Exam Preparation: What Are the Best Test Prep Tips?

exam preparation_best test prep tips

In recent years, the American school system has become more focused than ever on test scores in order to monitor students’ progress. While tests can never truly measure a person’s capabilities or worth, they’re definitely not going away anytime soon. In fact, after graduation, many employers will often administer tests to prospective employees to measure their strengths and weaknesses. Check out these effective test prep tips on how to be the best student and test taker you can be. It’s easier than you think!

Test Prep Tip 1: Plan, Don’t Cram

test prep tips_study guideIf you’re taking a test that covers material from a whole unit, or even a whole semester, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Trying to tackle everything the night before the test will make you more likely to get confused and forget smaller details that can be crucial. Instead, create a study guide template to fill over the course of the unit or semester, or make flashcards with important vocabulary words. Writing down or typing what you need to know is a great tool to help you remember key ideas, and when you do it over a longer period of time, you have more opportunities to ask questions if you don’t understand something.

Test Prep Tip 2: Get Together with Friends

test prep tips_study groupPlanning a study group with your classmates is a great way to go over material in a relaxed and low-pressure setting. Friends can help to quiz you on important points and help you fill in the blanks for any concepts you may not have been too clear on. However, when forming a study group, make sure your friends are ready to get down to business and not just socialize!

Test Prep Tip 3: Rest, Relax, Rehydrate

test prep tips_rest, relax, rehydrateBy the time the night before a test rolls around, you should only need to briefly look over your notes for five or ten minutes. Anything more is likely to stress you out instead of helping you. Instead, make sure you relax and get plenty of sleep the night before. Remind yourself that you’ve studied hard and done all you can to prepare. Don’t forget to drink plenty of water too, so you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the world!

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StudyMate: Smart And Secure Strategies To Survive The SAT Showdown (Part 2)

SAT Survival Strategies

“If ignorant both of your enemy and yourself, you are certain to be in peril.” -Sun Tzu, The Art of War


It’s 6:30AM. You’ve had a good night’s sleep, ate a good breakfast, and you’re about to make your way to the test location for the big showdown. This is what you’ve been preparing for all these months. Now it’s time to put that training to the test.

But wait!

This is the real thing! This is where it counts! Even with all that preparation, you’ll need to walk in with a winning strategy if you truly want to do your best. Listen up, solider! Here are some things you can do to stay confident in the fog of war and emerge victorious!


Roll Call!

Before you leave, double check to make sure you’ve got all your important stuff. Make sure you’ve got your calculator, your pencils, erasers, snacks, and ESPECIALLY your watch. You can’t afford to leave a single thing behind. While you’re at it, make sure you’re carrying your I.D. and any test registration materials!


Set Up Your Station

As soon as you find your desk, lay out everything you need. Take out an eraser and an extra pencil, and keep everything else tucked away under your seat. You don’t know how tiny your work space is going to be, so make the most of it and minimize any distractions.


You vs. Time

When your test administrator has gone over all the rules and you’re allowed to begin, take a look at the top of the section you’re about to start. There is usually a suggested time limit printed at the top, and you should set a pace to work within these confines.

Remember that watch we told you about earlier? This is where it comes in handy (sorry).

Having the time right next to you all the time will help you stay focused on your test. If you have to crane your neck to look at the clock alllllllllll the way across the room (and see all the other anxious students working on their tests), it’s going to mess up your flow. You’ll never wonder how much time you have left because you can check it periodically and adjust your pace as you go!


Sacrifices Must Be Made

While taking your SAT practice tests, you tried to simulate the real test conditions as closely as you could, but you couldn’t help taking time to answer each question to the best of your knowledge. And that’s great!

But this is war.

And in war, you’ve got to count the cost of your actions.

If you come across a question that you cannot answer in a reasonable amount of time, or has you stuck between two or three answers, don’t hesitate to skip it. It may feel like you’re losing out on valuable points, but an unanswered question hurts less than a wrong one, and more correct answers are going to earn you a better score!

