Investor Lawsuits Against Auditors Are Falling, and That’s Bad News for Capital Markets

Investors rely on corporate auditors to keep impartial watch on the accounting practices of the companies they invest in. Historically, investors have not been shy about launching litigation when they believed auditors did not do enough to stop their clients from cooking the books or engaging in other financial improprieties.

But new research shows that lawsuits against auditors for accounting violations have fallen over the past 20 years, and it’s not because accountants have become so much better at their craft or companies more honest.

“The number of lawsuits per year has declined, dismissals have increased, and settlements in recent years have declined,” conclude the authors of a new research paper. “Our study asks why.”

The number of lawsuits specifically about Rule 10b-5, the antifraud regulation created under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, dropped from 487 in the year 2001 to 80 in 2014. Another example: Some 70 percent of auditors in 1996 were likely to settle claims with some sort of cash payment. By 2016 the percentage of paid settlements had dropped to a little over 30 percent.

Two Supreme Court decisions, although not the only reasons, appear to have made a difference, according to the researchers. The rulings in Tellabs v. Makor (2007) and Janus v. First Derivative (2011) have effectively narrowed liability standards, requiring plaintiffs such as institutional investors to prove that auditors knew, or should have known, their clients’ financial statements contained errors.

In both decisions, Rule 10b-5 lost its bite. Investors are at a disadvantage.

Companies from around the world seek to list in US capital markets and investors from around the world invest in US listed companies because the US legal regime offers a high level of investor protection. High quality auditing is a big part of this protection. When our investor protections standards go up, our capital markets become more attractive to global investors and companies. It’s a tradeoff, though. You don’t want to impose undue burdens on companies because that will deter one from listing and auditors from doing audits on companies that list in the US. On the other hand, if standards are too low then investors are not protected. There has to be a balance.

That balance is essentially a political and societal balance. The bottom line from our study is that the balance has moved away from investors and toward auditors. We hope our evidence helps provide some of the information we need to strike that balance.

Where is the trend heading? Hard to tell. But if the balance shifts too much away from investor protection it makes for weaker capital markets.

Federal laws are one aspect of our governance system. We can strengthen other aspects. One source of investor protection is the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB). One can make the case that the monitoring of auditors has greatly increased since the PCAOB was created after the Sarbanes Oxley Act of 2002.

There is also evidence that audit committees have improved their ability and willingness to monitor auditors. Investors can ask for and insist on strong audit committees of the board and pay more attention to what an audit committee does.

Investors can also engage with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and Congress to espouse their point of view. Lobbying for that through a coalition such as the Council for Institutional Investors (CII) can help.

We are a nation of laws. And we can have individual freedoms because we enforce our laws. If we reduce the impact of laws, we actually might not be improving society, because our individual freedoms are encumbered by laws. Which is exactly the issue here. Companies are free and auditors are free to do whatever they want except violate the laws. So reducing the bite, the risk of litigation, is not necessarily a good thing. There are countries with very lax laws and lax law enforcement, and there is a lot of evidence that their capital markets are some of the weakest in the world. We have some of the strongest capital markets because we have some of the strongest legal enforcement.

Sure, we need a balance. Companies have argued that they are subject to a lot of frivolous litigation. Raising the bar higher is a good thing then, to reduce waste of resources spent in litigation. But just reducing investor protections is a recipe for weakened capital markets.

Investor coalitions and individual large investors themselves understand this goal. Enlightened regulators and corporate leaders realize this as well and strive to strike a balance. Companies are benefited when more investors are in the capital markets. It is not a one-way street. When you improve investor protection, it’s not hurting companies. If you help companies, it’s not hurting investors. You need checks and balances. The trust we have in our system—we shouldn’t weaken it. That actually will end up hurting us.

Accounting Hacks For Small Business Bookkeeping

What does tax time look like for your small business?

Are you calmly organised so that it’s just another date on the calendar? Or, are you running around in mad panic trying to sort out all your paperwork?

