Archive for the 'Exams' Category

Four Memory Tricks

Four Memory Tricks
Nothing helps you get ahead quicker than a good memory. Whether you’re trying to remember the name of the guy you just met, a state capital, or complex sets of business data, these simple tricks can help you improve your memory skills.

1. Start by chunking. According to psychologists, it’s especially hard to make your brain recall long lists of separate pieces of information. To make it easier to remember a long list of almost anything, break the list into small and manageable groups, or “chunks.”

For example, you might find it hard to remember all of the original 13 British colonies in the United States. But if you break them into small groups based on common traits, such as the region each colony belongs in, it’s much easier. First, just concentrate on learning which colonies belong in which region. When you know each region, you know the whole set of 13.


1.       Delaware
2.       New York
3.       New Jersey
4.       Pennsylvania

1.       Maryland
2.       Virginia
3.       North Carolina
4.       South Carolina
5.       Georgia
New England

1.       Connecticut
2.       Rhode Island
3.       Massachusetts
4.       New Hampshire
2. Use mnemonic devices. These are memory improvement techniques, and are sometimes quite elaborate. One common device uses words or abbreviations to compress lists of information into shorter bits that are easier to remember. Here are some common examples:

Names of the Great Lakes

H-O-M-E-S;  Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior

Colors of the spectrum

R-o-y G. B-i-v; Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet

Order of operations in mathematics

Please Explain My Dull, Awful Subjects; Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication/Division,Addition/Subtraction

Planets in the solar system

Many Vocal Enemies Make Jokes Squealing Under Nervous Pressure; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars,Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

Biology taxonomy

Kings Play Chess On Funny Green Squares; Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species

Musical scale

Every Good Boy Does Fine; E, G, B, D, F

3. Link information to visual cues. Often it’s easier to remember a place or an image and its characteristics, than it is to recall a set of unfamiliar pieces of information. To memorize the information, you can try taking an item from the list and associating it in your mind with a picture or place that you know well.
For example, let’s say you need to memorize the presidents of the United States since World War II. You could associate each of the presidents with a place you know well, such as your front porch:

Sitting on the steps
Knocking at the front door
Swinging on a porch swing
Standing at the mailbox
Ringing the doorbell
Sitting in a wicker chair
Standing under the porch light
Bush (1st)
Standing on the right
Sitting at a table
Bush (2nd)
Standing on the left

To reinforce this, you could draw a sketch of your porch, and note on it the location of each president. This technique is so powerful that you might find yourself thinking of the presidents the next time you go to your porch.

4. Read with a purpose. Many psychologists think that the best way to remember what you read is to follow the PQ4R method. PQ4R is a mnemonic device for Preview, Question, and four R’s: Read, Reflect, Recite, Review.

If you are reading a chapter in your biology book, for example, you should start by skimming the whole chapter for an overview. Then create some questions to concentrate on while you study, such as “How does photosynthesis work?” Then read the chapter.

After you’ve finished, reflect–think about how the chapter has answered your questions. Recite the answers back to yourself, explaining the information in your own words. Finally, go back through the book, skimming again for the main points.

Sound like a lot of work? It may take longer than a quick skim, but it’s also a great way to make sure you retain what you are reading, rather than just sitting in front of the book and turning pages.

Don’t take notes on your laptop or tablet

I know some people think I am “old school” when it comes to taking notes with pen and paper, after all, it’s 2015…

But all I care about is – RESULTS.

A recent article extols the benefits of taking notes with pen and paper and NOT on your laptop or tablet.

I admit, I am biased. I have 5 university degrees, all completed in record time. I am a speed reader. All I care about is learning quickly and remembering as much as I can.

I am a HUGE fan of technology (I have been using Macs/Apples before they became trendy 25 years ago). I do “everything” on my beloved MacBook Air and 27″ iMac Desktop… Except take notes when it’s important and I want to learn something new.

I do that on paper and with a pen – using MindMapping principles.

