All posts by TutorTycoon

20 Tips For New Tutors (Part II)

Twenty Tips For New Tutors (Part II)

Use Official Practice Material When Possible

Barron’s and Peterson’s and Kaplan and many, many more third-party companies supply their own study materials for standardized tests and common class subjects.  You might find some of these materials to have an exceptional quality that is very helpful for your situation.  Unfortunately, this is not often the case.  There is a lot of money for these groups that sell new additions of all of their preparation products each year to desperate students, and I’ve found many cases of even the more popular names utilizing unethical practices in their material (such making diagnostic tests too hard to make you think you need more help, teaching too much material to pad extra pages or note cards, and purposefully grading material too harshly to guarantee that real test scores are an improvement).  Do yourself a favor and avoid the risk by finding any official study material that is from the same company that makes the test you are preparing for – book your private Costa Mesa tutor from TutorNerds.

Teach with Variety and Find What Works

You are likely aware that many people lean more dominantly towards a typical type of learning style.  The most commonly heard types are “visual learnings,” “auditory learners,” and “physical learners.”  These reference students who do best by seeing something done, hearing it explained and doing it themselves, respectively.  In practice, I find that students don’t often fall into such simple, cookie-cutter categories, but it is important to vary your style and use a variety of methods until you find what works best for each student.  Don’t be afraid to use new tactics like drawing pictures, having students re-teach examples back to you, or creating fun mnemonics to help them learn.

Go Back and Check Old Material

I find reviewing previous lessons to be essential for any subject that will have a cumulative test, or that will lead to sequential classes.  This means that I will keep track of what we are learning each week, and I will periodically quiz them with a few questions from everything we’ve learned so far.  This will help make sure they retain the important information (it is easier to learn it and do some practice to maintain the knowledge rather than learning, forgetting, then relearning), and it will get them used to take impromptu cumulative assignments that cover a variety of topics.

If You Know What’s Important, Focus on It

If you are teaching math to an 8th grader getting ready for high school, you have the distinct advantage of knowing exactly what that 8th grader will ultimately learn in high school math classes.  This means you also know what material won’t be important for high school.  Use this knowledge to review and expand their knowledge in the areas that will help them the most in the future.  Don’t jeopardize their success in their current class because you are teaching them things for the future, but you should emphasize the important topics whenever possible.  I also find that students tend to focus more when I tell them which things will be important for next year.

Get Them Ahead When Possible

Similar to the previous point, you should be using any extra time to get your student ahead in their studies.  Students consistently come back to me pleased when they go over something in class that we had already practiced and got a head start on.  This is because they will likely do well on the topic in class, thus boosting their confidence and helping them feel smarter in school because they are better at the topic.  Getting a student ahead has many benefits, but I’ve found the most important are the benefits to their confidence and their overall enjoyment of the subject; everyone likes to be good at something and better than their peers.

Read part one here. Book your experienced Costa Mesa tutor today!

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 TestsAll blog entries, except for 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.

20 Tips For New Tutors (Part I)

Twenty Tips For New Tutors (Part I)

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Individualized, private teaching can be a daunting but rewarding new challenge for prospective tutors.  Tutoring allows you to optimize learning and understanding in a way that usually can’t be achieved in a conventional classroom.  After years of tutoring and teaching students of every academic level in several subjects across four states, here are some of my pieces of advice for a tutor who is just starting – are you a student? Book your private Anaheim tutor today.

Only Tutor What You Know Well

Just because you took a class, or even got an ‘A’ in a class, does not mean you are suitable to tutor it.  You should be able to consistently answer nearly any question that your student has about the subject; so, if the class is something you took three years ago and you don’t remember the material, then you shouldn’t be tutoring it. Try finding an online final or practice test and take it yourself to check if you know the material.

Ask to See Material Beforehand

Even if you are an expert on the subject, you will find as a tutor that each teacher will teach a class differently; they have their priorities, expectations, and grading styles.  To help you adjust to this and make sure you are prepared to help, you should always ask that the student send you some of their class materials or current progress (homework, previous graded tests/quizzes, finished diagnostics or practice tests, rubrics or a syllabus, etc.).  This is especially useful before the first lesson.

