The Scientific Benefits of Boredom

scientific benefits of boredom studygate

The scientific benefits of boredom might not be obvious. But they are very real. In a recent study participants were placed in a room for between 6 and 15 minutes. They were given nothing except a button that they knew would shock them if they pressed it. They were asked to entertain themselves with their thoughts, but they could self administer the shock if they so chose. So what happened? Well, 25% of women and 67% of men shocked themselves. This is despite the fact that they had previously told the experimenters that they would pay money to avoid the shock.

Apparently they’d rather experience physical pain than just be bored; to have nothing to keep them occupied but their thoughts.the scientific benefits of boredom studygate

But they are not alone. Around 95% of American adults report participating in some leisure activities over the past 24 hours. But only 17% say they spent any time at all just relaxing and thinking, because that apparently is boring, and being bored is unpleasant.

What is boredom?

Well contrary to popular belief, it’s not when you have absolutely nothing to do. It’s just when none of the options you have available appeal to you.

Boredom is characterized by a lack of concentration, restlessness, but also feeling lethargic. It’s really a state of being underwhelmed. And there are now more ways than ever to avoid boredom. With Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube, not to mention my smartphone I have waiting in line, sitting in a coffee shop, stopped at a traffic light.

Many people reach for their phones to stave off boredom, and nowhere is sacred. Do you ever just let yourself be bored?

But are we losing anything by avoiding boredom? Well, scientific research says yes, and what we’re losing is important. When you’re bored your mind wanders. That’s only natural. The state of boredom is one where your attention is not focused on anything in particular.

Boredom studies show..

This mind wandering is useful for creativity. Researchers gave study participants the most boring process possible: reading the phone book. Then, they asked participants to be creative; generate as many ideas as they could for what you could do with a plastic cup. Those in the most boring read the phone book condition generated the most creative solutions compared to less bored controls.

A major reason many researchers suspect that we experience boredom is because it gives you an indicator of your current state. If you find yourself feeling bored, you know something about that situation isn’t working for you.

When you’re in class and you’re a bit bored do you ever just pull out your phone and have a look at stuff? Exactly.

So the paradox of boredom is that it makes you feel tired, sluggish and just disinterested. But it may actually spur you to action. It may get you to make changes that would be positive for your life.

In the absence of boredom, one would remain trapped in unfulfilling situations and miss out on many emotionally, cognitively, and socially rewarding experiences. Boredom is both a warning that we’re not doing what we want to be doing, and a push that motivates us to switch goals and projects.

Good things happened to those who are bored

Studies have also shown that boredom may make you more altruistic. Perhaps the acute sense of aimlessness you experience when you’re bored gets out of control, and makes you question what you’re doing with your life as a whole. But the silver lining is that it may trigger you to think about others and what you can do to help them. And that provides an immediate and concrete purpose to a life that might momentarily feel like it’s lacking one.

Studies designed to induce boredom have shown that more bored participants are more likely to donate to charity, or to give blood since they have free time on their hands. You know, just 2 hours or an hour and a half or so of boredom. So apparently the opportunity to do meaningful, even if unpleasant activities have more value if you’re bored than if you’re not.

the scientific benefits of boredom studygate

Similarly, this aimless state seems to cultivate thoughts about what you want to do with your life. To think of your life as a story and consider where you want it to go in the future. This is called autobiographical planning. When given tasks that only use a fraction of mental capacity, study participants frequently thought of the future and their plans for it. In this way being bored is essential for goal-setting. If your brain is always consumed with other stimuli, you’ll rarely ponder the bigger picture and set long-term goals for yourself and consider how to achieve them.

Does a phone get rid of your boredom? Yeah, actually, thinking about it, it does. So every time you’re waiting for something, you have a decision to make, which seems like a tiny one. Pull out your phone for a few seconds or minutes, or just be bored; experience only your thoughts.

But hey, boredom might not be a big deal! Right?

And if you don’t give it much thought the obvious action is to see what’s new on your app of choice. And in making that decision you are alleviating a moment of boredom. But you are also likely making yourself less creative, less altruistic, less likely to assess your current state and less likely to set goals for your future.

In short, you are the real world example of someone shocking themselves to avoid the unpleasantness of boredom. Except in your case, the pain goes much deeper to the very nature of who you are, and who you will become. So think carefully before pressing that button.

Turns out that being bored is apparently something our brains need to do.

Content courtesy of Veritasium

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8 Advanced Study Tips

8 Advanced Study Tips

Advanced study tips you’ll get from professors and other people who want you to be better in school are too often really basic.

They’ll tell you to sit up front in class and scan your textbooks instead of reading every single chapter.

