Monday, 18 June 2018

5 Tips to stay motivated during the exams.

Your exams are almost over. You cannot wait for the holidays. How do you stay focussed?

The last stretch before the holidays is always the hardest!  Especially when some of your friends have already finished all their exams and you still have to study.  How can you possibly stay motivated when freedom is so close (yet so far)?  That’s why we want to give you these 5 super easy tips to stay motivated to study for you last exam.

1. Stick to the schedule.

Sticking to a schedule can be quite difficult towards the last few exams.  This is because you are tired, probably have mental fatigue and you simply wish you could be on holiday already.  Therefore, your schedule will be your cornerstone.  Make sure you study in sessions of 45 minutes with a 15 minute break between sessions so that you don’t wear out during the day.  Make those 15 minutes memorable each time by doing something you enjoy, not just lying on the couch and checking your phone.  For example, sit outside during your break to breathe some fresh air, take a walk around the block, play with your pet or talk to some friends.  Remember to stick to your 15 minutes and return to your books after the break.

2. Find a study-buddy.

One of the things why we dread studying for the last exams is because we have FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out), because some of our friends might already have holiday.  There is inherently a feeling that you might miss out on certain fun activities that your friends are doing.  Find a friend that has the same dreaded exam they have to study for and create a study group.  Ensure that this study group only contains highly motivated people, the kind of friends who will encourage you to study and not decrease your motivation.

3. Minimise distractions.

When you need to study for that last exam, distractions seem to be everywhere!  If you usually study with your phone nearby or the TV on in the background, you are more likely not to remember new information.  During studying for the last exam you will be even more tempted to check your phone to see what everyone is up to.  Rather put your phone in a different room from the one you study, put the TV off and focus on your studies.

4. Schedule your temptations.

Instead of wishing you could be doing something else while you need to study, write down the activities you really want to do once the exam is over and schedule it in your diary.  Therefore you will be less tempted to do it while you need to study, because you know you will do it as soon as you are done with exams.  For example, if there is a series you love to watch or want to start watching, write in your diary that you will binge-watch the series the very first day of holiday. Do this for every activity or temptation that comes into your head.

5. Review your goals.

One of the most effective ways to bring your mind back to the reality of exams is to review your goals.  How badly do you still want a distinction in Life Sciences?  Do you want to be in the top ten academic performers in your grade?  What are your goals?  Review them and recommit yourself to study so that you can reach your goals.

The last few exams are always the hardest to study for – but learn to finish strong.  Finish your exam cycle with determination and perseverance.  Don’t give up right before the finish line.  Dan Green said, “Regardless of what came before or what has yet to come, what matters most right now is how I choose to respond to the challenge before me.  Will I lie down or will I fight?  The choice is mine and I choose to finish strong.”

Let us know how you plan on staying motivated for the last exam and share this with a friend who also needs a little motivation.

Monday, 11 June 2018

What parents can do to help their children during exams.

Every parent wants their child to do well in school. Here are some ideas how you can help out during the exams…

Being a parent means you want your children to only ever experience happiness and joy, that’s why during exams it’s difficult to watch your child go through stress and difficulties.  We want to encourage you to never stop believing in your child.  Matthew L Jacobson said, “Behind every young child who believes in himself is a parent who believed first.”  Here are some great ways how you can encourage your children to perform their very best.

1. Make sure they have a healthy diet.

One of the key factors to excel in exams is to have a healthy diet. By getting enough nutrients and staying hydrated during exams will strengthen your children’s immune systems so that they don’t fall sick and they feel more energised to study longer and more efficiently.

Make sure they eat a healthy breakfast in the morning before the exam.  Remember that too much sugar for breakfast will lead to a drop in blood sugar later in the morning.  Make sure you include healthy snacks in their diet, but remember to spoil them with a little treat every now and again – a few blocks of dark chocolate does wonders for the brain to help them study again the afternoon.

