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Tips from an Irvine Tutor: You’re Using Flashcards Wrong

Studying with Flashcards: Why you’re doing it wrong

Flashcards are a quintessential tool for students looking to memorize a significant amount of material in a short amount of time. Whether it’s for vocabulary words, parts of a cell, or trigonometric derivatives, flash cards are used by students everywhere to learn the material and pass an exam – book your private Irvine tutor for finals.

And using flashcards is an incredibly effective study strategy – if they are used correctly and with purpose. For such a ubiquitous and straightforward tool, it’s surprising how few students are taught how to use flashcards. Consequently, flashcards tend to be misused and misunderstood. If you are using flashcards, keep reading to make sure that you are getting the most out of your studying.

Looking and Flipping

The least effective, yet most pervasive, flashcard strategy is to just read them like you would read anything else. Students will look at one side, flip it over and read the next side, then move on to the next card. They’ll go through their whole deck this way – essentially just read the list of things they should know. Sure, you might learn your words this way just by reading them over and over, but there are better ways.

The Right Way

Instead of just looking and flipping, the process should be more like this: Look, think, test yourself, then flip. One of the main benefits of flashcards is that they allow you to test yourself. Look at one side of the card, then see if you know the other side before you flip it. Think of the answer, say it out loud, or write it down. I recommend doing all three to make sure you really know the material. Do not just read through the cards and flip through them without testing your knowledge.

Keeping the deck unchanged

Once the deck of flashcards is made, many students just stick with it. They go through the same deck, start to finish until they feel like they know all of the cards. This method is very time consuming and not conducive to really learning the terms you are studying.

The Right Way

Separate the deck into two piles as you study. You should be testing yourself before you flip the card; if you know the other side of the card correctly, then put it in one pile – if not, then put it in a second pile. Even if you got the answer partly correct, put it in the second pile. This will create two decks for you: one with cards you know, and one with cards you don’t. Focus your studying on the “don’t know” cards, putting the ones you master into the “know” pile until the “don’t know” deck is empty.

Then, shuffle all of the cards together and go through the whole deck again. Make sure you still know all of the cards even when they’re all together and shuffled. Studying this way will prevent you from having to go through the whole deck every time instead of focusing on what you need to learn.

Only Using Words and Definitions

Many students think flashcards can only be used for learning vocabulary words, key terms, or other simple concepts with definitions. This leads to simple flashcard decks with dictionary definitions that might not be best preparing you for your test.

The Right Way

Flashcards can be used for so much more than just vocabulary! You can use flashcards for pictures, for example, problems for equations, and more. Anything that you need to have memorized you can consider using a flash card (READ: OC Tutoring Tips: Four Tips for a Better Study Session).

For classes where you need to know diagrams or identify pictures, consider drawing/printing what you need to know on one side of the flashcard. For complicated diagrams, processes, or pictures (anything that you’ll have to label/identify several parts in the same image) you can have multiple flashcards with the same picture but different “blanks” that you have to fill in. This way you can memorize complex concepts without being overwhelmed.

You can use flashcards in math or equation-based subjects, too. Equations that need to be memorized can be flashcards. You can also use example problems and their solutions for complicated problems. For the solutions, considering numbering the steps to get to the answer. When you study with the cards, you can test yourself on what the steps to the solution are. Now if you see a similar problem later, you will know how to approach it.

Other Common Mistakes and Solutions

Sometimes, students will use flashcards in a way similar to a PowerPoint presentation: a title or heading on one side and a list of bullet points on the other. While this isn’t a bad way to write and organize your notes, it isn’t an optimal way to study the information on the card. Break up your larger flashcards into smaller facts and associations if you can. This will make the information more digestible and easier to test yourself on when you’re studying. Paraphrasing and putting things in your own words are good practices in this process as well.

Another common study mistake that students make is studying in only one direction. That is, they’ll always look at side “A” and test themselves by flipping to side “B.” You should always be trying to learn your terms and recognize associations in both directions when possible.