Know the Goals of Your Client

Different students (or their parents) are looking for different things out of tutoring.  They might want to understand what’s going on in class and how it applies to life.  They might need to have a strong foundation to take more advanced classes in the future. They might only want to pass the class to fulfill the requirement and don’t care about the material.  They might want to guarantee that they get an ‘A’ by the end of the semester.  They might need to be aiming for a certain score on a test.  Whatever the case, ask them what they are looking to get out of tutoring so you can tailor your lessons accordingly.

Watch Them Do Work

It can be easy to end up lecturing and explaining answers yourself without your student doing the work.  Often, a student might nod, or agree, or say they understand while you teach or show an example.  However, you need to make sure that they understand and can replicate what you are teaching them on their own.  Make sure you are stopping often enough to give them work to do on their own to make sure they’re keeping up.

Time-Intensive Work Should Be Outside Tutoring Hours

You may want to give practice tests, or extra practice problems, or have your student write a short essay as part of your learning.  You should try to keep these tasks outside of your tutoring lessons.  No one wants to give a lot of homework as a tutor, but paid private tutoring also shouldn’t include an hour of you just sitting and watching the student do work on their own.  Use tutoring time to review and check the material that you had them complete before you arrived.  It can also be an excellent way to keep them focused and on schedule if you don’t see them more than once a week.

Book your experienced Anaheim tutor today!

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 TestsAll blog entries, except for 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.

Anaheim English Tutoring: Four Points about Semicolons

Tips From an Anaheim English Tutor: Semicolons

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As a private Anaheim tutor, I often see the semicolon as an area of confusion and misunderstanding for my students; they have wild misconceptions of how it is supposed to be used and often believe it is something for only very advanced writing.

Luckily, this confusion is not because the semicolon is a type of punctuation that is overly difficult to use; instead, it is because the semicolon is simply taught late and usually taught briefly.

Semicolons are effective in many situations; they can connect thoughts in a more organic way, and they can avoid ambiguity in some sentences.

Students in early years master punctuation like periods, exclamation points, and question marks; in later years learn to use commas, quotation marks, and apostrophes; and ultimately conclude with some education on semicolons, colons, and em dashes – call TutorNerds today to book you private Anaheim English tutor.

They are taught last, they are used least, and they are given lackluster, limited emphasis; but that is not to say that they should be taught last or that they aren’t useful and easy to learn.

Now, semicolons may seem a little clunkier when they are used one after another in a single paragraph, but they can add some quality variety when used occasionally in your regular writing.  You can see some examples of how a semicolon can be used in sentences above.  Now let’s break down some key points to remember when using a semicolon to help you learn it.  This won’t be a thorough examination of the punctuation and grammar; instead, it will just help you know the main places you can use it and how to use it grammatically correct.

Use it to combine two sentences.

This is the most common use of the semicolon.  It is the main use in the first three sentences of this article and is also how the last sentence in the paragraph above uses it.  You can have transitions or conjunctions also to help connect the sentences, or you can just have the sentences be related by subject.  Use a semicolon when you could use a period and start the next sentence, but you want the two sentences to be more connected and show that they have similar significance.

Check your grammar by replacing it with a period.

If you are using the semicolon to combine two sentences (two independent clauses), then you should be able to replace it with a period and still have to complete sentences.  If you replace it with a period and suddenly it doesn’t make sense, then you used it incorrectly.  Both parts have to be full sentences on their own and not just phrases.

Don’t capitalize the first word.

Because it is used as a period, many students want to capitalize the first letter of the word following a semicolon.  Don’t do this.  It is still just one sentence, don’t add extra capitalization.

Use it to clear up the confusion of too many commas.

This is the less common use.  You can see it in action in the last two sentences of the first paragraph above.  If you have a “list of lists,” then the repetitive commas can be distracting or confusing to read.  For example: “The four teams each have specific colors on their uniforms: red, blue, and yellow, green and gold, black, brown, and orange, and magenta.”  This can be confusing or even ambiguous.  Use semicolons for the big list, and commas for the small ones inside: “The four teams each have specific colors on their uniforms: red, blue, and yellow; green and gold; black, brown, and orange; and magenta.”  You can use a semicolon in place of a comma in a compound sentence if you feel there are too many commas complicating the sentence, like in the last sentence of the first paragraph (this is an uncommon usage of the semicolon).