I understand you didn’t want to leave that question behind, son. I know you could have saved it.

But it ain’t worth it, soldier. Move on.



There will be a designated time to use the bathroom and take a short break. This is when you have your snacks! Yes, you’ll probably be hungry anyway, but OUR reason for bringing snacks is for morale. If you bring a snack you love, it’ll make you happier and put you back in a positive mood after a couple hours of testing. Then, go back in there in finish it off!


Live To Fight Another Day (Unless You’re Happy With The Result)

When you’ve handed in your test and have run far, far away from it, remember that you did your best, and that’s what counts. Also remember that you can take the SAT as many times as you want to improve your score. Many people take it two or three times! Get your results when they’re released and take the time to figure out where you excelled and where you could use improvement. Add these things to your strategy for next time, and increase your chances of scoring higher!



And that’s it! Keep yourself motivated, remember your training, stick to your test taking strategy, and we guarantee you’ll be successful! It’s all about keeping your cool, managing your time wisely and keeping yourself motivated. Once you understand that, half the battle is already won! For more helpful SAT tips and homework help, visit StudyGate.com! Dismissed!

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StudyMate: A Smart Way To Take A Test

So, you’re going to take a test today. A geometry test. Or a calculus test. Or a physics test. Doesn’t matter. You walk into the room, your teacher hands you the exam, and you find a seat. Then, you look at the test, glance at the clock, and start working. How do you feel? Stressed? Relaxed? Powerful? Did you give up before it even started? Forget everything you know about test taking and try this method!


Skim It!

Spend a minute or two reading the test. Just look at it! Get a feel for the questions and the length. Touch it, smell it, tear the pages a little (don’t), and get comfortable with it. Find out what you know for sure and what you’ll need to spend time thinking about. Recall any equations you’ll need and how you would set up any problems. Relax and take all the mystery out of it!


Easy Questions First

Now that you know what your test looks like, it’s time to knock out the easy questions! Go through the test from beginning to end and take care of any questions you can answer correctly in one or two minutes. You’ll likely finish a big part of the test quickly and gain some confidence in the process.


Set Up Anything You’re Unsure About

Tricky questions take time. Use it wisely. Go back to the beginning and start doing some of the harder questions. If you’re taking a multiple-choice test, take the time to quickly jot down short definitions or explanations. If you’re solving equations, write out the first couple of steps you’d take to solve them. Then leave it alone and move to the next tricky problem. When you’ve gone through it and set up all the questions you can, go back and begin solving them. This will do two things for you. One, you’ll approach each question with brand new eyes. You’ll be able to find the answers because you’ve already started each question and are now focused on the small details. Two, you’ll save time and reassure yourself that you know what you’re doing. Remember, you’ve studied hard for this test, don’t let your confidence fail you!


Dive Deep, But Come Up For Air

Tackle those questions that give you the most difficulty. Give each of them your undivided attention. Take the time to think and make sure you’re on the right track. Once in a while, though, look up from your test and look at something else. Focus on something else for about 20 to 30 seconds. Glance at the clock, stretch, and do what you need to do to make yourself comfortable. Then, get right back to it.


One Last Look

When you’ve finished, take a minute or two to review your test and make sure you’ve answered everything to the best of your ability. Then:

Get up,

Turn that thing in…

and forget about it.

That’s right. Put it out of your mind. You’ve studied, you’ve prepared, you’ve done your best, and now the test is over. Now go and live your life. Get some ice cream.



Take the test, don’t let the test take you! Sometimes taking a test feels like going into battle. You’ll need a good strategy if you want to win. Try our techniques, and we guarantee that you’ll emerge victorious!

For more top-notch test taking advice, homework help, and tutoring, drop by StudyGate.com!