Maybe you want something better to increase your focus. When you play fighting games, you want to know the frame rate in every single move set and analyze each matchup instead of just playing the game and “having fun.”

You’re the same way with studying. You want to find really advanced tips to hack your learning. You want to find things that don’t come up when you get your basic study tips. This is the blog for you. Are you ready for 8 advanced study tips? Let’s get started!

Advanced Study Tips Infographic

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Use the Corson technique

Dale Corson was the eighth president of Cornell University, and he was also a chemistry professor. He said that students in chemistry and other science and math programs often have to work really hard to crack problems one sentence at a time as they go through their textbooks or problem sets.

Sometimes you get to a point where you just can’t crack the problem on your own and you need to ask for help. So you go to your professor!

What Dale Corson wants you to think about before you actually talk to a professor is to pause and ask yourself: what is it that I truly don’t understand?

He wants you to get away from this thing that a lot of students do where they go to their professor and with a general wave of the hand and say “I don’t understand what I’m looking at, like this is just confusing to me, I don’t get it.” Instead, he wants you to pick apart the problem one sentence at a time and figure out the exact point at which you don’t get what’s going on.

When you can pinpoint that, you’re going to impress your professor with your preparation and the amount of effort you put into the problem. You will get some brownie points there, but you’re also working to practice the art of recognizing confusion and following it down to its actual source.

Spaced repetition

Spaced repetition is the art of studying things at increasingly bigger and bigger intervals of time. It’s a very efficient way to study, but it also takes advantage of the way your brain works. If you know that individual fact very well, you will not see it for quite a while. In contrast, if there is a fact that you don’t know, you’re going to see that more and more frequently.

Your brain is trying to recall information and you’re forcing it out at the closest time possible to when you are about to forget it. This makes your brain work as hard as it possibly can to recall this information and it encodes it better. This makes you more efficient so you can actually learn a lot faster now.

The best way to take advantage of this is to use a free and generalized program called Anki. You can actually create your own card sets for any type of data that you think you would want to study or you can download shared card decks here.

Definitely check this out. Preparing your own card decks is very useful, but even going through the shared decks and studying them is more efficient than using flashcard study methods on paper.

Method of Loci

The method of loci goes back to the Greek and Roman times. It is a memorization method that has been used by memory champs for a long time. It essentially takes advantage of your brain’s ability to remember spatial information very well through visualization. The classic way to do it is to associate certain sets of data with different rooms of a house.

For example, this is the symbol for “King” in Japanese:

The way that you say “king” in Japanese is “Oh.” Unfortunately, “Oh” is a really simple pronunciation. It doesn’t really lend itself to well to mnemonics. If you wanted to adapt the method of loci to learning this word, you could associate “king” with “toilet.”

No, I am not against using five-year-old humor here!

What do you say when you smell the toilet?

If you really wanted to make this study technique useful,  you could go into the bathroom and put a flashcard on the toilet. Then you can walk through my house and use this method for all sorts of words. Now the method of loci is not as easy to apply as Anki, but if you’ve got a lot to memorize and nothing else has worked, this might be worth your time.

Hack akrasia

Akrasia is a term that has been written about for centuries and it goes back to Plato. It’s essentially a lack of command over oneself.

There’s another even more complex term called picoeconomics. Basically, we discount the value of a task the more it is delayed and the more the reward is pushed off into the future. We tend to procrastinate and do fun things that don’t really align with our values in the short term and avoid doing things that really do line up with our values because the reward is delayed.

So there are two ways to hack akrasia.

First, use a commitment device bind yourself to getting your task done on time. I love Beeminder.

Second, add a shorter term reward to completing a task. You can put gummy bears on your textbook. As you read each paragraph, you can allow yourself to eat each gummy bear. You can also let yourself watch an episode of Game of Thrones once you finish an assignment.

Game of Thrones 8 advanced study tips
Give yourself a reward after you complete that assignment!

Just make sure you give yourself some fun experience and a goal when you finish the study problem set. Otherwise, you risk causing akrasia.

Improve the Pomodoro Technique

In case you haven’t heard of the Pomodoro technique, it’s simply where you set a timer for 25 minutes and then work only on one task during that 25-minute session. Then you take a 5-minute break.

It’s very useful, but there are some areas for improvement:

Tocks

Tocks are essentially a Pomodoro session except that you use 45 minutes and then take a 15 minute break instead of the classic 25-minute 5-minute break structure. The tip here is to experiment with the time intervals. Don’t just set yourself to 25 minutes and assume that that’s the only potential interval that you could study at. Find what works for you!

