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SAT PREPARATION- Testing Strategies, Vocabulary Improvement, and Language Mastery

Here is an overview of my 5 BEST TIPS for realizing your highest potential on the SAT:   Read and Write Daily- Do not read just fluffy stuff from internet sites or think that your emails constitute all the daily writing you need (join a writer's group and keep a journal).  Most importantly, read thoughtful, intelligent articles from reputable sources (like the Wall Street Journal) on a daily basis on topics that stimulate your thinking and challenge your vocabulary.  This is the best approach for long-term improvement in reading and writing. Study High-Frequency SAT Vocabulary Lists- There are many of these word lists obtainable on the Internet. The problem is that you may not retain the words using a crash-course study approach.  This won't be helpful for long term unless you pace your study of the words and see words in their context.  I recommend a 7 day study approach.  Study 30-50 words each day for two days in a row using... read more

Read Like You're Talking

Do you hate to read out loud? A lot of people seem uncomfortable reading orally and are really bad at it but it is so fixable. You see, reading should be like talking, not reading. If you read the way you talk, you know, comfortably, with pauses and gestures and facial expressions and ups and downs in your voice, then your audience will want to listen to you. For those who are drawn to acting, pretend you are in character and the casting director yells, "Action." If you read like you're reading a script, you will not get the part. If drama isn't your thing, then imagine you are telling a funny or amazing or really sad story to your good friends or family. The thing is...read as if you want to be heard. Here are some great tips to help retrain your brain from poor oral reading habits:   Open your mouth. Don't mumble or barely open your mouth to let the sounds escape. Hold your head up. Look up some... read more

Setting Goals for Student Success

A student's decision to pursue a program of study is a commitment to an overall goal and vision of success, which is getting a degree. The pursuit of a degree is both a rewarding and a challenging experience.  In today’s academic world, students must be adaptable in order to succeed. Classes are taught in a variety of formats, such as in-person, virtually, or a combination of both. Resources come in a variety of formats, through an array of channels. Navigating through a program of study can be cumbersome, and sometimes disappointing. As a result, we procrastinate, our studies go from being a top priority to a low priority in our already complicated everyday lives, and we begin to question our commitment to the pursuit of our dream. So, how to do we overcome this trend? We set goals. Why is setting goals so important? Because… • Goal setting is the best way to make sure that we are staying on track and holding ourselves accountable... read more

WyzAnt Wants to Know: Preparing to go back to school

Got this topic from WyzAnt this morning: How should students prepare to go back to school if they only have a few minutes to spare each day? Good question.  I think it's important to spend some time thinking about the big picture of the coming year and getting organized, so that you start out on the right foot.  I believe it's a very personal question, since as a student you have to decide what you want to get out of the coming school year as opposed to the previous one.  What areas did you feel you were lacking?  What are you most excited about?  What are you least excited about or most dreading? And why? Here's something that doesn't occur to a lot of people: what format are you learning in? I'm talking about two distinct things here – your supplies and setup, and the way you approach classes. Let's look at supplies and setup first. Think about your usual note-taking setup... read more

Your grades = Your pay

Would you ever work at a job really hard (you're not a volunteer) and be totally OK with not being paid or being paid really terribly? What if you worked really hard at a job with terrible equipment that may or may not work properly or may even be missing altogether but your supervisor still expected you to produce excellent results? Wouldn't this really tick you off? How long would you actually keep that job?   Being a student is the    exact     same      thing.  As a student, you are an employee and your paycheck is your grades. You have rights to earn the best grades possible and in order to do so, you must exercise your rights. This means you must be actively involved in your own performance and communication in each class (job) with each teacher (supervisor).   Here is my idea of a Student's Bill of Rightness: You have the right... read more

Read BEFORE you write

How many times have you started working on a questionnaire, test or worksheet only to realize half way through that you didn't need to do some of the work you've done or that you don't have the right book to finish the assignment. Here's a great way to avoid unnecessary work, wasting time or being unprepared to actually complete assignments correctly.   Read all of the assignment before you ever write a word. For example, if you have a lab to complete and you've been given a worksheet with questions you must fill-in as you go along in your experiment, read the whole worksheet first. Make sure you understand the questions. Make sure you have the proper materials or resources to actually complete the assignment. Sometimes, when you are completing a worksheet you actually have answers to some of the earlier questions later in the worksheet. Work with wisdom.    It's OK to skip around and answer what you do know and come back to what you must... read more

