Caution:Exams ahead!

Greetings mates!

I’m going through THAT time of the year.

Yes it’s THAT time. The time when you know that the final exams are round the corner and you haven’t prepared a bit. The time when you feel like life’s gonna tumble and you won’t even be able to earn your bread (forget about strawberries dipped in dark chocolate)!

Anyway, what I wanted to discuss today is the study pattern of the contemporary world. Is it right? Well does it leave the child with enough to time actually “discover” stuff? I don’t know about other countries, but in India – life of a student is miserable.

To think deeper, we see that Gaglelio, Newton, Archimedes – great scientists – had never sat in their laboratories writing down gibberish on a piece of paper and making frantic calculations! No!

Galileo spent hours in a church just observing the pendulum. Newton spent time under apple tree I’m sure. And Archimedes took lazy baths.

But students today? They wake up in the morning, go to school, come back, go to coaching classes, return home and study a bit more so that their brains could go to hell and then eat a bit and go off to sleep (that’s for 4 hrs). They stink sometimes due to the lack of time (means no bath!). They are sleep and food deprived. They have no social life. And then they finally get into THE IIT ! Yay – goal achieved.

But then when they look back at their earlier years of life they see that there’s nothing – absolutely nothing – that they can laugh about or smile on.

Is this the way I am supposed to live life?


Anybody interested in guest blogging?

Email me at : aayusibiswas@gmail.com 

 

Learning Grammar – What Is an Antecedent?

To begin with, an antecedent is a word or phrase that a pronoun refers to.

‘Ante’ is a prefix that means going before other things, for instance, ‘ante mortem’ means before death. This implies, ‘antecedent’ come before something, but what? Well, antecedents appear before the pronouns that refer to them. For better understanding, let’s take a look at a sentence.

If pastries are available, be sure to order it.

In the sentence above, ‘it’ refers to ‘pastries’, i.e. the pronoun refers to a noun. So here, ‘pastries’ is the antecedent that the pronoun ‘it’ refers to.

So hereby it is clear that antecedents will always appear before the pronoun. But then there are sentences like ‘when you see him, please tell David that I’ll be late’. What to make of these? As a writer, you should be careful of your usage of pronouns. Using ‘him’ before the antecedent ‘professor’ will cause the readers to be in the dark about who ‘him’ refers to until the second half of the sentence. This is highly undesirable as it makes the reading experience dull and complex.

In the sentence, ‘Breath in through your nose, hold it for a second, then breath out through your mouth’, the audience understands that they have to breathe through their nose, then hold their nose, and finally breathe out – which no doubt is ridiculously crazy! This happens because ‘it’ refers to nose as it is the nearest noun. This confusion may change meanings and turn your nose down. So you must be careful in the usage and avoid misplacement or faraway placement of pronouns and antecedents.

Now have a look at this outrageous sentence, ‘The cake consisted of cranberries, strawberries, kiwis, blueberries and a cherry on top. It was white in color.’ Now that is a ridiculous cherry, white in color! This one is a case of ambiguous antecedents. Here, the readers would naturally pair ‘it’ with the nearest noun ‘cherry’. To avoid this, the sentence can be combined as in ‘The cake, white in color, consisted of cranberries, kiwis, blueberries and a cherry on top.’ Easy and clear!  O one needs to avoid the use of ambiguous antecedents!

Examples of Antecedents

Nina called to say that she will arrive at eight.
Antecedent: Nina
Pronoun: she

The boy who lives next door found his bicycle.
Antecedent: boy
Pronoun: his

The girl who sang the song is tired.
Antecedent: girl
Pronoun
: who

Magnet schools

Magnet school, true to its name, attracts bright students from all over the world or country. The term is popular in the United States. All over the world, these schools are becoming popular day by day and are known as Special Schools.

Children generally attend schools lying in their zones and regions. And magnet schools are what compel these students to join them – they attract students! It their specialized curriculum, better exposure and opportunities that make these public schools popular. Having their funding by the state, local or federal funds, these schools have a limited number of seats that have made the need of a selection procedure to be prevalent a necessity. Tests are conducted by the schools and the students scoring good marks are given the privilege of gaining an admission – that amounts to about 20% of students who apply each year.

Strict, stringent, disciplined and tougher, these schools have always attracted parents and students with their principle of equality amongst all races and castes.

Advantages

Magnet schools provide a better stage for a teacher-student relation as the number of students is kept in check. More attention can be given to the evolvement of an individual. The rigorous activities initiate the child’s creativity, helping him or her become an all-rounder. The school provides for an atmosphere that promotes a greater family like bonding between the teachers and students. A sense to uphold the schools dignity and pride drives the students to give their best.

Disadvantages

It is a general notion that these schools receive generous funding as compared to the traditional home schools (important to take note that home schools and home schooling are two different terms). Well, it is a duty of the parents to find out if these funds are used adequately. For instance they need to be sure that the school has a well equipped lab with a proficiently qualified teacher. Secondly, magnet schools selectiveness is a thing to question. To maintain their reputation, they chose a set of students that are already privileged. In the bargain, the more motivated, disadvantaged students are left behind. A good magnet school should actually select those students to whom it would do good to have an experience of such a school.

All in all, it is perceivably difficult to get enrollment in a magnet school. But if you do get into one of these wonders, it is a treat for your scholarly life. The opportunities and platforms one gets here is beyond imagination. But another point put forth by the critics is, if parents want to enroll their students here because of their good qualities, why not make all traditional public schools as competent? Now that’s a question that needs to be pondered on, right?

But till then, the fact remains that magnet schools have a class unbeatable! If you want to get into one, just make sure you make the necessary inquiries as pointed above to have an unfaltering experience.

Speed Reading Explained – How to Improve Your Reading Speed

Reading is one of the most prominent activities we do daily. You may think you don’t like reading or you are not a reader but just wait a minute and think it over – while reading a newspaper, or going through the contracts you’ve got to sign, or checking your mail, you are actually reading! Reading can also be marked as one of the most important work based skills.

Reading is important but also time consuming. If the speed of reading be increased, one can get that extra time he or she craves for to rest a bit more or complete other tasks.  So improving the reading speed is no doubt advantageous. The average reading speed is noted as 250-300 words per minute (wpm) but it really depends on the material and practice.

It is easier to achieve efficient reading that involves a good speed along with comprehension by breaking the faults in your reading habits.

Regression refers to skipping back to words you’ve read or lines you’ve already gone through. Avoid this as it can subsidize your understanding of the material. To avoid regression, pacers are used.

Sub vocalization is the habit of ‘speaking the word’ in your mind. Sometimes people do it sub consciously. It consumes as much time as you take while talking. By erasing this itself, you can speed your reading by a marvelous speed. To do this, just keep telling yourself that you won’t speak the word in your mind! You just won’t!

Other than these, inefficient eye motion, reading word by word and poor concentration can also be reason to your slow reading.

Now about speeding your reading – it is not a piece of cake to do so if you are a day dreamer. But if you are focused enough, it won’t be too difficult for you.

Regarding the things you’d need to get ready with – a timer, a pacer (i.e. a pen or a bookmark, your finger is enough at times) and a book!

Starting with the activity!study_techniques

  1. Get the average words per line: For this, count the number of words in five lines and divide it by five. The resultant will be your number of words per line on an average.
  2. Mark your timer for one minute and read in your normal comprehensive speed. Do not go faster or slower, just maintain your usual speed.
  3. Once you get the number of lines you read in one minute, multiply it by average words per line obtained in step one. This is your wpm rate
  4. Now use your pen or finger or marker as your tracker and pacer and read the lines in no more than one second. Don’t worry about comprehension; just try to read the line in one second.
  5. Now repeat step 4 but this time try to read a line in half a second. Do this for three whole minutes.

Basically, we take time to read as we don’t fully make use of our perceptual vision. For example, if you focus on the centre of the sheet, you can still make out the margins. When we read left to right, taking in the whole word fully, we also tend to read the margins that have nothing at all written over. This wastes about 30% – 50% of our reading time. To avoid that we’ll go on to our next step.

  1. For the subsequent minute, start reading but this time begin one word in from the first word and end at one word in from the last. Remember to take no more than a second per line. Again, do not worry about comprehension.
  2. For the next minute, begin from two words in from the first to two words in from the last word.
  3. Now begin from three words in from the first till three words in from the last. Carry this on for three minutes keeping half a second for each line.
  4. Now comes the final Here, you read for a minute at your fastest comprehension rate. Multiply the number of lines with the number of words per line obtained in step 1 and lo and behold! You have a new and increased speed of reading…congratulations!

Implications to keep in mind!

  • Practice is the name of the game! You can only perfect and maintain your speed by practicing thoroughly.
  • It is suggested that while going through legal contracts and other such stuff, you go slow and thorough. It is something important that demands hole of your attention.
  • Speed reading is a skill that mostly involves breaking poor reading habits like sub vocalization and regression.
  • Once you are over with the activity, remember that you read to understand and not just for speed!

Hope it helps!

Responsibility – A work of fiction!

Written originally for a school presentation ! 


“Any complaints?”

“Oh come on Anya. You know your work is flawless! I just don’t understand why you’re stuck up with this boutique. You should go for one of those big fashion chains…” Namita, a daily customer of the boutique, babbled, picking up her delivery and proceeding to pay.

The bright smile on Anya’s pretty little, twenty nine year old face shrunk a bit as she averted her gaze. Why bring up this topic, she winced inwardly, deciding not to answer her.

“Answer me!” Namita prodded, “Do you want me to help you with your CV?”

“Uh-no,” Anya replied, “I had done this, years ago. They say I need a degree in Designing and Arts to qualify for a seat…”

She paused for that to sink in before perking up her expression and returning the change.

“And why, in the lord’s name, did you not go for it when you were younger?”

“Ah-a long story!” Anya replied, her face blushing.

“I love long stories,” Namita answered with a grin, making herself comfortable on the plastic chair.

With a sigh, Anya took her seat behind the counter, her elbow resting on the counter top, “Dates back to when I completed my 12th with a 95% in physics. I dreamt of going in for NIFT entrances, you know National Institute of Fashion Tech.”

Namita nodded for her to go on.

“And so, I revealed my wishes to Mum and Dad. Dad, being the typical traditional fellow he is, immediately objected claiming I was born to be an engineer.

On the other hand, being the typical rebel I am, told him what I thought of his great idea f making me an engineer.

Daily there were squabbles and finally we decided I’d appear for both the entrance exams.

In my opinion, both my exams went off well. The condition was I’d opt for the subject I score better in. I passed JEE with a placement in one of the best colleges. Dad was overjoyed. But I waited for my NIFT results…which never came. I never lost hopes, but when months passed and it was time for me to start with my engineering, I had to give in. Seems like I failed. I did my engineering. It was tough. I’m a B.Tech.  in computer software. My husband’s the MD if an IT company. But I can’t work with him. You know why?”

Namita shook her head.

“Because I’m an engineer without any knowledge of engineering! I mean I can’t program a simple thing because when I sit to do it, my head spins and I fell like ripping my skull apart!” Anya paused to take a breath and continued, “What do you suggest I do? I tried whatever was needed but…well now it’s too late to ponder over that!”

There was a chime at the door. Anya stood up as a man in his mid thirties entered the boutique.

“Mrs. Anya Tiwari?” he announced looking at the two ladies.

“That’d be me…” Anya said, “Tiwari’s my maiden name,” she gave in the way of an explanation to Namita’s inquiring look.

“Nice to meet you madam. I’m Tarun Halat and I’m here to give you this,” he said, fishing an envelope out of his bag.

“What’s this?” she asked, turning the big thing in her hands.

“Well, well, well! You see ma’am my father, Late Mr. Arvind Halat was a postman,” he waited for her reaction, when none came, he continued, “About ten years ago, he won a lottery of half a crore through those stupid games we see at TV stations. Well they’re not so stupid after all! Ok, so to talk of the envelope, he brought a new house and stuff and left his old coop locked up. Recently he passed away and we got the opportunity of sifting through his belongings. Inside his cubbyhole, we found a whole bag of undelivered letters dating back to the day he resigned. As the irresponsible man he was, he forgot all about these. But we decided to turn them in to the rightful owners…so here it is. We went to your home on the Prithvi Road, your parents told me I’d find you here…”

“Oh,” Anya whispered, reading the address on the envelope having a NIFT seal. Peeling off the seal, she slid out a worksheet along with a letter.

Tarun and Namita waited patiently as Anya read and re read the contents. Her eyes watered as she looked up to the two of them. Tears welled up those beautiful black eyes as she repeated the printed lines in her mind…

…having secured a merit position in the NIFT entrance exam, you are bestowed with the privilege of selecting the institute of your choice…
Reply within a period of ten days…

“Why have you brought this to me…” she whispered.

“Pardon?” Tarun said, leaning in to her better.

“WHY HAVE YOU BROUGHT THIS STUPID THING TO ME…” she yelled, tossing the envelope by his feet, “You realize what this is? You want me to cry all over again? You to make me REGRET?”

“Ma’am,” he tried to cut her.

“If only you had brought it ten years back…if only…” she whispered, stumbling on her chair and turning her face in an unsuccessful attempt to hide her tears.

“I’m sorry, from my father’s side…” he began.

With a jerk, she looked straight at him, “YOUR FATHER SPOILT MY LIFE MR. TARUN HALAT. GET LOST! I DON’T WANNA SEE YOUR FACE…” she hissed.

Later on in the day, she realized she was wrong in scolding him. He had helped her and she had been ungrateful. But she had to vent out her feelings…no?believe9

Ten years, ten long years she had lived the life of shameful failure, had believed she’d FAILED not just in the entrance exam but in her life! A life of low self esteem, dismay, and uselessness is something worth crying after…

And all this at the cost of a man’s irresponsibility?

Contemplable eh?

Study Tips – How to Concentrate On Studies

Concentration or the ability to direct your mind towards what you want is not a voluntary and easy job. A human mind plays one of the silliest games and does just opposite of what you instruct it to. You want to complete the chapter in an hour but just when you sit down with your book, thoughts of the last movie you saw or the last conversation you had with your boyfriend or girlfriend seems to detrack you totally. Gossips about your friend circle or social networking sites do sound important stuff, right? Wrong, studies are studies and you need to focus on them, no matter the books look like intimidating monsters or senseless pieces of paper. And to help you with that, how to concentrate on studies and go about from being a weak or mediocre student to a strong topper, we are here.

Before you sit down to study, just clear your brain of all the distractions and block out every other noise.

 Find the right place: The most important factor is finding the right spot and environment to study. A proper environment is as important as studying itself. Once you find it, keep coming back to it as a routine. You may look up the internet for helpful articles on this. Some people may find it hard to study in a pin drop silence atmosphere as then; a pin drop may seriously be disturbing. So in such cases, you may switch on a TV or a soft stereo music to help you create a background gag.

Know our schedule: Make time table so that you don’t feel over worked. There might be times in the day when you feel the sharpest, schedule difficult subjects for such times. Some people leave difficult subjects for late evenings when they’re already tired, but that’s wrong. Leave subjects you love or enjoy for those time periods and study the hard ones in your epic times.

Go about Mind Mapping: You can use the technique of mind mapping to help you out. Mind mapping involves displaying information graphically. They usually use central images with branches radiating out sub information. It takes the shape of the subject you are studying. Remember, the brain takes up the diagrams much faster than usual text material, so make your mind maps as colorful and graphic as possible and surely it’ll help you grasp the information.

Keep away from distractions: Shut down your computer and stow away your mobile phones if you are used to checking them now and again. Put down your headphones and stay away from the activities of your roommates or household members. It sure is fun to leave studies and indulge in other activities, but don’t you wanna excel in studies? So just tell yourself firmly that no means no!

Use active reading techniques: Reading the stuff like a storybook would do no good. Instead, ask yourself challenging questions while going through the book. Mark important points, take notes for future reference and involve yourself wholly into what you are doing.

Get adequate rest: Studying continually for long hours could be stressful for your brain that may result in the destruction of what you’ve already studied. So take regularly scheduled breaks and get enough sleep at night. You don’t want yourself dozing off during an exam or emerge with dark circles and a saturated brain state the next day, do you?

Reward yourself: This is the most important point. Reward yourself with incentives like a night out with friends, a pizza, or something as simple as some time on Facebook or Skype. Whatever you enjoy, just make it your goal and study hard. If you complete your project, you reward with it!