Distraction list

Put a piece of paper next to you during your Pomodoro session. Whenever anything comes up to distracts you like a phone call or the urge to check Facebook, write it down. This lets you remember what the distraction was and if it happened to be something urgent you can take care of it during your break time. Also, as you continue to do lots of Pomodoro sessions over many weeks, you start to see the common problems that distract you. You can then take steps to prevent these things.

Focused and diffused thinking

In A Mind for Numbers: How to Excel at Math and Science Even if You Flunked Algebra, Barbara Oakley describes the chess strategy of Magnus Carlsen. He is currently the number one player in the world, but back in 2004 when he was just 13 years old he played Garry Kasparov to a draw. Kasparov is still considered one of the best chess players in the world. But look at what Carlsen does from these screenshots here!

Diffused thinking 8 Advanced study tips
Playing chess with Kasparov
Diffused thinking 8 Advanced study tips
Carlsen getting “distracted,” but not really
Diffused thinking 8 Advanced study tips
Diffused thinking to study the moves of others

Oakley has pointed out that Carlsen uses diffused thinking. Focused thinking takes advantage of your prefrontal cortex to focus on one specific set of data and one specific problem. But it sort of doesn’t let the rest of your brain become activated.

A lot of ideas come from different nodes of your brain connecting different completely unrelated ideas in new and different ways. That’s the diffused mode of thinking. So when you’re learning something new, you want to use diffused thinking. You can grok the present problem and then tie it to other nodes in your brain to understand it. If you only try to focus on the problem and do nothing else, you’re going to have a lot harder time solving the problem.

Gauge your classes

The goal is to measure the speed at which your professor moves and at which you’re able to understand. If your professor tends to go too fast and you can’t really understand everything he’s presenting, then you want to take some steps to fix that problem.

One thing you could do is read through the chapter before a lecture. Maybe if you have some material that outlines what’s going to begin the lecture, you can look at the most relevant parts of the textbook to prime your brain for the lecture.

Another thing you can do if the class pace is just too fast is to simply ask your professor for help or ask questions in the middle of class. Professors are there to help you and you should take advantage of that.

Start alone to recognize confusion

When you do a problem set with a partner you’re kind of robbing yourself the opportunity to really pinpoint gaps in your understanding. If two people are going at the same problem at the same time, one person might be able to do the entire thing. The other person can sort of kind of get where the first person is coming from. You’re going to latch on to their answer and say “yeah I sort of get that” and then you’re going to move on. But if you do it alone then you’re going to be able to pinpoint those areas of confusion and address them before you get into a group.

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12 Study Tips That Will Boost Your Results

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Don’t cheat but if you do know the one thing that really matters

Cheating hand

It might not seem obvious at first, but Mark Twain was a firm advocate of cheating. He suggested that “it is good to obey all the rules when you’re young, so you’ll have the strength to break them when you’re old.”

Mark Twain wouldn’t like the idea of cheating while you’re young, but he also lived in a world where the age of adulthood was 10 or 12. So maybe you’re already old enough to break the rules, at least by 19th century standards.

The difficulties humans cannot process or describe are projected onto future generations, rinse and repeat.

Having thrived in spite of his bad business chops, the wisdom of Twain still resonates today. Children still have to meet parent expectations. Teachers are still severe. Each generation passes the pain it experienced to the next one out of annoyance for the lack of love received, incessant “no you can’t do that” messages we heard as children, and desire to get ahead. The difficulties humans cannot process or describe are projected onto future generations, rinse and repeat.

No wonder a student would seek how to cheat to get ahead. All these adults berating and telling students to follow the rules — the process is exhausting. If you follow Twain’s advice, you simply conform as a teenager, but what if there are other options? Educational data analyst Zachary Goldman has documented the fact that students will often explore other options and break the rules to achieve a higher goal:

1. Get that diploma

2. Not embarrass your parents

3. Never deal with that professor again

These justifications sound like something inspired by Machiavelli. The 16th century Italian diplomat would judge actions by their ultimate outcomes instead of the questionable action itself, but YouTuber Thomas Frank posts that laziness is the biggest threat to making new habits—even getting beyond cheating. The reality is that discovering how to cheat allows us to get ahead in the short term with the option to focus on activities that are easy and feel good. Which makes cheating a pretty tempting option.

So if you know how to cheat already or are thinking about it, sit down and ask yourself, “What is the bigger yes I have to achieve by cheating on this course right now?” I’m here to suggest that “easy” and “feel good” are not good enough reasons to cheat. But if the grade is really the most important thing, don’t have illusions that you care about learning in school. Admit to yourself that you don’t care, define your bigger “yes” to follow and dig into that.

