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How to Write a College

Admission Essay

Your key to getting in and getting more.

Many colleges and universities require a college admission

essay as part of their admission application, and scholarship
applications often include one or more essays in addition to
such objective information as grades and test scores. The
typical question asks you to share personal information-
allowing the selection committee to get to know you-such as
your plans or goals, an important event in your life, your
philosophy and/or beliefs, or your financial situation. Writing
this college admission essay is an opportunity for you to stand
out among the applicants and to prove you're the most
deserving candidate. Be sure to keep certain things in mind as
you write this essay:
• Consider exactly what the question asks. Then list some
relevant main ideas; use this list as an informal outline for
your essay.
•Don't write a "generic" essay that could pass for one that
any other applicant could have written. Everything in the
essay should reveal something about YOU and your unique
situation. Any reader of your essay should feel as if he or
she knows you personally.
• Remember that committee members are seeking the
applicant who fits the mission of their institution and is
worthy of their award. Tailor your college admission essay
topic with their perspective in mind, and work to convince
them that you're the right candidate.
• If you have trouble thinking of ideas, be resourceful. Ask
people who know you well what they would say about you.
If someone has written a letter of recommendation for
you, re-read it. Which accomplishments listed on your
résumé might interest the committee?
• Don't simply repeat information that is already on your
application form or in your résumé. Your essay should
include specific incidents and concrete examples.
• Don't use long words and obscure vocabulary simply to
impress the committee; doing so will come across as
artificial and showy.
• Follow guidelines regarding such things as font size and
essay length. Sometimes a typed essay is required; other
times, you are required to hand-write it. Sometimes it
should be on the application form; other times, it must be
on a separate piece of paper. No matter how good your
college admission essay is, failure to follow instructions will
make a negative impression and may actually disqualify
• The appearance of your essay is important. Spell all
words correctly; follow grammar and punctuation rules;
and keep your paper neat. The committee may not meet
you personally; this essay may be the sole basis for their
selection. A messy paper or an essay full of errors will
cause them to see you as uncaring or unqualified, despite
the inaccuracy of this judgment.
• Save your essay! There is nothing wrong with using the
same ideas—and occasionally even the same college
admission essay—for several applications. Each time, make
revisions so that the essay topic responds specifically to
the question(s). Although you have used it for other
applications, the committee should not be able to tell that
this essay wasn't originally written as a response to their

Planning for College

Planning for college should begin once you enter high school.
Here are things to do each year as you progress through high

Ninth Grade

1. Begin following a college preparatory program. Earn

the credits you will need for college admission later on.
2. Begin getting involved in extracurricular and
volunteer activities. College admission officials value this
participation heavily.
3. Begin exploring your career preferences. This will
influence your later choice of a college and a major.
4. Work hard to achieve high grades. Your GPA will be
an important factor in the college admission process.

Tenth Grade

1. Take the PLAN Test (pre-ACT) and/or the PSAT

(preliminary SAT). This will provide you with valuable
experience that will help you when you later take the ACT
and/or SAT. You will also identify areas in need of
2. Begin seeking election to class offices or to
organization offices. College admission officials regard
holding office as an indicator of leadership potential.
3. Begin exploring colleges on the Internet. Identify
those that are recognized for strong programs in your
areas of career interest.

Eleventh Grade

1. Decide whether you will take the ACT, the SAT, or both.
Consider your strengths and weaknesses when making this
decision. Keep in mind that some colleges require one or
the other.
2. Study for these tests on your own. Take test
preparation classes if you can.
3. Begin taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in
your areas of strength.
4. Take the ACT and/or SAT.

5. Consider visiting college campuses that meet your

interests and capabilities. Make requests from the
registrars' offices for visitation tours of the campuses you
wish to visit. Talk with students attending these colleges
and ask about their experiences as students there.

Twelfth Grade

1. Continue to visit college campuses if feasible.

Explore the community around each campus.
2. Obtain letters of recommendation from teachers
and others who can speak favorably on your behalf, and
role models who have influenced you. Ask the writers to
address why you would be a successful college student and
what you can bring to a college.
3. Retake the ACT and/or SAT to improve your scores if
needed. When preparing to do so, focus your preparation
on the areas in which you scored lowest.
4. Apply to more than one college. Admission to
college is becoming increasingly competitive - "Don't put
all your eggs in one basket."
5. Apply for financial aid and/or scholarships. College
costs have become very high, but fortunately, financial
assistance can be obtained if you look carefully at the
many sources available. Guidance counselors can help you
locate these sources.
6. Don't miss application deadlines for admission and
financial aid.
Remember! Start your planning for college as soon as
you enter high school.

Financial Aid

Like everything else, the cost of college keeps going up.

Fortunately, there are various forms of financial aid that can
help you meet these costs. These fall into three basic

1. Grants or Scholarships

Grants and scholarships are great because the money they

provide does not have to be paid back. Some grants and
scholarship are need-based. This means that they are awarded
on the basis of financial need. Other grants and scholarships
are merit-based. This means that they are awarded on the
basis of special skills, abilities, or achievement.
In effect, grants and scholarships are "money for the asking."
But you have to know how to find them first. Here are three
things you should do:
• Talk with your high school guidance counselor. He or she
will know about national, regional, and local grants and
• Contact the financial aid offices of colleges to which you
are applying for admission.
• Check with your parents’ employers to see if they provide
grants or scholarships to the children of their employees.

2. Student Loans

The federal government provides education loans through

banks and other financial institutions. To be considered for
these loans, you must complete the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The government uses this
application to determine your eligibility based on financial
need. Here are the three types of loans provided by the

• Federal Stafford Loans. These are fixed-rate loans for

undergraduate and graduate students who are attending
school at least half-time. The loan can be used to pay
tuition and other school expenses. The interest rate is low,
and the loan does not have to be repaid while you are
enrolled in school.
•Federal Graduate PLUS Loans. These loans allow you to
borrow up to the full cost of your graduate education (less
any money you may be receiving from Stafford loans). No
payments are required as long as you are attending school
at least half-time.
•Federal Parent PLUS Loans. These loans allow your
parents or guardians to borrow up to the cost of your
education at a low fixed-interest rate.

3. Work-Study

Work-study consists of federally subsidized employment

opportunities. The work is typically on campus or with
nonprofit organizations off campus. Work-study opportunities
are usually awarded on the basis of financial need.
College is expensive. But there is help. IMPORTANT:
Meet all application deadlines - there are no exceptions.

Transition to College

Deciding to go to college is an important decision in your life.

Getting admitted to college is a significant accomplishment.
Succeeding in college is an even more significant
There are many differences between high school and college.
Because of the differences, students often find the transition
from high school to college to be very challenging. In fact, one
out of every three students who enter college does not
complete his or her freshman year.
Here are some of the important differences between high
school and college that can make a successful transition
difficult. For each, you will find suggestions to help you
successfully handle the difference.
1. The academic work in college is more difficult than
it is in high school. This means that you will have to work
both harder and longer. High school students typically
study 2 to 3 hours a week for each class. For each college
class, you will probably need to study 2 to 3 hours for each
class hour. Since most college classes meet for 3 hours a
week, you will have to study 3 times as much in college
than you did in high school. Be prepared to take on this
2. In high school you are required to attend every
class session. This is often not the case in college classes.
Many college teachers don't take attendance. It will be
easy for you to find things you would rather do than go to
class. Don't give in to temptation. Students who attend
and participate in classes on a regular basis get higher
grades than students who don't. Make every effort to
attend every class session.

3. You are going to have to be an independent learner

in college. High school teachers often check to see that you
are doing your assignments and readings. College teachers
simply expect you to do these things. It is up to you to
make sure that you do.
4. Your schedule of classes in college will be more spread
out than your classes in high school. High school classes
typically meet daily. College classes meet 2 to 3 times a
week, and some even meet just once a week. It is very
important for you to carefully manage the time in between
classes. Creating and sticking to a study schedule is
5. Tests in high school classes are often given frequently
and cover a small amount of information. Tests in college
classes are given less frequently and cover a great deal of
information. Sometimes the only test is the final exam.
Make-up tests are rarely given in college, and you usually
cannot raise a low score by doing extra credit work. To do
well on tests in college, you must take good notes in class
and from your textbooks. You should also have a good
strategy for taking tests.
College is not simply a continuation of high school. It is
a new experience that requires you to approach success
in new ways right from day one.

Tips for Choosing a College

Choosing the right college can be a difficult task. There are

thousands of colleges and universities to choose from and
many are worthy of being considered. Here are some tips that
can help you select the appropriate college.
1. For each potential college, find out the success rate
of students obtaining employment, especially in jobs that
are related to their major. The college should have
statistics to back up their claims. Make sure the procedure
used for compiling their statistics is clear to you.
2. Colleges that offer internships in some of the fields
you find interesting are worthy of your attention.
Internships provide valuable experience and vital
networking opportunities. Also, companies often hire
interns that perform well. Choosing a college that has
faculty members with good reputations in their field can be
very useful since these faculty members can provide paths
into the working world via internships and jobs.
3. School rankings and a national reputation of
academic excellence are often important factors for
potential employers. This type of information can be found
on the Internet and in magazines. Also, strong name
recognition for a college is often a significant factor for
employers. Name recognition can be a more important
factor in getting a job than the actual quality of education
the college provides.
4. After narrowing down the field to a few colleges,
visiting each of the finalists is vital. Visiting the campus
can change your attitude about a particular school. Take
the official tour and then do some exploring on your own.
It's also important to talk to as many students as you can
and get their impressions of the college. In addition, it's
very important to contact a prospective school's alumni
association and find out from former graduates if earning a
degree from the school was helpful in obtaining a job.
5. Unless you are very certain of the major you want
to pursue, selecting a college primarily based on a
potential major is usually not a good idea. Often, students
change their minds about majors after they have
completed some college classes. College courses can help
you determine what subjects interest you as well as your
aptitude for a given subject.
6. One of the best ways to learn about the quality of a
college and the satisfaction of its students is to ask about
the percentage of students that return after completing
their first year. Also, ask about the college's graduation
7. If you have selected several potential careers, ask
potential employers for their college preferences. You can
ask by telephone or email.
8. Make a list of your important criteria and find out
how well each college you're considering meets your
criteria. It may be helpful to divide your criteria list into
sections labeled extremely important, important, and
somewhat important.
9. When considering an expensive, private college that
has local name recognition and an excellent local
reputation, strongly consider if you will be staying in the
area in which the college is located after you graduate.
Sometimes graduates from expensive private colleges
move to other geographical locations where employers
have never heard of the small school they attended. In this
circumstance, the extra money spent on the education
simply doesn't help in acquiring a job.
10. If the cost of college is a significant issue, consider
attending a community college for your first two years.
Community colleges are considerably less expensive than
four year colleges, and you save on living expenses by
living at home. Also, the classes at community colleges are
typically less difficult. This makes it easier for you to work
part-time while going to school. You can then transfer to a
four year college to pursue your major. Most employers
are more concerned about the college you attended while
studying your major than the college you attended while
taking general education courses.

In addition, you should answer the following questions about

each school on your list.
1. What types of financial aid are available?
2. What degree programs are offered?
3. What are the costs of tuition and housing?
4. Does the school have regional accreditation?
5. Do the departments offering your potential majors
have additional accreditation?
6. What is the average class size?
7. What type of extracurricular activities are provided?
8. Does the college have dorms available?
9. What is the size of the student population?
Following the tips and answering the questions provided
in this article will help you choose the college that is
most appropriate for you.

Succeeding in College
Just as in elementary school through high school, your success
in college requires high motivation and effort, strong
study skills, effective time management, and good test-
taking strategies. These areas are covered in other screens
here at www.how-to-study.com. But college success requires
much more. Once you move from high school to college, you
will generally find that students are more motivated and
competent than in high school; teachers are more demanding;
the work is more difficult; and students are expected to be
independent. Further, if you are living away from home for the
first time, you will have many new experiences.
Here are some ideas that will help you succeed in college:

Have Clear Goals

College success requires commitment and a lot of hard work.

You must be very certain about the importance of a college

• Be clear about why you are going to college.

• Establish specific goals you wish to accomplish.
• Know what it will take to reach these goals.
•Be certain your goals are consistent with your interests
and abilities.
•Be flexible - change your goals if needed based on your
experience as you progress through college.
Get Financial Aid if Needed

College is expensive. Even if you attend a public college or

university and live at home, you still must pay for tuition, fees,
and books. There are many sources of financial aid that can
help you meet the high costs of college. Become aware of and
pursue these sources.
•Consider all possible sources of financial aid in addition to
your college's financial aid office.
•Meet all deadlines for submitting applications and
•Respond quickly and completely to all requests for
additional information.
• Be persistent in following up your application.
•If you do receive financial aid, meet all requirements to
keep and continue your aid.

Manage Your Money

• There are many ways to spend money in the college

setting for other than education purposes. Take steps to
ensure that you do not waste the money set aside for your
college education.
• Set a budget and keep to it.
• Be careful about your use of credit cards. Don't
overspend. Pay balances promptly to avoid high interest
•Open a checking account and carefully monitor your
• Keep your cell phone under control. Those minutes and
fees can really add up.

Stay Physically and Emotionally Healthy

You will need to be at your best to succeed in college. This

means taking care of your body and maintaining a good frame
of mind.
• Get enough sleep.
• Don't rely on coffee and drinks that contain high doses of
caffeine to provide you with energy. Foods such as pasta,
peanut butter, non-sugar cereals, and fresh fruit are
healthy alternatives to provide the energy you need.
•Avoid junk foods. Fast food is convenient but usually not
good for you.
• Use the services of the student health office. These
services typically include emergency treatment, low cost
examinations, and low cost or free medication.
• Use the services of the counseling office. The
professionals there can help you overcome feelings of
loneliness, depression, and anxiety.

Choose a Professor Carefully

In college you get to select your schedule of classes. Most

classes offer more than one section so that you can choose not
just the day and time, but the professor who is teaching that
section. Often you will find student ratings of professors on the
Internet. You can get even more feedback by talking to other
students. Try to choose a professor who demonstrates the
following characteristics.
• Maintains adequate office hours.
• Provides constructive feedback.
• Adapts to different styles of learning.
• Grades fairly.
• Is highly competent in the subject being taught.
• Establishes clear and reasonable requirements.
• Provides a positive learning environment.

Work With Your Advisor

As a student you will be assigned a faculty advisor to help you

with both academic and career issues. It is up to you to get
the most out of this guidance.
•Know your advisor's office location, schedule of office
hours, and contact information.
•Schedule an appointment with your advisor at any time
you have problems that affect your academic performance.
• Consider your advisor's ideas when selecting your major
or at any time you are considering changing your major or
career goals.
•Have specific questions in mind whenever meeting with
your advisor.

Make Good Use of the Library

You are going to spend a lot of your time in college at the
library. Take full advantage of this major resource.
•Get to know the resources of the library as soon as you
get to college.
• Learn to use its computer resources and card catalogs.
•Make good use of its equipment such as copy machines,
microfiche readers, production facilities, etc.
• Check out its quiet study areas. Sign up for their use if

Get Involved in Campus Life

There is a lot more to college than just classes. A college

campus is an exciting, dynamic environment that can provide
you with many opportunities for enhancing your college

• Join a student organization that is consistent with your

interests. You will find many organizations from which to
•Join a club in your major. This can not only help you in
your studies but can provide contacts that may be very
useful in your future career.
•Join an intramural team. This is a great way to keep
yourself in good physical shape and make new friends.
•Attend social events. Your college experience should not
be all work and no play.
Yes - success in college takes effort. But this effort will
provide benefits to you throughout your life. The ideas
presented above can help you to make your college experience
a successful one.

Tips for Success in Online


You may be one of the increasing number of students who is

pursuing a college degree online. If so, follow these tips to
help you be a successful online learner.
1. Do not presume. Many students assume that online
classes require less work and are easier than traditional
classes. In reality, online classes are designed to be just as
rigorous and demanding as traditional courses. Be
prepared to do a minimum of six hours of work a week in
an online course - and that’s a modest estimate. Some
weeks and some entire classes will require far more than
that, especially during the weeks of finals and midterms.
2. Pay attention to the course learning objectives.
Every course has learning objectives. Don’t ignore these
objectives. Course objectives are carefully crafted and they
are the foundations around which a well-designed course is
built. Lectures, activities, written assignments, discussion
boards, and tests - in fact, everything in a course-flow
from the objectives. If you understand the course
objectives, you will understand what is expected of you in
all aspects of the class, and will understand the criteria
upon which your grades will be based.
3. Read and practice everything. Go through every
screen in a course, not just the graded assignments. Don’t
run through a course skipping videos, animations, and
ungraded self-assessment activities. Your instructor
designed the course to help you achieve its learning
objectives. Even if something doesn’t have a grade
attached to it, know that it is there to provide
supplemental learning opportunities to better prepare you
for graded assignments and exams.
4. Be sure you have the required software and
hardware. These requirements are usually specified
somewhere in the course-usually in the syllabus or course
introduction section. You may not be able to turn in
papers, view videos, or participate in groups if you don’t
have the proper technology. Making sure that you have the
proper Internet connection, spyware, and software
programs installed is essential to your online learning
success. Don’t let a piece of software or hardware prevent
you from achieving learning objectives.
5. Be open to new ways of learning. Students learn in
different ways, and instructors often use a variety of
strategies to appeal to a wide variety of learning styles.
Give animations, videos, and audio files a try, even if they
seem different from what you’re used to. Well-designed
courses use technology to enhance learning, so be open to
6. Be comfortable communicating through text. Most
communication in an online course occurs through the
written word. Discussion board posts, written assignments,
and email are all common modes of communication in
online courses. This is different from traditional classes,
where a lot of communication is oral. Be prepared to read
and write a lot in online courses.
7. Participate wholeheartedly. Respond to discussion
board questions with substantive remarks. An example of
a bad post would be a very short "I agree with the
previous post" response. A good post would bring up
thought-provoking questions related to the lesson’s subject
matter and would be multi-sentenced. You will likely be
given points and grades for your postings, and detail and
substance will earn you higher points and grades. A well-
designed discussion board is designed to generate
thoughtful discourse. Use the opportunity to have a
meaningful conversation with your classmates.
8. Be proactive. If you have questions or don’t understand
an assignment, contact your instructor. Your instructor
won’t know if you don’t understand something unless you
tell them. Don’t wait until after you've turned in an
assignment to let the instructor know that you have
struggled. If you email or call the instructor before an
assignment, quiz, or exam, you’ll prevent the struggle, and
avoid having your grade suffer.
9. Establish a regular schedule. Log on to your course
every day...or at a minimum five days a week. Since
courses are designed for students to do at least six hours
of work each week, it’s not wise or effective to wait until
the end of the week to do the coursework. Manage your
time and do some work each day, just as you would in a
traditional course.
10. Fill out the surveys. Online courses often ask for
your feedback somewhere within the course or after the
course is over. A school will use your comments to build
better programs and create better online courses.
Remember that online education is relatively new, and
there’s always room for improvement. The time you take
to answer a survey will benefit you as well as future
If you follow the suggested tips, you can succeed at
online learning -- and enjoy the experience all at once.

Building Vocabulary: Using

Context Clues to Learn
Word Meaning
When authors write, they often include context clues to the
meaning of words they use but think that some of their
readers may not know. The context clue is usually presented
in the sentence or paragraph in which the word occurs.
Sometimes a visual such as a picture is provided.
Here are six types of context clues used by authors to help the
reader understand the meanings of words. An example is
provided for each.

1. Definition context clue

The author includes a definition to help the reader understand

the meaning of a word. In the following example, "tainted" is
defined as having a disease.
The people of the town were warned not to eat the tainted
fish. The local newspaper published a bulletin in which readers
were clearly told that eating fish that had a disease could be
very dangerous. This was especially true for fish caught in
Lake Jean.

