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   This is the "How To" section, containing a number of guides (and will hopefully grow more extensive in 
    the future) which is basically meant to aid you in succeeding. 
Dig in!
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 How to Get Better Grades

Grades aren't everything, but if you or your parents are worried about your report cards, try some of these simple tips.

  • Create a study plan. Figure out how much time you need to spend on each subject every week, and then make a weekly schedule. Find out from your teachers when major projects are due, and put them on a calendar. Once you determine how much time you'll need for these projects, you can use your calendar to figure out when you need to start working on them.

  • Do your homework. Most teachers base grades on homework, and it's easier to keep up with your assignments than it is to dig yourself out of a hole.

  • Talk to your teachers. Your teachers may have suggestions about what you can do to learn more and improve in weak areas. But you have to ask!

Have work due tomorrow?

If you're trying to get ready for an exam, you might want to read How to Cram for a Big Test. Do you need information for a report? Our Homework Web Directory will speed you through your search. If you're finding homework boring yet stressful, check out Three Easy Tips to Reduce Homework Stress.

  • Learn from your mistakes. When you get a bad grade, you probably get angry and frustrated. That's normal, but you should also use the experience to try to figure out what went wrong so you can avoid the same mistake in the future. Did you misunderstand the assignment? Did you wait until the last minute to study for a test? Was there some other problem? Once you determine what went wrong, you can work on doing better the next time.

  • Get a tutor. If you are having problems in a particular subject, a tutor may be able to help you get caught up. Do you know a student in a class ahead of you who might be willing to help? If not, your school may be able to help you find someone. Or perhaps you want a professional tutor. Don't expect overnight improvement, but personalized help can really help some students.

  • Study with friends. Sometimes it's hard to get started on homework, but if you agree to meet with one or two friends to do your work you'll have a built-in schedule. Warning: This won't work if you and your friends decide to watch TV or play video games instead of doing your homework!

Tips to Reduce Homework Stress (Image Credit: Corbis)

Three Easy Tips to Reduce Homework Stress

Keeping a schedule of your homework assignments will help you to manage your time more efficiently. And getting your homework done early will leave more time for other things. Try these three easy tips, because there's more to life than just homework.

  • Record the date that each assignment is due. Estimate how long it will take you to complete the assignment, and schedule a date to start working. 

  • Break large assignments or projects into smaller tasks. Record on the calendar the dates when each task must be completed. Keep track of your progress toward completion of the overall assignment so you don't fall behind.

  • Watch for scheduling conflicts. Do you have two major assignments due on the same day? Is a game or concert scheduled for the night before a test?

(Image Credit: Corbis)

How to Cram for a Big Test

The big test is tomorrow, but you haven't been studying. Uh-oh! Now you have to cram. It's not the best way to study, and experts say it's not a very effective way to learn. But if you have no other choice, here's what to do:

1. Organize your limited study time  

  • Find a quiet place to study. Make sure you won't be interrupted. Cramming takes concentration!

  • Organize your resources. Gather your textbook and locate your notes and arrange them by topic or course section. Put your notes near any handouts or other course materials you received.

  • Figure out what you need to do. Identify six or seven basic concepts that will be covered on the test and rank them by how well you understand them.

  • Figure out what you actually have time to do. Tally up your total study hours and estimate how much time you'll need to spend studying each major concept, allotting the most time to the material you are least familiar with. Tackle the most unfamiliar concepts first, while you're still fresh, and save the material you know best for last. If you need to re-allot your time, donate more minutes to the lowest-ranked material to make sure you understand it fully.

  • Work steadily, but take frequent five- or ten-minute breaks to conserve your energy and avoid getting overwhelmed. Take a walk; get a snack and some fresh air. Move around often to prevent fatigue.

2. Get a good night's sleep and fuel sensibly in the a.m.
Try not to stay up much later than usual the night before the test; all the studying in the world won't help if you can't keep your eyes open during the test. Eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. Fueling up with nutritious foods will help keep your nerves steady and your brain engaged. Leave yourself enough time to give the test material one last review before you leave for school, but don't look at the material after that. 

Tired of pulling all-nighters?

