Improving Academic Performance

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 https://www.headspace.com/science/stress, 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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How to Build the Right Skills Deliberately with Practice

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Wed, Jan 07, 2015 @ 12:56 PM

“It’s not that I’m so smart.  I just stick with the questions longer.” - Albert Einstein

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How to Adopt a Growth Oriented, Ownership Mindset

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Mon, Dec 22, 2014 @ 12:06 PM

Most people tend to have one of two mindsets: fixed or growth.  Those with a growth mindset believe they can always improve and change their personality or level of intelligence through feedback and hard work.  They believe, accurately, that the brain is a muscle that can be built up over time.  Those with a fixed mindset believe your personality and intelligence is more or less given to you at birth, and you can only tinker around the edges.  You want to adopt a growth mindset.

Developing a Growth Mindset

Why is the growth mindset important?  First, because the research suggests it’s true, and second, because adopting this mindset leaves to whole host of behaviors that have been shown to lead to academic and other types of success, most notably “grit” and the willingness to stick with things when the going gets tough.  People with a fixed mindset tend to think their abilities, personalities, and intelligence is given at birth, and can’t be changed.  They may tend to avoid activities at which they fear they’ll fail, since this will expose a lack of ability which of course, can’t be changed. This creates a truly unfortunate cycle. 

Because the student believes they simply, for example, aren’t good at math, but recognizes that it would be nice if they were good at math, they avoid situations in which their poor math ability will be exposed.  They make the choice to avoid raising their hand, for fear of looking dumb.  So, they don’t ask questions to clarify their understanding in class.  They may even avoid doing their homework, since it’s somehow easier mentally to do poorly because you didn’t study than to try your best and fail, thus confirming your belief that you may just not  smart.  Ultimately, and over time, a student with a fixed mindset starts to try far less hard, do much less homework, falling farther and farther behind, until the evidence seems to confirm that yes, other people “have it” and they don’t when it comes to math (or, insert any other common skill).

People with a growth mindset believe that abilities and talents are built up over time through hard work, persistence, feedback, and ultimately learning.  They’ll ask a question in class in the honest pursuit of feedback and learning, without being too worried about sounding dumb.  They have no fear of being exposed as lacking math skills, because they believe they can and will just build up their math skills if they lack them today.

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Tags: academic performance, ownership mindset

Simple Academic Strategies: Part Two

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Tue, Dec 02, 2014 @ 10:26 AM

In our last article, we talked about how thinking strategically is as important to students as it is to businesses. We described how, by thinking strategically about what classes to take, any given student can position him or herself well to graduate on time even if they switch majors, be more attractive to employers, and enjoy their academic experience, at the margin, more than they otherwise would. In this post, we’ll explore some simple, obvious, but powerful strategies for performing well in any given class.

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Simple Academic Strategies: Part One

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 @ 10:22 AM

Acting strategically is a key to success in education, business, and, really life in general.

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Improved Performance through Better To-Do Lists

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 @ 10:50 AM

In this article I want to discuss two key elements of achieving improved academic performance (or performance at work or in any given area of your personal life, for that matter), and how a simple but powerful system for managing your to-do list can address each element:

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Tags: improve study habits, how to study efficiently, productivity, stress reduction, to-do lists, organization skills, time management

Learning How to Learn: 3 Techniques to Improve Test Scores

Posted by Mark Skoskiewicz on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 03:49 PM

MyGuru is slowly undergoing a bit of a transition. We certainly want to continue to be known as the premier source for extremely accomplished tutors who deliver highly customized 1-1 in-person and online tutoring and test prep in Chicago and a steadily growing number of cities.

However, if you want to improve your performance in school, expert feedback and customized instruction from a private tutor doesn’t necessarily need to be a part of your plan. It is almost certainly a good idea, if you have the financial resources to pursue private tutoring. But, there are other tools, approaches, and strategies you can use to do better in school, and we want the MyGuru brand to be known for its ability to empower students to take control of their education, study more effectively, and develop strategies to meet their academic, professional, and personal goals. We want to deliver much more than the ability to connect with a private tutor.

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Tags: growth mindset, study habits, deliberate practice, strategic study plan

Overcoming Test Anxiety with Mindful Relaxation Techniques

Posted by John Hankey on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 @ 11:02 AM

At MyGuru, we understand full well the importance of confidence and anxiety management in helping students achieve their full potential on standardized tests (and all tests, for that matter).

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Tags: text anxiety, test taking confidence