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About Maggie Wray, Ph.D.

Dr. Maggie Wray is an Atlanta-based academic coach who helps high school & college students achieve their academic potential by improving their organization, time management, study skills, and mindset about school. To set up a time to speak with Maggie about how to help YOUR teen develop the skills he or she needs to thrive academically, visit or email

How 30/30 can help students manage their time

Do your kids have trouble estimating how long things will take? Do they often put off starting homework until too late in the evening...and then realize that it's going to take far longer than they’d anticipated?Estimating how much time tasks will take can be challenging, even for adults!And this is even more difficult for students, who are still in the process of developing their ability to plan ahead and manage their time effectively.30/30 to the rescue!30/30 is a free app, for iPhone and iPad devices, which a number of my students have found helpful when trying to get a better handle on how long it will take them to complete their homework.While it's not the perfect solution for every student, there are a number of things this app does really well that make it an effective tool for many kids (and adults!).  It’s fun to use! Of all the time management apps I recommend my students, this is the one they get the most excited about when I first introduce them to it. The colors, sounds, and gesture-based interface make the app a lot of fun for students to use, so they're more likely to enjoy using it and stick with it over time. There are gestures available that

By |March 18th, 2016|Categories: Time management|0 Comments

Start before you’re motivated

Do you ever worry that your kids aren't as motivated about their schoolwork as they should be?When I talk with parents about the challenges their teens are having at school, they often express concern that their kids just don't seem to be very motivated about schoolwork.Similarly, when I ask students what they need to do in order to improve at school, many of them will tell me: "I just need to get more motivated!"On the one hand, these concerns make a lot of sense.If these kids were more motivated to do their work, it would certainly make it easier for them to earn better grades.And it is generally true that students who are doing well in school are generally more motivated and driven to succeed, as compared to students with lower grades.However, sometimes I wonder if we may be mixing up cause and effect when it comes to motivation.What if, rather than the motivation leading to progress, it is actually the progress that comes first...and the motivation that follows afterward?Exercise is a good example of this principle.I definitely did NOT feel very excited about going on a run early this morning…but once I got out of the door and actually started running, it felt invigorating, and I

By |March 4th, 2016|Categories: Motivation|0 Comments

Taming technology distractions: Internet blocking apps for students

Do you feel like you're always having to police your kids, telling them to put away their phone and computer so they can start their homework? Are you concerned about how the phone and computer are affecting their ability to stay focused on their assignments, and complete their work efficiently? Even when teens have good intentions to sit down and focus on their homework, technology is such an enormous part of students lives, is often very difficult for them to turn it off. And for many students, turning technology off completely is impossible, because their assignments are posted online, so they need access to their computer in order to complete their work. However, once they’re on the computer, there are about a million other things to do that are more interesting than homework.   If only there was a way for kids to have access to the sites they need for their homework, without being distracted by everything else on their computer! ...Introducing web blocking apps There are actually a number of apps that allow students to do exactly that — block the distracting websites & apps on their computer and phone, while giving them access to the sites they need to complete their homework.  If this sounds like

Kids do well if they can.

"He knows what he needs to do. I’ve reminded him 10 times already. This isn’t that hard.  Why isn’t he doing it?  Does he just not care?"  I talk to parents all the time who are worried that their kids just don’t seem to care about doing well, because they’re not following through and doing the things they need to in order to be successful.  But when I meet with their kids, what I hear over and over again is that these kids WANT to do better.  They don’t enjoy disappointing their parents…or themselves.  They want to feel proud of themselves, and make their parents happy.  They’re just having a really hard time getting there. So, who’s right?  When kids behave badly, is it because they don’t want to do well? Or is it because something is getting in their way, and making hard for them to follow through? Ross Greene’s quick 4-min video does a wonderful job of explaining the differences between these two philosophies:   What approach do you usually take? If you adopt the philosophy that "kids do well if they want to"…and they’re NOT doing well…that means your job is to make them want to to better. This is where rewards & punishments come from — the idea that kids won’t want to

By |January 29th, 2016|Categories: Mindset, Motivation, Study skills|0 Comments

Papers everywhere? Help your kids create an organization system that works.

Does your child's backpack look like a whirlwind hit it? Despite the increasing numbers of schools that are “going digital”, many K-12 students still receive a large amount of paper on a daily basis. And without a system in place to reliably organize & keep track of all this information, students can end up... Accidentally leaving the worksheet they needed for their math homework in their locker at school Spending "study" time searching for the notes they need to prepare for the test Staying up late to complete a history assignment...and then getting a zero because they can't find it when they get to class.  If organization has been a struggle for your child in the past, here are 5 steps you can take to overcome the challenges they've been facing and set up a paper management system that works for them. Step 1: Set goals that matter to your kids What are the benefits of getting more organized? It’s especially important for your child to have an answer to this question. It may seem obvious to you that your kids "should" be more organized. But unless they understand the benefits they’ll get from the new system you’re creating, they’re unlikely to