Do yourself a big favor: Promise to begin developing good study habits so you never have to cram again! For help on how to get a handle on your schoolwork, see Three Easy Tips to Reduce Homework Stress. If you need to track something down on the Web, Encarta's editors have probably already found it for you. Try Encarta's Homework Web Directory*. If you're worried about getting a lousy report card, check out our tips for Getting Better Grades.

 

3. Just do it
Take a deep breath, smile, and take the test. Try to remain calm and relaxed, and do the best you can.

 [http://encarta.msn.com/encnet/features/Guides/?Article=getbettergrades]

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 Learning how to write a good lab report is like learning to ride a bike. Once you’ve figured it out, you can do it over and over again. 

Writing good lab reports is very important in IB as they make out a big part of your final grades in the science subjects. The key to writing a good lab report is to find out what is asked for and include all those parts in your report. Here are some steps to follow:

Introduction

  1. First you should give the aim of the investigation. It should be clear and concise. If the teacher states the aim you shouldn’t just copy that down, you need to change it to get a full score. 

 

  1. Second, you need to write the hypothesis and prediction of the investigation. The hypothesis needs to be very clear, giving an exact and complete description of what might happen (and why). The prediction is written like: If …then…

 

  1. You can also give a general background to the study if you feel like it’s relevant and necessary.

 

  1. Here you should present the different variables. The independent variable is the one that you alter throughout your experiment. For an example, if you investigate the effect of temperature on yeast fermentation, then the different temperatures that you use are the independent variable. 

 

  1. The dependent variable is the variable that you measure. Using the yeast example, the dependent variable would be the amount of CO2 produced by the yeast (this shows how well the fermentation is going).

 

  1. The controlled variables are the ones that you try to keep constant throughout your experiment so that they don’t affect your experiment. If investigating the effect of temperature in yeast fermentation, the controlled variables would be the amount of yeast and water, the time for fermentation, etc.

 

 

Materials and methods

  1. First give a list of all the equipment used in the experiment. Give the size of beakers/measuring cylinders, etc, used, give the names of any chemicals that are used in the experiment.

 

  1. You can use a diagram (picture) to show the experimental set up if you find it necessary.

 

  1. Now you should describe the method. It should be written in past tense (i.e. not written as a guide on how to carry out the experiment again, but rather, how you did it). The steps in the experiment are either self-evident or explained.

 

  1. In this part you should explain the different variables. Write how the independent variable was varied. Using the yeast example, the independent variable can be varied by placing the fermentation tubes in hot water baths of different temperatures.

 

  1. Write how changes of the dependent variable were monitored. You should write how you got your results, e.g. by reading from the scale on the fermentation tube to see how much CO2 that has been produced.

 

  1. Write how the controlled variables were controlled. Using the yeast example, you write that you made sure that the amount of yeast used in each fermentation tube was the same (because you used a scale), that you used a watch to make sure that the time that the tubes were allowed to ferment was the same for all tubes.

 

  1. Write how you made sure that the sufficient relevant data was recorded. Describe the method for data collection, i.e. if you had several trials, if you used controls, methods of measurements, if your calculations are correct, etc.

 

 

Results

Data collection

  1. Record all your raw data in tables. The tables should be numbered and have captions in which you briefly describe the contents of the tables and how you recorded the results. Titles, units and the uncertainty should be given in the headings of the tables.

  1. Underneath the table you can briefly describe the results. You can describe the main trends and account for any anomalous result. You don’t have to discuss the significance of the results to the aim of the investigation.

 

Data Processing and presentation

  1. The data should be processed (calculated) correctly and presented in tables (as above) and graphs.  If you use graphs, they should have a caption in which you describe the contents of the graph. The axes of the graphs have to be labelled with units and the points have to be plotted correctly. Make sure that you use the correct type of graphs. If both variables are continuous, use a point graph. 

  2. For HL: Error analysis should be carried out if possible (calculate the percentage uncertainty, etc).

 

 

Conclusion

  1. In the conclusion you should discuss the results you obtained in relation with your hypothesis. Write a conclusion based on an interpretation of the gathered results.

  2. Compare your results with literature values if possible.

 

Evaluation

  1. In the evaluation you should evaluate the method used. Write about the main weakness of the method used and the weakness in the method of manipulation of data.

