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

Tips from an Irvine SAT and ACT Tutor: Common Problems

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

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

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

Making Things Click

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

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

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

Don’t Give Up

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

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

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

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

Read part one here.

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

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

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

Tips from an Irvine SAT and ACT Tutor: Common Problems

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

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

The Essay

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

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

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

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

Stay tuned for part two!

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

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

 

Tips From an Irvine SAT and ACT Tutor

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

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

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

Study with practice tests

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

Use official resources first

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trust experienced tutors

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

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

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

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

Tips From an Irvine Test Prep Tutor: Fall SAT Checklist

Tips From an Irvine Test Prep Tutor: Fall SAT Checklist (List)

Students taking the SAT this fall are in a unique position because they’re one of the last groups of people to take the current SAT. It’s very important to pay close attention to test prep guidelines because otherwise students will be in a position where they might need to retrain their brain for the Redesigned SAT in 2016. There are tons of things that college prep students can do to get their SAT prep underway as soon as possible – have you booked your Irvine test prep tutor?

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1. Study Vocab Like Crazy

Students taking the current SAT exam will still have to study vocab like there’s no tomorrow. There are a couple of ways students can work on their vocab skills to succeed: vocab memorization and vocab within the reading comprehension passages. The straight forward vocab section requires students to memorize hundreds of words, which is nearly impossible. As a result, they are encouraged to learn as many words as they can but also learn test prep techniques from their SAT tutor. In addition to pure vocab, students will need to study the vocab in context as it’s written in the reading comprehension sections. Test prep students should go through their practice test book and underline any new word they see, look them up in the dictionary, and understand whether or not it’s a positive or negative word and what its emotional meaning is (READ: “5 Awesome SAT Apps”).

2. Math Formulas

Although students can learn lots of helpful test prep techniques from their tutor, they will also need to memorize and learn math formulas from all of their classes at school. The best way to understand which formulas are used most frequently is to work out of the Official College Board test prep book. Students should work with their tutor or test prep teacher to determine different patterns and discover which formulas are used the most as well as how to eliminate answer choices that simply don’t make sense. The current SAT will often have some partial answer choices so it’s important for students to make sure they can recognize these trick answers and avoid choosing them (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Are the SAT and ACT Similar?”).

3. Get Your Down Time

One of the things students struggle with most on the current SAT is the ability to finish within the short, generally 25 minutes, amount of time allotted. When first practicing, students shouldn’t worry too much about the time because they need to master concepts and test prep techniques first. However, once they have mastered a good score, they need to work on their time. Even if a student answers every question correctly, they won’t receive a high score on the real test they leave several questions unanswered. There are many different ways students can get their time down and they’re encouraged to work with an expert who can determine their individual needs.

4. The Dreaded Long Passage

Students are bored or terrified when it comes to the long passages. The current SAT offers passages from time periods past and in a context that today’s students often don’t understand. There are a couple of ways students can approach the long passages, either by learning how to pick out important information in the passages and then answering the questions or, looking at the questions first and then attempting to pick out import information in the passage as they go along. Students are encouraged to work with their test prep tutor to determine which strategy works best for them as an individual. The long passages are often an arduous task to get through, but they can either win or lose students a great deal of points on the current SAT.

Preparing to take the SAT this fall? Score higher with the help of a private Irvine testprep tutor from TutorNerds! Book your tutor today.

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.

Is the New SAT Similar to the Current ACT?

Tips From an Irvine Test Prep Tutor: “Is the New SAT Similar to the Current ACT?”

Many parents and students are wondering if the new SAT is meant to be more aligned with the current ACT. Although the College Board and ACT, Incorporated will likely have differing opinions, teachers and parents are starting to notice some similarities. This leads students to ask why they need to take both exams if they’re similar (READ: “SAT and AP Exam Survival Guide”).

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1. The format

Then new SAT offers a format that is somewhat similar to that of the current ACT. The new 2016 SAT will now have sections that are longer, but there will be fewer sections overall. Additionally, students who take the new SAT will not be penalized for guessing, which is similar to the current ACT.

