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Monday, 29 October 2018

7 Pieces of advice to prepare your mind for writing exams.

Get yourself in the right mind-set to achieve outstanding results this exam.




Often when we start studying for exams, many emotions rush through us. We tend to feel anxious and stressed, or even start to procrastinate to avoid feeling anxious and stressed. How can we face to exams head on? The key lies in preparing our minds for success. Taking you exam is 50% knowledge and 50% mindset. If you walk into the exam hall with the thought that you are already going to fail, then you probably aren’t going to give your best and that leads to failing. However, if your mind is set for success and you truly believe that you can get the marks you want, then you will give your best effort and that leads to great marks. Dr Roopleen once said, “Quitting is never an option on the road to success. Find the way forward. If you have a positive mindset and are willing to persevere, there is little that is beyond your reach. The attitude of being ready to work, even in the face of challenges and despite odds, is what will make all the difference in your life.”

In this article we want to give you 7 pieces of advice to prepare your mind for writing exams.1. Learn to breathe correctly.2. Don’t think that stress is all bad.3. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend.4. Don’t compare yourself to your friends.5. Make use of practice exam papers.6. Don’t bother with negative classmates.7. Visualise what you want.


1. Learn to breathe correctly.

“Just take a deep breath and count to 10.” We’ve all heard advice like this. However, scientists have proven that controlling your breathing patterns, like taking a long 5 second in-breath and 5 second out-breath, you can significantly lower stress and signs of anxiety. Patricia Gerbarg, an assistant clinical professor in psychiatry and researcher on the importance of breathing said the following, “By changing patterns of breathing, we can change our emotional states and how we think and how we interact with the world. That’s a very powerful tool for psychological practices.”

So, when you feel overwhelmed while studying, get up from your desk and sit on a comfortable place. Then breathe for 5 minutes deeply and calmly. Feel your lungs expanding, feel your heart calming down and feel the oxygen going to your brain.


2. Don’t think that stress is all bad.

We are often so worried about stress, that we start to stress about the amount of stress we have. However, stress isn’t all bad. As humans we are programmed for survival. In order to survive we have a stress-response that is triggered when we are afraid or worried about something. Stress exists because it raises humans’ awareness and urgency to act.

Stress has its side-effects, but when you see stress as a way that your body is preparing itself for a challenge then you’ll perform a lot better. Stress increases your heartrate, which means you have more blood flowing to your brain. Stress helps you focus at the challenge ahead. Stress also makes you alert. These qualities can be used to your advantage when you view stress as your helping hand to perform better in exams. Read our blogs, ‘How to deal with exam stress’ and ‘7 Techniques to help young children deal with stress’ to better understand stress and how to deal with it.


3. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend.


What do you do when you see your best friend stressed or worried? You don’t belittle them or tell them that they are going to fail because they didn’t work hard enough. You encourage your friend and make them feel worthy of achievement and success. You should do that with yourself whenever you start to feel angry or frustrated with yourself in exam time. Encourage yourself. Tell yourself you did a good job. Be your own cheerleader in times when it’s tough.


4. Don’t compare yourself to your friends.

When you compare your own achievements to those of your friends, you might start to feel like they are so much better than you. Don’t fall into the trap where you think you aren’t good enough. This only place additional pressure and unneeded stress on you. Instead look at your friends’ achievements as inspiration, wish them well and go on to focus on your own goals.


5. Make use of practice exam papers.

Using practice exam papers is one of the best methods to prepare your mindset for exams. This is because your mind will be familiar with exam conditions and how to answer questions, which reduces anxiety.

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: www.asp-schoolprojects.co.za

To learn more about the importance of practice exam papers, read our blog, ‘The best way to know that you are prepared for your exam is through self-assessment.



6. Don’t bother with negative classmates.

Negativity is contagious. The more time you spend around negative people, the more their negativity will influence you and you will then also become negative. We suggest you avoid negativity around exam time, especially before a test. For example, when a classmate comes up to you the morning of your exam, they might say something like, “I didn’t really study for this test” or “I know I’m failing this exam”. Don’t engage in this kind of negative conversations. If you do, you will go into the exam venue with a negative attitude. Rather talk about something positive, like the upcoming holidays, your dog or even that you look forward to an ice-cream that afternoon. If it’s too hard to flip the topic around to something positive, simply excuse yourself and walk away or go to the bathroom. You can even find a quiet place breathe in deeply to release the tension. Don’t let negativity bring you down right before the test. Stay confident. For more tips on how you can stay confident before your test, read our blog, ‘5 Tips to build your confidence in and out of the classroom.




