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Every student has the same amount of time in the day, but the key to improving your life and having time for the activities you want to do is to find ways to be more productive. First, putting all your due dates for your term assignments on a calendar, paper or digital, is an effective method of measuring out your time that you have to prepare. This way helps to manage the load in nice chunks. Finding out whether you are a visual, auditory, or tactical learner is also a great idea and is helpful in engaging with the material more easily and quickly. A quick, simple test can identify how information most easily goes into your brain. If you are a visual learner, you can “see” the information, so writing notes in charts and creating other visual representations makes the information organized in your brain. Using color codes in your notes is beneficial to map out information on the pages, such as using different colored highlighting pens or colored pencils to identify questions you... read more

A concise objective, for learning to read and write English, could be to communicate with people. A more expansive or technical objective, could be to learn to recognize, pronounce and use all the basic English characters (constants & vowels), symbols and operators to create single words, that have meaning, for making statements; or to create mathematical numbers or expressions, that have value. It’s important to understand language, including English, is about thinking and learning, so remember speaking and writing is thinking; and on the other side listening and reading is learning. So, by speaking and writing; and listening and reading, we think, and we learn. That’s what communication is all about. However, people put less emphasis on listening and reading, but those are two skills that can take you far and help you avoid many unfortunate situations. While learning English, keep in mind, many characters, symbols and operators used in writing grammar are also... read more

The two rules for rounding numbers are Round your numbers only once (in one step), and Round 5's to the nearest even digit -- up or down as needed.   Below I explain why.   In school they usually teach you to round all 5's up to the next digit. For example, 1.45 is rounded to 1.5, 1.65 is rounded to 1.7, 3.225 is rounded to 3.23, etc.   This is wrong because it introduces what we call "systematic error": an error consistently wrong in one direction. In rounding all 5's up, you end up with an average that is too high. ("Random error" goes high or low of the true value randomly, so the average is close to the real value.)   The reason is that 5 is directly in the middle of the digits we round, so we must round it up half the time, and down half the time.   To make this more clear, look at the digits we round to another number: 1, 2, 3, 4 we round down. 6, 7, 8, 9 we round up. (0 we just truncate,... read more

I was asked this question recently by several mothers about which book (singular, not plural) they should get for their sons for their upcoming tests. To both of them I replied: "Get the Princeton Review edition of the book." And while I believe this to be the CORRECT answer, this answer unfortunately is misleading because what I actually want to say is, "Get ALL editions of the book." For example if there is a Barron's version, a Kaplan version, a Princeton Review version, etc. etc. of AP Chemistry, then I would advise the moms to get ALL of these books for their sons (assuming of course that they'll read them). The reason is because one book doesn't have enough practice problems. From experience, after reading the first test preparation book or textbook, the student will have a rather hazy outline of the subject material. Books 2-5 make the outline clearer. Most students don't begin to really understand the subject until around Book 7. And that's the reason... read more

In today's Writing Rundown, I want to leave the brainstorming process for a bit and discuss responding to a prompt. Take a look at the prompt I used for my last Literature Spotlight, “The Blanks Left Empty”: AP Literature Open-Ended Prompt, 1975, #2: Unlike the novelist, the writer of a play does not use his own voice and only rarely uses a narrator’s voice to guide the audience’s responses to character and action. Select a play you have read and write an essay in which you explain the techniques the playwright uses to guide his audience’s responses to the central characters and the action. You might consider the effect on the audience of things like setting, the use of comparable and contrasting characters, and the characters’ responses to each other. Support your argument with specific references to the play. Do not give a plot summary. Whew! That's a lot of information to sift through. Unfortunately, many high school and college-level writing prompts are as... read more

Do you find that your child is often impulsive, is easily frustrated, and demonstrates behaviors that you do not know how to explain? You are not alone. I have received several calls in this past week from parents looking for advice regarding the onset of "behavior problems" in their children. Every child has an innate need for structure and for sensory experiences. Every child has a need to be listened to and understood. Every child has a need to understand and to interact with his or her environment. Unfortunately, these needs are not met for many children, especially in the fast-paced, get-up-and-go culture of American society. If your child regularly comes home from school with bad reports or regularly exhibits signs of discomfort of misbehavior at home, ponder these things: 1. What specific things happened today that could have caused my child to feel misunderstood, ignored, or to feel as if his needs were not met? Think through the whole day, especially... read more

Congratulations to Alex Z., in my Critical Reading Class at Focus Education. For the past year or so Alex has been writing critical analyses of articles in TIME Magazine based on prompts I assign. While Alex is obviously super gifted, he's thrived in the class, and will be continuing even now-- despite having gotten a perfect 800 score in a test designed for kids 3 years older than he is! WOW! An eighth grader with already a 2270 on an official SAT! He could skip high school and go straight to the Ivy League (although I might suggest Williams or Amherst instead). Should I be proud or what? Congratulations also to Ryan of Santa Clarita-- who was accepted today at UC Irvine. Just the first of many "fat envelopes" I expect will be arriving (digitally) this spring. Not to mention my student in Bel Air Crest: a fourth grader who just wrote a fantastic paper on "Wuthering Heights." She's already catching onto SAT techniques, too. In a few months she'll be... read more