2. Watch their sleep cycles.

As children get older they might not have a bedtime anymore, especially if they need to study until late in the evenings.  However, make sure your child gets enough rest the night before a big exam.  Fatigue is one of the reasons why children don’t do well in the last few exams remaining.  It is important to note that if your child has a busy week of exams, for example they write Monday, Wednesday and Friday, that they can’t stay up too late to study on Sunday evening, because they still need to be able to write on Friday.  According to LiveScience children between the ages of 6 - 13 need from 9 to 11 hours of sleep each night, while teenagers, ages 14 – 17, is recommended 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night.  

3. Carrots and sticks.

An old economic metaphor to explain how a desired outcome can be reached is by use of carrots and sticks – rewards and punishments, respectively.  The metaphor is based on the idea that a mule will either work harder when presented with a reward (carrot) or punished by means of a stick.  Time and time again it is proven that rewards will induce bigger results.

The same principle goes for your children’s exam.  Don’t threaten them with punishments if they don’t do well in an upcoming exam.  Rather inspire them to work hard by presenting a reward, like going for a milkshake after the exam.  It doesn’t always have to be a literal gift or something of monetary value, for example, tell your children that when they receive a good education they will have the ability to change lives, they could start a business, they could own a beautiful home one day, they can have a career that make their dreams come true.  Inspire your children to study because they have a wonderful opportunity to reach their greatest potential.

4. Trust them.

Always make sure your children’s mental states are taken care off.  Make sure they know you are there for them and that you will help whenever possible.  Ask questions like “What is the most interesting thing you learned today?” or “How do you think the teacher will test a certain chapter?”.  Help them think about exam situations and help them focus on what’s important through questions.

You don’t have to sit by your child 24/7 to make sure they study.  Sometimes pushing and smothering them do more harm than good.  All they need is someone that will hold them accountable, someone that will be proud of them when they study and work hard.

5. Know your child.

One of the major responsibilities of being a parent is to make sure your children is physically and mentally taken care of.  Your children’s mental health will require you to really know them.  Ask yourself, do you really know what your children’s dreams are?  When you know what your children’s dreams and desires are, it’s a lot easier to help them.  Know your children’s strengths and weaknesses, know in which subjects they feel confident and in which they struggle.  Have a copy of their exam timetable and make sure you give them an extra big hug on days you know they will be stressed.

We want to share with you a letter that a principle in Singapore sent out to the parents of all the pupils:

“Dear Parents,

The exams of your children are to start soon.  I know you are really anxious for your children to do well.  

However, please remember, amongst the students who will be writing exams, there is an artist, who doesn’t need to understand Math.  There is an entrepreneur who doesn’t care about English literature or History.  There is a musician, whose Chemistry marks won’t matter.  There is a sport star, whose physical fitness is more important than Physics.  

If your child does get top marks, that’s great!  However, if he or she doesn’t, please don’t take away their self-confidence and their dignity.  Tell them “it’s just an exam” and that they are cut out for much bigger things in life!  Tell them, no matter what marks they receive, you love them and you will not judge them.  Please do this, and when you do, watch your children conquer the world.  One exam or low mark won’t take away their dreams nor talents.

And please, do not think that doctors and engineers are the only happy people in the world.

With warm regards,
Your Principal.”

We want to wish every parent the best of luck with their children’s exams.  Look well after them, encourage them, love them and support them unconditionally.  Let us know how you help our children cope during exams and how you make them feel special when they need you most.

Monday, 4 June 2018

How to deal with exam stress.

This time of the year is extremely tough and stressful for every learner. Don’t let stress get the better of you.

Stress has been the cause of health problems, anxiety and failed tests for decades – or so it may seem.  Today we want to change the way you view stress for the rest of your life!  Even though stress can feel paralysing or even make you feel sick, stress can actually activate strength in you. 

The key is to find the optimal amount of stress to perform our best and understand that we should change the way we think about stress.

Find the optimal amount of stress.

When you feel stressed for a test you can either feel overwhelmed, motivated or paralysed.  These three emotions has a direct effect on the outcome on your test.  Scientists, Robert Yerkes and John Dodson, conducted a study of the effect of stress on your performance.  The results is best described through a visual representation in terms of a graph.  On this graph, the x axis represents the amount of stress you experience, while the y axis shows your performance level (how well you do).  