If you are a Millenial or younger, I can already hear the sighs of disagreement. All I can say is – SEE FOR YOURSELF.

Take one subject and take ALL your notes on your laptop and take another SIMILAR subject and take all your notes with pen and paper.

YOU decide which one produces better results:

  • Which one is quicker, easier?
  • Creates better retention/memory/recall?
  • Produces the best grades – with the least amount of effort.

Then stick to what works for YOU.

Chances are, it’s going to be pen and paper – you’ll have to accept that, or live with lower grades. Hmmm…..



Meditate to get better grades

child-meditatingI have blogged about using a floatation tank to improve your grades

A recent study further supports the view that meditation can improve your grades. If this is all too zen for you, that’s OK, enjoy the stress and strain of doing it ‘your way’ and let me know how that works out for you!

Ray Keefe of Successful Endeavours sent me this link – knowing that getting good grades leads to a much better career.

2 Minute Exam Success Technique

Today’s blog post is a TED TALK that can help you study better and reduce your exam anxiety in less than 2 minutes… Check it out!

SAT Pressure?

Flash Cards For Students

I don’t know if you’ve ever used flash cards to learn something new, but they are a quick and easy way to test your memory. Now with the Internet, there are dozens of Flash Card sites,, but this one seems like a good place to start. It’s called Quiznet.

Have a look and remember – getting better grades is not about studying more or harder, it’s about studying better, smarter.

That’s what this blog is all about.

When you come across any tools like this, please let me know so I can share it with our readers and subscribers.

Free Audio Book Sample

We recently announced the new Audio Book version of our bestselling study guide: Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort. We’ve just uploaded the free sample to the product page and it’s yours for free, no opt-in or email required.

We believe you’ll realise you need to get it so you stop wasting countless hours studying for nothing when you could learn HOW to learn while taking the bus or walking to school.

There is no faster, easier way to learn these study tips. The MP3 files are compatible with your iPod, iMac, iPhone, iTunes, iPad and Windows Media Player.

Audio Book, Study Guide Audio, Study Tips

Audio Book

Audio Book, Study Guide Audio BookWe’ve just launched the Audio Book version of our bestselling book Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort!

Get it now and start improving your grades while you walk, drive or take the bus to and from school or work. It’s the easiest, effortless way to improve your grades!

As you know by now, I am not into promoting lazy student habits, but I have to admit listening to audio books is the laziest, easiest and most effective way to use your ‘downtime’ that is otherwise just lost and wasted.

Did You Know?

Using your commuting time to listen to educational audio programs is the equivalent of a full credit college or university course!

Did You Know?

Listening to an audio book or program on the same subject as a book you’ve read can double your memory retention and increase your ability to recall information?

Did You Know?

That whilst reading a book triggers your visual learning style, an audio book or recording stimulates your auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles?


How to write long term papers

Essay Writing, Pper Writing Tips, Thesis Writing TipsToday’s blog post is based on an outstanding comment left by Renee… I thought it was important and relevant enough to add to it and share additional term paper writing tips or when you have a long essay or a thesis to write.

Renee’s comments are italicised…

Your tip for writing long papers is brilliant. You find a piece of info that you know will be important in your writing even though you haven’t formulated the entire approach in your mind. However, you know you will have to introduce this info, explain it and give it’s relevance to your point, which to me is grunt work that I hate to do when I am “on a roll” of writing the main part of my thought. It’s like a forced stop that kills my catharsis and motivation.

Writer’s block is the single hardest thing to overcome – by capturing these anecdotes, statistics, facts or references – it creates SOMETHING on the page that you can easily edit and embellish. A blank page is so scary!

I only take breaks at the end of a section, as a reward, during which I usually am thinking of how to begin the next section, or I break in the middle of writing something I am enjoying, because I continue to compose in my head while on break and can’t wait to get back to it to get it on paper, (an out-dated expression. I guess we should say get it on computer).