7. Visualise what you want.

Even though achieving your goals take a lot of hard work, visualising how you achieve your goals can bring you closer to the desired end result. Kimberly Hershenson, a therapist based in New York, said in an interview with Bustle, “Visualisation helps our brains send signals to our bodies to start behaving in a way consistent with the images in our heads. It helps give us a clear picture of what we’d like to achieve and a vision that it is, in fact, possible.” Therefore, when you visualise how well you are doing in exams, your brain will try to perform according to that image.




We wish every learner the best of luck with their preparation for exams. Don’t give up when things get hard. Don’t quit on your academic dreams and don’t limit yourself through doubt. As Bruce Lee once said, “If you always put a limit on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus and you must not stay there. You must go beyond them.”

Monday, 22 October 2018

5 Scientifically proven tips to help you prepare for your exam.


Get behind your text books! If your parents and teachers did not stress this enough, we want to make it clear!




With exams around the corner and teachers trying to finish up the terms work, you might start feeling the pressure to study. However, with homework and extramural activities that are still in your schedule, it might be difficult to find the time or motivation to hit the books. That’s why we want to share with every school learner 5 scientifically proven tips to advance your study sessions.

In this article we discuss the following 5 Scientifically proven tips to help you prepare for your exam:1. Recall instead of read.2. Use the Feynman Technique.3. Learn like Leitner.4. Make your heart pump.5. Practise with tests.


1. Recall instead of read.


According to psychology professor Mark A McDaniel, from Washington University, it is a general mistake that most students make to simply read and re-read through their textbooks and think it is the best study method. He says students should rather actively recall their work by putting down their textbooks after they have read the information and then either write down everything they can remember or saying it out loud. He explains that simply rereading your work is an ineffective study method since students are familiar with their textbooks, therefore they don’t challenge their brains to think and recall what they have read. The problem arises in tests, because then the students don’t have the luxury of their textbooks with them, and then they feel like their minds went “blank”. In one of Daniel’s experiments he let two groups of people memorise the same complex passage. One group only read and reread through the passage while the other group actively recalled the content of the passage. Can you guess which group could recall more information after a week? It was of course the second group that used active recalling as their study method!



2. Use the Feynman Technique.

The Feynman Technique is credited to Nobel Prize-winning physicist, Richard Feynman. Feynman was always able to explain his complex concepts simplistically that it became a method that anyone can apply. Allegedly Albert Einstein once said, “If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.” This is why the Feynman Technique is so important when studying, since your understanding of a topic will improve when you explain it.

This method is applied in five steps:




3. Learn like Leitner.

Sebastian Leitner, renowned German science journalist and author of ‘So Lernt Man Lernen’ (‘How To Learn To Learn’), is credited for the Leitner System. The Leitner System is a study technique to use flashcards efficiently with spaced repetition. Firstly, we want to emphasise the importance of flashcards. Flashcards is a very effective way to recall information actively, that helps the brain memorise topics by creating unique neural pathways. Flashcards should be created by students individually and each student should use words and pictures to help them explain the concept.

Three quick tips for using your flashcards:
  • Use one flashcard for one question only.
  • Say your answers out loud.
  • Study your flashcards from both sides.


Once your flashcards are created, you can start using the Leitner System. In this system you divide the flashcards in 3 groups or boxes. For the purpose of this example we will call it Box 1, Box 2 and Box 3. Box 1 contains all the flashcards that the learner doesn’t know very well and are struggling with. Box 2 contains all the flashcards that the learner knows fairly well, but sometimes make mistakes with. Box 3 contains all the flashcards that the learner knows very well and is very confident in.

The flashcards in Box 1 should be revised every day. The flashcards should be revised every 2-3 days for Box 2. The flashcards in Box 3 should be revised once a week. When the learner answers the question on a flashcard in Box 1 correctly, the card is moved to Box 2. When the question on the flashcard in Box 2 is answered correctly, it is moved to Box 3. However, if the question on the flashcard in Box 2 is answered incorrectly, it is moved back to Box 1. This way the repetition of the facts on the cards are spaced out so that the learner’s brain can retain the information much more effectively.


