Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Procrastination and Distractions

Final exams are just around the corner, if you haven't started reviewing... this would be a good time to start.

List of review tips

Procrastination is a problem that almost everyone at one point or another has experienced.

Procrastination starts with a distraction, followed by the thought "I'll do it tomorrow" and ends with you following suit.

Distractions (that causes procrastination) are all around us....
  • that new movie that just came out and you must watch on opening day
  • the remote control on the couch
  • your computer "accidentally" open to Facebook/Twitter/Youtube page and now you're chatting/watching/updating
  • you hate doing the laundry but for some reason, just before the test, you don't hate it anymore
  • your friend told you to watch this new TV series. For weeks you ignored the recommendation but all of a sudden you're very interested
  • thinking you need to go for some fresh air, but 3 hours later you come back with a handful of shopping bags
  • it has been 3 hours since your phone rang, and you are still chatting
  • you spent an hour re-arranging your bedroom but not much has changed
Has any of the above ever happen to you? Well don't worry, you're not alone.

Today's Tip of the Day:
Strategies to Reduce Procrastination:
  1. Identify the roadblocks, your distractions (above list). Why do you think you're procrastinating? Awareness is the first step towards change.

  2. Pay attention to self-talk. Don't fall into the "Mañana Trap." (Mañana means "tomorrow" in Spanish.) Whenever you are tempted to do it later, ask yourself why later is better than now. (Actually, yesterday was probably the best time to do it, right?)

  3. Have trouble starting? Try the 5 minute plan. Spend five minutes actively working on the task. Your resistance will go down, and you'll likely want to keep working.

    • if you find yourself distracted try "PATs" model (from my previous blog entry) reminder:
      • Pick the best environment for you to study
      • Always reduce visual distractions
      • Try to eliminate noise around you
      • Self talk to control distracting thoughts

  4. Reward yourself. Give yourself something to look forward to when the task is completed.

    • if you finished a chapter of reading, or finished a practice exam, then treat yourself to something!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Multiple Choice Tests

Most tests we take will have a multiple choice portion and today's tip will give you strategies to figure out the A, B, C and D (so on).

MQ's are usually constructed of two parts:

A) a stem that identifies the problem or the question and

B) a set of alternatives. Alternatives contain the key (correct or the "best" answer) and the distractors (possible but incorrect answers).

Our Job is to pick out the correct answer out of the list given, but MCQ (Multiple Choice Questions)c an be challenging because they tend to test for detail. No part marks given, thus you cannot justify your answer. You either know it, you don't, or you guessed well.

Good news is, there is tricks to MCQs and today's tip will help you with MCQ tests.

Today's Tip:

Strategies for Writing Multiple Choice Exams
  • Watch your time. Don't spend too much time on one question
  • Underline qualifying words like "always," "never," etc. You'll pay closer attention to them.
  • Watch for typos as clues to the best answer. If one of the alternatives has a typo, it is probably not the key.
  • Eliminate wrong answers and see what is left over.
  • Beware of true statements that don't address the stem. Make sure the true statement refers to the stem.
  • If two items have similar wording, one of the parallel statements is probably correct. Often the choice comes down to two very similar answers. Pick the most complete response.
  • In a question with an "all of the above" choice, if you see at least two true statements, then "all of the above" is the right answer. This is self-explanatory.
  • Be systematic with confusing MCQ's with many alternatives, such as "all of the above," "A, B and D," etc. Evaluate each alternative carefully.
  • Review your answers. Always leave time to check your work.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Study Tips to Prepare You for Finals!

As we approach the end of the semester we also approach the season of final exams. Finals can be daunting especially when there are many of exams back to back, so to help you study, here's a collection of all the study skills tips aimed at helping you study and to get you focused.

The key is to study smart, not hard. Take a minute to read some of these tips...it might help you save a lot of time when you study! Study a little bit at a time and try your best to avoid procrastination.

Multiple Choice Exams

Improving Your Memory

Note Taking and Listening

Textbook Reading

General Reading Tips

Managing your time

Procrastination and Distraction

"PATs" studying model

Reward Yourself

Monday, November 15, 2010

Just Right: Developing you own Checks and Balances

Today's Tip: Finding the right balance.

Do you remember when Goldilocks broke into the three bear's house and sampled everything from beds to porridge? Everything as either too this or too that or just right?

If you look around at the people you work with, you will start to notice the same trend. There are three types of people- coasters, workaholics and the just-rights.

Usually the workaholics are your boss and managers, usually the coasters are those people that have been there forever and haven't really seen any upward mobilities, surfing through the weeks looking for Fridays.

Then there are the just-rights. They find that work/life stability that gets them ahead not only in their careers but also in in their personal lives. They're not too much of a workaholic and they're not too much of a coaster---they are just-right.

How do you find your own system of checks and balances between the three?

Here's a few tips:

#1 Work for it: Find your inner workaholic. Sometime syou just have to get down to work. Projects come against dealines, customer demand satisfaction and dises need cleaning. You wnat to get ahead and management expects you to get the job done....so eat lunch at your desk and stay late a few nights this week.

Show them you are willing to work hard and put in some extra effort to get the job done and that our job MATTERS to you.