The relationship between stress and performance results in a bell curve.  In the section marked “A” the stress is low and performance is low too.  This indicates where there is no stress before a challenging event you lack focus and motivation to work hard.  Section B and C is your optimal performance with moderate to high stress.  This is where you feel motivated to work hard, adrenalin is pumping and you prepare your best to meet the challenge.  Lastly section D shows extreme stress correlates with low performance.  When your stress is too high you become preoccupied with the stress itself and it gets the better of you, for example lack of sleep, anxiety or feeling like you “blanked out”.

When you find the optimal amount of stress you will feel inspired, motivated and determined to succeed.

So how do you get the optimal amount of stress?  

  • Practise under exam circumstances and get used to the feeling of exam stress under controlled environments.  You can do this by using ASP School Project’s Exam Papers and Answers.
  • Prepare in advance for your test so that the workload doesn’t put unnecessary pressure on you.
  • Don’t cram your study work so that you feel confused and flustered when writing the exam.
  • Minimise stress not related to the exam.  For example, if you have an important test or exam coming up, don’t put yourself under more pressure for a different activity that produces stress.  You should also eliminate stressful factors like fights or arguments with friends, stress surrounding your household or stressful social situations.  For that week of your exam, try to focus only on your exam.
  • Find relaxation techniques to calm yourself down when you’ve gone over your optimal performance stress level.

Change the way you think about stress.

Even after seeing this graph and understanding your optimal stress level, you might still be terrified of the word “stress”.  However, the way you think about stress can actually boost your performance even more!

Kelly McGonigal is a health psychologist from Stanford University who studies the relationship between your health and stress.  She claims that a shift in the way you view stress will improve your life experience, happiness and health.  “When you change your mind about stress you can change your body’s response to stress.”

During a test, have you ever experienced symptoms of stress, such as an increased heart rate, breathing faster or even breaking out in a little sweat?  We have all been there!  We have all experienced anxiety and stress over exams and pressure.  However, McGonigal makes a new suggestion: “What if you view these signs as a way that your body is energised and preparing you to meet this challenge.”  

In other words you can view your stress response as helpful.  Your pounding heart is preparing you for action.  Increased breathing is sending more oxygen to your brain so that you can make decisions quicker and more accurate.  When you view stress as a helpful tool to increase your performance, your blood vessels don’t close up, but stay relaxed even though your heart might be pounding faster.  This is simply your body rising to meet the challenge.  This is your mind and body being courageous.

We want to encourage you to view stress an advantage during exams.  Change the way you view stress and find your optimal amount of stress where you can perform at your best.  Remember “A diamond is just a piece of charcoal that handled stress exceptionally well.” ~ Unknown.  So handle your stress, ace your exams and become that diamond!

Share this article with friends if you know they have been have been dealing with stress.  Let us know what other techniques you use to perform your best!

Monday, 28 May 2018

Last minute study tips to memorise learning material.

You are writing exams and you didn’t prepare ahead of time, like we told you… The whole family is worked up and you feel flustered. There isn’t enough time to understand the material in detail, but you have to write down something on your exam paper! What now? Use these 5 easy tips to memorise work.

We should never cram! However, sometimes there just isn’t enough time left to get everything done and now we need to study a lot of material in a short time. So how can we memorise a lot of work in a short time? Here are 5 easy ways you can maximise the little studying time left:

Study the terms and definitions.

When you study the terms and definitions given in a chapter, you are already preparing for 5 types of questions:  Multiple choice, Match Column B to Column A, Fill in the missing words, Short Questions and True or False Questions. You can even consider using these definitions in longer questions when you explain a concept. 

Get the broad idea.

If you aren’t finished summarising your work, then simply start by reading through the chapter’s headings, subheadings and sketches.  This helps to get a broad idea of the chapter and if you get long questions in the exam, you will at least have starting points for each argument.

Study Sketches and Diagrams.

Sketches and diagrams are normally easy to remember because it leaves a mental picture in our minds.  Memorise these sketches and diagrams because you will most likely be asked to either explain or reproduce the sketch.  Make sure you get all the marks for the sketch, including the title, labels and neatness.

Focus on what your teacher said in class.

