Feng Shui Space Clearing for a Student’s Study Area

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By special guest, Michele Dufy, Feng Shui Master Colleague and friend, Michele Dufy, BTB M.F.S. is an Orinda, California resident who, since 1999, enjoys creating “Space as Medicine” Feng Shui one space at a time. Since we’re hot into the start of the school year, the below blog is a great way to start with a clean fresh slate with ancient wisdom to support with study success! Michele is a Canyon Ranch Feng Shui Master, member of the International Feng Shui Guild (IFSG) and Red Ribbon Professional.    Space Clearing is a ceremony associated with restoring positive feng shui, or energy, to our living environments. The key concept in feng shui is energy (chi/qi/charge) management and refreshment, and space clearing has this same goal and function. The ceremony ignites positive intention, calms the heart and mind, and creates a spiritually imbued and energetically aligned optimal physical space. These upgraded conditions aid in staying focused and present, typically yielding the best results in relationships, business, study, and more. Space clearing for a new school year can start with renewed intentions for academic success. This could include intentions to promote a better balance between school/work, improved self-care, and increased time time for play. Space clearing cleans out one’s…

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Enjoy Summer Vacay while Upleveling Yourself for Application Season: A Reframe with 10 Directives

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While summer vacation provides an opportunity to kick back, unplug, and enjoy the big slow down, it’s also an ideal time to contemplate your life, reevaluate the upcoming year, plan, and do some goal setting. No, I don’t mean to harsh your buzz, but upgrading your time off before the more pressure-filled days of high-stakes test taking and application season means you’ll improve efficiency while engaging in self-care and emotional prep that supports going for your dreams, and all the days in between. Whether you’re taking the SATs, ACTs, GMATs, or another admissions or certification test later this summer or fall, consider these ten adjustments to destress, revive, and prime yourself before the deadline mad rush begins. Increase Curiosity. Whether whisked away to a far-off land or in staycation mode, plan to explore some nooks and crannies where you’re living or visiting right now. Whether home or away, local museums, parks, galleries, university lectures, restaurants, pop-ups, dance workshops, or a community center class you’ve thought about but never enrolled in, will fit the bill. New experiences provide pattern interrupt, which, in neuro-linguistic terms, means you get out of your habitual flight pattern, and see things in new light. This gives a positive jolt…

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How Hippies, Burners and New-Agers Win The GMAT (and SAT, ACT, LSAT, MCAT…etc..)

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A recent New York Times article titled “The Hippies Have Won” observed that granola and kombucha — once viewed as countercultural health food — are now mainstream. These aren’t the only once-alternative health and wellness products or ideas to be embraced by consumers and culture mavens; today, yoga, meditation and mindfulness are key practices for students preparing for high-stakes tests like the SAT, GMAT, MCAT and LSAT. Right? Conventional standardized test prep combines specialized content with a hefty dollop of strategy. Companies and tutors who address the mental game don’t typically go beyond breathing exercises. When we founded Test Prep NY/Test Prep SF, however, we already knew that the GMAT, GRE and other standardized tests don’t just measure knowledge — they also quantify how good students are at taking tests. Therefore, we integrated a more holistic approach that mitigates the psychological impacts of stress and anxiety; New Age modalites are catching up to Main Street, yo! We aren’t alone. Organizations like Stressed Teens, MissionBe and Mindful Schools are growing exponentially, training educators to lead K-12 students in mindfulness and meditation practices. Like them, we’ve been successful at integrating self-regulating and calming protocols into the study process to give students new…

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MBA Application: Prep Now! (Guest Blog)

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Many of our clients need support beyond preparing for tests: picking the best schools and getting their candidacy in check. We work with several expert admissions consultants, and David Petersam of AdmissionsConsultants is one of them. We’re excited to share some of his expertise with you here on this guest blog post, below: MBA Application: Prep Now! If you have decided you want to apply to b-school for the 2017-2018 application season, it’s not too early to take meaningful steps towards a successful and ultimately rewarding candidacy. Here is a list of actions you can get started on right now. Take the GMAT or GRE – The sooner you get this out of the way, the better. Having your score in hand will let you compare yourself against recent admits to your target schools and devise an appropriate application strategy. You’ll also leave yourself ample time to re-take the test if you feel you need to – but make that decision carefully; it’s not always the best use of your time or resources. Most business schools now accept both tests and we’ve seen no evidence of bias from any school that accepts either exam. Talk to a standardized test prep expert like Test…

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A Secret Weapon for Acing the SAT, GMAT and other Tests

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By Vera Marie Reed and Bara Sapir One of TPNY’s secret weapons to help students slay standardized tests and get top scores is implementing mindfulness: a practice of moment-by-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and surrounding environment. Mindfulness is rooted in Buddhist meditation, but has made a resurgence as a secular application in the American mainstream in recent years. This can be largely traced to the work of Jon Kabat-Zinn and his Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. Kabat-Zinn’s program, launched at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 1979, has sparked thousands of studies which have documented the physical and mental benefits attributed to mindfulness and the MBSR program. These techniques are also being implemented in schools, prisons, hospitals, and clinics around the country, and for TPNY, incorporating them means that our test takers have added focus and a sense of well-being while preparing for and taking tests. Kabat-Zinn asserts that mindfulness is related to meditation – or paying attention on purpose. In a presentation given to the Greater Good Science Center, he suggested that when we hear the word mindfulness, “You should understand that it means presence of heart.” Mindfulness is a process of focusing on the present versus…