My desk of bigger yeses to achieve—Learn Mandarin and understand teaching

In a Google world built to make information “universally accessible and useful,” there are inevitable answer-finding tools in a 21st century knowledge economy. The pandora’s box of answer access is open, and teachers and parents should accept that there is no going back.

What is your biggest fear? Conformance to something you halfway believe in or the dangers associated with making your own path?

No age is too young to think for yourself. If we constantly jump through hoops to meet the expectations of our parents and teachers, we risk conforming to a system of herd morality. Friedrich Nietzsche hated this trend where people valued things that didn’t really matter instead of trying to become great at something. People were coming up with euphemisms to justify cowardly behavior like calling impotence “goodness of heart” and describing submission as “obedience.” Nobody wants to become a pawn in a system.

If you cheat, know the costs. Getting caught makes it hard to advance in school, hurts your reputation with educators, and might get you kicked out. But the cost of following school rules can be just as damaging. What if you conform and end up sucking at life in a part-time job running the rat race with a premium UltraHD Netflix subscription? Now is the time to ask yourself, “What is your biggest fear? Conformance to something you halfway believe in or the dangers associated with making your own path?”

So if you know how to cheat already, own it. If learning about World War II and trigonometry isn’t good enough for you, then find something better to learn. Cheat with the knowledge of the one thing that really matters. If you’re going to do the bare minimum, identify the place where you will give your maximum. Leverage your desire to get a good grade with a greater need to do something specific with your time. Just make Twain proud and know the rules before you start breaking them.

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Four Ways To Stay Motivated And Finish The School Year Strong

Stay Motivated

It’s May! That means state testing, prom, research projects, just a bit more homework than you bargained for, and a whole bunch of other things that can really take a toll on your focus. It’s easy to start slacking right around this time of year. The end of the school year is in sight, summer’s on the way, the weather’s nicer, everything seems more upbeat and relaxed. But you’ve got to stay motivated!

Don’t fall for it!

There’s a lot you can do to sabotage yourself in this critical time in the academic year. It’s okay to stop and smell the roses every now and then, but you’ve also got to stand up straight, square your shoulders, and put in the work. Here are four ways to help you do that:

Organize and Prioritize

If there was ever a time to stay organized, this is it. With so much going on in school and at home, it’s important to keep every date, every obligation, every meeting straight in your head. If you don’t already, keep a planner handy to write down things that you know you need to take care of in the future. Then, rank those things from most to least important. Now,  you can direct your attention to the things that need it the most, and you’ll feel less stressed as a result!

Be Mindful

Speaking of stress, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with everything that’s going on around you. In the midst of all the chaos, take time to slow down and understand what you’re working on. Group projects and research assignments pile up during this time of year, so it’s a good idea to be especially aware of your work habits and how you’re feeling. When choosing how to divide your time, be selective! Ask for help if you can’t meet a deadline, focus on delivering quality work, and above all, set aside some time to take care of your health.

Get Some Perspective

The tests you take during this important season can improve or hurt your chances of ending up with that A you’ve been working so hard for, or the high SAT or AP score that will take you to the college of your dreams. It’s a crucial moment! But that’s all it is. A single moment in the vast timeline that is your life. Don’t put any unnecessary stress on yourself. One test does not decide what your entire future will be. Chin up, shoulders back, do your very best, and your future will fall into place, you’ll see!

Remember Your Goals

There are so many contradictory things about May. It’s testing season, and you should study hard, but prom is coming up, and you want to party hard. Graduation is coming up, and you feel like you’re finished, but those last few assignments count—it’s not over yet! Take time to remember your goals. What did you set out to achieve? Make them more visible in your everyday life. Write them on post-it notes and stick it in your notebook, on your refrigerator, on your bathroom mirror, EVERYWHERE. With summer around the corner, it’s very easy to get distracted with all the fun things going on, but that doesn’t give you an excuse to stop short of the finish line.

 

Students, this is time to remain focused and do all you can to finish the school year strong! Keep yourself accountable, check your urges to slack off, and accomplish what you set out to do! For more helpful tips, homework help, test preparation, and one-on-one tutoring, visit us at StudyGate.com!

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Fighting The System: Good Students Vs. Academic Dishonesty

Academic Honesty

Students are blurring the lines between academic honesty and legitimate study more and more as time goes on. While the nature of cheating is still clearly defined, students can now find help online in a multitude of ways. It can be difficult to determine what is dishonest and what isn’t.

For example, is it cheating if a tutor works out a math related homework problem for a student to study later? The student did not technically do the work, but the student does not turn it is as his or her own work. The distinction is becoming more and more unclear.

