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Anaheim Physics Tutor Tip: What is a Joule?

Anaheim Physics Tutor Tip: What is a Joule? A Better Understanding of Energy

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A common difficulty for physics students is conceptualizing new measures and what they represent.  It’s easy enough to understand meters and seconds since we’re used to these concepts of distance and time.  Other units, however, that aren’t as common in our day-to-day can be harder to understand.  As an Anaheim physics tutor and physics teacher, I’ve found that if students have a strong understanding of units and learn to trace and connect different units, that it dramatically in both their physics understanding and their physics grades.

We have already discussed this concept when reviewing the concept of the Newton.  Now, we will be discussing another common contributor to physics confusion: the Joule.

The joule is a measure of energy.  This is probably a concept you are familiar with, but not in specific scientific terms like it is used in physics.  Here, energy is the unit that is transferred in order to do work on something or to heat something.  However, this definition is not usually very helpful in helping students understand what one joule is.  Instead, let’s try to get a better picture by looking at some of the equations that include it:

Our first equation is one that you will work with often in introductory physics classes which is the equation for kinetic energy.  Here, kinetic energy is defined as one-half of the mass times the velocity squared.  This represents the energy that a moving object has.  That’s why our only variables are mass and velocity.  The heavier a moving object is, the more energy it has; and the faster an object is, the more energy it has.  Now, let’s break these variables down into their units:

As we just discussed, the unit for energy (including kinetic energy) is the joule.  The unit for mass is kilograms, and velocity is meters per second.  By squaring the velocity units like in the equation, we get to this simplified unit definition of joules (note that the “one half” isn’t a variable and doesn’t have units – it’s just a number).

We’ve now seen one explanation of the joule as it’s used in kinetic energy.  However, in physics, we use lots of equations for joules.  If a joule is always a unit of energy, then it should be the same regardless of which equation we use.  Let’s try again with another common introductory physics equation: potential energy.

Potential energy is determined by the weight of an object and how far it is from the ground.  Specifically, this is called gravitational potential energy – it’s the energy caused from separating objects with mass from each other where there is a force from gravity.  In most introductory physics applications, the gravity we are talking about is from the earth, which is approximately 9.8 meters per seconds squared.

Again, our unit of energy is the joule, mass is kilograms, the acceleration from gravity (“g”) is meters per seconds squared, and height is measured in meters.  Again, we only care about the units, so we’ll drop the 9.8 and multiply the units to get our simplified definition:

Notice that we got the same answer when using both kinetic energy and potential energy: even though they’re different equations, they lead to the same definition.  Let’s try one more time with a different equation.

Remember that energy can be defined as the ability to do work.  As such, we often use equations that involve equating work and energy.  So, we may have an object with a starting kinetic energy, but some of that energy is lost when it does work.  This means that work is measured in joules, but how can that be if the equation looks so different?  Work is the applied force multiplied by the distance it is applied for (specifically the displacement).  Let’s see what happens if we break it down into the units.

Work is measured in joules, force is in newtons, and distance is in meters.  However, we already learned that newtons can be broken into its definition in basic units (***see here again for newton post*****).

Newtons are now written as kilogram*meters per seconds squared.  This clears up our equation a lot, because now if we multiply by the last unit of meters we get our simplified equation:

Which is the same as our definition that we found when using the kinetic or potential energy equations.

For fun, you can also think about the famous physics equation (that is not often used in introductory physics classes) of E=mc2.  This equation is also for energy, and is measured in joules.  Here, “c” is the speed of light, which – since it’s a speed – is measured in meters per second.  See what you get if you break this equation into its fundamental units and if it is the same as our definitions above.

Learning how these new units can be broken down into fundamental units can help with your understanding of physics and your execution of equations when taking tests or solving problems.  Take the time to break up your equations into fundamental units and you may be surprised at how related many of them are.

Book your private Anaheim physics 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 Math Tutor Tips: Solve Fractions With a Simple Calculator

Anaheim Math Tutoring: Solve Fractions Even with the Simplest Calculator!

Even if you don’t have access to a graphing or scientific calculator, you can still check fractions with a much simpler calculator.  This can be relevant if you are using your phone, taking a test where your teacher supplies only simple calculators, or taking an online standardized test like the GRE where you only have an onscreen simple calculator.

