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I think, by far, the most important part of being successful in organic chemistry is the ability to stay on top of the material. I'll start with this piece of advice for those you who are planning on completing both sections.     Make flashcards.   I know, I know, it's advice that everyone gives for every type of memorization, but I think that it especially helps with the amount of new reactions that you will see, especially in orgo II.   My recipe for the cards is to make cards that have the reactant(s) and the reagent(s) with a question mark where the product(s) would be.   e.g. CH3CHCHCH3 -----Br2----->  ?     This way will help you to recognize which reagents do what.   The other style is to leave out the reagents.   e.g. CH3CHCHCH3 -----?-----> CH3CHBrCHBrCH3   (You'll want to draw them out probably, but this software doesn't allow that)   If... read more

The key to starting school strong is organization and balance. First, organize your materials. Use color-coding, blank calendars to fill in, map out your daily schedule, and be sure to leave time for ALL interests. Look ahead on the calendar to see when tests like MEAP and ACT are happening. Provide plenty of preparation time from the beginning of the semester. As you create your daily schedule, look also at your syllabi from your classes. Anticipate major assignments and exams by balancing study time appropriately. Early planning will prevent or reduce last minute writing papers or cramming for exams.   Yes, school work is a priority, but so is socializing with friends, reading for pleasure or exercise and yoga routines! If you are going watch your favorite TV program every Thursday, plan ahead by being sure to have homework done either Wednesday night, or before the program. Then the program becomes a "reward" for having your homework finished... read more

WWTK: What advice would you give students going back to school so they start the year strong? This is a great question, and one that I've answered before on this blog. In general, I'd say the most important thing for starting the new year strong is starting the new year ORGANIZED. Go back and look through your notebooks from the previous year, but not for content – look at them like a detective. What does your note-taking style say about you? Do you have spiral notebooks stuffed full of handouts with rumpled edges? Are your note pages just solid blocks of hurried scribbles that are all but impossible to read? Did you have to add extra notebooks halfway through the year?  And most importantly, how easy is it to find a specific piece of information in one of your notebooks? Take the opportunity while summer's still going strong to head to an office supplies store and wander around. Really look at all the organization solutions, and try to imagine yourself... read more

Going back to school is an exciting time of year!!!  New friends, new clothes, new supplies, new teachers.  The beginning of the year marks a new beginning, period.  This is the time to think back to last year.  What did you learn?  What mistakes did you make? What can you do better?  Make some goals for this new year!!! This is your time to start all over.  The past does not matter.  What do you want for your education?  For your career?  For your future?  Create an image in your mind of what you want.  Once you visualize your goals being achieved, write them down.  What are your goals? What can you do this year to get closer to reaching your goals?   Once you have your goals in mind and what you are going to do this year to reach them, focus on a few small strategies to help you achieve your success.  A few small steps that will give you big results are: 1. Be ready to learn by being organized... read more

Hi Students!   I hope you are enjoying the process of learning English. English can be a hard language to learn, even for native speakers. So here are some study tips and resources for you to use when you are studying for a test:         1. Make flashcards - write the vocab word on the front and the definition on the back. With this method,               you can quiz yourself.   2. Take practice quizzes - make a few practice quizzes for yourself using questions or information from other lessons. If you would like me to make a practice quiz for you, please send me an email!   3. Try to use English as much as possible - if you live with someone or have a friend who speaks               English, practice speaking with them. Try to speak English for at least one hour everyday outside of                 your lessons... read more

  The best way to retain knowledge during the summer besides doing their summer course work that is or tutoring is to go to the library and check out books on any subject that you wish to learn. Whether it is fiction or non-fiction, it is the fastest and easiest way to learn new things and be sure to take notes; in case, it may be covered in school next year. Feel free to use charts, graphs, drawings, outlines, concept maps or even free writing to reenforce the concepts and turn them into a game like "Concentration" or "Are you smarter than a 5th grader"  to make it easier and fun to learn the concepts.                      Nancy N.

1. Make a study plan – The default mode for studying for exams? Wait until one or two days before the test and study – hard! But with several of material to review, your brain needs more time to re-assimilate the information, and you probably won’t have enough time to review it all in 2 nights anyway. So start studying a minimum of one week before the first exam, and write out a detailed schedule - which subjects you will study and for how long (giving more time to the earliest exams) and when you will study. Be specific and concrete – write out your plan, and assign (realistic) times for each day you will study. Write where you will study and what you should have with you. 2. Hit every subject, every day - Certainly you should give more weight to the first exams, but spend some time each day with every subject you will have an exam for, even if it’s just 15 minutes for those subjects with later exams. 3. Overlap your reviews - When you sit down to review a... read more

I am a proud teacher! A student of mine, around my age, is an artist who wanted to learn basic computer skills. She learned how to find the pictures of her art on her computer. She learned how to sign up to websites, safely. She learned how to attach files to her email, and how to upload them to a website. She went ahead and created an artist profile on Zatista. Two of her paintings where selected for a special show on One Kings Lane One of these was sold yesterday. She amazes me every week. She takes what I teach, explores, and gets creative with it. By the time I come in the next week she shows me how she did a few new things, and has great questions that come out of her own exploration. A curious student - what a gift to the teacher.

