Category Archives: Strategy & Tips

Research Tips for High Schoolers

Notes from a 21st Century Librarian: How to do Research

As a high school student, you are required to do a great deal of research. This trend will only continue when you enter your first year of college. Each generation has been responsible for finding information, facts, and appropriate sources; however, the 21st-century has made research both easier and more difficult. Today’s students can easily ask their iPad a question and receive an answer almost instantaneously. Nearly everything can be Googled, putting important information at your fingertips. Students of yesteryear had to actually drive to a library, look up the name of a particular book and take it home for up to a week. Libraries are still a very important part of modern literacy and research, however most students use a virtual library for academic assignments (READ: “Best Libraries in South Orange County For Studying“).


Many of your teachers and tutors went to high school prior to the advent of today’s technological convenience. In a way, this puts them at a great advantage. People who learned how to do research the old fashioned way also learned which sources were valid and which were not. They grew along with the power of the Internet and can utilize it today while easily figuring out which answers are legitimate and well-documented and which sources should be entirely ignored. Although today’s students have the advantage of these wonderful technologies, it’s important to know how to do research in a 21st-century virtual library (READ: “The Student’s Guide to Study Breaks“).

1.  Look for the lock symbol on websites

Some websites have been legitimized and approved to display a neon green lock symbol. Students should strive to use sources and conduct research on these sites. Of course, there are some perfectly valid and useful sites that students can use that do not contain this symbol. It’s important to work with a teacher or tutor to learn how to find appropriate sources prior to leaving for college.

2. Look for the HTTP://

Websites that have the HTTP:// at the beginning of the website are usually valid in some respect.  Most of us don’t look for these series of characters anymore but it’s important to check if they’re there. Remember, just about anybody can put just about anything on the Internet and so it’s important to think about what you should be researching and what is simply a distraction.

3. Balance your sources

When studying current events or the news, it is important to show both sides of the story. Very few current events sources are completely unbiased. They are written by human beings after all. If you are studying a controversial topic, make sure to research and cite sources from both ends of the spectrum. Of course, you can (and should) form your own opinion but it’s crucial to demonstrate that you researched both sides before forming the opinion that you hold.

4. Show adequate support for your argument

If you are doing online research for an argumentative essay, it’s important to cite several different sources in order to demonstrate that your research is comprehensive and complete. For example, if you have cited three articles but they are all from the same source, (PBS, NBC News, etc…) you are really only citing three subsets of one larger source. Research students are graded heavily on their ability to appropriately support their argument. Without adequate support the thesis remains a stated claim.

5. Do not rely on another’s work

Remember, anybody can put anything on the Internet. Teachers, students, researchers, professors, editors, writers and scholars all post information to the Internet. It’s never a good idea to rely on somebody’s work unless they have third-party recognition. Third-party recognition means that the information has been fact checked, edited, and published by a respected source (READ: “A Letter to My High School Self“). Anything else is simply somebody’s opinion and may or may not be historically correct, well researched, or edited for content. Always do your own research and form your own opinion even if you find easy information online.  You’ll be happy later that you did.

tutor logo Guest Post: Best Tools that Make Research Paper Writing Easier

All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

7 Best Essay Contests

7 Great Essay Contests

top-essay-contestsEssay contests are a great way for students to gain cash to use towards college or scholarship money. Nothing can be lost by entering these contests because they don’t have an entry fee. It is simply a matter of time and effort. Students who like to write or who like to read the creative writings of others have a fair shot at these contests. In addition, writing something that isn’t directly for a class at school can add to a student’s ability to perform well on important exams like the SAT and ACT.

1. The Bluefire

Bluefire, part of the Leyla Beban Young Authors Foundation offers a $1,000 scholarship annually to students who are judged to be the best in their grade. This contest is for creative writers in grades 6-12. They also offer a cash prize.

2. Online Non-Fiction Contests

Many essay scholarships in the non-fiction genre can be found online. These awards range from about $500 to about $10,000. One really well written essay could potentially pay for an entire year of college! Of course, if there is more money being awarded their will be more students entering the contest. Some of these contests are for students going into a particular field or who have a particular interest but there are plenty to choose from (READ: “Ask a Nerd! ‘Writer’s Block’“).

