6 finals at a time.
  • Get together with some friends and study together. Often, any questions you have one of your friends may be able to help you with and vice versa.  
  • Possibly one of the most important, take breaks! Do not overload yourself with too much information at once. Every hour or so watch TV or relax for 15-20 minutes. NO LONGER. If the break is too extensive you will lose focus and desire to return to studying.  
  • Be sure to stay well-nourished and well-rested. A healthy body and brain will result in better focus and concentration.
  • Believe in yourself! You made it this far and as long as you taken the necessary steps in studying for finals, you will do great!

Although this can be a stressful time, make sure you do not become overwhelmed. Even though finals are a large portion of the final grade, worrying will not make anything any better. Make sure you study and prepare to the best of your ability and then there is nothing more to worry about. And after you have test, enjoy your break with friends and family!

I Can’t Do Math

I Can't Do MathI know very intelligent people who for whatever reason believe that they just can’t do math.  While there may be some people who have suffered a brain injury of some sort where that part of the brain is damaged, for normal people, the brain is quite capable of learning and doing even complex math.

Brain researchers have discovered a section of the brain that is wired specifically for math. Studies show that part is activated when a person concentrates on math problems much like the speech center reacts when speaking or reading. See the references at the end.

So why is it that many people believe they cannot do math? I think it is partially due to mental laziness because learning math takes time and effort. Like learning to do any complex task, doing math requires practice and focus. Another reason people believe that they cannot do math is because they have been told by others (parents, teachers, friends) that mastering math is only for “special math people”, who have the talent of math. You have probably heard people remark that they can’t do math because they are not a math person, perpetuating the myth even further.

Another reason some don’t want to believe that they can do math is because they think that those who do math well are socially inept nerds. The stigma of being a smart person (in math, science or any other academic subject) is promoted in the media and is “uncool” among middle school and high school students. How many of us remember such a character in TV and or movies? That is a stereotype that needs to be demolished. I believe it is part of the belief that if you work hard to excel that you will miss out of fun that you would otherwise have. I have discovered a wise saying from a friend, “If you take the easy way out of life, life gets harder, if you take the hard way out, life gets easier”.. That’s why I take exception to the phrase “take it easy”.

Resist the temptation to excuse yourself from learning math. You are born with the ability, all you have to do is develop it. While you may not eventually do higher math in your vocation, studies have shown that exercising the math part of your brain strengthens the decision making part of your brain (prefrontal cortex) which will help you in mature relationships and the wise decisions you have to make.

References: About being bad at math:

https://www.nytimes.com/1989/01/01/books/the-odds-are-you-re-innumerate.html?pagewanted=all

https://qz.com/133767/theres-no-such-thing-as-being-good-or-bad-at-math/

https://www.theatlantic.com/education/archive/2013/10/the-myth-of-im-bad-at-math/280914/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tg0Z–pmPog#t=192.26306

Brain on math:

https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/29/science/brain-scans-math.html?_r=0

https://newsela.com/articles/math-brain/id/16673/

Book

Innumeracy – https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Innumeracy_(book)

When Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

act-or-satWhen Should I Take the SAT or ACT?

By: Tyler Mathena

The SAT and ACT are daunting for many students. The scores on these two tests (or just one) can determine what colleges you can attend, what scholarships you can apply for, and whether or not you get into the honors program. All of these have the potential to impact your life, for better or worse, so it is best to be well-informed and prepared.

Everyone knows the magnitude of these tests, and a Google search for test taking tips returns over 18 million results. Most people know how, why, and where to take the test, but it is rarely discussed WHEN students should take it.

The reading and grammar concepts on both tests are mostly covered before high school, it is just a matter of recalling all of the rules and vocabulary. The math section, on the other hand, contains information that students learn in high school classes. After taking Geometry and Algebra, you should have learned most of the content, but do not be discouraged if there are questions you can not figure out! Some of these questions require a different approach or way of thinking, which is often where the strategy comes into play.

Even if you have not done all of the math courses to get a perfect score on the math section of the tests, you should still take it. I would recommend taking both tests at least once, starting towards the end of your sophomore year. This way, there is plenty of time to improve if you do not get the score you want the first time. After getting your score back, look over what your weak spots are and do whatever it takes to strengthen those areas. If you take the test again after studying from your previous results and do not improve, it may be wise to start working with a tutor once or twice a week to get to your preferred score.

For most college applications, you should take the ACT and SAT for the last time in September or October of your senior year. Most colleges have an option to submit your application early so that you know if you are accepted or not sooner. Early decision also automatically makes you eligible for certain scholarships at some colleges. The deadlines typically fall in mid-October to early November.

The SAT and ACT are important. These tests can determine what colleges you get into and how much you pay. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too long to take them. The best time to take the SAT or ACT is now. You can always retake it, as lower scores do not affect you at all, so get ahead of the game; you won’t regret it.

Tough Times with Math

Tough Times with MathHow to Get Through the Tough Times with Math

Although math is one of my favorite subjects, and I am now am math tutor, math hasn’t always been easy for me. In fact, math has made me very discouraged.  I can remember a time in middle school when I referred to my math class as the torture chamber. I absolutely hated it. I didn’t understand my homework. I struggled to do well on tests. I didn’t understand what was being taught in class. I just wanted to give up, but I got through it. Now, I love math. It is something I do for fun and it excites me.

I bet you are wondering how I went from being that student who hated math to where I am today. I have some tips to help if you are having a hard time with math. These tips are a combination of things I wish I knew and things I did back then that helped me get through the tough times.

  • Get help when you need it.

If you don’t understand something, ask your teacher. If you need more help than your teacher can give you, find a tutor. There is nothing wrong with needing more help.

  • Remember mistakes are ok.

