Do you have a big test coming up? It’s normal to feel nervous. After all, if test taking were a breeze, they wouldn’t call it a “test.” However, there are ways to increase your confidence… and your chances of scoring a good grade. The best part is that these ideas aren’t difficult to implement at all. Embrace the challenge ahead of you and seek to ace the next exam by following these 6 tips.

STUDY TIPS

1.       Take short breaks regularly. Don’t overload your brain with too much information – cramming is not an effective technique if you want to ace a test. The secret to a successful test? Learn the information – and truly know the material. The only way to do so is to allow yourself time to process properly, which means you must account for regular breaks in between studying. Focus for 30 minutes, take a 10 minute break, and then repeat this pattern.

2.       That being said, don’t take too many unnecessary breaks. The mistake many make when giving themselves time for breaks is that it’s tempting to schedule breaks TOO often. Taking a break shouldn’t be an excuse to get away from the material, but rather to let it soak in and give yourself a moment to reflect. Breaks should be calm and connected to the study session – so, no video games and TV shows.

3.       Eat and hydrate. By now, you’re probably very familiar with the technical study tips for memorization (creating acronyms for terms, for example); however, this is only one piece of the puzzle. The biggest piece is to take care of yourself – eat a snack, drink water. Keep your mind in tip-top shape so you can feel good enough to learn and understand the material.

TEST TAKING TIPS

1.       If you don’t know an answer to a question, skip it and come back to it. This advice is tried and true; however, there is a very important exception to keep in mind. If you’re just skipping a question because you think you don’t know it, but haven’t taken the appropriate amount of to work the problem, you’re simply breaking your focus on a question you may have been able to solve. So, only skip a problem if you really don’t know it, rather than trying to find all of the easy questions first.

2.       Read every question and (if applicable) every possible solution in its entirety. This seems obvious, but – in the moment – it’s a tip that many neglect. Knowing what you’re getting into BEFORE you start attempting to solve the problem will help ensure you don’t have to redo a question after you thought you figured it out correctly.

3.       Implement self-care strategies to ease anxiety. Taking a test is a challenge – it’s meant to assess how much you have learned and retained. Along with these difficult questions comes a heaping amount of anxiety, even for the most confident test taker. Therefore, successful test taking comes down to the ability to calm yourself enough to remember what you already know. Find what works for you. Some examples include taking deep breaths, relaxing all muscles, rolling your shoulders and thinking positively.

The next time you have an exam on the horizon, don’t fret. Instead, take action. Study effectively, take care of yourself and keep calm through the process. With these tips as your guide, you’ll be well on your way to claiming an “A” on the test.

Next time you’re out and about, check out all the trees you see.  You might find tall trees, wide trees, red trees, green trees. Big trunks, deep roots, or super leafy branchy trees (anyone else just flash Dr. Seuss?).  Trees all grow differently, but there’s one thing in common – they all follow the laws of physics!  The bigger the tree branches, the bigger the trunk and the bigger the roots – otherwise it’d fall over in the slightest breeze!

At the Coder School, we think each kid learns to code in their own unique way, just like each tree grows with a different shape and size (and sometimes color!).  So our curriculums are flexible, and are customized around individual students, coaching kids with the style and content that we feel works best for each situation.  Think about how static coding curriculums work – they assume a one-size-fits-all way of learning.  A three month coding class takes a group of kids through the same topics in those three months.  Inevitably with a class curriculum, some kids are too fast, some kids are too slow, some want to work on this app, others want to work on that app!  That’s why there’s an educational trend today to customize how kids learn – both in content and speed.  And that’s why we at the Coder School teach in a customized way, in a super-small coach-to-student ratio (typically 2 to 1).  In our Code Coaching program, kids might learn Scratch or Python, games or websites, focus on data or graphics, robotics or mini-computers.  In our mind, there’s no wrong way to learn to code!

Our Coder Tree™ was born out of a need for a cool visual representation of how kids are unique in the way they learn, and evolved into a great reminder that there’s no shortcuts!  With a tree, you can’t grow a branch without a trunk, and a trunk doesn’t exist without a root.  Similarly in coding, you can’t learn advanced concepts without a solid, knowledgable, and wide base.

Imagine that the branches and leaves are advanced technologies like 3-D gaming or SQL databases.  The trunk then is core typed coding like Python or Javascript mini-applications.  The roots then represent the basic foundation of coding – critical thinking, variables and data, loops, and other logical concepts.  The more students want to grow their knowledge of advanced technologies, the larger the trunk and the larger the root system must be!  For example, it’s not uncommon that a somewhat inexperienced student wants to jump right up to 3D-Gaming right away.  In our customized curriculum model, we may even allow that (briefly!).  But what happens to a tree when you try to grow too many branches before you have strong roots?  In the same way, kids aren’t able to grasp the advanced technologies very well because they don’t yet have the foundational thinking.  They might learn basic modes, or memorize where to click or what to type, but can they really understand the underlying logic, are they really able to learn advanced1 technology without a foundational computational understanding?  The answer is no.

Keep in mind too that tree roots aren’t checkboxes!  Just because a student can code an app or two in Scratch doesn’t mean they’re “done” with Scratch!  Growing foundational roots takes repetition and practice, and learning to code is no different.  Just like memorizing all the chords doesn’t make you a master guitarist, understanding a code concept doesn’t mean you’re ready for the next level.  Like my guitar teacher used to always say, practice, practice, practice!

We use our Coder Tree™  to emphasize that coding isn’t a race, that it’s _not_ about learning the most advanced technologies as quickly as possible.  It’s about building the base, and understanding the core of coding and logical thinking.  And don’t forget, core coding concepts and logical thinking will never change – but advanced technologies will come and go by the time your kid is an adult!  So focus on the roots, and focus on the trunk.  You’ll find that when your kids grow older, their super-strong foundation will allow them to learn and grow in ways that we can’t yet imagine.

Wanna understand more about our Coder Tree™ or take a shot a coding like a tree?  Drop by one of our locations today and check in with a Code Coach®.  Let’s grow!