10/11/2013

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Create a Study Group If you're an independent student living off campus, or one with commitments to a job or a family, you may feel isolated and alone in terms of studying. Consider reaching out to other students in your class to create a study group. Even an hour of concentrated discussion once a week can make a huge difference in your understanding and ability to remember what you've learned and read. A study group needs to have enough members for the group to function when one or two members can't make a session, but not so many that it's impossible to manage. Five to seven members is about right. Consider meeting once a week for ninety minutes at a regular location, possibly a room at the library you've reserved, a campus study hall, or a local coffee house if it's quiet enough to hear each other. Here are some things to keep in mind about creating and running a study group: Establish a regular schedule and location for the study group. Exchange phone numbers and email addresses. Send out a reminder two days before the group meets, and ask for and suggest topics for discussion based on readings, class lectures and discussions. If students are from different locations and meeting in person is difficult, consider using IM, Chat , Google Hangouts or Skype for study group meetings. For some classes, it works well to divide up reading assignments and have each member responsible for picking out core concepts, facts, and vocabulary. Everyone is still responsible for all the reading, but dividing the coverage makes it easier to be thorough. Make sure that everyone gets a chance to ask questions; don't overlook students who might not be aggressive but who might have very good questions. Don't forget to work with the other members of the group so that it's collaborative; you're working together; it's not just one person doing everything. [Originally written for College Adviser]
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Aptitude Tests Aptitude tests are tests designed to help us discover our aptitudes and natural skills and talents, and from that, help decide what kind of career or training we might be especially suited for. Typically, aptitude tests are administered during high school, but sometimes they're useful later in life, for instance, when adults decide to go back to school, or change their career. Most aptitude tests consist of several sections, each intended to test and measure ability and skill level for a specific kind of aptitude. The questions are multiple choice, and the areas tested tend to be verbal ability, numerical ability, abstract reasoning skills, mechanical, spatial relations, spelling, language and usage, and speed and accuracy in terms of clerical ability. The United States military has its own aptitude test, the ASVAB Test, the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery Test. ASVAB scores aptitudes in nine areas. The AFQT score is used to measure suitability for a particular branch of the military services. The AFQT score is derived from the individual scores of four areas of the ASVAB test, specifically, Paragraph Comprehension (PC), Word Knowledge (WK), Mathematics Knowledge (MK), and Arithmetic Reasoning (AR). The AFQT is used to rank test subjects in categories of desirability or performance, based on their scores. The DAT or Differential Aptitude Test is a collection of several kinds of questions in eight areas used to measure junior and senior high school students' or, sometimes, adults' ability to learn or succeed specific subject and skills areas. These areas include General Cognitive abilities, which are designed to measure a test-takers verbal reasoning, and numerical reasoning and ability, with an emphasis on a person's ability to learn, perceptual abilities, including abstract reasoning, mechanical reasoning, and spatial relations, clerical and language skill assessments, which measure spelling, language use, and the speed of various tasks associated with clerical work in terms of speed and accuracy. Aptitude tests shouldn't be regarded as if they were a sacred oracle, but they can help you find where your strengths are. Once you know your strengths, you can look at them in relation to your interests, and your long-term goals, with respect to a career choice, or choosing a major in college. Keep in mind that your aptitudes as measured by these tests will change. If you're an adult returning to learning and higher ed, it's not a bad idea to take an aptitude test as a way of highlighting your strengths and and weaknesses. The DAT is a good candidate for older learners returning to school. [Originally written for College Adviser]