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Tips on How to Study Better and Get Better Scores on Exams

Do you dread exams? Don’t worry, a lot of us do. But instead of you becoming anxious about it, you can look at it in a more positive way.

Exams are measurements of our understanding. Teachers and professionals continually provide these to assess our knowledge and skills. Therefore, the real key here is understanding yourself and create a study plan. This is how you do it.

First, find out what type of learner you are so that you will understand the ways that can help you retain knowledge easily and which ways enable you to comprehend better. The types of learning are: visual, auditory, kinesthetic, read-write, and multimodal .

  1. Visual Learner – A visual type of learner is someone who understands better with highlighted terms, colored images or non-colored images, and their own scribbled notes.  To retain information, they connect new ideas to prior knowledge or closes their eyes while trying to record it in their brain. Their brain runs like a photocopying machine producing copies of the same image two or three times to ensure easy recall later on.
  2. Auditory Learner – An auditory learner understands better when someone describes to them the concepts verbally. This learner listens carefully on discussions and tries to re-describe new concepts in their own words. Texts will have less meaning to them until someone explains the texts verbally. If you talk aloud or listen to recorded discussions while studying, you are most likely an auditory learner.
  3. Kinesthetic Learner – A kinesthetic learner is someone who learns better when touching and doing some actions.  They prefer people who explain how some principles work and demonstrate this right after. Yes, they love hands-on approaches because this allows them to explore the doing process of the principles they are learning. They also prefer real-life situations as examples.
  4. Read-write Learner – This learner understands better reading lists, glossaries, and dictionaries; and scribbling notes (often verbatim).  While reading, they write new terms over and over again.
  5. Multimodal Learner – A type of learner who is able to comprehend new ideas in many ways. This person has a mix of two or more learning types. A visual and kinesthetic learner, or an auditory and read-write learner, and other combinations.

You can take a learning style quiz to find out what type of learner you are.

Second, know your type of intelligence based on Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence TheoryDifferent people have different types of intelligence. Gone are the days when people would stereotype intelligent people based on their test scores and grades. I see Gardner’s theory as an opportunity for anyone to be intelligent on a certain area rather than chasing all of them without being good at any. It is common to see people though with two or three intelligences.

  1. Spatial – People with Spatial intelligence excel as artists, architects, designers, and map makers. They visualize things in mind, and good at colors, lines, and structure. Most spatial people are good at solving puzzles.
  2. Linguistic – Example are poets, writers, and public speakers, who are very good at words and grammar rules.
  3. Logical-Mathematical –  People who works as physicists, computer programmers, accountants, and on other professions that require number skills have logical-mathematical intelligence.
  4. Bodily-Kinesthetic – Most likely, kinesthetic learners also possess bodily kinesthetic intelligence. They find careers in dancing, acting, carpentry, mechanic, and athletics.
  5. Musical – The term gives it away. Composers, singers, pianists, violinists, and drummers are just some of the professions for musical people.
  6. Interpersonal – Because of their good communication skills with others, people with interpersonal intelligence find satisfaction in jobs that involve interacting with people. They will be counselors, leaders, coaches, social workers, diplomats, politicians, or sales representatives.
  7. Intrapersonal – People who enjoy analyzing their strengths and weaknesses or theories and ideas have careers as writers, scientists, philosophers, and theorists. They prefer to be alone most of the time so they can reflect on ideas they are studying.
  8. Naturalistic – Topics about nature make naturalistic people enthusiastic. Some works as environmentalists, botanists, geologists, and farmers.
  9. Existential – People who spend a lot of time contemplating on questions like: why man exists, why living things die, are there other living creatures in other planets, or do animals go to heaven. Those who have existential intelligence are priests, shamans, scientists, philosophers, and cosmologists.

Lastly, plan what study habits to develop. Now that you know what type of learner you are and what type of intelligence you have, connect these two and plan out how you will study for your exam. Of course, you need to be ready with materials to review and focus mostly on Tip #1, which is to figure out what type of learner you are. But you can create study habits that will allow you to remember things easily if you know what type of intelligence you have. It sounds odd, but it may work for you. Below are some scenarios I can imagine happening:

  1. People who are musical are auditory learners may easily remember things if they make tunes out of ideas they are reviewing (mostly, when learners are alone).
  2. Spatial people are most likely visual learners. While reviewing for the exam they may prefer writing graphs, flowcharts, or draw out ideas. (Try creating a cartoon!)
  3. Linguistic people who are also read-write learners will be making acronyms, rephrasing ideas with their own words, coining words, and may enjoy mnemonic devices.
  4. Naturalists people who are also auditory learners may want to record lectures or discussions and listen to it while studying at a park.
  5. An intrapersonal intelligent person will find his strong subjects and weak subjects to create a better study plan focusing on weak subjects first.

