Tag Archives: high school

6 Good Habits to Pick Up when Starting High School

These 6 Habits Will Get you Ahead in High School

8th graders are getting ready to wrap up the year and move on to the challenge of high school. They should think about a few good habits they can pick up that will help them with the transition. One of the biggest things all 9th graders can work on is organization. Transitioning to high school should also focus on excellent note-taking skills and the appropriate use of supplemental study materials. If students can pick up good habits sooner rather than later, they are more likely to enjoy both the academic challenge of starting high school and the social aspect of being older and more independent. High school can either be challenging yet fun or overwhelmingly stressful depending on a student’s introduction to this new phase of their life.


1. Note taking and annotation

One of the best habits students can develop is appropriate note taking and annotation skills. Many students breeze through a textbook without highlighting, underlining, or taking side notes. As a result, when they go back to study for the end of chapter quiz or to complete an assignment they don’t remember which information was relevant and which was not. This can add multiple hours on the clock every week and lead to frustration. Instead, students are encouraged to annotate on a computer document that they can’t lose quickly. Loose leaf paper can be lost just as soon as the notes are taken but a computer document aptly-named and labeled can easily be found later on.

2. General organization

General organization is also an excellent habit to develop. Students who are organized in each class will be aware of important dates and deadlines, know how much work they need to complete each day, and have a better grasp of the subject matter overall. Staying organized is a key to success throughout high school (READ: “5 Best Math Apps for High School Students”).

3. Supplemental study materials

When adjusting to high school, it’s important that students know how to utilize supplemental study materials appropriately. For example, SparkNotes or CliffsNotes are an excellent help to understanding a novel or story but should not be used as a shortcut. Study guides and outlines are also extremely helpful when it comes to test prep and assignment completion.

4. Socialization

Healthy socialization is also a huge part of adjusting to the 9th grade. Students will be meeting new peers and will have the opportunity to choose friends with good study habits and goals for the future. Making new friends is an important part of the overall balance of being in high school but excessive socialization, especially during school hours, can potentially become a detriment to a student’s good standing and academic success. It’s important for students to find a suitable balance.

5. Stress management

New high school students will often be adjusting to a higher level of stress for the first time. By junior year, this stress can be entirely overwhelming if students haven’t learned a work-life balance. In some cases, a student may need a tutor to help conquer challenging assignments and concepts. Students can also join a study group or meet with their teacher on a regular basis. Additionally, it’s important to leave time for sports or other extracurricular activities that help manage stress over time (READ: “4 Differences Between High School and College”).

6. Open lines of communication with teachers

Many students feel intimidated by their teachers as they enter high school. However, teachers are the best resource when it comes to understanding classroom assignments and general concepts. It’s a good idea for students to get comfortable asking questions in class as well as emailing the teacher or visiting during office hours to clarify information that will help them be successful throughout the next four years.

Get ahead and stay ahead in high school with the help Irvine private tutoring from TutorNerds. Call us today for more information.

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

Coping with Rejection: College Notification Letters

College Notification Letters: Tips On How To Cope With Rejection

college_notification_letters_rejectionCollege notification letters are due to arrive in a few short weeks. Most high school seniors are on edge at this point in the year, hoping that they were accepted to their first choice school. Although most students will get into college somewhere (especially if they seek the guidance of one of our Irvine college admissions consultants), they will also receive a rejection letter.

Students are advised to think about reasons why they may or may not be accepted to a particular university before they open their letters so as not become overly discouraged.

1. The statistics were against them

If the student applied to a university with a less than 10% admittance rate, the reality is the statistics just weren’t in their favor. Searching for a specific reason as to why they didn’t get into an Ivy League or near Ivy League school is not helpful and will lead to excess frustration. Students should not worry too much and know that it’s not necessarily a reflection of them as a student or person but rather the university’s picky admissions requirements.

Lesson learned: Resilience is powerful and is actually one of the best qualities a young person can have. People will receive multiple rejections before they land their dream job or get into the graduate school of their choice (READ: “8 Reasons Applicants Fail to Get Into the College of Their Choice”).

2.  It just wasn’t the right fit

Some students apply to school because they felt pressured or because of the school’s reputation. However, many students will not have conducted extensive research to see if the university was really the right place for them to spend four years. If the admissions department feels that they are not a good fit for a student, the student is not likely to be admitted.

