Tips on Homework

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“I can’t concentrate!” It’s a familiar cry heard in households around the world whenever kids are doing their homework. Some days it is very difficult to concentrate. You may just not be in the mood to study. Or maybe it is a certain topic that you have difficulty concentrating on. Whatever the reason, there are some steps you can take to help you concentrate.

  • Tackle your toughest project first. If you have homework to do in Biology and Algebra, which you love, and History, which you hate, do the History homework first. Your mind will be fresher and you’ll get through it quicker.
  • If you keep having the urge to get a snack, then get one together first, before you start studying. But that is the only snack you get until you’re done. You’d be amazed at how much time you can waste going back and forth to the fridge.
  • Remove any other distractions. Turn off the TV; go into another room if people are talking, tell your little brother to quit banging on your door. And don’t take any phone calls until you are through.
  • Try to do your homework early in the day. If you wait until just before bedtime, not only will you be rushed, but your brain will be tired out at the end of the day.
  • Finally, don’t bother procrastinating. Your homework won’t get done by itself, so you may as well make up your mind to sit down and do it. Once you’re done, you’ll be free to get on with other things.

The Home Stretch

As you near the end of another semester, may become increasingly difficult to stay focused on class assignments. After all, the weather is nicer outdoors, and daydreaming about that upcoming long vacation is all too easy. So, here are some strategies to help you down the home stretch:

  • Make sure you have a set place and time for doing homework. Otherwise you’ll find yourself putting it off until you’ve run out of time.
  • Also, set aside some time for other activities. You do have time to exercise, go to a movie, or talk on the phone to your friends, so go ahead. Just don’t let it take up all day.
  • If you find your books are a clutter of scribbled notes and loose pages tucked into books, take the time to organize it all. This will be time well spent, and will save you time in the long run as you won’t be searching for anything.
  • Depending on what course level you are in, you may have some important exams coming up. Divide your study time up into more manageable chunks. Study for twenty minutes per day for the next couple of weeks, for example, instead of three hours a night for the last few nights before the exam.
  • If you are struggling in any subjects, see if your instructor can sit down with you and discuss what needs to be done. If you think a tutor could help you, get one.
  • Finally, if you need more motivation, talk to some other students online in a Homework and Study Tips chat room!

Get Motivated

Eight tips to help you get motivated to do your homework

  1. What do you do when you just can’t get yourself to do homework? You know it has to be done, but it is the last thing you want to spend your time doing. How are you going to get yourself motivated? Here are eight tips to improve your motivation to study:
  2. Set goals for yourself. They don’t have to be big ones, in fact, the smaller the better. Start by setting goals you know you can attain easily. For instance, a goal such as getting straight A’s on your next report card would be nice, but it is a major goal. An easier one would be taking a page of notes for your report on inuksuks.
  3. Set a schedule for studying and write it down. Why write it down? Something about the written word makes it harder to ignore. Once you’ve written that you’ll do it, it’s harder to not do it.Arrange to get together with a friend to do homework. Meet a study buddy in a chat room to work through material you are both studying. They’re counting on you as much as you’re counting on them, so you can’t let them down.
  4. Do the homework you dislike the most first. Also, if there is homework you find most difficult, do it first while your mind is still fresh. However, if you have a number of small assignments and one major assignment to work on, doing the small ones first will make it seem like you are making progress quicker.
  5. Ask for help from your parents. If you don’t ask, they will assume you either don’t need help or don’t want help.
  6. Use rewards to mark your progress. You could “allow” yourself to go to a movie on Friday night if you get your History project completed by then, or you could take a snack break once you get the first thirty Algebra questions completed.
  7. Think positive. Moaning about how many upcoming exams you have or how hard it is learn to speak Spanish won’t get your homework done. Likewise, focus on what you are doing well (the speech you did so impressively on the U.S. flag) rather than on what is impeding your progress (the math instructor you don’t like).
  8. Find a way to turn your homework assignments into something that interests you. If you have a choice of topics, choose something you’ve always wanted to learn about. If you have to do geometry homework, think about how you could use it when you want to become an interior designer. If you are researching Russia and your interest is in wildlife, find out what species you would find there (would you believe about 65% of the world’s brown bears?).