Many students do not realize it is still possible to work with fractions with these types of calculators.  It’s true that fractions likely won’t be nearly as easy to use on these options, and there is a good chance you will have to do some calculations by hand.  However, they are still a valuable tool to check your answers and solve some fraction problems.  First, let’s show some examples of simple calculators and then work through examples of how to use fractions with them (book your in-home Anaheim math tutor today).

A Casio brand of a simple calculator with little extra functionality outside of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division but with extra finance related options.

A Karuida brand calculator similar to the Casio that is also very common.

An example of a simple phone calculator.  Many phones may also have more calculator options on their stock apps (as well as the ability to download different calculator applications with more functionality), but this is an example of the few options that may be readily present.

This is an example of an onscreen calculator that you may get for a computer-based test.  Specifically, this is the current calculator available on the GRE

Here is a keychain or pocket calculator with no functionality outside of basic operations.

We can now practice some examples of how to work with fractions using these types of calculators.  First, the most important fact to know is that the division function is how we can get access to fractions.  A division sign is the same basic function as a fraction bar – that is, to get  3/5 you would need to type 3 ÷ 5.  It is important, however, to do as few calculations at once on simple calculators.  Many will follow the order of operations, but others will just give you an immediate output from your first operation.  For example, to find   47-19/4   you would want to perform the 47 – 19 first and separately, then divide that answer by 4.

Example 1:

Here, we can input each of the fractions into the calculator first to get the outputs in decimal form.  We put into the calculator the first fraction as 4 ÷ 8.  The output we get is 0.5.  Next, we input the second fraction as 12 ÷ 8 and receive the output of 1.5.  Now we have converted both fractions into decimals and can add them as 0.5 + 1.5 to get the correct answer of 2.

Example 2:

Now, let’s try the same strategy as example 1.  We input the first fraction as 9 ÷ 4.  The output we receive on our simple calculator is 2.25.  We then input the next fraction as 1 ÷ 6 to get 0.16667 or some similar number.  We can now type these into the calculator as 2.25 – 0.166667 to get an answer of 2.08333.  However, this likely isn’t the answer we want, since it isn’t a fraction or full number.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way around this problem without at least some knowledge of fraction manipulation.  The first option is to find a common denominator and subtract.  A quick way to do this is to multiple each fraction on the top and bottom by the denominator (bottom) of the other fraction.  So, we multiply the first fraction by 6/6  and the second fraction by  4/4.  This will change our fractions now to 54/24 – 4/24 .  Now we have a common denominator and can just subtract the numerators of each (54 – 4) to get a final answer of  50/24.  Finally, we can reduce this by dividing the top and bottom by 2 to get 25/12.

Now we can get to the calculator part.  Input 25 ÷ 12 into a calculator and you get this result:  2.08333.  Notice that this is the same answer as when we worked with strictly decimals.  However, the decimal version took a lot few steps and was quick to find.  By doing this, we can essentially check our answers to make sure they are correct.  Complete the fraction operation by hand and find your answer as a fraction.  Then, convert it to a decimal in the calculator and find the decimal using just the calculator and compare answers.  If they aren’t the same, you likely made a mistake in your fraction operations.

Example 3:

With this example, let’s try to solve it just in the calculator.  We input the first fraction as 3 ÷ 25 to get 0.12 and the second fraction as 64 ÷ 500 to get 0.128.  Now we can add those two together: 0.12 + 0128 to get a final decimal of 0.248.

In the last example, we were stuck with the decimal and could only use it to check our answer.  Here, however, we can notice that the decimal “terminates” quickly, or it stops after just a few digits.  Using this, we can write any terminating decimal as a fraction based on the furthest decimal place it has.  0.5 we could write as 5/10.  0.14 we could write as 14/100.  And 0.027 we could write as 27/1000.  Following this trend, we could write 0.248 as 248/1000.  This is a fraction that we can then reduce to have the simplest answer:  31/125 after dividing the top and bottom by 8.

So, we can use even the simplest of calculators to solve fraction problems.  At best, you may need zero knowledge of how to solve fractions (example 1), and at worst, you will have to solve the problem normally but be able to check your answer (example 2).  There is also a good chance you will only need minimal fraction reducing knowledge (example 3).  Regardless of the situation, you should know how to use calculators to check your answers and solve problems – even when you don’t have a fancy calculator available.

Book your private Anaheim 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, 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.

