Kaplan Learning Power


Empower Yourself. Unlock Your Academic Potential.

The key to succeeding in school lies in mastering the fundamentals: listening, note taking, studying, organizing, and researching. With Kaplan Learning Power, you'll get practical tips and examples to reinforce the basic skills that will bring you academic success.

Kaplan Learning Power includes:

• Step-by-step advice on studying more effectively • Proven ...
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Empower Yourself. Unlock Your Academic Potential.

The key to succeeding in school lies in mastering the fundamentals: listening, note taking, studying, organizing, and researching. With Kaplan Learning Power, you'll get practical tips and examples to reinforce the basic skills that will bring you academic success.

Kaplan Learning Power includes:

• Step-by-step advice on studying more effectively • Proven test-taking strategies to help you maximize your academic performance
• Classroom survival tips on note taking, listening skills, and how to "decipher" your teacher
• A complete guide to writing papers, including tips on how to research and organize your ideas
• An assessment of how you learn best
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743241137
  • Publisher: Kaplan Publishing
  • Publication date: 1/14/2003
  • Series: Kaplan Power Books
  • Edition description: Third Edition
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.54 (h) x 0.42 (d)

First Chapter

Bare-Bones MinimumBefore we talk about studying or note taking or paper writing, we need to cover the bare-bones minimum requirements of learning and earning good grades. One, you need to maintain a solid relationship with your teacher, and two, you need to act like a good student. This may surprise you, but being successful in school involves more than just brains and hard work (although brains and hard work are both very important). Doing well has a lot to do with how other people think about you and with how you present yourself. Luckily, mastering the bare-bones minimum is easy, and the payoff is quick. Even if you read nothing else in this book, if you can apply what you learn in this chapter, you will find your performance in school improving almost overnight. First, we will help you understand what it is your teacher wants from you. Then we will show you how to give your teacher what he wants without having your classmates think you are a dork. Plug In Before you read this chapter, answer the following questions honestly: 1. Have you missed any class more than three times in the past four months? 2. Have you been late to any class more than three times in the past four months? 3. Have you been reprimanded for disrupting a class or falling asleep during class in the past four months? 4. Have you forgotten to complete an assignment more than once in the past four months? 5. Has your teacher ever caught you cheating or lying? If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you are not living up to the minimum standard of behavior expected of good students. Read this chapter carefully. Who Is Your Teacher and What Does She Want? To build a good relationship with your instructors, you have to understand where they are coming from -- what motivates them, what angers them, what makes them happy. While you are reading this, try to put yourself in an instructor's shoes for just a minute and see things from her point of view. Who Is Your Teacher? Your teacher is someone who has spent many years learning, working, and training to help you excel in life. You probably already know this, but high school and college instructors do not make very much money. They often make less than half of what someone with the same amount of education would earn in another job. So why did they go through all the trouble? Because they really, really want to give you a good education. It's their mission. It's something they believe in and are passionate about. Unfortunately, a lot of teachers have it rough. Many schools have little money to spend on materials, so teachers can't even get chalk and paper, much less the latest computer software. Some schools have problems with criminal or violent students, which makes teachers feel threatened. Teachers tend to feel that they get all the blame if anything goes wrong in a classroom, but they get no reward or recognition for a job well done. Because of complicated pressures from school boards and administrators, teachers also feel like they have little freedom to try new approaches to teaching and solving problems. The job is so difficult and frustrating, in fact, that many teachers leave the profession within five years. Ever wish you could sneak into the teachers' lounge or eavesdrop on a conversation between a group of your instructors? Do you wonder what they talk about? Most likely, you would hear them talk about their frustration with rules and requirements that make no sense to them. They might talk about not having the resources they need or the professional freedom they want. And, yes, they do talk about students. They complain about students who show no interest in learning. They worry over students who have a lot of potential but no motivation. And then, sometimes, they brag. They brag about students who have made breakthroughs in difficult subjects. They brag about having a good class session in which all the students participated actively. They brag about students who go the extra mile and do exceptional work. They brag because they are proud of their students. It's that pride that makes them want to be teachers. That's what keeps them going. What Does Your Teacher Want? Nothing excites teachers more than the feeling that they are actually helping you learn something. Your learning and achievement are the tests of a teacher's skill, and, of course, your teachers want to feel like they are doing good work. If they had to write out a wish list of the things they want out of their jobs, here's what it would include: € To see your performance improve over time. € To make you excited about learning and improving in the future, even after you leave their classes. € To be treated with respect and honesty. € To know, at the very least, that all students are trying their best. € To get a really big raise! Okay, so you can't do anything right now about getting your teacher a raise. But you can help fulfill four out of five of these wishes, and that's not bad! We know this is probably easier said than