Tag Archives: School

Participation Points: Fake It Till You Make It

Tips From a Private Orange County Tutor: Participation Points – Fake It Till You Make It


Whether you are in high school or college, you are likely to have classes with grades that incorporate some type of “class participation” credit. More and more teachers are including this factor to help incentivize students to speak up, ask questions, and contribute to communal discussion while in the classroom. It is also commonly included in online or hybrid-style classes where there is a requirement to post comments or reply to others in an online discussion – book your private Orange County summer tutor today.

Your participation grade may be well-defined (two required comments in class per week for full credit, participation in a designated group discussion for credit, total discussions tracked throughout the semester, etc.) or it may be more arbitrary where the teacher simply assigns a grade based on how much they feel you’ve been contributing during the class. This grade is usually around 5 – 10% of your grade, but I’ve seen grades as high as 20 and 25%. Regardless, it should be easy points that you can get.

As a student myself, I despised participation grades. In high school, they were typically the “well-defined” variety, and I struggled when I did not have any questions or what I thought were interesting comments during class. In college, the participation grades transitioned mostly to the “arbitrary” group, and I never knew what my grade would be until the end of the class.

I’ve found that many students voice similar concerns. Maybe you consider yourself to be shy and don’t like speaking up in class. Maybe you just never have any questions that need answers. Maybe you’re embarrassed by your questions and don’t want to look like you don’t understand. Maybe you feel like there’s never a good opportunity or opening in the conversation for you to contribute something. These are all common issues, and it is okay to feel this way.

The advice that I give is simple: fake it.

An easy and effective tactic to solve any of these issues is to come up with a question that you already know the answer to. Take something from the beginning of the lesson, or something you already understood, and ask about it anyway. This might seem counterintuitive, but here’s how it benefits you:

If you’re shy or anxious, it takes a lot of the stress away by asking something you already know. Now, instead of having the anticipation of not knowing the answer and the pressure of having to try to understand and learn something new, you will know that you just need to ask the questions and allow your teacher to give a response you already understand. And, importantly, you will also be getting good practice at making yourself speak up. It’s okay to have anxiety or feel shy in class, but you will need to be comfortable asking questions for when you do need help in the future.

If you feel like you don’t have any real questions, this allows you to get your participation points without the stress. You can ask simple questions that you know, or you can challenge yourself to come up with more complex questions. This can show off your knowledge by still being a question that gets you credit. Remember, the class participation points will help your grade, so you need to treat participating just like any other required assignment: make yourself do it.

If you’re embarrassed by the questions you have, this tactic will allow you to ask questions that you consider less embarrassing. If you feel embarrassed by “easy” questions, then ask something complicated that you do understand. Better yet, ask something complicated that you don’t understand. Don’t worry about the answers your teacher gives and don’t worry about understanding. Remember that you are doing this for the experience and the participation grade. Consider listening to some of your classmates’ questions and mimicking the same types of questions they have. Doing this too, you will hopefully also start to recognize that there’s no need to be embarrassed by your questions and that many of your classmates either don’t care, have the same confusions themselves, or won’t ever think about your question later.

If you don’t know how to speak up and find an opening in a class discussion, this can make the process easier. Often, a student will listen to the previous point and spend some time thinking about a related comment or question. In the meantime, however, the discussion has already changed topics and moved to something else. Now the student has to think of something new, only for the conversation to change again. Combat this by taking something straightforward that you understood and make up your mind to ask it early. Questions and comments like “so it sounds like you’re saying…” “do you mean that…” and “that seems similar to…” are good roots. Similarly, you can purposefully misunderstand someone and ask about it. Remember, you need credit and practice. Your comments and questions don’t need to be profound – they need to get you your points and make you more comfortable in the setting.

Treat your class participation grade like the assignment that it is and get it done. This strategy of coming up with “fake” questions can make the task easier regardless of what you felt was holding you back before. It can also give you good practice with speaking up in class for when you do need to ask questions and get feedback. Remember, many students struggle with participation grades and that’s okay if you feel that it’s difficult. To get a perfect participation grade and learn how to speak up in class we can apply the classic adage about confidence: “fake it ‘til you make it.”

Our private Orange County tutors are full of great tips for students. Book your private Irvine tutor for the summer.

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.