Lesson learned: Students who attend a school that is not the right fit for them may struggle for the next four years; they should look at the schools they were accepted to and think about which one would truly be the right place for them to flourish.

3. Similar applicants

Many universities would like to provide a diverse student body so that admitted students can gain a broadened life perspective. A diverse population is a great thing and offers admitted students more opportunities to become multi-talented world citizens. However, this can sometimes play against an applicant if their application was similar to many others.

Lesson learned: It’s important that a student is able to stand out on their college application and offer something that their peers cannot. College juniors can learn from their older peers by thinking about what would make them stand out next year. Examples would include a unique volunteer or community service experience, taking AP exams outside of the norm, and fully developing a hobby or interest that is unique (READ: “Navigating the Basics of the College Application Process”).

4. The student didn’t apply to a diverse range of schools

Students are always encouraged to apply to a range of schools. Regardless, many students apply to several schools that happen to be very similar. Students who apply only to Ivy League schools, only to large public universities, or only to small specialized schools may find that they have more rejection letters than expected.

Lesson learned: High school seniors should look at the places they were accepted to and choose one that will be the best fit for them. High school juniors can learn from their older peers by remembering to apply to a range of schools when it’s their turn. The more the merrier when it comes to college applications.

On a rare occasion a student will find that they are not accepted to any of the colleges they applied to. This usually isn’t because of the student’s grades and test scores but rather because they only applied to “reach” schools or did not choose a “safety” school. Students who find themselves in this situation are advised to sit down with their academic counselor at school as well as with their parents and review how best to spend the next 12 months. Students who are not accepted to college at all should know that they are not doomed to a life without a bachelor’s degree. Students can always apply next year, but they should think about what didn’t work out the first time around so they can remedy these issues in the 12 months that follow (READ: “Tips from an Irvine College Consultant:  International Scholarships 101”).

In short

Although getting a rejection letter is emotionally difficult and frustrating, students should be advised that resilience is one of the best qualities they can have as a young person and try to move on as best they can. Students can then look at the list of schools they were accepted to and start focusing on a positive and productive academic future.

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

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 info@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 post about.

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 info@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 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.

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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: ProTeacher.net

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 info@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 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.

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Using Memory to Study Effectively | TutorNerds | Orange County

Did You Remember to Study?

At this point in your lives, studying is a huge part of your day. It’s a pretty big task to be able to go to school for six hours and then come home and put in an additional two hours or so. If you are also getting ready to apply for college, or are preparing for the SAT or AP (read out post, “Last Minute AP Study Guide”) classes, those two hours can turn into a lot more. Have you ever thought to yourself that there must be an easier way? Unfortunately there is not an easier way, but there is a better way.


Memory plays a substantial role in how much information we need to keep in our minds and the brain takes on the complicated task of determining which information is important and which is not.

Short term, long term and working memory

There are three primary types of memory: Short term, long term and working memory. Short term memory lasts about 7 seconds, so this part of the brain essentially takes a mental note about important elements and stores them for a very short time. So when do we use this magical seven second notepad? Lets’ say you are sitting in that giant classroom on Saturday morning taking your SAT and the proctor has just said “start”. It’s time to get that short term memory rolling. For example, if you are solving for X in your head and you remember that the partial answer is 8 and you have the then divide that by 3, you are using short term memory.


This presents a problem for students who are tired or overworked. Sound familiar? Sleep is the best way to keep the short term memory sharp but you can compensate for fatigue by writing everything down. Temporary short term memory loss can lead to a lot of missed answers that you really knew so take advantage or your pencil and test booklet in order to give yourself the best chance at success.

Long term memory can potentially last forever. Remember when you rode a bike at age six? Now, ten years later you can not only remember riding your bike but you still know how to do it. That’s long term memory. This will come in handy when you’re asked about a book you read in school two years ago; it will take your brain a bit longer, but it’ll get there.

Your Most Valuable Study Partner: Working Memory

That brings us to working memory. Working memory is your best friend and most valuable study partner when it comes to studying and taking tests. Working memory is similar to short term memory but it can store multiple pieces of information in multiple formats. Essentially your memory is multitasking the entire time you are studying, which is why you feel so tired after doing homework. So how can you use your working memory to study more effectively?