The new SAT will also have some differences in the format that students should be aware of. The SAT will be scored between 600 and 1600 whereas the ACT has a max score of 36. The ACT averages multiple parts to get one score while the SAT adds three different sections together to determine an overall score.

2. Founding documents

The new SAT will require students to learn about founding documents from United States history such as the Federalist Papers and the Declaration of Independence whereas the current ACT doesn’t require excessive knowledge on these subjects (READ: “Tips From an Irvine SAT Tutor: The Free SAT Study Guide”).

3. The science section

The current ACT contains a science section, otherwise known as ‘how to read charts and graphs’ whereas the new SAT will not contain a science section. Although the new SAT will integrate social science into the reading passages, it should not be confused with the ACT science section. However, the SAT reading section will offer an occasional chart and graph thus students taking either exam should know how to read and understand them.

4. When should a student take both?

Standardized test study takes up a lot of time and can be expensive in many cases. As a result, students and parents want to know why it’s necessary to take both. Of course, students are not required to take both, and a college counselor can best advise students in their specific situation regarding the requirements of a particular set of universities. However, students who take both exams will find out which test they score higher on and have more opportunities for scholarships and admissions. If students don’t want the stress of taking the actual exam, they are encouraged to take an at-home practice test of both the new SAT and the current ACT to see which one they score higher on.

5. Time on the exam

One similarity that students will notice when taking the new SAT is that they have more time allotted for each section, which is similar to the current ECT. However, this does not necessarily mean that a student has more time on each question because there will likely be more questions per section. Students who are unsure which exam to take her Harlene current to take a practice test and consult their tutor as well as their academic advisor at school.

In short

Although students will notice many similarities between the new SAT and the current ECT, they are still two different exams that student should study for separately. Students who study the eggs for the lease exams concurrently may find that they get different information techniques confused and are encouraged to discuss the benefits and drawbacks with their Irvine test prep tutor.

It’s never too early to start studying for the new SAT. Book your Orange County SAT prep tutor today.

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.

Last Minute SAT Study Guide

Last Minute SAT Study Guide From an Irvine SAT Tutor

The SAT is this Saturday so what you do or don’t do this week will make a significant difference in your score (our Irvine SAT test prep tutors are always here to help). For some of you this is the first time you are taking the SAT and you have multiple more times to take it, for others this is it. Try these last minute tips to give you the best chance of success this weekend.

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1. Don’t overestimate yourself. You may have mastered the long passages or the triangle problems long ago but if you haven’t reviewed them within the last two weeks, you should do so now. Go over all of the sections that you were doing well on and do at least one of each throughout the week. Make a list of all of the sections where your expected success rate has dropped and do a second one by Thursday.

2. Tackle those really hard sections. Perhaps you have given up on graphs or sentence corrections, thinking that you will pick up enough points on the sections that you excel in. It’s not too late to go through the explanations in the back of your test prep book and see what you are missing. Picking up even 2-3 points per section could make a huge difference in your composite score (READ: “5 Awesome SAT Apps“).

3. Know when to omit. If you always get the ‘except’ questions wrong, and every single strategy you have ever tried and everything your tutor has ever told you still isn’t working, then it may be time to admit that these questions aren’t for you and consider omitting them on the test. Remember that you are penalized for guessing on the SAT (READ: “A Timeline Study Guide for the SAT“).

4. Tally up your score. If you have only been calculating your score on certain sections or if you haven’t been keeping track at all, now is the time to tally up a composite score. The only score that really counts is the one given by the College Board but it’s better to know what your potential score is before going into the exam. If your current practice test composite score for all sections is a 1500, then you will likely score between a 1400 and 1600 on the real test. Of course, there are plenty of factors that can change your score either up or down but it is always good to have an estimate.

5. Take one full length practice test. If it’s been several weeks since your last full length practice test or if you have yet to take one, do your very best to sit down one day after school Monday-Thursday and take a full length practice test. This will help you understand how long you will be sitting down and how long the test will require your full attention (READ: “SAT Subject Tests“).