5 Things to do This August to Prepare For School

Irvine Tutoring Tips: 5 Things to do This August to Prepare For School

I know many students will roll their eyes at the thought of this post, but school is just around the corner, and it’s better to prepare now than fall behind. Don’t worry; you’ll still be able to enjoy your final weeks of vacation all while getting your brain in gear for the school year. Odds are you’ve been doing some form of school work, whether it be test prep for the summer ACT/SAT or taking a summer class. For those who haven’t even touched a book in weeks, that’s okay too! There’s plenty of time to get your brain back in shape.

As a private Irvine academic tutor, I know the importance of furthering your education over the summer. From applying to college to scoring high on important tests, students have a lot on their plates and can’t afford to take months off from learning. Luckily summer learning can be fun and focused on your interests – check out some of our past blog posts for ideas such as educational family trips and blogging.

Here are five things you can do this August to help you prepare for the first day of school.

1. Hire a Private Irvine Tutor

The best part about hiring a back-to-school Irvine tutor is that they work with your schedule. That way you can still fit in a few final summer activities without it interfering with your tutoring. Whether you are preparing for a specific class or just want to get the rust off in subjects such as math and science, our private Irvine academic tutors are here to help you succeed.

2. Make a Calendar

This one is particularly important for students starting college in the fall. With a higher level of education comes more responsibility. Don’t expect the University to hold your hand and make sure you are doing everything you need to before classes start. Check your school’s calendar and add any important due dates, meet and greets, etc. into your personal calendar. Keep in mind that some classes require you to read a book before classes start. There’s no shame in adding “start reading that book!” into your calendar.

3. For Parents: Review Standards For Upcoming Year

Most schools will allow you to see the learning standards for the upcoming year. These will include topics covered – especially helpful in science and social studies. For example, if your student is set to learn about California history in the upcoming grade, take them to CA Historical Museums over the summer. Not only will the give them a leg up, but help them put what they are learning into context.

4. Put Away Your Phone and Pick Up a Book

Let’s be honest, how many hours did you spend this summer staring at your phone? No judgment, just wanted to put that into perspective. Take a break from your phone and pick up a book. The good news is you can read something you want to read instead of an assigned book. Without even realizing it, you are improving your writing and reading skills while you enjoy a little book break (READ: 5 Ways to Get Your Kid to Love Reading).

5. Review How Last Year Went

Take a moment to review how your previous school year went. While it’s important to focus on your grades and test scores, think about why you scored the way you did. For instance, were you overwhelmed when you signed up for a Spanish club? Make a note of these things and plan your upcoming year accordingly. Learning from your mistakes and achievements can help make the year go much smoother.

It’s never too early to book your private Irvine tutor for the new school year. Call TutorNerds today for more information.

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject Tests Members of the TutorNerds team and our private tutors write every blog post. If you have any questions about our blog, please email us at pr@tutornerds.com.

5 Things Every Rising Senior Should Do This Summer

5 Things Every Rising Senior Should Do This Summer

Senior Should Do This Summer

College juniors are excited that the academic year is finally coming to an end.  In many ways, college is almost over but there is still a lot to do before graduation. Additionally, once college is officially over students will need to start looking for jobs and adjust to a professional lifestyle. There are some things students can do the summer between their junior and senior year to make the last year of college and the graduation process run smoothly. Unfortunately, students who don’t keep track of graduation requirements and other relevant details may end up being a fifth-year senior at the last minute. It’s better to stay on top of things and plan ahead to have a great final year as a full-time student.

1. Look through transcripts

The first thing rising seniors should do is look through their transcript. Many students find out they are just one or two courses short of graduation, which can prevent them from getting their diploma the following spring. If a student made a miscalculation earlier on, there’s still time to make it right before the start of senior year. One option is to take some elective courses over the summer to get extra units. Another option is to take a heavier load of courses starting in the fall. Most universities have a range of what is considered “full time.” It might be better to take five classes instead of four and still graduate on time. If students are at all confused about this process, they are encouraged to speak with one of the academic advisors who can look through everything and make sure the student is on the right track.

2. Arrange work experience

Rising seniors are also encouraged to arrange some relevant work experience over the summer. This may consist of an internship or a paid position. Either way, it’s a good idea to have something productive listed on a resume the summer before graduation. Students who are overwhelmed with what they have already completed throughout the academic year and would rather just relax should know that many internships are only one or two weeks long but still add to a student’s resume. It’s important to have real life on-the-job experience as well as something impressive to put on paper.

