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Marshaling the cognitive resources and committing the amount of time required to earn good grades and high test scores takes effort. The rewards from these achievements are often delayed, while the rewards from having fun with your friends, playing video games, interacting on social media, watching tv, etc. are more immediate. What strategies can you use to help overcome this mismatch? In the framework explored in this paper, the authors propose that the decision to delay gratification is mediated by two systems: a "cool" cognitive system, and a "hot" emotional system. The more the hot system dominates, the more likely you are to succumb to temptation. Thankfully, as we get older, the cool system matures and thus makes it easier for many of us to delay gratification. We are most vulnerable to the hot system when we are young. You’ve probably seen the marshmallow experiment in which young children are placed in front of a table with a marshmallow... read more

You might wonder what emotion has to do with learning, and why I am writing a blog about sleep and emotion. If you think about it, though, how you to react challenging situations - the emotions you feel, and the cognitions, physiology, and behaviors that accompany them - can have a profound impact on how you learn. Indeed, emotional reactivity can have a profound impact in multiple domains, but in this blog we will focus on its impact on learning. Modern neuroscience is not necessary to understand that sleep is fundamentally important. However, it increasingly allows us to understand why that is the case. Andrea Goldstein and Matt Walker reviewed the literature on sleep and emotion and make a compelling case for the causal role of sleep in optimal affective brain function. For our purposes, I want to focus on the overarching theme of how sleep deprivation diminishes effective emotional reactivity. When people are sleep deprived for even one night, functional... read more

When you're studying before a test, the question of how to allocate your study time inevitably arises. What should you study first? Where should you spend the most time? Janet Metcalfe and Nate Kornell designed three clever experiments to find out. In the first experiment, participants were allowed to choose how to allocate their study time. They were tasked with learning English-Spanish word pairs of varying difficulty (easy, medium, and difficult), under three different timing conditions (5s, 15s, or 60s). In each trial, one pair from each category appeared and participants could choose where to spend their study time. The most important takeaway from this experiment was that, under tight timing conditions, allocating study time to the easiest items was the most effective strategy. However, Metcalfe suspected that advantage would shift to medium items if participants were forced to spend the bulk of their study time on them. So, in Experiment 2, participants... read more

During the school year, many of the students I work with have jam-packed schedules replete with extracurriculars, sports, and demanding classes. Adding test prep into the mix can complicate schedules even further. So why not take advantage of the time students have off during the summer to get ahead, so that when school resumes they won't have a heavy additional workload to worry about?    There are many reasons why summer classes benefit students. One of the most obvious relates to what is known as the "summer slide." Most students lose about two months of grade-level mathematical proficiency over the summer. In fact, in a meta-analysis of 39 studies that examined the effect of summer vacation on academic achievement, researchers found that summer break was detrimental for both math and reading skills, and that the amount of deterioration increased with grade-level.    Many times I work with sophomores and juniors in high school... read more

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   You... read more

I know that when it comes to boosting one's vocabulary when preparing for one of the standardized tests, some students memorize long lists of words.  Some use flashcards, and others might use mnemonic devices--like associating a word with an image.     That's fine if memorization doesn't bore you, but let's face it. Learning those words by "rote" might help you identify a few on the language section of the SAT, ACT, or GRE, but you'll most likely forget them a week after the test. You also might be someone that hates the practice of memorization.   If you want to improve your vocabulary and really learn new words in context, the best thing is to be a reader, and if you've been reading challenging books throughout high school, that is definitely helpful.  But in the short term, try studying from the book 1100 Words You Need to Know.  This book teaches you vocabulary inductively.  In other words, you're first presented... read more

Testing is grueling.  There is nothing worse than going to a test and finding your stomach growling from hunger as you approach the end of the test.  Then, instead on having your mind on the next question, you start daydreaming about what you will be eating for lunch afterwards.   Instead, prepare yourself for the big day by eating key items.   Make sure to eat protein.  Eggs, sausage, fish, beans, yogurt, milk all come from the protein group.  This will give you your long term energy to help you withstand the lengthy tests.   Limit your carbohydrates.  Limit any bread products you might consume or don't eat them at all.  Limit your cereal, tortillas, potatoes, rice and other items.   Eat vegetables, Vegetables give you good nutrients that keep your mind going.  Eggs, mushrooms, onions and peppers, or fish wrapped in a salad wrap, are some ways to mix your protein and veggies.  And a small amount... read more

At the beginning of my senior year of college, everyone was panicking about the possibility of not finding a job before graduation. Hence, job fairs were heavily attended. While attending a job fair hosted by the business school, I was encouraged to discuss finance positions at Abercrombie and Fitch by a recruiter. I decided I had nothing to lose and introduced myself. She then asked me what I scored on the SAT. Yes, she was referring to the exam that I took over five years ago. After awkwardly staring at her in disbelief, I answered her question and kindly ended the conversation. I do not agree with how the recruiter tried to put me in a box, but as Tupac said, “I was given this world, I didn’t make it.” Doing well on the SAT pays dividends and high school students may encounter this recruiter in the future, so I have decided to share my experience with the SAT. Five Years Ago… As many of my classmates prepared to gain admission to the University of Texas, I was... read more

You won't pass the exam because you are listening to people who took the exam 5,6 or even 20 years ago. The advice most of my students get is "just take a lot of questions,don't read the book" That is a sure way to fail,yes there are some people who can just take a lot of questions and "game" the exam but they are the ones you were always envious of in school, they looked like they weren't trying and still aced the exams. Almost every single student of mine says that is the advice they get from their supervisors. I have even heard of a few getting yelled at because they were reading the book. Some of those people took the exam in the 90s,when the exam questions were drastically different and the Vendors were actually helping write the questions on the exam. FINRA (formerly NASD) ended that practice a long time ago and there may have been some lingering questions from the "good ole days" they are pretty much gone now. This is not your father's... read more

#1. You must lose some battles before you can win the war.-“Timing” you have 2 minutes for every quant question (37 Quant Q’s total) and about 90 seconds for each verbal question (41 Verbal Q’s total.)  There will be a clock on your screen that counts down how many minutes you have left for that particular section. While verbal can be a bit more confusing due to the reading comprehension passages, Quant/Math questions are clear-cut.  How do you get keep pace?  Set some mile-markers by memorizing the ones I’ve listed below.  At each minute, you should ideally be at the question listed.  If you’re too slow, speed up a little bit, but not too much.  If you’re too fast, take a deep breath.   75 minutes-37 Questions 60 minutes- Question 7 45 minutes- Question 15 30 minutes- Question 23 15 minutes -Question 30 10 minutes-Question 33 5 minutes- Question 35 2 minutes-Question 37   #2. Don’t be Late-... read more

Ever wish you could take your side gig and turn it into a fulltime pursuit? That's just what I would do with tutoring because I simply love to tutor, and I am always trying to be better at what I do. Test prep is my tutoring specialty. During our sessions, my students learn subject-specific concepts, incorporate test-taking strategies, and build self-confidence. I assure them that with consistent practice and an unwavering eye on the prize, they can maximize their test results and achieve their academic, business, or personal goals. In fact, students of mine have gone on to attend their choice colleges, earn their teaching licenses, enlist in the US Air Force and other service branches, and pass the bar exam. I so appreciate the extra time my busy clients have taken to express their satisfaction with my services. In return, I want to thank all of my students since 1997 for allowing me to continue tutoring, learning, and enhancing my services to better meet... read more

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) ACT... read more

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