Now, that’s something, isn’t it? Let me know if these tips made you ace your test. Remember that your improving test scores and grades will be the rewards of your efforts, and you gain new skills and master your strengths at the same time.


oDesk Review and Tips

In August, I will be two years in Odesk.  I joined the site while I was in the Philippines and it has been an on and off work for me by choice. I have accumulated 673 hours so far not including those non-hourly jobs I have accepted. I withdraw my oDesk payments weekly to be sent to my bank account or PayPal account. Here is the link to my profile so you can assess my work experience from oDesk yourself.

Even my husband who is an SEO, more experienced than me, take consultancy jobs in oDesk. While my friend Joy has worked 876 hours since April of 2010.

The way oDesk works is that employers will post jobs which can be paid hourly or fixed rate. Then contractors like us will apply to these jobs. oDesk will then get a little percentage for whatever is paid to you. Hourly jobs are tracked through a software and is more guaranteed, while fixed rate jobs don’t require a tracker but is risky.

So far, I’ve been happy getting work through  oDesk.

If you plan to find online jobs through this freelancing website here are my tips, which helped me get jobs through this website:

  1. Complete your profile. Make sure that even if you are a newbie your profile is complete and there is something to see there when a prospective employer checks it. Attach your bank or PayPal account where you want to get your payments later.
  2. Upload a picture that your face can be seen. Please make your profile look more professional by letting your prospective employers see how you look. It does not need to be taken in a photo studio but at least make your face be seen. Do not upload tiny pictures where we need a magnifying glass to look at it. I am guilty of the latter for some reason but I uploaded a better picture now.
  3. Take the oDesk readiness test. So you will make yourself familiar in how oDesk works. If someone already showed you how it works, still take the oDesk readiness test to make prospective employers trust you that you know how oDesk works.
  4. Take Other Tests. I finished 20 tests when I started. I believe as a starter I need to impress my prospective employer with tests. So, give your best when taking these tests even you may find some of them ridiculous. The higher your scores are the better. You can hide test results if you didn’t like your score. Taking the tests actually helped me a lot since they found me more credible and it also increased my limit for job applications.
  5. Apply on simple easy jobs first. If you are having a hard time getting job interviews on jobs with your skill level you can get lucky applying on jobs with low skill requirements. The way you stand out is with your application letter. Also find job postings that accept newbies.
  6. Do not send samples that you need to spend time on. Only send samples from your previous projects. Usually, employers who ask free samples are tricking you.
  7. Send custom application/cover letters. Do not use templates when sending out your application letters. Read the job description carefully so that you can make a personalized application letter. Some employers ask questions so answer these as best as you can. Attached files that are relevant to the job you are applying for.
  8. Reply as soon as you can when you are invited for an interview. Usually the employer asks how else they can reach you, perhaps Skype, GTalk, or Yahoo Messenger. If they didn’t ask you can offer them how they can reach you and ask when the interview will be. Some interviews just happen inside oDesk, exchanging emails. During this process you are usually asked for more proof of your work or assessing if you understand the project. This is also your time to examine the project closely.
  9. Do your best on job interviews but don’t overdo it. Interviews are done online, on chat or voice. You have to express to your employer why you are better than other applicants but make sure you can prove these claims. Lying about your skills will backfire you when you cannot complete a job or you turn the project to them with horrible outcome.
  10. Be honest when working especially on hourly rate jobs. Do not play Facebook games or chatting with your friends while your oDesk hourly tracker is running. And please do not extend a 20 minute job to an hour job. You are wasting your employers money and even making yourself dishonest. Your employer might generalize that online Filipino workers are dishonest which will make our reputation embarrassing.
  11. Do not ask your employer to lend you money. No matter what your circumstances are in the Philippines, do not attempt to borrow money from your employer. Yes, your employers are foreigners and earn more than you do but it does not mean you can abuse them by asking money. They even not know you in person and this behavior is not professional. (Yes, this one happened, an employer shared his experience to me.)
  12. Do ask your employer if you don’t understand something about your work. It is better to know the right thing than working on something you don’t exactly know how and end up annoying your employer. Rephrase the instructions and ask if you have rephrased it right.