As I have tutored over time via instant messaging, certain problems come up again and again among the students that I have taught English writing to.   As I have corrected student essays over the past few years online, I have developed this set of advice for writers with less experience.  Much of this advice is influenced by Strunk & White's and Payne, so I don't claim much originality here.   General organizational advice for essays: 1. Don’t take the reader’s attention for granted. In the introduction, use attention-getting devices, such as a set of leading questions, interesting statistics, a famous quote from a famous person, a striking assertion or claim, etc. The following sentences in the first paragraph should narrow down the topic to the more specific point made in the thesis. 2. Always put the thesis statement, or main point to be proven or explained, at the end of the first paragraph. Aim to write it as a single sentence, not two... read more

  LeapFrog LeapFrog LeapReader System Learn to Read 10 Book Bundle   This is an excellent resource for a beginner novice reader. The systematic reading language format gives the reader a higher level of self-confidence and raises the level of reading in small increments. It keeps the student involved and encourages him or her to learn and develop successful reading strategies and techniques.   Happy Reading!!!   www.wyzant.com/Tutors/HIE   LeapFrog LeapReader Learn to Read, Volume 1

OK, so you’ve been asked to do a Pivot Table for the first time? And just like everyone else, you feel somewhat intimidated; “what’s going to happen to my data if I screw up my Pivot Table?”; “Can I undo my changes?”; “Can I delete my Pivot Table?”; “How long does it take to create a Pivot Table?”; “What is a Pivot Table in the first place?” Let’s give the short answers first: “Nothing”, “Yes”, “Yes”, “30 seconds to an hour or more”, “A summarized view of your data grouped by selected fields”.   And yes, as mentioned in other posts, most job interviews for admin, accounting or office positions where Excel is used heavily will include a question on Pivot Tables – so be prepared! The first thing you need prior to creating a Pivot Table is a data set in rows and columns, and preferably a normalized data set; by normalized, I mean a clean data set where individual records are populated in rows and unique field headers are in columns. Once you start working... read more

Here are a short list of CTRL shortcuts you can use in Excel to speed up your navigation.     CTRL A = SELECT ALL RANGE OR TABLE CTRL C = COPY CTRL X = CUT CTRL V = PASTE CTRL O = OPEN CTRL W = CLOSE CTRL HOME = GOES TO CELL A1 (HOME) CTRL END = GOES TO END (LAST EDITED ROW AND COLUMN of WORKSHEET) CTRL Z = UNDO LAST CTRL Y = REDO LAST CTRL S = SAVE CTRL T = CREATES TABLE FROM RANGE CTRL : = INSERT TIME (NOW) CTRL ; = INSERT DATE (TODAY) CTRL SPACEBAR = SELECT ENTIRE COLUMN SHIFT SPACEBAR = SELECT ENTIRE ROW CTRL PAGEUP = GOES TO PREVIOUS WORKSHEET CTRL PAGEDOWN = GOES TO NEXT WORKSHEET     Do you have one which is not listed? post it below in the comment section :)

While in many tutorial exercises as well as in job interviews, you may be asked to create a VLOOKUP formula, in the real world you will quickly find that INDEX/MATCH is a far better solution. To understand why, let's look at the syntax of each: VLOOKUP(lookup_value, array, col-num, lookup_type) VLOOKUP(what?, where?, which column? , approximate search: yes or no?), just like HLOOKUP, refers to a specific column number (or row) starting from the first column (or row) of your index search (the “where”). Why the first column (or row)? Because this is where Excel will look for your "what" !! This means you always have to include at the very least all columns (or rows) starting from the "what" column (or row) all the way to the column_index (or row_index) number in the "where" range. For example, if a customer discount is in column P, and customer name is in column C, your VLOOKUP function will look something like... read more

If you are working in a Microsoft environment, Excel or Word and on a laptop, you may have been frustrated having to select the Fn key together with the primary F1-F12 keys to run the desired command. While the fix is easy on a Mac, it is not so on a PC. Here are the instructions on how to do this on your PC (Windows 10) 1) In your Search Windows Box, type “UEFI”; this will bring a pop-up option “Change Advanced Startup Options”. 2) Select this option, in the next window select “Advanced Startup” and click on the button “Restart Now” (this will restart your computer) 3) Upon restart select “Advanced Options / UEFI Firmware settings” 4) Click on RESTART 5) Once the computer restarts, you will find a menu with several drop-down lists; a. select “POST behavior - Fn Lock Options”. 6) The default is Lock Mode Disabled / Standard. a. Select “Lock Mode Enable / Secondary” That’s it!! Confirm and Exit and your settings are... read more

What is the best way to improve your SAT Reading score? I find that most students lose points on the Reading section because of the test's challenging vocabulary. As you go through the practice tests, if you find that you are not familiar with many of the words, take the time to write them out on separate flash cards. Then, look them up in the dictionary and write the definitions on the flip side. You can also buy pre-made SAT vocabulary flash cards. Whether you make them or buy them, test your memory with flash cards for about 20 minutes a day.

