Top 5 Ways to Ace an Exam

As midterm and finals seasons approach, it is time that you might begin making strategic plans on how to succeed on assessments that are worth a significant chunk of your grade. I know that’s what I do. Hi, I’m Kelvin Cheung, a second year Mechanical Engineering major at UC Merced. From many first year college students, I often hear this question asked “how do you study for an exam that tests you on everything in the course?” I remember when I used to be in that same position and wished for someone to point me in the right direction. Well, for all you first year students or any student that needs studying tips, I want to share five ways that have helped me ace exams.

  1. Get a Good Night of Sleep

Every once in a while your busy schedule will lead to a point where you have a big exam to study for. You then have no choice but to heroically work throughout the wee hours of night, cramming in every bit of studying possible just as the sun begins to rise.

There are two main problems with pulling an all-nighter. First, after around three in the morning, your mental ability is significantly reduced. You start yawning and your eye lids have trouble staying open. The typical all-nighter turns into a painful stretch of mind-numbing stumbling through books and notes. It may seem as if you are adding another five hours of “studying,” but the reality is that you are more likely adding one hour of worthwhile work time and four hours of useless rambling that does not retain in your memory. Is that really worth the pain?

The second problem is the aftereffects of an all-nighter. The following day you are a zombie. It’s a terrible feeling. “Sleep deprivation produces impairments in cognitive and motor performance equivalent to legally prescribed levels of alcohol intoxication.” (US National Library of Medicine) Do you want to take an exam feeling intoxicated? Your ability to take an exam and do well in it would be nonexistent. And not only will your all-nighter cost you your exam score, it will probably also end up forcing you to bed much earlier than usual, disrupting your sleep pattern for more days to follow. The simple secret to prevent all-nighters is to not start preparing for an exam the day before. Procrastination usually does not work. And even if it does work for you, why would you stress yourself doing it? Wouldn’t it be much easier to start your studying in advance? When you know there is a test coming up, plan out a schedule that will give you time to study a little bit each day up until the exam. Also, make that a priority in your schedule.

All-nighters are like poison for any student. If you take the time to study in advance and learn to prioritize your studying, you can avoid the pains of procrastination.

  1. Manage Your Time Effectively

Time is of the essence. If you complain that you are a busy student and don’t have enough time to study. It might be a good idea to control the way your time is being spent. Are you on Facebook, Youtube, or other distracting websites when you are supposed to be studying? If you add up all the time that you could have been studying, you could probably already be done studying. But going on Facebook and watching Youtube videos are just so addicting. Don’t worry. That’s usually the most common form of distraction for most students. A solution is to use an app that can temporarily block websites that you know they will distract you from your studies. I suggest using Cold Turkey. It is a free productivity program that you can use to temporarily block yourself off of any sites or games that distract you. Not only do you save a lot of time from being wasted, you learn to discipline yourself, a skill that most college students lack due to the limitless freedom that exists in college.


  1. Study Alone or With Up to One Other Person

The best way to learn difficult material is to go over it yourself first with a lot of concentration. If it does not work, search on Google. There are a ton of resources online that can answer your questions and help you learn. Doing this allows you to be self-independent, you can learn from by yourself and not rely on others.

If this doesn’t work, study with only one other person. Multiperson study sessions don’t usually work. Studying for an exam is highly individualize because you are not tested on what you know with the help of your study group. Instead you have to take the exam solo. That is why it is important that you truly know the material that you are being test on. A tutor helps. But make sure you ask a lot of questions and be sure that you fully understand the material.

  1. Study Smarter, Not Harder

You’ve heard this saying before. When you prepare for an exam, know the material that the exam will cover. If you have a professor that likes being a pain and says “study everything,” “everything” will most likely not be on the exam. This method of studying would be a waste of your time. Instead, ask your peers who have already taken your class and to see the same exam they already took. The chances are that professors have a lot to do. They typically do not create new exam questions every semester if they can just recycle them. That’s why you should not waste your time in studying everything. Instead, use the past exams as a study guide. Make sure you are able to work out the solutions without help. For reference, this is not cheating. If the solutions or exam questions are accessible, then they are public and anyone can choose to look at them.

