Tag Archives: focus

“Are the kids allowed to use sound blocking ear plugs during the SAT?” This question popped up recently in one of the many Facebook groups devoted to college admissions questions. The general understanding is that earplugs are absolutely forbidden on the tests, although my friend and colleague Pranoy Mohapatra shared the more pragmatic response: “Technically no… although it’s a rule many proctors are unaware of.” While I certainly agree that many proctors tend to be unaware of many important rules during these high stakes tests, the issue of earplugs is less familiar, so I did a little research. Interestingly, neither the current SAT Test Day Checklist nor ACT Test Day Checklist explicitly prohibits earplugs. The initial question may raise another one, mainly, “Why should earplugs be prohibited in the first place?” Obviously, maintaining focus without being distracted by noise should improve concentration and performance on test day. However, any potential…

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Gum chewing’s fine every once in a while. It freshens your breath and brightens your smile. But the Oompa Loompas at Willy Wonka’s factory would have you thinking it was all downhill from there when, in fact, even a blueberry of a daughter may be chewing her way to an advantage over her non-chewing peers. A variety of studies have uncovered ways in which the act of chewing gum increases energy, focuses attention, improves performance, and reduces stress, all of which are keys to success on test day. Consider the facts: ENERGY Scientists at Coventry University found that subjects chewing mint gum felt less sleepy than those not chewing gum or practicing chewing without the gum (which sounds tiring). The Pupillographic Sleepiness Test (PST) confirmed that gum chewers were less sleepy than other subjects. The researchers could not, however, determine whether the reduction in daytime sleepiness resulted from heightened cerebral…

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What if I told you that you could become a virtuoso piano player in just one hour a week? Would you believe me if I promised you could play college basketball if you only work at it in the spare moments between more pressing commitments? How about fluency in a foreign language without ever having to practice? I hope, for your sake, that you find these claims dubious at best and, more likely, delusional. Clearly, nobody achieves greatness in any challenging endeavor with minimal effort or practice. Yet, every day, I encounter students, parents, and even other educators who imagine that amazing test scores can be earned with just one hour of instruction a week, whenever they can fit it in, without ever taking a practice test. For most students, this simply will not suffice. Sure, some high schoolers may ace the SAT without any prep, but these are usually…

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In a world full of distractions and diversions, how does anyone get anything done? No matter your field, you’ll find that focus separates average from exceptional. We all have twenty-four hour days, according to Zig Ziglar. “Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem.” Direction, particularly the direction of attention on what matters most, doesn’t come easy. Teens struggle to focus in school and on tests, but adults often grapple all their lives with the same challenges. Fortunately, the will to focus on the right things can be improved, especially with the right techniques and practice. Dr. Joseph Cardillo, PhD knows more than a little bit about focus. He’s written several books on that and related topics while also authoring a regular column on Psychology Today. While such substantial output itself shows a healthy command of focus, Cardillo’s most concentrated contributions to the topic can be found in…

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In the realm of computing, a thread is the smallest sequence of programmed instructions that can be managed independently. In most cases, a thread is deemed a component of a process. Multiple threads can exist within one process, executing concurrently and sharing resources such as memory. Thus, programmers must determine how many threads and processes to allot for at any given time. Single-threading, the processing of one command at a time, isn’t very common in our modern world of multithreading, multitasking, and multiprocessors. Such is the sophistication of modern hardware and software. Unfortunately, though the computers we humans design improve in processing power on a regular basis, humans themselves do not. Every minute of every day, our brains manage countless conscious and unconscious individual operations related to cognition, perception, regulation, communication, and motor control. Yet even the most complex organ in the human body has its limits. Overloading the conscious…

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Few would dispute the smartphone’s place as one of the true marvels of the modern world. These miracle machines combine instant, on-the-go connectivity with immediate access to the larger part of the sum of accumulated human knowledge. No wonder we take our phones everywhere, even those places nobody wants you to answer their calls. But in those moments when you wonder, “Is there anything my smartphone can’t do?” we can identify at least one very important shortcoming: your smartphone can’t help you study. Sure, you can access the web on your phone to look up important information or new vocabulary words. You can even use its timer to implement Pomodoro Technique-style planned breaks. But for all the time these phone functions might save you, the device itself may cost you much, much more. The key to getting more done in any area of your life is FOCUS. When we focus…

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