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For many students, summer break is winding down. What advice would you give students going back to school so they start the year strong?

Each new year is a fresh start.  Be sure to introduce yourself to your teacher. (When they call your name on the role, that is not introducing yourself!)  Take time after class to approach the teacher and talk to them. They will learn your name faster and it shows you care about their class.  Tell them how you learn or feel about school: "I sometimes need things repeated before I remember what to do" or "Math is a struggle for me".  Teachers have many students, so the biggest advice I can give is RAISE YOUR HAND and ask for help if something is confusing. Teacher's can't read your mind.   Many teachers at the beginning of the year will be reviewing last year's material for a few weeks.  If you find your self not remembering last year's material, tutoring needs to start now!  

What's the best way to overcome a fear of the verbal section when preparing for GMAT?

There are 3 question types on the verbal section of the GMAT: sentence correction, critical reasoning, and reading comprehension. For sentence correction questions, the key is realizing that you shouldn't learn every single grammar rule. Instead focus on: Verbs - Use subject-verb agreement & correct verb tense according to the meaning of the sentence. Pronouns - Check for noun-pronoun agreement (e.g. "she" when referring to Mary) & fix pronoun ambiguities (e.g. Mary and Kelly are sisters. She likes to eat cake.) Idioms - The list of idioms is limited so memorize it. Here is a great list: GMAT Idioms List Comparison - Only "apples" to "apples" comparisons. For example this is incorrect: "Unlike Italy and France, the economy of the US is awesome." Parallelism: The key is TO LOOK for lists, DETERMINE what needs to be parallel, and KEEP it parallel. Or: The key is TO LOOK for lists, TO DETERMINE what needs... read more

What is Covered in the GMAT?

The GMAT has 4 sections: 1) Analytical Writing Assessment: Write an essay in 30 minutes to demonstrate that you can identify the flaws of an argument and provide areas for improvement. 2) Integrated Reasoning: In 30 minutes tackle 12 questions that test your ability to interpret graphs, draw conclusions from tables, analyze word problems, and answer questions using multiple sources of information (e.g. emails and tables). 3) Quantitative Section: In 75 minutes, tackle 37 math-related questions that draw from Algebra, Number Properties, Geometry, Arithmetic and other math areas. Questions are classified into Problem Solving and Data Sufficiency, which is question type unique to the GMAT test. 4) Verbal Section: In 75 minutes, tackle 41 verbal-related questions that cover reading comprehension, sentence correction, and critical reasoning.

Learning Spanish

If you are stuck in the US, Spanish is the easiest and most useful foreign language to learn.  There are Spanish speakers everywhere, as well as radio and TV programs, signs and publications--many opportunities.  There are also materials in abundance.  My favorites are Rosetta Stone and Pimsleur, but anything you like will bring results.  Focus on what's fun and you will make great progress.  The most important thing is to, whenever possible, spend some time EVERY DAY, working on it.  The second most important is to use what you learn.  Try to read things you come across written in Spanish.  Listen to radio or TV and conversations by Spanish speakers.  Converse with others in Spanish on whatever level you can.  If you can't find native speakers, converse with other learners or just talk to yourself out loud!  You may need to occasionally use some methods you don't like as much to master some concepts.  This will... read more

Literature Spotlight: Dystopian Novel vs. Dystopian Setting

ALERT: This week's Literature Spotlight contains spoilers for The Hunger Games trilogy. Read at your own risk! This week my Bring Your Own Book club met for tea, and our topic for the month was Dystopias. I had offered to host this month, because dystopia is one of my absolute favorite genres. As I sat listening to the others recount various dystopian tales, I was struck by a thought that had been niggling at me for weeks – there's a significant difference between a dystopian setting and a true dystopian novel. With the increasing popularity of brilliant YA novels such as The Hunger Games and Divergent, it's becoming more and more common to see stories set in corrupt dystopian societies – but are these stories true dystopias, in the classic sense of the word? There's more to a dystopian novel than a corrupt society setting – classic dystopias also share certain plot and character elements. When viewed in this way works such as The Hunger Games seem to fit more... read more

Savoring Summer & Starting the School Year With a Force

Summer is winding down. School is getting ready to start again.   Here’s my advice for finishing summer break and starting the school year:   1) Take time to reflect. 2) Set goals for the future. 3) Build new relationships with influencers. 4) Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.   1) There’s gold in your past experiences. Grab some time to take deep breath and to reflect on where you’ve come from. If you haven’t done this already, even in these few moments before going back to school, it may be helpful to think back on what you’ve learned from the past school year. This may be a certain topic in school or a piece of knowledge out of school or a life lesson. You can always call on these things as you go forward in your journey.   2) Have some idea of where you want to go next, even if it’s simply a vague notion.   Keep that future idea, or goal ahead of you. For example it could be to make the... read more

The education system: Breaking the mold

The education system, such a complex and convoluted series of practices and hierarchies, where does the student of the 21st century fit? Education now-a-days seems to have a greater goal of higher efficiency compared to student individuality in the class room. With a ballooning population, low teacher salaries, and out dated resources, we are in for a crisis situation in the coming decades with our current system. So many individuals I know that have entered the teaching field with the mind set that they are going to shake things up, and really start to perpetuate a difference, have more often than not been met with stark opposition and resistance. Something that people may find counter-intuitive at best. The education system isn't going to change overnight, that the beauty of incorporating a tutor into a student's life. This gives the student the individual one on one attention that a growing, curious mind deserves. I'm a scientist in my day to day life, holding a BS in Microbiology... read more