  1. Practice, Practice, Practice!

Finally, whatever method you choose to study, repeat that method until you have it drilled into your brain. Similar to playing a sport, if you do not practice enough before a game, you won’t perform well. In a test, if you do not know the material thoroughly inside and out, you will probably not ace the exam. If you are memorizing vocabulary words or facts, use flashcards. You can generate online flashcards by using Quizlet. If you are studying math or a physical science, crank out as many practice problems as you can. Go over the problems in the end of the chapter or at the back of the textbook. If you are able to do them without help, you are ready for the exam.

I would like to wish you all the best of luck on your studies that may lead to future opportunities. Each student has a different way of studying that optimizes his/her chance in doing well. Make sure that you find what works best for you. Always have a plan and stick with it all the way. Hopefully, my tips and words of wisdom will help you meet and master the many opportunities that will come your way.

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Meet BondsWell – Social, Creative, Fun [Infographic]


As a child you probably heard the phrase, “Sharing is caring” almost every day of your kindergarten life. We, here at BondsWell believe that to still be the case – no matter how old you are. When you start making bonds with us, you are able to create and express…whatever! And, by sharing your knowledge and expertise with friends and a vibrant community we can all grow together. Come explore with us and keep learning!

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To Drone or Not to Drone?

Drones are gaining popularity. Their technical name ranges from “unmanned automated vehicle” or “unmanned aerial vehicle” or “unmanned automated systems” or the abbreviation (UAV). The key take away is that it’s unmanned!

First thing that comes to mind for many of us might be, “Drones are used for spying!” I know I have come across this thought before. Quite frankly, there will be some operators out there that fall into this bucket. But as this drone technology continues to improve and become mainstream, you will be amazed with the possibilities.

Dronium Drone with Camera

For instance, the recent storms and tornadoes in the mid-west have left homeowners stranded. As their homes are swallowed by the flood waters; they have no escape route. First responders put their lives on the line to get to these victims and many times they are limited on how they can safely reach them and pull them out of harms way. In tonight’s ABC newscast, a drone was used to help the victims and rescuers in their recovery mission.

In the past few years, California has been experiencing a drought recently being called the Mega Drought. With the images that a drone can capture, it can truly emphasize the severity of the dire situation. NBC Nightly news did a complete segment from a drones perspective – it’s amazing. You can see it here. Another way drones can be of use to us.

Drones are fun too! When it comes to photography you can see things in a totally different light or in some cases point of view perspective. And, don’t forget about that selfie, you can take one without a selfie stick!  Capture those adventurous moments with a Lily drone instead. It’s pretty amazing how this drone can follow you as you go down that fast-moving river. And before you ask, it’s even water proof and designed to take off and land in the water. How does it work? Well, you can either carry the tracking device or wear it on your wrist like a watch – then “throw and shoot”.

Ranchers in the UK are using drones to herd their sheep. Drones are able to cover more distance and the ranchers can see for themselves how their livestock are doing. Are there sick sheep in the herd? Are any of them injured? Are they stuck in a hole somewhere? Plus, it can give the shepherd dog a day-off.

Amazon also has patented drone deliveries. Imagine getting a package delivered on your front door step by a drone. It’s being tested now.

Drones can be a benefit to society. It’s only a matter of time before we see all the wonders a drone can create.

In the meantime, “To drone or not to drone? That is the question.”

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California Drought: Ways to Save Water

The drought in California is real.

What is a drought?  According to USGS, “A drought is a period of drier-than-normal conditions that results in water-related problems. When rainfall is less than normal for several weeks, months, or years, the flow of streams and rivers declines, water levels in lakes and reservoirs fall, and the depth to water in wells increases. If dry weather persists and water-supply problems develop, the dry period can become a drought.”

When California Department of Water Resources meaCA Droughtsured the statewide water content of the Sierra snow pack on April 1st, 2014, it measured only 5% of average.  The Sierra snow pack provides Californians with about one-third of water used by cities and farms.  The last several consecutive and dry winters have made California’s water year of 2014, the third driest in the past 119 years! To top that off, 2015 remains California’s the warmest calendar year to date as of May 1.