A Final Mistake

The final mistake is not having variety in your flashcard decks. Many students will make their own flashcards and use dictionary definitions or textbook syntax to memorize. Other students will exclusively use pre-made flashcards online or on apps on their phone. In both cases, you want to be able to write flashcards in your own words to promote your understanding. It is good to use other decks in combination with your own to have a more well-rounded understanding.

Flashcards are a valuable tool that can help you memorize and study for virtually any subject. If you haven’t been getting the most out of your studying, or you think flashcards aren’t helpful, try some of these tips and watch your results improve.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

SAT and ACT: Specific Tips for Common Problems – Part II

Tips from an Irvine SAT and ACT Tutor: Common Problems

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For the math/quantitative: The two most common problems I see with the math sections are wasting too much time on a few problems, and giving up on questions because they look unfamiliar. When you review your practice tests, are you running out of time? Were there some questions you never even got to look at? Or, do you find that some questions were much easier than you thought after you see the solutions? You might benefit from these tips – book your private Costa Mesa math tutor today.

First, if you aren’t finishing the whole math sections, you need to learn to prioritize. If you’re spending 5+ minutes on one question, you are likely wasting your time. There might be a much easier question that you know how to do later in the test, but you didn’t give yourself the time to get to it. If you are going to guess, you want to be speculating on the questions that you know you can’t solve, not just the one you never got a chance to look at. You should always be getting to the end of the whole section, even if that means skipping a lot of questions that you think are harder or will take too long.

The next tip is to have confidence in your math ability. Believe it or not, you very likely have learned every topic on the math/quantitative sections of these tests. Many of the questions are purposefully worded and structured in a way to confuse you. The test-makers are seeing if you can look at an atypical question and figure out how to apply your knowledge to solve it.

Making Things Click

Frequently, I’ll have students look at a math problem and say “oh, I never learned this.” Then, when we go over how to solve it, everything clicks and they realize that they had learned the necessary skills. Have confidence in yourself and remember that these tests are not using any outlandish or highly advanced mathematics.

For the reading/verbal: We’ll have three tips for these sections from three more common problems. The first common problem is running out of time. These are timed exams, and if you are a slow reader, that could be a huge problem in the reading sections. There are many strategies for students who run out of time that are dependent upon each individual’s skills. Here are some you can try: Finding passages that look simpler/more familiar and reading them first. It’s better to run out of time on the harder sections than to guess on easier ones.

Never read any passages, only skim them. If you are spending too much time reading, then you can’t afford to read it. Many of the questions will ask for details that will require you to go back to the passage anyway. Read only a couple sentences so you have the main idea, then go to the questions and head back to the passage to scan for any needed details.
Read the questions first. A common tip that some students find effective is to read the questions before the passage so that they know what to look for when they’re skimming. This can help you read faster if you have an idea of what details you can ignore.

Don’t Give Up

Aside from running out of time, another common problem is giving up on a passage before you even get to the questions. The topics of the essays, excerpts, and articles on these tests can be very unfamiliar. Whether it’s about some moment in history you’ve never learned, a scientific process with complicated names, or a work of art from a different place and different time – it is likely that you will encounter reading topics that you have never even heard of.

This is done on purpose. Like in the math section, the test-makers are seeing if you can use your knowledge to extract some meaning and answer questions about something that seems confusing. You don’t need to know anything about the topic, you just need to find the details and keywords to answer the questions.

This leads to the next problem, which is when students do use their prior knowledge. You may be reading a passage that you do know about and have opinions on. The final tip is to make sure that you are objective and literal: unless the question asks you to, don’t make assumptions about the author or the characters in a passage. Also, you must distance yourself and your opinions from what you are reading. You can only use what is written in the passage to answer the questions, and many times there will be answers that are seemingly obvious to you but are false based on the text you just read.

These are just a few of the many test-taking tips that can be valuable for standardized tests. Again, these tips are not relevant to everyone, but they may be useful to you. It is important to identify problems first before looking for solutions. If you aren’t confident in doing that yourself, it can usually be beneficial to seek out an expert to help you locate and solve your individual problems with the test.