Some of these tips could work for you. Try them out. Its time to get motivated.

How to Make the Most of Study Time

Time is precious when you’re juggling multiple responsibilities. Make the most of what you’ve got by using your time effectively, developing your concentration skills and dealing with distractions.

Use Your Time Effectively
When are you at your brightest? Are you a morning person or a night-hawk? Are you sleepy and distracted after lunch?

Try to schedule study time during your peaks. Don’t waste time when you’re less mentally alert – use it to accomplish simple, routine tasks like housework or grocery shopping.

Develop Your Concentration
How long is your concentration span? Find out by recording your start time when you read from a textbook or other course readings. As soon as your mind begins to drift, record the time again. Try this several times until you can gauge your average concentration span.

Most people take nearly imperceptible “refresher” breaks every few minutes.
One way to improve your concentration is by reading actively: try using a highlighter, making notes of significant points in a notebook, recording questions about items you don’t understand, trying to predict what will be on the next page and connecting what you’re reading with other things you’ve read.

Another way to increase your concentration span is to deal with distractions.

Deal with Distractions
Sometimes it seems that distractions are coming at you from all sides, and probably they are. Distractions may be internal – the wanderings of your own mind, or external/environmental. Learning to manage both types is essential.

When random thoughts intrude (“It’s John’s birthday next week,” “We need bread,” etc.), don’t try to suppress them. Instead, quickly jot them down to consider at another time. Sometimes a memory or a thought that appeared to be unrelated to your reading yields interesting insights into the subject upon later reflection.

Be aware of your optimal study conditions and use this awareness to reduce distractions in the environment. Are you more relaxed with absolute silence, or with classical music in the background? Do you have enough light to read without straining? How is the temperature? Do you need a fan or a blanket to feel comfortable? Is your chair comfortable enough to sit upright, but not so comfortable that it lulls you to sleep? Are there other people around? Have you established time and space boundaries with them that they respect?

Your Unique Optimal Study Environment
When I really need to cram, I have found that I am most focused and productive over breakfast at my local diner.

I am using my time effectively because my energy is at its peak in the morning. The quiet but upbeat contemporary music in the background keeps me energized. Periodic exchanges with my server act as “refresher breaks,” and I have no opportunity to get distracted by the two biggest thieves of time in my home: e-mail and housekeeping. Best of all, someone brings me decaf coffee refills!

I have come to look forward to my breakfast study dates with myself. Because they have become an enjoyable habit, I find that I can be focused and productive almost as soon as I sit down.

Of course, studying in a diner is not for everyone. The point is to be open to your unique optimal study environment.

Making the most of your study time means having more time for your many other activities. Good luck!


Do you really want to get better grades? Then take the extra time to work on the presentation of your assignments. Content is still the most important, but try to approach the papers you write as if they were resumes for a job. You want them to look good, and be easy to read. Any assignment you write, be it an essay, a research paper, a report, or any other type of paper, should be proofread thoroughly before you hand it in. Proofreading does not mean simply skimming through what you have written one last time on the school bus. It means revising what you have written to make it better.

  1. Avoid waiting until the last minute to finish your report. If you can, finish it two or three days before it is due. Then set it aside for a day so that when you proofread, you are approaching it with a fresh perspective.
  2. Check it all carefully for spelling errors. If it is written on a computer, use your spell checker, but also check it manually. Spell checkers only tell you if the word you used is not a correct spelling, not if you have used the proper spelling of the word (for example: there, their, and they’re). If you’re unsure of the spelling, look it up in a dictionary.
  3. Check the report for grammatical errors. Again, some programs will check your grammar, but you should also do a manual check.
  4. Read the entire paper through out loud. This is a test of the “flow” of the words. By reading it out loud, you can tell if some paragraphs are too choppy, or if some things come out sounding awkward.
  5. Get a parent or friend to read it over. Another person can often pick out mistakes that the report writer would have missed.

Do You Need A Tutor?

For some people, homework and studying are things they need help with, one on one help from a qualified source. Such people are often surprised at how much progress they can make with a tutor. Read on, and see if a tutor could be what you need.