It’s no secret that accounting and bookkeeping are some of the most maligned tasks faced by small business owners. Not many people leap out of bed with a cry of, “Bookkeeping, YES!”

Assuming that you’ve probably already set yourself up with a digital-based accounting software, here are some “hacks” to make your business bookkeeping more painless.

Categorize Expenses

Anyone who has spent hours (or paid their accountant several hours) to categorize all business expenses should appreciate this one. Setting up categories in your accounting software ahead of time is a huge time saver (and obviously a money-saver when you’re talking about paying an accountant!).

Most accounting software’s allow you to set up categories in the settings, which means as expenses come in, you simply need to assign them to a category. Much easier than trying to remember something 12 months later!

The categories you use will need to be specific to the tax authority you fall under, so you may want to consult with a qualified accountant in your area first to ensure you capture all relevant expense categories.

Some examples (which work for most places) may include: advertising, business fees, licenses and subscriptions, insurance, office expenses, rent, salaries, and telephone.

Another advantage to categorizing your expenses early is that you can clearly see which categories tend to be attributed with more spending. This can help you to identify early any areas which may be getting out of control.

Store Receipts Immediately

Most business owners tend to be clear on income, especially if you’re running an online business where all payments come in and are credited automatically by your payment software. However, it’s a different story when it comes to monitoring expenses.

If you’re digging through boxes, pockets, wallets, drawers, or vehicles looking for business-related receipts, you should know there is a much better way to keep on top of them.

Accounting software such as Xero or Quick-books allow you to take photos of receipts and immediately attach them to the expenses part of your bookkeeping. This means you can also categorize them immediately.

Another advantage of the photo option is that you don’t run the risk of receipts becoming illegible. Deterioration over time, especially on certain types of paper, can mean that you’re unable to read your older receipts at tax time.

If your accounting software doesn’t have this functionality, there are apps available to help you do this. Usually they also provide you with reporting and some of them will integrate directly with your accounting software if you prefer it.

Connect Bank Accounts and Credit Cards

The secret to more painless business bookkeeping is to automate as many functions as you possibly can. This means you should take advantage of features in your accounting software such as the ability to connect bank accounts and credit cards.

This functionality allows transactions to be pulled through and attributed automatically in your accounting software.

For this to be effective, of course you need to ensure that your business transactions only go through your business accounts and that no personal transactions go through.

Another point to note is that you need to ensure that the type of files your bank provides are compatible with what your accounting software accepts. (Or that you choose an accounting software which accepts the type of file your bank provides). Common file types are CSV, QIF, QFX, QBO and OFX.

Reconcile Weekly

It’s all about getting into good habits really. We know that many business owners procrastinate over bookwork because they’re not very fond of it, but if you set aside a small amount of time each week (even just an hour) to reconcile, it’s not such a big deal at the end of the financial year.

This helps you to pick up any errors as close as possible to the time they happened – it gets much more complicated to untangle that kind of thing if time has passed.

The other thing you should be doing with weekly reconciliations is following up with any late payments if your business works on an invoice basis. As Mark Gandy for Less Accounting says, call people even if they’re one day late. Everyone who is 30+ days late was once one day late. Having a clear follow-up process stops things from spiraling out of control.

Automate Invoicing Requirements

If you’re doing business across borders, the chances are you will come across different invoicing requirements for each country you have customers in.

What is your plan to deal with sales tax, GST or VAT invoicing requirements? What about local rules for what to include on invoices? These are important considerations because you don’t want to end up in a position where you’re being penalized for not following correct procedures.

The easiest solution is to choose a software which automatically deals with those invoicing requirements for you. You don’t want to have to add manual checks to every invoice that goes out.

Final Thoughts

Accounting tasks may not be your favorite business activity, but really they’re only as painful as you make them.

You can streamline your processes and save a lot of time if you put good systems in place and automate as much as possible.