Although we don’t entirely know which tricks work for which people just yet, many students will be able to study more effectively by trying these 5 tips:

  1. Write an outline of what you really need to focus on before you start studying. If you have a list of key words or phrases, your brain can search for them while disregarding irrelevant information. The less multitasking your memory has to do, the quicker it can function. Compare it to cleaning your room. How likely are you to find your favorite pair of jeans if your clothes are everywhere? A quick cleaning at the beginning of the week can make each morning easier. The memory can work the same way.
  2. Eliminate distractions. The memory is already working hard when you are studying so do yourself a favor and turn off the TV, turn your phone to silent and close the door to your room if your home gets noisy. Many students find wearing earplugs helpful.
  3. Socialize. That’s right, talk to your friends. I don’t mean talk to them on the phone the night before a big test, but rather just in general. We have to think all the time and use short term memory when we chit chat and it keeps our brains active while we are having fun.
  4. Eat your fruits and veggies and protein too. Healthy food is fuel for our brains and memory. The more energy your brain has to burn, the quicker it can get things done.
  5. Sleep! I bet a lot of you are up until 1 or 2 in the morning finishing homework. 4 or 5 hours of sleep is definitely not enough to keep the memory running at full speed. Try getting a full 8 hours and see if you can get your homework done faster the next afternoon. I bet you’ll be surprised.

tutor logo Getting Your Community Service Credits | TutorNerds | Orange County All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at info@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 post about.

One last thing, summer doesn’t mean an end to learning. In today’s competitive world of college admissions, it’s crucial students spend the next few months improving and catching up. What better way to do that than with a private summer tutor? We work with student’s schedules so they can still have fun. Don’t fall victim to the summer slow down!

Getting Your Community Service Credits | by TutorNerds

Community Service: Do What’s Important to You

Community service used to be something that you could choose to do or choose not to do. It looked good on your college applications but wasn’t mandatory. That sounds like a nice option, right? Well, those days are long gone. Each one of you will have to meet a certain number of community service hours to graduate high school and enter college. Universities don’t want you to think of this as just another task that must be completed but rather a way that you can add to your community doing something that is really important to you. Choosing something that you are passionate about or is of particular interest to your community at large helps the universities you are applying to see how you could add to their community and can be a significant part of entering a college of your choice.


Community service for teens can actually be fun if you choose something that you are curious about or have some interest in. You may also find that your personal entrance essay will be easier to write if you have a particular passion that you have some demonstrated experience in. Think about something in your community that you would like to change or something that is missing. It can be a large issue that many people are aware of, or something small that you want to shed some light on. You may also choose to focus on one of your passions or personal interests. Look to your hobbies to find inspiration when choosing exactly where you will spend your free hours.

Community Service is Fun

Like many things in life, community service can be a lot more fun if you do it with friends. Try getting a group together to volunteer at the same place on the weekend and then make a day of it. Check out some of these cool places that offer volunteer opportunities in Orange County, CA:

If you run track and field or have an interest in sports or physical education, think about volunteering at a local race for charity. For example, check out the Orange County Register’s Irvine Charity Walks List.

Other races this year include the Dino Dash and the Memorial Day Half Don’t worry, you won’t have to run 13.1 miles to volunteer, just cheer on the people who are. Can you think of others? Please share with us on twitter!

Cats & Dogs

If you love cats and dogs (who doesn’t?), try getting involved with a local rescue group. Working with animals can be very rewarding and demonstrates care and compassion. Also, you may get to work with kittens and puppies, which means plenty of cute pictures for your Instagram.

Below are to options to get you started:

ARK located in San Juan Capistrano

The Orange County Humane Society located in Huntington Beach

There’s Help to Help You Help

Maybe you haven’t found your passion yet. That’s absolutely okay because websites like Volunteer Match can help you find a short term commitment and try out a few different things. Searching for the right volunteer activity may end up being a great way to discuss how you found a topic or issue that really makes you want to add to or change. If you’re not sure what really interests you, try a few different things before making a long-term commitment to one cause.

Regardless of what you choose, volunteering can be a great way to learn about the world and help you have a well-rounded college application. Add to the life of another and have fun!

tutor logo How to Choose Your University (Part III) | TutorNerds | Orange County All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations. We want to make this the best free education resource in SoCal.