2. Synonym context clue

The author includes a synonym to help the reader understand

the meaning of a word. A synonym is a word that means the
same as or nearly the same as another word. In the following
example, the synonym "pity" helps the reader understand the
meaning of "compassion."
After seeing the picture of the starving children, we all felt
compassion or pity for their suffering.
3. Antonym context clue

The author includes an antonym to help the reader understand

the meaning of a word. An antonym is a word that means the
opposite of another word. In the following example, the
antonym "eager" helps the reader understand the meaning of
Joe was reluctant to take on the position of captain of the
basketball team. He was afraid that the time it would take
would hurt his grades. On the other hand, Billy was eager for
the chance to be captain. He thought that being captain of the
team would make him very popular in school.
4. Description context clue

The author includes one or more descriptions to help the

reader understand the meaning of a word. In the following
example, descriptions of President Kennedy as having charm,
enthusiasm, and a magnetic personality help the reader
understand the meaning of "charismatic."
John Fitzgerald Kennedy, our 35th president, improved human
rights and equal rights for all people. He was a very
charismatic president. People were attracted to his charm and
enthusiasm. His personality was described as magnetic.
5. Summary context clue

The author makes a number of statements that help the

reader understand the meaning of a word. In the following
example, statements about being rude, showing no respect,
having poor manners, and being impolite help the reader
understand the meaning of "impertinent."
Andrea was a very impertinent young lady. She was so rude
that she talked while her teacher was explaining a lesson. She
showed no respect for other students. Her manners were very
poor. Even her parents thought that Andrea was impolite.

She was exultant

6. Visual context clue

The author includes a picture, drawing, chart, graph, or other

type of visual to help the reader understand the meaning of a
word. In the following example, the picture and its caption that
is close to the sentence helps the reader understand that
"exultant" means great joy.
Peggy had an exultant look on her face.
Using the context clues provided by authors can help you learn
the meaning of many new words.

Expository Writing

Expository writing informs or explains. For example, if you are

writing to inform about the Empire State Building, you could
write about where it is located, when it was built, how tall it is,
and what can be seen from its observation deck. If you are
writing to explain how to grow flowers, you could tell how to
prepare the soil, when to plant the seeds, how often to water
the flowers as they grow, and when to add fertilizer. You will
need skill in expository writing when you write school reports
and research papers.
Here are five steps to follow to produce effective expository
1. Select a subject or idea about which you want to
write. The subject or idea you select is your topic.
Sometimes the topic is assigned by your teacher. If you
have to select your own topic, start by thinking about a
general theme such as water. Then list some specific topics
related to water. For example, you might list such topics as
diving, swimming, life saving, scuba diving, or even water
polo. Select the topic in which you have the most interest.
2. Determine your writing objective. Decide whether
you want to inform the reader about your topic, or explain
something about the topic. For example, for the topic of
scuba diving, you might decide to inform the reader about
how scuba diving got its name, when and where it began,
why people scuba dive, and where some of the best places
to scuba dive are located. Or, you might decide to explain
how to scuba dive. You could write about the training a
person would need, certification or license requirements,
equipment needed, and the safety procedures to follow.
3. Gather the information needed to meet your
objective. Sources of information include: people such as
your teachers and parents; newspapers and magazines;
reference books such as encyclopedias, almanacs, and
atlases; and the Internet. Write notes as you gather the
information. Using index cards is a good way to do this.
4. Organize the information you obtain. You can
organize the information from your notes by creating an
outline that shows the major ideas about your topic and
the supporting details for each idea. Or, you can visually
organize your information by using a graphic organizer.
5. Write your research paper or report. Be sure to
include all the information needed to meet your objective.
Provide logical supporting facts, details, and examples as
needed. Use your outline or graphic organizer to be certain
that your writing follows a logical order. Provide smooth
transitions so that the reader can easily follow what you
are trying to say. End with a summary or conclusion that
clearly meets your objective.
Following these five steps will help you whenever you
do expository writing.

Parts of Speech

A part of speech explains how a word is used. In traditional

English grammar, there are eight parts of speech. Knowing
about each part of speech will help you use words correctly
when speaking and writing. Your communication skills will be
Here are the eight parts of speech and their most common
Noun: A noun is a word that names a person, place, or thing.
(person) - Michael Jordan was a great basketball player.
(place) - I left my notebook at school.
(thing) - I enjoy reading a good book.
A noun that names only one person, place, or thing is a
singular noun. A noun that names more than one person,
place, or thing is a plural noun. For example, automobile is a
singular noun, while automobiles is a plural noun.
Pronoun: A pronoun is a word that is used in place of a noun.
Pronouns act just like nouns.

Bob gave me the best puppy in the litter.
Now that cute puppy is mine.
Adjective: An adjective is a word that describes a noun. It
can tell what kind or how many.
(what kind) That was a wonderful movie.
(how many) Only several people attended the town meeting.
Verb: A verb is a word that shows action. A present tense
verb shows action that is happening now. A past tense verb
shows action that has already happened. A future tense verb
shows action that will happen.
(present tense) Please move the chair away from the wall.
(past tense) I walked home from school yesterday.
(future tense) We are going on vacation in the middle of July.
Adverb: An adverb is a word that describes a verb. It can tell
how or when.
(how) I try to eat my food slowly.
(when) I like Jamie because he never lies.
Conjunction: A conjunction is a word that connects words in
a sentence.
Susan and Anna are very close friends.
I will go to the park if you come too.
Preposition: A preposition is a word that links and relates a
noun or pronoun to another word in a sentence.
I haven't gone to the gym since Tuesday.
Tom said that he was against Bill's idea.
Interjection: An interjection is a word that expresses
emotion. It is usually an exclamation that is followed by an
exclamation point (!). Sometimes, an interjection is followed
by a comma (,).
Wow! That movie was scary.
Oops, I didn't mean to do that.
Knowing these eight parts of speech will improve your writing
and speaking.

Spelling Long Words: The

Syllable-Building Strategy
A long word is a word that has more than one syllable (i.e.,
multisyllabic). A syllable is a word or part of a word that is
spoken with a single sound of the voice. Using the Syllable-
Building Strategy will help you spell long words such as
Here is how a student named William used the steps in the
Syllable-Building Strategy to learn to spell democratic. He
came across this word while reading his social studies
•Step 1. William carefully copied the word into his
notebook. He checked what he wrote to be sure that he
had spelled the word correctly. Here is what he wrote.

• Step 2. William then located the word democratic in his

•Step 3. William used the phonetic respelling of
democratic in the dictionary to help him pronounce the
word. William knew that if he could still not pronounce
democratic, he could ask his teacher for help.
•Step 4. From the dictionary, William learned that
democratic was a four-syllable word. William wrote
democratic leaving a space between each syllable. Here is
what he wrote.

• Step 5. William wrote the first syllable of democratic

three times. He pronounced this syllable each time he
wrote it. Here is what he wrote.

William then covered what he had written and wrote the

first syllable of democratic from memory. Here is what he

He looked to see if he had spelled the first syllable

correctly and found that he had. William then wrote the
first two syllables of democratic together three times. He
pronounced the two syllables together as he wrote them.
Here is what he wrote.

He covered what he had written and wrote the first two

syllables from memory. Here is what he wrote.

William then looked to see if he had

spelled the first two syllables correctly and found that he
had not. Therefore, he once again wrote the first two
syllables of democratic three times, pronouncing them as
he did so. Here is what he wrote.

William covered what he had written and wrote the first

two syllables from memory. Here is what he wrote.

He looked to see if he had spelled the first two syllables

correctly and found that he had.
William continued this procedure for the first three
syllables of democratic and then for the entire word.
• Step 6. Once William had correctly spelled the entire
word from memory, he wrote democratic on his personal
spelling list. He wrote both the entire word and the word
broken into syllables.
• Step 7. William periodically reviewed the spelling of
democratic using the following Spell and Say Review
1. He pronounced democratic aloud.
2. He pronounced and spelled aloud each syllable.
3. He spelled the entire word aloud.
4. He wrote democratic three times.
Using the Syllable-Building Strategy will make you a better

Capitalization Rules
There are many times when a word or words must be
capitalized. Here are ten capitalization rules you should know
and use. An example is shown for each rule.
• Capitalize the first word of a sentence.
It is important to know when a word must be capitalized.

• Capitalize the pronoun "I."

Do you think I should study for another hour?
• Capitalize proper nouns (names of specific people, places,
events, and organizations).
I believe that George Washington was our greatest
• Capitalize days of the week, holidays, and months of the
We usually go on vacation during July and August.
• Capitalize the first word in a quote.
I was pleased when my teacher said to me, "You are a
wonderful student."
• Capitalize the name of a language.
Next year I will study Spanish literature.
• Capitalize the official title of a person when used with that
person's name.
My friend told me that Dr. Hawkins is a great chemistry
• Capitalize initials in someone's name.
My favorite author is J. R. R. Tolkien.
• Capitalize the first word of a salutation or closing.
With warmest regards,
Amanda Warren
• Capitalize the first word and last words and each important
word in the title of a book, movie, etc. Do not capitalize little
words within a title (e.g.,a, an, and. as, if, for, or, the). Also,
do not capitalize prepositions.
I was very moved when I read To Kill a Mockingbird.
There are many capitalization rules. Knowing and using
these ten rules is a good start.

Writing a Five Paragraph

As you progress through school, you will be required to write
essays. An essay is a written composition in which you express
a certain idea and back it up with statements that support the
idea. Most frequently, you will be required to write your essay
in a five paragraph essay format.
As its name implies, a five paragraph essay consists of five
paragraphs. However, the essay itself consists of three parts:
an introduction, a body, and a conclusion.


The first paragraph of a five paragraph essay is the

introduction. You should begin this paragraph with a statement
that captures the reader’s interest so that the reader will want
to continue to read your entire essay. Make your first sentence
as interesting as possible. Follow with several sentences that
clarify your opening statement. Conclude the paragraph with a
thesis statement in which you present what you believe and
intend to prove. A good thesis statement takes a stand and is
very specific.


The body of a five paragraph essay consists of three

paragraphs. Each paragraph should be limited to one main
idea that supports your thesis statement. The first paragraph
of the body should contain your strongest argument in support
of your thesis. Begin this paragraph by stating your idea. Then
follow with two or three sentences containing supporting
evidence or examples. Conclude this paragraph with a
sentence that sums up what you discussed in the paragraph.
The second paragraph of the body should follow the same
format as the first paragraph of the body. This paragraph
should contain your second strongest argument in support of
your thesis statement. The third paragraph of the body follows
the same format, and contains your third strongest argument.
In addition to summing up what you have discussed in the
paragraph, the last sentence should also indicate that the
paragraph contains the final argument you are raising.


The fifth and final paragraph of the essay contains the

conclusion. This concluding paragraph should repeat your
thesis statement in slightly different words than used in your
introductory paragraph. It should summarize the three
arguments you presented in the body of your essay. Your final
sentence should signal that your essay has come to an end. In
essence, your concluding paragraph should make it clear to
the reader that you believe you have proven what you set out
to prove.
Writing essays becomes increasingly important as you
progress through school. Following the format
presented above will help you write good essays.

Phonics Rules

What is Phonics?

Phonics refers to associating letters or letter groups with the

sound they represent. Mastery of phonics is an important tool
for reading and pronouncing words.

What Phonics Rules Should I Know?

Because the English language is so complex, there are many
phonics rules. Knowing the phonics rules that apply most often
can be a major aid to identifying words and improving
comprehension in your reading. But keep in mind there are
some words that don't follow the rules. You will just have to
watch out for these exceptions.
Here are the most useful phonics rules you should
1. Every syllable in every word must contain a vowel.
The vowels are: a, e, i, o, u, and y (although y is a
consonant when at the beginning of a word).
2. When "c" is followed by "e, i, or y," it usually has
the soft sound of "s." Example: city.

3. When "g" is followed by "e, i, or y," it usually has

the soft sound of "j." Example: gem.
4. A consonant digraph is two or more consonants that
are grouped together and represent a single sound. Here
are some consonant digraphs you should know: wh (what),
sh (shout), wr (write), kn (know), th (that), ch (child), ph
(graph), tch (watch), gh (laugh), ng (ring).
5. When a syllable ends in a consonant and has only
one vowel, that vowel is short. Examples: tap, bed, wish,
lock, bug.
6. When a syllable ends in a silent "e," the vowel that
comes before the silent "e" is long. Examples: take, gene,
bite, hope, fuse.
7. When a syllable has two vowels together, the first
vowel is usually long and the second vowel is silent.
Example: stain.
8. When a syllable ends in a vowel and is the only
vowel, that vowel is usually long. Examples: ba/ker,
be/come, bi/sect, go/ing, fu/ture, my/self.
9. When a vowel is followed by "r" in the same
syllable, the vowel is neither long nor short. Examples:
charm, term, shirt, corn, surf.
Knowing and Applying These Phonics Rules Will
Improve Your Reading.

Useful Spelling Rules

Correct spelling is very difficult for many students because the
spellings of many words do not follow rules.

Even when rules apply to the spellings of words:

• There are many rules to be learned.
• Many of the rules are very complicated.
• Many of the rules apply to a small number of words.
• Almost every rule has exceptions.
Still, there are some rules that apply to the spellings of words
with few exceptions, and that are not difficult to learn and
remember. Learning and using these rules can improve your
Here are eight spelling rules you should learn and use.
1. A word that ends with the sound of "v" is spelled
with the letters "ve" at its end.
*Examples: shave, above, effective
2. The letter "i" comes before "e" except after "c."
*Examples: believe, field, tried (but not receive)
3. When a word ends with "y" preceded by a
consonant, form the plural of the word by changing the "y"
to "i" and adding "es."
*Examples: countries, carries, ladies
4. Drop the final silent "e" when adding a suffix that
begins with a vowel.
*Examples: changing, notable, nervous
5. Keep the final silent "e" when adding a suffix that
begins with a consonant.
*Examples: useful, lovely, hopeless
6. When a one-syllable word ends in a vowel followed
by a consonant, double the final consonant when adding a
*Examples: topped, swimmer, hitting
7. The letter "q" in a word is followed by "u."
*Examples: quick, antique, equation
8. Do not change the spelling of a word when adding a
prefix to it.
*Examples: remove, triangle, misspell
While some of these rules have exceptions, learning and
using them will help you correctly spell many words.

Choosing a Topic
Sometimes when you are assigned to write a research paper,
your teacher selects the topic. Other times, your teacher may
provide a list of topics from which you are to choose one. In
some cases, selecting a topic is left entirely up to you. When
this is the case, here are some guidelines to help you select an
appropriate topic.
• Choose a topic that fits your interests and knowledge.
You will be more motivated to write your paper if you do
•Be certain that your topic is consistent with your
assignment. For example, if the assignment is to write a
paper dealing with a social issue, the topic "Important
Inventions of the Twentieth Century" is not appropriate
because it deals with a technical subject, not a social issue.
• Choose a topic that is not too broad. For example, there
are thousands of articles and books about the Civil War.
The topic "The Civil War" is too broad. You won’t be able to
organize the abundance of information into a cohesive

• Choose a topic that is not too narrow. For example,

getting back to the Civil War, the topic "The Role of Nurses
during the Battle of Gettysburg" is too specific. You will not
be able to find enough information to write your paper.
"The Role of Nurses in the Civil War" would be a suitable
topic. You would be able to find enough information about
this broader topic to write your paper, but you would not
be overwhelmed by too much information.
• Try to choose a topic that is creative. For example, "The
Moon Landing" is a common topic about space exploration.
Your teacher may be tired of reading about this topic. The
topic "Should We Spend More Money on Space
Exploration?" is more creative, and is likely to capture your
teacher’s interest.
• Avoid topics that are difficult to express in writing. For
example, it is hard to put the qualities of Mozart’s
symphonies in words. Similarly, it would be difficult to
write about the beauty of the painting, Mona Lisa. In
general, music and art should be avoided as sources of
• Consider the length of the paper you are required to
write. Teachers often specify the length of the paper you
are to write. Be sure to choose a topic that will allow you
to write a paper that will fit within the required length.
Following these guidelines will help you with the first
step in writing a research paper - choosing an
appropriate topic.

Forming Plurals

Plurals signify that there is more than one of something. Most

words in the English language are made plural by simply
adding -s to the end of the word. For example, boy becomes
boys, kitten becomes kittens, and so on.
So far, so good. The problem comes for words that do not
form their plurals in this simple manner. Here are some rules
that can help you correctly form plurals for some of these
1. To form the plural of a word that ends with a
consonant followed by -y, change the -y to i, and add

city - cities lady - ladies candy - candies

However, to form the plural of a word that ends with

a vowel followed by -y, simply add -s.

turkey - turkeys donkey - donkeys valley - valleys

2. To form the plural of most words that end with -f
or -fe, simply add -s.

chief - chiefs safe - safes gulf - gulfs

However, in some cases, the plural is formed by
changing the -f to v, and adding -es.

wife - wives leaf - leaves knife - knives

3. For most words that end with -o preceded by a
consonant, the plural is formed by adding -es.

potato - potatoes hero - heroes echo - echoes

When -o is preceded by a vowel, the plural is formed

by simply adding -s.

video - videos patio - patios studio - studios

4. For compound words that are not hyphenated or
separated by spaces, the plural is formed by adding
-s or -es.

checkbook - checkbooks
sandbox - sandboxes windmill - windmills

However, when a compound word is hyphenated or

separated by spaces, -s or -es is added to the word
that is to be pluralized. The word to be pluralized is
the main word in the compound word.

mother-in-law - mothers-in-law poet laureate - poets


If you can’t identify a main word to be made plural,

simply add -s or -es.

grown-up - grown-ups lieutenant-colonel - lieutenant-

These rules will not help you with words that have
irregular plural forms such as mice and stimuli. But they
will help you correctly form the plural for many of the
words you encounter.

Using Punctuation Marks

Punctuation is the use of standard marks and signs in writing
to separate words into sentences, clauses, and phrases in
order to clarify meaning. The marks or signs are called
punctuation marks. Punctuation marks are signals to
readers. When you speak, you can pause, stop, or change
your tone of voice to make your meaning clear. You cannot do
this when you write. When writing, you must use punctuation
marks such as commas and question marks to make your
meaning clear.
The use of punctuation marks can be very complex. Each
punctuation mark can be used in many ways. Here are the
punctuation marks that are most commonly used when writing
and the most typical way or ways they are used.
Examples are provided for each.
Period (.)

- Use a period at the end of a declarative sentence (a sentence

which states an idea).
"That was a wonderful movie."
- Use a period to end an abbreviation.
"I think that Mr. Williams is a great teacher."
Question Mark (?)
- Use a question mark at the end of an interrogative sentence
(a sentence which asks a question).
"Did you like that movie?"
Comma (,)
- Use a comma to separate three or more items in a series.
"My history class meets each Monday, Wednesday, and
- Use a comma to separate independent clauses in a sentence.
"We wanted to go to the beach, but it rained that day."
- Use a comma after introductory words or phrases in a
"Certainly, I have my homework right here."
- Use a comma to set off dates and addresses.
"My friend Jane, who was born June 18, 1992, lives in Akron,

Semicolon (;)
- Use a semicolon when two independent clauses in a sentence
are not separated by a conjunction (such as "and").
"I like pizza; Carlos also likes pizza"
- Use a semicolon between independent clauses in a sentence
that are separated by any of the following transitional words or
phrases: accordingly, consequently, for example, for instance,
furthermore, however, instead, moreover, nevertheless,
otherwise, and therefore.
"I planned to study Saturday morning; however, the power in
our house went out due to a storm."
- Use a semicolon when the items in a series of items contain
"I have lived in Los Angeles, California; Boston,
Massachusetts; Trenton, New Jersey; and Philadelphia,
Colon (:)
- Use a colon before a list that is preceded by a complete
independent clause. Some form of the word "follow" is often
used in such a case.
"On our next vacation, we plan to visit the following countries:
England, France, Italy, and Greece."
- Use a colon to divide hours from minutes.
"I have an appointment with the doctor at 10:30 tomorrow
Exclamation Point (!) (sometimes called an Exclamation
- Use an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence to show
strong emotion.
"I am very upset with him!"
- Use an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence for
"I have to go home right now!"
- Use an exclamation mark after an interjection at the start of
a sentence (an interjection is a word used to express strong
feeling or sudden emotion).
"Wow! That test was harder than I expected."
Apostrophe (')

- Use an apostrophe to indicate a missing letter or letters in a

"I don't think she will win the election."
- Use an apostrophe plus the letter "s" to show possession.
"Please take good care of Brad's dog."
Use punctuation marks to make the meaning of what
you write as clear as possible.
A Word Identification
From time to time while reading you will see a word you
cannot identify. It may be a word you think you know but
cannot identify, or it may be a word that is new to you. When
this happens, you should use a word identification strategy to
identify and say the word.
Here are the steps of a word identification strategy you can
use. Each step tells one thing you should do when you come to
a word you cannot identify. Continue to follow the steps until
you have identified the word.
1. LOOK AGAIN at the word. As you look at the word
again, say each letter in the word. This will get you to look
more carefully at the word. Often, when you look at a word
a second or third time, you will identify the word as a word
you know.