3. Society of Professional Journalists

This contest asks students to discuss why it’s important to seek and report the news. Winners receive $300-$1,000 and the deadline is in February of 2015. Any student interested in studying journalism or a similar subject would certainly have a shot.

4. National Peace Essay Contest

The United States Institute for Peace offers scholarships ranging from $2,500 to $10,000. Students who are interested in studying foreign policy are encouraged to think about considering this contest. Some of the winners may even get a chance to go to Washington, D.C. in order to receive their award.

5. Write It- Short Fiction

Students who are passionate about art and writing can utilize their skills from the following fiction writing opportunities. High achieving students can have a chance to earn $1,000 to $10,000 in scholarship money.

6. More Creative Writing and Essay Contests

So many additional creative writing contests can be found online. Some of these offer smaller cash prizes but it is essentially fee money to put towards college. $100 can pay for supplies and $500 can certainly pay for a semester worth of books. Students who work at minimum wage would have to spend at least 10 hours on the job to earn the amount of one of these prizes. That is valuable time that could be spent with friends or studying for a particularly difficult exam.

Writing Competitions

Essay Competitions

7. Poet & Writers

Students with an extra creative flare and a love of poetry should look into Poets & Writers. Some of these contests do have entry fees but many are free to enter. Prizes are around $1000 and most of them include publication in an online magazine or journal. That would look pretty impressive on a resume!

Read: “End of Grading Period Crunch Time

tutor logo End of Grading Period Crunch TimeAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by TutorNerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

Ask A Nerd! “Tutoring for ‘A’ Students”

Ask A Nerd!

Q: Why would I consider tutoring if I already have good grades?

Brief: Many students participate in maintenance tutoring in order to keep their grades up.


Over the years, many students have waited to arrange tutoring until their education started to go downhill. This often results in several hours of tutoring for just one subject and then students find that their grades in other subjects fall by the wayside. Maintenance tutoring is a way of preventing this from happening and can be helpful for students who are tackling AP classes or test prep in conjunction with their everyday studies – don’t hesitate to book your Orange County academic tutor.

Students who often get A or B grades in middle school are surprised at the academic challenges they face in high school. That is no surprise because high school is not easy! Even one hour of tutoring per week can help keep those grades up and avoid unnecessary stress. One of the most popular types of maintenance tutoring is for study skills. Basically, a tutor will come to your home and make sure that you have all of your assignments in order and that you have each assignment handed in on time.

Maintenance tutors help you juggle

Maintenance tutors also help out students who are juggling multiple academic tasks. Many students are taking two AP subjects while trying to study for their SAT or ACT all at the same time (READ: “Grades and AP Class“). This is a task that would make a smart and capable adult roll their eyes with stress and frustration; asking a teen to complete all of these duties without any assistance is overwhelming. A maintenance tutor can help those ambitious students stay on top of their game. One hour a week might not be enough for two AP classes and test prep so I suggest sitting down with your tutor at your initial consultation session and talking with him or her about your current goals and time limits.

Maintenance tutors are also a great option for students applying to elite universities or those who plan to apply for a merit scholarship. Very few students can go it alone at this level because they are being asked to accomplish mental tasks formerly reserved for adult students. If you are taking two or more AP classes, are taking the SAT and/or the ACT this fall or next spring, and are participating in sports, a part time job, volunteer work or any other time consuming task, consider the option of utilizing a maintenance tutor to help you navigate your junior and senior year (READ: “Last Minute SAT Study Guide“).

Don’t go it alone! Consider the help of an Irvine academic tutor

Very few students at this level can do it all on their own-if you are one of them then feel lucky-so I recommend talking to a tutor before you get too close to the AP exam or your SAT/ACT date.

Students who are currently doing well in school may find that they can achieve even more with the help of a tutor (READ: “10 Study Tips from an Irvine History Tutor“). A diligent student with a GPA of 3.5 may find that they can get their GPA up to a 3.8 or even a 4.0 with some extra help. Multi-subject tutors are a great resource for these types of students so consider asking for someone who can work with you on multiple subjects at you current grade level.

tutor logo The Best Way to Ask For A Letter Of RecommendationAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by TutorNerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

Ask a Nerd! “Grades and AP Class”

Ask a Nerd!