The first three points will help you get through almost all of your semicolon usage grammatically correctly.  The fourth point is far less common but helpful to know in case you see it.  The best way to get better at using it is to practice; so start adding some semicolons to your writing to create beautiful, complex sentences!

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 TestsAll blog entries, except for 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 Should Find a Private Tutor Before Classes Start

5 Reasons to Find an Anaheim Tutor BEFORE Classes Start

The fall semester is quickly approaching for students of all ages.  For many of these students, private tutoring will be a valuable resource to help them succeed in their classes.  However, for many others, private tutoring will be a damage control strategy used later in the year to help remedy failing grades – book your back-to-school private Anaheim tutor today.

Don’t let this be the case for you.  If you want to see the best benefits of individualized tutoring, then find a tutor for you or your student before their classes begin.  Here are some reasons why:

Staying Ahead and Building Confidence.

By starting at the beginning of the class or sooner, a tutor will be able to help make sure your student stays on track and on top of their assignments.  They will also be able to help get the student ahead of schedule in the class (especially if you begin tutoring before the class begins).  This will build their confidence and enjoyment in the class.  Students tend to enjoy classes that they are good at and dislike classes that they struggle with.  Being ahead and “good” at their class because of tutoring will make them more confident and help them enjoy the subject.

Easier to Manage a Busy School Schedule

If you start tutoring later in the year when your student is struggling in a class, or if you only book tutoring appointments before big tests, then it makes your student’s schedule less consistent and more crowded around times when they have to cram for their class.  By starting early and sticking to a schedule that keeps them doing well without cramming or emergency lessons, you will allow them more freedom to do other extracurriculars in their free time.

Less Stress

Failing a class is stressful.  Not getting the grade you want, or feeling confused or frustrated in a class areis also stressful. Cramming for a test and struggling to learn a lot of material is also stressful.  If your student stays ahead, keeps good grades, and has a tutor to guide and help them the whole way, they won’t have these stresses.

More Actual Learning

Students often do not truly learn or care about the material they see in class.  They memorize information, hold it in their head for tests, and then forget about it.  By having a private teacher who is an expert in the subject and can answer all of their questions, explain topics in detail, and tailor lessons toward the student’s way of learning, you will help facilitate actual learning for your student.  This might spur a newfound passion or give them a better understanding of the material they might otherwise never have truly known.

Learning Proper Study Methods

Having a private Anaheim tutor help schedule studying and create a roadmap for success can show students how they can best succeed in other classes in the future.  Having success in the classes that they have a tutor helping them with will show them that the methods work.  Proper study habits are difficult to learn and maintain, so having your student practice them with an experienced tutor will help them when they have to do it on their own in the future.

If you know your student will need a tutor at some point in the year, or you want to help them experience the best benefits of private Anaheim tutoring, then find an experienced tutor before their classes begin to see the best results.

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 TestsAll blog entries, except for 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.

What Your Irvine SAT Tutor Should Be Able to Do

What Your Irvine Private SAT Tutor Should Be Able to Do

Standardized tests can play a very important role in your admission to your favorite college.  Because of this, many high school students and their parents choose to hire private tutors for tests like the SAT and ACT to help the student study and achieve the highest score that they can.

It is true that private tutoring is a very effective method of preparing for these types of exams.  An experienced tutor can evaluate a student’s strong and weak points, find the strategies and tactics that work best for each student, and keep them dedicated to a study plan that will lead to their best results.  You can’t get the same type of attention and experience by studying on your own or in a classroom setting.

However, these results depend on the fact that you have a good and experienced tutor.  There are many “tutors” out there for tests like the SAT who are not qualified to help you the most.  Many college students who recently took the exam themselves will claim that they can tutor for the test.  Parents might hire them when they claim their high test scores as their credentials.  “Hire me and your student can get a score like mine!”

Many teachers or students studying to become teachers will also tutor for these exams in their spare time, even when they aren’t experienced in the tests themselves.  “Hire me, I’ve been teaching for fifteen years and have the experience to help,” or “hire me, I teach calculus, so I can tutor for SAT math!”

While many of these tutors can be helpful, it is not the same as working with someone who knows the test and the best test preparation strategies inside-out.  Here is what a well-qualified and experienced SAT tutor should be able to do for you:

-Be able to consistently answer every test question correctly.  This does not mean that tutors need to be able to get perfect scores on the tests or that they can’t make mistakes, but if you have your questions or practice problems, the tutor should be good enough at the test to get the answers correct and explain them nearly every time.