Your system should also include regular time to reconcile your accounts, even if that means hiring a virtual bookkeeper. If you deal with a little, often, it becomes much less of a daunting task later on.

5 Study Hacks Proven by Science (and Why They Work)

Through college, I got a lot of advice from professors and fellow students on a bunch of study hacks. Some of the study hacks I heard sounded crazy to me. Like the students who stayed up all night reading chapter after chapter in a textbook or writing papers. I like my sleep too much!

Eventually, I found my own way to study, but I was still curious if there are more efficient ways to study than the one I used. I’ve done the research and collected some science-backed study hacks useful for any learner.

1. Learn by “chunking”

If you’ve taken a psychology class, you may already be familiar with the idea of chunking. The theory is that people tend to remember things better when they learn related ideas in small chunks, rather than simply trying to cram all the details of a topic into their heads at once.

It’s all based on the capacity of the working memory and how our brains turn short-term memories into long-term ones. Psychologists have consistently shown that people can easily recall a string of numbers or names that is 5 to 9 objects long. That means the average person can repeat about 7 items back a few seconds after being given a list.

Students who cram may be taking in a lot of information at once, but since their working memories can’t hold all those facts, they tend to forget most of what they learn. One way to overcome knowledge loss by cramming is to chunk topics together. Research has demonstrated that subjects tend to remember more items on a list when they relate certain items on the list with others.

So if you find yourself in the (non-ideal) situation where you got to remember a large amount of information in a small amount of time, try to group facts together based on their characteristics. Or, find a pattern in the information that is meaningful to you to connect seemingly unrelated ideas.

2. Don’t fall victim to the Forgetting Curve

You’ve heard of learning curves, but have you ever heard the Forgetting Curve? Research shows that people are much more likely to be able to recall information from a one hour lecture when they review what they learned later on. And, not surprisingly, the more times one turns the information over in their mind, the longer they’ll remember it.

Like chunking, this hack is based on the functioning of the working memory. People take in an astounding amount of sensory information each day. Since not all of this information is important, the brain must decide what to hold on to and what to forget. One way the brain decides what takes priority is by paying more attention to information that it has processed multiple times.

You’re more likely to remember information from your lectures if you review what you’ve learned every day for a small amount of time everyday rather than cramming. If you don’t have time to review everything you’ve learned in a class everyday at least try to make sure you’ve looked at and actively processed a topic several times before a test.

One way to do this is to actively read the relevant material from your textbook before your lecture, take notes, and then review those notes that night before you go to sleep. Obviously, it’s helpful to look over your notes again before a test, and the more time you can find to review, the less you’ll be re-learning before your test. It can actually help save you time in the long run!

3. Exercise before you study (and consistently!)

Exercise has both long and short-term effects on cognition. When you exercise, your body interprets the physical stress as you fighting or fleeing an enemy and activates your sympathetic nervous system. In response, your brain is flooded with extra blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, to make what it thinks could be life-saving decisions. It’s even been demonstrated that exercise can lead to neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells–a process previously thought impossible.

In addition, a brain structure called the hippo campus is stimulated during exercise. Research has shown that the hippo campus is important for reasoning and memory. Besides short-term boosts in cognition, regular exercise can actually slow down age-related shrinkage of the hippo-campus.

Another benefit of exercise is its role as a stress-reducer. Stress can be a huge hindrance to focus and memory formation (thanks to the hormone cortisol), and unfortunately, college can be extremely stressful. Luckily, exercise is a cheap and easy way to curb some of the stress associated with day-to-day life, ensuring you can focus on learning what you need to for your classes.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week to maximize benefits. Small lifestyle changes, like walking or biking to class or work, are an easy way to get those minutes in. To get the immediate benefits of exercise before a study session, try doing 20 minutes of moderate cardio before hitting the books.