  2. Write about the source of error, but don’t include personal mistakes.

  3. Suggest real improvements (that can be carried out in the school lab) to the investigation.

  4. Discuss further investigations that are of interest and  can be carried out and new questions that could be posed.

 

 

 Written by: IB Genius [http://goto.glocalnet.net/ibweb/homepagelink.htm]

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Nothing helps you get ahead quicker than a good memory. Whether you're trying to remember the name of the guy you just met, a state capital, or complex sets of business data, these simple tricks can help you improve your memory skills.

1. Start by chunking. According to psychologists, it's especially hard to make your brain recall long lists of separate pieces of information. To make it easier to remember a long list of almost anything, break the list into small and manageable groups, or "chunks."

For example, you might find it hard to remember all of the original 13 British colonies in the United States. But if you break them into small groups based on common traits, such as the region each colony belongs in, it's much easier. First, just concentrate on learning which colonies belong in which region. When you know each region, you know the whole set of 13.

Mid-Atlantic

  1. Delaware
  2. New York
  3. New Jersey
  4. Pennsylvania

 Southern

  1. Maryland
  2. Virginia
  3. North Carolina
  4. South Carolina
  5. Georgia

New England

  1. Connecticut
  2. Rhode Island
  3. Massachusetts
  4. New Hampshire

2. Use mnemonic devices. These are memory improvement techniques, and are sometimes quite elaborate. One common device uses words or abbreviations to compress lists of information into shorter bits that are easier to remember. Here are some common examples:

Names of the Great Lakes  

H-O-M-E-S;  Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior

Colors of the spectrum 

R-o-y G. B-i-v; Red Orange Yellow Green Blue Indigo Violet

Order of operations in mathematics 

Please Explain My Dull, Awful Subjects; Parentheses, Exponents, Multiplication/Division, Addition/Subtraction

Planets in the solar system 

Many Vocal Enemies Make Jokes Squealing Under Nervous Pressure; Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto

Biology taxonomy 

Kings Play Chess On Funny Green Squares; Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species

Musical scale 

Every Good Boy Does Fine; E, G, B, D, F

3. Link information to visual cues. Often it's easier to remember a place or an image and its characteristics, than it is to recall a set of unfamiliar pieces of information. To memorize the information, you can try taking an item from the list and associating it in your mind with a picture or place that you know well.

For example, let's say you need to memorize the presidents of the United States since World War II. You could associate each of the presidents with a place you know well, such as your front porch:

Eisenhower

Sitting on the steps

Kennedy

Knocking at the front door

Johnson

Swinging on a porch swing

Nixon

Standing at the mailbox

Ford

Ringing the doorbell

Carter

Sitting in a wicker chair

Reagan

Standing under the porch light

Bush (1st)

Standing on the right

Clinton

Sitting at a table

Bush (2nd)

Standing on the left

To reinforce this, you could draw a sketch of your porch, and note on it the location of each president. This technique is so powerful that you might find yourself thinking of the presidents the next time you go to your porch.

4. Read with a purpose. Many psychologists think that the best way to remember what you read is to follow the PQ4R method. PQ4R is a mnemonic device for Preview, Question, and four R's: Read, Reflect, Recite, Review.

If you are reading a chapter in your biology book, for example, you should start by skimming the whole chapter for an overview. Then create some questions to concentrate on while you study, such as "How does photosynthesis work?" Then read the chapter.

After you've finished, reflect--think about how the chapter has answered your questions. Recite the answers back to yourself, explaining the information in your own words. Finally, go back through the book, skimming again for the main points.

Sound like a lot of work? It may take longer than a quick skim, but it's also a great way to make sure you retain what you are reading, rather than just sitting in front of the book and turning pages.

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How to Write a Book Report

A book report is a factual account of a book’s contents. It typically includes information about the book’s author, publisher, and a summary of the important elements and themes.

Task 1: Verify project requirements

Verify that you know exactly what is expected of you. Review all the information you have about your assignment and make sure you can answer the following questions. If you don’t know the answer to a question, ask your teacher.

  • When is the book report due?
  • Are you expected to do your report on a specific book or a particular type of book?
  • Is there a requirement for length?

Task 2: Select a book

If your teacher didn’t assign a specific book, your first task is to select one.

Choose a book that interests you and complies with any guidelines your teacher provided. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, ask your school librarian, a knowledgeable staff member at a book store, or your public librarian for recommendations.