-Be up to date on the format of the test.  If your private Irvine SAT tutor does not know how many sections there are, what the timing is, and how the test is scored, then they likely aren’t experienced enough in the test or their experience is with an older version of the test.

-Be able to provide study materials.  A good Irvine SAT tutor should be very familiar with all of the official practice tests and study materials and have them available for you to use.  They likely should also have extra materials in case you need more.  A tutor who expects you to have or buy new books or practice tests on day one (when the best practice tests are free), is a tutor who is not experienced in preparing for the test.

-Be able to evaluate you and give you your own, personal strategies.  Many tutors come with generic tips that either they use themselves, or that they’ve heard other people use.  Basic tips like “read the questions before the passage” or “star the ones that look hard and come back to them later” or “skip the word problems and do them last if you have time” are all fairly common and generic tips.  There are many others like them, and they do work for many students.  But not every student.  A good tutor should NOT be giving any of this advice until they’ve evaluated your skills and weaknesses (usually from a practice test).  Then, they can pick which ones will work best for you.

There are other factors that make someone a good SAT or another standardized test tutor, but these are some things you should be expecting when you’re paying someone to give private lessons to your student for a very important test.  You can get by and get good results with many other study methods, but if you want the most optimized approach, you will likely need a good private tutor.

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 TestsAll 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.

Anaheim SAT Tutoring: SAT Essay Vocabulary

Tips from an Anaheim SAT Tutor: Easy SAT Essay Tip: Vocabulary

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 Though not a required section of the current SAT, the essay portion is a significant section that you can use to impress colleges and stand out by doing well.  The problem is that there isn’t much time to read and analyze the prompt, organize your thoughts and observations, and write and proofread your essay.  And since part of your grade is based on your writing skills, it can be stressful and difficult to execute a well-constructed and high-quality essay in only fifty minutes – our Anaheim SAT tutors are the most experienced in SoCal.

The solution to this problem is to practice writing many essays and mastering your process.  Every essay you write will be different, because every SAT prompt is different.  (for some advice about mastering the analysis of the prompt, click here.  However, there are a few tips that you can incorporate into your writing to help you boost your writing score every time, regardless of the prompt.

The SAT is a standardized test and is administered at a massive scale, so graders must be very objective in their evaluations of your writing.  This keeps grading consistent across various graders and various students across the country.

One of the criteria that graders are judging your essay on is your writing.  In the writing rubric, the highest score includes writing that “demonstrates a highly effective use and command of language” as well as “a consistent use of precise word choice.”  See College Board’s page on essay scores for more information.

This means that graders are looking at your vocabulary and word choice and want to see appropriate uses of more advanced words.  This also means that you should not just be tossing big words into your essay without knowing what they mean.

We can use this grading criteria to help boost our essay score in a similar way that we can think about sentence variety to boost our score (see SAT essay sentence complexity).  By researching a few choice vocabulary words and mastering them, you can more consistently find more impressive words to fit correctly into your essay.

There are many places to find good lists of vocabulary lists, but let’s look at SATVocabulary.us as our source.  This list was made for when vocabulary was more specifically tested on the SAT back before 2016.  Students today don’t benefit as much from memorizing hundreds of new words, but the list still can help us find a few we want to remember for our essay.

Look through the list and find words you already know.  They shouldn’t be new words, but they also shouldn’t be words you use regularly.  Words that you wouldn’t typically say or write, but that you understand how they should be used.  These are the words that you want to incorporate into your essay because you are less likely to use them incorrectly.

Make a list of no more than around ten words and write them down.  When you do your next practice essay, have the list with you and check it to find a place to use two or three of your words.  Don’t force yourself to use the words, but chances are that if you have a list of around ten words that at least a couple will fit your prompt.

Do this a few more times until you are used to these vocabulary words.  This way, on test day, it will be second nature to include this more advanced vocabulary and hopefully boost your writing score.

Sign up for our private Anaheim SAT tutoring today.

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.