done. Before we get down to details on how you should interact with your teacher, let's talk about a couple of things that might hold you back: worrying about your image and disliking your teacher. Being Too Cool Can Trip You Up Why is it that the students who show up late, forget their assignments, cut up in class, and act like they don't care about anything seem so cool? And why do students who sit in the front row, raise their hands to answer every question, never miss class, and act all concerned about their grades seem like such dorks? If this is the way you feel, you are not alone. Those cool students appeal to us because they seem to be rebelling against authority, and Americans love rebels. Hey, our founding fathers, guys like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson, were some of the biggest rebels ever, right? Also, as a country, we tend to distrust intellectuals to an almost embarrassing degree. Our heroes are folks like frontiersman Davy Crockett and pilot Amelia Earhart, not super-geniuses like Albert Einstein. We pay millions of dollars to see movies like Dumb and Dumber, but would rather have our teeth pulled than watch a Shakespeare play. It's pretty weird when you think about it. It's natural that you would rather be seen as cool than as a dork or suck-up. "Coolness" is an attractive concept -- especially since cool students obviously do a lot less school work than non-cool students. But prizing your rebel reputation over your education is a mistake. Don't worry, we are not about to urge you to become a complete geek. We will explain in just a little while how you can be a good student without damaging your image. But give the intellectuals of the world a little credit. For example, take a look at Bill Gates, the founder of Microsoft, a giant computer company. Try to imagine him in high school. The word "cool" probably doesn't spring to mind, does it? Today, this guy is very rich and powerful and does not care one bit that you think he looks goofy or that people in high school thought he was a geek. Unless you are exceptionally gorgeous or exceptionally good at sports -- and exceptionally lucky, to boot -- your success in the future will depend completely on your knowledge and your determination. For that reason, it is very important that you take advantage of all the resources available to you in school. Whenever you feel your resolve weakening or feel pressured to downplay your education, try this little trick: Imagine your ten-year class reunion in detail. Think about all the things your education will help you earn: a great job, a nice house, maybe a fancy car. Then think about all those students who goofed off through high school and maybe didn't even get into college. What do you imagine them doing in ten years? Do they still seem cool? When You and Your Teacher Don't Get Along Does it seem like your teacher hates you? He cuts you absolutely no slack and never believes a word you say? Or maybe you can't stand him. Maybe he is mean or confusing. Or maybe you just don't like the way he talks or looks or dresses. If any of this sounds familiar, you and your teacher definitely got off on the wrong foot. You probably don't feel like putting forth a special effort for a teacher you don't get along with. Well, get over it. You need to take responsibility for fixing the situation. In order for you to do well and earn better grades, you need to have at least a civil relationship with your teacher. Let's look at some of the things that could have gone wrong, and figure out how to undo the damage. Maybe You Goofed Be honest with yourself. Have you been turning in assignments late or not at all? Have you been doing a half-hearted job on your homework? Does your teacher have to tell you to be quiet often? Have you lied to your teacher? If so, you goofed up. Your teacher probably does not believe you are serious about learning -- or worse, she no longer trusts you. She is probably suspicious of you, and not inclined to believe you if a genuine illness or personal problem comes up that interferes with school. This is a tricky problem. It is a lot easier to keep a good reputation than to fix a bad one. The first thing you need to do is finish reading this chapter so you understand the right way to present yourself in class. Make a promise to yourself to do your best to improve your performance. Then, let your teacher know that you understand you made mistakes in the past, but that you are going to try hard to live up to her expectations in the future. She may still be suspicious, but if you back up your words with actions, her attitude will change. Remember: Teachers like to see improvement. Is Your Teacher from Another Planet? Everyone can tell a story about a freaky teacher. Maybe your ninth-grade government teacher was a five-foot tall bald guy with bad breath and nose hair down to his chin. Maybe your senior English teacher had blue hair, a voice that sounded like a drowning canary, and a single floral dress she seemed to wear every day. Maybe your freshman calculus teacher wore red corduroy knickers, sported a waxed handlebar mustache, and spoke with an unidentifiable foreign accent so thick that the only English word you recognized all semester was wrong. These are extreme examples, of course. Sometimes, it's little things that make a teacher seem out of touch, like old-fashioned clothes or silly expressions. It is easy to tease these teachers and make jokes about them. It's easy, but it's wrong, and it's wrong for many reasons. First, you know the golden rule: Treat people the way you would want to be treated. You probably know very little about your teacher's life and achievements. Don't make all sorts of judgments about a person based on the way she looks or sounds. Second, it is a bad idea to be scornful of your teacher because it makes you less willing to listen to what he has to say. Sure, maybe you wouldn't wish his wardrobe on your worst enemy, but that doesn't mean he doesn't know what he is talking about. Third, few teachers take kindly to students who treat them with a lack of respect. Look at it from a purely practical standpoint. Your teacher gives you your grade. You don't want your teacher to have bad feelings toward you. Be nice. He's Mean as a Snake There are some teachers out there who make Marine drill sergeants look like pussy cats. They never smile. Sometimes they yell. And forget about getting them to say something nice about you or your work. What's