5 Calculator Hacks You Will Actually Want To Use

By Gabe Nelson
calculator 1There are many reasons for someone to need to learn how to use a calculator. One of the main reasons to learn how to use a calculator better is testing, especially the SAT.

Many people just use the calculator they have built into their phones, but there are some tests that require a specific type of calculator. Experienced math geeks, teachers, and home tutors all know how important it is to know what type of calculator you are allowed to have before you go into a test.

Knowing these tips and tricks will help you in a test, and it’s important to know how to get around your calculator efficiently. All of these tips are things you will use and will help you get correct answers faster.

1. Double-Check

This might seem obvious, but it is an easy one to forget when you are focused on a test. There should be an entry line on your calculator where what you just typed appears. If there isn’t one, then get a different calculator.

Look at that line before you finish the equation. It is a very simple tip that can keep you from making unnecessary mistakes. It’s so easy to type numbers in the wring order by accident or hit the wrong key while you are moving quickly.

Double checking that all of your decimal points are in the right place can be the difference between a right answer and a wrong one. Getting a single thing wrong when you are typing in your equation could end in a wrong answer. Double-check before you finish and you should be fine.

2. Know Your Calculator

You know how sometimes you go to do something a little unprepared, but it’s okay because you can figure it out as you go? Calculators are not like that. If you go into a test without knowing what all the buttons on your calculator do, you are going to spend a lot of time wishing you had practiced.

Sometimes there is a specific button you have to push to make another button work the way you want it to. Maybe the sine button is in a whole different place than you have ever seen and it takes you precious moments to find.

Making sure you know how to use your calculator might be the most important tip on calculators there is. The calculators that are used during serious tests are so different than the ones on your phone or that you might have used before. Make sure you know how to use your testing calculator before you take it to a test.

3. Don’t Overdo It

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You may have heard that there is a hack to solve every single math problem you will ever come across, and all you need is a powerful enough calculator. That might even be true. The problem would be the absurd amount of time it would take to type it out.

Because there are so many buttons and options and menu items on the more high tech calculators, it takes a lot of time to use them. Figuring out how to do a really complicated equation on your calculator could involve going between menus and pressing an absurd amount of buttons.

Sometimes it is better to put the calculator down and do it by hand. It is usually faster too if you are working on a big problem. Use your calculator for more simple problems you want to get through quickly.

Doing multiplication and division on your calculator makes sense. It helps you get the right answer immediately. Doing a whole equation with lots of parts is just a waste of time. Use your calculator for the problems it can solve faster than you, not just for every problem.

4. Program

One of the most important programs you need to make sure your calculator has is the system of linear equations program. It is going to make putting in a linear equation so much quicker and more simple, and is an invaluable system for students.

The system lets you type in linear equations, which are a key part of high school and college math. Knowing how to order the numbers and where to start is basically all Algebra I is. This calculator function lets you type in your equation as is and then it solves it.

It is not foolproof. You should make sure the answer makes sense when the calculator is done. You might even have to do some quick math to reorder the equation enough for the calculator to understand what you want. All of that is worth it to never have to go through a whole quadratic equation again.

5. Math Button

There should be a MATH button on your calculator, and it’s about to become your favorite button. The MATH button converts your decimals into fractions.

It can also convert fractions to decimals if your equation decides to do things that way. It can also cube for you. It can cube a basic number, it can cube a root, it can cube whatever you feel like cubing.

When you click the math button you are going to get the options FRAC and DEC so you can convert into fractions or decimals. You will never have to do that on paper again. Type in your numbers, press the best button on your calculator, and never have to do a conversion that annoying again.

Remember

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Your calculator is one of the only things you can take with you to a test. It is on your side and there to help as long as you use it correctly. There is no need to panic about doing simple equations quickly when you have a calculator to help.

Knowing exactly how to use your calculator is going to get you pretty far. Going into a test confident in your tools is going to make you a bit calmer. It is also going to save you a lot of time panicking about not knowing how to use your calculator during your test.

Make sure you have the right calculator that will make the test more simple. Double-check everything you type in to avoid stupid mistakes. Remember to only use the calculator when it can solve a problem faster than you.

6 Top Tips to Help You Stay Healthy and Alert for Studying

By Cloe Matheson

Cloe picture 1

Image from Unsplash

When the academic term comes to crunch-time and your professors have apparently conspired to set all your assignments and tests for the same week, you’ll have plunge deep into the purpose of your college life: study.  However, studying for long periods can be tedious and tiring if you don’t look after your mind and body properly.  Check out the following tips to stay sufficiently healthy and alert to survive – and even enjoy – each of your study sessions.