4. Make your heart pump.

It is commonly known that exercise helps to relieve stress and increase blood circulation when you study. However, did you know that exercising for 20 minutes to an hour a day during your exam study period will improve brain functionality and memory. To learn more about exercise that relates to higher marks, read our blog article ‘4 Advantages of exercise and sport activities on the brain.




5. Practise with tests.

Practice exam papers have been around for many years to ensure that learners practice what they learn by applying their knowledge under exam conditions. To understand why you need to start using practice exam papers and to learn proper exam techniques, read our blog article ‘The best way to know that you are prepared for your exam is through self-assessment.



Why is practice exam papers a vital study technique?

Through the use of practice exam paper, students create a sense of urgency to study, because they have to be able to write down their answers. According to the researcher, Piers Steel, people procrastinate on activities (like studying) because the further away an event (like a test) is, the less impact it has on their decision-making. For example, if you know your first exam is four weeks away, chances are you will only start studying two weeks prior to the test. However, if you know you need to starting working though past papers or practice tests one week before the test, you will most likely start studying earlier. The urgency creates the impact to start studying.

According to a study done by Henry L. Roediger, III, and Jeffrey D. Karpicke, from the Washington University, taking memory tests improves long-term memory retention. They found that learners who worked through a practice tests after study sessions did better in their final exams than students who didn’t work through practice tests. They explain that practice tests help learners reduce anxiety, because they feel familiar with writing tests.


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 hope you have gained valuable information with these 5 Scientifically proven tips to help you prepare for your exam. Let us know which other techniques you use to study for tests and exams. We want to encourage all learners that are currently preparing for exams with the wonderful words of writer, Paulo Coelho, “It’s only those who are persistent and willing to study things deeply, who achieve the master work.”

Monday, 15 October 2018

5 Pieces of advice for parents to get their children to study.


Parents, you should encourage your children when they are preparing for their year-end exams.




As parents we are often so busy with organising our houses and making sure everything is fine at work that we often lack in checking up on our kids when they need to start preparing for the year-end exams. However, to our children, the upcoming exam might feel like a mountain that they need to climb on their own. Some children might try their best just to get through a study session while others might be procrastinating. How will we support our children in this crucial stage in their academic journey? How can we encourage our children to give their best in this exam?

In this article we give parents 5 pieces if advice to get their children to study.1. Be enthusiastic about learning.2. Help your children set a schedule and a routine.3. Teach them responsibility.4. Praise your children’s effort.5. Show compassion and have patience.

  

1. Be enthusiastic about learning.

The first thing we as parents need to remember, is that our children look up to us, even when we don’t realise it. Bob Keeshan said, “Parents are the ultimate role models for children. Every word, movement and action has an effect. No other person or outside force has a greater influence on a child than a parent.” If parents start proclaiming how much they learned that day and get excited about knowledge, then their children will too. If parents are excited about reading good books and encourage reading in the house, then their children will follow. How many times will parents read the news and then complain about the content or complain about all the reports they have to read? Children start to associate reading with complaining and negative emotions. However, if parents choose to read positive and uplifting books and talk about the wonderful things they learn, and discuss how valuable the content is, their children will also talk with a positive attitude about the thing they learn. Be the parent that is always enthusiastic about knowledge.


2. Help your children set a schedule and a routine.

Setting a study schedule helps children gain control over their time. This way your children can decide how many chapters or topics they want to study each day, and to help set small goals to achieve along the way. A schedule also helps to make studying a habit. For example, if your children are very busy with extra-mural activities, make sure you take that into account for their schedules. If your children have one-hour sport or music practice directly after school, they can go to practice, have lunch and be rested by 16:00, then they can start to study in increments of 20-minute study sessions with a 10-minute break in between. This way not only is the activity scheduled, but also the resting time. Read more about setting up a schedule in our blog article ‘Four tips to help you set up a schedule for a successful school year.




3. Teach them responsibility.

When it comes to studying, the responsibility to sit down and concentrate lies completely with the children. However, parents can teach their children that the sole responsibility lies with them. Encourage them to study and stick to the study schedule, and check up on them if they have reached their daily goals set out in their schedule. If your children didn’t study and procrastinated the whole day by watching television or being on their phones, the consequences should be clear. For example, they can spend less time with their friends over the weekend, because they need to catch up on their studies in that time.

