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Learning Right


- By Girija Naiksatam

Itís the end of the academic year and youíve noticed that your performance in class hasnít been that good. Your grades have fallen and you need to pull up your socks to make sure you do well this year. Here is a list of things you need to pay attention to:

What are the subjects your scores are low in? Is it the languages or science? While the sciences always require a lot more understanding and constant practice from the syllabus itself ; the languages would require you to do a lot of reading and writing outside of what is being taught to you in class.

Why are your grades falling?
Are you not studying enough, or finding it hard to comprehend and grasp concepts? Many a times, most students end up having a block towards one subject that they donít fare too well in. At times like this, you just need to work on getting rid of that block. Once that's done, you'll find that you probably like the paper/subject.

What are the others doing that you aren't? Take a look around and talk to your classmates. Are they doing extra reading or extra practice? Are they going for tuition lessons that you arenít aware of? Or are there some lessons that you've missed out on in the previous classes that are making learning a tad bit difficult for you to comprehend what's being taught now?

Ask for help
If you're having trouble grasping, don't be ashamed to ask for help. If you're in a class filled with people, you're probably not the only one who has a doubt or a difficulty. So stand up and ask for clarifications; the teacher is there to assist you.

Be perseverant
The only way that you can make your way back to the top is by ensuring that you practice and persevere over time. Itís not good enough to redo your sums for a week, or read that extra lesson for just a month. Remember practice makes perfect so do it over and over again till you get it right.

You are one of the most popular faces in class, not because you are funny or have great note taking abilities but because you ask the most number of questions. In fact, you might not know this but some of your classmates could recognize you by simply looking at your arm. Although, being inquisitive is not a bad quality, but it is important to ask the right questions so as not to irritate your instructor and others in the class and also to maximize learning. Here are a few tips for honing your questioning skills:

1. Be precise

A question needs to be crisp and to-the-point. It doesnít need to have a beginning, middle and an end. If you beat around the bush, chances are your professors wonít be sure which part of the chapter you havenít understood, or need an explanation for.

2. Be clear about what you wish to know

It can be a question thatís open and debatable, or one thatís closed and factual. The former kind would make for wide interpretation and opinionated answers which express a certain point of view. The latter are specific and accurate. So be clear about what you wish to know and frame your question accordingly.

3. Ask questions relevant to context

This means that if you have a doubt regarding a particular subject; clarify it when it is being discussed. Because many times, questions open up newer avenues and doubts about a subject, so addressing these would benefit the whole class.

4. Do not hesitate to contact your teacher post the class

If youíre feeling too uncomfortable to ask a question in front of your classmates, wait till the session is over and approach your professor. This will probably put you more at ease and help you listen, register, raise doubts and converse better with your teacher. One on one interactions are always much better than one to many.

5. Compile your questions

Doubts may crop up at any time; when youíre studying, reading or copying notes. Note these down on a piece of paper so that you get them clarified in class without forgetting. This is to make sure that you donít have any unanswered questions when the exam approaches.

Learning how to take notes effectively during classes and lectures is a college studentís first step to making the transition from school to college easier. Once you master the art of taking notes, preparing for exams will become considerably less taxing and significantly more enjoyable.

1. Come prepared to class

Work with a three-ring binder instead of a spiral or bound book. Itís easier to remove pages for reviewing.

Bring highlighters to class. Professors will typically make comments like, "this is an important concept" or "make sure you understand this". These are important hints that this content will more than likely be on an exam and highlighting them will remind you of this later.

2. Improve your listening skills

Make a conscious effort to pay attention.

Try not to zone out when a lecture takes an unexpected detour, for instance, if a student asks a question you aren't particularly interested in. You may take this opportunity to tune out, but before you know it, the lecture gets back on track, and youíve missed important information that should have been noted.

3. Organize your material for easy reference

Start each new lecture on a new page; date and number each page for easy reference later.

Write on one side of the paper only. You can set them out side-by-side for easier reviewing when studying for an exam.

Leave blank spaces as this will allow you to add comments or questions later.

Develop a system of abbreviations and symbols you can use wherever possible.

Mark or underline all unfamiliar words or concepts. This will remind you to look them up later.

4. Pay close attention to content

Knowing precisely what and how much to note down is sometimes difficult. Rely on some of the following tips for what to include in your notes.

Always include details, facts, or explanations that expand or explain the main points that are mentioned. Don't forget to include examples.

Make a note of definitions, word for word.

Jot down enumerations or lists of things that are discussed.

5. Go over and edit your notes

Reviewing and editing class notes is the most important part of note taking.

It is extremely important to review your notes within 24 hours while the concepts are still fresh in your memory.

Edit words and phrases that are illegible or don't make sense and write out abbreviated form for more clarity.

Note anything you don't understand by underlining or highlighting it to remind you to get a clarification from the professor.

Consider rewriting or typing up your notes.


- Juhi Dua

Almost all post graduation colleges and even some graduation colleges have group discussions as an essential part of their admission process. Group Discussions enables the jury to judge the studentís ability to think, communicate, solve problems and react to a particular situation or a subject. It is here that they will judge how well you can interact with your peers and how well you dodge an argument or take to opposition. Thus, itís important to be aware of the unwritten rules of group discussions to court success.

Tips for success in group discussions
Keep these dos and doníts in mind and you are unlikely to go wrong.

Speak enough and effectively
First, there is nothing wrong with being quiet. At the same time, you don't want to be too quiet. Speaking is important for being noticed but speaking too much is not recommended. It is important to make sure the statements you make are concise and to the point so think before you shoot out your words. You don't want to give the wrong impression by making statements that are not clear and you donít want to reflect thoughts contrary to your belief either. So be careful about what and how much you speak.

Do not be over assertive or disrespectful
Never ridicule the comments or ideas of others. If you disagree with a statement made by another member, voice your disagreement in mature, respectful way. Instead of saying "that doesn't make any sense," say "I don't know if I agree. Could you elaborate?" This will not be as offensive as the other statement. On the other hand, if you do not allow others to speak or cut them down incessantly or speak rudely or sarcastically, you are likely to be perceived as disrespectful and arrogant and no one wants disrespectful and arrogant students in their college.
  Listen before you react
In a group discussion, listening to the others views and assimilating what they have to say is as important as speaking out. If you speak out something without understanding the other personís views, you are bound to come across as foolish and stupid. So listen carefully to where the discussion is going and then react.
  Donít speak for the heck of it
Speaking more is not considered smart but is looked at as attention gathering technique. You will be appreciated more for speaking sense rather then speaking more. So stay away from the habit of speaking for the heck of it.
  Avoid conflict statements
Avoiding conflict in a group discussion is crucially important. Once a conflict has started, it is very difficult to control it. Everyone is different and will have strong beliefs about a topic that may differ from others. That does not mean you go all out and bash others for their different views. Never tell a member of the group that they are wrong. Instead, disagree with them by using phrases such as "it may be better to...." or "may be we should do it this way?" You are there to make it through the admission process and not to change a personís thinking style. So stick to your goals!
  Tackle trouble with tact
If someone is trying to argue with you just to pull you down, dismiss the argument with a smile and a firm statement. Say something like, ďI respect you for your view but donít really adhere to itĒ or something like, ďI like the passion with which you believe in your views but I would still like to stick to my opinion. Maybe we both are right.Ē The idea is to try and end an argument politely so as not to make it a one to one verbal bashing match.Always remember be precise, be comprehensive, be focused on the issue and you will be able to hit the nail.




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