The tips presented below cover the following topics:
1. Test-Taking Myths Demystified
2. Turn test stress into success
3.Getting good grades in college
4. Top 10 tips for scoring a job
TEST-TAKING MYTHS DEMYSTIFIED
By Sandra Choron
They plague us from grade school on up, and if you haven't had enough of them in school, know that each day of your life, no matter what you pursue, you will be tested-by co-workers, by your bosses, by those who will consider using your services. But these tests, thankfully, will take a different form.
For the time being, your college test scores are of the greatest concern. But what do they really say about you and your future? These myths-and their realities-should give you some comfort.
° The myth: °
They accurately measure how much you know.
The reality: No they don't. They measure how much you know about a given subject at a given time, and unless it's a final exam, a test doesn't even cover your knowledge of the whole subject. Even if the French Revolution is your hobby and you know everything there is to know about it, chances are you'll do better on a test about Vietnam, if that's what you've been studying because the studied information will be uppermost in your mind. Remember that when it comes to exams, test-taking skills are as important as your knowledge of the information itself. Consider also the other variables that can affect your performance: everything from your physical state on the day of the test (Twinkies and Red Bull for breakfast can seriously mess with your ability to concentrate) to the atmosphere in which the test was taken. Be as prepared as you can be.
° The myth: °
They reflect the type of student you are.
The reality: If you're a gifted student but aren't keeping up with your classes, you won't do well on tests simply because you won't know what to expect. Likewise, if you're not naturally studious but take careful notes on a particular subject that truly interests you, you'll do well when tested. The trick is to find a way to make each of your studies of special interest. Does your reading on the subject of political science hold a special relevance to your own worldview? How do your studies of twentieth-century literature affect your understanding of rap music? True interest in a subject will give you a perfect entrée to the world it represents. If a particular subject bores you to tears, try to connect with someone who finds it fascinating. Make an attempt to see the world through their eyes. Even a spark of interest can be fanned into a flame.
° The myth: °
Smart people are good test-takers.
The reality: Some people are good test-takers and some people are wonderful essayists, and sometimes both come in one package. More often than not, they don't. Don't ever let one (or two or three) bad grades make you feel stupid. Everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Even people who do well on most tests have their bad days. If you're a bad test-taker, try to enroll in seminars instead of lecture classes. The smaller the class, the more likely it is that a professor will assign papers rather than giving tests. You can even ask the professor before you sign up for the class how many tests you will be given and what their format will be. You might also check out a course in test-taking skills, study methods, and relaxation techniques, all of which can enhance your performance.
° The myth: °
If you don't do well on tests, you probably won't succeed in college.
The reality: If you don't do well on tests, you don't do well on tests. You can still succeed in college and in life by reading books, writing papers, and participating in class; that is, by truly learning and understanding the material that is presented to you. If you know you are challenged by tests, try discussing the problem with your instructor. He or she can possibly point out good ways to prepare for the exams. At the very least, if your test scores are low, let your instructor know that you are concerned (and make sure your essays are perfect!). Remember that your teachers are assigned to hundreds of students; try to make a personal impression that will help override your
° The myth: °
Your future depends upon them.
The reality: In the first place, your academic standing isn't based solely on your test scores. Are
you participating as much as you can? Are you suggesting extra-credit projects that may minimize
the damage done by a low test score? Is your attendance perfect? Even if you're planning on
attending graduate school and are therefore facing the GREs, MCATs or LSATS, your admission will be based on many components, only one of which is your test score. Your application, your lettersof recommendation, your academic records, and your work experience will all be factored into the final decision. Furthermore, you'll be thrilled to know that once you've become gainfully employed and settled in your career, those pages and pages of multiple choice questions will be largely behind you. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
Sandra Choron and her husband, Harry, are authors of College in a Can (Houghton Mifflin, 2005).
*Story from Fall 07 issue
Turn Test Stress Into Success
Test Stress Defused
Luckily, there are a number of actions to make test stress more manageable. A reminder: "Test anxiety can be a pattern that needs time to correct. With a program and review, you will have a series of countermeasures that lessen the effect."