By |January 9th, 2016|Categories: Organization|0 Comments

12 ways to Stand Out in School or Job Interviews

This week's blog is a guest post contributed by Elaine Rosenblum, Founder of ProForm U™ and co-founder of Access Test Prep & Tutoring. Interviewing is a life skill that is never too early to learn.  Whether it’s for private school, college or a job, interviewing provokes anxiety in almost everyone.  The good news is that you can use this nervous energy to fuel your preparation. The default “winging it” strategy is not going to build the poise and storytelling that yield admissions and job offers. Standing out requires intentional answer content, positioning and specific word choice. At ProForm U™ (, my mentoring firm, I teach students and professionals how to interview, articulate, and negotiate.  I also interview potential tutors every month for my other company, Access Test Prep & Tutoring (  I can always tell the difference between those who prepare and those who do not by the relaxed, conversational manner of the experienced applicants. Here are 12 guidelines that any student or professional can use to stand out and make a positive impression in their next interview:Know your audience – Interviewing is about storytelling: the story of you. Schools want to know who you are, whereas job interviewers want to know what you can do, your skills. Framing your

By |December 15th, 2015|Categories: Uncategorized|0 Comments

The Myth of Learning Styles

Do you have a Visual, Auditory, or Kinesthetic learning style? When I ask my students this question, virtually all of them can identify their learning style.  Unfortunately, it turns out that they’re almost all wrong.  Not because they’ve identified their learning style incorrectly…but because it turns out that learning styles don’t actually exist.  Learning styles are one of the most pervasive myths in education, and yet — as Dr. Tesia Marshik reveals in her TEDx talk — there is compelling scientific evidence debunking the idea that we learn information more effectively when it is presented to us in our preferred learning style.  I’ve embedded the video below, so you can watch it, and hear the arguments for yourself.   For me, there were three main takeaways from this presentation.  When it comes to figuring out how we learn best, it’s not enough to rely on our instincts, because they can steer us wrong. The confirmation bias is very powerful, and can lead us to find evidence to support our beliefs even if those beliefs aren’t true. This doesn’t just happen with learning styles — there’s also lots of evidence that most college students who are asked to identify the study strategies that will work best get the answer wrong.

By |November 20th, 2015|Categories: Study skills|1 Comment

Why Optimistic Students Earn Better Grades

Is your teen more of an optimist, or a pessimist?It turns out that the answer can have a significant impact on their future. Studies have shown that optimists experience a number of benefits later in life, as compared with their more pessimistic peers, including...Better test scores and higher GPAsLower levels of stress, anxiety, and depressionSuperior performance in a wide variety of sportsMore job offers, higher starting salaries, and more frequent promotions at workLower rates of disease, and higher life expectancyIf your teen is optimistic, this is wonderful news! But what if your son or daughter is more pessimistic, and tends to see the world from a more of a "glass is half empty" perspective? The good news is that optimism is a learned skill, not an innate personality trait! No matter what their initial level of optimism or pessimism, all students can learn how to become more optimistic. Pessimistic vs. Optimistic ThinkingThe first step in becoming more optimistic is understanding what we really mean by the word "optimism". While many of us think about optimism as a measure of how cheerful someone is on a day to day basis, it is actually a measure of how they explain the events in their lives. If a student does

By |October 12th, 2015|Categories: Mindset, Motivation|0 Comments

Prioritizing homework: What to do first?

"What's the best way to prioritize homework?" "Should I do the easiest assignments first?  Or the hardest ones?" I’ve heard from a number of parents and students recently who have been wondering how to prioritize homework. It’s sometimes hard to know whether starting with easier or harder assignments is better, because there are benefits to both approaches... Starting with the easiest assignments...Reduces the risk of procrastinationGives students a quick ‘win’ so they feel encouraged to continueGets some assignments checked off the list quickly, so there are fewer things to think about Starting with the hardest assignments...Enables students to tackle their most difficult work when their focus & energy level are highestGets the most challenging work out of the way, so the rest of the homework feels easier & more enjoyablePrioritizes work that is a large percentage of students’ grade, and/or the classes where they need the most improvement Since there are pros and cons to each approach, how do you know which one to choose? For the majority of my students, I actually recommend using a blend of the two approaches.  What I like it do is...Start with an EASY assignmentTackle a CHALLENGING assignmentTake a short break...then repeat until the work is finished! Here is a diagram of what

Is homework taking forever? Try taking more breaks.

 Now that we're a few weeks into school, students are starting to spend more time doing homework in the evenings.  The standard guideline for homework is that students should be spending approximately 10 minutes a night doing homework per grade level.  So, that equates to an hour each night for a 6th grader, and 2 hours for a senior in high school. Unfortunately, many students spend far more time on homework than this, which is frustrating for them and their parents. So, what can we do to help students work more efficiently? Somewhat counter-intuitively, one answer is to take more frequent breaks! Study breaks provide a number of important benefits, including...Less procrastination. When homework seems challenging, students often put off starting it until as late as possible.  However, if they know they're only committing to work for 30 minutes or so, and then they will get another break, it's often easier to get started.  More focus. When there's a clear distinction between work time & break time, it's easier to distinguish between "work time" and "break time" activities (texting, etc.). It's also easier for students to resist tempting distractions if they know they'll be able to to whatever they want on their next break... instead of until