256: 6+ Ways to Study for Tests in Five Minute Bursts

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Students often worry that studying effectively for tests will take more time than they have!

In this episode, Gretchen takes a deep dive into retrieval practice, which is arguably the most important things students can do when studying.

Specifically she explores simple ways to do retrieval practice:

  • Before class or reading,
  • Right after class,
  • While you are doing already assigned pieces of homework
  • In addition to your homework

Click here to listen in!

Can I Type My Notes, Or Must They Be Handwritten?

Have you noticed I’m obsessed with note taking lately? If you haven’t caught the last few videos you might check them out here:

Today I want to talk about whether your notes should be handwritten, or if you can type them up. On the one hand, this is a straightforward answer (handwriting is almost always better!); on the other hand, it’s complex (some students have learning differences that makes handwriting hard).

Listen in hear me lay out all the considerations, and then let me know if you have any follow up questions!

If you want to get right to seeing what tip I wrote on the whiteboard then you can check that out below:

What Do Muddy Feet Have to Do With Smarter Studying?

Do you notice those students in your class who don’t seem to be struggling as much as you do? How do you feel about them — jealous, annoyed, curious?

In today’s video, I tell a story about a client who noticed that one of her study buddies had a very different time management habit than she does when it comes to a class assignment. I was reflecting about this story recently while on a very muddy hike!

Tune in to hear me muse about what muddy feet have in common with smarter studying… You’ll also get a glimpse of my own bare feet playing in the mud!

And just in case you’re hungry for more, here’s a quick close up:

If you’re inspired, please hit “reply” and answer one of these two questions: how do you feel about being barefoot in mud and/or is there anyone in your class that you suspect you could copy a better habit from?

Buy These Supplies to Make Studying More Anti-Boring

It’s almost the end of the school year! For some college students, semesters end next month; high school students have another couple months to go.

Regardless, everyone is exhausted, and likely a lot of your school supplies have been used up by now!

I recommend that you take a little shopping trip to replenish some school supplies so that when final exams come, you have a lot of creative supplies to make your studying anti-boring.

In this video, I list some options for you. Take a look, and then let me know if you have any questions!

If you want to know what the supplies are now here is the whiteboard:

255: Mindfulness Tools for Upping your SAT & ACT Performance

There’s an important yet overlooked ingredient to performing your best on standardized tests!

In this episode, guest expert Logan Thompson details how to apply some simple tools from the world of mindfulness to turboboost ACT and SAT performance.

In a fun and wide-ranging conversation, they discuss:

  • How Logan began his journey with mindfulness
  • What mindfulness is and what it isn’t
  • How Logan accidentally started teaching his test prep students tools for observing their own thoughts, and how it helped them
  • A powerful metaphor Logan uses to teach these tools to test prep students,
  • and more!

Check out Logan’s book Beyond the Content here on Amazon. Feel free to access these sample mindfulness recordings at Logan’s SoundCloud.

After earning his MBA from Vanderbilt University, Logan Thompson pursued his passion for mindfulness by moving to a meditation center, where he lived and practiced for over two years. He then began teaching test prep for Manhattan Prep, a unit of Kaplan Test Prep (he has a 99th percentile score on the SAT®, GMAT® and GRE®), where he still teaches. He is also an adjunct professor of mindfulness at Endicott College and a Master’s student at Harvard University, studying Human Development and Psychology. Feel free to email Logan  at LoganJThompson [at] Gmail [dot] com.

Click here to listen in now!

How to Study Overwhelming PowerPoints

Do your teachers and professors primarily use PowerPoint during their lectures? Do you find yourself overwhelmed when it’s time to study, because you have 60 or 70 slides to review for each test?

Lately, I’ve had a number of folks working with graduate school students come through my training program (The Art of Inspiring Students to Study Strategically), and they’ve been asking me to give some more concrete ideas for how these students can work with the massive amounts of information that they are exposed to each week.

In this video, I suggest that students work on making one-page sheet sheets for each power point deck, and I provide four different options for how to do that:

Heads up that next week I’ll be sharing a video about what kinds of supplies to buy and have at home that will help you create these cheat sheets in an anti-boring way! Stay tuned for that.

3+ Ways to Productively Procrastinate

Did you know that there are some GOOD ways to procrastinate?

Recently I checked in on a client (a sophomore in college) about how well she’s following through on a project plan, and she told me that she was doing terribly. However, it was a “productive” kind of terrible, because she was getting something else important done as well.

This made me curious about how many ways there are to procrastinate productively, so I made a little video musing on this issue. Check it out!! Make sure you watch until the end so that you hear the warning about how not to overuse this sneaky way of procrastinating.

