Quick Tips to Make It Through Your Fall Term Finals

1. Find an “Accountabilibuddy”

If you’ve been reading eNotes study tips for a while now you’ll already know the importance of making flash cards and creating a study schedule in time for finals week, so here’s a new tip for you. Make a pact with a friend to be accountabilibuddies; you will agree to check in with and keep each other on the studying track leading up to your exams. If one of you strays, the other is “accountabilibuddyable,” and reserves the right to publicly shame you, or at least make you donate $1 to the procrastination jar.

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Spring Survival Tips for the ACTs and SATs

High school students, it’s that time of year again… Exam time! Oh joy of joys. To assist you in this hour of need, we’ve got a few tips to help you out on the ACT and SAT exams that are fast approaching, along with some important dates and deadlines to help you stay on track.

Have a question regarding either exam? Post it in a comment and we’ll answer it for you ASAP!

SATs

Important Dates: If you’ve already registered for the next test, it’s just around the corner on May 7th. If you haven’t yet taken the test this Spring, you should register for the June 1st test date by May 7th. Head to collegeboard.org to register online asap.

Study Materials: The College Board site is a veritable treasure trove of helpful links. Nobody should go into the exam without becoming very familiar with it–and that includes much more than taking the PSAT in your junior year. One extremely useful page is the SAT Study Plan area. This is your homepage from where you can navigate practice tests and questions, as well as tips on various sections of the test. What’s even better is that it is completely customizable; those of you who have never taken the test before will see different content than those who have taken the SATs at least once. Plus, for those in the latter category, there’s even a page where you can get even more personalized feedback based on your PSAT scores. You can check that page out here.

Of course, purchasing a physical study book is always a bright idea. The upside of the College Board SAT support site, though, is that it has all the helpful strategies, tips, and practice tests you’ll find in a book, with the added benefit of being free and only a click away. Maximize your time by receiving the SAT Question of the Day by email—you’ll be studying every day without even realizing it.

Finally, here’s one really helpful study material you might not have heard about… SAT Vocabulary Novels. If you struggle with the SAT Vocab section, as most students do, the absolute best way to expand your vocabulary is by reading. Seeing words in their context is infinitely more helpful than memorizing definitions on flashcards. It also ensures that you remember those words for far longer. The SAT Vocabulary Novel series contains books of all genres, all geared towards teens. Take Rave New World, for example, a futuristic dystopian novel about love and addiction. These books intersperse the most popular SAT words throughout, then highlight them with definitions at the bottom of the page. Really useful stuff to get you familiar with that intimidating SAT lexicon, and way more riveting than the dictionary.

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Your Study Session Menu

Can you say #finalsweek ?

A few tips from our intern on how to tackle finals and hunger simultaneously. Beware: it may put you in the mood for the Sixth Sense and drippy, crumbly things…

Good food can make any situation better. Even if you were experiencing the worst possible thing (i.e. traffic on the 405), think about how much happier you would feel with a bag of your favorite chips or a donut by your side. Road rage: managed.

In my many years of falling asleep in lectures and movies and on tables in libraries… I’ve come to realize that food has another awesome benefit: as long as you’re eating it, you stay awake. You might fall asleep the second you stop eating (me), but while the munching is happening, it’s physically nearly impossible to be sleeping. As I’m sure you can imagine, by this stage of my life, I am a professional snacker and I pride myself in it. I know what kind of snacking is appropriate for various situations and what individuals’ snacking choices and preferences say about them. It’s like I’ve got a sixth sense. (I see snacks, people.)

Now, there’s a good chance you’re an avid reader. Books are your hobby. They’re the soap opera to the 70 year old woman living inside of you. They’re your thing.

I, on the other hand, would love to be an avid reader, but I fall asleep the second I open a book. Unless I’m snacking. So, after much trial and error, I have finally figured out what kinds of foods you should and shouldn’t eat when reading a book. Even if you don’t need food to stay awake, like I do, some of these snacks might just make your reading experience that much better. DRUMROLL, please.

DO’S!

1. Foods blended together in liquid form and consumed via straw. Also known as, your average smoothie. These work for many reasons. For one thing, if positioned properly in front of you, you don’t even need hands to consume it. You could just put it on the table and sip away with your book in front of your cup. It’s just you and the straw. Pretty simple. You also get the added benefit of eating like…5 things at once. Which is great if you just really get a kick out of multitasking or if you’re trying to get some veggies or fruits all up in your diet regimen.