Task 3: Read the book

Find a quiet place and start reading. As you read, answer the following questions:

  • What is the setting?
  • When does the story take place?
  • Who are the main characters?
  • What is the plot of the story?
  • Does the story include a problem or a conflict? How is it resolved?
  • Does the author use any recurring themes or symbolism? How do these literary devices contribute to the story?

Task 4: Create an outline

Now that you’ve read the book, it’s time to organize your ideas—that is, to outline your book report. A carefully organized outline will make writing your report much easier, so plan to spend some quality time on it.

1. Put the title of the book at the top of a sheet of paper, then list the key elements of the story you plan to include in your report. Example:
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

  • Setting
  • Time period
  • Characters
  • Plot summary
  • Conflict and resolution
  • Recurring themes; symbolism

 

2. Read through your elements and consider the order in which they appear. Does the sequence of your points work? Could your report be stronger if you presented the elements in a different order? If necessary, rearrange the order of your outline.

Task 5: Body

Writing your book report can be an intimidating task. Let the tools you’ve amassed so far—your knowledge of the book and your outline—do the heavy lifting for you.

1. With your outline as a guide, turn each of the elements into sections or paragraphs.

2. Connect your paragraphs into a cohesive narrative. Be sure to use strong transitions between paragraphs—your goal is to make clear to the reader why you presented the information in the order that you did.

3. Read through your book report with a critical eye. Does each topic sentence clearly summarize the point of the paragraph? If not, use this opportunity to fine-tune it. Does the book report’s organization work? Don't be afraid to swap sections or paragraphs to present a stronger argument.

Congratulations! The hardest part is behind you. Pat yourself on the back and take a break. If can spare the time, don’t even think about your book report for a day or two. This will help you approach the next step with a fresh eye.

Task 6: Introduction and conclusion

The introduction and conclusion reinforce the key points you made in the body of your book report.

1. Introduction. Think of your introduction as the opening statement an attorney would make at a trial. Tell the jury—or in this case, your readers—what they are about to learn. Be sure to include the book’s title and author’s name, along with the name of the publisher, date of publication, and number of pages.

2. Conclusion. Think of your conclusion as the attorney’s closing statement. Emphasize the most important information you want the reader to know about the book. You may also choose to use include a brief discussion of your impressions of the book.

Task 7: Final draft

Put the final touches on your book report. Don’t be tempted to skip these steps—nothing detracts from a good book report than grammar or spelling errors.

1. Run a spell-check on your book report.

2. Print out your report and read it from start to finish, just the way your teacher will. Note any typos or grammar problems, and correct them right away.

3. Print a corrected copy and ask a parent or another trusted person to give it a critical read. Make any changes you think are necessary.

4. Read it one more time to make sure you didn’t introduce any other errors.

5. Hand it in... Congratulations!

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How to Write a General Essay

An essay is a short composition that deals with a subject from a personal point of view. Often, an essay’s purpose is to prove a point or sway opinion. Tackle an essay just like you would tackle a research paper—break it down into manageable tasks.

Task 1: Requirements

Make sure you understand what your teacher expects of you. Review all of the information you have about the assignment and verify that you can answer the following questions. If you don’t know, ask your teacher.

  • Are you required to do your essay on a particular topic?
  • When is your essay due?
  • Is there a requirement for length?

Task 2: Topic

1. Choose a general topic that interests you and comply with any guidelines that your teacher provided. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, page through a magazine, watch the news, or skim a newspaper for stories about people, events, or issues that intrigue you. Example: An article in the morning paper about pollution from automobiles catches your eye. You feel strongly about the importance of reducing pollution, and would like to know more about this issue.

2. Do some digging to get a feel for your topic. Do Internet searches, read a few newspaper articles, and skim encyclopedia articles related to your topic. Use what you find to narrow the point of focus for your essay. Example: While reading a few newspaper articles about automobile pollution in your city, you learn that a council member has proposed a $.01/gallon gas tax to help pay for programs to reduce automobile pollution. You’re interested in this proposal and decide to make this the focal point of your essay.

Task 3: Working thesis statement and objective

Every essay begins with a working thesis statement—that is, a main point. Your job is to come up with a main point, then use your essay to support it.

