Summer is here for many Bay Area families, and for those with kids entering high school or even middle school, now can be a great time to get a head start on SAT practice. OK, sure, it's also a good time for water slides, beaches, friends, and all the things that make summer wonderful, but an hour or two spent getting familiar with test question format now can give your student an extra boost when it comes time for the real thing. It is this tutor's opinion that the PSAT is being given far too late to identify weaknesses and make appreciable differences in many students' scores. With increasing pressure to take APs and make good grades while being a stellar athlete or drama superstar, it becomes harder with each year of high school for kids to devote the proper amount of time to SAT practice. And, that's what doing well on the SAT boils down to: pattern recognition. With each completed practice test, problem set, and sample essay question answered, your child will "have... read more
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Summer is a good time to prep for the ACT. The pace can be regular but relaxed, there's time to cover all subject areas, and practice tests can be spaced out. You can get results from the September ACT just in time for most early decisions! Upcoming ACT Dates: September 8, 2012 (register by 8/17/12) October 27, 2012 (register by 9/21/12) December 8, 2012 (register by 11/2/12) Upcoming SAT Dates: October 6, 2012 (register by 9/14/12) November 3, 2012 (register by 10/5/12) December 1, 2012 (register by 11/6/12)
Sundays are days to be lazy, to hang out with friends, to read books or swim in pools or play outside. Today is an exceptionally hot Sunday in early June. Since I got up, I've been holed up in my home office, working on tutoring. Even though I've spent the past nine or so hours (with breaks for shrimp tacos, diet Coke, and ice cream) working, I haven't actually had any students today. I realized that not many people are aware of the "behind the scenes" of tutoring (well, at least of good tutoring), and it's gotten me to think a bit about the concept of having an "hourly rate." Realizing that mine is one of the higher rates on WyzAnt, I thought I'd share a bit of the "secret life of a (good) tutor," so you might have a better idea of what you're getting for your money. Although I work very hard during our tutoring sessions to make them as productive and educational as possible, it's everything I do when you aren't around that helps me do that. Before and after we meet,... read more
Flash cards -- highlighting -- writing down definitions. Do you do all that and still have low test scores? Often, straight memorization is not enough to really learn the subject well. For example, in biology you may learn that proteins are formed from peptide chains. You may also learn that a polymer is a chemical compound that has repeated units. But if an exam question refers to a "polypeptide," you might not realize that it was talking about a protein. The key here is to make associations. What are polymers? What type of biological compounds can be classed as polymers? "Poly" means "many." So, a polypeptide would be "many peptides." What compound is composed of many peptides? A protein, of course. This type of reasoning is not developed by straight memorization. You need to reach for the meaning. Make lists, tables, or diagrams; look up words; make links and associations. Write definitions in your own words only. Don't guess. Investigate, ask questions, read other... read more
School is finally over. You are looking forward to some well earned rest and relaxation. You are not focused on the fall PSAT and the spring SAT and ACT. BIG MISTAKE! The summer before your junior year is the time to start preparing for the SAT and ACT. It is important to recognize that the single greatest advantage to early preparation is the repetitive nature of SAT and ACT questioning. The greatest predictor of score improvement on the SAT and ACT is practice. While it is important to learn the most efficient techniques for attacking questions, practice will ingrain these methods and good habits in a student so he or she can develop the necessary intuition to perform well. Only sufficient time and experience will allow a student to develop this intuition to the point where it becomes second nature. By beginning your SAT and ACT preparation early, you will avoid the last minute anxiety that besets many students who are forced to take the SAT and ACT 3, 4, or... read more