You can also teach them about the consequence of regret. The consequence of regret means your children will later regret that they didn’t study. Usually this regret kicks in the evening before a test or exam, or when the results come out and they failed. Explain to your children they will be a lot happier at the end of the exams when they achieve good marks, than if they spend more time watching television.


4. Praise your children’s effort.

We are sometimes so critical of what our children didn’t do (they didn’t clean their rooms, didn’t make their beds, didn’t do their chores, etc.), that we don’t notice all the effort they put into other activities related to their schoolwork. Praise your children’s study efforts. Tell them that you are proud of their work ethic and time management skills. Don’t just focus on their grades or report card, focus on their effort. Praise them especially if you see improvement in their grades, even if there is still room for more improvement.


5. Show compassion and have patience.

When it comes to your children’s study routine, the most important thing you can do is to be patient. If you see your children are trying their best, have patience with their grades and performance. Show compassion towards them and teach them that if they give their best effort, then it is enough.


We hope these 5 pieces of advice will inspire parents to help their children when they study. If you have any additional advice, please share this in the comments below.

To help your children reach their academic goals, visit our website for educational resources:

Monday, 8 October 2018

5 Reasons why your children should start studying for the year-end exam now.


Now is the time to start preparing for the year-end exams. Do not fall behind.





Imagine it’s the night before your children’s year-end exam begin, they are cramming their work, you can see how tired they are, and there is just one thought in your mind, ‘If only they started earlier!’ We have all been there, wishing we could turn back time to help our children prepare in advance. However, this year can be different, because this year you can start right now to encourage your children to study for exams. Preparing for exams in advance the best strategy for exam success. As Alexander Graham Bell said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.”

In this article we discuss 5 reasons why your children should start studying for the year-end exams in advance.1. Preparing in advance requires a schedule.2. Studying in advance helps set goals.3. Preparing in advance builds stamina.4. Take the stress off.5. There is time for self-assessment through exam papers.



1. Preparing in advance requires a schedule.

We all know what a study schedule is and how to use it. However, when your children don’t study in advance, a study schedule has no value, because they will probably just try to cram all the information in one day. A study schedule becomes the grid to which you measure your progress and if that’s not in place your children will have no idea which topics they have or haven’t covered. If you need more information on how to set up a schedule, read our blog ‘Four tips to help you set up a schedule for a successful school year.




2. Studying in advance helps set goals.

Preparing for the exams in advance helps set smaller goals that guide you to achieve bigger goals. Once again, this can be done through a schedule that set the goals for the day and week ahead, for example, if each of your children studies one to two chapters a day, in a month they will be through all their work and ready for the exams. Therefore, smaller goals help achieve bigger goals.


3. Preparing in advance builds stamina.

When your children start their preparation for exams, their concentration capacity might not be to their full capacity. It’s the same as with getting fit for sports – you won’t be able to run a marathon on you first day of exercise. You start with jogging 500m on the first day, then increasing the distance gradually to 2, 3 and 5km’s. Then you increase your speed to run 5km’s a little faster; and so, your endurance grows. It takes a gradual increase of workout intensity to finally be able to run the full marathon. Just like training for a marathon, you don’t start the study process by trying to study a whole term’s work in one day. You study one topic for 20 minutes and then take a 10-minute break. Later, you increase the study time to 30 minutes with a 10-minute break, and so forth. This way, the student gradually learns how to sit still for 1 – 2 hours and concentrate at full capacity.


4. Take the stress off.

Preparing for tests in advance really makes children stress less, simply because they know they got through all their work. How stressful is it when we know there is work we didn’t study, and the angst of not knowing whether it will be in the test paper? Therefor by preparing in advance, your children will have one less thing to stress about.

Stress also has a negative influence on growing children’s ability to perform. To help your children handle stress in a healthy way read our blog, ‘7 Techniques to help young children deal with stress.




5. There is time for self-assessment through exam papers.
It is well-known that exam papers help children prepare for tests and exams, because the learners will know what to kind of questions to expect. Where will your children find the time to work out practice exam papers if they don’t study in advance? Working through practice exam papers will give your children the exam confidence they need to ace their exams, however it does take time to prefect the art of writing exams.

To learn more about the benefits of exam papers read our blog ‘The best way to know that you are prepared for your exam is through self-assessment.’. To purchase your children’s own practice exam papers, visit our website: www.asp-schoolprojects.co.za.