If stopped writing at a point where I needed to introduce a new idea that needed to be referenced or supported with additional data, I would put it aside rather than start writing about it. The reason is that if I stopped at that point, I felt it had a negative feeling for me.  Every time I would try to return to writing, I knew, the first thing I would  be faced with was that negative starting point – having to do research and find hard-to-find references and that’s when some avoidance behaviors kick in. It’s a minor feeling, but any apprehension or hesitation can build over time and as a student, time is of the essence. You need to get back to writing as quickly and enthusiastically as you can!

This is a common problem – what I suggest gets rid of that – especially when you read the next suggestion below about using FOOTNOTES and ENDNOTES in Microsoft Word!

I would even suggest going one step further and numbering these references pre-written paragraphs, save them in a separate file and print them out. Keep them next to you as you write and just put the # in the spot you want it to be when you are in your flow of writing. At the end of a section or the end of your paper, open both files, and copy, paste the reference paragraph into it’s numbered spot, tweaking any info needed to make it flow with the main writing.

Microsoft Word allows you to automatically number your references – look into it. That means as you MOVE the references around, all the numbers are re-ordered automatically! That means you don’t have to constantly update them! You can use a split screen to have the footnotes/endnotes at the bottom of the page for inspiration and quick access! Check our your help menu in Microsoft Word for more details.

When I wrote my Ph.D. thesis – I had HUNDREDS of references – there is no way I could have managed to do this manually.

Thesis Writing Tips, Essay Writing TipsGosh, I wish I had thought of that when I was in college. Of course, it wouldn’t have worked for me, because there were no computers. Just manual, not even electric typewriters. I remember using index cards in a similar way. I would make notes of reference info on separate cards and then put the cards in the order of when I wanted them to appear in the paper.  Then as I was writing, I kept them next to me. I would glance at the top card frequently to remind me of where I was heading in my writing and to introduce the thought that would lead to that reference, and also to remind me to not forget to put it in. Once written, I flipped it over and my next reference goal was visible on top. Maybe if you print out the references, cut and sort them in this manner, number them at that point, stack them next to you, you could avoid, hunting through pages of text of references, while on a writing spree, each time you want to find the one you

How To Ace Your Next Exam: Perfect Practice Makes Perfect

How To Ace Your Next Exam, Pass Exam, Test Anxiety, Student Stress

Exam Stress Got You Down?

The best way to achieve mastery is to practice, but you need to practice within the right context and environment.

Spending 1 to 2 hours on a problem the week before an exam that only allows you 20 to 30 minutes to solve it won’t help your exam related stress – in fact it will most probably INCREASE IT!

I know it’s hard to do, but you need to START your preparation much sooner than you think. What I suggest is that within a week of starting a course, you determine the exam content. I’m totally serious.

With the full content of the final exam (you can ask for copies of previous exams – usually available at the library or online), you will know what you know and what you need to learn.

One thing is for sure – you’ll be a lot less stressed if you do this than if you don’t.

Exam stress is mostly due to uncertainty – the “not knowing” what’s going to be on the exam rather than the difficulty associated with the questions.

Once you’ve figured that out, you can easily deal with it.

Otherwise you’ll continue to be best friends with DREAD and that’s no fun is it?

How to remember more – don’t walk through doors!

Memory, Cramming For Exams, Exam Prep, Exam Preparation, How To Remember MoreI previously blogged about Exam-Taking Tips with the second suggestion highlighting  the encoding specificity principle when studying for an important exam.

In a recent Scientific American article, they explain why walking through a doorway makes you forget.

As a student preparing for an important exam or test, you can use this to either NOT forget or TO forget… Let me explain.

Study Tip #1: Interrupt your pattern when you’re stuck on something

If you are struggling with a topic, problem or even writing your term paper or essay, you might want to get up and walk out the door and come back in – to interrupt your pattern and use the encoding specificity principle to trigger the needed interruption and re-setting of your memory.

Study Tip #2: Stay seated until you’re finished studying or writing your essay

There is a lot to be said about full immersion and concentration of focus. The Scientific American article explains in detail why, when you’re “in the zone” – you should say put (seated) and NOT get up and walk through a doorway – literally.