How an Irvine Tutor Can Help With College Admissions Part II

An Irvine Tutor Can Help with College Applications (Part II)

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Resumes and Supplements

Many schools ask for resumes as part of your application, have additional supplementary requirements, or allow for these additions as optional portions of your application.  As an experienced tutor can help guide you through these portions.  Should you add supplemental information, is it optional?  What should be included in your resume?  How do you answer the extra questions they ask?  Some of the questions seem random or weird; how do they want you to answer them?

An experienced tutor can guide you through these questions and more.  You should never be confused about how to answer a question or what a college is looking for.

Recommendations

Your tutor probably isn’t someone who will be writing you a letter of recommendation for your applications.  However, they can definitely help you gather good ones.  Students are often very nervous about asking teachers and superiors for letters of recommendation.  They don’t know who to ask or how to ask, and most importantly, they don’t know if the letters they are receiving are good.

But your letters of recommendation can be a huge part of your applications.  A bad letter can tank your admission decisions, and lukewarm or generic letters can keep you out of your top schools who were looking for more.

A tutor can help guide you through the process.  They know what colleges are looking for in letters of recommendation and are familiar with the process.  They can help you ask the right people the right way.  Your letter writers should know what you want included to better your acceptance chances.  Your tutor may also help you diversify your letter writers if you are submitting several applications, and guide you on how to know if the letters you are getting are high quality.

Planning and Review

Overall, the college search and application process is stressful, time-consuming, and confusing to navigate.  Couple that with all of the other added stress going on in a student’s life during this time, and you have a formula for procrastination and unoptimized submissions.

A tutor can help you make a plan and stick with.  They know what to do and how long it will take.  Most importantly, they can check -n and hold you or your student accountable for completing tasks on time.

In this way, you can eliminate procrastination and mitigate stress – while still improving application quality.  A tutor can also make sure the applications are done ahead of time to give ample time for review and adjustments.

An experienced, specialized tutor can do much more than help students improve grades and test scores.  If you or your students are preparing college applications, consider an in-home Irvine tutor to help guide and improve the process.  Don’t let these applications get submitted without exact time, effort, and expert knowledge making sure that they are the best that they can be.

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 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.

 

How an Irvine Tutor Can Help with College Applications

An Irvine Tutor Can Help with College Applications – Part I

Many students and parents are familiar with tutoring for classes and tests.  It is very common for tutors to work with students to help them pass a class or get an A or to improve their score on a standardized test.  For many students and parents, these are the important areas to improve to have a more competitive college application or resume.  After all, test scores and GPA are the only things that matter, right?

Wrong.  There is much more to college applications than just your “numbers” that the college will see.  However, students and parents tend to only focus on these numbers when it comes to tutoring.

School searches, personal statements, essays, resumes, and recommendations are all other extremely important aspects of a student’s college applications.  These areas can be the tipping point for many students on the cusp of acceptance to their top choice school – or finding the best schools for them in the first place.  If a school is looking at applications where many students have similar grades and test scores, the only things that can make you stand out are the more personal and unique areas of your application (our private Irvine college admissions tutors are the best in SoCal).

Let’s talk about some of the ways that an experienced private tutor can help with this process.

Applying to the Right Schools

One of the often-overlooked aspects of the college application process is finding the right schools to begin with.  There are over 5000 colleges and universities in the United States, yet most students usually feel pigeonholed into a few common nearby schools.  There is nothing wrong with attending your local community college or state school, but for many students that shouldn’t be the end of their search.

An experienced private tutor knows more about the school searching process than you do.  They can look at your credentials, your preferences, and your goals to help find schools that match for you.  They can make recommendations and even help you decide what you might like and what you might want to look for.  They can also give you a good idea of what schools you stand the best chance of being accepted into.

Statements and Essays

A very significant part of a college application is the qualitative information and writing samples.  Colleges want to hear your voice and your values.  They also want to see how you write and how you present yourself and your opinions.

Your individual writing can make-or-break your overall application.  You have a very limited space to explain who you are and to do so with quality and compelling writing.  A tutor can help guide this process and help edit this writing sample.  They can also give insight into what the admissions officers may be looking for in applications, and how you can strive to stand out from the crowd in a positive way.

Book your private Irvine college admissions 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.

Irvine Physics Tutor Tip: What is a Newton? Weight vs Mass

Irvine Physics Tutor Tip: What is a Newton? Weight vs. Mass

A common problem for physics students is conceptualizing new types of measures and what they represent.  It’s easy enough to understand meters an,d seconds; we’re used to these concepts of distance (even if it isn’t usually in meters) and time.  Other units, however, aren’t as commonplace in our everyday lives and are harder to understand.  As a tutor and physics teacher, I’ve found that students having a strong understanding of units and being able to trace and connect different units helps them dramatically in both their physics understanding and their physics grades (book your private Irvine physics tutor today).