Read part one here.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

SAT and ACT: Specific Tips for Common Problems – Part I

Tips from an Irvine SAT and ACT Tutor: Common Problems

These pieces of advice are more specific to taking the actual tests themselves. If you are looking for general advice about how to study and what materials to use,  read my previous article.

Instead, here I will cover more specific tips that can give you an edge on the test depending on your specific situation. These are common situations that I have found many of my students in when taking the tests, and implementing these tips has great success in helping them remedy their problems. These tips are not universal; you must take practice tests first to evaluate if these will apply to you.

The Essay

For the essay: First-grade essays you’ve written during practice tests using the guidelines and sample essays (or have a private tutor grade your essays for you) and determine where you are at and where you would like to be. If you have a low score looking to bring it closer to average, you need to determine where the problem lies. Three common scenarios I see with these scores are: not writing nearly enough, having very sloppy grammar and sentences, and failing to effectively respond to the prompt.

Of these, the first and third are easiest to remedy. For students who aren’t writing enough, we practice timed writing. Using simpler prompts and shorter time limits, they focus on getting more sentences and ideas onto the page in the time limit. Unfortunately, speed can be a huge problem for many students taking timed standardized tests. And, as unfair as it may be, it negatively affects your score if you can’t write quick enough.

The same strategy can be used if you aren’t answering the prompt effectively. Except, instead of writing many sentences in a short time limit, students should focus on making strong outlines or bullet points on how to answer the prompt. The essay needs to have substance, and that substance needs to be thought of quickly before it can be executed.
Grammar and overall writing issues have less cookie-cutter solutions and vary even more on a case to case basis. It is important to write a lot and have someone to review and correct your mistakes.

If your essay is already good but you are looking for an even better score, you can consider practicing implementing new elements to help improve your essay and make it stand out. This can include proper use of semi-colons and colons, more complex vocabulary words used correctly and appropriately, and varying sentence length and sentence structure throughout your paragraphs.

Stay tuned for part two!

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

 

Why You Need a Private Irvine Tutor This Spring

Four Reasons to Book a Private Irvine Tutor This Spring

 

Spring is around the corner, and students are counting down the weeks until the end of the school year. While it’s tempting to daydream about summer break, now is the most crucial time of the year for students to focus. With AP exams, finals, and testing only weeks away, it’s critical for students to keep up their good study habits. You’ve worked hard all year to get good grades and high test scores, so this spring shouldn’t be any different. Stay focused, work hard, and keep up your curiosity.

TutorNerds is here to help. Offering the most experienced private tutors in Orange County, TutorNerds can assure that you finish the semester at your full potential. While there are many reasons to book a private Irvine tutor for the spring, we’ll focus on four of the most common.

1. Keep You on Track

With prom, spring sports, and extra curricular activities ramping up, spring can be overwhelming for students. Private tutors can help you navigate your schedule and make sure you are on track with all your assignments and studies.

2. Catch Up

Even the best students will have a chapter or two with which they struggle. Don’t make the mistake of assuming it won’t be a big part of your final. A private tutor will help you catch up and master the areas you’ve struggled with so you’re prepared for anything on test day.

3. Score High on Your Finals

Finals are the hurdle every student must jump before crossing the academic finish line into their summer break. Don’t assume that because you’ve done well all year and scored high on previous tests that you will ace your finals. Start studying early and rely on the help of a private Irvine tutor to go over any material you struggled with in the past.

4. Test Prep

With test dates for the ACT and SAT in April and June, some students might start feeling overwhelmed. In addition to prepping for finals, they have to take one of the most important tests of their academic careers (READ: Orange County SAT Tutor Tips). There’s no better way to prep for the SAT or ACT than with the help of an Irvine test prep tutor. Our test prep tutors have all scored high on their tests, and have helped thousands of SoCal students improve their scores. From going over practice tests to improving your math skills, our test prep tutors are here to help.

Don’t wait until a week before your finals to book a private Irvine tutor. Call us today to connect with the most experienced tutors in Orange County.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Tips From an Irvine SAT and ACT Tutor

The SAT and ACT Study Plan: What to Use and Who to Trust

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Standardized testing has evolved to become a significant factor in determining students’ options for their educations after high school. The SAT and ACT are at the forefront of these tests that can have an impact on what schools a student gets accepted into and what scholarships they may receive for their education – book your private Irvine SAT tutor today.

Since the SAT and ACT have become so important, many companies have developed books, classes, guides, and other forms of study material to help you get a better score on the tests. With many options available to you at varying levels of cost and commitment, what are your best options? This study plan will briefly discuss what the focus should be on when preparing for these tests to help you optimize your time, avoid being taken advantage of by greedy companies, and (most importantly) maximize your score.

Study with practice tests

First, let’s discuss the best way to begin preparing: practice tests. This cannot be stressed enough. If you are going to be taking a standardized test, you need to familiarize yourself with the exam: the layout, the time limits, the question types, the directions, etc. The first test that students take is almost always their worst because they ran out of time, went to fast, didn’t understand some sections, or got overwhelmed or burnt out by the length of the test. Do not make your first test an official one. Make it a practice one and give yourself time to get used to the test.

Use official resources first

That leads us to who you should trust. You now know that you need to prioritize practice tests to study, but whose practice tests should you use? You’ll find a dozen different practice tests and practice books in the test prep section of the library or bookstore. Some are better than others, and some are outright trying to deceive you. So, who should you use? The official materials. This cannot be stressed enough.

This is a mistake that most students make when they’re preparing for these exams. If you had a test coming up in your science class, would you instead use the textbook your teacher gave you to study or a different one that you found at the store? If your teacher gives you a study guide, do you ignore it and find a different teacher’s study guide from a different class? The people who make the test know and understand what is on the test, and they provide the best resources to study.

The College Board administers the SAT. They offer several printable practice tests for free on their website collegeboard.org in the SAT section. They also offer online tests and prep partnered with Khan Academy, an app for daily practice, and a yearly study book with more practice tests. The practice tests also have answer keys, explanations, and can be scored. For the SAT, use the College Board before going to any third parties.

ACT Inc administers the ACT. They offer free practice multiple choice and writing tests. You can find their website at act.org and specifically their prep material at act.org/the-act/testprep . They also offer an official prep guide, ACT Academy, and online prep. Again, you can find explanations, answers, and scores with the official ACT material. For the ACT, use ACT Inc before going to any third parties.

Third party test prep companies cannot always be trusted. Over the years, I have tutored many students who have come to me with books they have already purchased asking for help. Every time I have done this, I have found questions or material that would never be on an actual SAT/ACT. Someone experienced with the tests should be able to spot these poorly chosen questions quickly, but a confused student would just be wasting their time studying them.

These companies crank out huge numbers of new questions and practice tests every year, but they are not the official test makers. They are not held to the same standard as the College Board or ACT Inc, and they always have some percentage of faulty or unrealistic questions.

Finally, a common tactic these companies employ is to make the material too hard. They make diagnostic tests, sample questions, or the first practice tests harder than they should be (or they score them more harshly than they should). This way, you get a lower score than you expected, and you feel the need to use their material to get better. Then, when you take the real test, you get a higher score than you did on their overly difficult material. Your score went up, so the test prep must have worked, right?

Never trust a score from a third party’s test unless you have also taken an official practice test and received similar results. Just last year I had a student hire me for tutoring the day after he took an SAT practice test and received a score of around 1000. I had him take an official practice test and he “miraculously” scored in the 1200s. I was able to help him improve more from there, but it was not my work that gave him that substantial initial bump. The first score was a lie.

Trust experienced tutors

If you are seeking outside help for your test preparation, you can have great results with someone experienced with the tests and helping students prepare for them – book your private Irvine ACT tutor today. An experienced tutor should have a studying system that is based around a core of taking practice tests regularly (official practice tests ideally) and is tailored to suit your individual needs. There should be an evaluation period where they find your specific problem areas and help you focus on what can be improved.