2. Pretty much any cold liquid consumed via straw. I’d recommend chocolate milk. The most important part here is the straw, though. They just makes your life easy. Which is one of the reasons you shouldn’t drink hot drinks, because anyone who has ever drunk hot liquid out of a straw knows the roof-of-your-mouth burn is probably one of the worst, and that it’s inevitable.  No matter how many times you try to cool the drink down, no matter how many times you engage your different ‘testing’ tactics pre-consumption, you will almost always burn yourself when drinking hot liquid through a straw. And that’ll just ruin your reading experience, and probably your whole life. Just please don’t do it.

3. Family-sized bags or boxes of snack foods in original flavors. These are things like cheez-its, goldfish crackers, pop chips, cereal, you know the drill. They are in the snack aisle for a reason, and it’s because they have been perfected for your snacking pleasure. They literally exist because of your munchies. You should be able to stick your hand blindly into these bags/boxes without becoming nervous or surprised by what comes out of it.  If you can’t, you’re not eating the right snack. The goal is to be able to grab a bunch and shove it directly into your mouth without ever having to avert your glance from your novel. Original flavors mean you’ll have the stamina to keep snacking without wearing out your pallet. And family-sized is crucial because there’s nothing more annoying than wanting to read but running out of snacks to read with. Could you imagine?

4. Peanut butter via spoon. Yes, it can and should go on a spoon. This applies to Trader Joe’s Cookie Butter, almond butter, and Nutella, as well. You get the drill.

5. Cereal with milk. This might be a little messy, and yes, it might not be ideal for reading because you have to sort of turn your head to face your cereal bowl every now and then…but cereal is worth it. Cereal is always worth it.

DON’TS!

1. Warm drinks like coffee or tea. I already discussed the dangers of attempting to drink hot drinks. But there’s more. Unless paired with other foods, or if you’re part of the 5% of the population that is actually still affected by the amount of caffeine in a cup of coffee, these will just make you sleepy. Warm milk, warm water, whatever it is. Parents give little kids these drinks in order to make them fall asleep. And even if they don’t make you sleepy, these are still no-no’s because these things don’t really qualify as foods and therefore they’re inherently just not as enjoyable. Simple as that. You also could potentially and will likely spill on yourself, since you won’t be drinking out of a straw, which will lead to sheer anguish. If you attempt to prevent the spilling of said hot liquid, you’ll just end up having to look away from your novel all the time. That’s not what we want, is it? Goodness, why is it all so complicated?

2. Flavored anything. How many times have you grabbed a page of a novel and gotten that red hot-cheeto residue all up in there? Or maybe you’re the type who feels the need to lick your fingers after eating something flavored…then you’re just going to get your drool all over your novel the next time you page turn. Is that what you want? Is that really what you want? I know these things are delicious, but they’re dangerous. Many of them also require things like water or milk for the washing down of strong flavors. That’s just time wasted, right there. Please, do yourself a favor and avoid the flavor.

3. Small bags of snacks moms put in lunchboxes. Are you a baby? Tell me, are you a baby? Do you really want to read this novel? Because if you DO then you better be in it for the long haul, and the long haul has no room for teeny tiny snack bags. You’re a big kid now. You pack your own lunchbox.

4. Soup. I mean…what are you thinking? That’s just begging for disaster.

5. In general, things that drip.

6. Things that require two hands to eat. How do you expect to read with no hands? Are you a magician? If you aren’t which I suspect you aren’t then you should probably you know…stop doing that. Reading while devouring a subway sandwich isn’t possible. It just isn’t. At this point you’re just pretending to read while you eat your sandwich, so you might as well just eat your sandwich.

7. Bags of things with too much variety. Unless you like all of the items within that variety. For instance, chex mix. Do you like those awkward circular pretzels? Bleh. Next.

8. Foods that are so good you can’t help but think about them as you eat. My god…it’s just…it’s just so good.

9. Things that crumb. There are few things as frustrating as getting crumbs stuck in the seam of your novel. Trying to get them out just means you make more and more, progressively smaller crumbs out of the one large one you dropped in the first place. They crumble exponentially until there’s nothing to grab and you’re left feeling sad and defeated. Don’t do that to yourself. It’s masochism. I don’t care how much you love those fancy croissants or slices of toast with jam. It’s just not going to work.

10. Anything with melted chocolate. This is the most painful “don’t.” But we all know…chocolate gets everywhere. You eat a cookie that’s fresh out of the oven and somehow five minutes later you have chocolate on your shirt, your fingers, your face- and in this case, your book. No good.  Just no good. Brown smudges on novels just invite inquisitive questions later on. Just try to fight it and stay away.