Anaheim Math Tutoring: Why You Should Take Stats Instead of Calculus

Tips from a Private Anaheim Math Tutor: Take Stats Instead of Calculus

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Taking a calculus class is the final hurdle in many students’ math schedules in high school.  It is a well-known math class that has a reputation for being difficult.  It is also a commonly accepted belief that students who are taking honors math classes (or similarly higher-level math) should ultimately take calculus before graduation – book your private Anaheim math tutor from TutorNerds.  Today, this is often in the form of an AP calculus class during senior year.

A common complaint that calculus teachers hear from their students is “when am I going to use this?”  For a class that is the math pinnacle for so many bright students, it seems odd that this concern would be so common.  Even more unusual is that many teachers don’t typically have a good answer for it.  The most obvious answer that calculus teachers supply is that calculus is more advanced math “that you’ll need for college.”

But is this true?  Do you need calculus for college?  Here are some common fields that would be likely to require a calculus class to complete the major:

-STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math)

-Economics

-Psychology

-Many business majors

If you are planning to enroll in a STEM program, or expect to be an econ or psych major, then you will have to know calculus at some point in pursuing your degree.  Business is a little different since it is common for “business calculus” classes to also be offered that have a different prioritization of subject matter and tend to be easier.  Sometimes, no calculus is required.  However, knowing calculus would also be useful if you are planning to study business or go for your MBA.

If you are not planning to pursue one of these fields, it is unlikely that you will use much of your calculus knowledge again after high school.

What many students and parents don’t realize is that there is an advanced math alternative to calculus – statistics. AP Statistics is a class option for many students that can be just as rigorous as AP calculus.  Statistics also does not tend to prompt the same “why am I learning this” type of questions from students.  It is more clearly applicable to regular life and understanding the world and information.

Another important fact is that statistics is a universal skill for colleges.  More majors tend to require physics, such as:

-Many STEM majors

-Economics

-Psychology

-Business majors

-Sociology

-Humanities majors

Most natural science programs won’t require statistics, but the other STEM majors will.  It is a vital class in the social sciences, important in every business major, and also common in the humanities.

If you plan to pursue any subject to an advanced research/doctorate level, then you will need to know statistics.  This is because statistics are needed to collect, manipulate, interpret, and present data.  It is also important in understanding and evaluating the data and research of others.  Data in research is used in every field; this includes the ones listed above but also subjects like literature, history, education, arts, and languages.

What does this mean?  It doesn’t mean that calculus is useless, and statistics is better.  But it is essential to be aware of your options.  The natural math sequence tends to push students toward calculus (even often including a mandatory class called “pre-calculus”).  While calculus has its benefits outside of being used in college, such as critical thinking, problem-solving, and overall math skills mastery, it should not be treated as the only advanced high school option.

If you aren’t planning to be a STEM major, think you’ll do poorly in calculus, or otherwise, just don’t want to take calculus, then consider taking statistics instead.  You are more likely to use the knowledge that you gain, and you’ll start to see statistical theory in use everywhere.  And this is coming from a teacher who majored in physics and economics, two of the most calculus-heavy subjects!

TutorNerds has the most experienced private math tutors in Anaheim. Book your math tutor today.

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 TestsAll 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.

What to Know About College Application Fee Waivers

You Should Know About College Application Fee Waivers

If you are applying to college and are in a difficult financial position, you should know about the prevalence of college application fee waivers for students in your position. Many parents and other adults know the application costs of applying to several schools and imprint this knowledge on younger students. Application fees for each individual college can range from $25 to $100, and if you are applying to several schools this can add up in a hurry.

Luckily, there are ways to reduce this expense. Read below to find your situation.

+ You received an SAT or ACT fee waiver.

If you already received for one of these fee waivers, it will allow you to automatically qualify for unlimited free fee waivers for schools that use the Common application, the Coalition application, or the Universal application.

These three generic applications will grant you free access to around 1000 different colleges (about 800 of which are in the most popular Common application). You should receive your application fee waiver at the same time you receive your test results.

Here is how you can qualify for an SAT or ACT waiver (from CollegeBoard):

-You’re enrolled in (or eligible for) the National School Lunch Program
-You’re enrolled in a program to assist low-income students
-Your family receives public assistance
-You live in subsidized housing or a foster home or are homeless
-You are a ward of the state or an orphan

+ You didn’t get an SAT or ACT waiver but still exhibit financial hardships

If you haven’t taken these tests or did not know about the fee waivers, it is still possible to elect for a Common application fee waiver. This will allow you to apply to as many Common App schools as you want for free.