Q: Is it better to get an A in a regular class or a B in an AP class?

Brief: The short answer to that question is that it is better to get an A in an AP class.


I imagine that is not the answer most of you out there were looking for but it’s true. That being said, any time you get an A on your grade report and any time you have an AP class listed on your grade report, it looks good to colleges – trust us, our Orange County admissions consultants know.

Choose the course that gives you the best shot at getting an A

If you know for absolute certain that you will not get an A in AP Statistics but you have a pretty good shot at getting an A in AP Language then by all means choose the course that plays to your strengths. Remember that AP courses are college level courses that happen to be offered in high school, and thus they are not a walk in the park for any student (READ: “Mastering AP English Language“).

AP courses involve both letters and numbers

Don’t forget that you will also need to pay close attention to the number you score on the May exam. Scoring a 5, of course, will be the most impressive but a score of 4 or 3 also counts toward college level credit (READ: “Last minute AP study guide“). This leads us to the next question: Is it better to get an A or a 5? I think you already know the answer to this one: It’s better to get an A and a 5. This is just the reality of AP courses. The course itself is challenging and time consuming and the test takes a lot of brain power and on-the-spot thinking.

Don’t forget that you are an individual

If, at this time, you feel that the best you could get in an AP class is a C and the best you could get on the exam is a 2, then that will not be time well spent. On the other hand, don’t sell yourself short. If you are getting As and Bs in your regular classes then you should definitely consider taking a AP course. You can always get some help from a private tutor who can guide you through the stress of the organization, the tight deadlines and the critical thinking involved in most AP courses. If you are great at taking exams but don’t think that you can make it through the year-long course, remember that you are not required to take the course in order to take the exam.

Think about where you want to attend university

This is really important. If you want to go to a top tier school then you will need multiple AP courses, 4s or 5s on the exams, as well as many other impressive things to add to your student resume. If the universities that you are interested in look at AP courses as an added bonus, then you might be putting too much pressure on yourself. It’s important to start looking at colleges in your sophomore year to get an idea of what will be expected of you in order to meet the admissions requirements (READ: “Five Tips For Your College Entrance Essay“).

That is a very long answer to your very short question. When it comes to higher education, most questions have long answers.

Have a question for one of our nerds?

Tweet it to us @TutorNerds. Give yourself the TutorNerds advantage by checking back often for the latest in our “Ask a Nerd” series.

tutor logo Ask a Nerd! Writers BlockAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

Taking an AP class this semester? Score high on the final with the help of one of our excellent Irvine AP test tutors.

A Letter to My High School Self

An Orange County Academic Tutor’s Letter to Her High School Self


If only I had… is something that you never want to say to yourself but the reality is that many of us learn from our mistakes or from opportunities lost. If I could write a letter to my high school self and somehow send it magically back in time, this is what I would write:

1. Don’t worry so much!

I put this one at the top for a reason. I worried about academics ALL of the time in my junior and senior year and I know many of you do as well. Despite my constant worry, I did go to college and I did get a job. Someone once told me that ‘worrying is about as productive as trying to solve an algebra problem by chewing bubble gum’. I don’t know where that saying came from but whoever said it was right. I wish I hadn’t spent all that time worrying but rather put it to good use, like say, studying effectively or reading novels or spending quality time with friends (READ: “Coping with Stress as a Teen“). Retrospect is 20/20 but if you are in high school right now, why not give relaxation a try before your teen years are over?

2. Study Effectively

I remember spending the first half of high school not studying nearly enough and spending the second half of high school studying too much. I didn’t know how to study effectively. That is definitely something I wish I could go back and tell myself (READ: “The Student’s Guide to Study Breaks“). Why not ask your local Irvine academic tutor how you can do this?

3. Get help with the college admissions process

I was entirely naive to the rigors of the college admissions process. I sent out a few applications, crossed my fingers and hoped it all worked out. Luckily it did but I was taking a big risk by going it alone. I would surely tell my younger self to get some assistance and organization with this process – our Orange County college admissions consultants have a 97% success rate .