Every student is unique and no secret strategy will be optimal for every student. Having someone who knows the tests inside and out can accelerate your studying and help you achieve the highest score you’re capable of.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Practical Tips for Your First Physics Class Part 2

Irvine Physics Tutoring: Practical Tips for Your First Physics Class Part 2

These final three tips now pertain to solving physics problems themselves. Every chapter in your physics class will include word problems. Sometimes the questions will be exclusively word problems. You need to know how to tackle the confusing ones if you’re going to succeed – book your private Irvine physics tutor today.

4. Draw pictures

Draw your vectors. Draw your free-body diagrams. Draw your circuits. When they tell you that a ball is thrown off a building at a 45-degree angle, draw the ball, draw the building, and draw the angle. Draw your triangles, label everything, and give yourself enough space to make it clear. This will help you avoid mistakes, understand what’s going on, and also help your teacher grade your work or help you.

Many students get lazy with their pictures or try to skip them as a short-cut. Don’t do this. Just draw your picture. Everyone makes mistakes — especially with physics word problems — but a carefully made picture can help you prevent them.

5. Write down your variables

An extremely common issue students have with solving physics problems is not knowing where to begin. Physics classes tend to include a very high number of word problems with multiple sentences, variables, and details. This can feel overwhelming, especially if the problem does not feel familiar, and can lead to giving up before you even get started.

To combat this, you want to pull the details and numbers from the problem and write them down in a list. If they tell you the mass of a ball is 10 kilograms, then write down mball = 10 kg. If they tell that ball is initially moving at 15 meters per second, then write down vball initial = 15 m/s. Listing your variables can help make complex problems generic.

6. When you’re stuck, just try your equations

Once you have all of your variables written down, then you write down any equations you know that might be relevant. Did they mention friction? Write down any equations you have with friction. Is something going in a circle? Write down your centripetal equations. You can also just look at what variables you have and check your equation sheet for equations that use those variables. If you’re confused don’t be afraid to just guess an equation that might be helpful. See where it takes you and if you can solve for anything important. Worst case scenario is you still get the question wrong. But at least you got some work on the page and opened yourself up to partial credit and a chance for success.
The biggest hurdle students have with physics problems is not knowing how to start and giving up. Your equations can help you. Get used to them, even if your class doesn’t make you memorize them. And if you are in an AP class you should get a copy of the AP equation sheet and start using it since it’s the one you’ll have for the test.

If you keep these tips in mind you will have a better chance of doing well in your first physics class. You already know that you should go to class, do your homework, take notes, and study. I don’t need to tell you that again. If you are still struggling with the class and your teacher can’t help you, consider hiring a private Irvine physics tutor to explain the material better and help you overcome your difficulties. Physics tutors are experienced in presenting the lessons in multiple ways to make sure their students understand. They are also familiar with physics and what you need to do to get a good grade.

Read part one here!

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Practical Tips for Your First Physics Class – Part 1

Tips from a Private Irvine Physics Tutor: Practical Tips For Your First Physics Class

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The internet is full of tips and tactics from bloggers, tutors, and teachers about how to excel in physics. Unfortunately, the predominant advice is the ever-prevalent generic comments that students have been hearing about every class in every subject for years: “go to class,” “do your homework,” “do extra practice problems,” “take good notes,” etc. If you’re lucky, your basic physics tips might also include some points about being good at math and trying to understand the concepts instead of just memorizing – book your private Irvine physics tutor.

You already know these things. These tips are continuously repeated and are not helping you better prepare for or succeed at physics. Here, we will cover six specific and practical tips that can help you get through your first physics class, whether it’s high school, AP, or college.

1. Be an expert at formula manipulation

Formula manipulation is typically an algebra 2 concept where you have an equation with multiple variables that you can alter to solve for specific variables or plug-in specific values. For example, the volume of a pyramid is V = 1/3 A H where A is the area of the base and H is the height of the pyramid. However, we can manipulate this equation to instead give us height instead of volume by dividing both sides by A and multiplying by 3: H = 3 V A

This skill is essential in physics where you constantly move variables from one side of an equation to another and substitute numbers and variable for other variables. In our pyramid example, we might have to substitute in an area equation to find the height: A = L W where L is length and W is width. This could give us the new height equation: H – 3 V L W

If this example did not seem very easy to you, you need to go back and practice a lot of these types of problems. Take equations with many variables and practice isolating each individual variable one at a time.