  1. Get enough sleep

Avoid the dire end of propping up your eyelids with sticks in your next study session by getting a solid 7-9 hours of sleep per night.  Unfortunately, as you likely already know, the college environment isn’t always amenable to a peaceful night’s sleep.

To give yourself the best chance of uninterrupted rest, switch off any unnecessary electronic lights before you go to bed.  Try installing blackout blinds and a door-runner to block out as much outside glare as possible.

  1. Choose your study spot carefully

As a freshman, you may not always have a private space to do your work. However, don’t feel tempted to write all your essays atop your soft, sleep-inducing bed.

The best study locations are brightly-lit and cool in temperature, with plenty of plugs for your laptop charger, and lots of studious people around to encourage you to work – a school library often matches this perfectly.  However, some people work better with some white noise in the background, in which case the nearest Starbucks might be your best bet.

If it’s late and you’re stuck in your dorm room, consider standing up to work. The increased blood flow will help to keep you awake!

Cloe picture 2

Image from Unsplash

  1. Eat and drink well

Many college diets can be notoriously unhealthy, but that doesn’t mean yours has to be. Stabilize your blood sugar levels and maintain a good reserve of energy by feeding your body with wholesome, unprocessed foods. If you’re unsure where to start, try dedicating some time each week to learning how to cook new, healthy recipes.

While you’re at it, objectively assess your caffeine habits. You don’t have to cut out caffeine entirely, but gaining your energy solely from cappuccinos and energy drinks isn’t good for your long-term health. Water is the best route to hydration and alertness – and is free straight from the filter tap!  Carry a reusable bottle around so you can refill it on the go.

  1. Move your body

Exercise can be as invigorating as a cup of coffee (yes, really). Whether you prefer early morning gym sessions or mid-study workouts at home, moving your body is a great way of getting your brain ready to work.

  1. Have a power-nap

If you’re embarking on an all-nighter and are struggling to keep your eyes open, engage the power-nap.  Research suggests that 17 minutes is the perfect amount of time to get some shut-eye without lapsing into REM, so set your timer accordingly.

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Image from Unsplash

  1. Get others on board

Having other people to study with makes you far less likely to doze off. Consider starting a Facebook chat with some of the people in your classes, and organizing group study dates to prepare for tests or write assignments. Studying with others increases your chances of academic success and adds an excellent sense of collegiality fun to your – ahem – college experience.

Cloe Matheson – Cloe is a freelance writer based in Dunedin, New Zealand. She loves writing to motivates her readers to learn things and improve their lifestyles every day. Check out more of her writing on Tumblr.

Heading off to College? 4 Things to Do to Ease the Transition

I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything here, but I wanted to share this article I wrote on how to use ritual, and other time-tested techniques, to ease the transition from home to college.

The focus of the article is on Jewish ritual, but the advice applies to anyone who is going through a life transition.

Please share with all your college-bound friends and family!  “4 Things to Do Before Heading Off to College”

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Going off to college can be overwhelming – for both students and parents.  But it can also be a beautiful experience.  Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

 

 

Extracurriculars That Will Boost Your College Application

By Savannah Wardle 

Healthy Lifestyle Seamless Pattern

So many extracurriculars to choose from, so little time…

Everybody knows that extracurricular activities look good on a college application. But which activities are the most impressive? And how many extracurricular activities should you aim to include? There are a few key things to remember when choosing extracurricular activities with a college application in mind.

Firstly, less is sometimes more. Dedication to a few activities you’ve engaged with for years gives colleges a much better idea of your interests and staying power than many shorter term activities that have been picked up and dropped.

Secondly, the extracurricular activities themselves don’t really matter. It’s how you use them to develop and demonstrate your skills. The single fact that you enjoy snowboarding is unlikely to impress a college applications team. Instead, they want to know about the skills and attributes you gained through that snowboarding experience, of which there will be many.

Here are a few extracurricular activity examples and tips for how to reference them in your college application:

Subject Related Activities
Subject related activities can help to show your commitment to the subject you want to study at college. If you want to study journalism, you could write for your school newspaper. Or if you want to train in the medical field, try to get some work experience in a local medical center. You could also sign up to nationwide competitions that demonstrate your abilities in a particular area. Including a subject related activity on your college application will help to show how passionate you are about your chosen subject, a quality all colleges will look upon kindly.

Volunteer Activities
Being able to say that you regularly volunteer within your local community can look really good on a college application. Work for a wildlife conservation organization, sign up to a mentorship program for disadvantaged children or even go to volunteer abroad during your vacations. This kind of charitable work shows a certain type of personality – someone with a sense of responsibility and empathy. It can also help to develop skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving and awareness of perspectives other than your own. Talk about the things you’ve learned and the skills you’ve gained in a college application to really make the most of your volunteering experiences.

