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Getting Great Grades

Getting Great Grades

The “How To” Guide for Students

Timing Tips

Here are a few simple things you can do to manage your time better – at school, at work and at home:

  • Take advantage of your home calendar and school agenda.
  • If calendars or agendas don’t work for you, try an online planner or an electronic organizer.
  • List weekly activities on your calendar or in your agenda.
  • Don’t forget to write the dates and times of your appointments, deadlines, practices and/or work shifts.
  • When planning, make sure to be as flexible as possible.
  • Prioritize your activities.
  • Be realistic when prioritizing your activities by asking yourself: What is more important?
  • Follow up with your activity list.
  • Include time for yourself – remember: it’s important to balance school, work and home life.

Studying 101

Improve your studying habits by reading the following tips:

  • Develop a realistic study plan and stick to it.
  • Study when you are rested, alert and focused.
  • Find a study time that’s right for you (mornings, evenings, weekends etc).
  • Find a study place that’s right for you (school library, student lounge, home office, bedroom etc).
  • Avoid distractions as much as possible – you want to be able to focus.
  • Determine how much you know before you start studying – this will give you an idea of how ready you are to write the quiz, test or exam.
  • Be an active reader – don’t just read for the sake of reading, read to learn!
  • Extract main ideas and important details.
  • Ask yourself a lot of questions as you read or study (Why did this happen?  Who is responsible?  What are the effects?).
  • Put yourself in your teacher’s shoes and ask yourself: If I were Mrs. Smith, what questions would I ask?
  • Recite what you learn out loud or in your head – whatever works best for you.
  • Take frequent study breaks – this will help you stay focused.
  • Always listen and take notes in class.
  • Keep your notes logical and legible – it will make studying a lot easier.
  • Review your class notes, assignments and tests on a regular basis.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions during class or even after school – your teachers are here to help you succeed.
  • If it helps, study with your peers or join a study circle.
  • Go to the school or local library or surf the web to further your studies or to get more information on a particular subject.

Getting Ready for the OSSLT

Be prepared to write the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test  OSSLT) in Grade 10 by reading the many helpful tips below.  This section is also of special interest to students who want to be more successful when writing multiple choice tests, essays, short answers and newspaper reports. For more information about the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT), please click here or talk to your teachers today.

8 Steps to Mastering Multiple Choice Questions

  1. Read each question carefully.  Pay attention to key words (all, always, never).
  2. Try to answer the question before you look at the answers.
  3. Read all possible answers.  There may be more than one correct answer.
  4. Eliminate the responses you know are wrong.
  5. Scan the questions for key words or phrases that may help you find the answer.
  6. Go back to the reading and scan for the answer.
  7. If it is a toss up between two answers, pick the one you think is most right.
  8. If you still can’t decide, make your best guess.  Never leave the answer blank.

Expressing an Opinion Through a Series of Paragraphs:


  • General statement 1, General statement 2…
  • Opinion statement (thesis)
  • Transitions: in general, although, as well, and so, many would agree that, it seems that, despite the fact that, overall, even though…


  • 1st supporting detail: Evidence 1, Evidence 2
  • 2nd supporting detail: Evidence 1, Evidence 2
  • 3rd supporting detail: Evidence 1, Evidence 2
  • Transitions: firstly, secondly, most importantly, as well, also, another example is, furthermore, for instance, in other words, despite the fact that, this is important because, which leads to, a further illustration is, lastly, it is common knowledge that, statistics show that, most would agree that


  • Restate opinion statement
  • Wrap up statement 1, Wrap up statement 2
  • Transitions: in conclusion, therefore, despite the fact that, in addition, as well, thus, because of these events, and so, finally, in the end, one would agree that

Providing Short Answer Responses to Reading Non-fiction Text:

Informational Text – informs the reader about a topic through explanations, reasons, facts and examples.

Graphical Text – conveys information through pictures, symbols, titles, scales, legends, maps and charts.  See the layout as separate areas of information.  Use pictures as clues to the main idea.  Move your eyes around the page, not just left to right.

Before you read the text:

  1. Read the question first.
  2. Scan through the reading selection, paying attention to titles, subheadings, bolded and italicized words and graphic elements.
  3. Let your eyes move around the page, not just left to right and top to bottom.
  4. Predict what the reading is about.
  5. Think about what you know about the topic.

As you read the text:

  1. Ask yourself questions about what you are reading.  Try to “see” what you are reading.
  2. Think about which class you might read this reading selection in.
  3. Pay attention to the organization of the reading (paragraphs, subheadings, columns).
  4. Ask yourself what is the main point the writer is trying to make.
  5. Underline or highlight important information.

After you read the text:

  1. Reread the questions, paying attention to key words that you might find in the reading.
  2. Scan the reading selection again, looking for key words or phrases.
  3. Ask yourself question about the reading: Do you agree or disagree?  How does this connect to you?

Writing a Newspaper Report:

Lead (First Paragraph)

  • Who, what, where, when
  • One or two sentences
  • Most important facts first
  • Action Verbs

Second Paragraph

  • Why, how
  • Three to four sentences
  • Detail, reasons,
  • Important facts

Third Paragraph

  • Why, how
  • Five to six sentences
  • Quote from someone involved
  • Less important details, background

Fourth Paragraph

  • Background
  • Five to six sentences
  • Least important details