It’s so severe that, California State Governor, Jerry Brown sent out an Executive Order mandating a 25 percent reduction in water use statewide for all urban water users compared with 2013 usage on April 1, 2015.

So, what can you do to help save water?  Here are some ideas.

Use rain barrels.  It’s not too late – forecast models predict rain showers in several areas in California.  Next week, Lake Tahoe should see several days of thunderstorms so you can get those rain barrels and let the water from your roof gutters drain intoRain Bucket these 50 gallon barrels.

Take a shower instead of a bath.  It is estimated that a bath can take 40 gallons of water whereas a 5-minute shower only takes 10 gallons of water.

Collect water in the shower.  When you are waiting for your daily shower to warm up, use a 5-gallon Home Depot bucket and collect that cold water.  It’s clean water going down the drain.  Use it to water your plants or pour it into your rain barrel for later use.

Place a bowl by your kitchen sink.  Many times we pour ourselves a full glass of water anticipating to drink it all.  Sometimes we don’t and have remaining water, well, instead of dumping it into the sink, dump it into the bowl.  After a few half-glasses the bowl will be full enough to water your plants.

Turn off the water when brushing your teeth.  Dentists recommend you brush your teeth for two minutes, if you shut off the water during this time you can save up to 2 gallons of water.

Re-use your bath towels.  Your washing machine uses about 40 gallons per load, if you use your towel twice, you can cut usage in half.

For all the gardeners, myself included try out these tips.

Use mulch in your plant pots and landscaping.  It will hold the moisture in and keep the soil from drying up so quickly.

Water your plants in the early morning hours so the moisture will seep in and stay instead of later in the day when the water is more likely to evaporate.  Also, don’t water when it’s windy as the water will be blown onto sidewalks or driveways.

And, look into drought resistant plants and flowers.  They do not require as much water and they flourish in the hot weather.

For those who can stomach it, “If it’s yellow, let it mellow.”  Or, you can try adding plastic bottles filled with rock or gravel into your toilet tank so it will trick your tank into believing it has enough water to flush.

“Save water.  The World is in your hands.”

Do you have any other water-conserving ideas? Please leave a comment with your tip for everyone to see.

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Mother’s Day – How do you celebrate?

In the United States, Mother’s day is usually celebrated the second Sunday in May. This holiday originated in 1908 by Anna Jarvis and became an official U.S. holiday in 1914. Traditions have us presenting our mothers with flowers, cards and gifts. So, this got me thinking, “how do you celebrate your mother (grandmother/mother figure) on Mother’s day?”IMG_1624

Some of us have mothers who cook for us every day, pack our lunches, clean our rooms, do our laundry and essentially plan out our entire day. She buys us things that we don’t even think we need, like Q-tips, socks, toothbrushes, etc. She even hands us a Kleenex before we sneeze! So, how do you celebrate this mom? Perhaps, she wants you to return the favor on her day. So go out there and do the grocery shopping, buy household items, and get her everything she needs for the week. That way, she has a moment to catch her breath as she juggles and creates magic in her busy schedule. Or, just take her out to her favorite restaurant so she doesn’t have to cook any meals this day!

Some of us have mother’s that we call the “Glamour Mom”, she is always dressed to the 9s, skin is impeccable, every strand of hair is in place. Before you are even up, she looks like she is ready for a night on the town. Always so put together and ready to shower us with her love and affection. So, how do you celebrate this mom? Book a day at the spa, get her nails done, relax with a massage and freshen up with a facial. Then, follow it up with an appointment with her favorite hairdresser! Or, just take her out to her favorite restaurant, to wine and dine her so she can be as glamorous as ever!

Some of us have mother’s that are constantly working and barely have a day to herself or time to spend with her family. She wants to be sure that everyone else has what they need while she gets by with the bare minimum. So, how do you celebrate this mom? Let her sleep in and have breakfast or lunch ready for her when she wakes up. Declare it PJ day, rent a bunch of movies or just sit in front of the T.V. and watch her favorite re-runs with her. And, be sure to have plenty of snacks, like popcorn, chocolate, chips, fruit, nuts and bon bons. Or, just take her out to her favorite restaurant so she can spend time with the fam-bam!MomHeart

No matter what type of mom we may have and no matter how we decide to celebrate with her, be thankful that mom is here with us. Enjoy the day, as it only comes around once a year, so celebrate this special lady. Remember, she was there for you when you lost your first tooth, your first break-up, when she caught you doing something you weren’t suppose to be doing. Through it all she loved you.