Before the test:
• Prepare well -- spread study sessions over several days.
• Attend class regularly and complete all assignments.
• Practice relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, imagery and visualization, and muscle relaxation.
• Avoid cramming right before the exam.
• Dodge students with negative attitudes toward grades or test taking.
• Sleep enough the night before for greater alertness.
• Eat a nutritious meal for energy.
During the test:
• Avoid panicking over not knowing answers immediately.
• Practice positive self-talk.
• Change sitting positions to help yourself chill out.
• Relax when you see others handing in their papers before you.
• Realize that you don't have to know everything to do well.
• Answer the questions you know first and come back to the harder ones later.
• Don't dwell on what you don't know, or on the answers you fear you may have gotten wrong.
After the test:
• Develop a positive perspective -- one failure doesn't make you worthless.
• Take note (literally) of what worked and what didn't.
• Celebrate that you are on the road to overcoming test stress.
• Be happy it's over and cease dwelling on how well or how poorly you think you did.
• Do something to reward yourself for a job well done.
Sources: Richard Driscoll, Ph.D.; Joe Landsberger (www.studygs.net); w
How to get good grades in college
Getting good grades in high school does not necessarily mean that you will be a good student in college!
By Mary Pitts
Many college freshmen are caught up in their new freedom, and many fail to plan on how they will spend that free time wisely. To compensate, they find themselves staying up late to finish assignments or cram for exams. Soon, they'll be stressed and unable to focus.
Fortunately, you can avoid all that.
Here are some tips to help you master your college workload and achieve academic success.
Read your syllabi ASAP
Read the course syllabus in the beginning of the semester as thoroughly and as soon as you can. As you read it, write the dates of assignments and tests in your planner. Then, working backward from due dates, determine when you need to start and complete the steps needed for each assignment. Mark those steps in your planner, too.
As you fill up your planner, you will begin to see when you will have several things due in one week. College professors, unlike high school teachers, are not concerned about the workload that you have in other classes. They do not take into consideration the test dates and due dates of your other classes.
To study for a test in one class, you may have to complete a paper or a project early for another class. It is much better to know about this in the beginning of the semester instead of when it is too late to make adjustments.
Plan for a technology failure
Never wait until the night before your paper is due to print it. You might be out of toner, or the printer might jam. Always back up your work on another disk or CD. Print your paper the day before, and back up all your work to a removable drive.
Talk to your professors
Build a relationship with your professors. Your relationship will come in handy if you struggle with the course material. Professors usually are willing to help out students who need some extra help-provided they believe you are making a genuine effort to learn. Showing some extra effort can make the difference between a passing grade and a failing one.
Go to class
Even though attendance is not usually taken in college classes, your professor will notice who is in class. Students who don't bother to show up for class are less likely to find the professor receptive to providing extra help. Remember, professors are interested in the subjects they teach and notice which students also show interest.
Do extra credit
If you're not doing well, ask the professor if there are opportunities for extra credit or if you can resubmit a paper. Ask the teacher if class lecture notes are available or posted online. Participate in study groups for tests with other members of the class.
Ask for a review
Sometimes it is difficult to gauge a professor's expectations. If your grades on papers aren't what you were hoping for, ask the professor if she's willing to review your next draft to make sure that you're on track.
Don't be shy in class. Be an aggressive learner; it is your education and your money. If you are in doubt about any directions, material or due dates, ask your professor. Most likely, you are not the only student in class who doesn't get it.
Make a study schedule
Figure out what blocks of time you will have between and after classes to complete assignments. Block out at least two hours on your schedule for each hour of class you have. For example, if you are in English class three hours a week, block out six hours on your schedule for time to read, write papers and study for tests.
Practice selective negligence
At times, it will be physically impossible to do everything that is required of you in the time you have. You must exercise some common sense and choose not to do some of the tasks with the lowest impact.
In other words, do not spend hours studying for a math test that is only 5 percent of your grade if it means neglecting studying for a psychology midterm worth 50 percent of your grade. If you already have an A+ average in world civilization, you probably don't have to spend time on the extra-credit reading assignment worth five points.