And if you don’t feel like waiting here’s the whiteboard:

Why It’s Important to Hide Your Phone While Working

Parents of teens often ask me where their students should be putting their cell phones while they’re doing their homework! I’ve often given a specific answer (which you’ll hear about in the video), but I’ve never read the research that backs my advice up!

This New York Times article about the dangers of having your cell phones out while you’re doing work. It’s humbling, and something that we ALL should consider, adults and teens alike. In fact, as I’m writing this blog post right now, I’m noticing my cell phone in the corner of my eye, so I’m not even following the article’s advice!

Gosh, it’s hard to be human in this digital age. Check out the article here, or watch the video for my commentary.

What If Every Student Did Test Corrections Like This?

?Last week I did a video about the two biggest mistakes I made last year. Apparently, y’all love hearing about my mistakes because I got a LOT of emails in response.

I’ve been thinking about mistakes a lot over the last few weeks because I’m preparing for my FREE masterclass for educators and parents, all about how to foster mistake-friendly environments in our classrooms and homes. If you’re inspired by this conversation, please join me!


One of the email responses I received last week came from a high school student who has been emailing me her thoughts about my videos for several years now.


In today’s email, she was reflecting on how her physics teacher helps his students embrace their mistakes, and how much MORE physics she’s learning because of this.

In today’s video, I read the student’s email out loud, share her physics teacher’s process for doing test corrections, and share my own thoughts about why this is so successful.

Can you think of any examples in which mistakes have helped YOU learn faster and more effectively? I’d love to hear about them. Please reply!!

P.S. One of the things I love about my masterclasses is that it gives me an opportunity to MEET the people who watch my videos every day. Please do join us live!

My Top Two Failures of 2018

The New Year — a time when we often think about successes and achievements. Instead, I’ve been thinking about failure. Mine in particular.

Last year (like every year) I made a bunch of mistakes! It’s tempting to gloss over all the ways I effed up in 2018 by making the traditional New Year’s list of successes and achievements from the past year.

More and more, lately, I find myself tired of those lists, of reading people’s curated successes without the balance of their difficulties. Maybe you’re tired of those lists too? I thought it might be more fun to talk about my mistakes instead.

Perhaps I’m just selfish and/or too sensitive, but when I see others’ successes I most often think “I guess I don’t measure up.” However, when I read their failures — especially when they also reflect deeply about what they learned from their failures — I feel empowered. Isn’t that odd?

Anyway — because I’m also celebrating mistake-making in my upcoming free masterclass for educators (and parents!) — it seems fun to reflect today on my two biggest mistakes of 2018.

In this video I share:

  • What I mean by “mistake”
  • The two biggest mistakes I made in 2018
  • What the horrific consequences were (one financial, the other health),
  • What I learned from the experiences that will transform my future choices, and
  • Why this kind of mistake-friendly reflecting is IMPERATIVE for teachers and parents to model for students.

Take a watch:

What mistakes did YOU make last year? What were the consequences? What did you learn? Hit reply and practice doing this kind of reflecting now. I’d love to know, and I promise I’ll reply.

To join me in a discussion about how to create mistake-friendly environments in our classrooms, coaching sessions and homes, click here to sign up for next week’s Masterclass.

An Antidote to Students’ Chronic Busyness

Do you sometimes feel that you NEVER get a break? That you’re far too busy to give yourself some time off, even an afternoon off? 

I find that many students feel this way. We are breeding more generations as addicted to busy-ness as we are! 

I have this issue as well, and I’m often catching myself delaying a walk in nature, or even a nap, because I have just one more email I need to write. 

Well, in today’s video I take you on one of those rare moments when I actually succeeded in getting my butt out the door! And share some reflections about why it’s important for students to get out into nature too. ?

4 Ways to Connect with Teachers

Do you struggle to connect with your teachers? Does it feel like they are scary strangers to you, rather than friends, mentors and cheerleaders?

In today’s video I tell you about a conversation I had recently with a client who is a junior in high school. Every week in our coaching session I ask him what teachers he has connected with over the past week. In the past he has often blamed his teachers for not being “good” or “organized” and has often had difficult relationships with them because of this judgement. Even if he’s right about some of these judgments, the fact that he felt cold towards the teachers did not help him in getting the support he needs.

This year he is starting fresh by building strong relationships from the start. Here is a list of four ways to connect with teachers that we came up with during our session today. Can you think of additional ones?

7 Small Tasks to Do Over the Holidays

We’re smack dab in the middle of our winter holidays right now! I know you want to simply relax, and I want you to, too.

I ALSO want to encourage you to consider doing one or more of these small tasks. This is a great time to organize your life, so that you can hit the ground running when you go back to school in January.

Check out my detailed thoughts in this video:

Or simply read through the list on my whiteboard:

Are there other small tasks that are useful to do over a holiday from school? Please tell me! 