Let the snacking begin!


If You’re Going to Procrastinate, You Better Do It Right

A little unorthodox advice from a fellow student–our eNotes intern.

There’s winter, spring, summer, and fall…

And then there’s midterm season.

For us quarter-system kids, the time is now. (For you semester kids, don’t pity us—they’re coming for you.)

If you’re in college, you know this is one of the worst times of the year.

It feels like you’re being pummeled by hail until you’re curled up in the fetal position and simultaneously being burned by blaring sunlight shining through holes in the ozone. And  then maybe being stung by a jellyfish.

Somehow, we prevail, though, and keep on chugging through until the next exam season rolls around. We’re really awesome when it comes to making it out alive. What we aren’t good at is studying “efficiently.”

If you are not a procrastinator, congratulations. You’re awesome. I respect you. I literally don’t know how you do it, and I don’t think I ever will. But I want to give you some props. So, here. ::gives props::

Most of us though… we’re world class procrastinators.

Spoiler alert: I’m not going to write about ways to change procrastination behaviors. For us tried and true procrastinators, changing the habit is not a process that can occur over night (like cramming)- it’s going to take a lot of work. MTV Intervention style work. And since you’re likely already amidst the test season, there’s no turning back now to try and fix your situation, because you’ve already dug yourself a nice, fat hole.

So for the 95% of the population that falls prey to this habit, I thought I’d talk about some ways to really get the most out of your procrastinating. If you’re going to procrastinate, you might as well do it well and with style.

These tips will make you the talk of the library.

  1. Television. You could catch up on all those sitcoms you watch. But if you want to up your game, you should really start watching a new show entirely. For maximum exploitation of this procrastination period, I would recommend shows that have at least 3 seasons, can be watched on Netflix or HBOgo and even Hulu (if you don’t mind the obnoxious advertisements about car insurance). If you don’t have subscriptions to these sites, the person next to you probably does. Make new friends…and then exploit them for their subscriptions.
  2. Go through your list of New Years Resolutions and try to bring them all to fruition in an expedited fashion. Need to be healthier? Why not spend 7 hours at the gym taking every class they offer that day, or maybe hang out in the produce section of the grocery store, carefully selecting the fruits and vegetables you need to create the healthy feast you’re about to cook (which will take another 3 hours). Want to travel more? Get on a bus and just, you know, get off at a random stop. Then find your way home (This can also help with a “get to know the city you live in” resolution).
  3. StumbleUpon. Get an account. Waste an entire afternoon. Excellent.
  4. YouTube. Don’t stop. We all get caught up in the recommended videos in that darned sidebar. Why fight it? Watch all of them. Especially the tutorial and challenge ones, which you must obviously watch and also perform yourself. Oh! And read the troll comments. You have to read the troll comments.
  5. N64. You don’t even need to get off your couch for this one.
  6. Those hobbies you dropped back in the day because, I don’t know, band became “un-cool” and your art teacher scared you—pick them up again, and do them until you are just as good as you were back in the day. Clarinets are going to be making such a huge comeback.
  7. Sleep
  8. Read for pleasure. Les Miserables is over 1000 pages, and then there’s always encyclopedias and the dictionary.
  9. Buy the entire contents of your nearest grocery or convenience store, and eat each item in succession. No one can eat and study at the same time. It’s scientific fact. You can even do this one with friends.
  10. Remember all those things you had to do that you kept putting off that don’t have to do with school? They’re lookin’ pretty good right now. Who doesn’t love laundry?

And then you just cram. Cram like the wind. Do anything you can to stay awake and absorb every bit of that information you didn’t even take in when it was first presented to you in lecture (because you were sleeping). Caffeine is your friend, water (thrown at face) is your friend, uncomfortable chairs are your friends, eNotes is your friend (shameless plug). Your bed is your enemy, pillows are your enemy, thoughts about things that aren’t your exam are your enemy. You know the drill. You’ve got it down pat.

Really, though… you should try not to procrastinate. You won’t learn as much.

… But if you do procrastinate, I mean… just do it right.

In life, you really should always give your all. You don’t want to be the kind of person who only gives 50%. It’s time to step it up and reach your true potential. You came to college for a reason, right? Procrastinate like it’s what you were born to do.

I have to go watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy, now (it’s the extended edition), so I’ll leave you with this one line to rule them all:

I have faith in you.


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