Chances are your teacher mentioned what is important in each topic when they taught during class.  We hope you were listening, because chances are they will be asking questions about what they know is important. If you can’t remember if they mentioned something as important, ask your teacher again or ask friends.

Read through your notes one last time before bed.

Your brain is a powerful tool. Even if you go to bed, your brain will still process information while you sleep. So when you are done working out practice exam papers and studying for the night, go bath and put on pyjamas and before you go to bed, read through your notes one last time. That’s why it’s very important to get a good night’s rest before your test the next day.

We know studying for exams can be frightening, especially if you know you haven’t prepared the way you wanted to.  However, there is one thing you can always do before a test – visualise how well you are going to do.  When you visualise yourself writing the exam and believing you will do well, you already have an advantage above all else.  “Close your eyes and imagine the best version of you possible. That’s who you really are, let go of any part of you that doesn’t believe it.” C. Assaad

Tell us about your experience with cramming and how you cope studying for exam.  We wish everyone the best of luck with the exams that lie ahead!

Monday, 21 May 2018

The best way to know that you are prepared for your exam is through self-assessment.

Be certain that you know your study material and are well prepared for the exams.

Have you ever studied really hard for a test, but then the day of the test you suddenly hit a blank. Sometimes we can simply feel discouraged because we thought we knew all the answers. Well there is a way of being sure you know exactly how to answer a question – through practice exam papers. Self-assessment is what can make a difference in a pass or fail, between 60% and 80%. Research has shown time and time again that practising exam papers will improve your knowledge of a topic, but also your insight in how to answer questions about this topic. Working through practice exam papers takes time and effort, but don’t feel discouraged. Thomas Edison, inventor and business man said “Opportunity is missed by people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.” Don’t let the opportunity of learning and getting good grades slip through your fingers only because it seems like hard work.

Here are some of the many reasons why you need to start using practice exam papers in your study sessions:

Know what is important and what not.

When you go through practise exam papers you will soon realise what topics and what kind of questions are important. You might have been focusing all of your attention on one topic but soon realise that there is a different topic that you didn’t consider just as important. Through practise exam papers you will know which topics you need to focus on.

Question familiarity.

One of the biggest advantages you’ll have when using practise exam papers is that you’ll get used to the style of questions. Normally when we study, we don’t study in the form of multiple choice or by matching column A to column B, but these are the type of questions we need to be able to answer.  Practise exam papers help us to get used to these kinds of questions. We get familiar with long questions, short/one answer questions, filling in the missing word, diagrams and sketches and practising how to give the answers that will receive marks.

Practise concentration time.

If you are writing a real exam, you need to be able to concentrate for the whole time you are writing. However, we don’t normally study for that long periods of time. We mostly study in sessions of 45 minutes with a 15 minute break in-between. That isn’t how tests work though.  During an exam we don’t just write for 45 minutes and then break in-between. We have to be able to concentrate for the full duration of the exam and that takes practice too.

When using mock exam papers you get used to the amount of questions. In a typical English Home Language paper of 2 hours long there has to be certain questions with a distinct length, because a teacher needs to test all the topics. Therefore by practising mock exam papers we will get used to the number of questions and also the amount of time each question takes to complete.

Reduce exam anxiety.

A great way to reduce exam anxiety is through practice exam papers, because you get familiar with the emotions surrounding exams. When you work out a mock exam paper, do it under exam circumstances. For example: If the mock exam paper is 2 and a half hours long, put your phone away, take out a watch, time yourself and only use two and a half hours to complete the question paper. Mark your paper by using a red pen and give yourself a mark. Now you have already went through the motions of writing an exam and have also experienced the emotion of exam pressure. The more you do it, the more you get used to it and overall your anxiety towards exams will become lower and lower. You will soon be able to endure any test.

Know what you know and focus on what you don’t know.

After you completed a practice exam paper the work isn’t finished yet! You need to evaluate yourself. If you marked your paper with a red pen, go to the area you see the most red, and go study that which you couldn’t answer correctly. Go back to your notes or text book and identify exactly what you didn’t know or understand – and then study that material over and over again until you understand it like the back of your hand.

Practise Exam Techniques.

