We all know we do better when we're well-rested than when we're not. Modern sleep research has started to uncover exactly why that's the case. In terms of memory, there are at least two important reasons to make sure you're getting enough sleep.
First, we better remember what we learned the day before. This is because sleep plays an essential role in the conversion of short-term memory to long-term memory. Short-term memory relies heavily on a brain region known as the hippocampus (named after the Greek word for seahorse, given its shape), while long-term memory relies on a broad network of cortical association areas. When we learn new information, the hippocampus is very active, and when we sleep, it turns out that the activity of our hippocampus predicts how well we will remember what we learned when we wake up. Researchers have even found interesting ways to manipulate and improve this process. For example, in one study, experimenters paired the scent of a rose with a spatial...
When I worked for Kaplan, they required all private tutoring lessons to be two hours. That surprised me because I thought of lessons as one-hour affairs. However, I soon discovered that we could get through a lot more in one two-hour lesson than we could in two one-hour lessons.
Why? For starters, each lesson always starts with a few pleasantries and takes a couple of minutes to get going. Furthermore, it usually takes 10-15 minutes for students' minds to warm up and perform at their best. So by the time we are at our best flow, if the lesson is only one hour, we have often already used a significant portion of our lesson time.
For the vast majority of students, I've found that 90-minute lessons work best. With 90-minute lessons, we can go through the warm up period and spend more than an hour at our most productive level. Lessons are long enough to ensure students learn a lot each lesson, but not so long that they are struggling to pay attention by the end.
Sometimes I work with students who perform well during our lessons, but who struggle when it comes to actually taking the test. It turns out the reason for this might be genetic.
When we experience stress, our prefrontal cortex is flooded with dopamine. Some of us are coded with a gene that slowly removes the dopamine, while others have a variant that rapidly removes it. The prefrontal cortex is critical for planning and decision-making, and it performs best when an optimal level of dopamine is maintained. Normally, on many cognitive tests, people with the slow variant of the gene perform better. But in stressful, high-stakes situations the opposite happens: those with the fast variant do better. Thus people with the slow variant have been dubbed Worriers, and those with the fast variant, Warriors.
However, being a Worrier does not mean you will inevitably be a victim of chronic underperformance in stressful situations. In one of the studies...
The Economist recently published an
article with some surprising research findings about stress. Contrary to popular belief, stress is not always bad, nor is it the amount of stress that matters. Rather, the key determinant of its impact on performance and health is largely psychological.
In one study, researchers divided a set of GRE test takers into two groups. Saliva samples were taken to establish baseline stress levels for all participants. Then one group was told that stress during practice exams is natural and can improve performance, while the other group just took the test. Saliva samples were taken at the end of the exam, and the results from both groups indicated similar levels of stress. BUT, the group that had learned stress can be helpful scored higher on the practice test (and, several months later, on the actual GRE) than those who just took the test.
Even more impressively, in 2012 a group of researchers scoured through...
I can't speak for every tutor, but I know that if you work with me I have certain expectations of you in order to ensure that you will see the greatest possible improvement in your score. Luckily, they are really quite simple, and adhering to them makes a huge difference. I've attached a PDF version to summarize my
Top 5 Test Prep Essentials that you can download, but I will review each of them below too.
For starters, I may be stating the obvious, but you absolutely must complete all homework assignments. All my assignments are tailored to your current performance and designed to help you achieve your goal score. Many students aspire to achieve dramatic improvements, and I fully believe such improvements are possible. BUT, in order to achieve such goals, it is imperative that you complete every homework assignment. If there is a notable gap between your current score and your goal score, that is perfectly ok, but it makes the homework that much more important...
Our understanding of the relationship between memory and learning continues to improve. Why not benefit from the latest research by incorporating some of these findings into your own study habits? I help my students come up with creative ways to do this all the time, and wanted to share one of the more helpful summaries I've come across about what works and what doesn't.
Here are a few highlights:
Link new information to things you already know
Actively participate in your own learning
Create both a visual and a verbal memory for the same information
Whenever possible, study in an environment that is similar to the testing environment
Spread studying out over several days, rather than cramming
Avoid multitasking when learning difficult or dense material
Review information you're trying to memorize right before you go to sleep
Quiz yourself frequently to practice retrieving these memories, making them stronger in the process
A regular schedule is the most successful structure for tutoring, and I offer discounts for sessions scheduled on a regular basis (see Session Fees). I also tutor individuals who want single sessions, have irregular schedules, need immediate help, or simply are not sure.
I try to be as flexible as possible and am usually able to stay longer than scheduled if needed. I will not charge for up to 15 minutes extra if it was not previously arranged.
I offer online tutoring as well as in-person, so please let me know if you are interested in occasional online sessions to supplement in-person lessons, or if you prefer online lessons only.
All of my fees are negotiable! If you have a request please contact me before the session is scheduled.
Individual student rates for standard subjects: $ 35 per hour
Individual student rates for multiple hour sessions (3 hours or more): $30...
Alas! You have to take the GRE in order to get into the program of your choice. Keep in mind that if you do not prepare well, you may have to take the test again, which will cost you probably around $200 or more. If you do not prepare well and it sets your studies back a year, that could cost you a year of earning potential in your lifetime. That's not a fun math problem. Maybe you need that extra year to prepare, but if you are ready, why go at the GRE in a less than 100% manner?
Let's say you already have your fall date set and you have two months or less to prepare for the exam. Here is what I recommend.
Research the GRE stats of the university you are considering. Contact your POI (person of interest) and find out how well you need to perform on the GRE. If you need to score in the 90th percentile in the quantitative portion, that's something you need to know. Your POI may say that you need to score in the 60th, but if everyone who was admitted in the previous...
phone apps: ACTStudent, ACT Test Prep TestBank,
phone apps: College Board The Official SAT Question of the Day, Ace the ACT, The Princeton Review SAT Lite, Mind Snacks SAT Vocab, SAT flashcard review, Intelli Power Vocab
I would like to share with you, potential and current students, success stories of just a few of my Wyzant test prep students. As you can see, whether you start below or above the average exam score, these stats prove that "where there is a will, there's a way!" Way to go, Students!!
"A1" - ACT prep (18 hrs tutoring)
ACT composite increased from 19 to 28 (47%), up 17 points (189%) in English!
"A2" - ACT prep (20 hrs tutoring)
ACT composite increased from 27 to 30 (47%), up 4 points (15%) in English and 4 points (15%) in Science!
"F" - ACT prep (8 hrs tutoring)
ACT composite increased from 28 to 35 (25%), up 12 points (52%) in English!
"H" - ACT prep (10 hrs tutoring)
ACT composite increased from 22 to 28 (27%), up 12 points (60%) in Science!
"M1" - ACT prep (10 hrs tutoring)
ACT composite increased from 18 to 25 (39%), up 9 points (56%) in Math!
"M2" - ACT prep (8 hrs tutoring)