Level 24 in Farm Town After 1 Week Playing

After being bored with Mahjong Titans, I decided to try another App in Facebook, the Farm Town. I got interested with Farm Town after seeing a photo of my friend’s farm. I was amazed how a barren land could turned out pretty after few times playing the game. Making a farm online like that was like building my own dream farm.

Despite the low coins when I started the game, I was not discouraged to try the App. Besides games like this really start with almost nothing. I just have to start playing it and I will surely advance.

Farm Town

On my first day, I planted a few grapes, added another App to get free coins, and added my Facebook friends, who are already playing, as my neighbors. I was fortunate I had a lot of friends playing because I could visit their farms and earn coins by working on their farms like weeding. Once I had good amount of coins, I started planting more grapes.

But it was not only the coins from working on my friends’ farms that helped me to advance quickly in the game. I was able to get big jobs from other farmers in the Inn, and Realty. Yeah, me as a newbie got impatient in the Marketplace I went to. So I decided to try the Inn and Realtor without knowing I can just click the Marketplace icon again to be in a different market, and if lucky got a job.

Farm Town

After a few minutes I became determined to upgrade my land to the biggest as soon as possible, so that I could plant more crops, and in return earn more coins, and in return create my beautiful dream farm. Seems impossible eh, but I made it. How?

  • I planted and harvested grapes mostly to get more experience points.
  • I removed the spaces between fields, so I could make more fields.
  • I planned to make my farm as simple as possible. Less expenses on decorations like buildings and fences and trees.
  • When in the marketplace, I made sure I didn’t sound begging for work.
  • Sent messages to my friends who had crops ready to be harvested if I could harvest for them, and good enough one of them replied and let me harvest his pumpkins!
  • I went to the discussion board to look for a good resource and overview of the game, and I did. This one.
  • Whenever I was hired by another farmer, I tried to make a conversation so we could be friends and so he could hire me again next time he has new crops ready for harvest.

So these were my strategies. I started playing in the afternoon of June 22nd, and seven days after I hit level 24, and got the second to the biggest land. I was actually aiming for level 25 so I could get the biggest land, but I wasn’t able to. But level 24 was still a good level to hit in just one week.

Now, I am in level 25, already got the biggest farm, but my goal now has changed. I am not aiming to level up quickly but to save more money so I can create a pretty farm. My strategy has changed too. I won’t plant grapes anymore (or for the meantime) since it’s kinda hard to tend on a big farm. I decided to just plant pumpkins, onions, and peas so I can rest. The first week was tiring anyway. In fact, there were nights on my first week  that I got up in the middle of the night to harvest my grapes. lol.

Here are some screenshots of my farm on Day 2, Day 5, and Day 7.

Farm Town Day 2

Farm Town Day 5

Farm Town Day 7

10 Tips for Passing the Licensure Exam for Teachers (LET)

After reviewing for the Licensure Exam for Teachers and passing it, I decided to share my ten LET passing tips here on my blog. These tips are essentially helpful if you decide not to enroll in a review center and just review on your own to get a license for teaching.

# 1 Know your weak and strong subjects/classes.

Allot a few hours each day or each week to review the lessons for classes you did well when you were still in college. Enjoy this review time so you can easily remember what you are re-learning.

Allot more time, however, on classes you were weak in. Well, at least if you are weak in mathematics for example, make sure you don’t miss reviewing the concepts that will be tested in the General Math part of the licensure exam.

It will be easy to find out your areas of weakness. Check the grades in your transcript or assess yourself which among the classes you took you don’t remember much about.

See my pointers to review based on PRC’s table of specification (TOS), which was available for download in first week of June 2011.

Also read the coverage of the exam with schedule.

# 2 Understand the major theories, concepts and techniques in Professional Education subjects.

Understanding the theories and concepts by heart will allow you to answer questions that are written to confuse you. There are times that you have to choose which among the situations on the choices will be logical based on theories or concepts mentioned or implied in the question.

I didn’t have any teaching experience when I took the exam so I really based a lot of my answers on what I remembered from my college years.

See some pointers for Professional Education subjects.

# 3 Strive hard to improve your analytical skills on answering questions.

After you reviewed the theories and concepts, you should test your understanding by differentiating and explaining these in your own words. While reviewing, rephrase ideas and think of actual applications.