There are certain exam techniques that will contribute to your exam success. Perform these techniques while you work out practice exam papers.
1.      Always start with writing your name on your paper.

2.     Quickly look though all the questions and make sure you have the correct amount of papers and questions to complete the exam.

3.     Always turn your papers around and make sure there’s nothing written on the back of the last page where you could miss a question.

4.     Calculate how much time you can spend on each question.  For example:  If you have 2 hours to complete a test that has a total of 80 marks, you can quickly calculate that you have 1,5 minutes for each mark (120 minutes / 80 marks = 1,5 minutes per mark).  Therefore you know if the first question has a subtotal of 10 marks, you have 15 minutes to complete question one (10 marks x 1,5 minutes = 15 minutes).  It’s very important that you don’t spend more time on a question than what you calculated.  Remember, each minute you spend more on one question, you take away time you need to spend on the next question.  When you finished the whole question paper and there is still time remaining you can always go back to the first question.

5.     Scan through the questions so that you know which topic to expect for each question.

6.     Start with the questions that contain the topic you know best.

7.     Remain relaxed through all the questions and after each question take a deep breath before you begin the next one – remember your brain needs oxygen to perform at its best.

Now that you understand the very importance of practice exam papers, you might wonder where you could find it. ASP School Projects specialises in practise exam papers.  Our Exam Papers and Answers assist learners in mastering the technique of writing tests and exams.  Our exemplar papers are presented in the same manner, format and difficulty level set by the NCS and is based on CAPS.  The questions stimulate left and right brain activity.  The following type of questions are included in our papers:  Definition of Terms; True or False (Supply the Correct Answer if False); Match Column B to Column A; Diagrams and Sketches; Fill in the Missing Words; Multiple Choice; Short Questions; Long Questions; Crosswords.  All subjects per grade are included and subjects are divided into terms. Visit our website to find out more

We would love to know if you have used our practice exam papers and for which grade.  Are there any other techniques that you use when writing an exam?  Let us know in the comment section below.

Monday, 14 May 2018

Find a learning style that best suits you.

Some pupils study better with flash cards, others make summaries or work through practice exam papers. 3 Reasons how you can adapt your learning style. 

We all learn differently and at our own pace, but many of us might not even know the best way to learn for our own individual needs.  According to educational theorist Neil Fleming there are four primary styles of learning which include: Visual learning, Auditory learning, Read/write learning and Kinesthetic learning.  It is important to understand your behaviour and preferred learning style in order to maximise the outcome of each learning session. 

Below is a description of each learning style and what you can include in your study program to help with that specific learning style.  Look out for indicators of how you will prefer to study.

Visual learning.

Visual learners prefer pictures, graphs and illustrations to point out the most important part of a topic.  Seeing a well organised visual picture helps visual learners understand relationships between concepts and they process information a lot quicker in this learning style.  A visual learner is stimulated by lots of colour and exaggeration of important points, such as making a font bold or underlining it.  Incorporate graphs, charts, diagrams, maps, underlining, different colours, highlighters, textbooks with diagrams and pictures in it and flashcards.

Auditory learning.

Listening and speaking is the best way for auditory learners to grasp new information.  Auditory learners learn well in group discussions, when a teacher explains work and through loud repetition of words and summaries.  An auditory learner learns best through listening, discussing, talking, questioning and recalling out loud.  If you are an auditory learner use your cell phone’s voice recording app and record yourself while reading your study work out loud, then replay your work to yourself again.

Read/Write learning.

Learning through reading and writing is a common form of learning, but for students who can easily translate abstract concepts into words, this method of learning will be their great advantage.  Reading/Writing learners enjoy taking notes and working through those notes again and again in their own time.  A student who learns best through reading and writing must include lists, headings, dictionary definitions and textbooks.  Write out your summaries again and read through it many times silently in your own time.

Kinesthetic learning.

The tangible and physical presentation of information will help kinaesthetic learners learn best.  These learners often learn best by figuring things out by themselves and being able to physically work with concepts, models or structures.  This learning is a form of “learn by doing”, therefore include the following in a kinaesthetic learning plan: practical exercises, examples, trial and error, laboratories and ways you can include all your senses (sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing).

