Category Archives: Managing High School

02 Feb 2018

The PQRST Method of Studying

The PQRST Method of Studying

 This is a method of reading a textbook so that the information you read really does enter your long term memory. It is based on work by Thomas and H. A. Robinson, Spache and Berg and R. P .Robinson. Its sometimes cryptically known as SQ3R.

So what can it do?

The method has been shown to improve a readers understanding, and his/her ability to recall information. In other words, the reader is more likely to learn, and to learn more, of the material he/she is reading. If you use this method, reading won’t be a waste of your time.

How does it work?

In this method you follow five steps – Preview, Question, Read, Self-recite and Test (PQRST). The middle three steps apply to every section within a chapter whilst the first and last steps apply to the chapter itself. You may find that many textbooks are compiled in a way which makes this method easy to apply, using an introductory passage, and questions at the end.

The diagram below illustrates the method:

  1. PREVIEW an assignment by scanning it.  Read the chapter outline at the beginning of the chapter.  Pay attention to the headings of the sections and subsections.  Read the summary.  The point is to get an idea of the main topics and sections of the chapter.
  2. QUESTION As you read through each section, start by asking yourself “what am I supposed to learn in this section”. This helps to get your brain in to sync with the topic being discussed.
  3. READ. Next, actually read that section. Do it carefully, think about the meaning and relate this to other things you know about this and similar topics. Do some underlining or highlighting of key words. Don’t overdo it! If you want to take notes, read the whole section first, and then summarize it later.
  4. SELF-RECITATION requires that you try to remember the main points of each section and that you say them out loud (if possible) to yourself. Check back against the text, and note the things you missed out. Ensure that you didn’t miss them because you haven’t learnt them. Only then go on to the next section and Question again.
  5. TEST yourself after you have finished the entire chapter.  How many of the main ideas from the chapter can you remember? Think about the relevance of what you learnt and how it all fits together. Reread any chapter summaries. Even though you have only just read the chapter, now is the best time to test yourself.

 

01 Feb 2018

How to study more effectively

  • Hate to study?
  • Can’t concentrate for more than 15-20 minutes?
  • Manage to make average grades from what you retain in class and with the little studying you manage to do?
  • Tired of being average.

Studying is not the same as learning.  Here are some strategies to help you study effectively:

  1. Know your purpose. Scan the content to identify the most important concepts you need to know to achieve the top grade. Make a list of items to memorize. Quantify – only by being objective will you increase your productivity.

All goals should be “SMART”

  • S pecific (not something vague)
  • M easurable
  • A chievable
  • R ecorded (written down)
  • T imed (have a time limit)
  1. Limit studying time. Study for specific periods of time or to learn and master a specific concepts or problem set. Either way, be sure you study for 100% of the time you commit to – no smartphones, no internet, no TV, no distractions.
  2. Multiple Sources. Sometimes its not enough to know ‘just enough’. You might not completely understand a topic/concept or you may understand some of it but not enough.

To solve this dilemma, read/view/talk to multiple sources. Remember: one author may explain something better than another. Its vital to refer to different sources to strengthen your understanding.

Select the best sources. If there are high-yield versions of textbooks, pre-made notes optimized for retention, mnemonics collections, essential problem sets (and solutions), use them.

  1. Feynman technique. This Mental Model, named after Richard Feynman, a Nobel Prize Winning Physicist, designed as a technique assist with learning new concepts as if you were explaining them to a complete beginner. His technique includes drawing diagrams, schematics and notes on a blank sheet of paper.
  2. Cultivate daily habits. The best approach to successful studying is to train daily for a relatively short amount of time. 30 min of difficult math problems every day is much more effective than 3 weekly sessions of 2 hours each.
  3. If you’re going to take notes, do it right. Note taking is associated with better retention rates than just reading or reviewing pre-existing notes.
  4. Don’t cram for tests. If you are going to do well in a test then you need to be relaxed. In the days before a test you should do nothing more stressful than a couple of hours gently reviewing your notes to assure yourself you know your stuff.
  5. Make a study guide. As the student puts together a study guide, he also is putting small chunks of information systematically into his brain.  An auditory or kinesthetic learner can talk out loud as he creates his study guide.
  6. Put together a study groupFor older students, it is a good idea to study the information with others.  It gives students the opportunity to make sure each student understands the material and has studied in a comprehensive manner.  Students can quiz each other on information and create outlines for possible essay questions.
  7. Use flashcards. If you need to memorize things, you need tools. Create your own or use one of the apps available
  8. Practice and test yourself. The best way to learn is to use the knowledge you are trying to acquire. You’ll figure out your weak spots in your understanding of complex concepts. There are resources online to test any kind of subject.
  9. Planning can reduce stress and anxiety. Set your goals, plan your studying techniques and stick to the plan.
  10. Cultivate the right mindset. Essential qualities of all productive students include: Diligence, Discipline, Direction and Durability.

Do exactly what you have to do daily, no matter what.

Think positively!  Try to imagine yourself getting an A+ on the exam.  Imagine getting questions you know the answers to, expressing yourself clearly and concisely, and feeling good about yourself and your performance.  Think about how good you will feel inside when the test is over and all your preparation has paid off.

 

 

 

 

23 Jan 2018

Spring Semester – To Do’s

Hello, and welcome back from winter break! With your short reprieve from reality now over, we thought now would be the perfect time to remind you of your future realities: college!