As students go further in their academic careers, there is a greater urge to be academically dishonest. The students who have cheated in the past will continue to do so. But what about everyone else? What about the students who normally perform well, but find the need to find extra help elsewhere? There are many reasons why students cheat, but the most consequential reasons come from the fact that students in higher education are often pitted against an unforgiving system that gives very few second chances.

 

Numbers Matter

Many rigorous college courses weigh some assignments more heavily than others. It’s very common for a teacher to instruct a course in which there are two important assignments—a midterm and a final, or a final and a research project. The homework has little, if any, influence on the final grade. Students understand that they’ve got to learn strategy if they want to succeed in higher education. It’s not enough to just show up, listen, and do the assignments. You’ve got to know how to work the numbers and figure out what hits you can and cannot afford to take. If both your tests are each 40% of your final grade, and you don’t do so well on the first one, you know you’re performing damage control for the rest of the semester. This is part of the problem. Students will do anything to boost or stabilize that grade percentage. Sometimes, they run into situations that are less about ethics and more about survival.

 

Full Speed Ahead

The pace of the course is also a contributing factor to why students cheat. You’ve got to be absolutely ready for a midterm in a ten-week course because, again, doing poorly will cost you for the rest of the term. It’s one thing to have difficulty learning at such a rapid pace. Being penalized for it is another matter entirely! Yes, that’s just part of the challenges students face in higher education and they should learn to adjust. But the breakneck pace leads to a lot of anxiety among students who have a lot depending on the outcome of a course. A low or average grade could cause a student to miss out on an internship, university admission, or scholarship. The challenge itself is not what causes academic dishonesty. The outcome and subsequent effect on a student’s life is enough for even the most ethical student to weigh their options more closely.

 

Learning Factory

Many universities around the country offer courses with an enrollment size of 100 or more students total. Professors often do not have time to get to know each student individually, much less learn their handwriting, work ethic, and learning style. Academic dishonesty becomes much more attractive knowing that the instructor may not know that the student is cheating in the first place. It’s much harder to do in community colleges or schools with smaller class sizes, but is relatively easy in larger university courses.

 

So What’s The Takeaway?

I don’t believe new technology has any influence over a student’s decision to cheat. The way we cheat today is the same way we’ve cheated 30 years ago, those methods have just moved to an online format. However, today’s students are aware that they have to understand the system they’re engaged in if they want to survive. Every course syllabus explains the weight of various assignments. The student decides what to focus on. If they slip up on a certain assignment, or perform poorly on a test, they understand that it’s not enough just to do well on the next one. Academic dishonesty isn’t necessarily a route for lazy students to avoid applying themselves. It’s also a way for students to stack the odds in their favor. If we want to address the growing threat of academic dishonesty, we first need to understand the situation students all over the country contend with. It’s so much more than just studying and taking tests. It’s strategy, too.

 

For homework help, one-on-one tutoring, and more articles like these, visit StudyGate.com!

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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.

 

Refuel

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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Do You Hate Group Projects? Here’s Five Steps To A Better Experience!

Group Projects

Group Projects. Nobody really likes them, but we all have to do them at some point. Naturally, working with a group of strangers comes with its problems, but they don’t go away once you graduate! You’ve got to master this! You’ll have to do a lot of it in the workplace. Here is a list of things you can do to make the group project experience less painful and more productive!

 

Say Something, And Say It Quick

You’ll be allowed to choose your own groups if you’re lucky. In that case, great! If you don’t, you’ve got some socializing to do. There’s usually an awkward moment in class when you’ve got to sit with your group while your teacher explains your assignment. Take that opportunity to introduce yourself! Learn your partner’s names and be friendly! You’ll come off as a team player and someone fun to work with, rather than That-One-Guy-Or-Girl-In-My-Group-That-I-Don’t-Really-Know.

 

Find The Alpha, Be The Alpha

There’s always that one person, or couple of people, that assumes responsibility and takes control of the group right from the start.

You know who I’m talking about.

They’re the one that comes up with the ideas, coordinates meeting times, introduces themselves to everyone (ahem), and is heavily involved all the way through. Find that person. Stick with them, learn with them, offer your own ideas, approach the group together. Cooperating with proactive people is a great way to learn how to work with others. Every ship needs a captain, why can’t it be you?

 

Listen Up

When your group meets to work on your assignment, a lot of ideas will be passed around. As a member of that group, it’s your responsibility to listen to those ideas, discuss them with the other members, and decide as a group if you’d like to include them. The trick here is to keep an open mind. Everyone probably has an idea of what they want the final product to look like. What you’re being tested on is your ability to take all those ideas and combine them into something you all can be proud of. Discuss all of your ideas early, get on the same page, decide on a direction, and move together as one!