One last thing, summer doesn’t mean an end to learning. In today’s competitive world of college admissions, it’s crucial students spend the next few months improving and catching up. What better way to do that than with a private summer tutor? We work with student’s schedules so they can still have fun.

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Finding Your Writing Process | TutorNerds | Orange County

Finding Your Writing Process – Start Writing!

Are your English papers coming back with Ds and Cs? If so, ask yourself, “do I have a writing process?” Essays and research papers only get longer and harder in college, so developing a solid process early on may be the difference between failing and thriving.

Writing-Tips-bookTutorNerds’ Irvine private tutors cannot stress enough the importance of having a writing process. In the same way professional actors have routines prior to shows or sports stars have routines before a big game, habits help get us in the right mindset. Specifically, they help ensure a positive outcome. You’ll want to come up with your own routine around writing, even if you don’t plan on being an author. In this next step of the writing process, we’ll look at common assumptions students have about writing. By the end, you’ll see how much control you have over the writing process and where you can start customizing your own method.

The writing stage comes right after deciding what to write about.

Once you decide on a topic or are given an assignment, hold off the urge to just “get it done.” With no prior planning or evidence, you’ll have at best a disorderly essay with little proof to back up the thesis. Instead, after a topic is chosen, the best way to turn is towards an outline. This is what we call a “working document,” one that is in a constant state of change until you’re confident in the product. Use this outline as a way to gather information, ideas and evidence. From here you can change ideas around, move evidence to different paragraphs, anything you need to create an outline that is logical and supported by evidence. From there, you can start writing.

The writing stage only needs to be done once and it’s over.

We all know we do our best work when we’re relaxed and have time to check our mistakes. If yours truly had to turn in first drafts as final drafts, I’d be pretty embarrassed. Writing is usually not a one stage process, at least not for anything over a half page. Instead of stressing out and missing silly mistakes, allow yourself breaks while writing. The best writing process includes an outline, rough draft, and final draft. Each of these can be followed by a break of a few hours or a whole day. Coming back with a fresh mind will usually help catch unclear ideas or awkward sentences you may have missed.

I’ll start with the introduction, figure out a thesis statement, then write the body paragraphs, followed by the conclusion.

This is usually the most common mistake with young writers. We get into a habit of writing from introduction to conclusion because that’s how we’re taught in school. When teaching writing for the first time, it makes sense to teach it in a logical manner; from top to bottom, the way we read it. However, most writers work much better outside the top to bottom system. Instead, try starting with the body paragraphs. This way you have all your evidence done, and your thesis, introduction, and conclusion will actually match your ideas. It really doesn’t matter how you start, you just want to find a way to ensure your ideas stay consistent from start to finish.

grade-papersI can write the night before it’s due.

Has this ever worked out well for anyone? Let’s argue it hasn’t. Put simply, it’s being lazy. Relying on the night before has a lot to do with many of the other assumptions we’ve discussed.

To push the point, putting writing off to the last minute never turns out well. You may still get a good grade, but you know it’s not your best work. We talked previously about how your ideas can change over time. If you give yourself  the opportunity to think about a question or concept for more than a few hours, you’ll probably have a better understanding of it. If you don’t utilize that time, what you may have instead is a confused paper; one that begins with an opinion, and ends with another entirely. The change of opinion may be incredibly insightful, but it’s overshadowed by a paper that makes no logical sense.

As your local Orange County in-home tutors we know you can do better than procrastinating. It all comes back to confidence; confidence in your writing and in yourself. Trust us, a private tutor can help with both those things.

tutor logo Kindness Clubs for Kids | TutorNerds | tutornerds.com All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional, in Irvine, Orange County, CA, or other relevant blogger? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations.

Attention all Orange County, CA, high school students grades 9-12: Enter our essay contest for a chance to win $500! The deadline is quickly approaching.

One final note of interest: According to the Los Angeles Times, UC seeks to increase transfer students from community colleges. As you may know, the current counseling/transfer process is confusing and difficult, which makes this promising news. Follow us on twitter: for the latest on this exciting announcement. Remember, we’re here to help you with all your college admissions needs

Kindness Clubs for Kids | TutorNerds

A Positive Social Experience For Your Child

We could all benefit from a little kindness, don’t you think? What if we told you parents, through organization and involvement, could help bolster kindness in schools? Now that we have your attention, Orange County, read on to learn more.