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StudyMate: How To Use Procrastination To Your Advantage

Procrastination is like mental quicksand. If you panic and start struggling, it will just pull you in faster. But if you try to relax, you can survive! Lots of people will give you advice on how to fight procrastination, but StudyGate can teach you how to recognize your habits of procrastination and use them to your advantage!


Realize What You’re Doing

Let’s say have a 7 page paper due on Wednesday before 4 o’clock. Today is Tuesday. This is what you’re thinking:

“I really should start my paper but I’m hungry and my Netflix queue is overflowing and my room is pretty dirty and I can’t concentrate and I haven’t gone running in a while and my laundry is piling up but I think I’m getting sick so I probably shouldn’t go to class tomorrow which means I can’t turn it in on time…”


You know what you’re doing, right? You have a lot of work to do, and you’re making excuses for why you can’t do it. It’s okay! Recognize your own behavior and understand what you normally do and how you feel when you’re about to procrastinate. Once you do, you can catch yourself and move on to the next step:


Baby Steps

Unless you’re a genius, you’re not going to write 7 quality pages in one day. You can, however:

  • Make a good outline.
  • Write a quick summary of what you want to say.
  • Figure out what your main points are going to be.
  • Write a short rough draft.

Break down your task into smaller, more manageable parts that you can complete in an hour or less. By doing so, you put less stress on yourself, and you allow yourself to do great work and show how smart you are!


Hold Yourself Accountable

Netflix is tempting. Everything you’ve ever watched or will ever want to watch, all in one place. Don’t fall for it. When you set a goal, ask a friend to check in on you and make sure you actually got it done! Having a group of people (who may also be procrastinating themselves) to support you is a great way to make your work more enjoyable. Don’t underestimate this! It’s always better together!


Reward Yourself!

When you reach a new milestone, celebrate! You’re doing great! Enjoy your favorite snack, take a short break with friends, go for a run or walk, or—yes, go ahead and watch an episode of your favorite show.


Procrastination makes us feel bad because we’re not doing what we should be doing. By replacing that with positive feelings, you’ll be more motivated to keep going and finish strong!


For more helpful tips and homework help, don’t wait! Visit us at StudyGate.com!

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StudyMate: 5 Helpful Tips For Taking Notes

Note taking can be confusing. It can be difficult to tell what’s important, what isn’t, if you wrote too much or too little. That’s why StudyGate has put together a list of 5 helpful tips that will make your notes work smarter, not harder.

Listen, Listen, Listen

Obvious, right? This one is important. You cannot take notes if you don’t know what the teacher is saying. Good listening skills are the foundation for taking good notes. When your chemistry teacher is giving you a clear definition for a word or concept, write it down. When he’s going on and on and ON about that science museum he visited last weekend, maybe you should skip it. Decide for yourself what your notes should include. Active listening keeps you alert and in a great position to learn new things.

Less Is More

Good notes should not be a word-for-word transcript of what happened in class. Think of them as a way for you to teach yourself new things. Why waste time trying to write down an entire lecture? Instead, try writing down key words, using headings and bullet points, writing things in your own words, and making your own codes, shorthand, and quick ways of writing things down. This way, you take notes that you know you can understand.

Eat, Sleep, and Breathe It, Rehearse and Reread It

This is probably one of the easiest ways to study. Reread your notes when you get the chance. The best time to do this is directly after class. Take a separate sheet of paper and copy your notes—only this time, fill in any information you remember from the lecture. This will help the information stick in your mind, while also testing your knowledge and giving you a better understanding of the material. Do this, and you’ll never have to cram before a test again. EVER.

Keep Them Organized

Admit it. As soon as class is over, you get up, stuff your notes in your notebook, stuff your notebook in your bag, and that’s that. We’ve all done it! Instead, keep your notes in a binder, and organize them in order of when you wrote them. Now you’ll have a record of all your notes in order—like a book! When it’s test time, flip to the right page and just read what you wrote. Simple as that.

