How to Improve Your Grades on Multiple Choice Tests

When it comes to multiple choice tests, there’s this common piece of advice that always gets thrown around: When in doubt, always pick C.

At least, that’s the letter I was told–maybe you heard it was B. Whatever the letter, this advice pops up everywhere.

Some of you heard it from your parents, some of you read it on the internet, and I’m pretty sure I heard about it from this kid named Jimmy in my 8th-grade history class. But, as Abraham Lincoln once didn’t say,

“Always independently verify advice given to you by 8th graders named Jimmy.”

Truer words have never not been said.

Read More…

How to Be More Confident: 5 Strategies that Worked for Me

Today, we’re going to go through five effective strategies you can use to build your confidence.

These strategies come from my personal experience, and they’ve all been pivotal in the development of my own self-confidence.

Rather than keep you in suspense, I’m going to tell you what they are right up front:

  1. Gain experience. Do that which you wish to become confident in doing.
  2. Understand the perspective of other people. Most importantly, realize that they don’t think about you nearly as much as you might believe.
  3. Realize that people love confidence. The average, everyday human experience is normal, mundane, and unmemorable – yet people crave novelty and excitement.
  4. Record your accomplishments. Write them down and use the resulting archive to remind yourself of your ability to overcome future challenges.
  5. Focus on other people. Speak less, smile more, and develop active listening skills; building up other people in your interactions will make people like you and help you build internal self-confidence.

If this quick overview is enough to help you take action and start building confidence, then get out there and start building it.

Otherwise, sit tight and keep your finger poised over that scroll wheel on your mouse; next, I’ll be digging into each of these strategies, sharing how I personally implemented them, and demonstrating how you can use them in your own life. Read More…

Cold Turkey Writer: An App that Forces You to Write by Blocking All Distractions

Vincent van Gogh once described the agony of staring at a blank canvas:

“You don’t know how paralyzing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything.”

As a writer, I find the blank page – or, to be more accurate, the blinking cursor – to be just as intimidating.

To avoid the page’s paralyzing stare, I naturally procrastinate. That often takes the form of going to get a snack, browsing Airbnb (even though, ironically, getting to work would get me closer to satisfying that wanderlust), or even cleaning my room – all simply to avoid confronting the dreaded blinking cursor. Read More…

Marcus Aurelius’ Advice on Dealing with Negative People

At some point in your life, you’ve probably heard of an idea called Occam’s Razor.

Usually recited as, “The simplest answer is usually correct,” a more correct way to state it is:

“Amongst competing hypotheses, the one that makes the fewest assumptions is most likely to be correct.”

I talked in detail about Occam’s Razor in my post on black-and-white thinking. In that post, I also mentioned another razor-themed concept called Hanlon’s Razor, which is what I want to focus on today.

Hanlon’s Razor deals with the intentions of other people. Here’s how it’s normally stated:

“Never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity.

To illustrate this concept further, think about a time when your friends forgot to invite you to something (maybe a movie). We have a natural instinct to feel slighted when things like this happen; it’s easy to believe our friends don’t like us for some reason, or that they intentionally didn’t want us to come along. Read More…

10 Essential Productivity Apps for iOS and Android

How often do you check your phone? Way more than you realize it, I guarantee. I know I’m guilty of it. It can really get in the way of doing the work that matters.

But it doesn’t have to be like that. With the right combination of apps, your phone can transform you into a productivity ninja (in case you were wondering, that domain name is already taken, unfortunately).

So that you don’t have to spend your productive time sorting through the thousands of productivity apps out there, I’ve done the work for you. Below, you’ll find my essential productivity apps for iPhone and Android.
Read More…

Stay Organized and Motivated All Semester with Weekly Productivity Reviews

Drawing upon years of wisdom gained through repeatedly getting pummeled in the head, Mike Tyson once said,

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.”

And you know what? He’s right.

Plans usually go awry when you’ve got an angry, 6’3″ dude pushing 1000 psi’s of bone, skin, and top-grain tanned leather straight at your pearly whites. And, being honest here, it often takes far less than that to make a plan break down.

Plans are fragile at best; cloudy wisps of wishful thinking at worst. Good ‘ole Ike was telling the truth when he said,

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.”

The former president was right; planning is really important.

I’ve talked a lot about planning on this site. I’ve guided you through my personal planning/task management system, talked about how to use concentrated planning periods to beat procrastination, and went through how to create a study schedule for finals. My book on earning better grades even features an entire chapter on planning.

However, it’s a fact of life that our plans often go awry. When you’re a student, this can wreak havoc on your organization… and your motivation in general. Read More…

How to Get Over the Fear of Starting College

If you’re just starting college and you’re scared about it, you’re not alone.

And, fortunately, you can do a lot to alleviate some of that fear. In today’s article, we’ll explore three particular methods.

To start, here’s a quote from Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs that I like to revisit from time to time:

“Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you and you can change it, you can influence it, you can build your own things that other people can use.”

Now, I think this quote is insightful as a whole, but for now you should pay special attention to the first half of it.

Steve’s articulation of one of the fundamental truths of life – that all the rules and systems we live by were simply made up by regular people – points directly to what I believe should form the core of your mindset when you’re starting college:

You don’t know exactly what you’re doing.

Nobody knows exactly what they’re doing.

That is 100% ok.

None of us knows exactly where we’re going. We use models, best practices, and advice to hopefully steer ourselves in the right direction, and we make lots of educated guesses. Still, we’re never certain. Read More…

How to Remember More of What You Learn with Spaced Repetition

I’ll just say what we’re all thinking: studying takes too much time.

There are only 24 hours in a day, and naturally you’d like to use as many of them as possible for sleeping and, I don’t know, drawing pictures of robot bears or something. To achieve that goal, you need to find a method that lets you spend less time studying while retaining the same amount of information.

Here’s the solution: space out your studying. By introducing time intervals between study sessions, you can remember more – even if you spend fewer actual hours studying.

This is called spaced repetition, and it may be the most powerful technique in existence for improving your brain’s ability to recall what you study. Read More…

Want more? Join over 100,000 students and grab my free book on earning better grades  →