4. Get a study skills tutor

What I wouldn’t give to have avoided all of those silly markdowns because I thought an assignment was due on Thursday when, in fact, it was due on Wednesday. I remember spending hours trying to remember what was due when and for which class. Even one hour a week of organizational help would have made a world of difference in my grades and peace of mind.

5. Go to bed early

Yeah, that never happened. I was always staying up late to finish something up or to get in a bit of TV time. Every morning I would wake up feeling drowsy and unprepared for my first period class (sound familiar?). Each morning I would promise myself that, tonight, I would get a full eight hours of sleep. It never happened. Those eight hours are the best gift you can give your growing brain.

6. Invent awesome technology

I wish I had access to the technology available to students now. (Dial up anyone?) So much of this technology is free so I highly support using anything and everything that makes school work easier.

7. Live outside of your comfort zone

Many students, myself included, live inside their comfort zones. Are you 100% sure that you won’t make the swim team? Try out anyway. Feeling too shy to try out for the debate team? What is the worst that could happen? Pretty sure you won’t get into Stanford? Give it a shot. Anyone heard the saying that ‘the only failure is to not have tried’? Me too (READ: “How to Balance Sports and Academics”).

tutor logo Last Minute SAT Study GuideAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

Best Libraries in South Orange County For Studying

Best Libraries in South Orange County: Study in Peace and Quiet

Many students prefer to study in the comfort of their own home – with the help of their Orange County academic tutors – but, at times, it is nice to have the opportunity to step away from the home environment and enjoy the focused environment of a library. Libraries offer a distraction and noise free zone and can encourage students to get their assignments done faster and more efficiently. Libraries also offer a break from the intermittent grinding noise found in coffee shops and libraries won’t kick you out if you don’t buy a coffee. But what are the best libraries for studying in South Orange County?


Aliso Viejo Library

Aliso Viejo offers numerous study tables, a lot of natural light, a built in coffee shop and plenty of quiet zones. The advantage of having a coffee shop right down the hall is that students can get a caffeine or nutrition boost during those long sessions. Parking is decent although it can get busy at times (READ: “What Kind of Tech Should I Use to Study?”).

Mission Viejo Library

Mission Viejo is conveniently located near Saddleback College for those students who need to get off campus in order to fully concentrate. This location was renovated not too many years ago and provides an abundance of study tables and comfy couches. There are also plenty of plugs for when the laptop battery gets dangerously low. Mission Viejo library was smart to separate the kids section from the study section so that young readers can enjoy a quiet but kid friendly environment and their adult counterparts can enjoy the complete quiet that we come to expect of the library experience. There is not a coffee shop here so students are limited to plastic water bottles but it is one of the nicest libraries in south OC overall.

Ladera Ranch Library

Ladera Ranch has two separate stories and is conveniently open until 8 PM on some days. Although a little out of the way for students attending large high schools and local universities, it is not to be overlooked. This is also a good library for younger students ages 6-10 who live in the area. When driving by this location, one gets the feeling of being in a neighborhood rather than a large suburban environment.

Irvine Valley College Library

Irvine Valley College Library is also a great place to study. Many students veer away from college and university libraries because they think that they must be enrolled at the school in order to enter the library. While this may be true at some larger universities, who make students swipe their library card as they come in, IVC’s library allows outsiders to study there as long as they are respectful, quiet and old enough to drive themselves. I have been to this library several times but have never been a student there. It’s true that you won’t be able to check out any books without a student card, but you can still look through the books and use the study areas. It is also a good way for high school seniors to get a feel for college life. If this location is closer than your local public library, then why not give it a try? You will have to pay the $2 parking fee. Open until 9 PM.

tutornerds-private-irvine-tutorMost students seem to prefer studying at a coffee shop or at home, and these are all good places to learn and get those assignments done. However, the good old fashioned library experience is often overlooked. Libraries offer limited to no distractions, a safe and comfortable place to work or study for long hours as well as a very low cost study experience. (The most you will spend is the gasoline to drive there.) Many high school upperclassmen and college level students will find this to be a fantastic option when it comes to getting those crucial AP assignments done. For those of you who need to take a full length SAT or ACT without the noises that come with being at home (READ: “Ask a Nerd! ‘Are the SAT and ACT Similar‘”), the library also might be right for you.


tutor logo Ask a Nerd! Are the SAT and ACT Similar? All blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

The beginning of a new school year is crucial for establishing a strong academic performance. In other words, if your child wants to reach his or her potential, they can’t fall behind from the start. Hiring an Orange County private tutor is much more than extra academic help, it’s a confidence boost. Have your child be the first to raise their hand in the classroom by hiring a college educated tutor from TutorNerds. Contact us today!