4. Study before you go to sleep

A collaborative study published by researchers from Notre Dame and Harvard found that research subjects tended to remember unrelated word pairs better if they had learned them shortly before a good night’s sleep, rather than in the morning before 12 hours of being awake.

It has long been theorized that sleep helps to stabilize the memories we form throughout the day. Interestingly, it seems that being awake does the exact opposite–creating interference in our memories and causing us to forget some of what we’ve learned.

5. Break up long study sessions for better focus

You may be tempted to commit yourself to hours-long study sessions. There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional study-athon, just make sure that you give yourself shorts breaks while you work.

Research has shown that when people try to focus on a single task for a long period of time, their minds start to wander. It’s the same phenomenon you experience when you hear the same sound over and over again–you become habituated to it, and it becomes background. The idea is the same for a task you’re trying to focus on. In essence, you start going through the motions without actually thinking about what you’re doing.

It turns out that taking short intermittent breaks can help you regain focus and study more effectively.

If you know you have problems focusing while studying or are simply interested in getting the most out of your study sessions as possible, try this: set a timer for the amount of time you think you can study without your mind wandering (you could even use the timer to measure the time between when you start studying until you notice yourself becoming distracted) then, once that time is up, take a short (around 5 minutes) break to engage your mind in some other task, such as grabbing a coffee or starting a load of laundry before sitting back down to study. This should allow you to reboot and refocus on studying.

 

Cloudways Makes Google Cloud and AWS Hosting Understandable

Cloudways is a hosting company located in Malta. They are bridging the gap between the big cloud platforms that are still technical and the needs of small businesses. Cloudways is helping SMBs take advantage of what cloud hosting has to offer. For example, it tackles the complexity of configuring and setting up platforms like AWS and Google Cloud.

They want to make it so you don’t need to have a systems administrator on hand to take advantage of what these bigger platforms have to offer.

Cloudways for Small Businesses

Small Business Trends contacted Pere Hospital, the founder for more information. He started out explaining more about what the product does.

“Cloudways is a managed cloud hosting platform that emphasizes simplicity, choice, and freedom,” he writes.  “The Platform is built to facilitate businesses in deploying and scaling their online assets without worrying about the underlying hosting solution.”

One of the things that will attract small businesses are the options.

“There’s a choice of five industry-leading IaaS providers and it’s easy to deploy almost all PHP powered applications. Cloudways provides choices so that the Platform remains a great fit for a very broad set of businesses.”

Meeting Challenges

Here’s why small businesses need a hand setting up and configuring the cloud hosting on platforms like Google Cloud and AWS for small businesses.

First off, they need to understand AWS and Google Cloud are industry leaders that offer a very broad lineup of very powerful tools and services.

“All this power comes at a cost,” Hospital says adding it takes time and effort to harness it into profitable business operations.

Keeping Pace

He says these mid-level players such as SMBs and digital agencies need AWS or Google Cloud to keep pace. Many don’t have the skilled team members to manage and maintain a server positioned on these cloud providers.

Setting Up the Server

Simply setting up a server is the first hurdle. Cloud servers are different from web servers. Getting these business-ready requires several steps.

“Small businesses need to install the right OS, set up the stack and then deploy the core business-level applications.”

This usually makes setting up a cloud server the domain of a tech expert that many small businesses can’t afford

Bringing Cloudways Into Play

That’s where Cloudways comes into play. This product takes over server management and allows small businesses to get the most from AWS and Google Cloud.

Why Cloud Hosting Should Matter to Your Small Business

Shared Hosting is one of the models that small businesses favor because it is cheap. Here’s why cloud hosting is better.

Scalability

Scaling the server to meet demand. In the cloud, scaling resources is about adding virtual servers. There are no physical aspects so you can deal with traffic spikes quickly.

Examining Performance

Cloud hosting is a fact because there’s no physical architecture. Troubleshooting is simpler and there are automated custom-built solutions available.

Considering Sustainability

Cloud hosting has better sustainability for small businesses.  In the end, it all comes down to one word. Uptime.