2. READ THE SENTENCE containing the word to see if you

can determine what the word means by how it is used in
the sentence. Sometimes, knowing the meaning of a word
will help you identify the word.
3. LOOK FOR A PREFIX at the beginning of the word. A
prefix is a word part that is attached to the beginning of a
word. Here are some examples of words with the prefix
underlined: prepaid, unheard, rerun.
4. LOOK FOR A SUFFIX at the end of the word. A suffix is
a word part that is attached to the end of a word. Here are
some examples of words with the suffix underlined: lovely,
tallest, spelling.
5. LOOK FOR THE STEM. The stem is what remains after
the removal of a prefix and/or suffix. If there is no prefix
or suffix, then the whole word is the stem. Here are some
examples of words with the stem underlined: prepaid,
lovely, misspelling).
6. BLEND AND SAY THE WORD. Blend together the prefix
if there is one, the stem, and the suffix if there is one to
say the entire word. For example: un+help+ful =
7. USE A DICTIONARY to help identify the word. Look in
the dictionary for the word and its phonetic respelling. The
phonetic respelling shows the most common pronunciation
of the word. Use the phonetic respelling to help you
pronounce the word. Also, look at the definitions provided
for the word. Select the definition that best fits the
meaning of the word as used in the sentence. Knowing the
pronunciation of the word and its meaning should allow
you to identify the word.
8. ASK SOMEONE for help identifying the word. If you
have reached this step and still cannot identify the word,
ask your teacher, parent, or another student to help you
identify and say the word.
Use this word identification strategy whenever needed in your
reading. You cannot understand what you read unless you can
identify most or all of the words.

Using Prefixes to Expand

Your Vocabulary
What is a prefix?
You must understand what a root word is in order to
understand what a prefix is.
A root word is a word you can change into a new word
by adding a beginning and/or an ending.
A prefix is a beginning that is added to a root word.
For example, take the root word "purpose." By adding the
prefix "multi" to "purpose," the new word "multipurpose" is
Every prefix has its own meaning. When added to a root word,
a prefix changes the meaning of the root word to which it is
added. The root word "purpose" means "an aim or a goal one
wishes to achieve." The prefix "multi" means "many." The new
word "multipurpose" means "designed or used for many
Learning to identify prefixes and knowing their meanings are
great ways to expand your vocabulary. An expanded
vocabulary will increase your listening and speaking
comprehension. It will also help you communicate more
effectively when writing or taking tests.

Some Common Prefixes

Here are some common prefixes. The meaning of each prefix

is shown, as well as words that can be formed by adding the
prefix to root words. Using these prefixes and others will
expand your vocabulary.

Meaning of
Prefix Words Formed Using the Prefix

re again replay, resend, replace

hyper over hyperactive, hypersensitive,


un not unclear, unsure, undecided

tri three triangle, tricycle, triweekly

pre before prepay, prepackage, predate

mis wrong misconduct, misspell, misunderstand

sub below subway, substandard, submarine

Some More Prefixes

Here are some more prefixes and their meanings. You can
add these prefixes to many root words to form new words
and expand your vocabulary.

Prefix Meaning Prefix Meaning

ante before auto self

bi two circum around

equi equal im not

hypo under inter between

neo new omni all

poly many retro backward

semi half trans across

To build your vocabulary using prefixes, do the

1. When you see a prefix whose meaning you do not know,
look up its meaning in a dictionary.
2. Write the prefix and its meaning where you can refer to
it easily and often.
3. Review the meaning of these prefixes from time to time.

4. Form words by adding these prefixes to root words.

5. Use these words when you speak and write.

Watch your vocabulary grow!


An idiom is an expression that is characteristic of a particular

language, but that means something different from the literal
meaning of the words. For example, the idiom "having the
upper hand," has nothing to do with hands. It means to have
the advantage in a situation.
People frequently use idioms because they make speech and
writing more colorful and interesting. Here are some
commonly used idioms and their meanings.
Sell someone short - underestimate someone.
Sitting pretty - be in a fortunate position.
Hit the ceiling - become very angry.
Pull someone's leg - fool someone.
Wet blanket - a dull or boring person who spoils the
happiness of others.
Keep under one’s hat - keep something a secret.
Get off someone’s back - stop bothering someone.
Shape up or ship out - behave properly or leave.
Make ends meet - pay one’s bills.
Out of the woods - out of danger.
In stitches - laugh very hard.
Spill the beans - reveal a secret.
Tongue in cheek - not serious.
For the birds - uninteresting and meaningless.
Shake a leg - hurry.
There are hundreds, even thousands of idioms that are used in
the English language. You may find it helpful to purchase one
of the many dictionaries of idioms that are available.
Here is one more idiom.
Give it your best shot - try hard.
Idioms are hard to learn, but give it your best shot.

Reading Comprehension:
The REDW Strategy for
Finding Main Ideas
REDW is a good strategy to use to find the main idea in
each paragraph of a reading assignment. Using this
strategy will help you comprehend the information contained
in your assignment. Each of the letters in REDW stands for a
step in the strategy.

Read the entire paragraph to get an idea of what the

paragraph is about. You may find it helpful to whisper the
words as you read or to form a picture in your mind of what
you are reading. Once you have a general idea of what the
paragraph is about, go on to the next step.
Examine each sentence in the paragraph to identify the
important words that tell what the sentence is about. Ignore
the words that are not needed to tell what the sentence is
about. If you are allowed to, draw a line through the words to
be ignored. For each sentence, write on a sheet of paper the
words that tell what the sentence is about.
Reread the words you wrote for each sentence in the
paragraph. Decide which sentence contains the words you
wrote that best describe the main idea of the paragraph.
These words are the main idea of the paragraph. The sentence
that contains these words is the topic sentence. The other
words you wrote are the supporting details for the main idea.

Write the main idea for each paragraph in your notebook. This
will provide you with a written record of the most important
ideas you learned. This written record will be helpful if you
have to take a test that covers the reading assignment.
Use REDW to help you understand the information in your
reading assignments.

Writing Tips: Writing a Book

Report (Fiction)
A book report should contain a factual summary of the book
along with your reaction to the book. Book reports usually
range from 250 to 500 words.
Your teacher may have specific requirements about what you
must include in a book report. Your teacher may even provide
you with a very specific form to use. A good book report
should include the following:
1. Basic Information about the Book
• Title
• Author
• Publisher
• Year published
• Number of pages
2. Summary
• Where the story takes place (setting)
• When the story takes place (time)
• Who tells the story (narrator)
• Main character (protagonist)
• Secondary characters
• Sequence of important events (plot)
• How the book ends

3. Your Reaction
• Was the book well written?
•If you have read other books by the same author, how
does this book compare with the others?
•Would you recommend this book to others? Why or why
Once you have completed your book report, check to make
sure you have:
• Correct spelling
• Correct punctuation and grammar
• A complete and accurate summary
Your book report makes it clear that you have read the entire
book. As you read the book think about what you want to
include in your book report. Jotting down some notes can be
helpful. Write your book report as soon as possible after you
finish reading the book.
A book report makes you think about what you are
reading. You will find this adds to your enjoyment of the

Confusing Pairs of Words

Many pairs of words sound alike or nearly alike, but each has a
different meaning. For example, affect means to influence
something, while effect means the result of something. Words
like these can be easily confused with each other.
You must be careful to use the correct word from a pair of
such confusing words when you are writing and speaking. If
not, you may express something different than what you mean
to express.
For example, suppose you are writing about the importance of
a good marriage. You write that martial bliss is a wonderful
thing. The word martial refers to war. You should have
written that marital bliss is a wonderful thing. The word
marital refers to marriage.
You wouldn't want to embarrass yourself by addressing a
letter to the administrator of your school as "Dear Principle."
The word principle means a fundamental truth. You should
write "Dear Principal." The word principal refers to the head
of a school.
Here are some word pairs that are commonly confused. Learn
the meanings of each of the words so that you use them
Accept - to take something that is given to you
Except - to leave out
Altar - a raised place used in religious services
Alter - to change
Ascent - to climb
Assent - to agree
Brake - a device for stopping or slowing a vehicle
Break - to come apart
Cite - to document
Site - a place
Coarse - rough
Course - moving from one point to the next
Complement - something that makes a thing whole or perfect
Compliment - to praise
Conscience - a sense of right and wrong
Conscious - state of being awake

Descent - coming from a higher place to a lower one

Dissent - to disagree
Desert - a dry, hot, sandy area
Dessert - the sweet final part of a meal
Device - something made for a certain purpose
Devise - to invent something or develop a plan
Elicit - to bring out
Illicit - illegal
Eminent - famous or well respected
Imminent - about to happen
Faint - weak
Feint - a movement meant to deceive

Forth - forward
Fourth - an ordinal number
Here - at or in a place
Hear - to receive sound through one's ears
Hoard - to save and store away
Horde - a very large group
Hole - an opening through something
Whole - an entire thing
Loath - reluctant
Loathe - greatly dislike
Palate - the roof of the mouth
Palette - an artist's board for mixing paints
Peace - absence of fighting
Piece - a portion of something
Plain - clearly seen, heard, or understood
Plane - a flat surface
Pore - a very small opening in the skin
Pour - to cause something to flow
Precede - to come before
Proceed - to go forward
Shear - to cut the wool off a sheep
Sheer - so thin you can see through it
Stationary - to stand still
Stationery - writing paper
Waist - the part of the human body between the ribs and the
Waste - to use or spend carelessly
Weak - without strength
Week - a period of seven days
Don't be CONFUSED! Learn the meanings of these words
to use them correctly.

What is a Metaphor?

A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase

that denotes a certain object or idea is applied to another word
or phrase to imply some similarity between them.

Examples of Metaphors Using Words and Phrases

1. The inside of the car was a refrigerator.
• A refrigerator is very cold. In this example, "refrigerator"
is a metaphor because it is being applied to "the inside of
the car" to imply that the inside of the car was very cold.
2. The teenage boy's stomach was a bottomless pit.
• A bottomless pit can never be filled. In this example,
"bottomless pit" is a metaphor because it is being applied
to "the teenage boy's stomach" to imply that his appetite
could never be satisfied (that is, his stomach could never
be filled).

Why Use a Metaphor?

Speakers and writers use metaphors for several reasons:

• Metaphors can help readers or listeners to better
understand something about the object or idea to which
the metaphor is being applied.
•Metaphors can make speaking and writing more lively
and interesting.
•Metaphors can communicate a great deal of meaning
with just a word or a phrase.
• Metaphors, because they imply rather than directly state
relationships, can get listeners and readers to think about
what they are hearing or reading.

Some More Metaphors

Depending on what you are trying to communicate when

writing or speaking, just about any word or phrase can be
used as a metaphor. Here are some sentences in which a
metaphor is used. In each sentence, the metaphor appears in
bold print. What the metaphor implies is shown after each
1. The teacher got to the bottom of the problem. (This
implies that the teacher got to the source of the problem.)
2. My dad was boiling mad. (This implies that my dad was
very, very angry.)
3. His idea was difficult to swallow. (This implies that his
idea was hard to accept.)
4. The homework was a breeze. (This implies that the
homework was very easy to do.)
5. They showered the birthday girl with gifts. (This implies
that they gave the girl many gifts.)
6. My memory of the event is foggy. (This implies that my
memory of what happened was unclear.)
7. Her dog, Jake, was the sunshine of her life. (This
implies that Jake was the brightest or best part of her life.)
8. Mary stole the spotlight with her performance. (This
implies that Mary's performance made her the center of
9. If I were you, I would steer clear of that topic. (This
implies that you should stay away from that topic.)
10. After graduating from college, William decided to
market himself as a computer specialist. (This implies that
William decided to present himself as a computer specialist
when looking for a job.)
11. Alice was thrilled when her idea began to bear
fruit. (This implies that Alice's idea produced results.)
12. I knew he was just joking because I could see a
smile sprouting from the edges of his lips. (This implies
that a smile was forming and growing.)
13. Helen and Maria hatched a plan to help Maria
become president of her class. (This implies that Helen and
Maria came up with a plan.)
14. Each year, a new crop of students entered
Harrison High School. (This implies that each year a new
group of students entered whose skills and abilities would
grow during their years at Harrison.)
15. The suspect clammed up when the police began to
ask him questions about where he had been the night of
the crime. (This implies that the suspect shut his mouth
and said nothing.)

A Strategy for Using Metaphors

1. Identify the object or idea that is the subject of

what you are writing or saying. For example, suppose you
are trying to describe a sunset.
2. Identify what it is you want to communicate about
that object or idea. You want to bring out how beautiful
the sunset is.
3. Identify another object or idea that strongly implies
what you want to communicate. You decide that the idea
of "painted" would be a good way to communicate the
beauty of the sunset.
4. Construct a sentence in which you link the idea of
painted with sunset. For example, you could write or say,
"The sunset painted the sky with vibrant colors."
Congratulations! You have just used painted as a metaphor.
Using metaphors when you write and speak will allow you to
communicate more effectively and in a more interesting way.

A Strategy for Reading

A story is a fictitious tale that is written to entertain, amuse, or
instruct the reader. A novel is the same as a story but it is
longer and more complex. To understand a story or novel, you
need to understand the six elements used by authors when
they write a story or novel.

Characters are the first element to look for when

reading a story or novel. Characters are most often people but
can be animals or even fictionalized beings like those seen in
cartoons or movies. The main character plays the biggest role
and is often the first character to be introduced. Most often the
story is seen through the eyes of the main character.
Secondary characters play a smaller supporting role and are
introduced throughout the story.
The setting is the second element you should look for when
reading a story or novel. The setting is the location where the
story takes place. A story may take place in a home,
countryside, town, school, or wherever the author chooses to
have the action occur. The setting is usually revealed very
early in a story.
The time when the story takes place is the third element you
should look for when reading a story or novel. A story may
take place very recently or many years ago. Usually the time
when the story takes place is introduced very early in the

The problem is the fourth element you should look for in a
story or novel. The problem most often grows out of a conflict
between the main character and another character in the
story. But the problem can also involve a circumstance such as
a hurricane, a war, or one of the many obstacles that produce
a conflict in life.
Events are the fifth element you should look for when reading
a story or novel. An event is an attempt at solving the problem
in the story. In a story there are usually a number of attempts
to solve the problem and these events make up most of the
A solution is the sixth and final element in a story or novel.
The solution is how the problem is resolved or brought to an
end. Most often the solution is revealed near the end of the
story. Sometimes the solution is not revealed until the very
last page or even the final paragraph of the story.
Recognizing these story elements will help you better
understand and enjoy a story, remember the story facts, and
appreciate different writing styles used by authors.

Ten Steps to a Good

Research Paper
To write a good research paper, you must be specific about
your topic, know what you want to say, and say it effectively.
Following these ten steps will help you write a good research

• Step 1. Choose Your Topic. When choosing a topic,

choose one in which you are interested, and for which
there is enough information. If your topic is too broad, you
will have difficulty completing your paper. "The Effects of
Pollution" is too broad because there are so many effects
of pollution. "The Effects of Pollution on Geese in the
Northeast Section of Duluth, Minnesota" is too narrow. You
are not likely to find much information that is this specific.
"The Effects of Pollution in Yosemite National Park" is just
about right as a topic.
• Step 2. Locate Information. Use information from a
variety of reference sources. These sources include
encyclopedias, almanacs, scholarly journals, books,
magazines, and newspapers. Find these sources in print
form, on CD-ROMS, and on the Internet.
• Step 3. Prepare Bibliography Cards. Prepare
bibliography cards to document the sources of information
you use when writing your paper. Your library will have
style manuals to illustrate how to prepare bibliography
cards for various sources of information.
•Step 4. Prepare Note Cards. Use note cards to record
notes from each source you use when writing your paper.
Number your note cards to keep track of them.
• Step 5. Prepare an Outline. Write an outline for your
paper by organizing your notes from the note cards into
topics, subtopics, details, and subdetails. Use an
organization such as:
I. (topic)
A. (subtopic)
1. (detail)
a. (subdetail)

•Step 6. Write A Rough Draft. Use your note cards and

outline to write a rough draft of your paper. As you write
your draft, use numbered footnotes to credit sources from
which you take quotations or major ideas.
•Step 7. Revise Your Rough Draft. Make any changes
needed to be sure your ideas are clearly expressed and
your writing has accurate spelling and grammar.
• Step 8. Prepare Your Bibliography. At the end of your
paper, provide a list of all the sources you used to gather
information for the paper. Your bibliography cards will
provide this information. List your sources in alphabetical
order by the first word on each of your bibliography cards.
• Step 9. Prepare a Title Page and Table of Contents.
The title page is the first page of the paper. It should
include the title of your paper, your name, and the date on
which the paper is due. The table of contents is the second
page. It should list the main topics, important subtopics,
and the page on which each is introduced in your paper.
•Step 10. Final Checklist. Before handing in your paper,
be sure you can answer "Yes" to each of the following
o Did I include a title page?

o Did I include a table of contents?

o Did I number all pages correctly?

o Did I provide footnotes for quotations and major

sources of information?
o Did I include a bibliography?

o Did I keep a second copy for my files?

Following these ten steps will help you write a good research

Critical Reading

Critical reading applies to non-fiction writing in which the

author puts forth a position or seeks to make a statement.
Critical reading is active reading. It involves more than just
understanding what an author is saying. Critical reading
involves questioning and evaluating what the author is saying,
and forming your own opinions about what the author is
Here are the things you should do to be a critical reader.
• Consider the context of what is written. You may be
reading something that was written by an author from a
different cultural context than yours. Or, you may be
reading something written some time ago in a different
time context than yours. In either case, you must
recognize and take into account any differences between
your values and attitudes and those represented by the
• Question assertions made by the author. Don’t
accept what is written at face value. Before accepting what
is written, be certain that the author provides sufficient
support for any assertions made. Look for facts, examples,
and statistics that provide support. Also, look to see if the
author has integrated the work of authorities.
• Compare what is written with other written work
on the subject. Look to see that what is written is
consistent with what others have written about the
subject. If there are inconsistencies, carefully evaluate the
support the author provides for the inconsistencies.
• Analyze assumptions made by the author.
Assumptions are whatever the author must believe is true
in order to make assertions. In many cases, the author’s
assumptions are not directly stated. This means you must
read carefully in order to identify any assumptions. Once
you identify an assumption, you must decide whether or
not the assumption is valid.
• Evaluate the sources the author uses. In doing this,
be certain that the sources are credible. For example,
Einstein is a credible source if the author is writing about
landmark achievements in physics. Also be certain that the
sources are relevant. Einstein is not a relevant source
when the subject is poetry. Finally, if the author is writing
about a subject in its current state, be sure that the
sources are current. For example, studies done by Einstein
in the early 20th century may not be appropriate if the
writer is discussing the current state of knowledge in
• Identify any possible author bias. A written
discussion of American politics will likely look considerably
different depending on whether the writer is a Democrat or
a Republican. What is written may very well reflect a
biased position. You need to take this possible bias into
account when reading what the author has written. That is,
take what is written with "a grain of salt."
By being a critical reader, you will become better
informed and may change your views as appropriate.

