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     Most learning follows a curve; not a bell-shaped curve, but a sudden, steep ascent, followed by a plateau. Think about what it was like to learn how to drive a car. You had to consciously remember where the brake and the accelerator were, until it became second nature. That's the pattern for new learning. What has already been learned is usually habitual, so that it becomes unconscious. When learning new, you have to explicitly pay attention to things that later will become second nature. Then the learning is deeply ingrained; so deeply that you don't even have to think about it.       With regard to exam preparation, this steep curve is a reflection of the fact that you learn the preliminary skill set of exam prep strategies relatively quickly, because there are a finite number of things to learn. The ACT in particular is an open book exam in the sense that all the answers are either in the test or in the questions. It's more a... read more

     Most learning follows a curve; not a bell-shaped curve, but a sudden, steep ascent, followed by a plateau. Think about what it was like to learn how to drive a car. You had to consciously remember where the brake and the accelerator were, until it became second nature. That's the pattern for new learning. What has already been learned is usually habitual, so that it becomes unconscious. When learning new, you have to explicitly pay attention to things that later will become second nature. Then the learning is deeply ingrained; so deeply that you don't even have to think about it.       With regard to exam preparation, this steep curve is a reflection of the fact that you learn the preliminary skill set of exam prep strategies relatively quickly, because there are a finite number of things to learn. The ACT in particular is an open book exam in the sense that all the answers are either in the test or in the questions. It's more a... read more

     Most learning follows a curve; not a bell-shaped curve, but a sudden, steep ascent, followed by a plateau. Think about what it was like to learn how to drive a car. You had to consciously remember where the brake and the accelerator were, until it became second nature. That's the pattern for new learning. What has already been learned is usually habitual, so that it becomes unconscious. When learning new, you have to explicitly pay attention to things that later will become second nature. Then the learning is deeply ingrained; so deeply that you don't even have to think about it.       With regard to exam preparation, this steep curve is a reflection of the fact that you learn the preliminary skill set of exam prep strategies relatively quickly, because there are a finite number of things to learn. The ACT in particular is an open book exam in the sense that all the answers are either in the test or in the questions. It's more a... read more

     Most learning follows a curve; not a bell-shaped curve, but a sudden, steep ascent, followed by a plateau. Think about what it was like to learn how to drive a car. You had to consciously remember where the brake and the accelerator were, until it became second nature. That's the pattern for new learning. What has already been learned is usually habitual, so that it becomes unconscious. When learning new, you have to explicitly pay attention to things that later will become second nature. Then the learning is deeply ingrained; so deeply that you don't even have to think about it.       With regard to exam preparation, this steep curve is a reflection of the fact that you learn the preliminary skill set of exam prep strategies relatively quickly, because there are a finite number of things to learn. The ACT in particular is an open book exam in the sense that all the answers are either in the test or in the questions. It's more a... read more

Frequently Asked Questions   What do you do to help make learning fun? This depends on the subject and the student's age. I have created Jeopardy games, given play money/candy as rewards for answering correctly, played board games (while studying), gathered books on subjects that interest the student, and much more.   Do you offer any guarantees? Yes, I am not satisfied until you are. If your child receives a grade on a test/quiz that is below a "C" then I will review the material with the student at no charge.   Can you guarantee my child will improve? I can assure you that I will give your child all the tools necessary to improve their grades. It is ultimately up to the child to improve.   What are the typical grade improvements you see? Most children will improve a minimum one letter score within only a few weeks of tutoring.   Do you offer ongoing tutoring rates? Yes, students who meet a minimum... 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

Between ACT and SAT preparation, strategies may differ in some specific ways, yet the overall objective is the same:  build confidence, reduce time, improve accuracy.   Confidence ... why?  Does confidence matter?   Yes!  Here's why --   1 - Neurochemically. Confidence lets us give the thinking brain its proper attention.  When we feel anxious or otherwise flooded with emotion, the stress / alert chemicals actually interfere with cognition.   2 - Cognitively.  Confidence lets us assess competing options more effectively, in order to identify and take calculated risks while avoiding impulsivity.   3 - Intuitively.  Confidence provides feedback to let us know when we are appropriately prepared.  When we feel a lack of confidence, the feeling, itself, indicates that we have overlooked something important.  When we have fully prepared and are sure we have done so, the feeling of confidence... 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

Parents of high school sophomores and juniors should consider NOW focusing on A.C.T. prep as an alternative to the "new S.A.T."  Why?   1.  Current sophomores and juniors are caught in the transition between the current/"old" SAT, which continues through the fall semester, and the "new" SAT which debuts in March 2016; the "old" version expires in January.  The A.C.T. will be the same test format after January as before.   2.  A much wider variety of well-established and proven study materials exist, right now, for the A.C.T. compared to the "new" S.A.T.      3.  The A.C.T. has a well-established reputation for being more closely tied to the high school curriculum than the S.A.T.  (S.A.T. reading passages and vocabulary have tended in the past -- and appear to continue, based on early-released samples -- to include more obscure content that most high school... read more

Sure, we have all heard our math teachers say "Study for your test tomorrow." While we can all agree the importance of studying and getting prepared for an exam, not many math teachers actually tell you HOW to study. I am sure we have all spent time making flash cards, staring at our notes, or watching last minute videos on youtube, only to realize the test results often don't correlate to our effort. Before long, these upsetting experiences and test results created a scar in our minds, that statement we have all heard before: I am just not good at math.   The truth of the matter is, many people who have expressed their inability to understand and perform well on mathematics simply don't know how to study for a math exam. After all, those negative signs and multiple choice questions are often so tricky, even though you calculated every step correctly until the very end, all it took was one single mindless error that can well ruin the entire result. If we closely... read more