Many elementary and middle schools already have a Kindness Club in place. If so, inquire with the principal or AP at your child’s school. His or her teacher may also have connections to school clubs. These clubs have popped up throughout southern California, and across the country, as a positive response to bullying and other social issues at schools. If your local school is not currently participating in a Kindness Club, now would be a great time to suggest it to the principal or school district or even start your own. If your little one attends a private school, you could arrange for an after school gathering through the PTA.

Many children who participate in such a club starting at an early age can benefit from so many positive social experiences. For example, they will be less likely to stand by while bullying occurs, be less likely to be bullied themselves and potentially stop them from becoming a bully. One local club is called “It’s Cool to be Kind”, this is such a great name because it sets the precedence that indeed it is cool to be a nice person and, alternatively, it’s not at all cool to be mean or cruel.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation (RAK) suggests a few ways you and your kid can participate in kindness at school. For instance, make T-shirts together as a group so that your kid can show his or her commitment to be kind, or organize food or clothing drives to help less fortunate children.

One thing that I really enjoyed doing with the children at school was completing a group art project. Kids can get a bit nervous about letting a classmate finish a picture that they had already started, and we had to work through a lot of normal social issues during these projects. It forced the kids to learn how to share; how to ask for the materials nicely and how to give compliments to each others’ finished projects. A great way to help them share is to put out only enough materials for ¾ of the students participating. This way, they can practice asking for things nicely and saying “please” and “thank you”.

If art isn’t your thing, baking projects can be tons of fun for young kids to work on together. Plus, at the end there are a couple dozen good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies to share. Cooking projects can also lead to school bake sales where the money earned can be donated to a good cause or to purchasing T-shirt supplies for the club.


Another great activity for the kids to do with their clubs is to visit an animal shelter – check out the city of Irvine, CA, Animal Shelter page. The Animal Rescue League of Berks County, Pennsylvania allows kids 6-13 to visit the cats in their shelter and read to them. You may have already seen the adorable YouTube video, so why not do something similar right here in Orange County? Also, if you happen to have a high-schooler at home, many of these activities can count as volunteer hours towards graduation and college admission.

The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation recommends that you keep it simple. One of the main points is to realize how easy it is to just be nice to somebody, whether they are a friend or not.

Below is a list of ideas to help your kids get started with kindness. Some come our private Orange County tutors at TutorNerds and some from RAK:

1– Give out candy or fruit to all your teachers (don’t leave anyone out).

2- Leave a “thank you” note for your school’s custodian since s/he cleans up every night

3 – Encourage your child to say phrases like “great effort” or “good job” at all sport activities for young kids.

4 – Help an older person to cross the street (this helps kids understand how important it is to take care of our elders) as well as thanking US military service men and woman and veterans for their services.

5 – Work on lending a helping hand. This could be a small gesture such as giving a piece of paper to a classmate who has just run out or a very big thing like volunteering at your local homeless  shelter.

6 – Hold the door open for someone who has their hands full.

7 – Do a project together. This could be something similar to the art and baking projects mentioned above or something very simple like having the kids make a snack together or help each other fit all of those books into their back pack at the end of the school day.

8 –  Form a study group. If your little one excels in English, find a study buddy who excels in math and let them help each other out.

9 – Have the kids do a small cleaning project together. Taking on responsibility together can be a great start to kindness in general.

10 – Create a star chart (or heart chart or smile chart) and reward your kid with a small gift or treat when they reach a goal. I recommend starting with 10 stars for K-2nd older kids.

Another really important way to help those little guys learn to be kind to others is for them to be kind to themselves. High school aged teens have so much to go through with AP classes, SAT prep and college applications. So, it makes it even more important for younger children to learn how to pace themselves and be able to give themselves little breaks in between tasks. Many children will be more likely to participate in a sport or academic activity if they know it’s okay to fail, as long as they can learn from that experience, and do a better job next time. Being kind to one’s self makes it easier to help out others.

Whatever you decide to do, or whichever club your kid decides to join, kindness can be integrated into any activity. A simple nice word or small gesture can make a huge difference at the end of the day!