Online flashcards

Greetings, scholars!     Using flashcards is a tried-and-true method for rote memorization.  As a student, I had stacks of index cards with terms on one side and definitions on the other.  These cards proved the key to success in subjects like biology and psychology.  Flashcards also help in subjects like calculus and chemistry, although memorization is not a substitute for problem-solving practice.     For instant gratification, one can purchase pre-made flashcards for certain subjects (e.g. MCAT test pret, SAT vocabulary).  The commercial cards are nice, but buying cards means missing out on the learning that takes place while making them.     Today, technology has put a new twist on a classic learning tool.  I recommend the website and accompanying app, Study Blue (http://www.studyblue.com/).  Using the website, a student can create a set of online flashcards or browse through the existing... read more

Favorite Language Learning Websites

Just to share some great resources!   www.byki.com - flashcards (with pictures and audio) available through a downloadable program (or online through "List Central" - user-created content) www.livemocha.com - a language-learning community, language courses www.internetpolyglot.com - flashcards with audio and pictures, user-created content www.lingq.com - a language-learning community, podcasts, tutors, built-in dictionary www.omniglot.com - language information, useful phrases (often with audio), links to other resources www.digitaldialects.com - basics of several languages, flashcards, learning games www.italki.com - a language-learning community www.duolingo.com - language courses and translation practice www.linguisticsgirl.com - a great blog! www.busuu.com - a language-learning community, language courses with audio/pictures/examples of vocabulary usage    

Quick review

Students can practice skills quickly using flash cards for vocabulary, sight words, addition, subtraction, counting, patterns, multiplication, and division. All you need is 5-10 minutes a day. 

How do I manage reading assignments?

So, your teacher has assigned a book or chapter readings. How do you manage reading along with all the other assignments you've been given and still get all the reading done on time? I have a simple formula to help ensure you will complete all reading comfortably and avoid cramming the night before!   Count the number of pages you must read and write that number down. Count the number of days until the reading assignment is due and write it down. Divide the number of days into the number of pages and this is how many pages you should read each day/night in order to be ready for the due date. This is a fantastic way to pace and discipline yourself and totally avoid cramming, which is the enemy in learning. If you follow this formula, you will always complete reading assignments on time and without increasing unhealthy stress. Happy reading!    

Start Early

Welcome to the 2013-2014 school year!    I always loved going back to school.  Since I am going back to school this fall as a graduate student I thought I would share a few tips.  If you would like more tips you will have to schedule a session.    My two words to sum everything up is start early!   -Do not wait until the night before a big project to start it.    -Act like a Pro athlete! I can guarantee they put hours into practicing their sport.  They did not show up on game day and hope they would win the game.    -Do school work first before taking a break - turning on the tv or hanging out with friends right after school may seem like a great idea.  That time is precious because a student may remember something from the day to help them on the homework.    -Practice like it is a test.  If your teacher does not let you use a calculator do not use it on... read more

Help! My Child Is Behind In School And I Don't Know What To Do!

As the smell of new boxes of crayons and freshly sharpened pencils fills the isle at the market, parents might be thinking “Help! My child is behind in school and I don’t know what to do. How can you start out behind?” This realization brings a feeling of failure before the new school year has even begun. Although the education system in America has many problems, one of which is constantly allowing students to be promoted to the next grade regardless of their failing to meet the standards required to be promoted, there are many things that parents can do at home to help their child succeed and grow as much as possible. 1) Read, read, read everything in sight! Children of all ages need to hear fluent adults reading to them on a regular basis. This helps them to develop expressiveness in reading, fluency and accuracy, increase vocabulary, and better understand figurative language. It also greatly influences a child when they see that their parents or guardians... read more

New School Year!

With the new school year starting, I thought I'd write a blog post to talk about what I think are the most important things students should be doing to start the year off on the right foot. If anything, September is the time when students are either excited to come back or are dreading it, but being prepared will help any student have a successful year.    The most important thing a student should do before the year starts is to set a goal. I have all the students I work with look at their schedules and think about what classes they think will be the most challenging for them. They then create a goal for how they might want to do, say get a B in Geometry or a A- in English. They should try to make it a SMART goal too: it should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely. Every week or two, they should come back to their goal and think about whether they've made any progress on it. And if they don't achieve their goal, at least they were working... read more

Ser vs. Estar: To be or To be??....What is the difference!!??