Nutrition, Exercise and Study: A Triangle of Success

Working Your Brain and Body Towards  Academic Success

I remember my ultra fast high school metabolism and the wonderful foods that went along with that. Pancakes with extra syrup for breakfast, a chocolate muffin and some chips for lunch, coffee for a snack and whatever mom made for dinner. Yikes! It’s amazing that I graduated at all. This is not a diet for success. Lots of carbohydrates and refined sugar are very tempting to relieve stress but it is not great brain fuel. I also remember that nutritionists talked to us about eating ‘brain food’ the day before a big exam but the reality is that healthy nutrition habits are most effective in the long term.


Exercise also plays a big role in academic success. Sitting for hours at a time is not really that healthy. Whether you are walking 20 minutes a day or running 20 minute 5K races for the track team, any exercise can be helpful.

I am a private Orange County tutor, not a nutritionist or a personal trainer, but these diet and exercise tips seem to work for most students. You will need to choose what’s right for you based on your abilities and your current level of health – choose what’s best for your mind with one of our Irvine in-home academic tutors and get sharp before the school year starts.

1. Have your cake and eat your carrots too

I’m not saying that sweets are evil or that you shouldn’t eat them but eat some carrots too. Sweets as an addition to an otherwise healthy diet add a few extra calories but won’t necessarily destroy your ability to study. The problem with eating all of those chocolate muffins and candy is that they fill the stomach so that you aren’t hungry for healthier foods like veggies and fruits. Veggies and fruit contain vitamins and minerals that are essential to brain growth and function (READ: “Vegetables and Fruit: Get Plenty Every day“).

2. Choose a sport, any sport

I did not like team sports and so I didn’t participate in any; many students that I talk to feel the same way that I did. There are tons of other ways to get some exercise. Running or walking, a yoga class, dance, a gym workout, swimming, playing tennis, shooting hoops in your driveway etc… are all ways to get the blood pumping without being on a team where you might be sitting on the bench for part of the time (READ: “How to Balance Sports and Academics in High School“). On the other hand, if you like team sports, most schools offer options like soccer, basketball, lacrosse, track and field, and football. If your school doesn’t offer after school sports, there are many local places to sign up to be on a team.

3. Listen to your body, listen to your mind

It’s also important to listen to your body. If your back has molded into one giant piece of stone from sitting in a study chair all day, then it’s time to get up and walk around or do some stretches. Alternatively, if your knee is hurting from running too much or too fast then it’s best to prop your leg up on a chair while you study and take a break from the running. Your body will tell you when to move and when to take it easy if you listen (READ: “Coping with Stress as a Teen”).

Also, if your mind is starting to get cluttered with masses of information that is getting jumbled up into one ball of facts and figures, then I recommend going for a brief walk in the fresh air. We live in Orange County after all so the weather’s nice all year round. If you are overly mentally fatigued from studying try taking a 20 minute nap or laying down for a few minutes to recharge the brain. A rested mind can absorb more information.


4. Rest is part of a good exercise routine

Rest is most certainly part of the nutrition, exercise and study triangle. Your body needs to be asleep to absorb all of that healthy protein and it needs to be asleep to repair minor muscle fatigue from that energetic exercise routine. Getting eight hours of sleep a night is essential to academic success.

5. Protein is your friend

Protein is your best ally when it comes to staying alert. There is nothing wrong with that pancake breakfast that I mentioned earlier if I were to replace the extra syrup with some fruit and a couple of scrambled eggs. Protein helps us stay awake and it helps us focus on both mental and physical tasks (READ: “Why is it Important to Make Lean or Low-Fat Choices from the Protein Foods Group?“)

6. Complex carbohydrates

Foods like whole wheat bread, brown rice and oatmeal are very healthy and they tend to metabolize slower so that you can sustain your energy levels while studying. Add complex carbohydrates as a regular part of your diet and you may find that those study ‘crashes’ happen less and less (READ: “Choose My Plate: Grains“).