Some students forget their skills and knowledge of subjects during the summer because they do not practice and receive tutoring. Other students maintain or increase their skill and knowledge during the summer by practicing and receiving tutoring on their subjects(s). To help maintain skill and knowledge level, many parents and students are having me provide tutoring during the summer for one or both of the following reasons: 1. tutoring for reviewing current subjects for practice and maintenance or enhancement of knowledge and skill levels 2. tutoring on upcoming subjects for learning so that when the student starts back after the summer, not only are they still at an enhanced skill and knowledge level for current subjects, but they can master the upcoming subjects from the beginning because they have received a preview and practice during the summer. Starting on May 30, the parents are having me tutor their student(s) in various subjects on one the following... read more
It is no surprise that students lose some of their edge for education over the summer. After all the saying goes, "if you don't use it, you lose it." Summer is a great time to prepare students for the next school year. Tutoring can provide a means to not only stop the loss but also allow students to gain valuable skills for the next year. Imagine the edge your student could have in next years' math or science class if he or she had summer sessions with a certified teacher familiar with the state board curriculum and requirements? Summer is also a great time to prepare for standardized tests. SAT, PSAT, ACT or ASVAB. All of these tests provide information about a student's future potential. Students who are better prepared will score better and be given greater opportunities. That is why the test-prep industry is such a huge market. If you don't believe me, just stroll down that aisle of your local bookstore. However, as helpful as these self-help books can be, how much... read more
For anyone who needs a quick review for Finals, just email me. I can come in and in a few hours cover an entire semesters worth of material. I know how to direct students and teach them the necessary tricks and problem solving skills for each course at every level, whether it be elementary, middle school, high school, or college.
We still have another round of tests coming up, and it’s not too late to get some help preparing for whatever test you or your student are going to take. I have various options available in the coming weeks, both private sessions and group sessions. Please don’t hesitate to contact me for full information.
Now is the time to plan for Summer Tutoring. I will be offering a full schedule of tutoring for the summer, including some interesting group sessions and summer programs. Call for more information!
This post is for most if not all standardized exams. The number one issue I see with the majority of students who are preparing for these major and critical exams is that they do not spend enough time prepping. For example, obtaining a tutor a week or even three weeks before the test date is probably not going to do much to increase your scores, especially if you are meeting up with a tutor for only an hour or two per session, given your current score (pre-test). Here's my take. If you know that you will take one of these major exams (All High School AP exams included), please start months if not at least three months ahead of time. This is when you should start thinking seriously about what you need to obtain a 5 on most AP exams. What you should do is get a pre-test of how you're doing, thus you would know your strengths and weaknesses as it pertains to the test you plan to take. From here, I would work with the student to create a schedule to fit their time/financial... read more
I invite all students who are faltering in Mathematics, from Algebra through Calculus, to get help as soon as possible. The right kind of skilled help, which gives you INSIGHT and thus understanding, can build your confidence and raise your level of achievement. That's what you want to do--because those who do not address these issues usually experience disappointment and failure, and the effects of failure have a significant impact on your life, such as lowering self-esteem and interfering with your plans for college and career. That's why I tutor--to help you. All of my customers experience marked improvement. I wish the same for you. Kenneth S.
There is an SAT test this Saturday. Are you ready for it? Get in some last-minute prep. Contact me today!