Have Fun With It

Some lectures are a little dry. It’s not always easy to stay focused, and sometimes your mind just wanders off. Keep yourself interested! Use the margins of your paper to draw or write down things that come to mind. Scribble lyrics to a song you like, make little reminders for yourself, or even write down your future goals. You know you’re going to think about other things. The goal is to let those thoughts come, recognize them, and then let them go so you can stay focused.


There you have it! Happy Note Taking! Visit StudyGate.com for any homework help or more great study tips.

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Effective Study Tips: Teddy Roosevelt’s Guide to Academic Productivity

study tips_academic productivity

“I never won anything without hard labor and the exercise of my best judgment and careful planning and working long in advance. I had to train myself painfully and laboriously not merely as regards my body but as regards my soul and spirit.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1913.

Often it is not how much you study but how you study that matters. The best way to study is not the most time consuming but the most effective. Strategic learning, or deep work, can boost productivity so that much more can be accomplished in a shorter time frame. Theodore Roosevelt was, of course, America’s 26th President. Yet he was also an author of forty books, a sportsman, naturalist, soldier, and even a New York City police commissioner. Learning how to be productive was the key to his success. As Edmond Morris wrote in Time, “T.R.’s mental processor moved so fast as to fuse thought and action.” Despite all of his achievements, he was still able to have ample free time while simultaneously developing and producing as an intellectual and leader. A great amount of work can be actualized with the right kind of focused determination. A brief overview of Teddy Roosevelt’s study tips and techniques may help you on your own academic journey.

Study on a fixed-time schedule.

Roosevelt was a man of action, with a wide range of personal interests and activities. In college, he spent a great amount of time sporting and socializing. He also read voraciously on other topics of personal interest. As he became a political leader, he delivered speeches, attended meetings, and met many other obligations. Yet his personal diaries and letters show that he would block out time during each day for certain intellectual tasks.

Work only on high-priority tasks.

Identify what tasks are more important than others. Clarify what needs to be done first and focus your energy on those. Do not obsess about next week’s term paper when the algebra test is tomorrow morning. Recognize that some priorities must be realized first. Others can wait.

Focus on one task at hand. 

Because you are working within the parameters of a fragmented time schedule, it is imperative that you focus all of your effort and energy on your work. Do not take a break or check your Facebook status. Do not fidget with your phone or stop to take a snack break. Do not multi-task. Give it all of your mental energy now, and remain in the moment through the duration of this time period.

Set a specific goal, or solve a problem.study tips_set a goalDetermine a goal, whether this is solving a problem, writing a certain number of words, or reading a number of chapters. Do not go into a study session without having something clear to accomplish. Setting a specific short-term goal will motivate you and allow for a sense of accomplishment.

Create a deadline for “Roosevelt Dashes”

Cal Newport notes that “Roosevelt dashes” were short periods in which artificial deadlines helped Roosevelt to systematically increase achievement. Newport calls such dashes “interval training for the attention centers of your brain.” The idea is to exert your mental faculties to the max in short intervals. Set a timer where you can see it and push yourself to finish your established task within that time frame. This will take some practice. Stick with a set time period to accomplish your goal and meter yourself to the minute.

Read with a purposestudy tips_read with a purposeRoosevelt read a prodigious amount of books. It has been said that he read five books a week during his term in the White House. Yet he also trained his mind to identify the important aspects of the literature instead of getting bogged down in words and details. Some details are important. While some literature needs to be carefully read, strategic reading of certain texts improves efficiency.

Take time for personal growth

Realize that you are not a robot. We all live full and busy lives. We need time for friends and loved ones. Countless obligations will compete for your attention. Yet it is important to set aside time to nourish your soul. Take time for personal enrichment and pursue interests beyond school. Often just claiming some time every day to meditate and reflect can relax the mind and rejuvenate you. Downtime energizes and leads to insight.