 

Pull Your Weight

This is every student’s nightmare: You’re stuck with a bunch of slackers who don’t care about their own grades, much less yours. They sit around and mindlessly agree with everyone’s opinions at every group meeting, they don’t work on a single thing, and then they show up to the presentation and take the credit. You better believe it’s happening RIGHT NOW. Don’t be that person. Do your part of the assignment, and give it your best shot. If you suspect anyone in your group of being lazy, offer to help with their portion of the work. Best case scenario? They’ll accept and you can work together to create a stronger project, or at least they’ll get the hint and start picking up the slack.

 

 

Group Projects

Take Pride

At the end of your project, your teacher will likely have all of you present your work. As you speak to the class, be sure to give credit to your fellow group members for their individual ideas. If there was a member who made a particularly great point, or did an important part of the project, let everyone know! It will give your fellow group member a little more confidence, inspire them to give it back to you, and show everyone that your group is united!

 

You see? Group projects don’t have to be so bad! It’s all about getting out of your own space and learning how to be interactive, insightful, and friendly toward your peers. Try it out the next time you’re given a group project! For more helpful advice, study tips, and homework help, visit StudyGate.com!

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The Art Of Focus

The Art of Focus

During the last year of my undergrad studies, I found it hard to focus.

I was finally approaching the end of a five-year journey that took me across countless classes in multiple cities, two community colleges, and (at last) one university, and I was DONE. We’re now in the middle of March, and for many of you, the work is piling up and you might feel the same way! You’re tired, you’re hungry, you didn’t get enough sleep last night, and you just want to finish that assignment you’ve been working on for hours. Even though concentrating can get harder as you get busier, don’t fret! There are ways you can get back on track, energized, and ready to take on any challenge. Those methods are part of what I like to call The Art of Focus.

 

Do Something Else

When you’ve been studying for hours, all those textbooks and homework assignments just start to blend together. Give yourself a break, go do something else! The trick is, it has to be something a little complex that makes you think—just in a different way! During midterm season, I liked to spread a puzzle (500 to 1000 pieces, please!) on a table in my room, and I would take a break and work on it every once in a while. It helped me regain my focus because I was using my right brain, the creative side, and giving my left brain, the analytical side, a rest. This is much better than, say, watching TV because it keeps your brain engaged in a different way so you’re ready to pick up where you left off!

 

Do Something Nice

Whenever I felt especially overwhelmed by my studies, I dropped everything I was doing and looked for someone that I could help. It could be someone redecorating their room, moving heavy items, fixing something, or even someone who’s also studying, too! Not only does helping others feel good, it completely takes your mind off your own studies for a while. When you get back to your work, you’ll realize you haven’t thought about it in a while (that’s the idea) and you’ll be able to approach it with a fresh mind.

 

The Art of Focus

Do Something Creative

Do you like to draw? Paint? Write stories? Do you have a fun hobby? Take some time away from your studies to pursue something fun and creative that will allow you to relieve stress! In my undergrad career, I loved playing video games as a study break (particularly fighting games) because I could shift my focus to a different short-term goal, which left me energized when I got back to my homework. Another great thing to try is to simply lie somewhere comfortable, listen to music, and just stare into space. Make a playlist of your most relaxing songs, find a good spot, and clear your mind. Just be careful not to fall asleep!

 

Get Active (Physically And Verbally)

My environment was one of the reasons why I found it hard to concentrate during a long study session. Basically, I shut myself away in a dimly lit room and surrounded myself with piles of papers, books, notes, and clutter for hours at a time. Set yourself free by going…

say it with me…

outside!

If you’re aiming to complete a two-hour study session, take a couple of short 15-minute breaks and go outside (if it’s daytime) or just go walking through your home. Speak to the people you live with, call your friends for a quick chat, talk to your friend’s dog if you have to. Just make sure you’re moving your body and interacting with other people. Studying is often solitary, but it doesn’t have to be lonely!

 

 

All of these things are going to take a while to adjust to as you learn what works best for you. Here’s the point: Work and rest go hand-in-hand. You can’t work constantly, despite other’s (and our own) expectations. You regain focus in times of rest. Take advantage of the many ways you can do that, and you’ll develop razor sharp focus in no time! For more helpful tips, homework help, and online tutoring, visit StudyGate.com!