2. Be an expert at basic trigonometry

Your physics class likely won’t require you to know all of the identities and properties of trig functions that you may have learned/are learning in your precalc or trigonometry class, but you do need to be very good at your simple sine, cosine, and tangent definitions with right triangles, as well as the Pythagorean theorem. Don’t forget your SOH-CAH-TOA, make sure you can do a2+b2=c2 in your sleep, and practice finding missing angles and sides of right triangles even when they’re upside down or inside out.
Basic trig is vital for early vector problems. It is also common to break diagonal lines into their x and y “components.” Don’t fall for it if someone tells you to “just use sine” “or just take the cosine” when you’re doing these problems. Draw the triangle and figure out why you’re using that trig function. It will save you when the problems get harder later.

3. Know your units

90% or more of your physics work will revolve around only three basic units: the kilogram (kg) for mass, the meter (m) for length/distance, and the second (s) for time. You can break up almost everything you do into just these three simple components. The unit for speed is m/s. Think miles per hour translated to meters per second instead. Being an expert with your units can help your understanding of the equations and help you check your answers.

For example, a basic physics equation is the definition of force: F = M A where M is the mass of an object and A is its acceleration. The unit for mass is the kilogram, and acceleration is meters per second squared. Multiplying these we get kg*m/s2. In class, they will call the unit of force a Newton, but we now know that a Newton is just a kg*m/s2. When you hear new units like the Hertz, the Joule, or the Pascal, remember that you can break them up into these basic parts. This can help a lot with topics like conservation of energy. (Note that the units for temperature, Kelvin (K); current, ampere (A); and amount, mole (mol) are also fundamental units that are used to a much smaller extent in physics 101).

The first three tips can help you prepare for physics and understand what’s going on. You will be very confused if you don’t know your triangles and basic trigonometry. You’ll also be very behind if you can’t quickly modify equations and substitute variables. Finally, understanding the units and their basic components can set you up to actually understand some of what you’re doing when you do examples.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Irvine Tutoring: Four Things Students Should do Post Winter Break

Four Things Students Should Do After Winter Break

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The holidays are over, it’s a New Year, and students are ready to go back to school. Okay, maybe you’re not prepared to go back, but you have to regardless of how you feel. With a New Year comes new aspirations, goals, and resolutions. Whether you’re doing well and want to keep it up, or you think there’s room for improvement in the second half of the school year, these tips will help you get on track – book your private Orange County tutor today.

Just like the first half of the year, winter and spring will fly by, so get ahead by taking actions now that will benefit you when finals come around. Like a car driving in the snow, back to school in January can start slow then get out of control in an instance. Do yourself a favor and get ahead before homework and tests start picking up in pace. Below are four tips from our private Irvine tutors to help you make 2019 your most successful year yet.

1. Take Stock of Where You Are at

While most of us want to leave 2018 in the past, students will benefit from a review of the previous semester. Check your grades, test scores, homework, and written assignments from the Fall semester. Do you feel like you are behind, doing well, or somewhere in between? What did you struggle with the most and at what did you most excel? By answering these questions, you can look ahead to your 2019 schedule and help plan around your assessment. For example, if you struggled with writing essays, but breezed through your book assignments, plan your study/homework time accordingly. Start the assignments you struggle with the earliest. That way you have time to seek help if you need some, which brings us to our next suggestion.

2. Book a Private Orange County Tutor

Once you’ve reviewed the first half of the school year, it’s time to get help where you need it most. Whether you book a private Orange County in-person tutor from TutorNerds or an online tutor from TutorNerd, it’s always best to sign up early. The longer you wait to start tutoring, the farther behind you fall in your classes. Keep in mind that even if you are doing well in school, you can still benefit from the help of a private OC tutor.