For example, in methods of teaching, allow yourself to compare method 1 with method 2, then ask yourself why method 1 is preferred than the other on certain situations.

Ask yourself  questions like:

  • “Why are you doing _________?”
  • “Why is it similar to ______________?”
  • “What if you will not _________, what will happen?”
  • “Why the result is different?”
  • “How can I apply this?”
  • “Have I experienced this myself?”
  • “What other examples can I think of?”
  • “In other words, this is about  ____________.”

Just keep asking yourself regarding whatever you’ve just read on your review. Analyze and answer in your own words. If there are questions at the end of each chapter of your book, answer those questions.

Enjoy this process so you will remember.

#4  Review General Education subjects.

Remember that you have to pass all three sets of tests including General Education (for Secondary Education) and two sets of the tests (for Elementary Education).

Don’t assume that General Education  is easy since you took the Gen Ed classes when you were in Elementary or High School. Remember that a lot of years had passed. So refresh your memory especially on common mathematical equations (e.g. Fractions, Volumes, Areas, Percentages, Ages, Distance and Time computations) and major science concepts (e.g. Matter, Gravity, Mass, Energy, Friction). You’ll never know what will show up in your test.

Solve problems listed on your review materials or old books.

# 5 Prepare everything you need for the exam.

Make sure you have read the test guidelines, which included the things you need to bring for the exam.

Also check if the calculator you plan to bring for the exam is in PRC’s list of allowed calculators. If not, buy or borrow a calculator that has a model listed there (I bought mine). If you don’t want to buy a new one, make sure you have a non-programmable calculator. But don’t take my word on this because I wasn’t sure if other proctors had allowed calculators not on the list. Although my friend said she didn’t even check the list and just grabbed a basic calculator on the exam day. Proctors check each calculator before the exam starts.

# 6 Get enough sleep before the exam.

Make sure you don’t feel drowsy while taking the exam so you have enough time to answer all the test questions. You don’t want to fail because you didn’t have enough sleep the night before.

# 7 Avoid erasures, OR MAKE THE ERASURE CLEAN AT LEAST. And Of Course, Shade it Properly!

In Centro Escolar University (CEU), where I attended college from 2003 to 2007, we used Scantron papers for our prelim, mid-term, and final exams. So, I’m used to answering tests by shading boxes.

I knew how erasures could make a bad score. So before you shade it, make sure you are shading the right answer, or at least it is your final answer. If you need to erase it, make sure it is clean. But I still don’t think it is a good idea.

So, before the exam day, try the eraser you plan to bring. On a white paper, or a semi-cardboard white paper, write something on it with the pencil you plan to bring and erase this writing with this eraser. If the eraser erases cleanly your writing, then you are good.

I also make sure when I shade the box of my answer, I don’t shade it beyond the box (huwag lumampas ang shading). Don’t shade it heavily too (Baka masira mo ung papel).

# 8 Skip questions you aren’t sure and go back to them later on.

There are some questions that no matter how well you prepared for the exam, you will have no idea what the answer is or it will take you a lot of time to answer it. If you come across to questions like these skip them first.  Answer questions that you know as much as you can then go back to the questions you skipped.

If you still can’t figure out the right answer the second time you look at the skipped question, make an educated guess. Eliminate options that are obvious detractors and you will end up with two best possible answers.

Make a very very educated guess at this point when you really can’t figure the right one out. Or follow your instinct (See Tip #10).

# 9 Follow instructions.

Listen to what the proctor is telling you during the exam. If you are confused, ask the proctor directly not your seatmate.

# 10 Bring with you your Common Sense.

Most of the time, you haven’t reviewed whatever appears on the real exam. What will help you answer the exam are your basic understanding of the topics and your analytical skill. Don’t  overdo it though because you might miss the right answer.


My Story:

I completed 18 credits in Education together with my degree in Mass Communications-Journalism. In 2008, a year after I graduated, I took the Licensure Exam for Teachers or LET held in September.

The challenging exam made me think of enrolling in a review class, but at the end, I chose to study on my own. Not an easy choice but I was fortunate to have my friend enrolled in a review class that I photocopied her reviewers.

I started to self-review though just a month away before the exam, and took it more seriously just two weeks before the exam (define cramming!). If I had a bigger goal like to be one of the top 10 examinees, I would had taken the review more seriously and started the review months before or took an earlier initiative to enroll in a review center (excuses!). I just wanted to pass the exam and get a license. I’m glad I did, with an overall score between 82-84%.


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