Number Prefixes
Number prefixes are prefixes that are derived from numbers
or numerals. They are used to create some words you will
encounter. Recognizing these prefixes and the numbers they
represent will help you to learn and better understand the
meanings of such words
Here are prefixes that represent the numbers 1 though 10.
Next to each prefix are examples of words that are formed
using the number prefix, along with the meanings of the

A long speech or performance

1 mono monologue
given by one person.
A railroad track that has only
one rail.

An imaginary animal that has

1 uni unicorn
one horn.
A pedaled vehicle that has one

A pedaled vehicle that has two

2 bi bicycle
An event that occurs every two

A piece of music written for two

2 du duet
singers or musical instruments.
A house divided into two units
with separate entrances.

A plane figure that has three

3 tri triangle
angles and three sides.
A pedaled vehicle that has three
A plane figure that has four
4 quad quadrangle
angles and four sides.
A number or amount four times
as great as another.

A plane figure that has five

5 penta pentagon
angles and five sides.
An athletic contest that consists
of five events.

A group of five persons or

5 quint quintet
Five children born at the same
time to the same mother.

A plane figure that has six

6 hexa hexagon
angles and six sides.
hexagram A six-pointed star.

7 sept septenary A period of seven years.

An event that occurs every
seven years.

8 oct octet The first eight lines in a sonnet.

A saltwater animal with eight

The ninth month of the year in

9 nov November
the ancient Roman calendar.
novena Nine days of prayers or services.

10 deca decade A period of ten years.

An athletic contest that consists
of ten events.

You can expand your vocabulary by recognizing these

number prefixes when they appear at the beginnings of

What is a Simile?

A simile is a comparison made between two things that are not

alike in most ways, but are alike in one important way. In a
simile, the words "like" or "as" are used to signal that a
comparison is being made between the two things.

Why Use a Simile?

Speakers and writers use similes to emphasize a certain

characteristic of a thing. The comparison made in a simile is
often unusual. The listener or reader can form a mental image
of the comparison. This increases understanding of what the
speaker or writer is trying to communicate.

Examples of Similes Using Like and As

1. Last night Bob slept like a log.

In this example, slept like a log is the simile, and like is the
word used to signal that a comparison is being made. The
two things being compared are "slept" and "log." A log just
lies in one place and does not move. A mental image of
Bob sleeping like a log would show him lying in one place
without moving. This would bring out that the speaker or
writer is saying that Bob had a long, deep, and
undisturbed sleep and not just a nap.
2. Working on her project, Mary was as busy as a

In this example, as busy as a beaver is the simile, and as

is the word used to signal that a comparison is being
made. The two things being compared are "busy" and
"beaver." When building a dam a beaver keeps busily
working until the dam is completed. A mental image of
Mary being as busy as a beaver while working on her
project would show her working very hard. This would
bring out that the speaker or writer is saying that Mary
was putting a lot of effort into her project and would keep
working until it was completed.

Commonly Used Similes

Here are some commonly used similes in which like is used to

signal the comparison:
• fits like a glove
• runs like a deer
• chatters like a monkey
• moves like a snail
• sits there like a bump on a log
• eats like a pig
• swims like a fish
• stood out like a sore thumb
• fought like cats and dogs
• eyes like a hawk
• takes it like a man
• sings like a bird
Here are some commonly used similes in which as is used to
signal the comparison:
• as clear as mud
• as strong as an ox
• as nutty as a fruitcake
• as pretty as a picture
• as good as gold
• as quiet as a mouse
• as clear as a bell
• as bright as day
• as light as a feather
• as dry as a bone
• as slow as molasses
• as deep as the ocean

A Strategy for Using Similes

You will often encounter similes when listening to a speaker or

reading something. Follow the steps listed below to build your
understanding of similes.
1. Listen or look for the words "like" or "as" as clues to
a possible simile.
2. Identify the two things being compared.
3. Think about the two things being compared.
4. Form a mental image of the comparison.
5. Identify what the speaker or writer is trying to
Recognizing similes will help you better understand what you
hear or read. Using similes when you speak or write will
improve your communication.

Writing Techniques
Writing is an important form of communication. Good writers
use different writing techniques to fit their purpose for writing.
To be a good writer, you must master each of the following
writing techniques.
1. Description

Through description, a writer helps the reader use the

senses of feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling, and tasting to
experience what the writer experiences. Description helps
the reader more clearly understand the people, places, and
things about which the writer is writing. It is the most
common form of writing. You will find descriptive writing in
newspapers, magazines, books, and most other forms of
written communication.
2. Exposition

Through exposition, a writer informs, explains, and clarifies

his/her ideas and thoughts. Exposition goes beyond
description to help the reader understand with greater
clarity and depth the ideas and thoughts of the writer.
Expository writing, like descriptive writing, is commonly
found in newspapers, magazines, books, and most other
forms of written communication.
3. Narration

Through narration, a writer tells a story. A story has

characters, a setting, a time, a problem, attempts at
solving the problem, and a solution to the problem.
Bedtime stories are examples of short stories while novels
are examples of long stories. The scripts written for movies
and plays are further examples of narrative writing.
4. Persuasion

Through persuasion, a writer tries to change a reader's

point of view on a topic, subject, or position. The writer
presents facts and opinions to get the reader to
understand why something is right, wrong, or in between.
Editorials, letters to the editor in newspapers and
magazines, and the text for a political speech are
examples of persuasive writing.
5. Comparison and Contrast

Through comparison and contrast, a writer points out the

similarities and differences about a topic. Comparison is
used to show what is alike or in common. Contrast is used
to show what is not alike or not in common. Describing
living conditions in 1900 and living conditions today would
allow for much comparison and contrast.
By using the writing technique that fits your purpose, you will
be able to communicate your ideas effectively.

Math Tips
Here are some "how-to's" that will come in handy.

How to Round a Number

To the nearest ten

If the ones digit is 5 or more, round to the next highest ten
(68 rounds to 70).
If the ones digit is less than 5, round to the next lowest ten
(33 rounds to 30).
To the nearest hundred
If the tens digit is 5 or more, round to the next highest
hundred (384 rounds to 400).
If the tens digit is less than 5, round to the next lowest
hundred (427 rounds to 400).
To the nearest thousand
If the hundreds digit is 5 or more, round to the next highest
thousand (7,602 rounds to 8,000).
If the hundreds digit is less than 5, round to the next lowest
thousand (7,268 rounds to 7,000).

How to Find an Average

To find the average of several numbers, add the numbers

together and then divide the sum by the number of numbers.
The average of 17, 30, 6, and 7 = 60 ÷ 4 = 15
How to Tell if Two Fractions are Equivalent

Cross multiply the fractions. If both products are the same, the
fractions are equivalent.
3 and 9 3 x 24 = 72 3 and 9 are equivalent
8 24 8x9 = 72 8 24
5 and 3 5 x12 = 60 5 and 3 are not
equivalent fractions.
8 12 8 x 3 = 24 8 12
How to Find a Percentage

To tell what percentage one number is of a second number,

divide the first number by the second. Move the decimal point
of the resulting quotient two places to the right.
Example: What percentage is 20 of 300?
20 ÷ 300 = .067 = 6.7%

How to Change a Fraction to a Percentage

Divide the numerator by the denominator. Move the decimal

point of the resulting quotient two places to the right.
6 = 6 ÷ 15 = .4 = .40 = 40%

How to Change a Decimal to a Percentage

Move the decimal point two places to the right.

0.792 = 79.2%
Refer to these how-to's until you can do them

The RQWQCQ Strategy for

Solving Math Word
RQWQCQ is a good strategy to use when solving math
word problems. Each of the letters in RQWQCQ stands for a
step in the strategy.
Read the entire problem to learn what it is about. You may
find it helpful to read the problem out loud, form a picture of
the problem in your mind, or draw a picture of the problem.
Find the question to be answered in the problem. Often the
question is directly stated. When it is not stated, you will have
to identify the question to be answered.
Write the facts you need to answer the question. It is helpful
to cross out any facts presented in the problem that are not
needed to answer the question. Sometimes, all of facts
presented in the problem are needed to answer the question.
Ask yourself "What computations must I do to answer the
Set up the problem on paper and do the computations.
Check your computations for accuracy and make any needed
corrections. Once you have done this, circle your answer.
Look at your answer and ask yourself: "Is my answer
possible?" You may find that your answer is not possible
because it does not fit with the facts presented in the problem.
When this happens, go back through the steps of RQWQCQ
until you arrive at an answer that is possible.
Use RQWQCQ to help you correctly solve math word problems.

Basic Number Properties

There are four basic properties of numbers: commutative,
associative, distributive, and identity. You should be familiar
with each of these. It is especially important to understand
these properties once you reach advanced math such as
algebra and calculus.

Commutative Property

a. Addition. When two numbers are added, the sum is the

same regardless of the order in which the numbers are added.
3+5=8 or 5+3=8
b. Multiplication. When two numbers are multiplied together,
the product is the same regardless of the order in which the
numbers are multiplied.
3 x 5 = 15 or 5 x 3 = 15
Associative Property

a. Addition. When three or more numbers are added, the sum

is the same regardless of the way in which the numbers are
6 + (4 + 3) = 13 or (6 + 4) + 3 = 13
b. Multiplication. When three or more numbers are
multiplied, the product is the same regardless of the way in
which the numbers are grouped.
6 x (4 x 3) = 72 or (6 x 4) x 3 = 72
Distributive Property

The sum of two numbers times a third number is equal to the

sum of each addend times the third number.
5 x (7 + 2) = 45 or 5 x 7 + 5 x 2 = 45
Identity Property

a. Addition. The sum of any number and zero is that number.

12 + 0 = 12
b. Multiplication, The product of any number and one is that
18 x 1 = 18
Knowing these properties of numbers will improve your
understanding and mastery of math.

Temperature Scales
Temperature is the level of heat in a gas, liquid, or solid. Three
scales are commonly used for measuring temperature. The
Celsius and Fahrenheit scales are the most common. The
Kelvin scale is primarily used in scientific experiments.

Celsius Scale

The Celsius scale was invented in 1742 by the Swedish

astronomer, Anders Celsius. This scale divides the range of
temperature between the freezing and boiling temperatures of
water into 100 equal parts. You will sometimes find this scale
identified as the centigrade scale. Temperatures on the Celsius
scale are known as degree Celsius (ºC).

Fahrenheit Scale

The Fahrenheit scale was established by the German-Dutch

physicist, Gabriel Daniel Fahrenheit, in 1724. While many
countries now use the Celsius scale, the Fahrenheit scale is
widely used in the United States. It divides the difference
between the melting and boiling points of water into 180 equal
intervals. Temperatures on the Fahrenheit scale are known as
degree Fahrenheit (ºF).

Kelvin Scale

The Kelvin scale is named after William Thompson Kelvin, a

British physicist who devised it in 1848. It extends the Celsius
scale down to absolute zero, a hypothetical temperature
characterized by a complete absence of heat energy.
Temperatures on this scale are called Kelvins (K).

Converting Temperatures

It is sometimes necessary to convert temperature from one

scale to another. Here is how to do this.

1. To convert from ºC to ºF use the formula: ºF = ºC

x 1.8 + 32.
2. To convert from ºF to ºC use the formula: ºC =
(ºF-32) ÷ 1.8.
3. To convert from K to ºC use the formula: ºC = K –
4. To convert from ºC to K use the formula: K = ºC +
5. To convert from ºF to K use the formula: K = 5/9
(ºF – 32) + 273.15.
6. To convert from K to ºF use the formula: ºF =
1.8(K – 273.15) + 32.

Comparing Temperatures

Here are some common comparisons between temperatures

on the Celsius and Fahrenheit scales.


Boiling point of water 100 212

Freezing point of water 0 32

Average human body temperature 37 98.6

Comfortable room temperature 20 to 25 68 to 77

You probably refer to temperature every day. Be sure

about the scale you are using.

Math Vocabulary

Mathematics (math) is the study of numbers, quantities,

shapes, and space using mathematical processes, rules, and
symbols. There are many branches of mathematics and a large
vocabulary associated with this subject.
Here are some math words and terms you will likely come
across, but may not know their precise meanings. Any word or
term shown in bold is defined in the following alphabetical list
of math words and terms.
Algorithm A step-by-step mathematical procedure used to
find an answer.
Coefficient A number that multiplies a variable. For
example, 9 is the coefficient in 9x.
Denominator The bottom number in a fraction. The
denominator represents the number of parts into which the
is divided. For example, 6 is the denominator in the fraction .
Equation A mathematical statement used to show that two
expressions are equal. It contains an equals sign. For example,
16 - 9 = 7 (the expression 16 - 9 and the expression 7 are
Greatest Common Factor (greatest common divisor) The
largest number that will divide two or more other numbers
equally. For example, the greatest common factor of 32 and
48 is 16.
Improper Fraction (mixed fractions) A fraction that has a
larger numerator than denominator. For example, is an
improper fraction.
Inverse Operations Opposite or reverse operations. Addition
and subtraction are inverse operations, as are multiplication
and division.
Negative Number A number that is less than zero. A minus
sign is used to show that a number is negative. For example,
-12 is a negative number.
Numerator The top number in a fraction. The numerator
represents the number of parts of the whole. For example, 5 is
the numerator in the fraction .
Ordinal Number A number that shows place or position, as in
2nd place.
Positive Number A number that is greater than zero. While a
minus sign is used to signify a negative number, the absence
of a minus sign signifies a positive number.
Prime Number A number that can be divided evenly only by
itself and 1. For example, 7 is a prime number.
Square Number A number that results from multiplying
another number by itself. For example, 49 is the square of 7
(7 x 7 = 49).
Square Root of a Number A number that is multiplied by
itself to produce a square number. For example, 7 is the
square root of 49. It is designated by the symbol √.
Variable A quantity that can change or vary, taking on
different values. It is typically represented by a letter of the
alphabet. For example x is the variable in 9x (x can be any
number that is being multiplied by 9).
These are just some of the many words and terms found
in mathematics. It is important to know the meanings of
words and terms you will encounter as you progress
through the study of math.

Measurement Units
A measurement system is a set of units which can be used to
specify anything which can be measured. There are various
measurement systems used across the world. The system
used in the United States is the U.S. customary system. Here
are the common units used in this system along with examples
to give you a frame of reference.


Inch (in): The distance between the knuckles on your index

finger is approximately one inch.

Foot (ft): One foot equals 12 inches. An official professional

football is about one foot long.
Yard (yd): One yard equals three feet. A baseball bat is about
one yard long.
Mile (mi): One mile equals 5,280 feet. A mile is approximately
the distance a championship distance runner can run in just
under four minutes.


Ounce (oz): A slice of bread usually weighs a little less than

one ounce.

Pound (lb): One pound equals 16 ounces. A loaf of white bread

usually weighs a little more than one pound.
Ton (T): A ton is 2,000 pounds. The famous Liberty Bell in
Philadelphia weighs about one ton.


Cup (c): A standard baby bottle holds about one cup of juice.
Pint (pt): One pint equals two cups. A pint of ice cream is just
about right for four people to share.
Quart (qt): One quart equals two pints. Motor oil typically
comes in a quart-sized container.
Gallon (gal): One gallon equals four quarts. A large container
of milk contains one gallon.
Knowing these measurement units will help you in school and
in everyday life.

Roman Numerals
You can guess from their name that Roman Numerals
originated in ancient Rome. They were created as a simple
means of counting in which certain letters are given values as
numerals (a numeral is a written symbol referring to a
number). The original system of Roman Numerals was
modified during the Middle Ages and is the system we still use
Seven letters form the basis of Roman Numerals. Each letter
stands for a number as shown here.

I=1 V=5

X = 10 L = 50

C = 100 D = 500

M = 1,000

Reading and Writing Roman Numerals

Numbers are represented by combining the letters shown

above. There are several rules to follow.
1. If one or more letters are placed after another
letter of greater value, add that amount.
VI = 6 (5 + 1 = 6)
XXVII = 27 (10 + 10 + 5 + 1 + 1 = 27)
MDC = 1,600 (1,000 + 500 + 100 = 1,600)
2. A letter cannot be repeated more than three times.

30 = XXX (10 + 10 + 10 = 30)

40 = XL (50 - 10 = 40) You cannot write 40 as XXXX.
3. If a letter is placed before another letter of greater
value, subtract that amount.
IX = 9 (10 - 1 = 9)
XL = 40 (50 - 10 = 40)
CML = 950 (900 + 50 = 950)
4. You can only subtract powers of 10 (I, X, C).

95 = XCV (100 - 10 + 5 = 95)

You cannot write 95 as VC because V is not a power of 10.
5. You cannot subtract more than one number from
another number.
18 = XVIII (10 + 5 + 1 + 1 + 1 = 18)
You cannot write 18 as IIXX.
By the way, there is no zero in the system of Roman
This is all pretty complicated. Why should you even
bother learning about Roman Numerals?
You will find that Roman Numerals are used all around you.
Here are just some of the ways they are used today:

• They are used in outlines.

• They are used on the faces of clocks and watches.
•They are used to number pages that come before the
main pages of a book.
•They are used to identify kings and queens (Henry VIII of
•They are used to identify sporting events (The New York
Giants won Super Bowl XLII).
Roman Numerals were created long ago. They are still with us

Identifying Lecture Styles

Lectures given by your teachers are usually organized in one

of the following lecture styles:
• Topic-List
• Question-Answer
• Compare-Contrast
• Series of Events
• Cause-Effect
• Problem-Solution
Identifying the lecture style used by your teacher will help you
take good notes. Read to learn about each lecture style.


The teacher begins by presenting the topic followed by

associated subtopics. Each subtopic includes details and
sometimes subdetails. Number words like one or second and
transitional words like next and finally indicate that the teacher
is using a Topic-List style. The transitional words also indicate
a change from one subtopic to another subtopic.


The teacher begins by introducing a topic that is followed by

one or more questions about the topic. Each question is
answered after it is introduced. Words such as who, what,
where, when, why and how indicate that the teacher is using a
Question-Answer style. Phrases such as in what way and how
did they react also indicate that this style is being used.


The teacher begins by identifying two things that will be

compared and contrasted. The teacher then tells how the two
things are alike (i.e., compare) and how they are different
(i.e., contrast). Words and phrases such as alike, similarly,
correspondingly, in parallel, counterpart, equal to, resemble,
and just as suggest similarities. Words and phrases such as
differently, however, antithesis of, disparity, on the other
hand, opposite, and on the contrary suggest differences.

Series of Events

The teacher begins by identifying the topic. Then the teacher

describes an initial event, step, or stage related to the topic.
Information is then presented about additional events, steps,
or stages. The teacher concludes by revealing the final event,
step, or stage. Words and phrases such as initially, at the
outset, next, followed by, then, later, after, succeeding,
intermediate, last, culminating, and finally indicate that the
teacher is using a Series of Events style.


The teacher begins by presenting the cause of something,

followed by one or more effects related to the cause. Details
are included for some of the effects. Words or phrases such as
since, thus, therefore, consequently, for that reason, on
account of, owing to, and as a result indicate that the teacher
is using a Cause-Effect style.