Gifts I Sometimes Give Students

It’s gift giving season! I’m actually TERRIBLE at giving gifts at specific times of the year — birthdays, holidays, etc — but I’m GREAT at giving them when the spirit moves me, and I see that one of my clients has a need.

In today’s video, I thought it’d be fun to show you the contents of my “Gifts” basket that I keep on my office bookshelf. I love to purchase fun or useful things when I”m out and about, and then I have them available to pop into the mail when the spirit moves me.

Let’s take a peek in my basket!

Do you know of other gifts that are fun to give students? I’d love to add them to MY basket. Please hit reply and let me know.

P.S. Here is a link to the little Habit Tracker booklets I showed you: https://myclasstracker.com/collections/notebooks

P.P.S. And here is a link to the Memorization Set that I love to give to some students to help them study for tests using old worksheets and quizzes: https://www.amazon.com/Memorization-Green-Sheet-Eraser-Included/dp/B00WEGCR7W

Don’t Freak Out Over Finals

It’s finals time for many students around the country and world! Are you freaking out?

Self care during this stressful time is super important, and recently I ran across this awesome resource. It’s an infographic for how to take care of yourself during finals. You can go to the inforgraphic directly by clicking here. Or… check out this video where I walk you through it, and make some commentary about some of the suggestions.

What are your favorite ways to take care of yourself during stressful times?

Should You Wait for the Study Guide to Start Studying?

Do you usually wait for the teacher to hand out a study guide before you start studying? Are you a frustrated parent who’d really LIKE your student to be studying regularly but they keep on saying, “The teacher hasn’t handed out a study guide yet!”

I just got this question emailed to me, and I’m excited to share some reflections with you all. It’s not a straightforward answer, because it depends on how well you’ve been keeping up with the information you’ve been learning this semester.

However, there ARE some concrete ways you can figure out whether you need to start studying early. So watch the video, and let’s check it out!

What Yucky Thoughts Keep You From Taking Action?

Students, do you sometimes find that your brain is barraged with yucky thoughts? Thoughts that distract you from taking action on your academic responsibilities?

I’ve been paying more and more attention to the “self-talk” in my clients’ brains that keep them miserable when it comes to school… and life for that matter.

In our culture, we are given very few tools for how to handle those thoughts in a healthy way.

In this video, I share a story from a client last Spring who was really struggling with the debilitating thoughts that kept her from studying for her finals. The first step to transformation is awareness, and so I worked with her to help her be more aware of the thoughts that were getting in her own way.

Check it out!

 

 

The following are some yucky thoughts that I discussed in the video:

 

 

Take the appropriate steps that I discuss in the video to get these thoughts out of your head!

A Thinking Hack to Help You Read More Effectively

Do you ever struggle to read difficult texts? I’ve had a few different videos on this topic lately because it’s such a buggaboo for many of my clients.

In today’s video we explore a way to THINK about reading that might shift your ability to understand what’s in the text.

This tip comes to you courtesy of a client of mine, who made a brilliant observation about her own reading process. I just LOVE IT when my clients try the techniques I give them, but then come back with an even more brilliant observation of what works for them.

Check out the video to learn a small little tweak my client has made in her thinking that has given her the grit to get through a difficult reading.

Remember this one take away from the video:

Where To Study and Why It Matters

Did you know that WHERE you study can make a difference in how well you get prepped for a test? More about that topic in a moment.

But first — wow!! We had over 180 educators (and parents!) sign up for the Study Cycle 101 Masterclass yesterday. I was particularly impressed at the countries that were represented: Peru, Venezuela, Azerbaijan, Beirut-Lebanon, Canada, Australia, Canada, and more!!

It’s not too late to sign up if you’d like to watch the recording, and then participate in tomorrow’s Practice Labs! (Hint: During the masterclass I’m giving out a $100 discount code to my upcoming Art of Inspiring Students course, so if you’d like access to that, make sure to sign up. The discount is good through Friday evening).

But now — given it’s Wednesday! — I bet you’d like my weekly video tip. 🙂

P.S. If you’re curious to read the original article from the New York Times, here it is: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/09/07/health/views/07mind.html?

225: Save Money on Testing with Fee Waivers

For many families, the costs of taking standardized tests like the ACT, SAT and AP’s are out reach. However, it is possible to receive fee waivers, and Megan breaks down exactly how.

 

Tune in to learn more about topics like:

  • The difference between reduced and waived fees
  • How to use the “free lunch waiver” as the first step in waiving testing fees
  • The costs of regular registration
  • How to use these processes for waiving university application fees as well.

This is a super important episode, and many families don’t realize the college-related reasons they should apply for the “free lunch waiver.”

Please spread the word among friends, local organizations, and those who work with students who may need assistance.

Click here to tune in to learn about waivers and how you can get them if ti applies for you.