The Common App has the same criteria for qualification as the SAT fee waiver (see above), with one extra criteria: “You can provide a supporting statement from a school official, college access counselor, financial aid officer, or community leader” (from CommonApp.org). Your school counselor will be asked to confirm your qualification for a fee waiver. Make sure you talk to them if you think you need one for your applications.

+ You don’t qualify for either fee waiver or want to apply to non-waived schools

First, you should know that around 45% of colleges on the Common App do now charge a fee (as of 2018, via USNews). This means that you have access to over 300 schools you can apply to without any charge. Many students do not realize this and assume that every application will cost them.

You can also request fee waivers from schools. This is the part that can save you a lot of money if you are applying to many colleges and don’t qualify for the standard waivers. Reach out to the schools that you want to apply to and request a fee waiver or fee reduction for their application.

When doing so, you can explain your situation to support your need for a waiver, or you can simply ask. Colleges don’t want to lose potential applicants, especially potentially desirable applicants, and most will have the funds readily available to waive many students’ application fees to encourage them to apply. Some colleges even send out application fees to students they’re interested in without being asked.

The worst that can happen is that they deny your request or do not offer waivers. If this happens, you simply have to decide if it is still financially worth it to apply. Here are a few tips to aid you in requests:

-Ask early. Admissions officers will be swamped with emails and applications in the month leading up to their deadline. Ask months in advance and they will be less busy. Asking early will also increase your chances if the school only offers a certain number of waivers per year.
-State your case. Explain why you really want to apply to the school but that the cost is prohibitive for you to do so. If you were eligible for the waivers above, explain that to them.
-Be polite and formal. Hopefully, this is obvious, but you do not want to be rude or short in your request. Treat an email as a regular letter with a friendly greeting and signature at the bottom.

Application fees should never hold you back from applying to great colleges that can improve your future. Many schools are already free to apply to, and many others are able to waive your fee if you need it. Talk to your school counselor for more help in your application process.

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 to Study for College Placement Exams

Tips from an Anaheim College Admissions Consultant: Studying for College Placement Exams

Many colleges and community colleges require or offer placement exams for incoming freshman. These tests are often taken before the year starts (often online) or at the very beginning of your first semester. So, if you are getting ready to start college, you might be expecting to take these tests very soon and should be prepared – book your private Anaheim college admissions consultant today.

Placement exams are tests that help a school determine which level class you should start in for subjects that have a mostly linear progression. Typically, this is for reading, writing, math, and a foreign language. These are also the most common class types for schools to require you to complete (regardless of your major). After looking at your results, your school will decide which class you belong in based on what you already know and what you don’t.

Based on their assessment, you could be placed in a remedial class, honors or advanced class, or anywhere in between. Most students take their placement exams with little to no preparation. After all, the tests are just supposed to evaluate what you already know, so you’re not really supposed to study for them, right?

Wrong. Doing this could potentially lead you to extra classes or even extra years required for you to earn your degree.

All accredited colleges and community colleges require you to demonstrate post-secondary level knowledge in verbal and analytical skills. Usually, this means the completion of at least a certain level or mathematics, reading, and writing. Many liberal arts schools also have a foreign language requirement. Of course, there are other requirements each individual school will have to earn a degree, but these are the ones that most often have placement exams.

This means that if you bomb a placement test, you will be placed into a lower level class. Some misguided students have even been known to do poorly on placement exams on purpose in order to get an easier class for an easier ‘A.’

This does not mean you will just be able to take an easier class, fulfill the requirement, and move on. It means you will have to take an easier class, then the next class in the progression. And then the next one, and the next one (depending on how badly you did). You do not want this. Not only is it more classes and potentially a higher cost, but it can also hold you back if you need those classes as prerequisites. Many physical science classes need you to have reached a certain level of math first, and many social science classes require a certain level in reading and writing first – doing poorly on the placement tests could prevent you from taking your major classes.

This also takes more time, which cannot be understated. If you have three math class requirements instead of just one, you are looking at potentially an entire extra year of math than you could have had. English requirement can be even more taxing as they tend to require more essays, readings, and papers that will take up your time regardless of how easy you might find the class. This can be avoided with studying.