3. Talk to Your Teachers

If you have the opportunity, book some time to talk to your teachers during office hours or before or after class. Ask them how they think you are performing and if they have any suggestions on how you can improve. Your teachers would much rather steer you in the right direction early on than have you begging for extra credit after you bomb your test (READ: Irvine Tutoring Tips: How to Overcome a Bad Teacher).

4. Set up a Schedule with a Study Buddy or Group

A new semester means a fresh start. Avoid falling behind with a designated study routine. While you’ll always have to do some studying on your own, keep it interesting with one-on-one sessions with a study buddy or a weekly group study session. By studying in a group, you’ll be able to get help in areas other students thrive in as well as help them out with their work. Having a designated study session will help with procrastination as well as remind you of important upcoming assignment dates.

Here are TutorNerds, we are happy to help you make 2019 the year of academic success. Call us today to book your private Orange County tutor.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Irvine Private Tutor Tips: Earn College Credits With CLEP

CLEP: College Credits for $85

College can be expensive. You don’t have to spend long looking at tuition costs or researching student loans to recognize that education after high school tends to be a costly experience. The average expected expenses at private universities are over $50,000 per year. State schools come in at over $25,000 per year and community colleges at over $17,000 per year (via College Board).

There are 44 million Americans with student loans, and the average monthly payment for these students after graduating is around $350 (via the Cleveland Fed). Taking on these costs is not something to be taken lightly.

Another factor that isn’t often considered by prospective students is the opportunity cost of education. If you are a full-time student, you likely are not also working at a full-time career. The years you spend studying in school are years that you aren’t working and making money – do well on the CLEP with the help of private Irvine tutoring.

With this in mind, it seems obvious that students looking at colleges and degrees should be strongly emphasizing completing their education CHEAPLY and QUICKLY. So, why have most college students never heard of the CLEP exams?

CLEP stands for College Level Examination Program

The CLEP exams are standardized tests administered by the College Board (the same organization that runs the SAT and AP exams). The purpose of the exams is to test your proficiency in specific college-level subjects. The idea is that if you already know the material of a college class, you can get credit for that class without having to actually take it. The caveat is that you do need to know the material well enough to pass the exam.

So what is the main benefit of CLEP exams? They are almost always cost-efficient. A college credit averages around $600 overall. Even just looking at community colleges, credits average $135 (via studentloanhero.com). The CLEP exams usually cost $85 each. Most of the exams grant an equivalency to a 3-credit course. That’s 3 credits for only $85. And, most importantly, that’s one less class that you have to take on your way to your degree. Classes take time, and if you can earn credits with CLEP exams, you can potentially knock out prerequisite courses, meet graduation requirements, and free up time and schedule space to either finish your degree early or work at your job while taking your other classes.

Passing five CLEP exams is the credit equivalent to a full-time semester of college classes at a cost of $425. There are 36 different exams to choose from, from accounting to American literature to Spanish to algebra. And remember, you only need to pass the exam – not ace it. Since the tests are standardized, there are many cases of students getting the equivalent of a ‘D’ on the test but still receiving passing marks. Colleges don’t get to see your score on the exam, only that you successfully passed it.

CLEP Opportunities

Now, how can you best take advantage of CLEP opportunities? First, check with your school to make sure they will give you credit for the exams. Thousands of colleges in the U.S. accept CLEP exams, including most community colleges. If you are going straight to a private university, however, you are probably out of luck with CLEP unless you transfer from a community college first.

Once you have confirmed which tests your school will give you credit for, it’s now time to choose which tests to take and study. Ideally, there will be exams that you already know the subject for very well. In these cases, a quick review might be sufficient to score you a passing grade. However, if you want to take advantage of the exams, you can shoot for tests that you don’t know as well. In this case, consider looking for an experienced tutor who can help you choose which tests to take and help you prepare for them. Some tests are easier than you might think (remember, even a ‘D’ can earn a passing grade on some exams), and a few weeks of focused studying can be enough to earn you college credit and let you skip a semester’s worth of lectures, homework, and quizzes.

CLEP can save you time, money, and stress. One $85 test can help keep you out of the classroom while you continue your education effectively and efficiently.