A good diet and exercise program can also help you through life in general. People who exercise regularly are more likely to live a long and healthy life and people who maintain a well balanced diet can lead to a more productive day and a generally healthier lifestyle.

tutor logo How to Pick Out Your Freshman Year College CoursesAll blog entries, with the exception of guest bloggers, are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

 How to Pick Out Your Freshman Year College

5 Things to do Before You Go Away to College

Heading to college this fall? TutorNerds is here to help.

High school is finally over, graduation day has arrived, which means you have successfully survived high school. Congratulate yourself because you deserve it. You championed those nasty standardized exams, you passed your AP classes (TutorNerds offers AP test Tutoring), you survived cafeteria food for four years, you did three hours of homework a night all while maintaining a part time job and gaining volunteer experience. And now you are done, well sort of.

college-orangecountyThere are still an additional four years ahead of you (and for some of you a lot more than that; PhD anyone?). Of course, these next years won’t be anything like the four years in high school. You will have freedom to actually choose what you want to study, you will set your own schedule and take your own responsibilities, and you will still have to eat cafeteria food (READ our post on Self-Discipline).

Countless students leave a bit unprepared for college and that can make the first semester a giant wake up call to the responsibilities of university life. I’m not talking about pre-ordering a twin sheet set for your dorm or getting to know your roommate prior to your arrival, I’m talking about good old fashioned organization and academics.

Here are 5 things you can do to make life a lot easier during that first semester in college:

One: Have a tutor, keep a tutor. Need a tutor, find a tutor

Remember the tutor (most likely the private Orange County tutor from TutorNerds) that helped you through SAT, ACT or AP? Chances are they tutor other subjects as well. With the use of handy dandy technology, many tutors give lessons via Skype. If you have already found your perfect match, why make a change? Tutors book up early so if you want to keep your favorite tutor, make sure to let them know and make sure that they offer remote tutoring, especially if you are moving to a different time zone.

stanford_campusDidn’t need a tutor in high school or didn’t get one but kind of wish that you had? Arrange for a tutor now rather than later. You don’t want to be in a position where you are scrambling around looking for a brand new tutor just after failing your first midterm. Even if you feel pretty confident that your academics are strong, do yourself a favor and call a tutoring company to put your name on the list of potential students. It could be the difference between having a tutor within a week or within a month. Don’t waste time (and possibly your first semester GPA) searching for a tutor when things have already gone downhill. A final point, choosing a private tutor for the summer (READ: ten reasons you need a summer tutor) will help you gain confidence and courage for the big switch to college. How do we know? Our college educated tutors have all made the leap, so they’ll give you an insider’s perspective as you prepare.

Two: Review your core subjects and pick your core classes

Before you burn your essays in a celebratory bonfire, go through all of your senior year English and math assignments and look for patterns. Patterns include things that you are consistently good at as well as things that need improvement. If you rock at algebra but probability problems made you want to run away screaming, use this knowledge about yourself to pick your freshman classes. Sign up for Algebra 1A but skip Statistics 101. If you hated writing papers with a passion, find out if you can take English Composition 101 in your second semester. There is no way around taking this class at the college level but you might be able to put it off until you feel more comfortable about college life.


Three: Fill in the gaps

Remember when your high school English teacher assigned summer reading (or in-class reading) and you took a shortcut by using Cliff notes or Spark notes and didn’t actually read the book? College is when these decisions seem like a bad idea in retrospect. Being well read will help you out in nearly every liberal arts college class that you take. Even engineering and computer science majors will find themselves on the humanities side of the campus during those first two years. Take the time to read the books that you truly skipped and review ones that you may have skimmed while in a hurry. Your older self will thank you later. (READ: the 10 best teen reads)

Four: Have a game plan

When I was in college I took a nice long look through the list of required classes and discovered that I could easily kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, by taking say Literature 2, instead of Literature 3. That left me with a ton of leftover units that I used to take fun electives or ‘easy A’ type courses. There is no reason why you can’t do the same. Don’t waste your time taking 2 classes that you don’t really like when you could have filled a few hours of your week doing something you love.