Most schools with placement exams also give study materials or guidelines to show you what you can expect on the tests themselves. You should study whatever material they give you to do as well as you can. It is easier to cram and study for a test for a few weeks to skip a class than it is to add extra work to your schedule or an extra semester to your degree.

If you aren’t confident in your ability to study and make practice tests for yourself, or if your school doesn’t provide much information on what will be on the test, you should consider seeking private tutoring. An experienced Anaheim tutor will be able to tell you what to expect, can evaluate how well you are able to do, and can make practice problems and tests for you to prepare. You might be able to place better than you expected, and can save valuable time, money, and work. Study for your placement exams.

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 Anaheim Math Tutor: Should You “Cross Multiply”?

Anaheim Math Tutor Tips: Should You “Cross Multiply”?

“Cross multiply” is an often-used term in mathematics that often sticks in people’s memories long after they graduate high school and stop taking math classes. However, most of those people don’t really know what it is and why it works. So many students are just taught to “cross multiply” when they see an equation with fractions. Unlike many other memorized phrases in math, cross multiplication is actually a useful tool that often makes problems with fractions a little bit easier – sign up for your private Anaheim math tutor.

But just like anything else you memorize in math, you should understand what you’re doing rather than just memorizing a seemingly arbitrary procedure. Cross multiplication is just the “undoing” of division that is being done. If you have two fractions, that is the same as dividing by something on each side. And, just like we can subtract to “undo” addition, we can multiply to “undo” the division that is making those pesky fractions.

Here are three examples that we will solve both with and without cross multiplying. You can see that there are always other ways to solve these problems, as well as why cross multiplying works and is a little bit simpler.

As a general rule of thumb, I do not teach cross multiplication without making sure my students know how to solve the problems without it first. That way I help promote a stronger understanding of how to solve simple algebraic equations that will hopefully stick with them and translate to other math skills rather than leaving them thinking “cross multiply is how you have to solve fractions.”

Here is the first example:

In this example, we have two fractions and need to solve for x. To help find x, we can notice that the fraction on the right can be reduced:

Now we have successfully eliminated the fraction on the right. To solve for x, we now only have to divide both sides by 2. There are a few ways to think about doing this, including using your calculator or converting the left fraction to a decimal. I’ll not that two-fifths divided by two leaves us with one fifth:

We get a solution of one fifth (1/5) which is equal to 0.2. No cross multiplying was needed, only our standard multiplication and division. Let’s do the same with cross multiplication:

Here, we didn’t think about reducing the initial fraction. We simply cross multiplied: taking the diagonal terms in our fractions and multiplying them together (one set in green and the other in purple). This makes the “cross” of our cross multiplication. After we do this, we get a fairly trivial equation of 8 = 40x to solved. We divide both sides by 40 and get the same answer we did above.

Example 2:

Now the x is on the bottom of the fraction. To solve this, we could multiply both sides by x to “undo” the 7 being divided by an x on the left. However, another way would be to make the right side of the equation look like the left. We notice that the left side has a 7 on top, but the right side has a 14. We can change the 14 into a 7 by halving the top and bottom of the right:

Let’s use cross multiplication to solve the same problem:

No extra thinking here or even trying to get the x out of the bottom of the fraction. We simply follow the cross multiplying procedure and multiply the green together and the purples to get our final, simple equation that yields the same 1.5 answer.

Example 3:

Our last example gets a little more complex with terms in parentheses. Cross multiplying here would probably be the best choice, but it’s never the only choice. The fraction on the left is a term being divided by 6. The fraction on the right is a term being divided by 9. We can distribute the division (just like you would distribute multiplication into parentheses) to get an equation we can solve:

We could have kept our work as fractions instead of decimals, but this is likely how it would look if you were using a calculator to help you solve the problem, and decimals are equally as valid as long as we don’t round them. Let’s see how it looks using cross multiplication:

Here we get the same answer as above by following the exact same cross multiplication procedure. Notice that we still had to distribute when we multiplied the terms in parentheses.

Cross multiplying can be a very helpful tool when solving equations with fractions. However, it should not be thought of as the only way to do so, and it should not be the only way students are taught. Thinking this way will continue to lead to many students being confused about fractions and unsure of how to work with them. Cross multiply doesn’t have to go away, but the blind memorization of it should.

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.