Quickly after beginning work as a tutor, I came to realize that parents are the black belts of scheduling. They not only have to keep up with a number of annoying adult responsibilities, but they also have to keep up with their children's calendars. Parents' organizational skills (and possibly their sanity) are put to a very difficult test daily. So, to all my expertly organized parents out there, in this post I hope to let you in on a scheduling detail that often slips through the cracks but can make a big difference in a student's SAT or ACT scores.   One of the biggest obstacles I face when preparing a student for the SAT or ACT is the student's test schedule. Far too often, my student is signed up for two tests that are only a month apart. For example, a couple of my past students have been signed up for an SAT in May and then another in June. This short turnaround gives me very little time to receive the student's scores and prep the student in the areas he or... read more

During the school year, my students balance classes, sports, social lives, and sleep. Their schedules are hectic. During tutoring lessons, students often only have time to focus on the immediate assignments at hand in their classes. We usually have little time for test prep unless the student and parent has specifically requested that we focus solely on the SAT or ACT. So, when is the best time to study for the SAT or ACT? You guessed it. Summer vacation.    Many of my students have a summer schedule that gives their school year calendar a run for it's money. However, their busy summers do not contain nearly as many academic activities as their school year schedules. Most have summer sports, camp, or jobs. This is the perfect time to balance those physical and social activities with test prep. In addition, students can learn the ropes of the SAT or ACT better when they are not juggling other classes and tests. Every kind of standardized test is unique and it takes... 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

I have been involved education as long as I can remember. My parents were educators. They helped start a school, were on the board of another, and were founding board members of the North Dakota Home School Association. I started teaching at the age of thirteen, as a volunteer. I have taught professionally, for over fourteen years. I have coached soccer. I co-founded a school and taught a wide array of subjects there for three years, including Latin, Rhetoric, General Science, and History. For nearly twelve years, I have been an education consultant, tutor, and mentor. I am prepared to tutor students in all subjects through high school, and I am well-versed in ACT and SAT preparation. I also do some college-level tutoring, particularly in English, Writing, Study Skills, and other humanities-related subjects. Feel free to ask for more details. I tutor adult students in a variety of subjects, and I have also had success in the past working with students who have a variety of... read more

1. "Knowing what topics will be on the quiz is half the battle" Start by asking the teacher tons of questions like "will we need to know this for the quiz?" or "is this one of the key problems that we should know how to solve?" or "would you say that this is a topic of major importance for us to learn in this class?"  If you can, look at the teacher's past quizzes and talk to former students (seniors) about this teacher to see what his tests are usually like. Do they look the same from year to year? Google terms like "inverse trig quizzes" to test yourself and compare what you find to what the teacher gives you.   2. "Be prepared" Get enough sleep.  Eat a good breakfast. Use the bathroom before the quiz. Have extra paper and pencils. Bring your calculator with extra batteries.  Bring your "Note Sheet" with everything you need on it. Do NOT lose this. Don't put too... 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

Before I realized I had a gift in tutoring as a professional activity in and of itself, I used to do a little bit of it as part of my job as a 1-on-1 and Family Community Support and Intensive In-Home behaviorist.  While I performed many functions which straddled the fence between mental health and social work, a large part of my job involved coordinating between my clients (usually teens and/or their family members), parents, teachers, other medical professionals, community leaders such as activities coaches and clergy, and etc.     Today, I find that one of the things that propels my tutoring into the realm of excellence is my ability to coordinate with parents, teachers, siblings, other students, etc. to ensure students are working with the appropriate content, are properly motivated, and experience realistic social situations (sometimes supportive, sometimes challenging) in order to maximize student enjoyment and achievement.   For example, if... read more

The reading comprehension sections of standardized testing can be intimidating. Here are a few tips to help you with them.      First of all, read the title of the passage, and all headings and summaries. These often give you an idea of what the passage covers.      Then, if your test allows, read the comprehension questions before you read the passage. When you read the questions first, your brain may notice the answers automatically as you read the passage. If you see the answer to a question while you're reading, underline the answer, and then keep reading. Do not stop reading to answer the questions until you reach the end of the passage. If you stop, you may lose the flow of the passage as a whole. Remember, you can always read it again once you understand the context.      If you cannot read the questions before you begin, then underline any important information and main ideas as you read. It may also be... read more

There are many situations in which a student or parent might want to seek extra help with math.  Does the student often need to retake assessments? As a teacher, I like to offer make-ups because I want my students to know it's more important to learn the material than to move on before they're ready. Needing to frequently retake assessments means that the student needs to reevaluate how they are preparing. Often, getting a tutor can help them figure out how to best study independently. Does the student freeze during assessments? Does their mind go blank? Or do they think they did well but it turns out that wasn't the case? It's possible the student has test anxiety and needs to build their confidence. Talking through the material with someone is one of the best ways to alleviate that anxiety. Does the student have a difficult time staying caught up with the material? Do they feel like they always get it after the test or quiz but not before? This is... read more

Summer is the best time to start studying for college/career entrance exams. Since there is no school and homework, you will not feel overwhelmed when it is time to study. Studying for just an hour a day, 5 days a week, will increase your chances of getting a higher score and you will still have time to enjoy the summer. Alternate subjects weekly. Familiarize yourself with all the subjects on the test. Purchase a test preparation book to get question examples. By the end of the summer, you should have done every problem in the book, including the practice exams. If you need additional help, ask your tutor. Study with others. You will be more motivated to study this summer if you are involved in a study group. Find students that are taking the same exam. Ask your tutor to for a group study session. Knowing that there are other students with the same goal as you can help your study sessions be less stressful. Know your calculator. If a calculator is permitted... read more

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