Lesson 10: Turn a School Bus into Gold
You should now know how much TV you
can afford to watch this week. You should also
know how much TV you simply can't do without over
the next month. You have identified what really
isn't worth watching.
Two lessons ago, I recommended that you recruit a
study partner for each course, preferably someone
a little better in each course than you are.
Have you made a list of possible partners in all
of your courses? Have you handed the JOINT STUDY
STRATEGY recruiting sheet to at least three
CONVERTING A SCHOOL BUS INTO STUDY
There may be somebody out there who has fond memories
of hours spent riding on a school bus. I offer this
suggestion merely as a theoretical possibility, along the
lines of flipping a coin "heads" 50 times in a row.
Maybe you walk to school. You can still use the
information in this lesson.
Maybe you drive to school. If so, you can skip this
chapter. Go back to your scheduler. Work on that instead.
In this lesson, I'm going to show you some simple
techniques to convert wasted time into higher
THE CRUCIAL TOOLS
I have told you how important a scheduler is. Now let
me tell you about another learning tool. It's cheap. It's
sold everywhere they sell business supplies or school
supplies. It's the 3 by 5 note card.
This tool is great for many uses, such as taking notes
on a library book. (I recommend 5x8 cards for that
purpose, however.) It can be used to compile a
bibliography for a term paper. It is great for flash
I recommend them mainly for flash cards. They are
especially useful if you're taking a foreign language.
Write your assigned vocabulary words for the next three
weeks, one word per 3x5 card. Always keep three weeks
ahead of your class. Review all of them every day on the
Write the English definitions (there will be more than
one) on one side of a card and the foreign word on the
other. If you do it this way, do it so that you flip the
card over, top to bottom. The words are upside down if you
flip them right to left. It's your choice as to how you
prefer to flip them.
You can also use 3x5 cards for formulas of all kinds:
mathematics, chemistry, physics. One education company has
cards for several courses, including algebra.
There are even better tools for learning foreign
languages: printed vocabulary cards. This company sells
sets of 1,000 cards/words for about $15.
581 W. Leffel Lane
Springfield, OH 45501
Create your own cards for dates, names, definitions,
formulas. Use them for English vocabulary practice. If
you are studying for the SAT or ACT college entrance exams,
you must build your vocabulary. Buy a copy of the book by
Murray Bromberg and Melvin Gordon: 1100 Words You Need to
Know (Barron's). If it's at the library, you may choose
to borrow it.
You will then have to find time to write down all 1100
words and definitions before it's due back. It's probably
easier to buy it. Copy each word onto a 3x5 card, with the
definitions, including the ways the word is used, on the
back (the lined side).
Take 20 English vocabulary cards to school each day.
Five cards should contain new words. This will add 20
words a week to your vocabulary. Keep reviewing old cards.
Rotate old cards in and out of your stack of cards. The
best way to do this is to shuffle them. Then deal the top
15 cards to yourself. Then add five new, unfamiliar words.
In two years on the bus, you will memorize all 1100 words.
This will not only help you pass the SAT or ACT with
higher scores in the verbal section. It will make your
reading time more efficient. Your papers will improve as
these words become part of your working vocabulary.______________________________________________Beating the SAT the Smart Way
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You can get specific ideas about about how you can best structure your college entrance strategy by participating in the Q&A forum on this site, College Strategies. Every site member can participate, but only college-bound students usually ask questions. I invite you to join.
Bus time is noisy. There is a lot of stopping and
starting. Bus rides are not conducive to reading new
material, tightly knit arguments, or doing math. Bus time
is ideal for memorizing lists of things, or words, or
anything else that doesn't involve long chains of
Bus time is great for review. If the material is
familiar to you, the noise probably won't matter.
If you can sit next to your study partner, the two of
you can ask each other questions off of the cards.
What if you can't find anyone to sit next to who wants
to help? What if the noise gets to you? Here is a
solution: ear plugs. Carry a pair with you at all times.
Put them in a baggy. This is easier for girls, who carry
purses. Still, guys these days wear baggy pants with lots
of pockets: useful space.
Chatting with someone on the bus is a waste of time
unless it's a study partner. The odds against your meeting
"that special person" on a school bus are very high.
Nobody really cares if you sit there flipping 3x5
cards. If you stick earplugs in your ears, so what?
Someone may tease you the first day or two, but if you
don't respond, the wise-guy will get bored. If he knows
you can't hear him because of your ear plugs, what's the
point of saying anything to you? Think of your earplugs as
There is another use for bus time if you own an iPod
or other portable music system. The night before, you can
record a foreign language news broadcast from the radio or
the Web. Listen to it on the bus. If you are in your
second or third year of a foreign language, you should be
listening to a 15-minute foreign language news broadcast
every day. The best time to listen is when you are doing
chores at home. Wash dishes, iron, wash the car, or other
mindless tasks while listening to something in a foreign
language. Listen again on the bus. Here's a Web site with
lots of choices:
Note: You know that you have mastered
a foreign language when you dream in that
language. At that point, it's time to learn
If you convert wasted bus time into useful study time,
you can buy back at least five hours a week. That's a lot.
This will free up study time for more complicated, more
I have estimated that you must find 15 to 20 extra
hours each week to devote to study time. Count your bus
time as part of this total. Anyway, count your earplug bus
WALKING YOUR WAY TO HIGHER GRADES
If you live too close to school to warrant a free bus
ride, you can still use flash cards for memorizing things.
You don't have to pay close attention to the sidewalk as
you walk along. Pay attention when you cross a street.
I don't recommend earplugs for walking. Cars are a
threat. Your senses are still operating even when you've
got your mind on other things. Your ears serve as warning
Note: this advice also applies to
joggers who use iPods, Walkmans, or similar
products. I don't think it's wise. If you jog
on a school track or in a park, then a Walkman is
all right. You probably prefer lively music to
keep you jogging.
Your time is too valuable to waste.
Riding a school bus is high on anyone's list of
Use 3x5 cards to convert wasted time into useful
If you can find a study partner on the bus who
will sit next to you every day, do so.
Use earplugs if you can't stand the
Go to the store and buy two or three
sealed stacks of 3x5 note cards. You may or may
not prefer the cards that have lines on one side.
Today, you must convert at least 20 cards into
rote memory tools by writing something on them.
If you are taking the second or third year of a
foreign language, order a box of vocabulary flash
cards. The only excuse for not doing this is
because you're out of money. Do what you can to
earn some money. If you can get good enough at
the language to pass an AP or CLEP exam, you can
save a year of one course's tuition money and
time in college. If you have vocabulary 1,000
words in your head, you can probably pass an AP
or CLEP exam.
PREVIEW OF TOMORROW'S LESSON: Study hall
Any time you want to ask me specific questions regarding your plans for college, you can find out where to contact me by clicking this link: Answers.