The teacher begins by introducing a problem and explaining
why it is a problem. The teacher continues by describing
attempts to solve the problem, providing details as needed.
Finally, the teacher concludes by identifying the solution to the
problem if one has been found, or the status of attempts to
solve the problem. Words and phrases such as puzzle, issue,
point of dispute, enigma, and complication indicate that a
problem is being presented. Words and phrases such as
solution, explanation, answer, cleared up, and worked out
indicate that the problem has been resolved. Words and
phrases such as unravel, investigate, clear up, and untangle
indicate that an attempted solution is under way.
Identifying the lecture style used by your teacher will
help you write good notes in class.

Good Listening in Class

It is important for you to be a good listener in class. Much of
what you will have to learn will be presented verbally by your
teachers. Just hearing what your teachers say is not the same
as listening to what they say. Listening is a cognitive act that
requires you to pay attention and think about and mentally
process what you hear.
Here are some things you should do to be a good listener in
• Be Cognitively Ready to Listen When You Come to
Class. Make sure you complete all assigned work and
readings. Review your notes from previous class sessions.
Think about what you know about the topic that will be
covered in class that day.
• Be Emotionally Ready to Listen When You Come to
Class. Your attitude is important. Make a conscious choice
to find the topic useful and interesting. Be committed to
learning all that you can.
• Listen with a Purpose. Identify what you expect and
hope to learn from the class session. Listen for these
things as your teacher talks.
• Listen with an Open Mind. Be receptive to what your
teacher says. It is good to question what is said as long as
you remain open to points of view other than your own.
• Be Attentive. Focus on what your teacher is saying. Try
not to daydream and let your mind wander to other things.
It helps to sit in the front and center of the class, and to
maintain eye contact with your teacher.
• Be an Active Listener. You can think faster than your
teacher can speak. Use this to your advantage by
evaluating what is being said and trying to anticipate what
will be said next. Take good written notes about what your
teacher says. While you can think faster than your teacher
can speak, you cannot write faster than your teacher can
speak. Taking notes requires you to make decisions about
what to write, and you have to be an active listener to do
• Meet the Challenge. Don't give up and stop listening
when you find the information being presented difficult to
understand. Listen even more carefully at these times and
work hard to understand what is being said. Don't be
reluctant to ask questions.
• Triumph Over the Environment. The classroom may
too noisy, too hot, too cold, too bright, or too dark. Don't
give in to these inconveniences. Stay focused on the big
picture - LEARNING.

Taking Notes in Class

In classes, your teachers will talk about topics that you are
studying. The information they provide will be important for
you to know when you take tests. You must be able to take
good written notes from what your teachers say.
Taking good notes is a three-stage process in which there are
certain things you should do before class, during class, and
after class. Here are the three stages of notetaking and what
you should do during each stage.
1. Get Ready to Take Notes (Before Class)
•Review your notes from the previous class session before
you come to class. This will help you remember what was
covered and get you ready to understand new information
your teacher provides.
•Complete all assigned readings before you come to class.
Your teacher will expect that you have done this and will
use and build upon this information.
• Bring all notetaking materials with you to class. Have
several pens and pencils as well as your notebook.
2. Take Notes (During Class)

• Keep your attention focused on what your teacher is

saying. Listen for "signal statements" that tell you that
what your teacher is about to say is important to write in
your notes. Examples of signal statements are "The most
important point..." and "Remember that..." Be sure to
include in your notes information that your teacher repeats
or writes on the chalkboard.
• Write quickly so that you can include all the important
information in your notes. Do this by writing abbreviated
words such as med for medicine, using symbols such as %
for percent, and writing short sentences.
•Place a ? next to information you write in your notes, but
about whose meaning you are not sure.
3. Rewrite Your Notes (After Class)
• Rewrite your notes to make them more complete by
changing abbreviated words into whole words, symbols
into words, and shortened sentences into longer
• Make your notes more accurate by answering any
questions you had when writing your notes in class. Use
your textbook and reference sources to obtain the
information you need to answer your questions. If
necessary, ask your teacher or other students for help.
•Check with other students to be sure you did not leave
out important information.
Having good class notes will help you to be better prepared for

Using Abbreviations To
Write Notes Quickly
Many of the questions you find on class tests will be based
upon the information your teachers orally present in class.
Therefore, you need to write class notes that completely and
accurately include the most important information presented
by your teachers. This is hard to do because your teachers can
talk faster than you can write.
It would be nice if your teachers talked slower so that you
could keep up with what they are saying as you write your
notes. This is not realistic though. It is up to you to write more
quickly. One way to do this is to write abbreviations for
words. An abbreviation is a shortened form of a word used
when writing to represent the complete word. You must be
able to recognize the complete word from its abbreviation.
Many words have a commonly used abbreviation. Here are
some examples of words that have a common abbreviation:

Word Abbreviation Word Abbreviation

department dept package pkg

introduction intro negative neg

junior jr magazine mag

mathematics math foot ft

weight wt highway hwy

You can form your own abbreviation for just about any word.
Here are three ways you can do this.
1. Write just the beginning of a long word. Here are some
examples of long words that have been abbreviated by writing
just the beginning of the word:

Word Abbreviation Word Abbreviation

different diff feminine fem

incorporated inc population pop

elementary elem ambiguous ambig

molecular molec separate sep

division div hippopotamus hippo

2. Leave out the vowels when writing a word. Here are

some examples of words that have been abbreviated by
leaving out the vowels when writing the word:

Word Abbreviation Word Abbreviation

century cntry point pnt

mountain mntn school schl

reason rsn clean cln

popular pplr teacher tchr

quality qlty progress prgrss

3. For words that have just one syllable, write just the
first and last letter of the word. Here are some examples of
words that have been abbreviated by writing just the first and
last letter of the word:

Word Abbreviation Word Abbreviation

quart qt land ld
tick tk round rd

girl gl pack pk

night nt field fd

link lk heart ht

Use common abbreviations of words whenever you recognize

them. For other words, form abbreviations by using one of the
three ways you just learned. Use the way that best fits the
word for which you are writing an abbreviation. Do not try to
abbreviate every word you write in your notes. Abbreviate
those words that are important and for which you can quickly
form an abbreviation. REMEMBER: YOU MUST BE ABLE TO
ABBREVIATION. Knowing the context in which you wrote the
word will help you recognize the complete word from its
Using abbreviations for words will help you take good notes
more quickly. Having good notes will help you do better on

Using Acronymic Sentences

to Remember Information
Creating an acronymic sentence is a good strategy to use
when you have to remember information in a certain order. An
acronymic sentence is a sentence that is created using the first
letter of each piece of information to be remembered.

Here is how to create an acronymic sentence.

• Write each piece of information you have to remember.

• Underline the first letter of each piece of information. If
there is more than one word in a piece of information,
underline the first letter of the most important word.
•Write a sentence using words that begin with the
underlined letters.

"My (Mercury) very (Venus) earthy (Earth) mother (Mars)

just (Jupiter) served (Saturn) us (Uranus) nine (Neptune)
pizzas (Pluto)" is an acronymic sentence that students
through the years have used to remember the order of planets
around our sun, from closest to furthest. If you accept recent
evidence that Pluto is not a planet, you can use "My very
earthy mother just served us noodles."

Here are the five most populous cities in Indiana shown in

order from highest to lowest: Indianapolis, Fort Wayne,
Evansville, South Bend, Gary. Here is an acronymic sentence
you can use to remember these cities in the order shown.
"Insects from everywhere seem gross."
Try to form an acronymic sentence that is funny or has a
personal meaning for you. You will find the sentence easier to
remember if you do this. When you remember the acronymic
sentence you create, each word in the sentence will help you
remember the piece of information it represents (for example,
"Insects" represents "Indianapolis").
Creating acronymic sentences is an effective and fun way to
remember information.

Loci Strategy
The word loci is the plural form of locus, which means place.
The loci strategy is based on your familiarity with a place,
such as your home. The strategy helps you remember lists of
items through organization, visualization, and association. It
can work well for you if you are good at visualizing (picturing)
things in your mind.
Here are the steps in the loci strategy along with an example.
In this example, one of the items you must remember is
First, identify a place with which you are very familiar. In this
example, you decide to use the kitchen where you live as the
Second, visualize that place and its features in your mind. In
this example, one of the features you visualize is a coffeepot
on the kitchen stove.
Third, associate each item to be remembered with a particular
feature of that place. In this example, to remember "nature,"
you visualize a plant growing out of the coffeepot. The more
unusual your association, the more likely you are to remember
Fourth, visualize each feature of the place and the association
you formed for an item to be remembered. In this example, by
visualizing the coffeepot with a plant growing out of it, you will
remember the item "nature."
To complete this example, here are the other items you must
remember: pigeon, somersault, invasion, lemon, and puddle.
Here are the associations with features of the kitchen you
could visualize to help you remember the items:
• pigeon - visualize a pigeon landing on the table.
• somersault - visualize a clown somersaulting over a
• invasion - visualize ants invading and swarming all over a
slice of bread on the kitchen counter.
• lemon - visualize lemons floating in a pitcher of
lemonade in the kitchen refrigerator.
• puddle - visualize the kitchen sink overflowing and
forming a puddle of soapy water on the floor.
To remember the entire list of items, visualize each kitchen
feature and the association you created for it.
The loci strategy was invented by the ancient Greeks. It
remains just as useful today as it was long ago.

Using Pegwords to
Remember Information

The pegwords strategy is a good strategy to use when you

must remember a number of things such as five reasons we
should conserve energy. Pegwords are words that rhyme with
number words. Each pegword is substituted for a number word
and is then associated with the information to be remembered.
You can use any word as a pegword as long as it rhymes with
a number word. Below are suggested pegwords for the
number words one through ten. You can substitute your own
number words. Nouns and verbs are best to use as pegwords
because they are easy to associate with information to be

Number Word Pegword

one run

two shoe

three tree

four door

five dive

six fix

seven heaven

eight gate

nine sign

ten hen

Here are the steps to follow to use the pegwords strategy.

1. Think of the first piece of information to be
2. Think of the pegword for the number word one. The
pegword for one is run.
3. Form an association in your mind between the pegword
one and the first piece of information to be remembered.
Create a picture in your mind of this association.
4. Repeat steps 1-3 for each additional piece of information
to be remembered. Use the pegword shoe for the second
piece of information, tree for the third piece of information,
and so on.
Here is an example of how the pegwords strategy can be used
to remember three important reasons for preserving forests.
1. Forests provide food for animals.
The pegword for one is run. You could create a picture in your
mind of a rabbit running to a bowl of food. Later, when you try
to recall the reasons for preserving forests, the number word
one will trigger the pegword run, and you will recall the picture
of a rabbit running toward a bowl of food. You will thereby
remember that one reason for preserving forests is that
forests provide food for animals.
2. Forests provide shelter for animals.
(two/shoe). You could create a picture in your mind of a
chipmunk living in a shoe.
3. Forests provide lumber that is used to build homes
for people.
(three/tree). You could create a picture in your mind of stacks
of lumber lying on the ground next to a partially built house.
The pegwords strategy lets you use your imagination to
remember information.

Using Flash Cards to

Remember Information
Flash cards are a powerful tool that can help you remember
information such as the meanings of vocabulary words,
mathematical formulas, history facts, and the correct spelling
of words.
Here are some strategies to help you get the most
benefit from using flash cards.
1. Make flash cards as you learn and study.
Carry a stack of blank cards with you (3" x 5" size works
well). Whenever you come across a piece of information
you want to remember, write the information on a card.
Organize your cards into decks, one for each subject or
topic. If you place cards for different subjects or topics in
the same deck, you will only become confused.
2. Use both sides of a card when appropriate.
For example, when learning a new vocabulary word, write
the word to be learned on the front of the card and a short
two or three word definition on the back of the card. For a
historical fact, for example, you might write "George
Washington" on the front and "first U.S. president" on the
back. Flip the cards over from time to time. Sometimes
you will see "George Washington" and will have to
remember that he was the first president of the U.S. Other
times you will see "first U.S. president" and will have to
remember that it was George Washington. Doing this will
strengthen your recall of the information.
3. Use flashcards in several different colors.
Use colors as cues to help you recall a distinctive
characteristic about the information on a flash card. For
example, if you are using flash cards to remember
vocabulary words, use a different color for words that have
different connotations. Positive words such as delightful,
excellent, and nutritious could go on green or blue cards.
Negative words such as resentful, suspicious, and
threatened could go on red or yellow cards. You can use
neutral colors such as white or tan for words that are
neutral (words that are not positive or negative). The
particular colors you choose don't matter as long as you
are consistent in their use.
4. Illustrate the cards.
Draw pictures on a card or cut pictures from a magazine
and paste them on the card. The more you work at making
a card distinctive and interesting, the easier you will find it
to recall the information on the card.
5. Don't put too much information on any one card.
The biggest mistake students' make is putting too much
information on a single flash card. Each card should
contain just one piece of information.

6. Carry your cards with you.

Review your cards whenever you have a chance. For
example, you can review your cards while eating a meal,
riding on the school bus, waiting on a line, during long
trips, in bed before you go to sleep, and so on. Make
reviewing your cards a daily habit like brushing your teeth
or taking a shower.
7. Change the order of the cards frequently.
Shuffle the cards each time you review them. Questions on
a test about the information on your cards may come in
any order. If you always study the cards in the same
order, it will be difficult for you to remember a piece of
information when it is not in the order you studied.
Flash cards are easy to make, easy to use, and are a great
tool for remembering information.
This article contributed by Cody Blair. His StudyProf.com
website has more information about flashcards and other
study skills.

Using Acronyms to
Remember Information
Forming an acronym is a good strategy to use to remember
information in any order. An acronym is a word that is formed
from the first letter of each fact to be remembered. It can be a
real word or a nonsense word you are able to pronounce.

Here is how to form an acronym.

• Write the facts you need to remember.

•Underline the first letter of each fact. If there is
more than one word in a fact, underline the first letter of
only the first word in the fact.
• Arrange the underlined letters to form an acronym
that is a real word oranonsense word you can

"HOMES" is an example of an acronym that is a real word you

can use to remember the names of the five Great Lakes:
Michigan, Erie, Superior, Ontario, Huron: In HOMES, H is the
first letter of Huron and helps you remember that name; O is
the first letter of Ontario, and so on.
"Telk" is an acronym that can be used to remember the
following animals: tiger, lion, elephant, kangaroo. "Telk" is not
a real word, but you can easily pronounce it. You could also
have used "kelt" as an acronym. Notice that in this example,
you cannot form a real word using the first letter of each fact
to be remembered.
Sometimes two or more of the facts you must remember each
begin with the same first letter. For example, the acronym
"capp" can be used to remember the following fruits: pear,
apple, peach, cherry. You can use the first letter "p" in the
acronym to remember either "pear" or "peach" and the second
letter "p" to remember the other.
Use the acronym strategy as a way to remember information.

Becoming a Flexible Reader

To become a flexible reader, you need to know how to select

and use a reading style that is consistent with your purpose for
reading. There are three important reading styles you should
learn to use. Each has its own purpose. Knowing when and
how to use these three reading styles will make you a flexible
reader. Read to learn about the three reading styles used by
flexible readers.
Study Reading is the reading style used by flexible readers
when their purpose is to read difficult material at a high level
of comprehension. When using the Study Reading style, you
should read at a rate that is slower than your normal reading
rate. Further, as you read you must challenge yourself to
understand the material. Study Reading will often require you
to read material more than once to achieve a high level of
comprehension. Sometimes, reading the material aloud will
also help you improve your comprehension.
Skimming is the reading style used by flexible readers when
their purpose is to quickly obtain a general idea about the
reading material. The Skimming style is most useful when you
have to read a large amount of material in a short amount of
time. When using the Skimming style, you should identify the
main ideas in each paragraph and ignore the details in
supportive sentences. Because you are only looking for the
main idea in each paragraph you read, a lower level of
comprehension is to be expected than when using the Study
Reading style.

Scanning is the reading style used by flexible readers when

their purpose is to quickly locate a specific piece of information
within reading material. The piece of information to be located
may be contained in a list of names, words, numbers, short
statements, and sometimes even in a paragraph. Since you
know exactly what you are looking for, move your eyes quickly
over the reading material until you locate the specific piece of
information you need to find.
Before you begin your next reading assignment, identify your
purpose for reading. Decide if you are reading for a high level
of comprehension, trying to get a general idea about what you
are reading, or looking for specific information. Then use the
reading style that is appropriate for your reading purpose.

A Strategy for Reading

SQRW is a four-step strategy for reading and taking
notes from chapters in a textbook. Each letter stands for
one step in the strategy. Using SQRW will help you to
understand what you read and to prepare a written record of
what you learned. The written record will be valuable when
you have to participate in a class discussion and again when
you study for a test. Read to learn what to do for each step in
Surveying brings to mind what you already know about the
topic of a chapter and prepares you for learning more. To
survey a chapter, read the title, introduction, headings, and
the summary or conclusion. Also, examine all visuals such as
pictures, tables, maps, and/or graphs and read the caption
that goes with each. By surveying a chapter, you will quickly
learn what the chapter is about.
You need to have questions in your mind as you read.
Questions give you a purpose for reading and help you stay
focused on the reading assignment. Form questions by
changing each chapter heading into a question. Use the words
who, what, when, where, why, or how to form questions. For
example, for the heading "Uses of Electricity" in a chapter
about how science improves lives, you might form the
question "What are some uses of electricity?" If a heading is
stated as a question, use that question. When a heading
contains more than one idea, form a question for each idea.
Do not form questions for the Introduction, Summary, or
Read the information that follows each heading to find the
answer to each question you formed. As you do this, you may
decide you need to change a question or turn it into several
questions to be answered. Stay focused and flexible so you
can gather as much information as you need to answer each
Write each question and its answer in your notebook. Reread
each of your written answers to be sure each answer is legible
and contains all the important information needed to answer
the question.
As you practice using SQRW, you will find you learn more and
have good study notes to use to prepare for class participation
and tests.
HINT: Once you complete the Survey step for the entire
chapter, complete the Question, Read, and Write steps for the
first heading. Then complete the Question, Read, and Write
steps for the second heading, and so on for the remaining
headings in the chapter.

The Ten Study Habits of

Successful Students

Successful students have good study habits. They apply these

habits to all of their classes. Read about each study habit.
Work to develop any study habit you do not have.
Successful students:
1. Try not to do too much studying at one time.

If you try to do too much studying at one time, you will

tire and your studying will not be very effective. Space the
work you have to do over shorter periods of time. Taking
short breaks will restore your mental energy.
2. Plan specific times for studying.

Study time is any time you are doing something related to

schoolwork. It can be completing assigned reading,
working on a paper or project, or studying for a test.
Schedule specific times throughout the week for your
study time.
3. Try to study at the same times each day.

Studying at the same times each day establishes a routine

that becomes a regular part of your life, just like sleeping
and eating. When a scheduled study time comes up during
the day, you will be mentally prepared to begin studying.
4. Set specific goals for their study times.

Goals will help you stay focused and monitor your

progress. Simply sitting down to study has little value. You
must be very clear about what you want to accomplish
during your study times.
5. Start studying when planned.

You may delay starting your studying because you don't

like an assignment or think it is too hard. A delay in
studying is called "procrastination." If you procrastinate for
any reason, you will find it difficult to get everything done
when you need to. You may rush to make up the time you
wasted getting started, resulting in careless work and
6. Work on the assignment they find most difficult

Your most difficult assignment will require the most effort.

Start with your most difficult assignment since this is when
you have the most mental energy.
7. Review their notes before beginning an

Reviewing your notes can help you make sure you are
doing an assignment correctly. Also, your notes may
include information that will help you complete an
8. Tell their friends not to call them during their study

Two study problems can occur if your friends call you

during your study times. First, your work is interrupted. It
is not that easy to get back to what you were doing.
Second, your friends may talk about things that will
distract you from what you need to do. Here's a simple
idea - turn off your cell phone during your study times.
9. Call another student when they have difficulty with
an assignment.

This is a case where "two heads may be better than one."