Working with over 1,500 Orange County students to achieve success has been a great pleasure to us at TutorNerds. Our college educated private Irvine tutors know the importance of a simple “thank you.” Working one-on-one with a mature, kind tutor sets a great standard for your student. Contact us today for your TutorNerds summer tutor.

tutor logo California State Common Core Standards |TutorNerds All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. Are you an education professional, in Orange County, CA, or other relevant blogger? If so, email us at info@tutornerds.com for guest blogging and collaborations.

Attention all Orange County, CA, high school students grades 9-12: Enter our essay contest for a chance to win $500! The deadline is quickly approaching.

Eight SAT Essay Tips | TutorNerds

Need Help With the SAT Essay, Orange County?

You have 25 minutes to write the BEST essay ever. You only have to focus on: Punctuation, grammar, flow, originality, formatting, and content. This is easy, right? Of course not!

Lets’ go through this one SAT essay tip at a time and by the time we get to the end it won’t be quite so daunting.

SAT-essay-tips1. Those precious 25 minutes:

The most important thing is to start writing. ‘Blank page syndrome’ AKA writer’s block is very common and you should feel better knowing that most of your peers are experiencing the exact same thing. A blank page is bad. Writing something down, even if you have to edit later, is good. Words lead to more words and eventually a finished SAT essay.

If you are really stuck, write a quick outline. An outline requires words, and words are good.

2. Punctuation:

The person scoring your essay will appreciate proper punctuation but not at the expense of content. If time is a major issue, get that content down and leave five minutes to proofread. One or two minor mistakes probably won’t kill your score, but your essay has to be readable. If one of your sentences has five commas, turn one into a period and create a new sentence.

3. Grammar:

Have you ever heard the term “grammarian”? Well, your grader will be one. S/he will have a special affinity for proper grammar. “Then vs. than”, “your vs. you’re”, subject-verb agreement etc…

Grammar is something you can work on ahead of time and practice makes perfect. Ask a tutor to look over a few sample essays that you have written and give you advice on improving your grammar.


4. Flow:

This is one of the hardest problems to solve when writing an essay because the solution is not concrete. You won’t be able to look up “flow” and get a specific answer as to how to make your essay smooth and easy to read. This is one topic where tutors and teachers can be most helpful. If you are struggling with flow, you will want someone to sit down with you and really comb through sentence by sentence.

To get you started think of it like this: If you’re enjoying a nice wave out in the Pacific, you want smooth, even waves. You don’t want flat water or choppy, uneven waves. Don’t surf? Let’s say you’re driving along on the freeway. Do you want to hit a pot hole every 5 minutes and stress out in stop and go traffic, or have smooth roads and no cars in sight? Your transition sentences should not be pot holes, nor should they be that giant wave that breaks your board in half. Keep it smooth.

5. Originality:

If you have taken a practice test, you will know that examples are required. Try to be original with examples (easier said than done). Certain topics, although good, have become cliché and your grader will appreciate originality. Talk with your Orange County private tutor about which topics have been used over and over and which are still original. This can change from year to year as more topics are introduced and written about.

6. Spelling:

Unfortunately, the SAT essay is written on paper so there is not a spell check option. Brush up on your spelling so as to avoid a basic mistake. If you come up with a great word but have no idea how to spell it, chose another one. You might get one pass on a misspelled word but that’s it.

7. Formatting:

Don’t confuse formatting with flow. Flow focuses on the readability of your essay while formatting looks at more basic, but still important things such as indentation, the clear placement of the transition sentence etc… Your essay should not look like one giant paragraph.

8. And for the finale, content!

Content is THE most important part of your essay, It is the blood that flows through the veins of your essay and gives it life. There is not a simple tip or trick to bypass content. Being well informed of current events, being well read, and also having a love of writing can come into play here. This is where your tutor will be most helpful. While you’re waiting for that tutor to show up at your door, pick out a few novels and a newspaper and start reading.

Bottom line:

Start early, having time to work on all of the aspects of the essay will alleviate your stress. Practice makes perfect, plan to write 6-10 practice essays before you reach your best level. Ask for help; get a study group, a parent or a tutor to go over all these things with you.

All blog entries are written by Tutor Nerds. For educational guest-blogging, please email us at info@tutornerds.com

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