Five: Don’t bite off more than you can chew

So, you took two AP classes, scored a 1900 on the SAT and maintained a 3.8 GPA during your senior year. That helped you get the well deserved acceptance letter to the place you will be moving to this fall but, so did everyone else that will arrive on campus in September. This doesn’t mean that you’re not awesome; it just means that everybody else is also awesome. The competition is fierce. If your counselor at UC or Cal State tells you that the maximum number of classes you should take is 4, don’t be brave and sign yourself up for 5! The academic counselors have mentored thousands of students and they know what works and what doesn’t. If you are behind on classes, save it for summer or at least save it for your second year. First semester freshman year is not the time to overload yourself.

University life can be incredibly wonderful if you are able to balance out your academic and social lives. Do yourself a favor and ease in to your first few months at college. Remember all of the useful things that you learned in high school and learn how to cut through some of the red tape. Enjoy a seriously fun summer and head off to the next stage of life in a couple of months.

tutor logo Self Discipline in 5 Steps | by TutorNerds  All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

 Self Discipline in 5 Steps | by TutorNerds

How to Balance Sports and Academics in High School

A 3.5+ GPA and Sports: How to balance sports and academics in high school

Many of my students ask how they can balance both sports and still maintain a high GPA. Maintaining a good academic record and meeting the obligations of an after-school sports team can definitely be a challenge. Many of you come home around 5 PM, starving and tired from a long day at school as well as a hot Irvine, CA afternoon running track, playing baseball or football. This feels like the perfect time to end the day; lie down on the couch, turn on the TV and relax. Unfortunately there is often much more to be done. English and math homework, studying for that big final on Friday and-if you’re a junior-that all important SAT or ACT prep. Is it even possible to make it work, to have the best of both worlds? Yes, but only with a list of priorities, excellent time management and probably a little help.


Let’s look at 6 ways that you can manage both sports and homework:

1. Know what you are getting yourself into:

Okay, so it’s that time again. You need to pick all of your electives for the next semester. You love sports and you want to be accepted to the college of your choice. Talk to the coach ahead of time and ask about the time commitment. More often than not sports require more than just the 3-5 PM practice and Saturday morning games. Find out if the coach is amenable to allowing extra study time for the week prior to midterms or final exams. Ask if there will be any big games the week before the SAT or your AP exams (first think about when you will be taking the SAT, of course).

If you find out that most athletes go out for pizza as a team on Friday nights, factor this in to your time commitment. Knowing the exact amount of hours is crucial to your study time table.

2. Time your standardized tests appropriately:

The SAT and ACT are offered several times a year (as are the SAT subject tests) but the AP exams are always in May. Think about what your schedule will be like in the spring if you have two AP tests, the SAT and sports. Consider getting the SAT out of the way earlier in the year so it doesn’t coincide with other academics.

3. Be flexible:

If your English teacher decides to hold a big test the day after the big game, there is nothing that you can do about it. The school schedule is set in stone and that’s it. Enjoy your free weekends while you have them so that you are prepared to spend Saturday and Sunday studying and training. That Friday night pizza after the game might be your only social activity for that particular weekend so enjoy it.

4. Choose a sport you LOVE:

After-school sports are a big time commitment so make sure that you really love what you will be doing. If playing catch with your next door neighbor as a kid is your favorite childhood memory, then playing on the baseball team might not even seem like work at all.

5. Get the right nutrition:

Both the mind and the body need energy. If you are training for a full season of football or running track each day after school, think about the calories you are burning (READ: “Eating tips for teens“). Add onto that the mental energy that your brain needs to stay alert and focus on learning functions and you have a very specific diet ahead of you. I’m not a nutritionist, and each body is different but everybody needs a balanced diet to meet these athletic goals. Make sure fruits and veggies are a big part of your diet, healthy carbohydrates and protein are also essential (and, no, donuts and brown rice are not the same thing).