First you need to understand what a tutor does. Generally speaking, a tutor will coach you in the subjects you need help in, giving you extra explanations or working through assignments with you. They are not there to do the work for you, but to guide you. The Learning Center offers students two free hours of tutoring sessions.

There are other people, of course, who may be willing to take the place of a tutor. Your parents or older siblings, if they have the time, knowledge, and patience, are ideal. However, that combination of qualities is sometimes hard to come by.

A good friend can also be a free, or at least cheap, source of tutoring help. Be careful here, though. First, your friend has to be capable of explaining concepts to you which he or she may be just learning as well. Also, if the friend is really close, there is a tendency to spend valuable study time talking about other things.

Private tutors can be hired for the term of the semester, for summer vacation, or for a short term while you learn a new concept or prepare for a big exam. They can provide a fresh approach if you are finding your instructor doesn’t explain things in a manner you can understand. Many people have been impressed with the results a tutor can help them attain. Do you think you need a tutor?

Searching for Help on the Net

The Internet can be a very useful homework tool, but searching for information can also be time consuming and frustrating. You will use a tool called a search engine to carry out these searches, but knowing how they work can go a long way towards finding what you want.

There are many different search engines you can use, and many of them work in slightly different ways. So, if you search for “dinosaur teeth” for example, you may find different web sites using one search engine than you would doing the same search using another search engine. Some of the most popular search engines include Google, Dogpile, Lycos, and Yahoo!

When you do a search, you can search for one word (ex. dinosaur), a phrase, which must be put in quotations (ex. “dinosaur teeth”), or two or more words which describe what you are looking for but are not necessarily a phrase, which must have a + sign between them (ex. dinosaur+teeth). Since all search engines work differently, it is worthwhile to click on the help button before you so a search to find out what shortcuts you can take using that particular search engine. In some cases, a search for image:tooth will give you all pages that have an image titled tooth on it.

Different search engines also index pages in a different way. Some search for words and phrases within the website itself, others use the keywords the site’s author has put in, while others are categorized into certain subject areas. It is important to note that much of the way a website appears to a search engine, then, is dependant on what the site’s author wrote. Using our previous example, if the search engine in question uses keywords to catalogue websites, is it likely that you would find it under “teeth of a dinosaur”, “dinosaur fossil teeth”, or dinosaur+teeth?

If all this makes you feel like it would be impossible to find the information you need, why not let somebody else do the hard work for you? About has guides working in hundreds of different topic areas who have already sifted through the many websites out there to find those which are the most fun and which contain the most information. You can simply go to their Net Links section and not bother with the search engines and their many different methods of doing things. Whether you are looking for information on celebrity news or country music or figure skating or something totally different, this may be the place to keep you from wasting so much time.

Citing Web Sites

If you are a regular visitor to this site, you probably gather information from a variety of web sites to help with your homework. If you use that information to write reports, you also need to add the web sites to your bibliography. This leads to the question of “How do I do that?” Obviously, web sites are not in the same format as books, but you need to be as thorough as possible in listing the sites.

The general format which should be used to cite web sites in a bibliography is as follows:
Author’s Name (last name, then first name)
Author’s Email Address
“Title of Web Page”
Internet Address
Date, if available

For example, this would be the bibliography citation for the Strange Science site:
Scott, Michon
“Strange Science”

This would be the bibliography citation for The Magic School Bus Activity Lab site:
Scholastic, Inc.
“The Magic School Bus Activity Lab”

Web sites can come and go overnight, so gather the information you need, then write down the details of the site itself for your bibliography. If these details are not all listed on the site there are two steps you should take. First, if there is an email link, send them a message telling them you are using the information contained in their site for researching a school report and ask them to send you the missing details. If there is no email link, or if they don’t respond, you will have to just include the details you do have.

Finally, a word of caution. Be careful when researching on the Internet. There are some wonderful sites out there with loads of information, but there are others which are filled with inaccuracies and falsehoods. Make sure you double-check facts which you pull from web sites.

There are a few slightly different ways to cite web sites in a bibliography as you will find if you visit the sites below: