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Wednesday, May 22, 2019

FINAL School Memes

(We have all been at least one of these)

The One Day...
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---Aaaand you get back and nothing happens again. Ever.

Ta Daaaa...
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---There's always someone who will still manage to get an A too.

Good Work Folks...
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---This is not an advocate to cheat though ;)

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---Better yet, finishing homework as your teacher is checking everyone else's

You already know...
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---Then they say "Pick a NEW partner!"

Today we are watching a video...
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---At least you know you won't be learning anything.

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---Or worse, assigns homework over break.

We have all been there...
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---All you want to do is answer for them and move on.

Never been there...
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---Let's hope your teacher has a spare.

Knowledge is power...

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---They weren't specific in just how much was important.

There's always one kid...
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---All fun in games 'til they sit you outside.

Back in the good old days...
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---Now if your kid is this smart, they won't even need middle school.

Which are you?...

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---Don't lie, we know.

Written by Amy C., Homework Assistant
Source: Google and Being a Teen

Friday, May 17, 2019

Standardized Testing: Tips from a high school senior

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How I feel about the College Board.
'Tis the season... to cry in a corner, shirking away from the piles of prep books on your desk.  If you're planning on attending a four-year university directly after high school, standardized tests are an unavoidable reality.  However, I have a step-by-step guide that will hopefully make the process slightly less painful.  (Disclaimer: I'm just a high school student, and I am NOT an expert in this subject.  This process is what worked for me and it may not necessarily work for you.)

1. Figure out which tests you need to take.
This means going to college websites and figuring out which tests are required (or "highly recommended," which is basically the same thing) for the schools and majors you're looking at.  This will be easier if you have a general college list already, but it's fine if you don't.

As a rule of thumb, it's a good idea to take either the New SAT with Writing or the ACT with writing.  For Californians, the CSU schools require SAT and ACT scores for residents with a GPA lower than 3.00, and the UC schools require either the SAT with Writing or the ACT with Writing.

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The Math Level 2 did, in fact, make me cry.
Certain majors and departments, especially at more selective schools, will require specific SAT subject tests (also called SAT II tests).  For example, the School of Physical Sciences at UC Irvine requires the Math Level 2 SAT subject test.  For STEM majors, if you take the Math Level 2 and one of the Science subject tests, you should fulfill the requirements at most schools.  (Still check to make sure!!)  Requirements for humanities vary.

2. Sign up for a test date.
Now that you've chosen which tests to take, sign up well in advance so that you can get a seat at a testing site near home.  A quick Google search for the test you're taking should lead you to the agency's website (either the College Board or ACT).  I'd recommend signing up at least two months before the test date, or be prepared to travel a very far distance to your testing site (I know someone from Mountain View who had to go to Monterey to take the SAT).  If you qualify for a fee waiver, now is the time to apply.  Those testing fees really add up!

3. Buy a prep book or check on out from the library.
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"Hello Darkness, my old friend..."
Again, try to do this about two months in advance.  The three most popular prep book companies are Barron's, Princeton Review, and Kaplan.  If you're not sure which one to get, ask friends who have taken the test before or look on online forums to see what fellow students are saying.  I personally only used one prep book for each test, but I know plenty of people who go through multiple per test.

Books can be found online, at a bookstore or at your local library.  Try to get the newest edition available, since the tests change from time to time.  If you can't buy a book, ask older students for their used books.

4. Decide what score you want to get.
Look at the admissions statistics of the colleges you're applying for to determine the approximate range of scores that you should aim for.  For example, if the 25th percentile New SAT score for your school is 1300, set a goal to score that high or higher.

A note on scores: I learned way too late that standardized test scores do not matter nearly as much as most students think.  Almost every university admissions office will tell you that your high school grades matter much more, so if you're a bit short of your target score or you do badly on a test, please, I beg of you--don't freak out.

5. Take the diagnostic.
And that's the story of why I had to take it twice.
Once you procure a prep book, take the diagnostic test at the beginning of the book.  If you're a long way from your target score, you should begin studying right away.  If you're pretty close to your target score, you can probably put off studying until the month before.  Keep in mind that certain prep books' tests, like the Barron's books, are consistently more difficult than the actual test.

6. Make a rough study plan.
Or a detailed one, if that's your thing.  Decide on the time frame in which you plan to study the chapters of your prep book.  Be sure to set aside time for taking the practice tests at the back of the book--you can start taking them before you finish learning all of the chapters.  It's very important to take as many tests as possible so that you're familiar with the types of questions you'll get asked.

7. Study time!
The people who say you should study a little every day really aren't kidding, but I feel hypocritical giving that advice because I always ended up cramming the two weeks before. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Do as I say, not as I do.

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"Wow, I'm so glad I put everything off to the very last second!" ~No one ever
My advice is to read and highlight the chapters of your prep book carefully while making note sheets with important definitions, equations, or facts.  Keep your note sheets concise.  Also make sure to do the practice questions at the end.

8. Take LOTS of practice tests.
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*sweats profusely*
As I already mentioned, it's very important to take practice tests because besides testing your knowledge, standardized tests also test your ability to take a standardized test.  So practice!

After each test, go over the questions you got wrong.  Why did you get them wrong?  Is it a fact you forgot to memorize, or a problem you were unfamiliar with?  Go back into that section of the prep book and do practice problems or add to your note sheets.

9. Make sure you are ready before you take the test.
If the test date is approaching and you're still not consistently scoring in the range you want, don't take the test.  Although testing fees are nonrefundable after a certain date, there is no consequence for simply not showing up to the testing date.  There is absolutely no point in taking a test you know you will have to retake, so if you aren't doing well on your practice tests, simply don't show up and sign up for a later test date.

10. On the big day: SLEEP, and DON'T FORGET YOUR MATERIALS.
When you're sleep deprived, you are scientifically proven to be less intelligent.  Take care of your brain and SLEEP before you go into the test day.

In addition, double and triple check that you have your test ticket, a form of ID, and your pencils/calculators as needed.  Bring a timepiece (like a watch) as well.  If you don't have your ticket and your ID, you WILL NOT be allowed to take your test and the entire affair will be very sad for everyone involved.

As a final note, remember that standardized testing is only a small slice of your larger high school journey.  It's much more important to learn in your classes and enjoy your time outside of school, so don't let a couple of weird numbers hold undeserved power over your life.  No matter what happens, everything will turn out well in the end.

Wishing you the best of luck!

Written by Coral C., Homework Assistant
Source: Personal experience, unfortunately

Thursday, May 16, 2019

How to Recycle: A Straightforward Guide

Recycling has become a moral meterstick in modern society, yet many of us don't do it simply because we don't understand the rules of recycling.  We all know we should recycle, but when faced with a confusing bottle label and four equally confusing disposal options, it's all too easy to toss that bottle straight into the trash.  As it turns out, knowing when and what to recycle is not that complicated-- here's a quick cheat sheet on how to dispose of common items:

When in doubt, throw it out.

It seems paradoxical, but one of the greatest enemies to efficient recycling is overzealous recycling.  When it's unclear whether a piece of waste belongs in the landfill or recycling, many of us will put it in the recycling simply so we can feel better about ourselves.  Unfortunately, even a minimally contaminated batch of recycling is often useless.  It is costly to sort through high volumes of non-recyclables to get to the stuff that belongs there, which greatly decreases the benefits of recycling.
Some oft-recycled contaminants that belong in the trash include soiled paper (pizza boxes, takeout containers, etc.), styrofoam, and in some areas, plastic bottle caps.  Here's a great video detailing more on the subject.

Recycling number codes
These are the little numbers on your coffee cup lid or the bottom of your plastic takeout container.  If your plastic is labeled #1 or #2, recycle it.  If it's labeled any other number, toss it in the trash.  Numbers 3-7 may be recyclable depending on the circumstances, but it's better to be safe and simply avoid them.  In the U.S., there is no widely accepted symbol for compostable products, and biodegradable plastics are simply lumped with the rest of the #7 plastics.  However, there is usually a separate indicator, such as a symbol of a seedling or a tree, that lets you know the item can be composted.


Your typical single-use alkaline, carbon-zinc, and manganese batteries can go straight in the trash.  Rechargeable lithium and button batteries may be recycled depending on the city.  To be safe, everything else should go to hazardous waste-- it is Not A Good Time for anyone when the heavy metals in more dangerous batteries end up in a waste incinerator due to careless disposal.

Most cities will have an electronics recycling program or center that can handle your e-waste.  According to the City of Mountain View's web page, "E-waste is typically any consumer electronic device containing circuit boards which allow the device to perform very complex tasks, from computers to complex programmable coffeemakers."  Electronics recycling varies from city to city, so make sure to do your research.

The world of recycling is very odd indeed, but these general rules of thumb should cover most everyday scenarios.  Good luck!

Written by Coral C., Homework Assistant

Thursday, May 2, 2019

Is twilight really a bad movie?

For the last 10ish years, the movie franchise Twilight has received a massive amount of hate surrounding the writing, quality of acting, and the story-line. But is it really as bad as it is made out to be?

Twitter user Emma Sullivan, sums up my thoughts exactly in her tweet above. While Kristen Stewart's acting may not have been the most dynamic, THERE IS LITERALLY A MOVIE ABOUT A TORNADO OF SHARKS... need I say more.

The original tweet claiming Twilight's new status as the "worst movie of all time" received backlash from fans stating, that while the it can be seen as dry, Stewart's acting accurately resembled the reactions of a 17 year old girl given her circumstances and the movie's themes of love and sacrifice, and it's cinematography is enough to redeem it's value.

For skeptics: just watch it, it's not that bad. Like everything with a large female fan-base it is going to get discredited and shamed.

Written by Michelle P., Homework Assistant

Monday, April 15, 2019

Fun Games for When You're Bored

This may be a blast from the past for some of you, but I decided to assemble a list of some of the greatest time-passing games from my early childhood. I know there are many more games than these, but these are some of my all-time favorites. Many of these games I still play on a regular basis!

1. Sudoku
This number-based game is a great way to challenge your brain and pass time! It requires you to use the numbers 1-9 to completely fill out the grid. But beware - you are only allowed to use each number once per column, row, and 3x3 square! This game is great for people who love puzzle solving.
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2. Crossword Puzzles
Crossword Puzzles are perfect for any English-language enthusiasts, or for those who want to increase their vocabulary skills! Crossword puzzles consist of various interconnected words, that you have to solve using clues. Most online versions have a beginning option, that alerts you if you typed the wrong word, or an expert version, for those who want to figure it out completely on their own.
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3. Solitaire
Solitaire is a card game in which you have to stack all the corresponding "suits" of the cards (hearts, aces, spades, diamonds) in numerical order. This game is difficult, because you start with most of the cards covered, and can only uncover them once you've removed the card on top by placing it somewhere else. While the exact instructions are a bit too difficult to type out, this game is pretty easy to quickly get the hang of!
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4. Minesweeper
This one's probably a real blast from the past. In Minesweeper, you're given a field that contains a number of bombs, and it's your job to figure out where those bombs are. On the grid, you will be given certain boxes with numbers, meaning that the box either has 1, 2, 3, etc. bombs touching it. Using logic skills, you have to figure out where the bombs will be, and mark those with a flag. Once you've found all the bombs, you've won the game!
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5. Logic Puzzles
Logic puzzles are a great way to strengthen your logical thinking and problem-solving skills. You are given a grid and a list of clues, and you have to use those clues to solve the grid. In the example below, you're given the names of four girls, four sports, and four places, and you have to find out what from each category corresponds with what, according to the clues. Logic puzzles are really interesting because each clue gives you information that allows you to eliminate some possibilities, but often don't give you the answer, unless you look at the clues in context with other clues. Although they can take longer than some of what I've previously mentioned, logic puzzles are a great way to hone your skills in an engaging manner.
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I hope this list makes it fun to be bored!

Written by Jessica A., Homework Assistant