A few keys to success in school (for people with or without A.D.D.): We need to concentrate on taking notes in classes, and possibly use a digital recorder to record some classes. (That makes a tremendous difference for many of my A.D.D. students, because they can "go back and listen" to things they missed when distractions occurred.) Examples of distractions include when other students are moving or making noises, worries or concerns**, being hungry, needing to go to the restroom, looking for a pen or pencil, or needing to sharpen a pencil, etc. There are many sources of distractions. Even **fear of failure** can be a distraction! What about memory problems? Actually all of us have trouble with remembering from time to time--it's part of being human, right? Heck, even computers have memory problems occasionally, so it seems that some degree of "forgetfulness" is basically a universal condition. Some good news for A.D.D. students: If we are able to use a digital... read more
When prepping my students for the SAT, I use Up Your Score: The Underground Guide to the SAT. It's written by 5 college kids who aced the test. Their advice is simple, and brilliant. Here is some of it. 1. Always guess. The Educational Testing Service (or Evil Testing Serpent) makes guessing SEEM like a bad idea because you get -1/4 point if you get a question wrong. BUT: If you were to guess randomly, you would get 1 answer right for every 5 questions you guessed on, because for each question, there are 5 choices, and only 1 of them is right. So if you get 1 right and 4 wrong, that's +1 - 4(1/4), which is zero. Probabilistically speaking, there is no disadvantage to guessing. There's even an advantage to guessing if you can eliminate one wrong answer. The probability of you getting the problem right is increased from 1/5 to 1/4--and that's totally worth it. Always guess. 2. Guess like a smart person. When guessing, there are several guidelines to obey. Namely,... read more
It's important to plan ahead - "get ahead of the game" whether planning for SAT/ACT or planning for this coming Fall, 2012. Most parents and students wait till they get an "unexpected bad grade" - then REACT. A tutor can help things turnaround at that point - but what about your other classes - do you ignore those to catch up? This is not a good situation. Pressure packed. If this happens to be the semester they are preparing and taking the SAT or ACT, or they have to prepare to take an AP exam - even more pressure. I am thinking primarily in terms of math/science. If your student can start a tough math or science course in the fall having already mastered several key fundamentals of that course, it will give them confidence, relieve stress, and move them to a higher level of understanding. Also plan ahead carefully in class selection. You want a strong high school resume, but not at the expense of a significant drop in grades. My own daughter took statistics this... read more
SOH CAH TOA When working with Right Triangles in any Math and Science subject, especially Algebra, Geometry, Trigonometry, Chemistry, and Physics, many problems can be solved by remembering this Memory Jogger: Indian Chief SOH CAH TOA (sounds like soow caah towaah) Angle = A Sine A = Opposite/Hypotenuse Cosine A = Adjacent/Hypotenuse Tangent A = Opposite/Adjacent You can use these formulas to calculate and find missing angles or sides to solve various problems. Please contact me to help your student achieve the best grades possible in Math and Science. As a Chemical Engineer, I work on Math and Science problems all day, and tutor students in Math and Science in the evenings and weekends, including students from Elementary School to College Graduate School. I help students learn to see how Math and Science can be fun and useful in daily life, school, and career choices. All the best, John M.
One question I'm often asked about SAT I Math test results is: "Why did my son/daughter miss so many easy questions and get the majority of hard questions right?" For me, this was the most difficult obstacle to overcome when it came to peak performance on test day. After drilling countless practice problems and tests, it is a natural inclination to race through the first "easy" math questions and spend more time on the "hard" ones. The blame is often assigned to "careless errors"--as if students didn't care enough to go back and check the answers. Sometimes dyslexia or ADD/ADHD is blamed. In reality, the test makers are teaching students an important lesson on pacing and discipline. Initially, I had thought that the key to the best scores was pattern recognition. That is, work enough problems, and you'll have seen it all. This actually isn't so far from the truth; however, the devil lies in the details. The problems I was getting wrong the most often were the ones that... read more
Today's success prescription: Check your energy level. Energy is key to effective studying. Some causes of tiredness may be inadequate sleep, hunger, poor diet, thirst, or overwork. Other health problems may also be the cause; if fatigue is a chronic condition not solved by taking care of the factors mentioned above, you should consult your physician. This will be a short post, but it's just a reminder that you don't always have to blame yourself if studying is going by slowly. Often a health factor is the cause.
Tip #2 for Standardized Exams Students who plan to sit for any standardized exams should do the following: 1. Take a diagnostic exam. It does not have to be a full-blown exam but a mini-version in order to get a idea as to your strengths and weaknesses. 2. Thoroughly evaluate and understand your diagnostic scores - every breakdown, not just how many wrong or right you got in each section but also understand the type of questions you are getting wrong. Also, if possible record those lucky hunches or guesses. The key is to maximize study time and effort. Why waste precious time reviewing topics in which you are comfortable in as opposed to spending your time on the tougher problems. Take Algebra - manipulation of equations. Yes, you might get the problem(s) correct but for each type of problems, there are different levels of difficulties, thus, check to see if you are truly comfortable with manipulation of equations. Most students get a few correct and think that... read more