Here, we will be discussing one of the main culprits in physics confusion that is introduced very early in an introductory physics class: the Newton.

You are likely familiar with the concept of weight in everyday life. Things have different weights, and we measure them in pounds, ounces, and sometimes tons.  You’ve likely also heard metric system units of weight: notably grams, milligrams, and kilograms.

But in physics, this gets more confusing.  Pounds are rarely or never used. Kilograms are still used, but they are a unit for “mass” rather than weight.  Instead, the “newton” is introduced as the new unit of weight.  So, in real life, we use kilograms to describe weight, but really, they’re for mass?  What is a newton and how is it different?

Our answer is in a fundamental physics equation that you will need to quickly commit to memory to succeed in physics: F=ma. This is called Newton’s second law.

Knowing the equations is the key to understanding new units and what they measure.  This equation is defining “force.”  Force is the measure that is describing what we call weight in physics.  Mass is an intrinsic quality of matter.  If we multiply that mass by an acceleration, we get the force.

The reason we often equate these two in everyday life is that the acceleration of gravity is always the same for us on Earth.  Specifically, the acceleration is around 9.8 meters per seconds, squared (m/s2).  So, if we know the mass of an object, we can always multiply by 9.8 to get force it exerts downward or its “weight.”  Because of this, mass and weight have become synonymous when talking about the force that objects exert downward since we are almost always talking about objects on Earth and at a typical altitude.

A way to understand this new unit of force is to break it up into its fundamental components.  We can do this by replacing our equation for force above with the units for each variable: force is measured with Newtons, mass with kilograms, and acceleration in meters per second2.

Using this unit definition can help you check answers during a test.  If your final answer is a force, then the units you end with should be:

Similarly, if you get an answer with those units but didn’t know what is, now you know that it is representing force.

Knowing your units is an important tool in physics to check answers and aid in understanding new concepts and new measures.  Every time you learn a new unit, you should be asking yourself what it is measuring and how it is defined with the more fundamental units.

Our experienced Irvine physics tutors are here to help you succeed in your physics class. Call us today to book your 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, 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.

Start Fixing Your Grades After Halloween

Tips From a Private Irvine Tutor: Start Fixing Your Grades After Halloween

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Halloween is a fun holiday that presents a nice reprieve from school work (even if most students still have school on October 31st).  However, it is also useful to recognize it as a turning point in your grades for the semester or quarter.  Halloween marks the end of October, meaning that there is only November and some percentage of December left for your classes and grades this period – book your private Irvine tutor today.

This means that your time is limited to achieve the grades that you want – but not so limited that you can’t make an effective change.  Halloween gives you a mental break and stress relief to then focus on making a change afterward.  Here are some things you can do to start fixing your grades after Halloween:

Talk to Your Teachers

One first step you should take in improving your grades is to talk to the teachers or professors in the classes where you are struggling.  Ideally, you would do this in a meeting or during office hours rather than just a few minutes after class or over email.  Your teacher is the one who knows the assignments and grading policy and is the best equipped to give you practical resources.

Your teacher can tell you what grades are possible for you to achieve, what grade you are on track for, what assignments you will need to do well on, and what you should be doing now.  If you are going to improve your grades, then you need to know where you’re at now and where you can realistically get to in the next two months.

Make an Early Finals Study Plan

If your class has a final – especially if it is a cumulative final – then you can get a head start on preparation now while you are motivated and not overwhelmed with end of semester stress.  Make a clear and concise study material now.  Make flashcards, outlines, or practice questions.  My ideal approach is to pretend you are the teacher and make a test for yourself based on what you’ve learned so far.  You don’t even have to take the test you make; the act of making it helps your learning, and you can save it for the final time to take it again.

Get Started on Final Projects or Papers NOW

This is advice that everyone knows, and no one takes it.  If you have a significant final project or paper for the end of your semester, then you should start it early.  Don’t tell yourself that you have plenty of time.  Don’t tell yourself that you haven’t learned enough yet to finish it.  Start something and make a contribution now while you are motivated and ready to make a change.

