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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... 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,... read more

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.

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... 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... 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... 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

While many concerned students or parents shell out large sums of money for test preparation services, the real key to success on a standardized test is simply practice. Barrons sells an exceptional set of prep books that give solid strategies besides having sample tests to practice on. However, it is better to work from multiple books to get more sample tests. An easy way to save money on solid test preparation is to go to your local public library and check out books on test prep for your particular test. More important than your expertise on the subject material is how you prepare. Test-taking is itself a skill, and more often than not the difference between average and exceptional performance is a matter of how well your mind is functioning on a particular day (which can be controlled to some extent by eating a healthy breakfast, getting enough sleep each night for the week before, exercising regularly and controlling stress) and preparing to deal with the time constraints... read more

Styles and Types of Learning. NOTE: This is written for tutors. Students: DO NOT READ As educators we were all taught that our students learned in three different ways: - Visual - Auditory - Kinesthetic My research has revealed another axis of learning: - Learning by Classroom - Learning by remote/on-line - Learning by individual study Just as each student has her own style of learning perception: visual; auditory; kinesthetic, she has her preferred style of learning “geography”. Some students do much better in a physical classroom, while many flourish in independent study. If we acknowledge that learning “geography” matters then we are not just looking at three ways of tutoring but 3 times 3 or 9 ways of tutoring. Only when we educators realize that just segmenting students by visual; auditory; and kinesthetic is not enough, can we begin to truly teach our students in the manner that they need, and not just what is comfortable for... read more

This tip applies to all standardized exams. First, focus on eliminating careless mistakes. Most students who are taking this exam (SAT, GRE, GMAT, etc.) for the first time will realized that majority of their errors (if not more than 50%) are due to careless mistakes. Thus, if they focus on fine-tuning this portion of their skill sets they would see their overall score rise. Given that most students wait till the last week or two to study for an extremely important exam, thus, focusing on the low-hanging fruits as they say in the process improvement arena is step 1. Second, once the low-hanging fruits of careless errors are eliminated or minimized, students should focus on working to learn the concepts that they did have trouble with or simply do not know. For example, at this stage of the studying preparation, students are working to fill in the gaps of their knowledge. This could be anywhere from 10-30% of the errors they are getting. This could be due to multiple... read more

I'm new to this site and can't wait to help you. Got questions? I got answers! Whether you need some simple study skills and techniques or if you have very specific problems in a subject, I can help. Let me show you how all these subjects work together and are not isolated disciplines that you're never going to use. I'll show you the relevance of each subject and how they're all integrated. Learning is so much fun when you understand why you need to know.

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