Sports
Whatever your sport of choice – skiing, snowboarding, football, hockey or gymnastics – it can look amazing on your college application if you have the right approach. You need to show real commitment to developing your sporting skills– skiing ability alone won’t get you a place at college. If you enjoy a particular sport, set yourself personal goals and record how you went about achieving them. Or teach beginner skiers to tackle their first slope. Extracurricular sporting activities help to show your confidence and your dedication. They can help to show colleges that you’re a passionate and well-rounded student.

Arts
If you love to perform on stage or work behind the scenes, conduct or play in a band, create art or critique it, you can use these experiences to boost your college application. As with sports, passions of this kind help you to communicate to colleges the kind of well-rounded and dedicated person you are. Talk about your own progress and successes in these fields or demonstrate the fact that you’ve shared your knowledge with others to really make your extracurricular achievements shine.

The extracurricular activities you choose to do while at school are likely to take up a lot of your time. You shouldn’t pick activities just because they’ll look good when you apply for college. Instead, find things you’re truly passionate about. That way you can boost your college application and have lots of fun at the same time.

About the author: Savannah Wardle works at Snowpak. She is an experienced traveler who loves winter sports and mountains. Whenever not working, she’s at the slopes in the US, Asia or Europe. She’s also interested in photography and film-making.


Looking for other ways to boost your college application?  Check out The Secrets of Top Students for more tips, tools, and techniques.

Simple Ways to Schedule Study Time in a Productive Environment

By Kira Carr

Ask any high school or college student what their biggest challenge is, and you will inevitably get a reply that involves ineffective time management. Along with dozens of assignments per subject, a student must also work on long-term projects and study for final exams. It’s not surprising that time management is an issue for students, especially in today’s digital world. With so many apps and games at their fingertips, which are not only easily accessible but also powerfully addictive, making time for homework and studying can be difficult.

To help students create a productive environment so they can do more work in less time, I have created this list of useful tips. As a student, you may find that making some minor changes to your schedule will have a big impact on your grades.

Create a Favorable Studying Environment

Declutter and Tidy Your Desk

According to scientific studies, physical clutter limits your ability to focus.  An uncluttered study area can help your brain process information.  Keeping your desk neat and clutter-free is also important because if the place where you do your homework is not inviting enough, it will discourage you from even visiting that place. If you keep your study area clean and well-maintained, you may even look forward to sitting down to complete that science assignment.

Eliminate Distractions

In addition to having a tidy environment, you should also try to eliminate electronic and noise distractions from your study area:

  • While working on your assignments, make sure that your room is quiet enough. Ask your family members to lower the volume of the TV or other electronic devices.
  • If you are not someone who likes silence, try playing soothing music in the background while you write your assignment. (Editor’s note: instrumental Baroque or classical music is an especially good choice for study music.)
  • Switching off or keeping your phone on silent mode can be helpful too. The smartphone is the number one distraction for many students. Your concentration will be so much better if you aren’t being disturbed by continuous notifications from your apps.
  • Social media is another source of distraction. If you use a computer for studying, it is best to block social media sites like Facebook and Instagram for a period of time. Otherwise, one post will lead to another and soon you’ll wonder where all your time went.

Get Organized

Create a To-Do List

An effective way to complete all your assignments is to make a daily/weekly to-do list. When you get up in the morning, write down all the important activities that you need to finish that day. Create a separate section for homework and assign specific time periods for each activity. Stick this list somewhere on your desk and get going!

Try a Trello Board

In case you are not a fan of regular to-do lists, you can try Trello, which is more fun. It lets you create boards and tasks using color codes so that the activity becomes easier to track. You can also invite your friends to your board and work in collaboration, which is great for group projects.

Time Management

Set Specific Study Times

Many students have difficulty finishing their homework due to poor time management. You can fight this all-too-common problem by making a timetable (click here for an example). Assign specific time periods for your homework and studying and follow this schedule closely for at least three weeks. (Some people say it takes about 21 days for a person to master a habit, although this is debated by experts.)

As a lecturer, I always gives these tips to my students to help them manage their workload. Schools and universities give out a lot of assignments these days, and it is up to you to manage your time accordingly. Your high school and college days are supposed to be filled with enjoyment. Follow these tips to make sure that you make your days both productive and worthwhile.

About the Author – Kira Carr has been a high school teacher for the past 4 years, and also has experience in student counseling and curriculum management. She currently manages student programs at a national university in her hometown in Alabama and works as an editor at Writersdepartment.