 

 

Study Hacks Proven by Science

Eventually, I found my own way to study, but I was still curious if there are more efficient ways to study than the one I used. I’ve done the research and collected some science-backed study hacks useful for any learner.

1. Learn by “chunking”

If you’ve taken a psychology class, you may already be familiar with the idea of chunking. The theory is that people tend to remember things better when they learn related ideas in small chunks, rather than simply trying to cram all the details of a topic into their heads at once.

It’s all based on the capacity of the working memory and how our brains turn short-term memories into long-term ones. Psychologists have consistently shown that people can easily recall a string of numbers or names that is 5 to 9 objects long. That means the average person can repeat about 7 items back a few seconds after being given a list.

Students who cram may be taking in a lot of information at once, but since their working memories can’t hold all those facts, they tend to forget most of what they learn. One way to overcome knowledge loss by cramming is to chunk topics together. Research has demonstrated that subjects tend to remember more items on a list when they relate certain items on the list with others.

2. Don’t fall victim to the forgetting curve

You’ve heard of learning curves, but have you ever heard the Forgetting Curve? Research shows that people are much more likely to be able to recall information from a one hour lecture when they review what they learned later on. And, not surprisingly, the more times one turns the information over in their mind, the longer they’ll remember it.

Like chunking, this hack is based on the functioning of the working memory. People take in an astounding amount of sensory information each day. Since not all of this information is important, the brain must decide what to hold on to and what to forget. One way the brain decides what takes priority is by paying more attention to information that it has processed multiple times.

3. Exercise before study

Exercise has both long and short-term effects on cognition. When you exercise, your body interprets the physical stress as you fighting or fleeing an enemy and activates your sympathetic nervous system. In response, your brain is flooded with extra blood, rich in oxygen and nutrients, to make what it thinks could be life-saving decisions. It’s even been demonstrated that exercise can lead to neurogenesis, or the creation of new brain cells–a process previously thought impossible.

In addition, a brain structure called the hippocampus is stimulated during exercise. Research has shown that the hippocampus is important for reasoning and memory. Besides short-term boosts in cognition, regular exercise can actually slow down age-related shrinkage of the hippocampus.

4. Break up long study sessions for better focus

You may be tempted to commit yourself to hours-long study sessions. There’s nothing wrong with having the occasional study-athon, just make sure that you give yourself shorts breaks while you work.

Research has shown that when people try to focus on a single task for a long period of time, their minds start to wander. It’s the same phenomenon you experience when you hear the same sound over and over again–you become habituated to it, and it becomes background. The idea is the same for a task you’re trying to focus on. In essence, you start going through the motions without actually thinking about what you’re doing.

 

 

Secret Study Hacks to Improve Your Memory

1. Walk Before An Exam

It’s been proven that exercise can boost your memory and brain power. Research conducted by Dr. Chuck Hillman of the University of Illinois provides evidence that about 20 minutes exercise before an exam can improve performance.

2. Speak Out Loud Instead of Simply Reading

Although this may make you look a little crazy, give it a go! You will be surprised how much more you can remember when you’ve said it out loud. Warning: Do not do this at library.

3. Reward Yourself With A Treat

There are many ways to integrate a reward system into your habits so you learn how to study for exams more efficiently. Simple way to motivate yourself to study with chewing gums and or snacks.

4. Teach What You Have Learned

The best way to test if you really understand something is to try to teach it to someone else.

5. Create Mental Associations

The ability to make connections is not only an easier way to remember information, but it’s the fuel of creativity and intelligence. Steve Jobs famously saidCreativity is just connecting things. When you ask creative people how they did something, they feel a little guilty because they didn’t really do it, they just saw something”.

Mind Maps are an easy way to connect ideas by creating a visual overview of different connections

6. Draw Diagrams

Drawing diagrams will help you to visualize information which would be hard to describe. This creates a visual memory in your mind which can be recalled in an exam. You may even be asked to draw or label diagrams such as the human heart in your exam so get practicing!