What do mom’s always say, “mother knows best!”

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

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A Picture Is Half The Experience

There’s an old adage “A picture is worth a thousand words.” it has several variations and just as many attributions to go along with it.  In short, the adage conveys the idea that more can be presented with an image and the person looking can quickly absorb the story through a single image.  Although it makes sense that more then one image could be used, such as before and after shots.

Can a picture by itself really convey the story?  I would suggest that a picture and the story go hand in hand. Hot2 Let’s say you were talking to an artist and he’s telling you about a painting he made.  He’s telling you how it was the hottest day ever and all he could feel was the heat enveloping him and pressing down on him making him swelter.  As you’re listening to the story you’re looking at his painting of shades of red, lines and brushstrokes licking up and down, accented by oranges and yellows and tints of black.  You begin to feel the heat as you’re listening and looking, the two senses coming together to absorb not just a story, but an experience.

Now, let’s say the artist has walked away and you’re looking at a different piece.  It’s the opposite, it’s comprised of shades of blue, swirling and mingling with light violets, greens, and whites accenting the curls of coolness.  Cool1As the painting pulls you in you feel the colors surrounding you, calming and serene.  You may quickly assume this piece represents the coldest day of the year for the artist.

Then in talking with the artist you find out that it was painted on the hottest of days, actually right after the one in red.  Instead of being what he felt, it was what he wanted to feel on that miserable day.  It was what he conveyed in his picture as ideal.  Now we understand how the picture is half the experience and the story is the other half.

One helps us see the details and what is not easily explained, while the other provides context and gives us a deeper understanding.

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Can Online Shopping Help Shoppaholics?

I hope your Halloween weekend was eventful, fulfilled, and ended in a candy induced frenzy. And speaking of frenzies, Black Friday is only a few weeks away! As the end of the year creeps closer and closer, I we find ourselves with the one thing that we just can’t get enough of, and that is possibilities. In fact, there are so many possibilities during this season that most of the time, we don’t know what to do with them. While these possibilities aren’t only limited to what we can buy at stores, it does seem that this is where a large portion of our expanded choices stem from. With sales going up faster than holiday decorations, we find ourselves browsing through stuff that we normally wouldn’t and begin impulse buying at a ridiculous rate. Why? “Because it was on sale, duh!”

And here we come to one of the major dangers of shopping. Sales are obviously ways for stores to draw in and attract customers and for most shoppers, it may seem that there is zero harm in buying something that is marked down and that mentality stays with us throughout the day until we find that we’ve spent so much more money than we normally would have. Now of course, you have to ask yourself if this is even a real problem at all. For some people, going on a shopping spree and giving the wallet a workout isn’t that big of a deal. As for me however, I get a severe case of buyers remorse whenever I spend too much money. That is not to say that I regret getting new stuff, rather, I regret losing money and as a result, tend to curb my shopping habits.

As far as finding a practical cure for these “sale fevers” of the holiday season, the most effective solution is the preventative measure of self-control. However, if it were that easy, then marketers would have done away with the idea of “sales” a long time ago. But is there another way to shop without getting sucked into the myriad of holiday sales? Probably not, however, that doesn’t mean we can’t look for one. As you could have guessed from the trend from the past few weeks (or by looking at the title) Online shopping can be a probable solution.

As always, I will present both pros and cons of the argument, for the sake of a full discussion about the topic. First the cons:

The only major flaw with trying to save money while online shopping is the fact that the only method of payment is through debit or credit cards. This may seem innocuous, however to is a very important factor to consider. When you pay online you only see numbers on a screen that tells you the price of your purchases. For many people the significance of these numbers is lost on them until they compare it to their bank account statement. As a result, people may be more inclined to spend lots of money while shopping online because there isn’t the feeling of spending money isn’t emphasized. When you go to a store for example, and pay with cash, you are physically handing away your money, when making a purchase, thereby making the loss of money a real thing. Even when paying with a debit/credit card, we are forced to physically give over our cards and make the transaction a physical thing, rather than seem like a game on a computer.

