My Fool Proof Method for Finishing a Book on Time!

All high school English classes have reading assignments, obviously. Some schools read a novel over time and discuss it in class. Some schools, like mine, assign the book, and give a test date, and the student is left on his own. People who procrastinate have a lot of trouble with this method. It’s hard to read a book every night when you know you have a month, three weeks, two weeks, etc. to read it. But then, suddenly, your test is tomorrow and you’re on chapter 4 and you don’t know what you’re going to do!

 

Avoiding that is easy.

 

1. Set up a Schedule – When I am assigned a book, a count the pages, and the days I have to read it. I leave out days I KNOW I will not be able to read. For example, I’m going to visit my sister at college; I can’t read in the car, it’s useless to schedule reading that day. Usually it will end up being maybe two or three chapters a night. This is so much more manageable than reading a whole book in one night.

 

2. Write it down – In your planner or calendar or whatever it is you use, each day write what you have to read (example: Tuesday: “Brave New World” chapters 4 and 5). Follow it like a homework assignment.

 

3. Rewards – “If I read these chapters, I can go to the mall and buy myself something,” “If I finish chapter 7 tonight, I can go out with my boyfriend tomorrow.” Things like that are good ways to motivate yourself. You will also feel the wonderful feeling of accomplishment as you see your bookmark move from the front of the book to the back.

 

Obviously there’s will power involved here, but it’s much better than having no system of getting reading done. Happy reading, guys!

How to Recover from a Breakdown

I began writing a very nice post today about Toxic Friendships (a subject on which I am an expert), but it never got done. Sorry to whoever has been reading this. Today was a really tough day at school, and I came home wanting to shower, lay down in my bed, and not come out until tomorrow. So in light of my latest personal tragedy at school, here’s some tips that are short and to the point:

1. Get past it. Quick.  – occupy yourself, talk to a friend, stop thinking about what ever is stressing you out. Do something mindless like playing Guitar Hero or taking a walk.

2. If you have to cry, do it.  – I’m a pro at this. Don’t hold it in, go cry. Cry alone if that’s your style. Personally I call my mom from the backseat of my car crying, then call my boyfriend from the backseat of my car crying, and tell them both my tragic story and how life is unfair and I’m not getting into college. Everyone has a different coping method. But don’t hold in crying, it will make things worse later.

3. Fix it if you can, Forget it if you don’t. If it’s something like failing a test, just do better next time. Stressing about it will not get rid of the bad grade. But if it’s something like a misunderstanding with a friend, do what you can to fix it. Don’t be too persistent though. accept the things you can’t change.

I’ll finish that other post when I’m less groggy. Have a good day!

Overcome the in-class Essay

It’s happened to all of us – you walk into your class, your teacher tells you to sit down, take out your notes, and write an essay. It’s possible that you’re someone who works well under pressure, so this will be easy. But if you’re like me, and a lot of other people, you’re terrified. So sit down, take out your pen, and take a deep breath.

Clear your mind. Don’t think about your test next period, the fight you had with your boyfriend last night, or anything else. Just clear your mind and look at the question. Read it, digest it, understand what it’s asking. Now you can…

Pre-write. Ok, I hate pre-writing. But it makes essays so much better. If you only have about 40 minutes (depending on the length of your class periods) then you should definitely pre-write a little. It doesn’t have to be an outline, just jot down your ideas and supporting ideas. Figure out what order things should go in. This will make the essay flow much better, and it will look organized. Now…

Write. Don’t think too much. Your teacher will obviously take into account the time constraint you had to write this essay. Waste no time, write what ever it is you pre-wrote. Then take a breath. You’re almost done.

Proof read. If you have time, check for spelling errors or simple grammar mistakes. Read it to yourself and make sure the sentences make sense to you.

There you go. You’ve survived your in class essay. Just remember to relax, and that your teacher knows that it isn’t going to be perfect given the time you’ve been given.

SAT Hacks – Stop Worrying and Start Succeeding

So I’ve taken the SAT once in my life so far. It was the old SAT, and I was in eighth grade in the John’s Hopkins “Talent Search” thing. I sat among a group of nervous juniors, and I didn’t really care how I did on the test. Next Saturday, I’ll go and be one of those nervous juniors. The difference between me and most of my peers is, I’m not nervous. Sure, I know there’s a lot riding on how I do on this test. But being nervous does pretty much nothing to help your score. Here are my suggestions for taking the SAT to the best of your ability.

Take a Class – I took a class since January, and I think it really helped me. SAT classes don’t teach you facts, they teach you test-taking strategies that are extremely useful when it comes to taking the test. The class will also force you to do work to prepare, when you might have procrastinated on your own with it.

Get a Book – I have the one the Collegeboard made. It has a bunch of practice tests. If you sit and time yourself, you’ll have a pretty good idea of how you’ll do when it comes to testing day, and what you need to improve upon before the day comes.

The Night Before – My SAT teacher told us this: The night before the test, don’t review anything, and don’t hang out with friends who are going to take the test. Personally, I’m hanging out with my boyfriend who isn’t taking it the next day, because he is not one to talk nonstop about the SATs, and so he’ll help me to keep it off my mind.