I understand some parents are cagy or wary of online tutoring. After all - schools teach face-to-face, don't they? But, have you noticed how online services are exploding and brick/mortar schools are slowly but steadily disappearing? The internet is no longer the future - it is here - now! Online tutoring brings multiple advantages for everybody. 1. Very, very flexible. The student can be anywhere. At school on lunch break - Overseas - Broken leg in bed - sorry. 2. Nobody needs to drive in crazy traffic and risk an accident. 3. The student has immediate access to my Mac with thousands of topics - explanations and worked solutions.  4. You get copies of the work we did together for review / better understanding. Smart phone or PC! No lost paper notes. 5. Online we share screens and audio in real-time just as if we were sitting at the same table. 6. Can cancel and reschedule at the last minute. In-person carries a 24-hour minimum. 7. Class... read more

Typically, I don't follow a set of rules when I go to tutoring; I work based on what the students needs are.  But here are a few things that I have noticed have improved my comfort level with new students and their and heir families comfort level with me.   1.  Find out what activities your student is interested in outside of the subject you're tutoring in.  The parent may mention an activity they do or just ask; this breaks the ice and lets them see you as more than someone to help with homework.   2.  Don't be afraid to be goofy.  Most little kids love silly jokes, middle schoolers will pretend like they don't, but really they do, and high schoolers may laugh right then or giggle to themselves about it later.  Oh, and adults might be a tougher bunch, but tap into their sense of humor a bit.   3.  Make friends with their pets.  A lot of families have pets that will greet you sometime during your meeting... read more

This post is about several things that I encountered after two weeks of working with my new Wyzant students. I will start with the good then the bad... It never hurts to be prepared. Wyzant requires you to submit lessons after the lesson occurs. Submitting a lesson also requires a 25 word minimum lesson review. While that is great, why not prepare a lesson plan before hand? That is exactly what I do. This is one I submitted today: Lesson 2-Proofreading Tuesday- 10/2/12 6:00pm-7:00pm Note: Objectives Learning punctuation. Proofreading sentences Correcting DLR quiz mistakes DLR homework Checking in-Last Week in Review Go over how DLR study guide worked Go over “Homework”- “How to Write a Paragraph”, “What Does Not Belong” Activity 1 DLR 30 minutes Completion of DLR homework activities -Critical sentences on how to make sentences better and concise DLR Quiz corrections -Working on understanding that punctuation... read more

       Book, books... Table, tables... Phone, phones... Day, days... So... life, lifes, right? Nope! The plural of life is lives. And, isn't the plural of sheep sheeps? Nope! The plural of sheep is sheep. It's the same word.      Have you ever wondered how to handle all of the rules and exceptions to rules in the English language? Here is an introduction (a beginning) to understanding the rules about plural nouns. Hopefully, it will make figuring out how to change that word less of a guessing game and more of a skill. '   Plurals What is a plural noun? A plural noun is a person, place, or thing of which there is more than one. Example: If there is more than one phone, they are called phones. When should I make a noun plural? Make a noun plural when there is more than one of what that noun represents How do I make a noun plural? Usually,... read more

One question that inevitably crops up is what my job is. I am a full-time tutor. This is all I do. Very few tutors work full-time, and I have a feeling that many other tutors (or anyone else reading this) may have some questions about what it means to be a full-time tutor. Thus, here we are... Obviously, in order to be a full-time tutor, one must first have a love for tutoring. Tutoring is a very mentally straining job, and if you do not have a love for it, tutoring will wear you out fast. One thing that might not be so obvious is that one must also love driving. About a third of the time that I am "working", I am just driving to meet my next student. Having a good sense of direction and being able to read maps is also handy of course. Another thing that a newcomer to full-time tutoring may not realize is the high time commitment. I was an analyst before being a tutor, and in order to make what I would have been earning, I work seven days a week, each day working... read more

The complaints against WyzAnt’s 40% commission demands a response. Suppose a tutor with 15 hours of work time through WyzAnt charges $40 an hour. Of that amount, WyzAnt will automatically deduct $16. This deduction is based on WyzAnt’s commission rate, which is 40% for the first 20 hours of work time. So the tutor is not earning $40 an hour; rather, the tutor is earning $24 an hour. According to a number of individuals, WyzAnt’s 40% commission rate is too high, way above average. Some folks, oddly enough, have even posted complaints on other websites. Why? Here's some food for thought. 1. Twenty-four dollars an hour is higher than any state’s hourly minimum wage. 2. You can create your website for tutors and charge a lower commission. 3. If you tutor for an hour you will be paid $24. 4. If you don’t tutor for an hour you will not be paid $24. 5. Twenty-four dollars is more than zero dollars. 6. You don’t have to stay with WyzAnt, but before you leave... read more

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