Improving Academic Performance

Boost Your Academic Success With These Three Study Habits

Posted by mark sko on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 @ 11:00 AM

A 1961 study entitled "Project Talent" found that college students in those times spent an average of 24 hours per week studying. Fast-forward 50 years to 2011, and students were studying only 14 hours per week on average, according to the National Survey of Student Engagement.

Some have attributed this drop to the adoption of more pass-fail courses, so students need only do the bare minimum. Others have posited that foreign language requirements (and the long study hours associated with them) are being phased-out, while grades are becoming less important to job recruiters in lieu of extracurricular activities.

But grades don't necessarily have to suffer because you're studying less. Efficiency is more important than quantity when it comes to preparation. Here are a few ways to maximize the effectiveness of shorter study sessions.

Divide and Conquer

This phrase is a negative when referring to government strategies but is golden for college students trying to get the best grades possible. In courses that require a lot of reading, find a couple classmates who are dedicated and committed to getting good grades. The three of you can divide the reading assignments equally by three, take solid (yet brief) notes, then have a study session during which you all exchange the information. Each student can make copies of the other's notes after discussions about the main ideas. This method can literally cut your time spent reading by more than a third.

Variety Is King

A 2010 study by University of South Florida researchers examined a group of fourth-graders trying to learn new mathematical equations. Half of the group studied one type of equation at a time, calculating the solutions for several in a row, then moving on to the next type of equation. The other half studied a mixture of all four different types of equations simultaneously. When the students took a test the next day, the ones who studied the mixture of equations fared twice as well on the test than their counterparts.

An August 2011 study published in Psychology and Aging similarly tested adults using the same method. The first group viewed mixed collections of paintings by various artists, while the other group viewed a dozen paintings from each individual artist, then a dozen from another artist, etc. The previous group was better able to distinguish the styles of each artist upon testing.

What this means is that students should vary their studies as opposed to spending five hours on one subject on a given night. Do an hour of calculus, then read your literature assignment for an hour, then log onto your Lenovo and post your required discussion group response for your online history course.

Eat Blueberries

There is absolutely no better brain food than blueberries. Researchers at Reading University in the U.K. gave lab rats a steady diet of blueberries for three weeks. The blueberry-fed rats were not only able to improve memory by 83 percent when navigating through a maze vs. the control group, but also experienced a reversal in age-related declines in memory. College students and adults over 50 should eat a half-cup of blueberries per day to get the benefit of the flavonoids that regenerate nerve endings. Some doctors have even considered blueberries as a treatment for Alzheimer's disease. Blueberries are also tasty and rich in anti-oxidants.

About the Author

Neal Ortega - Neal is the co-founder of a student charity group at his university.

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Tags: academic performance, tutoring, study help, study tips, personalized education, online educational resources

Personalized Learning and its Benefits

Posted by mark sko on Fri, Aug 14, 2015 @ 11:33 AM

You can walk into any classroom today and see that different students struggle with different things.

Some students at the elementary school down the road might have a hard time doing fractions during math class while others might struggle with remembering the capitals of all 50 states.

Maybe a college student is in an Intermediate Accounting class, but her previous professor from Intro to Accounting only went over straight-line depreciation and never mentioned double-declining depreciation. She lacks that foundation she needs to succeed in her class. It is not her fault. Her previous professor just decided to emphasize a different topic of accounting instead.

Personalized learning is important because each student has his or her own individualized needs and focus areas to reinforce. Students learn in different ways. They come from different backgrounds. They even have varying academic foundations. When it comes to a student’s education, one-size does not fit all.

More effort will have to be put into identifying topics and subjects that each student individually struggles with. Maybe it is a teacher, a professor, or a tutor explaining it to them in a different way by using a visual graphic instead of writing it out on a white board. Maybe it means going over that biology material a few extra times to make sure the student understands it. Maybe it comes to a few extra hours of studying those GRE vocabulary words to guarantee you really have them down.

Thankfully there are many great opportunities, services, and tools out there to help personalize the learning of each student. Professors have office hours that students can attend and ask questions. Teachers are normally in their classrooms during lunch. Both of these options are both a) remarkably underutilized by students and b) completely free. These two options should be considered step one to improving your academic performance. Private tutoring is, in many ways, the gold standard of customized instruction, but it can be expensive.