Wondering how the most academically successful students handle time management?  Then check out The Secrets of Top Students, available at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

3 Ways to Fight Social Media Distractions When You’re Studying

Hi everyone,

Hope you’re having a good summer!  I recently got an email from a student who asked a good (and very relevant) question.  I thought I’d share it here, and my response:

I’m currently in the process of reading your book (which by the way is the most helpful reading material I have ever come across) and I’m still a little confused on how to get rid of distractions/how to focus. Even if I do things like turn off my phone/social media/turn off the Wifi, my mind still remains distracted and I cannot help but think about possible notifications I have on my phone. Do you have any recommendations for this?

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Is social media keeping you from concentrating?  You’re not alone.

My response:

It sounds like you’ve taken some good steps towards fighting distractions! Here are my suggestions for what else you can do:

  1. Study with instrumental (non-vocal) classical or Baroque music in the background, if you don’t already. I find composers like Mozart help me tune out distractions and make it easier to stay focused. (In fact, I’m listening to a Mozart violin concerto right now.)
  2. Turn off the notifications on your phone completely! Don’t be a slave to the bell. Just check your social media, messages, etc., at certain times, rather than having your phone alert you when new things come in. This will, hopefully, reduce temptation and re-train your brain.
  3. Think of social media as a way to take a break after a good, productive study session. Say to yourself something like, “Okay, I’ll read my textbook for an hour and then treat myself by looking at Facebook for five minutes.”  This will give you positive reinforcement for studying; and alternating between deep concentration and something less taxing helps to keep your mind fresh.

I hope this helps!

Stefanie

Exam Preparation 101: Best Ways To Prepare For College Exams

[Editor’s Note:  The advice expressed in this article is the author’s own and is not necessarily endorsed by The Valedictorian’s Guide.]

By Jim Raychrudhury

Preparing for the final examinations can be challenging if you don’t know where to begin and how to go about it. Many students use ineffective techniques that increase their risk of getting poor grades. Here are tips on how to prepare for your examinations effectively.

How to Succeed in School and Still Have a Little Fun

Create a Study Schedule

You need to stay engaged throughout the semester to increase your chances of passing the final exams. One way to stay engaged is to create a study schedule. A good strategy is to devote 60 to 90 minutes a day for each subject in which you will have a final exam. Figure out what time of the day you are most productive and how long you can maintain focus. You might also want to consider the environment you best study in. Come up with a detailed schedule based on these factors.

Organize Study Groups With Friends

For some people, it’s helpful to join a study group. A study group provides more brain power and motivation if done well. Keep your study group to a small size to avoid distractions. A group of more than six people is unlikely to be effective. You should also ensure everyone has exchanged contact information to enable you to reach each other and plan your studies easily.

Improve Your Memory With Brain Food

Eat foods that can power up your brain and make it very effective during the exam period. This is the time you want to see your plate full of arugula, radish, turnip, broccoli and cauliflower. You might also consider berries, walnuts and fish. You should also drink a lot of water to help flush out toxins from your brain.

Study Every Day

You need to study every day to increase your chances of passing the exam. Devote a bit of your time every day to the courses you prioritize. This will help reduce the levels of anxiety caused by cramming at the last minute. It might help to incorporate study time into your planner just like any other daily activity and stick to it.

Get Enough Sleep

Do not study deep into the hours of the night before the exam. Trust what you have captured and go to sleep. Lack of sleep will impair your reasoning and memory significantly. Just approach the exams with confidence and believe you will pass. Be wary of using coffee or other substances to boost your energy levels. Such options may throw your body off-balance for the rest of the day.

Figure Out What Will Be Covered During the Exams

You have to know what materials are going to be tested so that you can limit your study to them. This includes readings, discussions and materials from the lecturer. Make sure you know whether the exams will cover the content since the midterm or for the whole semester.

Take a Mock Test

Do not just cram the whole day or summarize the contents you are reading. Instead, test yourself using flash cards or take practice exams. This technique is more effective if done repeatedly.

Attend Review Sessions

Make sure to attend review sessions organized by the lecturers or other students. Review sessions will help you identify exactly what topics to focus on during the study. Some lecturers will give you a full list of what will be tested. This information can help you save time by focusing on the relevant areas.

Take Regular Breaks When Studying

Sometimes it is good to allow your system to cool down and reboot. Take breaks at intervals of one hour for at least five minutes. Avoid checking your email or going on Facebook during breaks since you are likely to get carried away. You can also alternate study spots to enhance your concentration levels and increase the rate at which your brain retains information.

You don’t have to burn the midnight oil to pass your exams. You just need an effective study plan. Try the tips discussed above, and you will have yourself to thank later.

Author Bio:  Jim Raychrudhury is a freelance writer and passionate blogger who likes writing articles that cover career, education and business related topics. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several other blogs. When he is not writing, he enjoys spending time outdoors with his family.


Want study tips from valedictorians, Rhodes scholars, and more?  Then check out The Secrets of Top Students: Tips, Tools, and Techniques for Acing High School and College.