6. Get help from a tutor:

Managing and prioritizing time can be a challenge. Ask family for help organizing your schedule and arrange for a private Irvine tutor to come to your home to help you stay on track with the academic stuff. Odds are your sport team practices over the summer. Not a problem. Our private in-home tutors work around your busy schedules. (READ: Ten Reasons Why You Need a Summer Tutor)

Try out these tips this season and hopefully both sports and studying will be a part of a manageable schedule.

tutor logo Self Discipline in 5 Steps | by TutorNerds  All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

 Self Discipline in 5 Steps | by TutorNerds

Emotional IQ vs. Intellectual IQ | by TutorNerds

Emotional IQ vs. Intellectual IQ: How do they compare?

Emotional IQ is the ability to handle complex, difficult and sometimes very sad situations. It is also the ability to navigate intricate social situations. Some children simply have a knack for socializing and are farther along than their peers (want your student to grow more confident and develop social skills? Try one of our in-home Orange County tutors). However, at the end of the day, emotional IQ comes with experience and time. A 35-year-old with a 110 IQ will almost always have a significantly higher emotional IQ than a 15-year-old with a 140 IQ. Some things just come with time.


Intellectual IQ is the potential a person has, at any age, to achieve academically and to understand higher levels of thinking.

Gifted children (READ: GATE Testing) can find themselves in really tough situations if their adult counterparts expect them to have an adult emotional IQ. A 5-year-old has had 5 years of life experience, not 10 or 20 or 55. Even if their intellectual IQ is 130+ (the “gifted” cutoff), they still need time to grow and learn about emotional situations. Let’s look at some real life examples.

Emotional IQ vs Intellectual IQ: Example One

A second grader has an intellectual IQ of 135 but the emotional IQ of a seven-year-old. Her reading level is three grade levels above that of her peers and she easily gets bored with second grade books (Have you considered an Irvine private tutor for your child’s reading abilities? Check out: Reading Tutoring). It would be easy to give the child a fifth grade reading level book, but this could potentially be a big mistake. It’s really important for teachers and parents to look at the content of the higher level books and think about whether or not the student is emotionally ready to handle the content.

How would a second grader, no matter what their IQ, respond to learning about the Holocaust for the first time from a book? How would they respond to reading about the West Nile Virus in the newspaper? Content and skill are two very different things. It’s important to challenge a gifted learner intellectually while maintaining socially and emotionally appropriate content. Check out what these parents had to say about these books:

Emotional IQ vs Intellectual IQ: Example Two

A sixth grader, who happens to be gifted at math and has a 145 overall intellectual IQ, is struggling socially. Because he has a high IQ, he is expected to understand social situations that juniors and seniors in high school can handle. Just because he is a math whiz, doesn’t mean that he is able to have a relevant conversation with students five or six years his senior. Perhaps when they are 30 and 35-years-old respectively, the social situation will be quite different but a sixth grader will still needs to socialize with sixth graders, even if they are in different classes. I recommend that parents arrange time outside of school for their gifted child to spend with children their own age and have plenty of opportunity to just relax and have fun being 11-years-old.


Emotional IQ vs Intellectual IQ: Example Three

A gifted child is asked to handle the academic workload of an adult. Many advanced and gifted learners are asked to not only take on the skill level of much older children or adults, but also adhere to the time table of an adult. Most of us sit down and concentrate at a desk for 8 or more hours a day and we have learned to cope with it. As adults, we know when to take breaks, when to get up and walk around and when to simply power through it. Children, no matter how smart they are, are not accustomed to sitting down for more than six hours in a 24 hour period. The beauty of childhood is to spend time outside, spend time with friends, and use the imagination. Adulthood will come all too soon enough and it is important that gifted children get time to simply be children. They need to laugh, play and have fun like all children.

Bottom Line

It’s essential to assess emotional IQ along side with intellectual IQ. The bottom line is that each child will have a potentially vast difference in their intellectual abilities. Some will be musicians, some will be engineers, and others will be artists or dancers. But a six-year-old is a six-year-old and emotional IQ generally doesn’t vary by more than a year or two if the child is under 18.

tutor logo Is your child twice exceptional? All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at 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 post about.

Orange County parents and students, listen up! Beat the summer slowdown with a private, in-home tutor. We work around your schedule so you can stay sharp while having fun in the sun. Read: 10 Reasons You Need a Summer Tutor. What are you waiting for? Call us.

 Is your child twice exceptional?