the sense in even trying to build a good relationship with someone like that? Most likely, your "mean" teachers act that way because they are trying to motivate you. They are also probably trying to make it clear that they will not tolerate any disruptions in class or silly excuses about homework. These tough teachers can be scary because it seems like they don't like anyone or anything. But believe it or not, just like most teachers, they are impressed by honesty, effort, and improvement. If you do your best for one of these teachers, you may find that you have won a very helpful ally who will advise you and assist you throughout your education. You will also probably find that you learn more from tough teachers than pushovers. Teachers are human. Students are human. Sometimes, two humans just do not like each other. Most of the time, you can figure out what the problem is and address it. But even if you can't, the very least you must do is be polite and respectful toward your teacher. Your teacher owes you the same kind of treatment in return. Presenting Yourself Well Hopefully, by now you are convinced that getting on your teacher's good side is a smart idea. But how are you supposed to do that? You know that part of developing a good relationship with your teacher is presenting yourself as a good student. But what do good students act like? We have also urged you to "treat your teacher with respect." What does that mean, exactly? Let's take a look at what not to do first. Bad Behavior: Liars, Cut-Ups, and Suck-Ups You already know that teachers do not like cheaters, liars, bullies, and class clowns. Believe it or not, most teachers also frown on know-it-alls and suck-ups who act like all they care about is making an A. Here are some habits you'll want to avoid. Liars and Cut-Ups. These guys often skip class or show up late. They interrupt the teacher and make rude comments to classmates. They don't turn in assignments on time, but always have some kind of excuse. They read comic books or magazines in class, or fall asleep, or write notes to their friends. They disrupt the class just to get a laugh. Know-it-Alls and Suck-Ups. The suck-ups always seem to be hanging around the teacher's desk. They try to flatter him, and bring in cards and presents all the time -- and we don't just mean at Christmas time. We're talking Arbor Day, here. Know-it-alls think they are smarter than the teacher. They try to contradict their teachers, and feel like they have to comment on everything, even if their comment is irrelevant or unhelpful. Fundamental Good-Student Guidelines Acting like a good student doesn't involve you doing anything embarrassing or difficult. You just need to follow these guidelines. Always come to class. This one simple rule can often boost you up a whole letter grade by itself, especially when you are in college and your class meets only a couple of times a week. The stuff you miss in just one skipped class can really come back to haunt you come test time. Ask any college senior, and he'll tell you: No amount of studying afterward can make up for a bunch of missed classes. Another reason you need to show up every day is that it shows the teacher that you are committed to learning something from her class. Finally, there is nothing good on television in the middle of the day anyway. Always come on time. It is better to show up late than not at all, but it is still rude and disruptive to walk through a class that has already been in session for several minutes. Your teacher does not think it is cute. Set all your clocks ahead fifteen minutes. Ask a friend to call you and wake you up every day. Do whatever you have to, but be on time. Come rested and ready. You are in class on time, but you are a zombie because you stayed up until three in the morning with your friends and you didn't even brush your teeth before you came, much less remember to bring your notebook. Sorry. This is not going to make a good impression. Obviously, sometimes you have to stay up late to finish an assignment (although we will give you tips for avoiding all-nighters in chapter 6), but you should make every effort to get a whole night's sleep on school nights. Be honest -- sometimes you stay up really late watching stupid reruns. Cut it out! Go to bed! But before you do, put everything you need to bring to class the next day in your book bag: pen, pencil, notebooks, textbooks, homework assignments. Never bring "entertainment" to class. Propping up your textbook so you can read a magazine behind it, write a note, or even finish your homework for another class is not a very original tactic. Plus, it is pretty obvious. Showing up to a lecture armed with the sports section of the newspaper is not likely to go over well either. Even if your instructor doesn't say anything to you about it, you can be sure he notices. Don't lie or cheat. You know this already. Everybody does. So why do people still lie and cheat? Because they think they can get away with it. Much more often than not, however, liars and cheaters are caught immediately. Your teachers have been around a while, and have seen all sorts of tricks pulled. They also have a much easier time spotting plagiarized material than you can possibly imagine. Academic dishonesty can have very serious consequences, especially in college, where you can be expelled for cheating. What's worse, though, is that there is no faster way to destroy your relationship with your teacher than to lie or cheat. It just isn't worth the risk. Show common courtesy. Be polite to your teacher and your classmates. You know what we mean. Say "please" and "thanks." Don't call people stupid or laugh at their mistakes. Don't interrupt your classmates or teachers when they are speaking. And when your teacher asks you to do something, do it without grumbling. Nothing Geeky about It, Right? You will notice the guidelines above do not mention anything about participating in class, doing homework, or writing papers. We will get to all that later, don't worry. In the meantime, we hope you will agree that sticking to these rules will not make you look like a dork. We hope you also agree that having your teacher trust you and like you is a good idea. The bare-bones minimum. This is your first step. Commit to putting forward the bare-bones minimum effort, and you will find yourself rewarded with better grades and a better understanding of your subjects.
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