Michael C. is currently a private math, science, and standardized test tutor with TutorNerds in Irvine and Anaheim.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.

Tips From an Interviewer: How to Ace Your College Interview

How to Ace Your College Interview (from a College Interviewer)

how-ace-college-interview-irvine-college-admissions-consultant

You submitted your college applications a few weeks ago and had just received some fantastic news: you have received an interview invitation! But that raises a few questions: how do you go about preparing for your interview? What are the most important topics to discuss? What should you wear? Here are a few tips to get you started – our private Irvine college admissions consultants are only a call away.

1. It’s Better to be Overdressed than Underdressed

Since I recently graduated from college, I tend to be a little more laid-back when I am interviewing a student to make them feel a bit more comfortable. But this does not mean I expect them to show up in jeans and a t-shirt. A good rule of thumb for all interviews is that it is always better to be overdressed than underdressed. When I was going through my own college interviews, I would usually wear a dress shirt and slacks and bring a blazer in case my interviewer seemed like she meant business. During my time as an interviewer, I have interviewed students in all types of outfits, from full-on suits to board shorts and sweatshirts. And even if the students who were more casually dressed had amazing things to say, my opinion of them was definitely affected by their outfit of choice. And vice versa, even when my conversations with the suited students were not the best, I appreciated the effort they put into their appearance, and that reflected in my report (READ: College Admissions Essay Crunch Time).

2. Be Conscious of your Interviewer’s Schedule

I am aware that many of the students that are applying to these top-tier schools have a million things on their plate so I try to be flexible with interview scheduling, but often students don’t return that flexibility. I’ve emailed students with a few possible interview dates and students only to have them respond “I can only do X time on X day.” Now, there is a better way to go about asking for a different time slot, and that is not it. Many of the people who conduct interviews are busy professionals who have been kind enough to volunteer their time to meet with you, so be conscious of that. Remember to be respectful of your interviewer’s time and if you cannot do the time/date they offer, apologize and offer other options always making sure that you are not inconveniencing your interviewer.

3. Bring Only a Copy of your Resume/CV

The only thing you need to bring to an interview is your CV/resume in a nice folder and yourself. As much as I appreciate you bringing the 20-page paper you published on why soda is bad for you, am I going to read it? No. Interview reports are usually written right after the interview so I do not have time to read any additional material. If you want me to know about that paper you published, bring it up during the interview!

4. Give Specific Reasons as to Why you want to attend that particular school

I cannot stress this specific point enough. I attended a college in a big city with many other colleges, but whenever I asked students “Why X school?” They only ever answered: “Because I want to live in X city.” Well… what about all of the other schools in that city? You could use that argument for any of the other schools in that city.

Give me a specific reason as to why you want to go to X school. Maybe you want to go into architecture and you know that X school, in particular, has an amazing architecture program. I am especially impressed when students cite a specific class or professor that they are interested in taking or working with. The more specific you can get, the better because that shows that not only do you know what field you’re interested in, but also that you’ve done your research.

5. Bring Specific Questions about the School

Again, relating back to doing your research about the school, bring school-specific questions. Don’t ask me generic questions that you could ask about any school. Or, if you do, pepper them in between specific questions. I volunteered to be an interviewer because, as a recent graduate, I can give students a very clear idea of what the school is like and answer questions about the curriculum, specific classes, the learning environment, etc. This is especially helpful to students who are unable to visit the campus, so try to take advantage of that! I know it’s harder to do this with older interviewers who graduated 20+ years ago, but some things do tend to stay the same so don’t be afraid to ask them specific questions about a class or professors! I remember during my interview I asked my interviewer who had graduated in the 90s about a specific professor and, lo and behold, I had that same professor in college!

I know the idea of an interview can seem scary and daunting, especially if it’s the first ever interview you’ve had, but don’t worry! Just remember to research the school, your interviewer, and common interview questions beforehand. And, most importantly, be yourself!

Book your private San Diego college admissions consultant today! Our admissions tutors are experienced and have a 97% success rate.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at pr@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal, so feel free to suggest what you would like to see us write.