Diversify your interestsstudy tips_interestsRoosevelt entered Harvard wanting to become an “outdoor naturalist and observer of nature.” His career turned to the business of politics. Yet he also took up boxing and bodybuilding, dancing and poetry, horseback riding and hunting, swimming and polo, and remained a lifelong nature enthusiast. He had a curious mind and treated everything he did with utmost enthusiasm and passion.

Make learning a life habit

Cultivate a passion for learning and work to constantly expand your mind. The big picture is more than a collection of short-term tasks. Maintain a love for intellectual growth and personal development. This will serve to carry you through the inevitable minor frustrations that arise along the way.

Good study habits need to be developed so that they become a habit. Roosevelt always claimed that he was not the smartest nor was he the most capable of men. What he achieved was done through sheer determination, planning, and strategic thinking—a combination of diligence and prudence. He may have said it best when he explains how he developed his skill as a marksman. He writes, “There are men whose eye and hand are so quick and so sure that they achieve a perfection of marksmanship to which no practice will enable ordinary men to attain. There are other men who cannot learn to shoot with any accuracy at all. In between come the mass of men of ordinary abilities who, if they choose resolutely to practice, can by sheer industry and judgment make themselves fair rifle shots.”


McKay, B., & McKay, K. (2009).How to Speed Read like Theodore Roosevelt.The Art of Manliness. Retrieved 15 August 2017, from http://www.artofmanliness.com/2009/10/18/how-to-speed-read-like-theodore-roosevelt/

Morris, E. (1998). Theodore Roosevelt. TIME.com. Retrieved 15 August 2017, from http://content.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,988150-1,00.html

Newport, C. (2016). Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World. New York: Grand Central Publishing.

Roosevelt, T. (2009).The autobiography of Theodore Roosevelt.Seven Treasures Publications.

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Food for the Brain: 6 Foods Every Student Should Eat for Great Energy and Concentration

food for the brain

There is no single, straightforward pathway to academic success. It’s a multi-faceted endeavor, a combination of multiple choices that you must make every single day, to achieve the outcome that you desire. The fact that you’re reading this tells me that you already know this and that you’re looking for an edge in the area of nutrition, a potential energy formula that will boost your concentration.

We’ve done the research, and we’ve come up with six food for the brain that will help fuel your body with what it needs to get your brain energized and focused on your academic endeavors.

Food for the Brain #1: Water

Water should be your best friend. Always. And while it might seem strange to think of water as a “food”, it is an abundant, affordable, and essential substance that we need to consume. Consider this; studies have indicated that people perform better on challenging mental tasks when they are adequately hydrated. So aim for those 8 glasses every day, and keep a water bottle handy when you’re studying or taking exams.

Foor for the Brain#2: Fatty Fish

food for the brain_fatty fishFish is among the healthiest of proteins available because fish contains nutrients and components that are both anti-inflammatory and boost the production of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin, all of which are linked to brain health. Fish that are wild-caught (i.e., not farmed) and high in Omega-3 fatty acids are absolutely the best for you. To boost that brain, go for wild-caught salmon, mackerel, and herring.  But for those of you who don’t cook or are on a tight budget, look in the grocery store or your campus cafeteria for canned Alaska salmon, Pacific sardines, and canned albacore tuna.

Food for the Brain #3: Eggs

Eggs are affordable, versatile, easy to cook, and available in every campus cafeteria.  Eggs contain high concentrations of the nutrients tryptophan and choline, which contribute to the neurotransmitters that affect mood and memory.

Food for the Brain#4: Berries

food for the brain_berriesBerries are full of antioxidants, which protect brain cells and stimulate brain function and memory. While the seasonal availability of fresh strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries can be short, these fruits are easily found in frozen form in grocery stores.

Food for the Brain #5: Coconut Oil

Coconut oil, when ingested, is absorbed quickly by your brain and has been shown to have positive effects on memory and mood. Because of increased demand, coconut oil has become less expensive and more readily available over the past few years and can be used instead of vegetable oils in cooking.