We hope you enjoyed this article and that you will encourage your children to start preparing for their year-end exams as soon as possible. Read our other blog articles for more inspiration:

Monday, 1 October 2018

3 Ways to recharge your brain during this short recess.


Rest is important for hardworking students, but don’t get too comfortable as a couch potato.





As soon as the last bell rings for the end of the third term we can finally feel the weight of schoolwork and responsibilities lifting off our shoulders. When we get home and feel the holiday set in we can easily get into the habit of being a couch potato. Even though holidays are specifically there for us to rest, to spend the whole holiday watching television or playing on our phones won’t ensure that we are rested out and ready for the last school term of the year.

In this week’s blog we want to share with you 3 ways to recharge your mind without becoming lazy. As Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “We will be more successful in all our endeavours if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, take little pauses to relax and re-centre ourselves. We’ll also have a lot more joy in living.”

In this article we discuss the following aspects surrounding rest and relaxation in the school holidays:1. Take care of your body.2. Exercise your brain in a different way.3. Spend time with your loved ones.

  

1. Take care of your body.

In order to take care of your mind, you also need to take care of your body. During this short holiday, take the time to rejuvenate your body. When you take care of your body, your mind will also feel renewed. This doesn’t mean you need to start a strenuous workout routine or to get your body into shape during this short holiday. We recommend the following activities you can do to rejuvenate your body:
  • Try yoga or pilates. This type of exercises help you stretch your muscles and increase blood flow to your brain. Yoga is known to have a very calming effect on your body, mind and spirit, even if it is only performed for 30 minutes.
  • Take a hike. Hiking is one of the best exercises, as walking in open air helps you recover mentally. The increased oxygen is good for all your organs, including your heart, lungs and brain. You will also get Vitamin D through sunlight exposure and feel nature beneath your feet.
  • Feed your body properly. In the holidays we love treating ourselves to junk food. No one can deny that a pizza or chocolate milkshake is really delicious! Your brain gets instant satisfaction from the sugar. However, if you continuously eat unhealthy you will feel much worse in the long run. Instead you can try to make delicious fruit smoothies and other healthy snacks.
  • Pamper yourself. This could be something extravagant like going for a massage, or simply to take a long bubble-bath. You can also listen to relaxing instrumental music before you go to bed at night. Pampering yourself is different for everyone, but whatever makes your body feel relaxed and refreshed, this holiday is the time to do it.




2. Exercise your brain in a different way.

Studying for tests or exams can be quite a mental workout. We suggest you take a break from all your academic books this short holiday. However, to stay mentally fit, try exercising your brain with activities you don’t normally do. For example:
  • Play a musical instrument. Maybe you’ve learned to play an instrument while growing, but haven’t gotten time during the year to practice this instrument. Take the time now to enjoy making music once again. To learn more about the effect music has on the brain, read our blog, ‘4 Benefits of music on the brain.
  • Create art. You don’t necessarily need to have a talent to make art to enjoy the process of creating something. Whether it is simply drawing with pencils or splashing paint all over a canvas, making art has great benefits on your brain and can help you with self-expression. To learn more about the benefits of art on the brain read our blog, ‘4 Positive effects of visual art on the brain.
  • Read an interesting book. The best way to take your mind off of school, without getting lazy, is to read a wonderfully written book. A good book will transport you to a different world and help you rejuvenate your mind.


3. Spend time with your loved ones.

We all have a support structure, like your parents, siblings, friends and other family members. During the academic term, and especially when we write tests, our support system helps us in various ways. Simple encouragement, checking in to see if we’re doing okay, bringing us snacks while studying or even just a hug is the loving acts our support system performs during school. Now that it’s holidays, it’s time we return the favour. Spend time with your loved ones and remind them how much you care for them. We suggest the following activities to enjoy quality time with your loved ones:
  • Make dinner together. Helping your mom or dad make dinner will show them that you appreciate them. It’s a great time to talk about the day or about the things you like or dislike. Use this time to get to know your parents a bid better.
  • Exercise together. When you exercise you usually need a little bit of encouragement. Support your loved ones as they work out and give them the encouragement they need. You will form an even stronger relationship as you spend this active time together.
  • Have a game night. A fun way to spend time with your family and friends is to have a game night where you can play board or card games together. 


We want to encourage all school students to have a relaxing short holiday and to return to school well-rested. Let us know what activities you will do this holiday. We would love to hear from you.

Visit our website www.asp-schoolprojects.co.za for more information about what we do.