10. Review their schoolwork over the weekend.

Yes, weekends should be fun time. But there is also time

to do some review. This will help you be ready to go on
Monday morning when another school week begins.
These ten study habits can help you throughout your
education. Make sure they are your study habits.

Improving Concentration
Many students have difficulty concentrating while studying.
Being able to concentrate while you are studying is essential to
doing well in class and on tests.
Here are 10 suggestions for improving your study
• Study in a quiet place that is free from distractions and
interruptions. Try to create a space designated solely for
• Make a study schedule that shows what tasks you need
to accomplish and when you plan to accomplish each task.
This will provide you with the structure you need for
effective studying.
•Try to study at the time of day you work best. Some
people work well early in the morning, others late at night.
You know what works best for you.
• Make sure you are not tired and/or hungry when you
study. Otherwise, you won't have the energy you need to
concentrate. Also, maintain your physical fitness.
•Don't try to do two tasks at the same time. You won't be
able to concentrate on either one very well. Concentration
means focusing on one thing to the exclusion of all else.
• Break large tasks into series of smaller tasks that you
can complete one at a time. If you try to complete a large
task all at once, you may feel overwhelmed and will be
unable to maintain your concentration.
• Relax. It's hard to concentrate when you're tense. It's
important to relax when working on a task that requires
concentration. Meditation is helpful to many students.
• Clear your mind of worrisome thoughts. Mental poise is
important for concentration. You can get distracted by your
own thoughts. Monitor your thoughts and prevent yourself
from following any that take you off track. Don't
• Develop an interest in what you are studying. Try to
relate what you are studying to you own life to make it as
meaningful as possible. This can motivate yourself to
• Take breaks whenever you feel fatigued. There is no set
formula for when to take breaks. You will know when you
need to take a break.
Studying without concentration is like trying to fill a
bucket with water when the bucket has a hole in its
bottom. It doesn't work.

Preparing to Study: A Good

Study Place
You need a good study place to be prepared to study. You
should be able to answer YES to all of the following questions:

1. Is my Study Place available to me whenever I need

Your Study Place does you little good if you cannot use it
when you need it. If you are using a Study Place that you
must share with others for any reason, work out a
schedule so that you know when you can use it.
2. Is my Study Place free from interruptions?
It is important to have uninterrupted study time. You may
have to hang a DO NOT DISTURB sign on the door or take
the phone off the hook.
3. Is my Study Place free from distractions?

Research shows that most students study best in a quiet

environment. If you find that playing a stereo or TV
improves your mood, keep the volume low.
4. Does my Study Place contain all the study
materials I need?
Be sure your Study Place includes reference sources and
supplies such as pens and pencils, paper, ruler, calculator,
and whatever else you might need. If you use a computer
for your schoolwork, it should be in your Study Place .

5. Does my Study Space contain a large enough

desk or table?
While working on an assignment or studying for a test, use
a desk or table that is large enough to hold everything you
need. Allow enough room for writing and try to avoid
6. Does my Study Place have enough storage space?

You need enough room to store your study materials. Be

sure you have enough storage space to allow you to keep
your desktop or other work surface clear of unnecessary
materials that can get in the way.
7. Does my Study Place have a comfortable chair?

A chair that is not comfortable can cause discomfort or

pain that will interfere with your studying. A chair that is
too comfortable might make you sleepy. Select a chair in
which you can sit for long periods while maintaining your
8. Does my Study Place have enough light?
The amount of light you need depends on what you are
doing. The important thing is that you can clearly see what
you need to see without any strain or discomfort.
9. Does my Study Place have a comfortable
If your Study Place is too warm, you might become sleepy.
If it is too cold, your thinking may slow down and become
unclear. Select a temperature at which your mind and
body function best.
Having a good Study Place is important for good studying.

Setting Goals

A goal is something you want to achieve. A short-term goal is

something you want to achieve soon. Examples of short-term
goals are finishing your homework and doing well on
tomorrow's test. A long-term goal is something you want to
achieve at some later date. Examples of long-term goals are
writing a paper and passing a class.
To set appropriate goals, you must know what is important for
you to accomplish. Then you must set specific and clearly
stated goals. If you do not have clearly stated goals, your
effort will lack direction and focus. Write your goals to have a
record of them.


Each goal you set should state WHAT you will do and WHEN
you will accomplish it. Implied in each goal you set is your
WILL (determination) to do it. For example, a goal for a
research paper might be stated as follows: I will (your
determination) finish gathering information for my research
paper (what you will do) by November 20 (when you will
accomplish it).

Your goals should be:

1. within your skills and abilities. Knowing your
strengths and weaknesses will help you set goals you can
2. realistic. Setting a goal to learn the spelling of three
new words a day is realistic. Trying to learn the spelling of
fifty new words a day is not realistic.
3. flexible. Sometimes things will not go the way you
anticipate and you may need to change your goal. Stay
flexible so when you realize a change is necessary you will
be ready to make the change.

4. measurable. It is important to be able to measure your

progress toward a goal. It is especially important to
recognize when you have accomplished your goal and need
to go no further. Failure to measure your progress toward
a goal and recognize its accomplishment will result in effort
that is misdirected and wasted.
5. within your control. Other than when working as part
of a group, accomplishment of your goal should not
depend on other students. You can control what you do,
but you have little or no control over what others do. You
may do what you have to do, but if others don't, you will
not accomplish your goal.
Many times your parents, teachers, and counselors will set
goals for you. Be accepting when they do. These are people
who know what is important for you and are very concerned
with your success. They can also help you accomplish the
goals they set.
Motivating Yourself to

If you find that you lack motivation to study, welcome to the

club. Just about every student experiences this problem at one
time or another.
Motivation is important for good studying. When you are
motivated, you will find it easy to stay focused over a period of
time. When you are not motivated, you will not only find it
difficult to stay focused, but you will find it difficult to get
started in the first place.
Here are some ways to increase your motivation to study.
1. Reward yourself for studying. For example, after a
successful study session, have a treat like a nice big ice
cream cone. Go crazy and add some cherries and nuts.
2. Study with your friends. Don’t make it party time, but
you can have fun as you do this.
3. Remind yourself of your long-term goals.
Achievement of your goals likely requires educational
success. Educational success requires studying.
4. Eliminate distractions. If you are surrounding by
things you would rather do than study, you will probably
do those things instead of studying.
5. Develop interest in what you have to study. This will
make studying more enjoyable.
6. Take breaks. When you feel that you need to take a
break, try to stop at a point where you are at something
that is easy for you. This will make it easier for you to
resume studying after your break.
7. Establish a comfortable environment. You will be
more inclined to study if you feel comfortable.
8. Establish reasonable goals for a study session. You
probably won’t get very far if you look at your study
session as "mission impossible."
9. Use a motivational poster. Place the poster where you
can see it as you study. The poster should include positive
words and a picture depicting success. You can buy one or
even make your own. You can also read inspirational
stories about real people who have achieved success
through effort.
10. Just do it. Once you do, you will feel a lot better
than if you are worried about getting it done.
Finally, if these suggestions don’t do it for you, just
think about the consequences of not studying.

KWL Chart

The KWL chart was designed as an instructional reading

strategy teachers could use to guide students' textbook
reading. However, you can use KWL to help you learn about a
Here is what a blank KWL chart looks like.

The K in KWL stands for what you already know about the
topic. Complete the K column by thinking about and writing
what you already know about the topic.
The W in KWL stands for what else you want to know about
the topic. Complete the W column by writing the questions
you want to answer about the topic.
The L in KWL stands for what you learned about the topic as
you read your textbook and use reference sources. Complete
the L column by writing the answers to the questions you
wrote in the W column. Also, write in the L column other
information you learned as you answered the questions.
Here is an example of a KWL chart that a student completed
for the topic "Deserts."

A desert is a dry Are there any There are areas with water in a
area of land that areas of water desert that are called an oasis.
is typically very in a desert?
hot. They are found by an aquifer
or an underground stream.
Aquifer is an underground bed
or layer that yields water.
You'll find more plants and
animals by an oasis than in any
other part of the desert.
Are there cold The Gobi Desert can get as
deserts? cold as -40° in the winter
because it is far north of the
The Sahara Desert is more
More than 1/5 of What is the than 3 million square miles in
the world is largest area.
desert. desert?
Mostly by using their long roots
Hard for plants to get to water below the
How do plants
to survive in the ground.
They avoid the heat of the day,
Hard for animals How do and come out only at night.
to survive in the animals
desert. Mammals such as camels and
survive? rodents can go for long periods
without water. So can many
birds and insects.

Using a KWL chart can help you bring together

information about any topic.

What is Procrastination?

Procrastination is putting off or avoiding doing something that

must be done. It is natural to procrastinate occasionally.
However, excessive procrastination can result in guilt feelings
about not doing a task when it should be done. It can also
cause anxiety since the task still needs to be done. Further,
excessive procrastination can cause poor performance if the
task is completed without sufficient time to do it well. In short,
excessive procrastination can interfere with school and
personal success.

Why Do Students Procrastinate?

There are many reasons why students procrastinate. Here are

the most common reasons:
1. Perfectionism. A student's standard of performance
may be so high for a task that it does not seem possible to
meet that standard.
2. Fear of Failure. A student may lack confidence and fear
that he/she will be unable to accomplish a task
3. Confusion. A student may be unsure about how to start
a task or how it should be completed.
4. Task Difficulty. A student may lack the skills and
abilities needed to accomplish a task.
5. Poor Motivation. A student may have little or no
interest in completing a task because he/she finds the task
boring or lacking in relevance.
6. Difficulty Concentrating. A student may have too
many things around that distract him/her from doing a
7. Task Unpleasantness. A student may dislike doing
what a task requires.
8. Lack of Priorities. A student may have little or no sense
about which tasks are most important to do.

How Do I Know if I Procrastinate Excessively?

You procrastinate excessively if you agree with five or more of

the following statements:
1. I often put off starting a task I find difficult
2. I often give up on a task as soon as I start to find it
3. I often wonder why I should be doing a task.
4. I often have difficulty getting started on a task.
5. I often try to do so many tasks at once that I
cannot do any of them.
6. I often put off a task in which I have little or no
7. I often try to come up with reasons to do something
other than a task I have to do.
8. I often ignore a task when I am not certain about
how to start it or complete it.
9. I often start a task but stop before completing it.
10. I often find myself thinking that if I ignore a task, it
will go away.
11. I often cannot decide which of a number of tasks I
should complete first.
12. I often find my mind wandering to things other that
the task on which I am trying to work.

What Can I Do About Excessive Procrastination?

Here are some things you can do to control excessive


1. Motivate yourself to work on a task with thoughts

such as "There is no time like the present," or "Nobody's
2. Prioritize the tasks you have to do.
3. Commit yourself to completing a task once started.
4. Reward yourself whenever you complete a task.
5. Work on tasks at the times you work best.
6. Break large tasks into small manageable parts.
7. Work on tasks as part of a study group.
8. Get help from teachers and other students when
you find a task difficult.
9. Make a schedule of the tasks you have to do and
stick to it.
10. Eliminate distractions that interfere with working on
11. Set reasonable standards that you can meet for a
12. Take breaks when working on a task so that you do
not wear down.
13. Work on difficult and/or unpleasant tasks first.
14. Work on a task you find easier after you complete a
difficult task.
15. Find a good place to work on tasks.
Above all, think positively and get going. Once you are into a
task, you will probably find that it is more interesting than you
thought it would be and not as difficult as you feared. You will
feel increasingly relieved as you work toward its
accomplishment and will come to look forward to the feeling of
satisfaction you will experience when you have completed the

Study Groups
A study group can be helpful when you are trying to learn
information and concepts and preparing for class discussions
and tests. Read to learn about the benefits of a study group.
Then read on to learn about how to start a study group and
the characteristics of a successful study group. Finally, be sure
to read about the possible pitfalls of a study group.

Benefits of a Study Group

A study group can be beneficial in many ways. Here are the

most important benefits:
1. A support group can "pick you up" when you find
that your motivation to study is slipping. The other group
members can be a source of encouragement.
2. You may be reluctant to ask a question in class. You
will find it easier to do so in a small study group.
3. You may become more committed to study because
the group members are depending on your presentation
and participation. You will not want to let them down.
4. Group members will listen and discuss information
and concepts during the study sessions. These activities
add a strong auditory dimension to your learning
5. One or more group members are likely to
understand something you do not. They may bring up
ideas you never considered.
6. You can learn valuable new study habits from the
other group members.
7. You can compare your class notes with those of the
other group members to clarify your notes and fill in any
8. Teaching/explaining information and concepts to
the other group members will help you reinforce your
mastery of the information and concepts.
9. Let's face it - studying can sometimes be boring.
Interacting with the other group members can make
studying enjoyable.

Getting a Study Group Started

Study groups don't just happen. Here is what you should do to

get a study group started:
1. Get to know your classmates by talking with them
before class, during breaks, and after class. When
selecting a classmate to join your study group, you should
be able to answer YES for each of the following questions:
o Is this classmate motivated to do well?

o Does this classmate understand the subject matter?

o Is this classmate dependable?

o Would this classmate be tolerant of the ideas of

o Would you like to work with this classmate?

2. Invite enough of these classmates to work with you

in a study group until you have formed a group of three to
five. A larger group may allow some members to avoid
responsibility, may lead to cliques, and may make group
management more of an issue than learning.
3. Decide how often and for how long you will meet.
Meeting two or three times a week is probably best. If you
plan a long study session, make sure you include time for
breaks. A study session of about 60 to 90 minutes is
usually best.
4. Decide where you will meet. Select a meeting place
that is available and is free from distractions. An empty
classroom or a group study room in the library are
5. Decide on the goals of the study group. Goals can
include comparing and updating notes, discussing
readings, and preparing for exams.
6. Decide who the leader will be for the first study
session. Also decide whether it will be the same person
each session or whether there will be a rotating leader.
The leader of a study session should be responsible for
meeting the goals of that study session.
7. Clearly decide the agenda for the first study session
and the responsibilities of each group member for that
8. Develop a list of all group members that includes
their names, telephone numbers, and email addresses.
Make sure each group member has this list and update the
list as needed.

Characteristics of a Successful Study Group

Once started, a study group should possess the following

characteristics to be successful:
1. Each group member contributes to discussions.
2. Group members actively listen to each other
without interrupting. Only one group member speaks at a
3. The other group members work collaboratively to
resolve any concern raised by a group member.
4. Group members are prompt and come prepared to
5. The group stays on task with respect to its agenda.
6. Group members show respect for each other.
7. Group members feel free to criticize each other but
keep their criticisms constructive. This can encourage
group members to reveal their weaknesses so that they
can strengthen them.
8. Group members feel free to ask questions of each
9. At the end of each study session, an agenda
including specific group member responsibilities is
prepared for the next session.
10. Above all, the positive attitude that "we can do this
together" is maintained.

Possible Pitfalls of a Study Group

A study group can be a very positive learning experience.

However, there are pitfalls to be avoided. Here are some
1. Do not let the study group get distracted from its
agenda and goals.
2. Do not let the study group become a social group.
You can always socialize at other times.
3. Do not allow group members to attend unprepared.
To stay in the group, members should be required to do
their fair share.
4. Do not the let the session become a negative forum
for complaining about teachers and courses.
5. Do not allow one or two group members to
dominate the group. It is important that all members have
an equal opportunity to participate.
The information you just read will help you decide when a
study group is appropriate for you and will help ensure its

Using Reference Sources

As you go through school, you will need to use reference

sources to find information about topics, locate facts, and
answer questions. Here are five types of reference sources you
should use. Each type is available in print forms, on CD-ROMs,
and on the Internet.
1. Dictionary

A dictionary provides information about the meaning,

pronunciation, and spelling of words. Unabridged
dictionaries attempt to be complete by including all words
currently in use in a language. They provide extensive
information about the words included. Abridged
dictionaries omit words that do not regularly appear in
books, magazines, and newspapers. Specialized
dictionaries provide detailed information about the words
that apply to a particular subject such as space, math,
biology, psychology, and many more. They include
technical words that are rarely used outside of the subject.
2. Thesaurus

A thesaurus contains synonyms for commonly used

words. A synonym is a word that has the same meaning or
nearly the same meaning as another word. For example,
"simple" is a synonym for "easy." A thesaurus contains
many more synonyms for a word than does a dictionary. A
thesaurus can help you precisely express your ideas when
3. Encyclopedia

An encyclopedia contains articles on a variety of subjects.

The articles are written by experts on each of the subjects.
In addition to articles, encyclopedias may include
illustrations and diagrams, definitions of some words, and
references to additional information. A general
encyclopedia includes overview articles on a wide range of
topics. A subject encyclopedia contains longer and more
detailed articles on specific topics, events, or fields of
4. Almanac

An almanac is an annual single-volume reference source

that contains useful facts about a wide range of topics. You
can learn about countries of the world, government,
historical events, and many other topics. Because
almanacs are revised each year, the information is current.

5. Atlas

An atlas is a collection of maps. The most common atlas

contains maps that show the political and physical features
of countries throughout the world. A political map shows
government boundaries. A physical map shows the
features of the earth's surface such as mountains, deserts,
and bodies of water. You may also use a road map to learn
how to get from place to place. There are also specialized
atlases for such things as weather across the world,
oceans of the world, and even the anatomy of the human
Wherever you study, be sure you have access to each of these
important reference sources.

Managing Your Study Time

There are only so many hours in a day, a week, and a term.
You cannot change the number of hours, but you can decide
how to best use them. To be successful in school, you must
carefully manage your study time. Here is a strategy for doing

Prepare a Term Calendar

At the beginning of a term, prepare a Term Calendar. Update

it as the term goes on. Here is what to do to prepare a Term
•Record your school assignments with their due dates and
your scheduled tests.Record your planned school activities.
• Record your planned school activities.
• Record your known out-of-school activities.

Prepare a Weekly Schedule

Each Sunday before a school week, prepare a Weekly

Schedule. Update it as the week goes on. Here is what to do to
prepare a Weekly Schedule.
• Record your daily classes.
•Enter things to be done for the coming week from your
Term Calendar.
•Review your class notes from the previous week to see if
you need to add any school activities.
• Add any out-of-school activities in which you will be
involved during the week.
•Be sure to include times for completing assignments,
working on projects, and studying for tests. These times
may be during the school day, right after school, evenings,
and weekends.

Prepare a Daily Organizer

Each evening before a school day, prepare a Daily Organizer

for the next day. Place a √ next to each thing to do as you
accomplish it. Here is what to do to prepare a Daily Organizer.
•Enter the things to do for the coming day from your
Weekly Schedule.
•Enter the things that still need to be accomplished from
your Daily Organizer from the previous day.
• Review your class notes for the day just completed to see
if you need to add any school activities.
• Add any out-of-school activities in which you will be
involved the next day.
Your Weekly Schedule should have more detail than your Term
Calendar. Your Daily Organizer should have more detail than
your Weekly Schedule. Using a Term Calendar, a Weekly
Schedule, and a Daily Organizer will help you make the best
use of your time.

ACT Test Taking Tips

The ACT is a widely used college admission standardized test.
It has four mandatory subject tests: English, Reading,
Mathematics, and Science. There is also an optional Writing
test which some colleges require.

General Tips
• Answer the questions you find easiest first. Come back to
the others later.
• Don't spend more than a minute or two on any question.
• As you work on a section, keep track of how much time
remains. (It's a good idea to bring a reliable watch.)
• Answer every question. There is no penalty for guessing.
• Be careful to mark only one answer choice per question.
• Write in the test book in any way that will help you.
• Consider all answer choices before you choose one. Use
the process of elimination to narrow your choices.

English Section Tips

• Consider the writing style used for each section. The

correct answer choice will be the one that works best with
the writing style used.
• When asked a question about something that is
underlined, consider how the underlined portion fits with
the rest of the section.
• Examine each answer choice to see how it differs from
the others.
• For items that include "No Change" as an answer choice,
choose this as your answer only if you are sure none of the
other answer choices are correct.
•Reread the underlined portion with your answer choice to
be sure it is correct.