Now the pros of online shopping: Firstly, sales tend to loose some power when making purchases online. On a computer, we see a marked down price, perhaps with some bold lettering that says “SALE”. However this is nothing compared to the sensory overload of going physically going to a store and being bombarded with dozens of giant “SALE” signs everywhere. Secondly, there is no peer pressure for spending money. Take Black Friday for example. Everyone’s favorite holiday, as indicated by the mass of people that line up outside stores before they open. When those doors are first opened, a wave of people swoop in to get to the best sales before they run out. Because of this pressure, people are more likely to make a quick purchase in fear that if they wait, they will miss out on a good deal. While this risk may exist in online shopping, such as lettering that indicates “ONLY 1 LEFT IN STOCK” the feeling of urgency is immensely mitigated by the fact that there is no physical rush. Lastly is that with online shopping, there is not as much temptation to browse items. Part of the fun of going to a store is to walk around the whole store and buy what interests you. While shopping online, there is a greater tendency to look for items that you need and browsing, while much more convenient, is a little more boring. Thus the chances of making a purchase on impulse is again reduced.

So with that said, I know many people will still probably go out on a spree on Black Friday, I know I probably will. But for those of you that want to build a thrifty habit, try shopping online and see if that helps you curb your spending spree.

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Have You Started Your Holiday Shopping Yet?

Holdiay Shopping

Have you really not started your holiday shopping yet? Can it “really” wait? Well, if you say so…

Have you ever noticed that most of you do the most shopping at around this time of year. Think about it for a moment. You have Halloween: Candy shopping, Costume shopping, decoration shopping, and seasonal foods shopping (pumpkin pies). Then Thanksgiving: decoration shopping and Seasonal food shopping (turkeys). Then right after Thanksgiving there’s everyone’s favorite holiday… Black Friday: clothes shopping, food shopping, decoration shopping, tech shopping, and basically shopping for everything that’s marked down, because “hey, it’s on sale”. Then after the Most Wonderful Time of the Year we have Christmas and the shopping frenzy that it brings like: Christmas trees, christmas decorations, and present shopping. And finally there’s New Years where everyone has to have obligatory party hats, glasses in the shape of the New Year, and an almost unhealthy amount of Champagne. If we count that out, that’s five different major holiday events that most people (at least in the US) celebrate. And that all takes place in the span of about 8-9 weeks. The fact that some people can actually pull of going out shopping for five different events in the span of 8-9 weeks and still carry on with their lives is honestly amazing.

Yet of course it is obviously stressful right? I mean, how often around this time of year does a store “run out of an item” or is suddenly “out of stock”? Too many right? Suddenly your back is against a corner because your kid is expecting a ridiculous present from Santa but unfortunately the “elves” have run out of stock. Or maybe your significant other is expecting a romantic gift and delicious home cooked meal and suddenly your scrambling around town trying to piece together the ingredients for a perfect night. Whatever the situation, I’m sure most of us have been victimized by stresses that come with the three different celebratory seasons that are packed into these last few weeks of the year.

So is there a way to overcome the stress?

Well last week I compared online shopping with in-person shopping and ended my brisk comparison with the observation that neither is perfect, but each does have it’s merits. Well this week, I’m going to focus on how online shopping may actually be a lifesaver during the holiday season.

Let me preface this discussion first, by saying that in my opinion and as far as I know, there is no online shopping experience as of yet that can replace Black Friday shopping. I mean, the rush of going to a store at 5:00 am, beating people to the best sales, watching two people get into an actual fight over “the last pair of whatever”, getting some amazing discounts and ultimately walking away with a car-load of items that you bought mostly on impulse can not be replicated online. Maybe one day, but as of now it remains one of the few things that technology cannot replace.