As tutors, our work puts us in an odd position. While part of our income depends upon spending time serving students, serving students means that we help them improve until they no longer need our assistance. In this sense, we work to make ourselves unnecessary. Some people might speculate that we would be motivated therefore to work less efficiently, to drag things out & spend more time than necessary to achieve our students' goals.   I can't really speak for other tutors, but I'm idealistic enough to believe that all of us want our students to be as successful as possible, as efficiently as possible, and we want them (and, in the case of children, their parents) to feel satisfied that we are working hard to do what is best at every moment & that they are getting their money's worth. After all, our great reputations as tutors ensure that we will acquire other students in the future - some of whom will perhaps replace those students who have improved... read more

The majority of the students that I have often have the same problem -- they aren't grasping the information fast enough or they aren't really able to follow the lessons a teacher gives.   Sometimes, teachers aren't adaptive to every learning style for each student in their classroom.  However, know that each student has the capability to learn math on their own.  It is just necessary to have key characteristics to make it successful.   Every math student should have: patience motivation adaptability organizational skills open communication between themselves and their teacher (inside and outside the classroom) breaks!! :)   Study Tips Always try to study outside of your home or dorm room. In our minds, those are places that we relax at and it can be difficult to turn your mind off from the distractions to study. Public libraries, universities, coffee shops, and bookstores are the way to go... read more

Please examine the evidence for yourself at  However, the upshot is that, while I'm a big advocate for technology in many things, for some reason, handwriting seems to be a better retention tool than typed notes for most students.  (Though I myself had great success in college initially writing my notes, then reshaping them into a polished version on a computer when the material was still fresh and I remembered what all my own shorthand meant).  Take a look.

Engaging students in learning is one of the many goals that tutors face. We must adapt to meet changing learning needs, styles, interests and delivery formats. The sage on the stage paradigm, where the tutor provided all the knowledge to a passive student, is outdated. Today's students have more need for a guide on the side, who understands that the challenges they face, is willing to experiment with alternative tutoring methods, and acknowledge that engagement and feedback are crucial to a successful learning experience. One such tutoring methodology that has shown great promise both in the classroom and in structured tutoring sessions is problem-based learning (PBL). This concept has gained national recognition as a way for students to learn by confronting a problem related to the subject or the class material. This means that rather than the rigid and very traditional didactic approach, where a tutor simply “re-teaches” material covered in class through direction... read more

(This is actually a modified version of an article I posted a while back - Parents wait! Why a study skills tutor is what your child REALLY needs. But I think tutors should consider this idea of study skills even more than parents should.) After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – insert subject here and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc... read more

I just began tutoring a new student in 10th grade Biology.  Biology is my favorite subject and as we were going over terminology and concepts and processes in each section I thought it might be helpful to outline elements that can help in the general study of biology.  I thought this would be a great time to reference some good study techniques from a biological perspective:  I organized my notes into list of 4 valuable concepts.   1.  Take notes:  Obviously right? of course but listen... More than any other subject taking notes in biology is crucial.  Almost all the information that is introduced each lesson is packed with new terms, new concepts and new images of the material.  Taking notes in the form of term definitions, paragraphs describing a process, or drawings is a way to stay on top of complex new material.  I recommend taking notes on a white piece of computer paper without lines, this helps the student to learn... read more

Yesterday, I helped a new student understand some of the difficulties she is experiencing, and I wanted to share this here. The Classroom: Studying in class is like taking a guided tour. If you trust your guide (the teacher,) you can follow into unknown territory, with an open mind. As you are exposed to new things you can ask questions, experience new activities, and be guided out of trouble if you get lost. In the classroom, your responsibility is to follow the teacher’s guidance, and notice when you lose track. (You will lose track. We all do. The only question is when!) Some examples from my students, of how they know they’re lost:  I’m singing a song in my head I’m thinking about my sandwich It seems as if the teacher in talking in a foreign language I’m beating myself up – “I’m a looser”, “I’ll never get it”   So this is the First Classroom Skill: Am I following the lesson, or am I in my head? The Second Classroom Skill:... read more

I am currently tutoring three students for PRAXIS I test.  Although it can be challenging to help students prepare for an exam while they are enrolled full time and have many other teaching certification to-do's to tackle, PRAXIS I prep should not be discounted.  When I first meet with my students, I encourage them to purchase the ETS Praxis book to use during our lessons.  It can be procured for a reasonable price online, and I tell them it is the best resource to give you insight into real test questions since it is published by the makers of the PRAXIS!     The most important part of PRAXIS I prep is the study calendar.  First, I use Microsoft Office to develop a daily study calendar for the students from the present time until the day they take their exam.  Each day, I pencil in a combination of a few practice questions, vocabulary building, news article review, practice test simulation, etc.  I coach them in downloading... read more

After a dozen years as a classroom teacher and private tutor, I know the routine well. Like clockwork, October and March bring new report cards and parents start to get nervous. “An F in chemistry? I’m afraid I can’t help you there; let’s find you a good chemistry tutor.” This is the kind of dialog I imagine taking place in many households around this time. And chemistry is just an example – “insert subject here” and the reaction is the same. But that low letter grade on a report card can indicate many things – maybe the teacher is bonkers; maybe one major assignment was weighted too heavily; maybe the student can’t see the board and is afraid to say anything; maybe that particular class is a source of social anxiety; etc. And let’s be honest – in most high school classrooms, students are essentially graded on their ability to keep track of, complete, and submit paperwork (i.e. homework), instead of their mastery of the material. (Not a good state of affairs, but... read more

Unless you are traveling in a spaceship and moving close to the speed of light, time passes at the same rate for everyone. The Earth takes approximately 24 hours to complete one full rotation on its axis, which has resulted in a day being 24 hours long. So why do some people seem to be able to accomplish so much more when we all have the same amount of time in our day? Simply, they have mastered good time management skills. I have summarized 3 Time Management tips that I have condensed from a number of different resources. Hopefully, these will help you finish more tasks and get you closer to accomplishing your goals. 1) Create a Prioritized To-Do List At the beginning of every day, take 15 minutes to consciously decide how you want to spend your time. This is also called making a plan for your day. Write down everything you need to do that day. This list should include steps needed to complete a S.M.A.R.T. goal, tasks or project items for work or school,... read more

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