Food for the Brain #6: Kale

food for the brain_kale

Kale has antioxidants, Vitamin B, which is key in brain development, Vitamin C, which increases serotonin, Vitamin K, which helps with verbal memory, AND is one of the best plant sources for Omega-3s.Kale is another food that is very versatile; use it in juices or smoothies, throw some kale in salads, or even coat with coconut oil and salt and pepper and roast in the oven to make kale chips!

Food for the Brain——Honorable Mention

While we wanted to limit this list to six items, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two other brain-boosting foods: walnuts and avocados.  Walnuts are high in Omega-3, and avocados have Vitamin K, Potassium, healthy fats and folate, which is a nutrient that contributes to cognitive function.

With these six food good for the brain, plus the honorable mention items, you could create an incredible full meal to share (or keep the leftovers for lunch)!  But you could also choose just one, two three of the food to make your own energy formula to give your brain a boost.  Any way you choose, your brain will thank you.

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How to Study for the ACT: 8 Popular Study Habits to Avoid

study habits_test prep tips

In order to help you prepare for the American College Testing (ACT) exam, here is some guidance on how NOT to study for the ACT, including how not to approach ACT sample questions and ACT sample tests. Read on to discover some tips on how to avoid common study habit errors, and what you can do instead, to maximize your study time to boost your ACT scores.

Study Habits to Avoid #1: Pulling an All-nighter/Cramming

Let’s start with the obvious. Sleep deprivation, no matter your age or circumstance, is never a good thing. Staying up late or all night, to study for an exam is pretty much the worst idea ever.  Instead, take some time to review your notes, and then put them aside well before you go to bed. Relax and get a good night’s sleep.

Study Habits to Avoid #2: Studying with friends.

Unless you’re in a completely structured and disciplined peer group that is working together toward a common goal, like the completion of a project, studying for exams with friends isn’t a good idea. Distractions will happen, and you’ll lose time and productivity.

Study Habits to Avoid #3: Listening to music*

study habits_loud musicListening to your playlists or other favorite music, especially loudly, is counter-productive.  Because you end up listening to the music more than you end up absorbing the information that you’re studying.  In order to maximize your efficiency, study in a quiet environment.

*Having music on low in the background as ambient noise, especially if it covers other distracting noises, is an exception to this tip.

Study Habits to Avoid #4: Looking at the answers to the sample questions first

Reading the answers before you attempt the question does you no favors. Instead, read the question first and attempt to answer it, THEN read the answer.  You’ll be able to recall the answer much better the next time you go through the practice questions.

Study Habits to Avoid #5: Over-caffeinating prior to the exam

study habits_over caffeinatedIf you’ve made the mistake of cramming the night before, or couldn’t sleep because of nerves, a low to moderate amount of caffeine may help.  However, ingesting too much caffeine can make you jittery, unfocused, and can lead to a major crash in your energy well before you’re finished with the exam.

Study Habits to Avoid #6: Re-writing all of your notes

Some people believe that typing or writing out all of their study notes will help their recall. Not true. Once you’ve been through the practice exams, make index card notes on any questions that you really get stuck on, with the questions on one side, and the answers on the other.

Study Habits to Avoid #7: Multi-tasking

study habits_multitask

It’s not just listening to music that can distract from your studying. Unless you are one of a very small percentage of the world’s population (i.e., 2%), you are not a good multi-tasker. So put down the phone, shut down your browser and turn off the TV.

Study Habits to Avoid #8: Studying for long periods of time

Studying for the ACT takes up a lot of energy, so trying to study for long blocks with no breaks can actually be detrimental.  Focused studying for shorter periods of time, and taking periodic breaks to focus on something else, can help you maintain a consistent level of focus and energy. Make sure you’re drinking water, eating, and taking occasional breaks just to stand up, stretch and move. At least one 10-15 minute break for every hour of study will help keep your focus on test prep.

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