It can be as small as a simple paragraph or a title and a few notes.  Just put some amount of work in now, and you will thank yourself for it later.  It can also help you find areas of confusion that you can bring up to your teacher while you still have plenty of time.  The only way for your teacher to help you with a big project that is a large part of your grade is if you make an effort to start it early, so you have time to ask.

Hire a Private Irvine Tutor

These tips all require you to hold yourself accountable and be motivated enough to realize change.  Having someone else there to help and keep you on track can be a huge incentive actually to making the change happen without being on your own.  A tutor can make sure you start studying early, make sure that you reach out to your teacher and help you conceptualize your syllabus, and make sure you are on track with big projects or papers.

A tutor can also help you catch up at old material or excel at new material.  While starting and early and being focused can be effective in improving your grade, it can only help so much if you simply don’t understand what you’re learning in class or fell too far behind.  A tutor can help remedy these problems in a way that you likely couldn’t achieve on your own.  Make sure to look for an experienced tutor and be clear about what your goals are and what you want to get out of the experience.

Let Halloween be more than just a fun holiday and use it as a catalyst to make a real and effective change in your academic career.  You’ll thank yourself for it when you get your final grades if you just put in the effort to start now.

Don’t wait until the last minute to book your experienced Irvine 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, 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.

Final Test Days for High School Seniors

Last Test Days for High School Seniors 2019

With college application deadlines looming, many high school seniors are worried about their standardized test scores.  Many students take tests in the early fall and have recently gotten scores back.  For many students and their parents, this is what they consider to be the final scores that they will have to use for their applications – book your Anaheim private test prep tutor today.

This is not correct.  There are still test dates available, and there is still time for intervention to try to improve test scores.  In particular, if this was your student’s first time taking the test, there is a good chance that they can improve with a second test.  Or, if your student hasn’t done any dedicated test preparation or practice tests, they are likely to be able to improve by preparing and taking the test again.

First, here are the test dates still available for the SAT, ACT, and SAT Subject Tests:

These tests will report scores to the schools you apply to before regular decision application deadlines.  The December tests are often overlooked because students and parents don’t realize that a senior can take these tests and receive the scores on time.

Note that the registration deadline for all three tests is coming soon on November 8th.  If you are planning to take any of these standardized tests again in December, make sure you register before that date.  If you have missed the November deadline, then you can still register for the SAT or SAT Subject Tests as late as November 26th, but you will have to pay a late registration fee.  For the ACT, you have until November 22nd to register with the late fee.

A standardized test can be effective even without months of practice (see the SAT tutoring timeline here).  Consider a private tutor if you or your student are looking to get the most that they can out of these test scores and to optimize their applications.  This is often a very busy time for high school seniors, even without the extra pressure of studying and taking an important exam.  Having extra accountability and dedicated study time, such as with an experienced tutor, can help remedy these issues and make the process easier for them while still being highly effective.

Whether it’s the SAT or ACT, our experienced Anaheim test prep tutors are here to help you succeed.

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.

SAT Tutoring Timeline: How Long Does It Take to Get the Best Results?

Anaheim SAT Tutoring Timeline: How Long Does It Take to Get the Best Results?

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SAT tutoring is a popular service that many students and parents seek out to achieve the best results on important high school standardized tests.  SAT tutoring can be very effective given that you have an experienced Anaheim tutor.

Educators who give private lessons for the SAT should be experts on the exam and be able to answer any question a student has . They should also have a concrete plan for how best to help the student prepare for the test.

As a private Anaheim SAT tutor, I am often asked by students and parents what SAT preparation will be like, what will the student be doing, and how long it will take to achieve the best results.  Here, I will provide an example procedure for preparing a student for the SAT.  If you want the very best results that your student can achieve, then you should start tutoring early enough to accommodate steps similar to the ones outlined below.

  1. Initial Practice Test/Diagnostic Test
  2. Tutor Scores and Reviews
  3. Review Problem Areas and Incorrect Answers
  4. Discuss and Teach Personalized Strategies and Test-Taking Techniques
  5. Second Practice Test
  6. Tutor Scores and Reviews
  7. Tutor Evaluates what Did and Didn’t Improve from previous test.
  8. Discuss Second Test, what worked and what didn’t
    1. Possible Session(s) to go over consistent problem areas/specific lessons for necessary skills
  9. Third Practice Test
  10. Tutor Scores and Reviews
  11. Review wrong answers with tutor, finalize best strategies for student
    1. Possible Session(s) to go over specific areas or specific sections
  12. Practice Single Sections and/or full-length tests until test time
  13. One Final Practice Test Taken one-two weeks before real test
  14. Final Review Session of Final Practice Test + Test Day tips

Here, we can see a decent outline of what some ideal SAT tutoring can be.  Notice that the bolded terms are practice tests.  The core foundation of most effective SAT studying is found in taking full-length practice tests.  These allow the student to get used to the test format and instructions, get used to the pacing required to finish all of the questions, and get used to the styles of questions and answers.  Some of the most common problems on the SAT – even for advanced students – are running out of time, not understanding the directions or format, and being confused by new types of questions.