Even though this may sound superstitious, it’s not.

I know anecdotally these study tips work. I would study, compile research, read and write for hours and when I wrote my MBA and Ph.D. theses without interruption. Often, I would be at my desk for several hours without getting up – BECAUSE I had momentum, focus and total concentration.

If you want to get better grades with the least amount of effort – you want to use these study tips and make them work FOR you rather than AGAINST you.

Try them out and let us know how they work for you!

By the way, the Scientific American article was sent to me by Bree Robbins of Paddington PupsQueensland’s #1 Doggy Day Care and Grooming Facility.

Thanks Bree for sharing, I won’t forget it!

Get Better Grades Now

If you’ve been reading or have subscribed to this blog, then I am sure you’ve enjoyed the study tips I’ve revealed here – imagine getting the behind-the-scenes content… Hmmm…. Have a look at this 1-minute video that I just published…

College Study Tips

Click on the hypelink to get your hands on
How To Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort

Do you dread exams?

If you dread exams, you’re not alone. I don’t know anyone who likes exams, but there are people who get very anxious and dread midterms and finals.

Chances are, you dread exams because you’re not prepared – or more likely you don’t “feel” like you’re sufficiently or adequately prepared.

Exam Stress, Exam Anxiety, Study Anxiety, Test Stress

We’ve all been there at some point – taking an exam knowing we didn’t study enough. We’ve also all been sitting there thinking “I am going to ace this exam!”

The challenge we all have as students is to be able to gauge how much preparation is enough. In my study book – Get The Best Grades With The Least Amount Of Effort, I explain several tips on how to learn HOW you learn.

When you acquire that skill, you can quickly and easily apply it to exam preparation and then exam execution.

Preparing for an exam is NOT the same as taking an exam. In my study book, I highlight exam taking strategies that can relieve a lot of the anxiety and stress you might have.

Quack Or Genius Idea? You Decide

I get a lot of emails from all over the world on an on-going basis. I had never heard of this technique to reduce stress for students who are under pressure to get better grades. I have no idea if it works.

Since it can’t hurt, if you feel stressed about school or upcoming exams or tests, I’d like to suggest that you give it a try and let me know if it works for you.

You just never know where the next breakthrough will come from. Since I’m not stressed, I can’t really be an objective test subject.

This would be ideal if you’re under severe stress or have anxiety about tests and exams. From what is described, it takes time for it to “work”, so start now and see if it prevents the next anxiety attack.

Try it and let me know by placing a comment below!

The Cortices Technique Video Demonstration

According to Dr. John Veltheim who demonstrates why and how to do the technique in the video above, the brain is the core of the human body it controls the way the body communicates with all it’s various parts. This in turn controls our amazing healing abilities. When the brains function is compromised the Body cannot properly heal.

The Cortices Technique allows for increased brain function and connectivity between all the parts of the Body. Since the body communicates using electricity and quantum energy this technique has an amazing effect on the body by allowing the body to reconnect broken or overloaded circuits.

The technique is has been demonstrated by EMS Response teams to bring trauma patients out of shock when at the scene of accidents. The basic idea is to hold the point of injury and to preform the technique on the patient. This has the effect of allowing the body to address the injury and to do what is necessary. In the case of a trauma victim they could be bleeding to death and the brain is so overloaded that it doesn’t send the healing instructions to clot the blood. The victim then dies due to the fact that the body can’t respond. By preforming the Cortices Technique on the patient the Brain is able to address the problem and allow the body to re-engage in the healing crisis and to clot the blood. If you ask any EMS worker they will tell you that the first thing they need to do is to address shock in a patient. You can use this Technique in any situation mental or physical.

Dr. Veltheim recommends that in the day and age where we have so much electromagnetic radiation. That this technique can be preformed twice a day for 2 or 3 months as a general maintenance routine. The person preforming the technique will notice many changes in their body due the increased ability of the brain to deal with the daily stresses of student life.