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StudyMate: How To (Quickly) Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper

Research. Finding credible sources.  The most terrifying words you’ll hear in your entire academic career. Just hearing them made me go into denial:

 

“What? What do you mean I have to form an opinion? Wait, wait, you mean I can’t just say whatever I feel like? I have to look for…facts and evidence?”

 

Yes. You’ve got to do all that, and I know it can be a lot of work. It doesn’t have to be so terrible, though! Good research is systematic. It follows a certain logic as you develop what you want to say. You might be dreading all that time you’ll spend combing through textbooks and clickin’ around the internet, but if you follow what I’m about to tell you…

…and really focus…

…you can finish your research in a day. In. A. Day.

Look!

 

Step One: Take A Position!

Before you even begin your research, you’ve got to know what you want to say. Take some time to read the assignment, understand the expectations, and develop an opinion on the subject. This is going to make things a lot easier for you in the long run. Let’s just say your topic is:

“Is climate change real?”

Decide if your answer is yes or no, and begin thinking about your reasons. It sounds obvious, I know, but SOME people have been known to just pick the easiest standpoint to get the assignment done as quickly as possible. Don’t be that person. Think about it!

 

Find Credible Sources For Your Research Paper

Step Two: Find A…Book? At The…Library?

Yes. They exist for a reason. You can find the most credible sources of knowledge in actual books! Imagine that! Decide what your answer is, then take an hour or two to look for a few library books about your subject. Look through them and pay special attention to certain sections that can help support your main point. Then, take them with you and refer back to them as your prime research materials. Looking for a book should always be your first step; they can help you think of more specific things to say, which makes your research more specific as result.

 

Step Three: Find Some Journals

Next, you’ll want to search for some academic journals. In my opinion, some of the best academic journal databases are EBSCOHost, JSTOR, and Google Scholar, but there are so many others, so experiment and find out which one you like best. Your college or university will most likely have a subscription to many of these databases, so go crazy. Remember those specific points you got from those books? You can use those to search for articles devoted to those points!

So if you’re arguing that climate change isn’t real, and changes in sea level is one of your main points, you’ll look for those articles that support both your ideas and those in your books.  As you find more articles that support them, you’ll continue to refine your own argument. Aha! We’re getting more and more precise as we go!

 

Step Four: Yeah Alright, Now You Can Run To The Internet

At this point, you couldn’t get more specific if you tried. Now, it’s all about proving your point. Look for quality sources on the internet. You’ll be looking for quick statistics, helpful numbers, and short quotes that you can sprinkle into your paper.

At this stage, you’d be looking for numbers that reflect changing or consistent sea levels to support your previous research. I know they’re the easiest to find, but internet sources should be the last thing you look at. Anybody can go online and publish anything they want without having it reviewed. Keep an eye out for credible sites—ones where you’ll find articles with a clear author you can cite, and who has cited information themselves. When you leave those sources for the end of your research, you already know what your paper is about, and now it’s just a matter of finding figures and evidence that support all those books and journals!

 

Step Five: Trim The Fat

So now you’ve got bunch of books, academic journals, websites, and a rough draft of your research paper. Great! Now start cutting the stuff you don’t need. A lot of professors give you a minimum of number of sources they want for each medium—2 books, 3 journals, 2 websites, etc. If you’re going for the minimum, then make sure you have the best material you can find! If you’re going for only 2 books, they better give you a TON of information and support every point you make. You should never wonder whether to use a source or not. Make them work for you!

 

 

And that’s it! When you’ve got all your sources ready, make sure you cite them all correctly! If you don’t know how to cite, you can visit the OWL Purdue website to brush up on all the different styles. As I said earlier, if you follow these tips and stay focused, you can have your research done in a day (I’m serious)! Now go! To get more helpful academic tips and homework help, visit StudyGate.com!

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Five Of The Very Best Parts Of Learning Something New

Five Of The Very Best Parts Of Learning Something New

Learning is a lifelong pursuit. We start learning at birth, and it should never, ever stop. Discovering new things in the world can be so exciting when we’re young, but as we grow older, it can be easy to forget that excitement amid all the studying and exams.

Learning can be so much fun! Don’t believe me? Here are five of the best parts of learning something new.

 

Curiosity And Discovery

Have you ever been walking down the street on a rainy day, seen a snail, and wondered if they really melt when you pour salt on them, like on TV? I know you have.

One of the great things about learning is stumbling upon something you don’t understand or have always wondered about. This curiosity has been an integral part of human history, so embrace it! I did, and found a book at the library that explained that when you pour salt on a snail, water is being quickly YANKED out of their body cells through osmosis. The poor snail’s body fights back as it dries out by releasing a slimy substance to protect itself. That weird bubbling comes from that slime and air being forced out of its body as it dies slowly and probably very painfully. Cool!