7. Watch a Documentary on the Topic

Documentaries are an entertaining way of compacting an entire story into a short time frame. This will help you remember key details from a story plus you may even get extra credit for mentioning that you took the initiative and watched a film about the topic!

8. Search Google Like a Pro

Save time when researching sources online by mastering the biggest search engine in the world; Google

9. Take Regular Study Breaks

When your brain is working, you need to take regular study breaks to help your brain absorb more information but also to keep you motivated and focused when you are working. Take a short break after 45-50 minutes study as your focus and concentration will become impaired after this period, anything new after 1 hour 30 minutes does not get assimilated.

10. Study in a Group

Studying in a group can help you collect new insights to enhance your learning experience. Groups study helps you share resources, discuss ideas and interact with members of your team or group project.

 

A Degree in CyberSecurity – Is it worth the time?

Yes, education is significant. The more you have, the better you perform. According to Cyber security Ventures, the demand for cyber security professionals is expected to reach three and a half million globally by 2021. If you are a cyber security degree holder, then you are eligible to apply for these jobs globally.

On one side, where certification gives expert knowledge, a degree program will help you with in-depth learning. By attaining credentials, you can improve your job prospects, whereas a degree helps you retain and grow in your job.

Therefore, few universities offer the opportunity to attain both a degree and credentials. This allows students to acquire both knowledge and skills simultaneously and get job-ready before completing their degree. Online degree programs with certifications embedded enable students to pursue higher education and industry-recognized credentials while working.

A survey on students pursuing a degree program revealed that a degree backed by credentials would help the student realize and achieve career goals.

EC-Council University brings degree programs with industry-recognized credentials embedded in them. This means that while pursuing a degree, students can also attain up to four credentials.

EC-Council University has superior educational programs that will equip cyber security graduates with the knowledge to assess cyber threats and the skill to combat them successfully. The university offers degree programs at undergraduate and graduate levels, namely, Bachelor of Science in Cyber Security (BSCS) and Master of Science in Cyber Security (MSCS). Both programs offer industry-recognized EC-Council credentials to enable students to obtain skills in the domain of their choice. The bachelor program comes with three certifications, whereas the master program certifications differ based on the specialization you pursue.

EC-Council University is accredited by the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC), which is a recognized accrediting agency by the U.S. Department of Education and is also an acknowledged member of the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA). The faculty members are industry practitioners who guide them at different levels of your career. The university also gives the facility to access iLabs so that the students can real-time exposure

How to improve 21st Century Study Skills?

Here are these 4 tips for a starting point on how someone can improve their 21st century study skills.

 

1. Focus on building Organization Skills

Organization isn’t everything. But it’s pretty important. We like the analogy of the ski lift. Does a ski lift help you ski?  No. But it can help you get to skiing a lot faster.

Organization doesn’t help a student learn more, but it helps eliminate all the junk that keeps them from learning more. Students, if you’re in need of some organization skills, invest the time to work on them.

 

 

2. Focus on building Academic Skills

By “Academic Skills” we mean the actual study skills themselves. How do you learn? What are you doing in class? When some information hits you in the face, does it stick? You know, that kind of stuff. Find an area to work on, and then do it

 

3. Focus on building your intrinsic motivation

Students, your parents can’t succeed for you. They also aren’t the ones who will ultimately have to experience the results of your academic success… or your missed opportunities.

If you don’t know where to start, try thinking through what you really want out of life. No one is going to get it for you. No one is going to make you earn it. But  if you know for what you want your life to count you have all the opportunity you need in your education.

 

 

4. Focus on one skill at a time

Don’t think we’re asking you to drop everything and change your entire life. Just pick one area. Invest a little each day. In the long run, you’ll find it’s worth it.

