Archive for the ‘ Study Spot ’ Category

The Infinite Ladder: Elite College Admissions

By Amanda Bertsch

This essay was originally written for a Tri-City Prep class. It represents only the views of the author and not necessarily those of the editorial board, Denobis staff, or Tri-City Prep. The Study Spot column, published bimonthly, aims to shine a light on issues surrounding education and offer assistance to students.

This spring, colleges across the country will be notifying high school seniors about their admissions decisions. Students will rejoice, eagerly accepting offers to their top choice schools or poring over generous financial aid statements. Those lucky few that receive acceptances from the most renown schools in the country will be especially grateful. These students are part of the 10-15% of high school graduates competing for spots at the most selective of schools, typically those that admit less than 30% of applicants (Deresiewicz 40). In the game that is college admissions, and by extension high school, these students have “won.” They earn bragging rights, not only for themselves, but for their parents and schools and communities as well. Applying to highly competitive schools has become a rite of passage for college-bound seniors, a tradition followed religiously by many, but it is hardly one without downfalls.

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Studying Effectively

By Amanda Bertsch


Finals are fast approaching, and many students are at a loss when it comes to studying effectively. These five strategies will take the stress out of the end of the semester.

  1. Get other work done: There’s nothing worse than scrambling to finish a final essay or an honors project instead of studying for that math exam. Aim to finish projects, essays, and hours logs before the week they’re due. This allows time for any projects that take longer than expected and also frees room for studying later on. Plus, final projects are often a significant portion of the semester grade. Procrastinating on these projects doesn’t just hurt study habits; it also damages the semester grade.
  2. Study with friends: Studying doesn’t have to be a solitary and boring endeavor. Set up a table with a few friends in a coffee shop and work through the material together. A group can quiz each other, explain difficult concepts, and compare notes. However, it’s important to not get caught up in socializing –study groups should actually study!
  3. Do a little every day: This can be easier said than done. The most effective way to study is a little at a time, over a period of several weeks, but finding consistent time and motivation every day can be tough. Try working with friends to keep each other accountable for material, ask family members to quiz you on certain days, or set goals far in advance. The more studying you can accomplish before finals week, the less stressful exams will be.
  4. Take personal time: Studying is important, yes, but so is mental health. Enjoy the holiday season! Once you reach a studying goal, reward yourself by going out with friends, watching a holiday movie, or doing whatever you like to do to unwind. Overstressing yourself leads to poorer exam performance, so make sure to have some fun and get plenty of sleep in the weeks before the exams.
  5. Review old materials: Try to make connections. Does the teacher favor multiple choice vocabulary? If so, it’s more important to associate words with general concepts than to memorize every detail. Does the teacher enjoy essay questions? Concept-based studying will help in these classes. Does the teacher provide word banks? If not, be sure you know all the vocabulary terms for the semester. Does the teacher tend to give open-ended problems or vocabulary questions? These questions will show the best way to study for a class and may give clues as to the content of the final, so that there are no surprises on test day.

Still concerned about upcoming finals? Check out our earlier articles on doing well in math, managing your time, and memorizing information.

The Do’s and Don’t’s of Choosing a College

By Amanda Bertsch

By May 1st, all of this year’s college-bound seniors must submit their intent to attend the college of their choice, along with a housing deposit. Many seniors have already made their choices, but some are still trying to decide. If you’re in the latter group (or you’re dreading making that decision in a couple of years), read on.

There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a college, but some students consider the wrong things. Avoid making a bad choose by following this advice:

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What Does the New SAT Mean for You?

By Amanda Bertsch


On Saturday, March 5th, students took the redesigned SAT for the first time. This test has been in the works for years—College Board announced the change exactly 2 years before the first test date. The new SAT is supposed to entail less memorization and more application of real-world skills, but what does that mean for the average student? Denobis breaks it all down. Continue reading

Managing Math: 5 Tips to Ace Your Math Classes

By Amanda Bertsch


Math: most people at least dislike it. Some have grown to hate it. But, managed properly, your math classes don’t have to be report card monsters. Try these simple tips to improve your math confidence and grades.

  1. Get an early start: If your algebra II homework is painful to do during the day, it’s only going to get worse after 10:00 pm. Do that hated worksheet or problem set before homework from other classes, and you’ll concentrate more and do a better job. This can turn your dreaded homework into easy points.
  2. Ask questions: You can’t learn something if you don’t ask questions! When you’re doing homework, star any questions you don’t understand so you can ask about them the next day. Make sure to pay attention in class, and don’t be afraid to ask the teacher to repeat an explanation or problem that you don’t understand. They’re here to help you, after all.
  3. Study well: Many people struggle with studying for math because they don’t know how to study effectively. Memorizing formulas is a must, and reading over notes does help, but the best way to study math is to do practice problems. Use the review at the back of the chapter or do the problems with answers in the back. Pick the hardest, ugliest-looking problems and work them out, and you’ll excel on the easier test questions.
  4. Take advantage of tutoring: Mu Alpha Theta offers tutoring all the time, so why not take advantage of it? Tutors are available in Ms. Mezeske’s room or in the library on Thursday mornings. If one person has been particularly helpful, you can check the schedules posted in the math classrooms to see when they’ll be tutoring or ask that person to meet with you personally. They would be glad to help.
  5. Look online for help: The internet isn’t just for procrastination—it has a number of excellent resources as well. When you need another review of a lesson, Khan Academy ( has lectures covering concepts from basic counting to advanced calculus. If you want to check an answer, Wolfram Alpha ( will solve just about any problem.

Math isn’t for everyone, but you don’t have to love the subject to do extremely well in it. Take advantage of these tips, and you’ll see your math grades improve drastically!