However, there are also great online learning tools out there to help personalize the learning experience for each student. Kahn academy is perhaps the most popular. It’s free, and has a fast growing library of high quality, on demand video content in a wide variety of subjects. It allows a student to build their own study plan around the concepts they might be struggling with. Magoosh, ePrep, and Leanerator offer low cost, video-based, adaptive test prep environments for the ACT, SAT, GRE, GMAT, and many AP tests. Most of these solutions offer content and unique technology solutions to allow a student to customize their learning experience with varying degrees of structure.

Our Memory Science platform is a different type of online learning tool. It uses key tenants of neuroscience to deliver Byte-Sized chunks of information that help students learn and retain anything that they might struggle with. A student can create a supplement herself to help her remember the process of a reaction in O-Chem, or purchase premade content on macroeconomic theories. The Memory Science platform is a place for you to spend time on the topics and materials that matter to you.


 About the Author

Memory Science is a neuroscience-learning platform that utilizes Byte-Sized Learning to help students learn efficiently, retain more, and perform better. You can find us at

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Tags: academic performance, tutoring, study help, personalized education, online educational resources

Common Collegiate Confusion – Mistakes Every Freshman Makes

Posted by Morgan Bissett-Tessier on Fri, Jul 31, 2015 @ 12:00 PM

They say that hindsight is 20/20.  Hundreds of thousands of people have gone through their freshman year of college with regrets and wishes and dreams of what could have been, what they should have done.  But that only means that there is greater hope for current college freshmen if they are only willing to listen and trust the people who have been there.  Compiled from the thoughts and opinions of dozens of undergraduate sophomores, juniors, and seniors, this list is comprised of the most common mistakes that freshmen make their first year of school.

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Tags: college education, college freshman, college tips

How to Study More Effectively

Posted by mark sko on Wed, Jul 01, 2015 @ 09:30 AM

 Quality over quantity. It’s an often-used, and generally helpful, notion. However, when it comes to studying, two points need to be made:

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Tags: study habits, deliberate practice

How to Get the Most Out of Private Tutoring

Posted by Mo Murthi on Tue, May 12, 2015 @ 01:32 PM

Finding a good tutor is not easy (we can help with that!), but once you've found someone who works well with you, there are some things you can do to get even more out of the relationship.

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Tags: private tutoring

Being Strategic: Set Goals, Gather Facts, Consider Alternatives, Make Plans

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Fri, Apr 10, 2015 @ 02:02 PM

“Strategy is about making choices, trade-offs; it's about deliberately choosing to be different.” - Michael Porter, famous Harvard Business School professor

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Tags: strategic study plan

Embrace Mental Math Throughout Everyday Life

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Mon, Apr 06, 2015 @ 01:53 PM

“I would like to make a case for raising the importance of mental math as a major component in students’ tool kits of mathematical knowledge. Mental math is often associated with the ability to do computations quickly, but in its broadest sense, mental math also involves conceptual understanding and problem solving.” - Cathy Seeley, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics President 2004-2006

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Tags: math, math skills

The Indirect Effects of Independent Reading

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Mon, Mar 23, 2015 @ 12:25 PM

“The amount of free reading done outside of school has consistently been found to relate to growth in vocabulary, reading comprehension, verbal fluency, and general information.  Students who read independently become better readers, score higher on achievement tests in all subject areas, and have greater content knowledge than those who do not. - Research Journal of the American Association of School Librarians

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Tags: Reading Comprehension

Calm Your Mind: Understanding & Managing Stress

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Thu, Mar 12, 2015 @ 12:32 PM

“A bit of stress in short doses is useful in improving our memory and enhancing performance. However, too much, too regularly, is extremely damaging to our mental and physical well-being.”

From, a web-site founded by globally recognized mindfulness and meditation expert Andy Puddicomb

Just because you have no major or minor diagnosed mental health disorder, doesn’t mean you have a completely healthy mind. If school, work, sports, orsocial situations tend to make you nervous and stressed, your performance suffers.

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Tags: academic performance, Managing Stress

Fuel Your Mind Through Exercise, Nutrition and Sleep

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 @ 01:43 PM

It turns out that there’s lots of documented scientific evidence that the more you exercise, the better you eat, and the more you sleep (within reason), the better your brain works (i.e., you can reason more clearly, recall information faster, solve problems faster, etc.). 

One of the most helpful pieces of advice (about conducting analysis or thinking through problems, that is) ever given to me was that the best insights are those that seem really obvious once they are realized.  If you really didn’t know it before for sure, but now you do with certainty, you’ve realized something important.  Still, I find that sometimes an idea seems so intuitively obvious that it isn’t interesting enough to grab most people’s attention, or perhaps because it’s obvious, it just doesn’t seem like it can be that important.

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