3. Volunteer

Another great way to beef up that student resume over the summer is to volunteer. Sometimes, jobs within a professional field are simply unavailable to students who have not yet graduated. However, there is almost always a need for a volunteer. This is different from an internship in that students can set a more flexible schedule. For example, if an internship is from 8 to 5 Monday through Friday, that’s when the intern works. Volunteers, however, can say that they’re available Thursdays and Fridays from 2 to 6 p.m., for example. This is a great option for students who need to attend summer classes or need to have a part-time job to make ends meet (READ: 5 Ways to Survive Spring Semester as a Senior).

4. Meet with professors and TAs

It’s a fabulous idea for students to meet with their professors or teaching assistants over the summer or as the term is wrapping up. This doesn’t have to be a formal meeting in the professor’s office; it can be a simple meeting over a cup of coffee on campus. Professors and TAs can be a great resource when it comes to planning an entry-level career search or looking for an internship. Most of them have great connections and knowledge that other people simply don’t possess. Also, meeting with professors gives students an opportunity to ask any additional questions. If nothing else this meeting will let the professor know the student is genuinely interested in their major field of study and will maintain a professional connection for the future (READ: 3 Warning Signs of Senioritis).

5. Arrange and informational interview

Another great thing for rising seniors to do over the summer is arrange an informational interview with somebody in the field they plan to go into. This should not be confused with an official job interview. An informational interview is simply asking someone who is already a seasoned professional to provide some mentoring or advice. This gives students the opportunity to put questions without the pressure of having a full-time job on the line.

Summer is the perfect time to catch-up and get ahead on your schooling. Call us today for information on our Irvine summer tutoring.

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.


3 Reasons Why You Should Talk to Your Teachers

3 Reasons Why You Should Talk to Your Teachers

The inherent challenges in an evolving education system have made teachers the prime target of criticism, particularly when students struggle. Classes are jam packed, and the workload is greater in order to meet the demands of college admission. It’s similar to a restaurant – you complain the waiter because the chef overcooked your food. Of course, the teacher is the most important component of a good educational experience, and some teachers are better than others, but I would like to offer a few ideas you may not have considered regarding the value of the good teachers.


Below are three reasons why your teachers are probably really cool, and you should make the most of your time with them:

1. Extra Instruction

I’ve worked with TutorNerds for a while, and I’ve seen the value of private instruction. However, your first source of assistance, or at least one of them, should be your teachers. I have yet to meet a teacher who would not allow time for extra instruction during lunch, before school, or after school. In fact, many schools mandate such opportunities, in a similar fashion to professors’ “office hours” at the university level. And just like in college, students rarely take advantage of these opportunities for extra help.

Your teachers create the class curriculum, set expectations, and write exams (and grade them). If you need help in a particular class, why not go right to the source? If you show initiative and a genuine interest in learning the content better, teachers will almost always make time for you (READ: “Tips From a Private San Diego Tutor: Sleep, a Healthy Lifestyle, and Academic Success”).

(And actually, the heading above is a bit disingenuous – you’re already paying for their time, either through tuition or taxes, so why not get your money’s worth?)

2. They have made it their professional mission to educate students

I don’t think many teachers choose to pursue their careers for financial reasons. Many teachers simply love to teach. I have interviewed many teachers for TutorNerds, and consistently these individuals can’t help but be enthused by their profession. Not only do teachers love teaching math, history, or English, many like to teach in a more global sense–they present the material from the class into a larger context and teach students about life in general. Great teachers know that quality learning neither starts with a textbook and nor ends with an exam. To paraphrase Mark Twain, “school should not get in the way of your education.”

3. Teachers learn from their students

Few people understand the value of consistently learning like teachers. Like nearly all professionals, they attend conferences and otherwise further their education to hone their craft. Their goal is to produce better results with their students. On one hand, these results are reflected by class performance (i.e. grades). However, feedback from students helps put grades in context, giving a full picture of teachers’ effectiveness (READ: “5 Ways to (Unintentionally) Sabotage Summer Test Prep”).