Notice also that following each bolded practice test is a designated time to score and review the practice test.  While even just the act of taking a practice test is beneficial for students, reviewing the correct answers is even more effective at promoting student learning and improvement.  Grading the practice tests also gives tangible evidence of improvement and also a good indication of what the student should expect to get on the actual test.  Your SAT score should not be a surprise if you’ve been studying and preparing effectively – it should be similar to your most recent practice test.

An experienced tutor can also analyze trends in your mistakes and in how you take the test.  This can help them choose the best strategy for you – SAT tactics are not as one-size-fits-all as many would have you think.  After giving a student a new strategy (such as techniques for skimming passages, or skipping certain problems, or designated annotations, etc.), they can practice it together and ultimately take another practice test to see how effectively the student implemented it.

After the second practice test, there should be some time to do more intensive and specified review on areas on consistent difficulty.  In general, this should be after the second practice test and not the first.  This is because a lot of problems can be remedied after the first practice test (the first test is almost always the lowest score and the most problems), so time shouldn’t be spent going too in-depth until a second test is taken.

When you do finish the second practice test, the tutor can evaluate the mistakes that are still being made and can give potential strategies for the student to try.  They can also go into more detailed review in areas where the student needs to improve or learn new skills.  This review/strategy process can go on for as long as needed until the third practice test.

The third practice test is then a way to evaluate if the new strategies are effective and if the new skills have been adequately executed by the student.  At this point, the student will be experienced with the test and the type of questions.  Grading and reviewing the practice test can show if some old test-taking strategies need to be changed if they weren’t effective for the student.  It also will show if there are any specific areas where the student is still struggling.

The first three practice tests and the review processes with them will be the majority of many SAT preparation timelines.  At this point, the student has likely optimized their score to very close to their potential.  After this, any additional tutoring is usually to continue to practice difficult skills, work on consistency in answers and scores, and keep the test-taking skills fresh until test time.

The third test can be the last practice test if the real test is around the corner, or the student can take another practice test a week or two before the real test.  This is to make sure they’re ready for the real test, but it ideally should not be in the immediate days before the real test to avoid fatiguing the student.  A tutor can also give last test day tips and motivational advice before the real test.

So, the timeline for effective and efficient test prep encompasses the time needed to take and review at least three practice tests.  This amount of time can be shorter or longer depending on what skills need to be improved and how long it takes for the student to learn them.  Ideally, these practice tests should be spaced out to avoid the student getting tired of the test or bored.  This is not the only way to effectively prepare for the SAT, but it is an example of a good foundation of what you can expect when wondering about efficient, quality SAT tutoring.

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.

 

How to Use Rubrics to Get Perfect Grades

Tips From an Anaheim Private Tutor: How to Use Rubrics to Get Perfect Grades

You are likely familiar with grading rubrics from many of your classes.  Whether it’s for an English essay, a history project, a science lab report, or an open-ended math test, rubrics are ever-present in classrooms.  Rubrics are used for two main purposes: to provide a guideline to help teachers grade students fairly and consistently, and to allow students to understand better their grade and how they could have improved it.

Without a rubric, grading can be more subjective, and grades can be harder to understand.  Have you ever gotten a graded essay back with just a big “80” circled in red with no other marks on it?  It can be frustrating to receive grades without also receiving feedback on why you got a certain grade.  A rubric is one common method of remedying this situation.

However, a rubric can be a valuable tool even before your work is graded.  Ideally, you should not be waiting to have your assignment returned before checking the designations on the rubric.  Instead, you should be proactively using the rubric to guarantee you receive the best score (don’t wait for your first failed test to book your private in-home Anaheim tutor).

Look at the real rubric below for a secondary school art project:

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Here, we have five criteria and five different levels for each (a 5×5 rubric).  We can see that students will be graded on creativity, use of elements and principles, craftsmanship, understanding and completion, and effort and participation.  We can also see how this project will be graded based on points: each category has a maximum of 20 points for a total of 100.