Tip: A good working thesis statement is

  • Interesting to you and your audience
  • An opinion about your topic
  • A complete sentence summarizing your position

1. Make your topic and your point into a complete, opinion-based sentence. This becomes your working thesis statement. Example: You have already selected a topic—the new gasoline tax proposal.

From your preliminary research, you’re pretty convinced that a new tax on gasoline will reduce automobile pollution in your city. That’s your main point.

Now put your topic and main point together
:

new tax on gasoline /will reduce automobile pollution in the city

Next, make it into a sentence:

A new tax on gasoline will reduce automobile pollution in the city.

2. Make sure your thesis sentence expresses your topic and your point accurately, and that it’s clearly based on opinion, not fact. If necessary, fine tune it. Example: A new, $.01/gallon tax on gasoline will reduce automobile pollution in the greater metropolitan area.

3. Define your objective—that is, what you intend to accomplish with your essay. Are you trying to explain a process? Do you want to educate your audience about your topic? Are you trying to persuade your readers to think the way you do about your topic? Example: You intend to use your essay to explain why you think the new gasoline tax will reduce automobile pollution. Your objective, then, is to persuade your audience to agree with your thesis statement.

Task 4: Outline

It’s time to organize your ideas—that is, to outline your essay.

1. Put your thesis statement at the top of a sheet of paper, and then list the points you intend to use to support your thesis. A strong essay needs at least three supporting points. Example:

A new, $.01/gallon tax on gasoline will reduce automobile pollution in the greater metropolitan area.

Revenues from the new tax will go directly to cleaning up automobile pollution near freeways and major thoroughfares.

The hike in gasoline prices will encourage people to drive less by taking the bus, carpooling, or walking instead.

The hike in gasoline prices will make new car buyers more likely buy a fuel efficient car.

2. Read each point in your list and ask yourself, “Can I support this point with fact?” In essays, you can draw on personal experience as well as research to support your points. If you can’t support a point with the information you already have, do a little research to find supporting information. If you are unable to turn up supporting information, take that point off the list. Tip: If your teacher requires you to hand in a bibliography with your essay, take a few minutes now to determine what information on each source that you’ll need for your bibliography and jot this information down for each source you use in your research. For example, does your teacher require you to list your source’s publisher and where it was published? Knowing exactly what you need now will save you the hassle of having to go back to look up additional information later.

3. Read through your points and consider the order in which they appear. Does the sequence of your points work? Could your essay be stronger if you presented your points in a different order? If necessary, rearrange your points.

Task 5: Body

Writing the body of your essay can be a formidable task, but it doesn’t have to be if you let the tools you’ve amassed—your thesis statement, your objective, and your outline—do the heavy lifting for you.

1. With your outline as a guide, turn each of your points into a paragraph using facts and personal experiences to support that point.

2. Once you’ve fleshed out the bones of your essay, go back and connect the paragraphs into a cohesive narrative. Be sure to use strong topic sentences as transitions between the paragraphs. Your goal is to make clear to the reader why you presented the information in the order you did. Tip: Be sure to cite any information you borrowed from another author—that is, any fact or opinion that is not your own.

3. Read through your essay with a critical eye. Does each topic sentence clearly summarize the point of the paragraph? Does the sequence of your paragraphs work?

4. If time permits, take a break. Put your essay out of sight for a day or two and forget about it. This way your eye and your perspective will be fresh when you next review the essay.

Task 6: Final thesis statement

It isn’t uncommon to get sidetracked while writing. Occasionally, you’ll discover that what you’ve written deviates from your original premise. This is OK. It’s why your original thesis statement is called a working thesis statement.

1. Reread the body of your essay. As you do so, ask yourself: “Did I make my point?”

2. If the arguments you’ve made don’t support your working thesis statement, refine it. You can broaden your thesis statement, narrow it, or restate it altogether. Just be sure that your final opinion-based statement is supported by the facts and arguments in your essay.

Task 7: Introduction and conclusion

Your essay’s introduction and conclusion reinforce the key points you make in your paper.

1. Use your introduction to state your main point—that is, your thesis statement—and briefly describe what your essay is about and the points you intend to make. Your introduction should also grab the reader’s attention and make them want to read on. Try including a surprising fact or anecdote about your topic to grab the reader’s attention.

