Archive for the ‘ Study Spot ’ Category

Understanding the PSAT

By Amanda Bertsch


PSAT results were delivered this past week. Are you still wondering what they mean? What exactly is a good score? And why does the PSAT matter anyway? Denobis’s Study Spot breaks it all down.

The largest number on the score report is the total score, which is the sum of two scores: reading and writing combined and math. These scores range from 160 to 760, so the total is out of 1520. This section of the score report also gives a nationally representative percentile for each of the scores so you can compare your score to the average. For instance, if your percentile for math is a 67%, that means that you scored better than 67% of people in your grade that took the PSAT this year.

This section also shows a red-to-yellow-to-green bar for each score. This gives you a general idea of how prepared you are. If you’re in the green, College Board believes your performance shows that you are on track to be college-ready; yellow means you’re approaching readiness, and red means you need to improve significantly to get on track.

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It’s Time: 10 Ideas to Manage Time Better

By Amanda Bertsch


This is the second post in the new Study Spot series. Check back on the 1st and 15th of every month for study hacks and college tips.


Who doesn’t want more free time? Procrastination seems inevitable, but a few simple tricks can help prevent time-wasters and reduce stress.

    1. Set your own deadlines: When you’re assigned a project, write down a due date that’s few days before the actual one. This gives you a little extra time if some unforeseen circumstances come up and you can’t get everything done as you expected.
    2. Know the plan: At the start of every day, give yourself a list of tasks you want to accomplish during the day. Star the ones you need to accomplish, and cross off one to three of the non-essential tasks. People tend to overestimate the amount of time they have, so this reduces the list to something manageable.
    3. Do the worst thing first: Studies have shown that people have a limited amount of motivation. The more you push off that hated task, the less likely it is that you’ll actually get it done. The relief from finishing it early will serve as encouragement to cross off the rest of your list, too.
    4. Make it smaller: Divide that huge project or ten-page essay into smaller components—this way you get to cross items off your list without getting swamped in the size of the task at hand.
    5. Take frequent, small breaks: Rather than promising yourself the rest of the day after you finish your tasks, take five to ten minute breaks every half hour or hour. Short, timed breaks will give you a chance to blow off steam without letting you lose motivation.
    6. Get a motivator: Tell a no-nonsense friend or a parent exactly what you’ll have accomplished at a specific time, and ask them to check in with you at that time. With the pressure of a deadline, you’ll work faster.
    7. Reevaluate at 2: At 2 pm, take another look at your to-do list and plan out the rest of your day. This is right around the time where people often lose focus after a semi-productive morning, so beat that trend by giving yourself a second morning in the middle of the day. This will also allow you to make sure that you can complete all required tasks in time.
    8. Block distractors: Identify your main distractions and take steps to eliminate them. Whether it’s downloading an app to block certain sites for a period of time or shutting that pet out of your room, clearing away those distractions will guarantee more productivity.
    9. Keep track of dates: This can be as simple as a planner or an online calendar. Just have one place where you record everything that’s due chronologically. Always try to look at least a full week ahead so you aren’t caught by surprise when a major assignment comes due.
    10. Sprint to the finish: If you’re struggling to stay focused, set a timer for ten or fifteen minutes and work for that time. The ability to actually see the time ticking away will act as incentive to work faster, and anyone can be productive for fifteen minutes.




Putting these tips into practice every day will help you be more productive and get more work done, which, in the end, means less stress! If you have any productivity tips that have really worked for you, submit them to and they may be featured on Denobis!

Memorize That

By Amanda Bertsch

This post is part of our new series Study Spot. Check back bimonthly for study tips and college advice. This special post is for finals.


At some point, everyone has to memorize something, whether it’s dates for a history test or formulas for physics. Luckily, there are several proven methods to speed memorization and make studying less of a chore.

  1. Start early: Unsurprisingly, studying takes some time. Set aside time to study at least a week or two before any major test; even if you haven’t covered all the information yet, you can study the early stuff first. Don’t be that person that crams everything the night before, because that person doesn’t tend to do well on difficult tests.
  2. Write it: Handwritten notes have been proved to help you retain information. What this means for memorization is that rewriting information multiple times will help you memorize it much faster. This method is especially helpful for subjects with exact wordings, like poems or formulas.
  3. Say it: Speaking information also helps retention. Try reciting notes or passages out loud, adding enunciation and gestures. This method also doubles as practice for public speaking!
  4. Study late and early: You’re more likely to remember information that you review right before you go to bed or immediately after you get up in the morning. Just be sure to avoid online studying before going to bed because the light of the screen will make it more difficult to sleep later.
  5. Teach it: Teaching something to someone else helps you remember and understand that information better. However, there’s not always someone willing to listen to three hours of Japanese characters or European history. Try teaching to an empty room or a pet for a similar effect.
  6. Memory Castle: Anyone who watches BBC Sherlock will be familiar with the concept of a “mind palace” where information is organized. A similar method involves associating concepts with specific areas of your home. Walk into the kitchen, for instance, and associate the stove with the boiling point of water. Or simply recite a passage and dedicate a specific section to each room, then walk to that room whenever you recite that piece. This is especially useful with information that has to be remembered in a specific order.
  7. Story time: Any kind of history is just a real-life story. Instead of reciting dates and names over and over, tell the information in a story format. Don’t forget to mention all the dates, but telling it as if you were telling a story to a friend will help you associate causes with effects.
  8. Take breaks: Cramming for four hours straight won’t help as much as you think it will. Instead, break up studying and take frequent breaks to relax, do other work, or go outside.
  9. Do what you can, where you can: We all have busy schedules, but once you start studying information you can take it with you on the road. Recite a poem in the shower, quiz yourself on dates on the van ride to a sporting event, or reread notes on the way to school if someone else is driving. There’s a lot of wasted time in the day, so take advantage of some of that time to reduce stress later.
  10. Think sideways: Instead of just repeating information the same way over and over, look for other ways to think about the information. Form a mnemonic (a play on letters or words to help remember information), recite information backwards, or analyze how historical events tie in to what’s happening today. By breaking patterns, you’ll force your brain to process the information again and thus aid memorization.

By following these tips, you can make your studying more productive, efficient, and stress-free. Get started early, and good luck on all your finals!