When you make a mistake it is proof that you are trying. As long as you learn from them, mistakes can be helpful. Take some time to understand your mistakes and remember, always ask questions if you have them.

  • Keep trying.

Math isn’t always going to be easy. When you hit a topic that is hard for you, keep trying until you understand it. Some topics are going to be harder for you to understand than others. Never give up.

  • Take breaks.

If you have been working hard on your homework, and you are getting discouraged, walk away for a little bit. Go eat a snack or do other homework. When you come back your brain will be ready to learn again.

  • Tell yourself you can do it.

It is all in your head. If you have convinced yourself you can’t do something, you probably won’t be able to do it. On the other hand, if you have convinced yourself that you are capable and you can accomplish something, it is likely you will accomplish it.

  • Grades aren’t everything.

Although grades are a way for teachers to tell you how you did, that is all they do. They don’t make one person better than another person. If you worked hard and gave it everything you’ve got, you should be proud of yourself regardless of your grade.

  • Stay positive.

Your attitude determines a lot in life. If you choose to have a positive attitude, it won’t change your situation, but it will make it more bearable. You can either be happy or miserable, so you might as well choose to be happy and have a positive attitude.

As you can see, these tips don’t just apply to math. They are applicable to any subject you are struggling with. Hang in there, use these tips, and you will make it through. You may even do better than you were expecting!

Math Manipulatives

Math ManipulativesDo Math Manipulatives Help Our Students Learn?

What are they?

A math manipulative is an object that is used in the teaching of mathematics that allows students to perceive the idea or concept they are learning through touching and moving the object.  These manipulatives can range from anything like dice or money to pattern blocks, two-color counters, and even playing cards or dominoes. 

What age groups?

All ages can benefit from the use of manipulatives while learning math.  Math manipulatives are most commonly used in the early elementary ages or younger.  Once students become more capable of abstracting concepts (older elementary, middle, and high school), teachers seem to have students spend more time doing math with paper and pencil, and less with hands on methods.

What are the benefits?

The use of manipulatives in the learning of mathematics allows students to represent math in multiple ways.  More senses become engaged, including visual and tactile, which keeps a student more attentive.  They are able to “see” math, which reinforces the conceptual understanding.  This lays the groundwork for the mechanics that they will use later and allows the rules to be more meaningful and make sense, which in turn, will be less for them to “memorize”.  Seeing math allows students to expand on ideas and uses of math in the world around them.

Why aren’t teachers using them?

Three reasons that math manipulatives are not used as often as they could, is time, money, and lack of knowledge.  Developing the concept with a manipulative may require more time and so often, our teachers are burdened with getting through the material.  While many math manipulatives on the market can be costly, not all manipulatives are expensive, but having enough for a class set could get pricey.  Each math manipulative can be used to teach a variety of concepts.  Often teachers may not know how to teach various concepts with these tools, and so they just do not get used.  There are many companies out there that do trainings with their manipulative for teachers to learn.

This blog has an ultimate list of math manipulatives that can get you started!

Off to a Good Start

Off to a Good StartOff to a Good Start!

Having a break from school is a good thing. You have a chance to catch up with family and friends and to catch up on sleep. However, being away from school for multiple weeks can take you out of the right mindset and put you in an unproductive mood. It can be difficult to get back into the swing of things and if you don’t adjust fast enough, it can negatively affect your grades. If you mess up on the first couple of assignments or the first test, it definitely won’t be good for your overall average in the class. However, that is not all of the damage that it will do. It could also make you less confident in your ability to succeed in the class, which could discourage you and potentially lead to additional bad grades in the class. Also, if you fail your first test, you probably did not learn enough of the material. In subjects such as math and science, the new material builds off of previous material. Therefore this could hinder you on future assignments and tests. Plus, most finals are cumulative, so if you didn’t do so hot on the first test, then you might lose some points when you encounter the same material from the first test on the final. So, I’ve just ranted on to warn you about the terrors of slacking off at the start of school.

Now let me give you some advice on how to start this next semester and year off with a bang.

1. Goal setting​: Having goals is important because it gives you something to work on and to aspire to. If setting goals isn’t your thing or you are having trouble developing some, that’s ok, because we got you covered. For the start of the semester, here at MaThCliX, we are working with students to develop three S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time­bound) goals for the semester. So if you haven’t already, try to come by in the next week or so, and we’ll make sure to set you up with goals that will keep you focused and on track throughout the semester.

2. Enough sleep​: Not getting enough sleep can cause problems with our mood and ability to function. Because of this, I would say sleep is a crucial factor when it comes to functioning at school. It’s not an easy task to go to bed early every night. Today in our modern society we have a lot of fancy devices that get our attention before bed. However, whether this coming week is your second week of high school or first week of college, try to put away your smartphone and go to bed at a decent hour. You will find yourself with more energy throughout the day which will hopefully take you out of denial that the holiday break has ended. Furthermore, by seeing the positive effects of going to bed earlier, you might find yourself more inclined to not stay up really late in the future, and going to bed early might formulate into a good habit.

3. Priorities​: Setting your priorities straight is pretty important to say the least. What I would advise you to do is to make a list of activities that you do during your week (whether hobbies, school assignments, etc.) and rate them from 1­-10, first on importance, then based on how urgent each activity is. For example, playing video games is not that important and isn’t urgent. So I would give it a 2 for importance and a 1 for urgency. However, having a test tomorrow is, so I would give it a 10 for importance and a 10 for urgency. If you do this for every activity you do in a week (or month, you can set whatever time interval you need), it will give you a pretty good idea what you should focus your attention on and what you can save for later.

In conclusion, if you set goals that you can pursue, get enough sleep, and set your priorities straight, then you will be setting yourself up to succeed.