Any improvement in the instruction of a course is a direct benefit to you as a student. Just letting your teacher know what you do and do not understand can prompt him or her to devote more teaching time to the topics that challenge students the most, or format the course in a way that is more conducive to sensible study. Reciprocally, your teacher can help you improve your performance in the course as it currently exists.  Win-win!

In Conclusion

Both as a student and as an academic director at TutorNerds, I’ve had the privilege of meeting and working with some phenomenal teachers. And while not every teacher you have will have a profound, life-changing impact (and some may be downright bad) most can at least help you improve your grade. Even if you find your teachers lacking, and especially if you have fallen out of their favor for whatever reason, it is advisable you make the best of your situation. And now you have three solid reasons to do so.

Written by: John Sawicki is a former tutor and current vice president of TutorNerds LLC, an in-home tutoring company in Orange County, California.

The school year is creeping up on us! Get the rust off with the help of a private San Diego academic tutor. Call us today and we’ll pair you with the perfect tutor.

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.

Study Tips from an Orange County Tutor | TutorNerds

Tips from Your O.C. Private Tutor

Getting advice on studying from teachers and parents can sometimes yield ordinary, old-
fashioned or just boring results. Private tutors are great resources because they’re usually peers; students who have recently had to go through many of the same things you do. We’ve studied while Facebook tries to distract us, and searched online through all kind of junk to find the best sources. Today I’ll be discussing unique study tips you probably haven’t heard before. Read on to discover what could be your next study saver with these insightful tips from an Orange County tutor.


Become a Recording Artist

Ever wonder why you can remember songs you hate by can’t recall the names of countries for this week’s geography class? It’s all about repetition. When you hear songs regularly they get stored in your memory and recalled quickly. Consider recording yourself reading notes or study information, then load it to your MP3 player or burn it to a CD. This allows you to study while doing other activities, like working out, doing chores, or driving to school. Listening to the information on a regular basis will help improve your recall and may help you on the next big exam.

Get Up and Move

Some people learn better when they are active, so use this to your advantage. Put information on flashcards and lay them around a room, forcing you to move between cards. Take a notepad with you and go for a walk to organize your thoughts for your next paper. Be sure to stop when writing; safety first!

Stay Fueled

Keep snacks nearby to keep your stomach and mouth busy. Some of us are multitask machines and need small distractions to keep us busy. Always reach for the veggies, fruit and nuts instead of junk food. If not food, try something to drink. Hot or cold, it doesn’t matter; just make sure to watch your caffeine and sugar intake.

Super Shower Study Session

Have a big test coming up? Take a copy of your study guide, slip each single-sided page into a plastic zip-lock bag, and tape it to the inside of your shower. Most of us spend way too much time in the shower anyway, so maximize your time by getting some studying in too. Just seeing the information on a regular basis helps in recall, so don’t focus too hard.

YouTube – the surprise resource

Use YouTube for help. It may not answer your exact question, but there are plenty of intelligent people uploading videos daily on all academic topics. Narrow down your choices by popular or highly rated videos by people who maintain a professional appearance. You never know what the next animation or silly phrase could do to help you comprehend material. Check out Crash Course and Hip Hughes History for good examples.

You probably didn’t expect some of those, huh? Studying doesn’t have to be torture. Have an open mind and be willing to try something new the next time you hit the books. Check back again for more wild tips and tricks from your very own Orange County tutor.


Have a fantastic weekend, Orange County!

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

Have a quick question in regards to our Orange County, CA, private tutoring services? Tweet us @TutorNerds

How to Choose a University | TutorNerds

Courses, Career, or Custom Fit

Do you want the “big city” feel? Are you interested in sports and tons of school spirit? Does diversity matter? How important are graduation rates and job placement data? When it comes to choosing a college, you can spend months or even years debating. Is it the most important decision you’ll ever make? Not necessarily, but your choice can help to ensure you have a great time and graduate with a degree you’re proud of. There are various methods of making a decision; placing education, job prospects or your personal experience at the forefront is ultimately up to you. Today I’ll share one of those approaches.


Placing experience first is not for everyone. By experience I mean what makes four, or more, years at a university memorable: school spirit, location, diversity, housing, class size and cost are among a few. This focus is for students who don’t know what they’ll major in, or what jobs they’ll be applying for in the future. It’s okay not to have a perfectly crafted plan yet; not everyone does and most who do will change.