Studying Maths Doesn’t Involve Reading, But Doing!

How To Study Math, Math Anxiety, Math ExamsMaureen recently sent in a question:

Hi Dr. Marc,
I just bumped into  your website because we are having our thesis and our topic is about memory enhancers but when I see your blog posts I see that studying can be easy each in our own ways…. My problem is I love reading books and I can read a book of 128 pages within 2 hrs without distraction. How can I be interested in other subjects that are not related to reading?

Because I have difficulty studying math and memorizing.

Maureen M.

First of all, problem-solving subjects like Math, Chemistry and Physics require DOING more than READING. It might help you to read about mathematicians to get immersed in the beauty, elegance and the wonder of science, but you can’t avoid DOING math, chemistry or physics by solving problems.

The best advice is in my study book so you can assess HOW you learn so that you can apply that to math as well as your other subjects.

One way to get better grades in math and other problem-solving subjects is to study in groups with each member working on a different type or format of a problem and sharing the problem-solving process with the group.

That way you can learn more quickly. Ideally, you create a Study MasterMind Group.

Puppy petting party soothes stressed students

Following up a successful “puppy day” from last spring, GMU law school enlisted volunteer animal rescue organization A Forever Home to bring a batch of puppies that needed attention to its campus as a treat and a stress reducer for law students leading up to final exams.

Having trouble focusing while studying?

If you’re trying to cram for an exam or otherwise trying to get a lot of studying done or reviewing a lot of notes in a short period of time and losing focus, you might want to stare out the window – or even better, take a walk outside.

Seriously, if there are trees out there, it might just help.

According to Attention Restoration Theory (ART) people can concentrate better after spending time in nature, or even looking at scenes of nature. Natural environments abound with “soft fascinations” which a person can reflect upon in “effortless attention”, such as clouds moving across the sky, leaves rustling in a breeze or water bubbling over rocks in a stream. The theory was developed by Rachel and Stephen Kaplan in the 1980s in their book The experience of nature: A psychological perspective and has since been found by others to hold true in medical outcomes as well as intellectual task attention.

If you don’t have direct access to nature, researchers seem to agree that WATCHING VIDEOS might be the next best thing.

I did a quick YouTube search and found this video – I am sure some of you can find a better one that we can share… Please post the YouTube URL as a comment and I’ll publish the best ones!

The key is to envelop your visual sense in the experience…

You only need a few minutes of involuntary ‘effortless’ attention to then return to your task and have full concentration and focus.

Taking notes is so 20th Century

Taking notes is so 20th Century now that we’ve discovered the incredible power of Mind Mapping. Even though it’s been around for several decades, only a very select few use it to become ‘super learners’.

The primary reason is that when asked, most people don’t think they are artistically gifted or talented.

Therein lies the #1 obstacle to effective MindMapping – thinking you need to create a masterpiece.

You don’t.

All you need to do is create VISUAL CUES for your mind to capture the relationships of the elements of the Mind Map. The more vivid and colourful, the better – BUT artistic prowess has NOTHING to do with your ability to recall it on your next exam or test.

For example, as a BASIC MINIMUM, if all you did was go through your notes (in your lined note book) and highlighted, underlined and/or circled the important elements you want to remember, I guarantee you you WILL remember more.

That is the starting point. Eventually, you want to get rid of the lines and MindMap on blank white paper.

Take a look at these student note taking samples to see how you can start the process.

But y’know what” there’s nothing like seeing it to believe it.

Have a look at this short YouTube video below to see what I mean.

Why my study tips work

I think you should watch this video, it’s only 3 minutes long and explains…

How and why my study techniques work

Students Social NOTworking

Today’s post is quick and to the point because The Economist Magazine recently reported that 75% of student time is used for socialising, recreation and sleeping and only 7% for studying.

It’s no mystery why so many students are struggling to get good grades.

Stop reading this and get back to your books!!!!