Your school year is now about halfway over (yes, the technical midpoint of your school year is a month or so away, but winter break certainly seems like a midpoint), and that means you still have a lot of work to do. In addition to the mandatory schoolwork, you also have the odious tasks of college admissions to think about. So, with that in mind, here are our suggestions for what you should be working on for those frigid and gelid winter evenings!

Seniors
For the most part, your hard work should already be done. You’ve already applied to most of your colleges, right? If you have any applications left, complete them now. Literally. Right. Now. Do not delay anymore, as deadlines are final!

After your applications are in, wait patiently. Plan a reward for yourself for when those acceptance letters start to roll in. And don’t beat yourself up if you don’t get into your first-choice schools. That’s why you didn’t just apply to one school. In general, relax!

That being said, don’t slack in school. Keep up your hard work for a few more months, and make sure colleges don’t reconsider their decisions to admit you.

Juniors
You have the most on your plates this spring. Make sure you registered for winter or spring SAT and ACT administrations. Find out how many SAT Subject Tests you need to take for the schools you’ve been looking at, and register for those.

Next, study, study, study for the tests. Consult this blog for SAT and ACT practice questions, and don’t hesitate to ask for help from one of our talented and charismatic tutors.

Additionally, you should plan on visiting colleges in the spring and summer. Find out what schools are the best fits for you, and ask counselors at the schools what they need from you for your application. Try to narrow your list of schools down to a top 20 or 25. Sentia also provides college-consulting services, and our talented admissions experts would be more than happy to help you in your search.

Finally, keep up those grades! Your junior year is far and away the most important of your academic career, at least in terms of college admissions. Set a goal for yourself to get the best grades you’ve ever had in your life. A new year is a great (albeit arbitrary) time to turn a new leaf and become the best student in the history of the world. If you need help with your grades, don’t hesitate to ask Sentia for help there too. (See a trend, here? Ask for help in any areas of school. Better to be over prepared than underprepared, right?)

Sophomores
You should begin thinking of registering for standardized tests. You’ll need to take them at some point over the next two years, so you may as well get them out of the way earlier than the rest of your peers do. Take a practice ACT and SAT, and see which test is a better fit for you.

Regardless of which test you take, start improving your vocabulary now. Vocabulary is a major part of the SAT, but it can’t hurt you on the ACT to have an extensive vocabulary either. There really is no such thing as knowing too many words. And it is easier (and better) to learn vocabulary words slowly over several years, rather than cramming them into your brain a month before you sit for any tests. Read books and magazines at your difficulty level or even above your difficulty level, and improve your critical reading skills alongside your vocabulary.

You should also start looking at colleges and considering your options. Do you want to go to a big school or a small school? Close to home or far from home? In a city or in the middle of nowhere? Get at least a general idea of what kind of school you want to attend. Trust us. It’ll save you hours of time in the future.

Finally, keep your grades up. Having consistently high grades will make you a more attractive applicant to colleges, and now is also a great time to instill important study skills for your future academic career. If you need help with your grades, don’t hesitate to ask Sentia for help there too.

10 Aug 2017

Should Class Start-Times Be Moved Up?

The United States has the highest number of students whose learning suffers from sleep.  As reported by the students’ teachers, 73% of students’ learning is negatively affected by a lack of sleep.  Lack of sleep impairs cognitive functioning, and with almost three-quarters of the nation’s students being hurt by sleep deprivation, we need to ask: should we move school start-times up?

Beyond healing and repairing the body, especially with the heart and blood vessels, sleep helps the brain form new pathways for new information.  These new pathways foster memory creation and allow information that was processed throughout the day to be consolidated for future recall.  The effects of not getting the recommended nine to ten hours of sleep a night for teenagers are present after only losing one to two hours of sleep; cognitive ability suffers as if you haven’t slept for a day or two.  The lack of sleep also leads to micro-sleep.  Micro-sleep is the instance in which you appear to be conscious and functioning, yet you cannot remember what you have done for the past few minutes.  For those who drive, you might know it as highway hypnosis, when you go on auto-pilot and may not remember driving from your house to the stop sign down the street.  Dr. Fitzpatrick, a sleep researcher from Northwestern University, describes not sleeping as if “[y]our brain is running on empty.”  Consistent sleep deprivation can lead to brain alterations that cause deficiencies in solving problems, negatively affect decision making, and create issues with controlling emotions.

With all of its downfalls, the lack of sleep is not inevitable and the effects are not irreversible.  Dr. Fitzpatrick explains that “[a]s long you haven’t gone into extreme sleep deprivation, if you go back to seven to nine hours per night, as long as there has been no permanent damage, you can probably restore the functionality of accumulating, processing and being able to recall memories.”  Getting nine to ten hours of sleep a night, going to bed and waking up at the same time every day, avoiding large meals within an hour of going to bed, and not using computers, tablets, or smart-phones at night can help you get back into the sleeping groove.

Moving school times up would also help with the ever-growing problem of sleep deprivation.  The American Academy of Pediatrics advocated for moving school start-times up to 8:30 am or later for middle school and high school students so they could get 8.5 hours a night.  As students age, they go to bed later and later, with most teenagers going to bed after 10:30pm.  Because of their late nights, teenagers need later start-times.  Younger students, who tend to go to bed and wake up earlier than teenagers, could start classes before older students.

Many high schools start before 7 am, and with students falling asleep as late as they do after an already long day, wouldn’t having a later start-time be beneficial?  What possible downsides do you think a later start-time could have?  Do you think the sleeping habits of students would change, or would they just stay up later, causing them to get the same amount of sleep in the end?  We’d love to know your thoughts, so comment below!