Many of my students dread conjugating verbs. They dread it even more when the verbs are irregular and have the same meaning!!  The verbs ser and estar both mean "to be", so what is the difference between the two?? Ser is used to describe things that are permanent or often unchangeable.  For example, Yo soy de Estados Unidos.(I am from the United States).  The form of ser used in the sentence is soy.  You can not change where you are from. Ser is also used to describe characteristics, professions, religions and nationalities.       Estar is used to describe things that are temporary. For example, Yo estoy en Florida para las vacaciones(I am in Florida for vacation). I am vacationing in Florida, but I am not from there.  There is a little rhyme that is printed in the textbook, Realidades, which helps you remember when to use the verb, estar.  The rhyme goes, For how... read more

A tool that creates focus and curiosity. Find it in your kitchen!

This works for: Procrastinators The constantly distracted (who isn't these days?)  Approaching those tasks we don't want to do... You can help your child or your student, and it will work for you just as well! You'll need to try it for yourself to experience the effects, since it works opposite to common sense. This magical tool is the egg timer from your kitchen (or the timer app on your smart phone.) How to use a timer to create focus: Step 1 – Set the timer to 5 minutes. Tell yourself that you are going to work on your task, and your task only until the timer rings. 5 minutes is surely not too long to not answer a phone call or a message, to not go and get a glass of water, to not stare at the tree swaying in the wind outside your window. You may think that 5 minutes is not enough to get anything done, but bear with me. Step 2 – When the timer rings, drop what you are doing, even if you feel the need to continue... read more

Learning a Foreign Language: The Dos and the Don'ts

Many students have a fear of learning a foreign language.  Instead of approaching acquiring a new tongue as an exciting challenge, many approach it with the question "Why do we have to learn this?"  Learning a foreign language can be a wonderful experience.  Here a few of my "Dos and Don'ts" when approaching foreign language learning.   DO keep an open mind and be positive about learning something new. DO recognize the similarities of your native language and the new language that you are learning. DO review your notes from class everyday and practice at home. DO find a language/study buddy in your language class. DO think about your future and how a new language is going to benefit you with your future goals. DON'T be negative. DON'T be prejudice about a foreign language and its culture based on stereotypes. DON'T stop trying even when there are words that you do not understand or there is a chapter that is... read more

A New School Year; Clear or a chance for Fog?

Going back to school can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very scary. Stepping through those doors after a long summer break can sometimes feel like tearing through a large rubber balloon. Well, pat yourself on the back. You made it through the first week.  Some of you learned all your subjects, teacher's names, and your classroom numbers.  Some are sitting at home wondering about the blur they have in their head that was the first week of school.  If you are in the first group pat yourself on the head, you are probably an organized individual. If you are in the second group maybe you need to drag out that backpack and look through it for that white piece of paper that is your schedule to look at.  Sit down and make a list of all your teachers and their room numbers.  If you are still confused as to where to go each period, then have your parents help you find the school map that is probably at the bottom of that same backpack.  Use the school... read more

Studying Habits For Finance Courses and ANY course in general!

The best advice I received from my college professors:   Before taking any exam always complete EVERY single question at the end of the chapter, even if they were not assigned for homework.   This piece of advice was given to a student 30 years ago who ended up becoming a professor at the same university he attended. During his lectures he made it a point to give the same advice to his students and explain its origin.   I had the pleasure of taking classes with both professors and hearing the same advice several times throughout each semester. Now it's my turn to pass along the same advice. If you want to fully understand the conceptual and computational aspects of a finance course, do every single problem at the end of the chapter. The end result - mastery of the subject and usually a 100 on the exam :)   This really does apply to any and all courses as well, since it is a very good study habit.   The history of how... read more

Welcome back to school! A few tips...

Many of the students I tutor want help with general study skills as well as specific subject matter. Now that many students are heading into a new semester, perhaps it's time to review some basic tips for how to improve your grades this semester. 1) Manage your time. A good way to do this is by downloading a time management app, or keeping track of how you spend your time manually. Allotting time for each task you need to complete will help you achieve your academic goals. 2) Make a to-do list. At the beginning of the day, make a list of the things you want to achieve. You'll feel accomplished by marking off completed tasks, and at the end of the day any uncompleted tasks move over to the next day's list. 3) Form study groups or get a study buddy. Bouncing your ideas off others helps you think through problems and come up with solutions. Plus, being in a group will motivate you to keep on task. 4) Don't be afraid to ask for help. Teachers and professors usually have... read more

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