Screen Shot 2014-03-21 at 6.03.16 PM
With this approach, you should begin crafting a wish list of your perfect college experience. Unsure of what a perfect college experience is like? Ask around; interview parents, older friends, cousins and teachers to find out what was most enjoyable about their college days. Was it the selection of Greek organizations? Did the food on campus make even late night studying easier? Or did the football team’s winning season make every weekend one to remember? Once you determine what’s important to you, rank them. You now have your college wish list!

From here, start researching universities that fit your profile. Don’t panic, you can easily
streamline your search by using the right tools. Websites like College Board or the College Navigator at the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) give you search options for the types of things you’re looking for. Always stay open to colleges you may have not heard of or never thought you’d like. Schools are as varied and unique as the students who attend them, so give them all a good look.

Before you make your choice, take a look at your wish list again. Remember that college is a time for students to explore the world, take chances and discover new interests. If you believe your wish list is too safe, switch it up a bit. Maybe look for universities farther from home, consider ones with more diversity, or think about what a larger or smaller university may offer. One thing is for sure, anyone will tell you this opportunity only comes once in a lifetime. Ensure you make choices that will make you happy; not friends, family or teachers. In the end, you’ll be the one lugging books to class, choosing your courses, and ultimately graduating. Make the best of the time you have!

Have a great weekend, Los Angeles!

Remember the Curve of Forgetting | TutorNerds

Remember More and Forget Less

Forgetting is really frustrating. The everyday stuff, misplacing keys or leaving a pen somewhere, is part of being a human. However, when it happens on a test, it’s terrifying. Sitting there with a black hole in your mind is never fun. What can you do to better recall the stuff you know? It’s all about repetition.Read on to find out how to remember more and forget less.

tutor-logoOur brains are amazing things; holding tons and tons of information from things we learn in school to the names of the new neighbors. The problem isn’t “losing” this information, it’s retrieving it. If information is not utilized frequently, it’s left to gather dust in the corner. For things we use frequently, like names of friends, simple math and song lyrics, they stay fresh in our minds and available at a moment’s notice. Wouldn’t it be nice if the names of countries or the Pythagorean Theorem were that easy to recall? It could be, with a little repetition.

Screen Shot 2014-03-20 at 7.44.35 PMThe chart above shows what basically happens when we learn something new. The long black line indicates new information gained, up to 100%. As the first day peaks into the second, without any additional review, our minds begin to consider that new information less and less important. By a week most of it is gone, only a small amount remaining. The gold line, on the other hand, shows what information could be saved by daily review. Within the first few days, spend a good amount of time studying notes and details. The information is still new and you may not fully comprehend it at this point. As a week approaches, you can drop your studying time in half. By now you should fully understand the information, and only need to be reminded of main ideas. Beyond a week, take a few moments to look over notes, focusing on the big ideas and possibly testing your knowledge from time to time.

With this consistent review approach, you should be able to maintain information to tackle any quiz, test, or essay a teacher throws at you. You won’t be spending hours in the library or weekends chained to your desk. A few minutes every day can help to keep all those acidic chemicals or Spanish verbs right up front where you need them.

Having a solid memory is terrific, but sometimes it takes more than just that. Let your private tutor from TutorNerds help you with all those flashcards.

Good luck on midterms, Los Angeles!

Five Tips for Success in English Class | TutorNerds

How to do Well in High School English Courses

Whether people hate them or love them, high school English courses are important. Many people say that reading Shakespeare or Charles Dickens and writing a six paragraph essay has no value to a student’s future. This is only true if they do not think that critical analysis and reading are important.

slidebird1The fact is, writing and reading go hand in hand in taking student’s skills to a higher level. People do not have to write academic essays when they grow up and start a career. However, they will have to know how to organize sentences and ideas in a coherent and logical manner if they want to be taken seriously in any job – think business emails. That being said, here are a few tips to get you on your way to success in English class.

1. Always Do the Reading

High school English courses present a wide variety of literature, and, odds are, students won’t like it all. However, people should discard their subjectivity while they read. English teachers care more about students completing writing assignments than them liking what they read – who knows, you might find yourself enjoying it.

Students should take advantage of class discussions to let their teacher know how they feel about what they’ve read. Teachers will be impressed by freethinkers who know the material. It’s difficult to contribute when you haven’t done the readings, and you’ll most likely end up embarrassing yourself. Further, a student’s grades will reflect their preparedness – teachers don’t like lazy pupils!