As a student, you should be focused on the points and the descriptions of the top point categories.  Doing this can help you notice where points are allocated in places you might not expect.  For example, to earn the full 20 points in effort and participation, you must have “participated in all class discussion” as opposed to the “participated in the most class discussion” in the 15-point category.  You may not have realized this about the art project, but failing to participate in class could lose you up to 20 points on your art project that you didn’t realize required participation.

Similarly, we could pick up on other cues in the 20-point categories, such as “exceptional care and attention to detail,” “explores several different options,” and “complete and consistent.”  These may not have been factors you were considering when beginning the project.  However, you can now use these to help craft an ideal project.  It is important to know, for example, that your neatness and carefulness accounts for the same point total as your overall creativity.

These tactics follow for other rubrics, as well.  Many teachers even include concrete criteria, such as “includes three examples of figurative language,” “has two or fewer spelling and grammar mistakes,” or “clearly lists all relevant equations at the start of the problem.”  These are what you should be taking advantage of.  Your teacher will be referring to the rubric while grading, so you want to make it as easy as possible for them to see that you are in the top categories.

For the example are rubric above, you would want to make sure that your teacher can see: 1. That you had a unique idea or that you took risks and used several options, 2. That you understand and utilized elements, you learned in class, 3. That your work is neat and has fine details, 4. That you followed and completed the assignment thoroughly, and 5. That you participated in every class and visibly strived for success.

This may seem like restating the rubric, but the idea is to focus on as many concrete, literal ideas as you can – even for something as subjective as an art project.  Your job is to make it obvious to the teacher which category your work should be in.  This may mean adding or altering your work to make certain areas more clearly fit the rubric.  Remember, a project, essay, or answer doesn’t have to follow a rubric can still be a great piece of work – but if you want the easiest path to the best grade, the rubric is where you should be looking from the start.

Book your private Anaheim tutor from TutorNerds 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.

Why You Need a Tutor For the SAT II Subject Tests

Get Tutoring for the SAT II Subject Tests!

anaheim-sat-tutoring-subject-tests

It is prevalent for students and parents to seek out experienced private Anaheim tutors for important standardized tests like the SAT and ACT.  These exams have a significant effect on a student’s college admissions and scholarship opportunities, so it makes sense that extra, professional help is sought.

However, one group of tests that is often overlooked is the SAT Subject Tests (also known as the SAT II).  There are a few reasons for this: fewer people know about these tests, few students take them, and fewer colleges require them.  So, the students who do take them usually take them late, with minimum preparation, and without tutoring – even if they had a tutor for the regular SAT.

This is a problem for students who do take the subject tests.  The subject tests are usually only required or recommended by higher tier schools.  As such, they are scored and reviewed much more competitively than your typical standardized tests.  And, what constitutes a “good” grade on the subject tests is very different than the regular SAT.  You need to have a much higher score on a subject test to be in a high percentile of test-takers.

To put it in perspective, nearly 15% of students score a perfect 800 on the Math II subject test.  On the SAT, fewer than 1% of students score an 800 on the math section.  While the average score for sections of the SAT is usually around 500 each year, averages for subject tests are usually closer to 600-650.

The subject test can be a game changer for students looking to get into top tier schools or looking to impress schools for better admissions chances or scholarship opportunities.  If you are going to take the SAT II, then you should be prepared to take it.

The good news is that a private Anaheim tutor is likely even more effective at improving your SAT Subject Test scores than your regular SAT or ACT scores.  This is because the material on the subject tests are less abstract and more concentrated and specific in the material they cover.  There is usually a ceiling that students hit on their SAT scores based on their potential, and more tutoring and studying usually cannot significantly improve on this top score if the student has already been practicing for a long time.  However, the subject tests have more specific knowledge and facts that are tested.  These facts and knowledge can be consistently and improved and practiced until the student is scoring very well on the tests.

So, the Subject Tests usually see better score improvements after consistent, dedicated lessons with an experienced tutor than we see with the SAT and ACT.  They are also more competitive, and getting a higher score is even more important to stand out for students who are taking them.  However, even students who worked with a tutor for the SAT tend to overlook tutoring for the SAT II.  If you are taking the subject tests, make sure that you are giving them the time and effort needed to achieve your best scores.

Call TutorNerds today to book a private Anaheim SAT subject test 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, 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.