Our team has enjoyed providing you with some thoughts about the traits many successful students have or attain during their time with the University of Nebraska High School.

At this point you have read and, hopefully, reflected on the first three parts of this series:

I am pleased to continue this discussion with some thoughts about increasing your intellectual or academic performance. We have two goals for our students—mastering objective and subjective requirements.

Mastering Objective Requirements
Providing students with interactive learning experiences has been shown to raise math and science scores on standardized tests. We have taken this into consideration and provide students with hands-on activities and practice exercises to enhance learning. I encourage you to take advantage of these activities within your courses.

It has also been determined that learning and retention of mathematic and scientific concepts is contingent upon understanding the step-by-step process. Learning material in a progressive manner helps with both retention and overall understanding. So remember, fully understanding the process is more important than the specific problem (Dr. Phillip R. Rosenkrantz).

Another handy resource I suggest taking a look at is Texas A&M’s Student Counseling Service site addressing Self Help Math Study Skills.

As for completing multiple choice tests, there are some important techniques to keep in mind. I’ve listed some from the Penn State Learning site here:

  • Anticipate the answer before you look at the choices. Physically cover the responses to see if the first answer that comes to mind is one of the choices.
  • Read over all of your options.
  • Eliminate highly implausible answers.
  • Look for words like "always," "never," "only," "must," and "completely" in the choices. These can often be the incorrect response.
  • Mark responses you are unsure about in the margin to recheck after you have gone through all the questions.
  • Do not spend a lot of time on any one question. Mark your best guess and check questions later if time permits.
  • Look for multiple ideas or concepts within the same true/false statements. Keep in mind that all parts of the statement must be true or the entire statement is false.
  • Be cautious about changing your answer to a true/false or multiple-choice question without valid reasoning. Your first choice is more likely to be correct than are later "guesses." 
Mastering Subjective Requirements
Subjective requirements focus on writing as well as critical thinking and analysis. Sometimes students are caught off guard by the amount of writing involved in completing an online course. It is important to realize why we include so many written assignments—often times, it is an opportunity to share your opinions and develop your ideas.

When writing, keep in mind that each of your points should be substantiated with valid reasoning, research or facts. Also, make sure to lay out your paper in a way that takes the reader on a logical path from one point to another in a clear and concise way. For more tips about writing, I suggest visiting the Purdue Online Writing Lab.

Writing also allows you to advance your problem solving and critical thinking skills. Much of the time we will be asking you to reflect on literature that you have read or the relationship among ideas within a text. When completing an assignment like this, be sure to read carefully and jot down a few notes for an outline of what you would like to communicate. I find that many students are much more efficient at completing their papers when they can see all of their ideas, organize them and then begin writing.