Enjoy the thrill of being crunched for time and tired out of your mind. BUT don't over do it or you'll burn yourself out. If you feel on the brink of burning out remember too.......

#2 Relax a little: Go coaster. After all the stress, whether one or six weeks, you need to find some time for yourself. You worked late getting that project done one time last week, you satisfied your customers and the dishes are done! Now it's time to take a minute and browse the internet while no one's looking or put on some music. If yo finish early, ask if you can leave early. Rest on Friday nights, party on Saturday night..catch up on TV shows or start a new series (I recommend Big Bang Theory or Community--good laugh).

#3 ride the wave: Get it just-right. Surfing involes some serious work but it also invovles some serious floating.

Workaholics work and work and as a reslult their careers might move up and up...but on the flipside their personal lives takes a dive. Coasters focus on hteir lives outside of while, and while their social lives might be intact their careers can become stagnant and simply a means to an end.

Work hard when you need to...but don't forget to take some time for yourself. Ride the wave and find the perfect balance.

Article from the magazine Jobpostings page 32 (Available at AC 213)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Interview Smarts

Have you ever been asked the question: "Give an example of a time when you had to work with someone who was difficult to deal with; Why were they difficult and how did you handle it?"

Flipping through the magazine Jobpostings, I found an article on Interview Smarts (page 8 of Nov/Dec issue), where David Meister (Campus Recruitment @ Suncor Energy) gave some pointers on how to answer the above question.

Usually when this question is asked, it always changed the mood and candidates struggle to find examples. The reasion interviewers ask this question is not to identify how easgoing you are, but to understand how you manage through challenging situations.

Tips to preparing for this question:
1) To prepare for the question, think of a time when you had to deal with a problematic individual.
2)Practice descibing the situation; why you considered this person "difficult"
, and what the goal was in your interaction.
3)Then descibe teh action you took to resolve the issue or to reach and finally prepare to discuss teh result of your action.

The article continues to give an example of how this interview question could be answered. You can find this article and many others in the JobPosting Magazine. Get your copy at the Academic Adving and Career Centre at AC213!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Note Taking and Listening tips

Have you ever sat in class with everyone around you constantly scribbling/typing notes, and you're wondering what everyone is writing down? Well today's tip is to help you take good notes and write down what is important.

Today's Tips:

#1) Active Listening is KEY to Taking Good Notes!
  • Puts you in a better position to understand and recall material.
  • Greater recall when studying for midterms and exams.
  • Makes class more interesting because you are involved.
  • Listen for cues as evidence of what the instructor thinks is important.

    • "The three main issues are..." • "The key issue here is..." • "I'll begin by..." • "To sum up..." • "This is really important!"
#2) Try the Cornell Notetaking System - PQ5R

Step 1 - PREPARE

  • Read and review any assigned readings.
  • Review notes from the last lecture.
  • Preview the lecture powerpoint slides if you get them in advance.


  • Get unanswered questions from the readings answered in class.
  • Write down questions you predict may appear on future tests.

Step 3 - REDUCE

Set up your lecture notes like this:
  • The key column is where you write key questions about the notes
  • The notes column is where you write full notes during class.
  • Within 24 hours of lecture, generate key questions or phrases about the notes. Write these in the key column.

Step 4 - RECITE

  • Cover over the notes column and answer the questions in the key column.
  • Recite the material in your own words.
  • Did you cover all the points correctly? If so, move on the to the next question.

Step 5 - REFLECT

  • Ask yourself - how does this material relate to previous lectures?
  • Look for connections. Connections could point to future test questions.
  • Write short summaries of each page of your lecture notes in your own words.
  • Complete all steps within 24 hours of class to maximize memory.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Managing your time

With a full course load, part/full time jobs, extra curricular activities and a need for some free time it is a challenge to manage everything into the short span of 7 days a week.

Everyone wants to reduce procrastination, have more control over their schedule, limiting stress, complete more tasks, and at the same time enjoy some free time. This all sounds good but how to manage it is not as simple.

Tip of the Day is Time Management Strategies

#1) Let's start off with:
Plan your week ahead of time with a daytimer/scheduler. Slot in:
  • Committed activities - classes, labs, tutorials, part-time job, meetings
  • Well-being activities - exercise, lunches, breaks, social activities
  • Academic work - 2-3 hours of study for every hour you spend in lecture
#2) Use a semester planner to keep track of the year. Using your course outlines write down:
  • Assignments
  • Tests
  • Exams
#3) Make a to-do lists. Writing down tasks that you want to complete achieves three important goals:
  • You track what has to be done
  • It helps you to come up with a more accurate estimate of how long a project will take to complete
  • You are making a firm commitment to get the work done
#4) Following through on your goals:
  • Stay motivated!
    1. Reward yourself!(see entry on Reward yourself)
    2. something small after finishing a chapter: (such as a half-hour of guilt-free TV-watching after reading your assigned chapters)
    3. a larger reward after a midterm/submitting an essay (an evening out with friends after handing in a big paper).
  • Avoid procrastinating
    1. Avoiding distractions and procrastination (See blog entry on procrastination and distraction)

  • Evaluate your progress
    1. This will give you the information you need to modify your time management strategies