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Top 6 Ways to Relieve Anxiety for Test Takers

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For many test takers, especially those who haven’t taken tests for a while, pre-test jitters can ensue, ensnare, and overwhelm to sabotage the test-taking moment.  This can happen whether someone studies with myopic rabid intensity or is engaged at a reasonable pace. Ask most people, and they have at one time or another been nervous, with statistics pointing to more than 12% being completely paralyzed by anxiety.  Obviously, this is not optimal.   If you’re feeling a little ill at ease, you can set yourself up for success by employing some simple but potent practices and life style choices, namely, engaging in self-care. There are different options available, and each will have varying outcomes for each test taker, but try these strategies in the weeks up to minutes leading up to your test. And be creative: if there is something else you find helps you to be the best test-taker: do it. What Helps Reduce Test Anxiety? Enough Sleep – for some people this is 6 hours; others, 10. Whatever length of time you need to perform your best, plan on getting it. Every night. Most important is that you get enough sleep the night-before, the night before the test….

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“Drop in”; Don’t “Plug in” – Getting in the Zone for Optimal Performace

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Much of my daily grind, I shuttle between emails, phone calls, and longer term projects that require me to hunker down for chunks of time. I’m the first to admit that there is an allure to my dips into Facebook, texts, fact checking, research, and emails; sometimes I go so far down into the rabbit hole that only after do I realize my attention has waned and I’ve deviated from my plan. I refocus, regroup, and begin again. It’s not too difficult; I’ve become a Jedi master of getting in the zone. I’ve literally spent 30 years, in some form or another, learning how, or practicing, as they say in the Bay Area, to “drop in.” Dropping in helps me achieve what’s required of me in my art, work, and relationships; working from a place of attention, focus, and sometimes perseverance, engages me through the process. When I not only resist the temptation to cave into ‘plugging into’ my social media or Facebook pursuits, I’m practicing skills that mirror good studying habits. In fact, these also are the best practices of being a successful test taker. I learned ‘dropping in’ through years in the art studio of my undergraduate education, and art classes…

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How to Become a Control Freak (In a Good Way)

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Confronted with doing something a little out of our comfort zone, many of us automatically provide a list of excuses preventing us from performing our best. Often this list is beyond our control. For example, a test taker might say, “I studied, but I’m just not good at tests,” or “I get so nervous I can’t concentrate,” or they know the material but went blank when starting the test. The list goes on. I came across a handy list by Ruben Chavez of ThinkGrowProsper.org, which is a good reminder that while there are many things out of our control, especially in a high stakes testing situation, there are many things we can, in fact, control. We can choose to be in control any time, even if the world around us is chaotic and disconcerting, as it often feels for a test taker! When we are able to choose feeling peaceful, grounded, and focused, the results are often the best for whatever we’re doing, whether it’s taking a test, managing a challenging conversation, or responding during a crisis. Choosing peace makes the situation more manageable, and we can attain more inner calm.   While Chavez’s list holds true for test takers, we’ve…

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What to Expect from the New SAT

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By Bara Sapir and Laila Kamaruddin Many students and parents are nervously questioning what to expect on the new SAT. It is a different test; there is no doubt about that, in style, structure (now four parts), timing (either 3 hours 20 minutes or 3 hours 50 minutes), scoring (now back to a 1600 scale), and no penalty for guessing. Students have little to fear if they go in as prepared as can be, knowing content, test taking strategy, and having a positive mindset. In our personal opinion, this new SAT is a better-structured test more akin to the ACT. As per the College Board website, this version “focuses more on knowledge, skills, and understandings that research has identified as important for college and career readiness and success.” Students have 4 distinct sections, rather than going back and forth between different sections and different ways of thinking. So while the test is longer, it takes pressure off students and allows them to focus on the skills for each section. Below is a breakdown of all 4 sections, and some strategies that will promote a student’s best preparation for the new SAT, this weekend and beyond. Essay Section: While this section is…

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Mindful Test Prep - Avoid Test Anxiety

Mindful Test Prep

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When you think about how much time is actually spent taking tests, they have a disproportionately large role in the course of a life. Each test prep company seeks to deliver a silver bullet to students — capitalizing on ‘strategizing’ and thinking smarter than the test, and providing the most upgraded content to keep and grow their market share of test takers. Test Prep is big business. Bloomberg’s Businessweek has reported that the number of test prep centers in the U.S. more than doubled to 11,000 from 1998 to 2012 and it has steadily become a multibillion-dollar market. This value has only increased while oversight has remained close to nil. The low entry requirements of this market has tempted many to become tutors, and in Manhattan just about every street has a shingle for test prep. I saw a flood of tutors in the early 2000’s enter the arena as people were losing their jobs and ‘tutoring’ seemed a safe and easy way to go. But even if you know math (beyond balancing one’s checkbook) and read Chaucer, that doesn’t mean you really ‘know’ what these tests are aiming for when they tether students to desks or in front of…

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