 

Try It IRL (In Real Life)

It’s always satisfying to learn something in school, then find a way to apply it to your real life. For example, I took French all throughout high school, despite everyone telling me that I’d never have a reason to use it. Then, in one of my college English courses, we were given an assignment to read a book and compare it to the movie adaptation. Looking over the list, none of the titles interested me…until I found one of my favorite stories, Thérèse Desqueyroux (don’t worry about it)! I read the book, watched the movie (entirely in French with no subtitles, mais oui), and turned in a great project. It felt great to dust off that knowledge and put it to good use!

 

Impress Your Friends!

Maybe you’re playing Trivial Pursuit (people still play that, right?) or some triva board game with your friends at a game night. Your team gets some far-out question like: “Which French sculptor created the Statue of Liberty?”

All your teamma—Yes, again with the French.

All your teammates groan. But you stay calm, cool, and collected, maybe with a little crooked smile on your face. Why? Because you know the answer! One of the best things about learning is—yeah—showing exactly how smart you are. If you’ve got it, show it off! Let ’em know!

Oh, the answer is Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, by the way. Anyway…

 

Five Of The Very Best Parts Of Learning Something New

Teaching Someone Else

Passing knowledge on to someone else is one of the most humbling things in the world. If you have young relatives, work with kids, or even know someone who also loves to learn, you can share interesting facts and discuss controversial topics with them. They’ll be grateful for the new information, and you’ll feel smarter for having shared it. It’s a win-win!

 

Stand And Admire

Do you ever look through your old tests and essays from school and think, “Wow, I did that?” Chances are, you did something worth being proud of in the past, and it’s always great to look back and see how good you were! I recently found an old college essay that was so good that my professor thought it was plagiarized (it wasn’t). That’s skill, baby. Skill.

 

 

One could say that learning is a journey. Travel broadens the mind. You start off in one place, and as you learn, doors begin to open. Then, you get the opportunity to learn even more things and open even more doors! It never ends! This reminds me of a wonderful piece of wisdom handed down to me by the great Dr. Suess. He told me:

“The more you read, the more things you’ll know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

 

Smart man. Enough said.

For study tips, homework help, and more quotes from the good doctor, come on over to StudyGate.com!

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Amazing Time Management Tips For Someone Who Just Can’t Get It Together

24 hours. That’s all you get in a single day. You can either waste them, get nothing done, and wonder where the time went, or you can make things easier and use your time wisely. At StudyGate, we’re no strangers to time management. We’ve decided to take a moment to share some techniques that will help you develop amazing time management skills!

 

Make A List

Instead of committing to memory everything you have to do today, why not make a short list? Download a note taking app on your phone like OneNote or Google Keep, or use a simple pen and paper and make a to-do list starting from your most urgent task to your least. This something you should do out of habit every day because as your tasks become organized, so too will your thoughts!

 

Know Your Sweet Spot

When I was in high school, you couldn’t get me to do anything productive until around 6:34 PM (very specific). After that, I could hit the books and study for hours, late into the night! It’s worth finding out what time of day is best for you to get things done. Some people work best in the early morning, while many people consider themselves night owls. Understanding when you’re most productive can help you plan your day more efficiently.

 

Prepare Beforehand

I can’t wake up in the morning.

I mean—I can—but I don’t want to, and it’s a big problem when I’ve got to pack all my meals for the day, choose what I’m going to wear, exercise, and get to work on time. Take some of the pressure off and start preparing the night before! Make your lunch, pack your backpack with everything you need, lay out tomorrow’s outfit in a chair (yes, like you did when you were little), and do as many necessary things as you can. Now, you can focus on more important things, and when it’s time, you can just grab your stuff and go!

 

Dream A Little Dream

Only robots can work straight through the day without stopping. For the rest of us, it’s good to take a minute or two to stare out a window or look around and just think. Rest your eyes and give your brain a chance to pause. Daydreaming can be a welcome break from a steady workflow!

 

Future Sight

At the end of the day, when you’re maxin’ and relaxin’, take a moment to just think about what you’ve got to do tomorrow. Organize your thoughts and think of all the ways you need to prepare. It will put you in the right mindset to take on the next day’s tasks and do what you need to do!

 

 

Try some of these out and see how they feel! To tell you the truth, 24 hours is A LOT of time. When you manage your time well, you feel as though you have more time in the day. You have more time to work, more time to sleep, more time to spend with friends, and more time to do more of what you love. Check out some more helpful advice, study tips, and homework help at StudyGate.com!

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