Reading Section Tips

•Read the passage carefully before you read the
•Focus on the main ideas in the passage. Underline these.
Don't get lost in the details.
• Try to identify how ideas in the passage are connected.
• Refer back to the passage as you answer each question.

Mathematics Section Tips

• Work out the problem before looking at the answer

choices. When done, choose the answer choice that
matches your answer. If none match, redo the problem.
• Don't overly rely on your calculator. Some problems are
best worked out manually. Some don't even require
• The questions focus much more on reasoning than on
calculation. If you find yourself doing complicated
calculations, you're probably on the wrong track.
• Make sure your answer choice makes sense. A calculation
error can lead you to a wrong answer choice.
• Check your work.

Science Section Tips

•Given the complexity of the passages, it may help to

make some simple notes as you read them.
• Cross out irrelevant information.
• Don't be overly concerned with any technical
terminology. Technical terms usually have little to do with
the correct answer choice.
•Be watchful for conflicting viewpoints in some of the
Writing Section Tips

• Organization of your response is very important. Use a

five-paragraph essay that includes an introduction,
supporting paragraphs, and a conclusion.
• Plan your response before you begin to write it.
• Stay with the topic throughout your response.
• Vary your sentence structure and word choices.
• Use specific examples wherever possible.
• Write legibly.
•If you have time, check your grammar, usage,
punctuation, and spelling.
These tips can help you get the most out your
knowledge, skills, and abilities when you take the ACT.

Multiple-Choice Tests
Many of the tests you take in school will be multiple-choice
tests. Here are two types of items you will often find on
multiple-choice tests.
1. An incomplete statement followed by several answer
In this type of item, the missing part of the statement can be
anywhere in the statement. You must circle the letter that
represents the answer choice that correctly completes the
statement. Usually there are four answer choices represented
by the letters a, b, c, and d. Sometimes there are more than
four answer choices.

Here is an example of this type of item:

The first president of the United States, ____, was known as
the "Father of his country."

a. Thomas Jefferson
b. Abraham Lincoln
c. George Washington
d. Theodore Roosevelt
You should circle "c" to show that George Washington was the
first president of the United States.
2. A question followed by several answer choices.
In this type of item, you must circle the letter that represents
the answer choice that correctly answers the question.
Here is an example of this type of item:
How many states make up the United States of America?

a. 48
b. 52
c. 46
d. 50
You should circle "d" to show that 50 is the correct answer
choice for this question.
Sometimes, one of the answer choices is "all of the above." In
the following example, "e" is the correct answer choice
because all of the foods shown are dairy products.
Which of the following foods are dairy products?

a. milk
b. ice cream
c. yogurt
d. cream cheese
e. all of the above
Other times, one of the answer choices is "none of the above."
In the following example, "b" is the correct answer choice
because Argentina is the only country listed that is in South
America. For "e" to be correct, none of the countries listed
could be in South America.
______ is a country in South America.

a. Russia
b. Argentina
c. Mexico
d. Japan
e. none of the above
Guidelines When Taking Multiple-Choice Tests

Here are some guidelines that will help you correctly answer
multiple-choice items.
1. Circle or underline important words in the item.
This will help you focus on the information most needed to
identify the correct answer choice.
2. Read all the answer choices before selecting one. It
is just as likely for the last answer choice to be correct as
the first.
3. Cross out answer choices you are certain are not
correct. This will help you narrow down the correct
answer choice.
4. Look for two answer choices that are opposites.
One of these two answer choices is likely to be correct.
5. Look for hints about the correct answer choice in
other items on the test. The correct answer choice may
be part of another item on the test.
6. Look for answer choices that contain language
used by your teacher or found in your textbooks. An
answer choice that contains such language is usually
7. Do not change your initial answer unless you are
sure another answer choice is correct. More often than
not, your first choice is correct.
8. Choose "all of the above" if you are certain all
other answer choices in the item are correct. Do not
choose "all of the above" if even just one of the other
answer choices is not correct.
9. Choose "none of the above" if you are certain all
other answer choices in the item are incorrect. Do
not choose "none of the above" if even just one of the
other answer choices is correct.
Knowing how multiple-choice items are constructed and using
these guidelines will help you improve your score on a
multiple-choice test.

Studying for an Essay Test

Tests such as multiple-choice tests and true/false tests assess

specific factual knowledge. When studying for these tests, your
goal should be to recognize facts.
Essay tests assess your mastery of themes and overall ideas.
When studying for essay tests, your goal should be to recall
broad information in an organized way. Your studying for
essay tests should be related to this goal.
Here are the steps to follow when studying for an essay test.
1. Assemble the materials that contain the information
that will be covered on the test. This includes your
textbook, your textbook notes, and your class notes.
2. Read these materials to identify themes and overall
ideas. Each time you identify one, label an index card with
the name of that theme or overall idea. You will often find
the same theme or overall idea in one or more places, but
use just one card to represent it.
3. For each card you prepare in Step 2, carefully
review your textbook, textbook notes, and class notes and
add written details about the theme or overall idea to the
4. Once you have completed Step 3 for each card,
review your cards several times. Doing this will give you a
working familiarity with the information that is most likely
to be the basis of questions on the test.
5. Now is the time to think like your teacher. Try to predict
the questions your teacher will ask on the test. Write each
question on its own index card. When writing the
questions, include direction words often used by teachers,
such as explain or compare.
6. For each card you prepared in Step 5, write a
response to the question on that card (write on the back of
the card and on additional cards if necessary). Use the
cards you developed in Step 3 to help you answer each
question. When you complete Step 6, you will have a set
of study cards, each containing a possible test question
and a written response to that question.
7. Carry the study cards you developed in Step 6 with
you so that you can review them frequently. Be sure to
review these cards the evening before the test.
Essay tests can be scary. Take the scare out of them by
following the study steps above.

Test Anxiety
Too much anxiety about a test is commonly referred to as test
anxiety. It is perfectly natural to feel some anxiety when
preparing for and taking a test. In fact, a little anxiety can
jump start your studying and keep you motivated. However,
too much anxiety can interfere with your studying. You may
have difficulty learning and remembering what you need to
know for the test. Further, too much anxiety may block your
performance during the test. You may have difficulty
demonstrating what you know during the test.


You probably have test anxiety if you answer YES to four or

more of the following:
1. I have a hard time getting started studying for a
2. When studying for a test, I find many things that
distract me.
3. I expect to do poorly on a test no matter how much
or how hard I study.
4. When taking a test, I experience physical
discomfort such as sweaty palms, an upset stomach, a
headache, difficulty breathing, and tension in my muscles.
5. When taking a test, I find it difficult to understand
the directions and questions.
6. When taking a test, I have difficulty organizing my
7. When taking a test, I often "draw a blank."
8. When taking a test, I find my mind wandering to
other things.
9. I usually score lower on a test than I do on
assignments and papers.
10. After a test, I remember information I couldn't
recall during the test.


Here are some things you can do before, during, and after a
test to reduce your test anxiety.
1. Use good study techniques to gain cognitive mastery of
the material that will be covered on the test. This mastery
will help you to approach the test with confidence rather
than have excessive anxiety. Employ the tips we provide at
Study Habits.
2. Maintain a positive attitude as you study. Think
about doing well, not failing. Think of the test as an
opportunity to show how much you have learned.
3. Go into the test well rested and well fed. Get
enough sleep the night before the test. Eat a light and
nutritious meal before the test. Stay away from junk foods.
4. Stay relaxed during the test. Taking slow, deep
breaths can help. Focus on positive self-statements such
as "I can do this."
5. Follow a plan for taking the test such as the DETER
strategy we describe at A Strategy for Taking Tests. Don't
panic even if you find the test difficult. Stay with your
6. Don't worry about other students finishing the test
before you do. Take the time that you need to do your
7. Once you finish the test and hand it in, forget about
it temporarily. There is nothing more you can do until the
graded test is returned to you. Turn your attention and
effort to new assignments and tests.
8. When the graded test is returned to you, analyze it
to see how you could have done better. Learn from your
mistakes and from what you did well. Apply this knowledge
when you take the next test.
You have to know the material to do well on a test. You have
to control test anxiety to show what you know.

Direction Words In Essay

Test Items

Most essay test items are not presented in the form of a

question. Instead, they are often presented as a statement
that includes a direction word. The direction word tells you
what you should do when you write your answer to the item.
Look for the direction word and be sure to do what it tells you
to do.
Here are the direction words that are most frequently used by
teachers when they write essay test items. The meaning of
each direction word is provided and is followed by an example
of an essay test item using that direction word. Get to know
what each of these direction words tells you to do.
• Analyze - Analyze tells you to break something down
into its parts and show how the parts relate to each other
to make the whole.

Analyze the factors that contribute to good health.

• Compare - Compare tells you to show how two or more
things are BOTH similar and different.

Compare the forms of government found in the United

States and in China.
• Contrast - Contrast tells you to show how two or more
things are different.

Contrast the Republican and Democratic political platforms.

• Define - Define tells you to explain the meaning of
something in a brief, specific manner.

Define what is meant by "living life to the fullest."

• Describe - Describe tells you to present a full and
detailed picture of something in words to include important
characteristics and qualities.

Describe what it was like to live in ancient Rome.

• Diagram - Diagram tells you to illustrate something by
drawing a picture of it and labeling its parts.

Diagram a modern commercial jet airplane.

•Evaluate - Evaluate tells you to present both the
positive and negative characteristics of something.

Evaluate the impact of rap music on American youth.

• Explain - Explain tells you to provide facts and reasons
to make something clear and understandable.

Explain why the American Civil War occurred.

• Justify - Justify tells you to provide reasons and facts in
support of something.

Justify the need for the federal income tax.

• List - List tells you to present information about
something as a series of brief numbered points.

List the ingredients needed to bake bread.

• Outline - Outline tells you to present the most important
information about something in a carefully organized

Outline what it takes to be successful in school.

•Summarize - Summarize tells you to present the main
points about something in a brief form.

Summarize how Thomas Edison's inventions have made

our lives better.
• Trace - Trace tells you to present the order in which
something occurred.

Trace the major events that led to America's Declaration of

Recognizing these direction words and knowing what they tell
you to do will help you do well when taking an essay test.

SAT Test Taking Tips

The SAT is the most popular standardized test used for
admission into colleges and universities in the United States. It
includes three sections: math, critical reading, and writing.

General Tips

• In each section of the SAT, the questions start out easy

and become increasingly difficult. Answer the questions
that are easiest for you first.
• Be careful about guessing. For most questions, you don't
lose a point for omitting an answer, but you do lose a
fractional point for a wrong answer.
•Don't spend more than one or two minutes on any one
• Mark the test book in any way that will help you.
• Keep track of time.
•Bring water and healthy snacks to renew your mental
and physical energy during breaks.

Math Section Tips

Most of the items in the math section are multiple-choice

• Use a calculator as needed. (Be sure to bring a
• Use the test booklet for scratch work.
• If stuck, try substituting the numbers given as answer
choices for the variables in the question.
Other questions require that you come up with your own
answers and fit them into a grid.
•Since there is no penalty for wrong answers here, take
your best guess if you can't figure out the answer.
• The answer cannot be a negative number. Do the
problem again if you come up with a negative number.
• The answer cannot be a mixed number. If your answer is
a mixed number, convert it to an improper fraction or a

Critical Reading Section Tips

Some of the questions require you to read a sentence

containing one or two blanks. You are required to select the
answer choice that correctly completes the sentence.
• Read the sentence and try to complete it before looking
at the answer choices. If what you come up is one of the
answer choices, select it as your answer.
• Read all the answer choices before selecting one. Don't
just select the first one you come to that you think might
be correct.
•Be especially careful when sentences include negative
words (e.g., not) or prefixes (e.g., un). These change the
meaning of a sentence.
• When a sentence contains two blanks, do not select an
answer choice unless you are certain that both words in
the answer choice are correct.
Other questions require you to read a passage and select the
correct answers to questions about the passage.
• Read the passage before reading the questions.
• As you read a passage look for the main ideas. You can
always go back to look for details.
•Pay the most attention to the first and last sentence in a
• Some passages are presented in pairs. In this case, read
the introduction first to see how the passages are related.
Writing Section Tips

This section includes multiple-choice questions. Some require

you to improve sentences, others to find errors in sentences,
and others to improve paragraphs.
• Select an answer choice that seems simple and clear. Do
not select an answer choice that seems awkward and very
•It is particularly important to read the questions and
answer choices in this section very carefully.
This section also requires you to write a short, persuasive
essay on an assigned topic within 25 minutes.
•Because the score for your essay is based on the reader's
overall impression, express your ideas clearly using
examples to back them up.
•The standard five-paragraph essay is the best format to
•Keep your writing as simple as possible. Don't be too
•Focus on the organization of the essay rather than
perfect grammar and spelling.
• Avoid the use of slang.
Nothing can take the place of math, reading, and writing
skills. But these tips can help you make the most of your
skills when taking the SAT.

The DETER Strategy for

Taking Tests
To do well on a test, you must have good knowledge of the
information that is being tested. But you must also have a
strategy for taking the test that allows you to show what you
know. The DETER strategy can help you do your best on any
test. Each letter in DETER reminds you what to do.
D = Directions
• Read the test directions very carefully.
• Ask your teacher to explain anything about the test
directions you do not understand
• Only by following the directions can you achieve a good
score on the test.
•If you do not follow the directions, you will not be able to
demonstrate what you know.
E = Examine
• Examine the entire test to see how much you have to do.
• Only by knowing the entire task can you break it down
into parts that become manageable for you.
T = Time

•Once you have examined the entire test, decide how

much time you will spend on each item.
•If there are different points for items, plan to spend the
most time on the items that count for the most points.
• Planning your time is especially important for essay tests
where you must avoid spending so much time on one item
that you have little time left for other test items.
E = Easiest
•The second E in DETER reminds you to answer the items
you find easiest first.
• If you get stuck on a difficult item that comes up early in
the test, you may not get to answer items that test things
you know.
R = Review
• If you have planned your time correctly, you will have
time to review your answers and make them as complete
and accurate as possible.
•Also make sure to review the test directions to be certain
you have answered all items required.
Using the DETER strategy will help you do better on tests and
get better grades.

True/False Tests
True/false tests seem easy. All you have to do is read a
statement and decide whether the statement is true or false.
At the very worst, you have a 50-50 chance of being right. But
would you be pleased with a test grade of 50? Of course you
True/false tests are a lot more difficult than they seem to be.
They test very specific factual knowledge. Nothing can replace
having the knowledge. But even if you do have the knowledge,
there are some guidelines you should follow to make sure you
demonstrate your knowledge.

Guidelines When Taking True/False Tests

Here are some guidelines that will help you correctly answer
true/false items.
1. Choose True for an item only when you are certain
that the entire statement is true. This is especially
important when the item contains more than one "fact."

Read the following statement:

Milk, cheese, and butter are all in the dairy food group.

This statement is true because all three of these foods are

part of the dairy food group.

Now read this changed statement:

Milk, lettuce, and butter are all in the dairy food group.

This statement is false because while milk and butter are

in the dairy food group, lettuce is not.
2. Be very careful when a statement contains a
negative word such as not or a negative prefix such
as un as in the word unfriendly. A negative word or
prefix completely changes the meaning of a statement.

Read the following two statements:

Directions given by teachers should be very clear.

Directions given by teachers should be very unclear.

The first statement is true, while the second is false. At a

quick glance, they two statements might seem the same.
It is always important to read a statement carefully. It is
especially important to do this when the statement
contains a negative word or prefix.
3. When a statement contains two negative words
and/or prefixes, cross out both. Two negatives
typically make a positive, but in a very confusing way.

Read the following statement:

Eating a balanced diet is not unhealthy.

This statement is true, but in a confusing way.

Now read the same statement with the negatives crossed


Eating a balanced diet is not unhealthy.

The statement has now become:

Eating a balanced diet is healthy.

It is now a much easier statement to understand as true.

4. An absolute statement is usually false. An absolute
statement contains words such as the following: all, none,
always, every, never, only, and no. Each of these words
suggests that there are no exceptions.

Read the following statement:

The official language of all the countries in South America

is Spanish.

This statement is false because of the absolute word all.

Spanish is the official language of 9 of the 13 countries in
South America. The exceptions are Brazil (Portuguese),
French Guiana (French), Guyana (English), and Suriname
5. A qualified statement is usually true. A qualified
statement contains words such as the following: some,
many, usually, most, sometimes, may, and often. These
words allow for exceptions.

Read the following statement:

The official language of most of the countries in South

America is Spanish.

This statement is true because of the qualified word most.

6. If you are uncertain whether a statement is true or
false, take your best guess unless there is a penalty
for wrong answers. If you have absolutely no clue,
choose True as your answer. Research has shown that
true/false tests typically contain more true statements
than false statements. This is because teachers typically
use tests not only to assess what you have learned, but to
reinforce what you have learned.
True/false tests can be tricky. Use these guidelines to
do your best.

Tips for Choosing a Career

Planning for college should begin once you enter high school.
Here are things to do each year as you progress through high
Choosing a career is one of the most important decisions you
will ever make. Most people spend half or more of their waking
hours five days a week at their jobs. While selecting a career
can be a difficult process, the following tips can make this
process easier for you.
1. Extensive reading about potential careers is vital.
You will discover details about careers that you were not
aware of. It's important to collect vital information such as
career descriptions, career outlooks, employment
statistics, educational requirements, and potential
2. Interviewing people in the field is an excellent way
to learn about the various aspects of a career. Doing this
may also provide good networking opportunities.
Informational interviews often change a person's
perspective about an occupation. You can find interview
candidates by asking friends, teachers, members of an
alumni association, and neighbors. You can also contact
relevant professional associations and societies, and visit
appropriate social and professional networking sites online.
3. Internships provide excellent opportunities for
acquiring a realistic, clear picture about the daily duties
and job satisfaction of a particular occupation. Also,
internships provide valuable networking opportunities that
may lead to a job. Further, companies often hire interns
that perform well. Volunteering also provides many of the
advantages of an internship.
4. Find a mentor. Many colleges and employers have a
formal mentoring program. Also, formal mentoring
organizations are available that match mentors with
individuals. It's a great way to learn about a career and a
mentor can provide valuable networking opportunities.
"Mentworking" is a new trend which combines mentoring
and networking, and which has shown good results.
5. The possibility for a job being outsourced to foreign
countries is an important consideration. Job outsourcing
information and forecasts can be collected from sources
such as articles on the Internet, magazine articles, college
counselors, career counselors, professors, employment
agencies, and relevant professional associations.
6. Look for lists of "hot jobs" on the Internet and in
magazines. Do this frequently since these lists keep
changing. A "hot job" today may not be "hot" next year or
the year after. When evaluating these lists keep in mind
your interests, skills, and job satisfaction requirements.
7. Many community colleges have career centers that
provide free individual and group career counseling. Career
counselors can provide assistance with the self-evaluation
process, choosing a career, and the job search process.
8. Take into consideration the amount of job
opportunities in your area for each career you are
considering. This is vital if you intend to stay in your
current location.
9. The skills required for a career are an essential
factor for an individual's potential for success in that
career. Write a list of the skills needed for a particular
field. Place a check next to each skill you possess. The
more checks you make, the more likely this field is right
for you.
10. Your aptitudes should be a vital factor in your
career selection process. A gratifying career is often built
upon a match with what you are naturally good at. Natural
strengths allow an individual to work with ease and to
acquire expertise faster.
11. Explore the advancement opportunities of each
potential occupation. Does advancement require additional
education? Will additional education and certification
provide you with a significant advantage over the
competition? Are supervisory and management
opportunities available?
Following the tips provided in this article will help you
choose a career that is right for you.