The day of the test – have breakfast, bring number 2 pencils and a calculator, and one more thing no one told me but I learned when I took it in eighth grade – wear pants and a t-shirt, and bring a sweater of some sort. You never know what the temperature of the room you’ll be in is going to be. It could be freezing, or really hot. If you are uncomfortable, then you won’t be as focused.

For everyone taking their tests the same day as I am, good luck 🙂

Starting Your Own Club – A Crash Course.

Is there something that you’re really passionate about, but there is no club in school for it? Make one! This year a friend of mine and I founded a club at our school to raise money to help those affected by the genocide in Darfur. If you have something you wish there was a club for in your school, here’s some steps in starting off:

Step 1: Find other students who are interested. 

Many schools have a minimum requirement of people before they will let you make an official club. Ask around your school to see who is interested. Make a group or an event on Facebook to see what kind of interest there is in your school. I know that when we started our club, we didn’t know such a large number of girls would be interested in joining! Find a group of people, and maybe form your executive board. This will show your administration that you’re serious about this club.

Step 2: Find a Faculty Advisor.

This was easy for us, because my history teacher is very actively involved in different efforts to end the genocide in Darfur. Find a faculty member that is willing to help you organize the group and hold meetings. Also, make sure this is a faculty member that you get along well with, because there will have to be a lot of contact and collaboration with them. Once you’ve found your faculty advisor, you can go to the administration.

Step 3: Get your Club Approved.

I can’t say too much about this, because every school has a different procedure in approving new activities and clubs.  Do what ever is necessary to get your club approved, and set up a date for your first meeting.

Step 4: Advertise.

Put something on the morning announcements, make signs to hang in the hallways, make an event on Facebook, tell all of your friends! Get the word out about your new club so that you’ll have a good number of people come out for it.

Creating a club and being in charge is a lot of fun, but it’s a big thing to take on. Make sure you’ve got the organization skills and support from others, and you’ll make it happen!

How to make your break productive

So, with midterms, term papers, and everything else, I forgot to update for a while. Right now my family, my brother’s friend and I are in the Poconos on vacation. After a not so great fall skiing last night, I’m stuck in the room while they are all in the indoor water park. Most breaks my school has are a time when people sleep late, go out every night, and forget about school. The problem with that is that when school goes back in session next week, most people will be exhausted and bogged down by the workload. Especially for me and most of my peers, a week from Saturday is the SAT. Here are some ways to make breaks more productive, and your return to school more pleasant:

1. Read. Anything. If you have a school reading assignment, read it. If not, read something. It doesn’t matter what it is, but reading will sharpen your mind while you are off from school. It will be 100 times easier to focus when you get back to school.

2. Make Lists. If you have work to do over the break, make a master list of everything that needs to get done. I’m a big advocate of putting everything on paper. Once you write it down, you’ll have a visual of what you need to do. Then you can:

3. Create a master schedule. Make a schedule, and add appointments, vacations, and hanging out with friends. Make time slots where you will do work, and stick to them. Don’t just write “Do work,” put a specific task such as “take notes on chapter 7 for history” or something like that.

4. Leave at least one lazy day. This will be a day free of school work. It’s vacation, so leave at least one day where you don’t do any work. Relax, unwind, sleep, and have fun.

5. Study. Force yourself to study what ever you did before break, so that when you come back, it’ll be fresh in your mind.

Follow these tips, have some fun, and when you get back to school you won’t have that feeling of unfocused chaos that most students have.

Making Precalc More Enjoyable – a Math Hater’s Guide.

I have been a history buff for my entire life. My late grandfather was a big history enthusiast, and I guess I inherited it. I’m pretty good at English, and though I’m not a fan of science I somehow get A’s year after year. But I have always had trouble with math. If you’re like me, and can’t find any interest in math, then these tips should help you. They can be applied to any math, but I’m in precalc so that’s the inspiration to this post.

Tell Stories.

This helps me more than anything. When you come across a difficult problem that you know is going to take long and is really boring, then make a story out of it. It doesn’t have to be anything complicated, but make it interesting. It makes you think more, and usually it will help you understand the problem better, leading to you getting it right! Stories are good because they apply the math to something tangible. When you can think of something in terms of real life, it make it more relateable, more interesting, and much easier.

Pictures.

My math notes are absolutely filled with pictures, drawings, and doodles. This isn’t because I don’t pay attention in class. As with the stories, it makes things easier to understand. It lays everything in the problem out for you to look at and understand what’s going on. When in doubt, draw a picture. It will most likely help. Seeing things helps the brain process the whole picture of what is going on. Most times, if you come across a problem that seems impossible, drawing a picture will help you. Usually.

Buddies.

There’s a group of girls in my precalculus class that frequently goes for our teacher’s extra help  sessions. We do lots of problems on the board, tell our math teacher stories that are completely irrelevant to the subject, and laugh a lot. The best part of this group is that everyone of us is bad at something different. Together, we can understand the entire problem, and have a lot of fun doing it. Get together with a group outside of class, or go for the extra help your teacher offers. It will always pay off to see other people’s points of view.

Although this still won’t take away the work load involved in taking a hard math class such as precalc, it will make the work seem less difficult, and get you better grades. I’ve been a math hater my whole life, but using these tips and some self-discipline, I’ve worked my way to peace with mathematics.