If we cultivate only one skill, chances of mastering that skill will be higher, but we must also understand, our competition increases exponentially. There will always be a better writer, a better speaker, a better dancer or a better programmer. Somehow we tend to lose ourselves in the crowd. Master one level of a skill, and we are now faced with competition from thousands in the next level.

Take psychology for example. Psychology is vast like an ocean. It may also take you quite ahead of the crowd once you master it. But combine your moderate knowledge of psychology with good writing and public speaking skills. You are now in the field of human development and motivation.

Steve Jobs or Bill Gates were not necessarily the world’s best or greatest in one skill. They learnt to weld all their individual, sufficiently mastered talents into one and produce a combination that the world will remember for many years to come.

textbook solutions

9 Study Tips that will Boost your Grades

1. Set Study Goals

There is lots of credible research suggesting that goal setting can be used as part of a strategy to help people successfully effect positive changes in their lives, so never underestimate the power of identifying to yourself the things you want to achieve. Just make sure to ask yourself some key questions: Am I setting realistic goals? Will I need to work harder to achieve those goals? If you’re happy with the goals you’ve set then you should aim to develop your study plan for the year ahead with your goals in mind. Which, as it happens, leads us to Tip #2!

2. Make a Study Plan

Time is precious. Nobody is more aware of this than the poor student who hasn’t studied a thing until the night before an exam. By then, of course, it’s too late. The key to breaking the cycle of cramming for tests is to think ahead and create an effective study plan. Not only will this help you get organised and make the most of your time, it’ll also put your mind at ease and eliminate that nasty feeling you get when you walk into an exam knowing that you’re not at all prepared. As the old saying goes, fail to prepare and be prepared to fail.

3. Take Regular Study Breaks

None of us are superhuman, so it’s important to realize that you can’t maintain an optimum level of concentration without giving yourself some time to recover from the work you’ve put in. This can take the form of a ten-minute walk, a trip to the gym, having a chat with a friend or simply fixing yourself a hot drink. If it feels like procrastination, then rest assured that it’s not: taking regular short breaks not only help improve your focus, they can boost your productivity too.

4. Embrace New Technologies

Studying no longer means jotting things down with a pen on a scrap of paper. The old handwritten method still has its place of course, it’s just that now there are more options for personalizing study that ever before. Whether it’s through online tools, social media, blogs, videos or mobile apps, learning has become more fluid and user-centered.

5. Test Yourself

It’s a strange thing, but sometimes simply entering an exam environment is enough to make you forget some of the things you’ve learned. The solution is to mentally prepare for the pressure of having to remember key dates, facts, names, formulas and so on. Testing yourself with regular quizzes is a great way of doing this. And don’t worry of you don’t perform brilliantly at first – the more you practice, the better you’ll become.

6. Collaborate with Study Partners

At this stage of the school year, you should know your classmates pretty well. This is a good point in time to select a couple of study partners who you know you work well with and are motivated to achieve good grades also.

7. Turn lessons into stories

Everybody likes to read or listen to a good story, and with good reason – not only do stories entertain us, they help us to understand and memorize key details too. You can apply this to your studies by weaving important details or facts into a story – the more outlandish and ridiculous you can make it, the better (since you’ll be more likely to remember a particularly crazy story).

8. Establish a Study Routine

Your study routine is comprised of more than planning what to learn and when. One of the main concerns is your study environment. Find a place to study that is quiet and with few distractions. Alternatively, you could also try switching it up by sitting in a different place in your school library every day and seeing how this works for you.

9. Consult teachers

Any questions you have about the exam, the best you can do is go to the teacher of the subject and expose your doubts. Not only is the person best suited to solve your questions, but your initiative will be well received and you’ll show good attitude by demonstrating that you’re interested in his subject.

There really aren’t any hard and fast rules to play by when it comes to best times for studying or how long you should work for. Everybody is different, so the best way to establish a routine is to try different things and see what works best for you, then modify your routine for maximum learning effectiveness.