This article contributed by , a FREE career search

and exploration resource.
Learning Spanish

Thinking about learning Spanish? Want some useful advice on

the best way to improve? ViaSpanish Language Schools asked
some of our qualified and experienced teachers and their
students for their top tips to help you learn Spanish. These tips
will help you on your way to Spanish proficiency.
1. Be Patient

Don't expect to learn Spanish too quickly. You may

become frustrated when this doesn't happen. Take your
time and don't expect to be perfect straight away. Learning
a new language should be attempted in small, manageable
steps. Congratulate yourself on progress made and try to
steer clear of setting unrealistic goals.
2. Learn Spanish Abroad

You will learn fastest when you are exposed to the

language you are trying to learn on a regular basis. You
will find your mastery of Spanish will improve significantly
if you combine what you learn in school with practice in
practical, everyday situations.
3. Actively Involve Yourself With Spanish Literature

You don't have to read an entire Spanish newspaper every

day. However, by attempting to read a couple of small
articles regularly, you can pick up common words and
phrases. Reading newspapers and magazines can help you
gain more confidence in your Spanish reading and writing
4. Use Flashcards

Using flashcards is a great way to remember important

Spanish words you come across each day. If you keep
hearing a word while you are out and about, write it on a
flashcard. Also, if there is a word or phrase you find
difficult to remember, write it on a flashcard. Review your
flashcards frequently.

5. Watch Spanish Movies and Television Shows

This is an easy and fun way to learn Spanish. Try to get as

much exposure to Spanish film and television as possible.
Also, watch English-language movies that have Spanish
subtitles. Try to match the words spoken to the words
written on the screen. This is particularly helpful in picking
up different accents and trying to comprehend the Spanish
language when spoken at a faster pace.
6. Label Your Surroundings

Buy a pad of stickies and go around your house and stick a

Spanish label on things. Every time you go near a labeled
item, say its name out loud. You will never forget the
meaning of 'el baño' (the bathroom) again.
7. Learn With a Friend

Studying and learning Spanish can sometimes be a

frustrating and lonely process. Your motivation may drop
from time to time. The best way to overcome this is by
finding friends who will support you when progress seems
elusive. Learning Spanish with a friend also ensures that
you have an opportunity for practical and oral learning
outside your classroom. Homework usually only involves
reading and writing.
8. Join a Spanish Learning Community

Online, or in your local community, you will find a

surprisingly large number of people trying to do the same
thing as you. Sign up for online support and guidance, and
attend and participate in local Spanish group meetings. We
live in an age where information and guidance, if you want
it, is easy to obtain. Take advantage of these resources.
Overall, remember that learning a foreign language can be
challenging and frustrating. Progress will depend on the effort
you put in and the resources you have available. But the
learning can also be fun, rewarding, and worthwhile! To learn
Spanish, you have to put your heart and soul into it. One hour
here and there never really works. Watching the odd Spanish
movie will not do. You need to set a plan and stick to it.
Remember - the more exposure you have to Spanish, the
better chance you have of mastering this language. Buena
suerte! (Good luck!)
This article was contributed by Ben Moller-Butcher of

Making an Oral

When making an oral presentation in class, you must know

your subject well and convince your audience that they have
something to gain from listening to you. Here are some things
you can do to make an effective oral presentation.
• Be prepared. Research your subject to ensure that you
are knowledgeable. Practice your presentation until you
feel comfortable. Make sure you can present your
information within whatever time limits you will have.
Anticipate questions you may be asked and prepare
answers to these.
• Know your audience. Tailor your presentation to your
audience's level of knowledge about the subject of your
presentation, what they need to know, and their interests.
•Be positive. Make it clear that you are knowledgeable
and enthusiastic about your subject.
•Don't read your presentation. Talk to your audience.
Use your notes as prompts as needed.
• Provide examples. Try to make your presentation as
concrete and "down to earth" as possible. Add appropriate
anecdotes and humor to drive home a point.
• Use visual aids. Supplement what you say with visual
aids such as handouts, charts, transparencies, and slides.
Make sure that everyone can easily see the visual aids.
Don't use visual aids that are so complex that the audience
will spend its time trying to read them instead of listening
to you. Visual aids are supplements to what you say, not
replacements for what you say.
• Maintain eye contact. Shift your eye contact around
the room so that everyone feels that you are talking to
• Actively involve your audience. People can only listen
so long without their attention wandering. Making your
presentation interesting will help you to capture and keep
your audience's attention for a while, but you must do
more. Build in some simple and quick activities for your
audience so that they are actively involved in your
presentation. Ask questions that you are confident your
audience will be able to answer.
•Use your voice effectively. Vary the tone of your voice
and be careful not to talk too quickly.
•End on a high note. Leave your audience feeling upbeat
about what they have just heard.


Self-esteem is your overall sense of your competence and

worth. It is important to have good self-esteem. With good
self-esteem, you will have confidence in your ability to learn,
and willingness to try new things. There is a history of
research which shows that self-esteem and achievement are
related. Students with good self-esteem tend to be high
achievers, while students with poor self-esteem tend to be low
What can you do to build your self-esteem? Here are some
•Be positive about yourself. It's much better to give
yourself compliments than to put yourself down.
• Think of all the things you are good at and all your
successes. Write these down and keep adding to the list.
Read the list every day.
• Stop comparing yourself with other students. Your
comparison should be with yourself. Are you better today
than you were yesterday?
• Associate with students who like, respect, and support
you. Try to avoid students who are always looking to find
fault with you.
• Get involved in activities you enjoy. You will likely be
successful in these activities.
•Make use of your special talents and abilities. These are
your strengths.
•Take good care of yourself. You will feel better about
yourself if you are healthy and well rested.
•Attack what you think are your weaknesses. Prove to
yourself that "you can do it."
•Help others. You will really feel good about yourself when
you do.
• Keep looking for ways to improve yourself. As the old
saying goes, "Reach for the moon. Even if you miss, you'll
land among stars."
The higher your self-esteem, the higher will be your


Deciding to homeschool your child or children is a very

important decision. You must be sure that homeschooling is
for you. The entire household (including the child or children to
be homeschooled) must be in full agreement that
homeschooling is appropriate. When making this decision,
keep in mind that homeschooling will take up much of your
time each day, and can involve financial sacrifice.
Once you have made the decision to homeschool your child or
children, consider each of the following questions.
•What laws apply to homeschooling in the state in
which you reside?
You must be in full compliance with these laws. These laws
vary from state to state.
• What curriculum will you use?
If you are not required to follow the standard curriculum
used by public schools in the state in which you reside,
choose a curriculum that best fits the needs of your child
or children. You will find considerable variation from
curriculum to curriculum. Be sure you are comfortable with
the curriculum you choose.

• What will your homeschooling schedule be like?

Establish a plan for the year, and break it into smaller
manageable segments such as weeks, months, quarters,
and semesters. Set a routine, but be sure to leave time for
things you must do other than homeschooling. Flexibility is
a must.
• What kinds of records will you maintain?
You can use your own record keeping system such as
journals and portfolios. If the state in which you reside
requires that you submit end-of-year outcomes for their
review, journals and portfolios work particularly well. It is
easy to keep a journal in a notebook in which you date and
precisely record what is done each day. Use a portfolio to
organize and keep samples of your child's or children's
written work and projects. You may choose instead to use
a commercial computerized record keeping system.
• What kinds of help might you need?
Homeschooling is rigorous and often stressful. Consider
joining a homeschooling support group. There you can find
encouragement and many useful teaching ideas. For some
advanced subjects such as physics or algebra, you may
need to use the services of a qualified tutor.
Homeschooling is not for everyone. If you decide to
homeschool, take advantage of the enormous range of
homeschooling resources available on the Internet.

Your Preferred Learning

A learning style is a way of learning. YOUR preferred
learning style is the way in which YOU learn best. Three
learning styles that are often identified in students are the
Auditory Learning Style, the Visual Learning Style, and
the Tactile/Kinesthetic Learning Style. Read about each of
these learning styles to identify YOUR preferred learning style.

Are you an Auditory Learner?

Auditory Learners learn best when information is presented in

an auditory language format. Do you seem to learn best in
classes that emphasize teacher lectures and class discussions?
Does listening to audio tapes help you learn better? Do you
find yourself reading aloud or talking things out to gain better
understanding? If YES, you are probably an Auditory Learner.

Are you a Visual Learner?

Visual Learners learn best when information is presented in a

written language format or in another visual format such as
pictures or diagrams. Do you do best in classes in which
teachers do a lot of writing at the chalkboard, provide clear
handouts, and make extensive use of an overhead projector?
Do you try to remember information by creating pictures in
your mind? Do you take detailed written notes from your
textbooks and in class? If YES, you are probably a Visual

Are you a Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner?

Tactile/Kinesthetic Learners learn best in hands-on learning

settings in which they can physically manipulate something in
order to learn about it. Do you learn best when you can move
about and handle things? Do you do well in classes in which
there is a lab component? Do you learn better when you have
an actual object in your hands rather than a picture of the
object or a verbal or written description of it? If YES, you are
probably a Tactile/Kinesthetic Learner.
Your learning style is your strength. Go with it whenever you
can. When you can choose a class, try to choose one that
draws heaviest on your learning style. When you can choose a
teacher, try to choose one who's teaching method best
matches your learning style. When you choose a major and
future career, keep your learning style firmly in mind.

Helping Your Children in

You can help your children succeed in school by helping them
follow these 10 tips.

Tip #1: Focus on Homework. For each subject, whether

your children have been given homework or not, make sure
they review their notes. This will mean that when a big test or
an end of unit test comes up, they will be prepared to study
for it. Focusing on homework will also help your children be
ready for the next lesson, and ready to ask any questions that
might have come up.
Tip #2: Keep your notes neat and clear. While your
children are applying Tip # 1, they can "kill two birds with one
stone" by improving the quality of their notes. Make sure your
childrens' notes contain all the information they need to know.
Have them highlight or underline the most important points.
Notes full of crossed out words and messy ink patches need to
be rewritten altogether.
Tip #3: Keep your schoolbag neat. At least once a week
have your children empty their schoolbags to make them
neater. You will be amazed by what they might find! Often,
some "lost" notes or homework will show up just in time. For
this reason, it is best to have your children do this in the
middle of the week, Wednesday night is best. After a little
while, your children will become naturally neater.
Tip #4: Use your time efficiently. If your children get stuck
on a particular piece of homework, have them leave it and
move on to the next piece. Otherwise, their frustration will rise
and make matters worse. Have your children go back to the
piece they left after a while. Things might be clearer then.
Tip #5: Always look ahead. Your children should use their
school planners or their own schedules to anticipate what they
will need to be doing soon. Encourage them to do a little bit
extra, even when they seem to be finished with the homework
for that day. If a test is coming up, make sure your children
don't leave studying to the last minute.
Tip #6: Do research wisely. If research is involved in a
project, be careful about how your children use the Internet.
The Internet is a valuable resource, but it can be very
distracting. Your children might get sidetracked and waste
time going from topic to topic. Every now and then, take your
children to the library to do their research. They will find
valuable information and learn many useful research skills.
Tip #7: Use technology. Help your children learn to use a
computer effectively to apply to their schoolwork. Let them
experiment with PowerPoint, Publisher, Front Page, and other
programs. Help your children learn to type efficiently and use
Word correctly. Install appropriate audio books on their iPods
and watch the Discovery Channel and other educational
television programs with them.
Tip #8: Find your way. This is going to be trial and error at
the beginning, but for any subject and homework assignment,
your children will have to find what works best for them. If
positive results are not occurring, there is something they are
not doing right. Some children may have to rewrite their notes
to remember facts, others might have to read them aloud,
while still others might need to act them out or build
something. Once the right way is found, learning will improve.
Tip #9: Prioritize what must be done. Your children must
learn to prioritize the things they need to do. Schoolwork and
extracurricular activities must come first. Make this very clear
to your children and help them stick to this priority.
Tip #10: Communicate with teachers. This applies to you
as parents as well as to your children. If there is any doubt
about an assignment, contact the teacher. Encourage your
children to ask the teacher if they find something to be
unclear. Your children can do this after class or the next day.
Doing this will also help your children develop important
communication skills and build their self-confidence.

Tutoring and Its Benefits

The purpose of tutoring is to help students help themselves
and to assist or guide them to the point at which they become
independent, successful learners. Tutoring is available in your
home, at a local or national tutoring center, and online.
How do you know if tutoring is needed for you or
your child?

There are many possible reasons why you or your child might
need tutoring. Here are some of the most important reasons.

• Teacher or counselor recommends tutoring

• Grades are dropping
• Homework seems increasingly difficult
• Extreme anxiety before tests
• Self-esteem is dropping
• Loss of interest in learning
• Feelings of wanting to give up
• Resistance to doing schoolwork
• Reluctance to go to school

What are the benefits of tutoring?

Tutoring can be beneficial in many ways. Here are some of the

• Provides personalized attention
• Improves grades
• Increases knowledge and understanding of subjects
• Increases motivation to succeed
• Provides intensive practice
• Allows progress at own pace

• Leads to better use of study time

• Improves self-esteem and confidence
• Encourages higher levels of learning
• Encourages self-directed learning
• Reduces competition
• Provides praise, feedback, and encouragement
• Provides review of skills not mastered but no longer
Review the reasons why tutoring might be needed and the
benefits tutoring provides. Doing this will help you decide if
you or your child should consider tutoring.
Not everyone needs tutoring. But when needed, tutoring
can make a great contribution to success.

Learning German
Learning German is similar to learning most other languages.
You must learn new grammar rules (sometimes totally
different from your native language), new vocabulary, a new
logic, and of course, you will have to practice a lot. But if you
really want to, you will learn to read and write in German, you
will understand spoken German. and you will even learn to
speak German.

It’s not so easy, but not so hard either.

Sometimes you will have the feeling that you’re improving

your German very quickly. At other times, you will feel that
your learning has become blocked. Do not blame yourself; this
is natural. Take it step by step, and take as much time as you
need. Some parts of German are harder to master than are
other parts. But if you trust in your skills and work as hard as
you can, you will make it.

Immerse yourself in the German culture.

The German culture is rich, amazingly rich. The German

language is spoken in several European countries (Germany,
Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg), so that
German culture is diverse. The German culture has much to
offer in music, classic and modern art, architecture, plays and
cinema, and written literature. Plunging yourself into the
German culture (reading about it, discovering its music and
movies, etc.) will increase your motivation to learn the
German language.

Live the language.

The best way to learn German is to live for a time in a country
where it is spoken. In this way you can practice using German
in its daily context and in the way that native speakers use the
language. Of course, this may not be practical for you. If it is
not, then watch as much German TV and movies as possible.
German TV offers plenty of hilarious talk shows, deep and
beautiful intellectual movies, and some very cool bands like
Tomte and Die Sterne. Also try to watch news programs that
are broadcast in German.

Learn with a friend.

What is more exciting than challenging people and being

challenged yourself? Learning German with a friend is a fun
experience that will provide you with another perspective other
than your own. It’s really fun to make up little games as you
study with a friend. For example, the first one to master a
certain grammar rule wins a free ice cream. Learning with a
friend is always stimulating, and you will motivate each other
to do better and better.

Use what you learn.

Don’t wait until you master German before you begin to use
the language. At any point during your learning, practice
whatever you have learned at that point with as many people
as you can. If you live in or visit a German-speaking country
for a time, opportunities to do this will be all around you. If
not, see if you can join a German social group in your
community. Go to a German restaurant and try ordering in
German. You’ll know how well you did by what arrives at your
Learning German is like learning anything new. Practice
makes perfect.
Activating Your Eight
Multiple Intelligences
The theory of multiple intelligences holds that there are eight
different intelligences that account for the potential to learn.
Each of the intelligences can be useful to you as a learner.
Here are the eight intelligences and some ways that you can
activate each.

1. Verbal/Linguistic Intelligence - This intelligence is

language-based and involves the ability to speak and
write. You can activate your verbal/linguistic intelligence
by trying to learn new words each day, reading, listening
to news on the radio, getting involved in debates, and
participating actively in class discussions.
2. Logical/Mathematical Intelligence - This intelligence
involves numbers and reasoning. You can activate your
logical/mathematical intelligence by studying formulas,
doing calculations, and solving puzzles.
3. Visual/Spatial Intelligence - This intelligence involves
thinking in images and pictures. You can activate your
visual/spatial intelligence by analyzing the visual aids in
your textbooks, and by creating mind maps, flow charts,
diagrams, and pictures.
4. Bodily/Kinesthetic Intelligence - This intelligence
involves body movements and handling objects. You can
activate your bodily/kinesthetic intelligence by using your
motor skills regularly through exercises like jogging,
playing sports, and engaging in hands-on activities. You
can also activate this intelligence as you type your
assignments on your computer.
5. Musical Intelligence - This intelligence involves musical
abilities such as rhythm and pitch. You can activate your
musical intelligence by listening to music, playing an
instrument, and singing.
6. Interpersonal Intelligence - This intelligence involves
responding to the moods, motivations, and needs of
others. It leads to good interpersonal relationships and
allows you to enjoy the company of others. You can
activate your interpersonal intelligence by participating in
class activities and discussions, brainstorming with others,
and getting involved in social activities.
7. Intrapersonal Intelligence - This intelligence involves
self-esteem, self-worth, and self-awareness. You can
activate your intrapersonal intelligence by critically
examining your strengths and weaknesses.
8. Naturalist Intelligence - This intelligence involves
appreciation and understanding of nature. You can activate
your naturalist intelligence by linking learning experiences
to the natural world. Explore nature through field trips and
camping to learn about things in their natural settings.
The eight intelligences provide eight pathways to
learning. You don’t have to learn something using all
eight pathways. Try to use those that are your strongest
and are related to what you are trying to learn.

Basic Science Vocabulary

Science is the systematic study of the natural world. Here are
some of the words and their scientific meanings that you will
probably come across as you study science.
The words are listed in alphabetical order. Any word in bold is
one of the words in the list.
atom - the smallest unit of a chemical element
cell - the smallest unit of living matter
charge - the amount of electricity carried by an object (a
charge can be positive or negative - if two objects each have a
positive charge or a negative charge, they are attracted to
each other - if one object has a positive charge and the other
a negative charge, they repel one another)
clone - an organism that is genetically identical to the unit or
individual from which it was derived
compound - a substance that is composed of two or more
conductor - any material through which electricity and heat
flow easily (opposite of insulator)
electron - a tiny particle that has a negative charge and
orbits the nucleus of an atom
element - a substance that cannot be broken up into a
simpler substance (118 elements have been identified at this
gas - a state of matter that has no definite shape or volume,
such as air
homeostasis - the tendency of a system to maintain internal
insulator - any material through which electricity or heat does
not flow easily (opposite of conductor)
ion - an atom or molecule that has an electric charge
liquid - a state of matter that has definite volume but no
definite shape, such as water
matter - something that has mass and can exist as a solid,
liquid, or gas
molecule - two or more elements that are chemically joined

nucleus - the central part of an atom

organism - any living thing able to carry out life on its own
proton - a positively charged particle located in the nucleus
of an atom
radiation - the movement of heat from one place to another
by waves or particles
resistance - the extent to which a material opposes the flow
of electricity (copper is used in electrical wiring because copper
has low resistance)
solid - a state ofmatter that has both definite shape and
volume, such as ice
solvent - a substance, usually a liquid, that can dissolve
another substance
stimulus - anything in the environment that causes a living
thing to react
substance - anything that has mass and occupies space
symbiosis - a close and prolonged association between two or
more different organisms of different species (there is usually
some benefit to each organism)
tropism - the response of a plant toward or away from a
velocity - the speed and direction of an object's motion
These are just some of the words whose meanings you
will need to know when you study science. There will be
many others. It is a good idea to write the science
words and their meanings you encounter throughout
school in a science notebook.

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