Leave time in your schedule for down time. Get plenty of exercise and sleep, and eat healthy foods. Studies have shown that getting enough sleep can improve your ability to retain information substantially.
Also reward yourself when you meet your goals. Set a goal of studying for an hour or finishing an outline for a paper, then reward yourself with a break that includes something you really want to do, such as watching TV or playing a video game. Go ahead and indulge-but only after you have met your goals.
Mary Weatherston Pitts is assistant director for undergraduate marketing at the University at Buffalo. Her college survival tips were perfected as she raised her two college-bound sons.
Top 10 Tips for Scoring a Job
Here's a secret: Even if you don't see an ad in the paper, or you call and the receptionist tells you the company isn't hiring, you can still get hired. Doesn't matter if it you're looking into working at McDonald's or Microsoft. Check out these tips for how.
1. never ask if they're hiring
Why not? Because it doesn't matter. There doesn't have to be an immediate open position if you're the right person for the company. Robbie Miller Kaplan, career expert and author of How to Say It In Your Job Search, suggests you use the following approach: "I'm interested in a sales associate position," or "This is my favorite store, and I would love to work here as a sales associate." By not giving them the chance to say, "We're not hiring," you automatically up your chances of scoring a new gig.
2. look the part
When going on an interview, look your best. Just because it's summer doesn't mean it's OK to wear a strapless shirt, capris and flip-flops. Maura Schreier-Fleming, president of sales training firm Best@Selling and author of Real World Selling for Out-of-this-World Results, says, "You may not have an Armani suit, but you can still be cleaned, neat and pressed." So whip out that semi-casual but tasteful outfit that's been hanging in the closet collecting dust. Once the dough starts rolling in, you'll see it was worth the sweat.
3. don't leave without talking to the person who does the hiring
It's cool to ask to speak with the hiring manager before filling out an application. By doing so, you add a face to your application. If she isn't available, find out when she will be and go back. Or fill out the application and follow it up with a phone call to schedule an interview. Don't think anyone's hiring? Don't let that stop you from getting a job!
4. always take a résumé
Even if it isn't a big corporate-type internship you're seeking, you should take a résumé. Presenting a résumé for jobs people don't usually bring one for makes you stand out.
5. apply when they aren't advertising
The best time to get hired is when there aren't any ads in the paper. When there are ads, lots (and we do mean lots) of people will apply. Your chances of getting hired are much greater if there's less competition. Kaplan suggests you make cold calls, appear in person or write unsolicited letters offering your services. It may sound like a lot of work, but it gets the job done.
6. come with a referral
"Referrals always have an edge," Kaplan says. "It takes some of the risk out of a new hire." Network, and let everyone know you're looking for a job or internship. But be sure the person you use as a reference has good standing on the job. You'll only get shot down quicker if you say your friend Amy referred you, and Amy is a slacker.
7. always ask questions during the interview
Schreier-Fleming says, "Show you're prepared by checking out the company's Web site before you go, and prepare to ask questions. When you say, 'I have a question about something I saw on your Web site,' it shows your initiative and your preparation." Those are the things employers look for, so get to work.
8. follow up
If you don't get hired on the spot, follow up. Don't just sit around waiting for them to call. Pick up that phone! Ask to speak directly to the manager (you do know his name, right?), and ask about the status of your app. Here's a good way to do this: "Hi, Mr. Richards, my name is Sally Gomez, and I'm an experienced restaurant worker. I filled out an application and brought in my résumé two weeks ago. Is it possible we can set up an interview?" After an interview, always send a brief note thanking the interviewers for their time. Be sure to express your interest in working for the company. According to Kaplan, so few people do this that just following up will help you stand out.
9. never go to pick up or fill out an application in everyday clothing
Who knows, the manager may see you or may want to interview you the same day. Remember, when you fill out your application, you're going to try your best to speak with the manager anyway. You do not want her to remember you as the girl in the skimpy skirt and clunky shoes. That is not a good first professional impression.
10. don't give up
If it's a job you really want, keep trying. If it's not working, try other places. Even if they don't hire you the firsttime, keep going. Persistence pays off…in paychecks!
Information provided by Next Step Magazine