However, for the less exhilarating experience of Holiday shopping, we can use the internet to our full advantage. There is of course the convenience factor of shopping online from your home, without having to make it a big deal. This takes about 25% of the stress out of holiday shopping because you can shop from your bed or couch and not have to exert yourself ( I know, sounds really lazy but, eh…).

Another very common problem with holiday shopping, in my experience, is the fact that stores run out of supply so quickly that no one can really keep up with it. Well thanks to the internet, certain stores can post their stock availability online. That way you’re not stuck running around for hours trying to figure out what stores are carrying the items you want. Thanks to the internet, you probably won’t even have to go to the store to purchase your items, because many stores now allow you to make purchases online and have packages shipped to your location.

Having the entire internet at your fingertips also means that you aren’t limited to what’s available on stores, but can also see what’s available on sites like amazon. Maybe they’ll have an item that isn’ available in any local stores, and if they do then you can be sure that they will ship it as fast as possible.

Of course, as I said last week, online shopping even during the holidays, does not (for the most part) have a social aspect to it. While it can potentially eliminate the stresses of holiday shopping you lose a bit of the experience like that random cheery holiday person at the store who gives you advice on delicious Thanksgiving recipes, or the overly helpful store worker who recommends good christmas decorations.

Once the internet can incorporate this into online shopping then it’s a done deal, but for now online shopping remains only the most effective way to unburden yourself from the un-cheery part of the holiday seasons.

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Why Should you Shop Online?

Shopping Stuff Collage

Shopping. It’s something that is universal in societies everywhere and it’s something that everyone enjoys doing. And whether we realize it or not, we spend most our lives working so that we can eventually go shopping. Whether it’s buying clothes, groceries, a new car, or even a house, we work to get money so that we can spend it on things we need or want.

Technology. It’s an integral part of our society. We measure the progress of civilizations based on their technological advancement. But what is it really? In simple terms, technology is any invention or discovery that makes life easier for people. Take the wheel for example – it is one of the earliest technological advancements of humanity that allows people to travel more efficiently and is such a useful tool that we still use it to this day. A more modern example and one of immense social significance is the internet. Now I don’t think anyone would disagree that the internet has revolutionized every aspect of society as we know it – and if you do still have doubts, just remember that you wouldn’t be able to read these words otherwise.

Now you’re probably wondering what shopping and technology are doing at the top of this article, both in bold as if they were equally significant and/or somehow related. Well firstly, technology – by it’s nature – is involved in literally everything, including shopping.

Don’t believe me? Go look back through previous articles and click on a few of the hyperlinks below the images. Where does it take you? – an internet website that launched almost 20 years ago where most people nowadays do their online shopping. Starting off as an online bookstore, Amazon quickly diversified their products and in the 2000s when internet usage became much more common, Amazon became one of the most popular websites to do online shopping.

In recent years, thanks to tech-advances like PayPal and Bitcoin, internet transactions are becoming almost as common as in-person transactions and as a result, the shopping industry is forced to accommodate. Almost every store (clothing, grocery, etc.) now has a website that shows what products are in stock and what certain prices are. Some grocery stores, such as Safeway even allow you to do your grocery shopping online and have it home delivered!

Now like all things related to technological advancement there has to be some sort of “Is technology ruining our lifestyles?” debate. Well since the question is always out there, why not address it, right?

So, “Is Technology ruining the way we shop?”

Now this may seem like a really ridiculous question. Online shopping is simply so much more convenient. You can compare prices of products from different stores, see what certain store branches have in stock and ultimately purchase your desired products, all from the comfort of your own home. You don’t have to worry about the “store’s hours of operation” or be inconvenienced by driving around town just to get to different stores.

However, like all things tech related, there seems to b a certain lack of personal connection. Part of the reason some people go out physically shopping is so that they get to do a little bonding time with friends or family. Some people like to go to clothing stores to get the opinions of people on their outfit selections, and get trendy new fashion ideas.

Now I know I didn’t answer my own question but when it comes to physical or online shopping, each has it’s merits. The former represents the social aspect of shopping and the latter shows the efficiency and convenience of shopping through technology.

In my opinion, a marriage of these two merits is perhaps the ideal shopping experience. The social aspect plus the ease of the technological convenience.

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