6. Follow your pre-test routine on Friday. Basically, if you haven’t learned a particular concept or technique by Friday, then you probably won’t have a ‘light bulb moment’ on Saturday morning at 3 AM. It is important to rest your brain and body the day before a big test such as the SAT. On Friday, eat a good breakfast, lunch and dinner. Go for a walk after school and get some invigorating fresh air and sunshine. Go to bed in time to get at least eight hours of sleep but nine would be better.

Good luck on the October SAT!

tutor logo A Timeline Study Guide for the SATAll 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.

Ask A Nerd! “SAT Subject Tests”

Ask A Nerd!

Question: What Are The SAT Subject Tests And When Should I Take Them?

Brief: The SAT subject tests are a way for students to demonstrate their talent and/or knowledge in a particular topic. Most tests are offered several times per year in the US (help prepare for them with one of our Irvine SAT tutors).

Irvine-SAT-tutorAnswer

The SAT examines your skills in math, reading and writing. But many students find that this is not a true indicator of their true talents and wish to show colleges that they have additional knowledge in other subject areas. This is where the SAT subject tests come in (READ: “Are the SAT and ACT similar?“).

Some of you are already pretty sure of what you want to study once you get to college. If you know that you want to study foreign languages, then taking several language subject tests can demonstrate your commitment. On the other hand, if you feel that the core subjects (math and English) are not your strongest areas of study, then you have the opportunity to take exams in subjects such as history or science (our Orange County science tutors are here to help you succeed).

For students who are planning to apply to college with an “undecided” major, taking subject tests can help demonstrate knowledge in several areas as well as demonstrate a commitment to education at the high school level (READ: “5 Traits of Successful Students“).

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So, when can and when should you take the SAT subject tests? The basic SAT test, as many of you already know, is offered early in the morning several times a year. Students wishing to take the SAT subjects can take these extra exams on the same dates but not during the same test administration. The College Board allows students to take up to three subject test in the same day; however I do not recommend this.

It is important to think about how tired you will be after even one exam. You may find that you will sacrifice a high score on your second or third subject test due to eye fatigue, restlessness, or simply general fatigue. Even the most confident and concentrated of students should call it a day after two exams.

So where, exactly, can you showcase your talents on these subject tests?

They are divided into three categories: Core subjects, non-core subjects and languages. The core subjects include literature and mathematics level 1 and level 2 (READ: “Use Your Math Intuition“). The non-core subjects include world history, US history, chemistry, physics and biology (ecological and molecular). All of these exams can be taken on October 11th, 2014, November 18th, 2014, December 6th, 2014, January 24th, 2015, May 2nd, 2015, and June sixth, 2015 with the exception of world history, which can only betaken in December or June.

The language tests include: French, German, Modern Hebrew, Italian, Latin and Spanish (reading only test). Each of these exams has differing test dates. The reading and listening exams include: Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Korean and Spanish. This test can only be taken on November 8th, 2014 – TutorNerds has the best foreign language tutors in Orange County.

SAT-Test-SubjectsThe SAT subject tests require a lot of hard work and much time spend studying diligently. If these tests help you get closer to your dream college, then it is well worth it, but I highly recommend that you check with the colleges and universities that you are thinking of applying to before signing up for one of these exams. Make sure that you are taking the right exams in order to meet your specific goals.

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! 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 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.

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!

Ask a Nerd! “Are the SAT and ACT Similar?”

Ask a Nerd!

Q: I am thinking of taking both the SAT and ACT; are they pretty much the same?

Brief: No! The SAT and ACT are two very different exams with two different test prep strategies. The essay structures are extremely different, the timing of the tests is different and the scoring is completely different. You should definitely tell your Irvine private test prep tutor if you plan to take both exams in the same year so that s/he can help you separate the two (READ: “Ask a Nerd! ‘What Kind of Tech Should I Use to Study‘”).

Irvine-ACT-tutorAnswer

The SAT and ACT are two very different exams. Although there are several differences, a few are highlighted here to help you get started:

The SAT vs. the ACT essay

The essays require different structures and are graded based upon different criteria (READ: “8 SAT Essay Tips“). Many students find the ACT essay to have a simpler format but this doesn’t necessarily make it easier. How you will perform on each essay depends upon who you are as a writer. Ask your Orange County test prep tutor (schedule yours now before it’s too late!) to explain the differences to you and help you go back and forth from one writing style to the other. I don’t recommend taking both tests in the same month. It is too easy to get the two exams confused.

