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Brian S.'s Resources

Blogs

5 Stars: The 4 Stars

One question I just received on a different blog was how to handle the 4-star ratings that come up. No matter how good you are, someone will not be satisfied. I personally have received two 4-stars here on WyzAnt, one when I was just starting out, and one just today. For the 4-star early on, it was from a weekly student who only rated the very first meeting as a 4-star. When I learned it... read more

Blogs

The Little Bits Add Up: A Starting Studying Strategy

Here's a study tip I gave to a student just tonight. One of the issues that I see with students is that they only study for tests, starting the night before or so. As a tutor, I know that strategy rarely works well. When I ask the student why he/she doesn't study just a little bit every day, the response is generally the same: there's no point studying beforehand since I'll have forgotten it... read more

Blogs

5 Stars: Rounding Down Time

Here is one of the biggest tips I can offer to tutors aiming for 5 star ratings. The idea is very basic. I don't know of anyone who likes a "Scrooge", a penny-pincher. You are in the service industry, so customer service matters a lot. It's never fun to round down time spent (so you get less pay), but it pays off in the long-run. If you've been with a student an extra few minutes... read more

Blogs

5 Stars: Admitting Limitations and Mistakes

Welcome to another blog about key ideas that I think contribute to a 5-star rating. No matter how good you are, eventually you will be asked a question that you don't know. I have a very extensive range of knowledge, and yet I find myself being asked questions beyond my limits weekly. I am often reminded of the Orkin commercials where customers keep asking the most random questions, assuming... read more

Blogs

Full-Time Tutor: Summer Tutoring

One thing that caught me off-guard this summer was the difference between school-year tutoring and summer tutoring. Last year, the vast majority of my summer tutoring was for the ACT. This year, my name has expanded quite a bit, as has the diversity of subjects. If you are a full-time tutor, my advice to you is to get ready for anything for the summer. You may get students who want to get... read more

Blogs

5 Stars: The 15-30 Rule

There are several simple ideas to help get good ratings. At least around me, I've heard some horror stories of bad tutors, so I've decided to start up a new blog series about some of the things I do that I think set me apart from others. The 15 - 30 Rule: This is a very simple rule that I implemented early on in tutoring and has helped me enormously throughout my career thus far. For every... read more

Blogs

Free Programming Help

If you want to learn how to program but are getting overwhelmed by the number of options as well as the various wordings in programming language, there is a free program called StencylWorks (http://www.stencyl.com/) that simplifies the coding language by using blocks to visually show the coding instead of the standard typed languages. A friend of mine has really taken to StencylWorks and... read more

Blogs

Answering the TOUGH Questions

If you tutor long enough, especially if you tutor long-term for students, these questions are bound to come up one day: questions on religion, sex, gender issues, abortion, etc., the untouchable questions. Being a full-time tutor myself, they come up with frightening regularity, with religious questions coming up at least once a month and sexuality questions a few times a year. As such, I have... read more

Blogs

Barnes and Nobles - What Not to Do

I am writing this both as a warning to fellow tutors and as an excellent case study of what NOT to do in a business. I do not know if it is just the Barnes and Nobles in West Bloomfield, MI or if this affects more stores nationwide. Today, when I went there, I was shocked to see a new sign at the cafe: "Starting November 11th, we will no longer be allowing tutoring nor game playing... read more

Blogs

Full-Time Tutor, Part 2

Since my first part of describing full-time tutoring was written when I had been a full-time tutor for about a month, I have decided it is time to do an update. Many things have not changed, but I figured a condensed list of things to know that may come up as a full-time tutor would be helpful to some of you reading this. 1. First and foremost, to be a full-time tutor, one must have a... read more

Blogs

Treating Homework as Tests

One thing that I find advisable to many students is to treat their homework as if it was a test. That means no looking back in the book nor notes and putting oneself under time pressure. For the time pressure, I have found a good portion of students know when they are going "fast" vs. taking their time, so I don't advise hard time limits, rather that they self-discipline to stay in... read more

Blogs

The Confidence Dilemna

These are among my least favorite conversations to have. What do you do when a student just is not getting something and you need to build up their confidence without offering false hope? And moreover, what do you do when the father looks to you to offer confidence when the student is obviously struggling? That was the question I had last week with a student struggling in the ACT. I had... read more

Blogs

ACT and SAT Studying Tips

When it comes to the ACT (and similarly the SAT), there are many different ways to study. I have found one to be the most efficient use of time. First off, buy or borrow an ACT prep book, one with at least two full-length tests. This way you can start off studying by taking one of the tests from the get-go (WITH time limits, just like a real ACT test). Doing so will allow you to find one's... read more

Blogs

Starts in Physics

Perhaps the most common question I am asked in physics is "how do I start this problem?" I often use the following 6-step process for solving most physics problems: 1. Determine your starting location and positive direction (look at example for clarification). 2. Write down what you know. This includes any numbers given, their corresponding units, and the corresponding... read more

Blogs

The Second Myth of the "A"

Yes, there is a second myth that follows that letter around (see my previous blog for part one: the idea that all students can get an "A"). One common misjudgment I see a lot off is the idea that if someone has an "A", then they have learned the material. Just like with the previous myth, this one is indeed true a good portion of the time... but not always the case. Take... read more

Blogs

The Myth of the "A"

Ah, one of the most controversial topics in all of schooling. There is an idea out there that any student can get an "A" in any subject. While it may sound nice, it's a load of baloney. Now, for a lot of classes and for a lot of students, an "A" or "A-" is a reasonable expectation. The issue is when we try to say that it is possible for any class and any student... read more

Blogs

Simple "Off-Time" Tutoring

This is an issue that I personally run into occasionally. I tutor most students only once per week, but they might have a pressing question on a different day, so how does one help them out without actually going to the house? Both email and phone calls are possible but both lack in how much you can do. Thus, I have been searching for an alternative solution similar to one of my older... read more

Blogs

Cell Craft

I am always pleased to find new ways to learn material. And, when that method is computer games, all the better. For all of you biology students out there studying the make up of cells, I highly advise trying out Cell Craft. It is a free game at Kongregate that goes into decent depth as to how cells function while doing it in a silly fun storyline involving platypus. Seriously though,... read more

Blogs

Graphing Transformations in two steps

One area I see a lot of students struggle with is how to graph the transformations of graphs. Thus, I have created a format for a simpler way to graph them based on my knowledge and the input of students that I have tutored in the past. I know this looks long, but it is mostly the explanation of two examples. If you already have a general grasp, you may look down to the next bold section (the... read more

Blogs

Preparations for the Morning

Please note first off that this is written primarily about the ACT. I have not taken the other tests, but I have a feeling that what I write here will be at least partially relevant to them. Some of the fundamentals for preparing for the ACT test morning are pretty straightforward: 1. Get enough sleep the night before (and the night before that too. Many forget that two nights ago does... read more

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