Preparing for any High-stakes Exam

High-stakes only means that if one passes the exam, one is "through the gate" and if one fails the exam, one must re-take the exam, at expense of time and money, as well as brain power.   That means that a student preparing for any high-stakes test must study diligently ahead of time to get prepared to take the test.  That might include going to a tutor for help, but it cannot eliminate the need for the test-taking student to do his own "due diligence" and study on his own so that he knows the material.     It is the student who must sit for the exam, not the tutor.  So while a tutor may be helpful, yes, certainly, but the student cannot leave it 100% in the hands of the tutor to provide all the information needed to pass the test.  The student must put forth his own individual effort to learn the types of problems that will be tested, and how to arrive at their answers, how to check his work to be sure it is correct,... read more


As I am getting my own college bound Senior ready for applications, tests, and essays, I find myself realizing how important an extensive vocabulary can be to help with all the preparations.   For a student with a 504 Plan or an I.E.P., advanced vocabulary can be a real challenge on standardized tests.  For many students, so much time has been spent on study skills and reading for content, often higher level vocabulary is overlooked.  What can you do?  Look online for games that encourage vocabulary building skills.  Go to a site like Quizlet and look up words from the PSAT, SAT, or ACT to study.  There are games and flashcards already done, or you can make your own.   Try to learn a new word every day and use it!  It is a fun challenge and a great way to expand your knowledge.  Then, when you get into higher level readings, you have built a better base to help you understand the content and context of your readings.   Happy... read more

Back to School

As summer comes to an end, most students are trying to pack in the last bit of fun in the sun. If you haven't done much studying this summer, take advantage of your final moments of free time to read a book for fun (hopefully outside) or to play fun games that also challenge you to think.  If your back to school list/schedule shows you what books or subjects you'll be studying, take the time to find out what it is you will be learning about. For reading subjects, skim through the books or read online summaries. For math and science, explore the amazing online study tools available. This will help to prepare you for the year ahead and maybe even get you excited to learn.

Organization is Key!

As the return to school is quickly approaching, it is important to examine what makes a difference to a strong school year.  There are many things that will have an impact on the success of a student.  One of the most important things is organization.  Many students have a great deal of difficulty not only being organized, but truly understanding what it is to be organized.  Here a a few tips to get your year off to a great start. 1.  Assure that you have the proper school supplies:  While the list that teachers send home appear to be long and silly be assured that there is a purpose for those items.  Many times the items requested are there to aid the student in organizational success.  This applies to color coding notebooks and folders per subject to having post it notes available for the students.  2.  Planner:  I know that many schools provide them and many students neglect to use them.  This is not only... read more

Top 3 Ways to Start the School Year Strong

As summer break is winding down, many students look ahead to fall and one question is on their minds: how can I start this year strong? Well, trust me, your teachers are saying the same thing (yes, your teachers are people too). For teachers and students alike, fall is a time to start over and begin the year anew.   Chances are, you've grown as a person over the summer. I remember the fall of my junior year in high school, several students came back looking like completely different people because they had grown and changed so much over the summer. Be prepared for this. You may want to take a moment to put some effort into your own appearance, which brings me to tip #3:   3. Buy a back to school outfit (or two). Even if your budget is limited, Old Navy has some great stuff, even if it's just a few new pairs of socks or t-shirts. Or go for a few new outfits at your favorite store. Keeping your appearance neat the first week of school will make a great... read more

Geometry and Needed Catchy Sayings

When you have to recall your order of operations, you use Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. I have created two memorable sayings that will help when you have to suddenly recall the formulas for the circumference and/or the area of circles. The saying for area is Auntie's Pies R at 2o'clock or A=piR^2 and circumference is Cooks have Two Pies Ready or C=2piR.   A=PiR^2  and C=2PiR   Keep practicing. Be well.

Tutoring Before Start of School Year

An ideal time to obtain tutoring is the month prior to the beginning of the new school year.  Tutoring at this time begins to orient the student's mind to the discipline of schoolwork.   Important concepts can be reviewed and strengthened, and new concepts can be anticipated and prepared for.  The student can be reminded of certain principles of learning and of proper school behavior.  Their reading skills, math skills, English skills, and geography skills can be built up to give them a firm foundation to begin their new school year.  Parents, take advantage of the month prior to school starting to get tutoring, even once a week, for your student!

Be Careful With Fans

In recent months, I’ve felt the need, as one who has made a study of the laws of physics, to educate the general public and dispel myths that abound in society today. Today, I’d like to talk about fans. This is a topic of great personal significance to me in that, growing up, my parents wouldn’t turn the air conditioning on unless the temperature inside the house got up into the 80’s (about 27-29 Celsius). Instead, we were told to just turn the fan on. Knowing what I know now, I can say that that wasn’t the best of ideas. To find out why I say that, let’s look at a fan from the standpoint of thermodynamics*. When you turn a fan on, you bring in a steady flow of energy into whatever room the fan occupies. Friction guarantees that, given enough time, all of this energy will be turned into heat. What this means is that, unless the energy is allowed to escape, then it will just continue to build up, heating the room. The good news is that the electrical energy brought into... read more

Ready! Set! Go!

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

ASVAB Tutors

To all the other ASVAB Tutors,   I would like to know if you have any advice to offer to us new tutors? I would appreciate the assistance.

Great Resource for learning English and foreign languages

Duolingo is a free website and mobile app for language learning. Lessons include translating sentences, identifying objects, repeating words and much more. It is a useful tool that I have been having a lot of fun with lately. I recommend to check it out if you are studying English as a second language, foreign languages, or you enjoy learning in your free time. 

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