The timing of the sections

The SAT has 25 minute, 20 minute, and a 10 minute section. You will need to switch back and forth from math to English several times throughout the test, meaning that your right and left brains need to work in unison. The sections of the ACT are longer; writing, reading and English are between 30 and 45 minutes while the sole math section is 60 minutes long. This means that once you are done with math, you won’t have to go back and do it again (our Irvine math tutors will increase your confidence).

Mad Science (Reasoning Section)

The ACT has a science reasoning section, which the SAT does not have. Many test-takers and Irvine science tutors view the science reasoning section as a logic test that has nothing to do with science. Each student will attack and conquer this section differently and I suggest that you ask your tutor for special test prep techniques that are unique to this section (READ: “ACT Aspire: What is it?“).

Scoring

The highest score (a completely perfect score) on the SAT is a 2400. The current average score is around 1500 to 1550. Most universities (including the university of California, Irvine) are looking for scores around 1850 for acceptance. Of course this varies by state. If you want to get into an Ivy League school or a school just below the Ivy League, you will need to shoot for a 2000-2300 (Yikes!).

irvine-test-prep-tutor                                     Image Via Michael Jung

The top score you can get on the ACT is a 36 (READ: “A Timeline Study Guide for the SAT“). The rumored score to get into university of California, Irvine is 23. If you want to get into Harvard, the rumored score is between 31 and 35 (Yikes!).

A few things are the same

To do really well on your SAT and your ACT exams you will need to do a few things.

– Take lots and lots of practice tests

– Get a tutor who specializes in test prep

– Work really, really hard

– Take the real test two or even three times

– Apply the techniques that your test prep tutor gives you

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! Just started college and Im overwhelemed, what do I do? All 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.

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!

The Student’s Guide to Study Breaks | TutorNerds

Take a Break, Orange County

Tutor-Nerds-SATEveryone needs to take study breaks at some point. Endless studying helps very few people, and frequently exhausts most of your energy. Instead, find out when you should be taking breaks and what you can do to maximize those relaxing moments. Today we’ll be covering just that, so kick the habit of “quick” Facebook updates or “short” phone calls to friends. Learn how to take breaks like a professional, eventually getting more done in less time.

Determine Your Maximum and Minimum Study Sessions

You may need to first change your concept of a “break.”  Study breaks are not large chunks of time; instead they are frequent pauses throughout your studying that allows your brain to unwind. The amount of time you take a break is just as important as how long you study. Therefore, you’ll first figure out how long your study sessions should be. Your study session is the maximum amount of time you can spend in full concentration with a subject. Complete the following steps with readings from your favorite and least favorite subject.

1. Find material you need to cover for class, preferably something from a textbook you haven’t seen before.

2. Note the time you begin reading.

3. Really focus on learning the information and understanding the bigger picture.

4. Be aware of when your mind first gets distracted. Note the time, and then repeat the same steps with your other class.

You now have your maximum and minimum study session intervals. Write this information down and use it whenever you plan on studying. Even if the interval is small, try not to go longer. You will likely find yourself (we’ve all been there before) reading but not absorbing any information. Even at a young age we learned to move onto other activities when we got bored; have you ever seen a toddler become instantly frustrated with one toy and move excitedly to another? Don’t fight your natural instincts; use them to your advantage!

Fruit, Not Facebook

Now that you know how long you can study, use these tips to maximize your breaks. First, and most importantly, breaks should last approximately five minutes. Any longer and you may not be able to focus again. Use a timer so you can take breaks when necessary, and enjoy them without distraction. Spend your break on relaxing or energizing activities, such as eating a healthy snack or going for a walk. Things to avoid at all costs include naps, junk food, phone calls and social media black holes (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, etc.).

Study-break

Treat Yourself to a Change of Scenery

In science blog, “Cognitive Daily“, Dave Munger discusses ART, short for attention restoration theory. The theory looks at how people best calm their minds after focus from studying or working.

