Posts Tagged ‘ study spot ’

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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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!

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!