2. Use your conclusion to summarize the points you made in your essay and the arguments that supported them. Don’t restate your points exactly—your goal is provide a sense of closure and to leave the reader with a final perspective on your topic.

Task 8: Bibliography

A bibliography is a list of the sources you used in your research. It is usually included as a separate page or pages at the end of your essay and titled “Bibliography,” “References,” or “Works Cited.”

1. Gather all the source information you jotted down when you were taking notes.

2. Assemble your sources into a single list, alphabetized by author’s last name. Sources that don't have authors (encyclopedia articles, for example) should be alphabetized by title.

3. Properly format each item in your source list according to an accepted bibliographic style. One common bibliographic style is provided below, but there are many acceptable styles for bibliographies. Be sure to use the format that your teacher specified. Common Bibliographic Style

This bibliographic style follows the MLA Handbooks for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, written by Joseph Gibaldi and published in 2003 in New York by the Modern Language Association of America.

Book

Author Last Name, Author First Name. Book Title. Publication Location: Publisher, Publication Year.

Encyclopedia article

"Article Title," Encyclopedia Name. Edition Year ed.

Newspaper, magazine, or journal article

Author Last Name, Author First Name. "Article Title" Publication Title Publication Date: page numbers.

Book review

Reviewer Last Name, Reviewer First Name. Rev. of Book Title by Book Author First and Last Name. Publication Location: Publisher, Publication Year.

Film, movie

Movie Title
. Dir. Director First and Last Name. Studio or Distributor, Movie Release Date.

Internet source

Author Last Name, Author First Name. “Article or Page Title.” Site Name. Date assigned to the Web site (if available). Institution or organization affiliated with the site. Date of access. <URL>.

Task 9: Final draft

Put the final touches on your essay. Don’t be tempted to skip these steps—nothing detracts from a good essay more than grammar or spelling errors.

1. Run a spell check on your essay and fix any problems. Nothing will detract more from your work (and possibly lower your grade) than misspelled words.

2. Read your essay from start to finish, the same way your teacher will. Fix any grammar mistakes or other errors you find.

3. Once you’re satisfied that your essay represents your best effort, get a second opinion. Ask a parent or other trusted person to read your essay critically and to give you feedback. Make any changes you think necessary.

4. Read the essay one last time to make sure you didn’t introduce any new errors.

5. Finally … hand in your essay. Congratulations!

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How to write and Give a General Oral Presentation

Everyone—even the President of the United States—gets nervous when they have to speak in front of a crowd. But it doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. The more carefully you prepare, the better you’ll feel when it’s time to make your presentation.

Task 1: Requirements

Make sure you understand the task at hand and know exactly what your teacher expects of you. Review all of the information you have and make sure you can answer the following questions. If you don’t know, ask your teacher.

  • When are you scheduled to give your presentation?
  • How much time will you be allowed?
  • Did your teacher provide any other guidelines for your presentation?

Task 2: Topic

Typically, teachers assign an oral presentation as a component of another assignment, such as a research paper or a science experiment. In these cases, you’ve recently become an expert on your topic, or you soon will be. If you’re starting from scratch, consider giving a presentation on a special interest or hobby.

1. Pick a broad topic that you know well and that fits within your teacher’s guidelines. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, think about your favorite things. Example: You’re required to give a 10-minute oral presentation on a topic of your choosing. You love to go camping with friends so you decide to give your presentation on camping.

2. Narrow your point of focus. No one in your audience wants to hear every word of your 10-page research paper, or every detail about your model car collection. Your goal is to pick one aspect of your topic to focus on. What do you need or want to tell people about your topic? Example: You’ve already got a topic—camping—but this topic is too broad to cover in a 10-minute presentation. You decide to narrow your focus to how to pack for a 3-day camping trip.

3. List the key concepts you want to introduce to your audience. Keep it short: more than five main points will make your audience’s eyes glaze over.

Example: For your oral presentation on packing for a 3-day camping trip, you decide to cover three key concepts:

  • Gear
  • Clothing
  • Food

 

Task 3: Audience profile

You discuss a movie differently with those who have seen it than with those who haven’t. This same principle applies to public speaking.

Take a few minutes to think about your audience:

  • Who is your audience?
  • Is everyone in the audience as familiar with your topic as you are?
  • How can you make your topic interesting to everyone?