ART says that the natural world engages your attention . . . by features of the environment (e.g. a sunset, a beautiful tree). The artificial world demands active attention, to avoid getting hit by cars or to follow street signs. Since intellectual activities like studying or writing also demand the same kind of attention, taking a break in the artificial world doesn’t really function like a rest.

The idea is that we need to spend our breaks in a natural environment as opposed to our standard artificial one. Take a walk around the block, or sit outside in the sun to recharge. Changing our environment, even for just a few moments, allows our minds to truly relax and makes learning easier once you return. Feeling adventurous? Irvine Walking Routes.

Remember to stay focused when you return. First review the information you just completed to start the process of quick recall. Take note of the main points, and then continue on to the next topic. Make those study breaks work for you, Orange County.

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

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

Orange County Milestone and Other News | TutorNerds

Orange County Milestone: 1,500 Students Taught

Here at TutorNerds we take pride in being part of the Orange County community. From Irvine to Orange, our private, in-home tutors have helped many students achieve their educational goals. With that, we are pleased to announce TutorNerds has tutored its 1,500th student. That’s a lot of improved grades!

tutor-Nerds-Logo-OC

We would like to thank the Orange County, CA, community for choosing us as their private tutoring company. We care about the students we teach, and make it our goal to help them succeed. Whether you seek test prep, admissions essay help, or foreign language services, TutorNerds is here to assist in any way we can.

TutorNerds’ matching process is optimized to give your student an advantage. With a few questions, we can pair anyone with the perfect, college-educated tutor. Our services are entirely customized based on your needs.  Further, we would like to show you what steps we take to ensure your success.

  1. We ask a few questions about you or your student.

  2. We match you with one of our experts based on your preferences.

  3. We schedule your session at a time and location that is both convenient and comfortable for you, and your tutor personally follows up to confirm.

  4. Your tutor or consultant will assess your needs and guide you through an effective plan of action.

  5. You see results.

Thanks again, Orange County! We look forward to tutoring many more bright California minds.

Want $500 for the Summer? Our Essay Contest is Open!

The Jacarandas are in bloom, hummingbirds & bees are busy at work, and end of the year testing is coming to a close. That’s right, it’s spring and summer is not far behind. So, what are your plans for the summer? Relaxing and having fun is important, but so is getting a leg up on your next academic year. Perhaps you are graduating and heading to your dream university. We couldn’t be more proud of you, but are you prepared? Classes only get harder in college and it’s crucial your writing and reading skills are up to par.

slide4aAs we mentioned in prior posts, TutorNerds is concerned too many students enter college with inadequate writing abilities. In addition to seeking our own English tutoring services, we stress students practice writing on their own. We know this is easier said than done, since thinking about what to write is often the hardest part, but we’re here to help with that too. Open until May 31st, 2014, our contest gives students the perfect opportunity to practice writing essays; practice they’ll need for admissions essays and class assignments.

If that’s not enough reason to enter, what about our $500 top prize? What can you do with $500? Buy textbooks, have the ability to do an unpaid internship, travel, just to name a few. What are you waiting for? Good luck, O.C. (contest is open to all O.C. high school students grades 9-12).

The Pressure is On

If you’ve followed the recent educational landscape, then you’re probably familiar with the latest jargon: “super tutors.” Can they see through walls? Do they drive to sessions in their otherworldly Batmobiles? Sadly, they do none of the above. From our understanding, “super tutors” are the expensive go-to private educators of the super-rich. That may be so, but here at TutorNerds we have a different kind of “super tutor.” College educated, experienced, always up-to-date on the latest academic changes (i.e., the new SAT), and flexible, our tutors really are super.

It doesn’t take much internet searching to see exams are getting harder and colleges are becoming more difficult to get into. With such competitiveness, it’s crucial for students to seek help when they need it. In a recent BBC article titled  Exam Pressure: What the private tutor saw, writer Sean Coughlan quotes an educator as,

“The best tutors? It’s not those who charge the most, he says, but those good enough to make sure their services are eventually not needed.”

We couldn’t agree more, Mr. Coughlan. That being said, contact us today to learn more about our services and “super tutors.” Have a quick question? Tweet us at @TutorNerds.

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