Here are our 3 tips how you can adapt your learning style:

1.      Know what kind of learner you are.

On Fleming’s website there is a questionnaire you can complete in order to find out what is your preferred learning style.  If you don’t already know, do the questionnaire and start adjusting your learning plan to accommodate your learning style.

2.     Try many different forms of learning.

Chances are you don’t just fit inside one box and that is great news because that means you can use a lot of different ways of learning.  For example, if you are a visual learner and an auditory learner, combine it with different subjects.  Make flow charts and diagrams for Life Sciences and then record yourself explaining Mathematics to yourself.  You don’t have to stick to just one form of learning.

3.     Don’t give up.

If you tried a different learning style and it didn’t work out immediately, don’t give up just yet.  There are many ways of learning and there isn’t just one specific way that is right.  Maybe you learn at your very best through Kinesthetic learning, but you don’t know how to incorporate it yet, don’t give up – give it another try.  All that matters is that you eventually understand all your learning material, no matter how you got there.  Keep trying.

We want to encourage you in your preparation for the exams to keep learning and to never give up.  Your future is in your hands and you have the choice to make it a bright one.  Brian Herbert said, “The capacity to learn is a gift, the ability to learn is a skill and the willingness to learn is a choice.”

Let us know what kind of learning you are using and how you adjust your schedule to accommodate your learning style.

Monday, 7 May 2018

How to overcome procrastination.

We all have days when we just don’t feel like studying, but if you fall into a cycle of putting it off, there isn’t much hope of recovering.

Let’s face it, studying and preparing for exams isn’t the most enjoyable activity.  The work can sometimes become very difficult, we may struggle with certain topics or maybe we just don’t feel like studying.  It happens to the best of us.  However, putting that “I don’t feel like studying” feelings constantly above our goals, can jeopardise our futures. 

Procrastination is a choice.  You have to choose every day to put in the effort, regardless if you feel like it or not.  “A man who procrastinates in his choosing will inevitably have his choice made for him by circumstance.” – Hunter S. Thompson

The problem is you think you have time.

We usually overestimate the time we have left to study and underestimate the amount of time a task will take to complete.  For that very reason it is important to start studying right away.  Don’t put studying, or any other task off simply because you think you still have plenty of time left.  There might be an unexpected assignment that comes up, or a family crises, or you might even get a cold, and then you would wish you had started earlier.

Do anything.

Sometimes we can get very caught up in planning and approaching a study session, instead of just starting.  You don’t have to feel ready to begin, just begin.  Arthur Ash said, “Start where you are.  Use what you have. Do what you can.” 

If you battle with procrastination because it seems as if there is a mountain of work before you, do anything – no matter how small.  You don’t have to be able to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.  Tell yourself that you are just going to read through four pages of your studying work and chances are you’ll end up doing more because you are already busy.  If by chance you don’t feel like doing more than those four pages, at least you did four more pages than you had done before.

Remind yourself why it is important to you.

It’s easy to lose track of our goals when we don’t feel motivated to study.  It’s even easier to give up on our dreams when we don’t make the effort to remember them.  That’s why you need to go through your goals again and if you have never written down your goals yet, now is the perfect time.  Write down your goals anew.  Paste this paper with your goals where your study desk is and read through it a couple of times. 

Imagine how good it is going to feel when you achieve those goals.  Remind yourself that all the hard work you put in will pay off and you will achieve your dreams.

Don’t wait for inspiration to come.

There’s a beautiful quote by Paulo Coelho that says, “If you only walk on sunny days you’ll never reach your destination.”  This means if we only put in effort on the days that it is easy and when it goes well, then we won’t ever achieve our goals because not all days are going to be perfect and easy.  You don’t have to feel inspired to study every day.  The greatest minds in the world have gone through tough days to reach their dreams.  Don’t become discouraged just because some days are harder than others.

Procrastination might feel good for a couple of hours, but nothing will ever feel as good as achieving your goals.  You have the discipline, self-control and strength to steer your ship in the right direction.  Don’t put off what can be done today.

Let us know how you combat your procrastination and how you stay motivated on days that you don’t feel like studying.