Task 4: Outline

A speech consists of three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Plan what you’re going to cover in each section of your presentation.

1. List the things you want to cover in each section. You may choose to translate your outline to note cards or slides later, or you may want to work directly from your outline. Be sure to write legibly—you don’t want to get up in front of the class and find out you can’t read your own writing.

2. Introduction. Plan to introduce your presentation with an attention-grabber, like a joke or an anecdote about your topic. Telling it will help you relax and warm your audience to the presentation. Also in the introduction, tell the audience what they’re about to hear by summarizing the most important parts of your presentation

3. Body. Use the body of your presentation to make your main points. In your outline, list each main point and two or three supporting facts. When you’re finished, take a minute to consider the flow—are your main points presented in a logical sequence?

4. Conclusion. Use your conclusion to remind the audience what they’ve heard. Restate your most important conclusions and reiterate your most convincing evidence. Give the audience a sense of closure by wrapping up your presentation.

Task 5: Visual Aids

Remember the old saying “a picture is worth a thousand words?” It’s true.

1. Go over your outline looking for opportunities to illustrate your presentation visually. Collect pictures, maps, charts, and other visual aids to reinforce your main points.

2. Sort through the collection and select the very best candidates. Limit yourself to one visual aid for the introduction, one or two for each main point, and one for the conclusion. Make sure each visual aid is clear and easy to read and that it reinforces an important aspect of your presentation. Plan to briefly discuss each visual aid that you display. You want your audience to understand what they’re looking at and why you’re showing it to them.

3. Note in the outline where you will show each visual aid to the audience. List the key things about the visual aid that you intend to call out. This will help you remember to display the right visual aid at the right time, even if you’re nervous.

4. Make arrangements with your teacher for any special equipment you require, such as a laptop computer, overhead projector, or slide projector.

Task 6: Rehearse

Practice, practice, practice. Repeat your presentation speech over and over again. Give it to your family. Give it to your friends. Give it to your pets. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice in front of a camcorder. Practice in your imagination.

1. Time yourself to make sure your presentation fits in the allotted time.

2. Practice with your visual aids. Make sure they’re easy to see and understand, and that they illustrate your points without detracting from them.

3. Speak slowly, clearly, and not too softly. Be careful not to say “um” or fidget.

4. Ask your friends and family if your presentation is interesting. Do they get the main point?

Task 7: Live presentation

Relax! You know your material well and you’ve practiced it relentlessly. Have faith in yourself because YOU CAN DO IT!

  • Keep your thoughts on what you are saying rather than on how you are feeling.
  • Speak informally and conversationally. Be friendly. Smile!
  • Make eye contact with a friend you trust, or focus on a spot at the back of the room and imagine someone you love is sitting there, cheering you on.
  • Have fun!
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A bibliography is a list of the sources you used in your research. It is usually included as a separate page or pages at the end of your assignment and titled “Bibliography,” “References,” or “Works Cited.” To make creating a bibliography easy, jot down your source information as you do research.

Task 1: Assemble sources

Assemble all your source notes into a single list, alphabetized by author’s last name. Sources that don’t have authors (encyclopedia articles, for example) should be alphabetized by title.

Task 2: Format list

Go through and properly format each item in your source list according to an accepted bibliographic style. Common Bibliographic Style

This bibliographic style follows the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 6th edition, written by Joseph Gibaldi and published in 2003 in New York by the Modern Language Association of America.

Book

Author Last Name, Author First Name. Book Title. Publication Location: Publisher, Publication Year.

Encyclopedia article

“Article Title,” Encyclopedia Name. Edition Year ed.

Newspaper, magazine, or journal article

Author Last Name, Author First Name. “Article Title.” Publication Title. Publication Date: page numbers.

Book review

Reviewer Last Name, Reviewer First Name. Rev. of Book Title by Book Author First and Last Name. Publication Location: Publisher, Publication Year.

Film, movie

Movie Title
. Dir. Director First and Last Name. Studio or Distributor, Movie Release Date.

Internet source

Author Last Name, Author First Name. “Article or Page Title.” Site Name. Date assigned to the Web site (if available). Institution or organization affiliated with the site. Date of access. <URL>.
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