2. Know Thy Grammar

The majority of English students groan at the thought of studying grammar any more than necessary. They can not be blamed, as grammar consists of rules that put limits on how people express themselves through language. Some students may even see grammar-obsessive teachers as a handicap on their creative freedom.

Unfortunately, their English teacher will not be swayed by such an argument. What is worse is that they will continue to take points off of essays for things such as run-on sentences, comma splices, and confusion between “they’re”, “their” and “there”.

Relax, students shouldn’t fear weekends spent with a grammar book. Instead, they should pay close attention to how their teacher grades classwork. This will enable them to avoid making the same mistakes twice. If they can, students should also correct these errors when speaking; as people tend to write similarly to the way that they speak.

3. Always Start Essays Early

When writing essays, students should make sure that they have enough time to create quality-content. Teachers often give students several weeks to write an essay. It is also a good idea to start writing the essay the same day that it is assigned. This is because starting to write an essay is often the least fun and hardest part.

Students who get the dreaded first paragraph out of the way early are less likely to procrastinate. Likewise, they are able to get a good night’s sleep before it is due, as they finish with time to spare. Finally, use this extra time to proofread and make revisions as needed.

4. Learn the Five Paragraph Essay Right Now

In order to be successful in high school English courses, students should take the time to master the structure of the five paragraph essay. Lots of schools across the U.S. are teaching this as early as 5th grade. If a student takes the time to master this concept early, writing papers in high school and college will be a breeze.

Aside from that, it doesn’t hurt to have this skill when they are in the workforce. Writing presentations, reports, and emails is a snap when you understand how to structure arguments and ideas.

5. Journal

Journaling is like thinking, but in a written form. Another way for students to be successful in their high school English courses is to try creating a personal journal. Journaling helps them get their ideas out into the universe without editing themselves. The main point is that a student is jump-starting their writing skills by getting words out on paper. It also helps them remember important points in the story that they are reading. This will help them do well on essay tests, quizzes, and even in class discussions.


The Bottom Line

A lot of things that students write and read about in their high school English courses may not seem especially important for their future. However, teachers try their best to create a framework that helps people understand how to write and read critically. Students need these two skills for everything. Following these simple tips will not only give them an edge in their English courses, but also provide them with the important skills that they can use in their lives for many years to come.

Write on, Los Angeles.

How You Ask For Help Matters | TutorNerds

Need Help?

Parents, tutors and friends can all be great resources when you find yourself stuck on an assignment. Any time you reach out for help you are giving yourself another chance at understanding the material and learning valuable life lessons. Sometimes, however, those resources won’t be there; that’s when professors know best. Follow the suggestions below to learn when to contact a teacher and the best way to go about it. Educators are busy people so you’ll want to use their time wisely, especially if you’ll want help in the future.


Good reasons to seek help directly from a teacher would be after an absence, if you’re severely stuck on course material or a particular assignment, or if you’re seeking advice for professional/academic advancement. On the other hand, you should rethink making an appointment if you have a bad attitude, want to know exactly what’s on the upcoming test, or desire to negotiate your grade.

What do you need?

Don’t simply say, “I’m lost,” or, “None of this makes sense.” Take time to figure out exactly what you do and do not understand. Come prepared to share what you’ve done to solve the problem on your own. Look at the syllabus or class postings to determine where and when the teacher usually meets students. If you can’t make it to their office hours, try to find another way of speaking; telephone or email may be options.

How urgent is the issue?

If it’s the afternoon before a project is due and your computer gets a virus that destroys all your work, a phone call may be warranted. In any other case, it should be a true emergency for personal phone calls; most professors do not like being contacted outside of school hours. If it’s not urgent, use their preferred method highlighted in the syllabus. When contacting them to make an appointment, state what you need help with and when you’d like to meet. For example, “Professor Smith, I’m having problems with this week’s assignment. I have used my notes from class and looked at other resources for help, but still can’t finish it. Would you be able to meet tomorrow during your office hours from 1:30pm-2:00pm?”

Are you ready to meet?

Bring along anything that will help you explain where you are stuck, and extra paper to take notes. It’s also helpful to have your questions written out. You may forget to ask a particular question, and it’s useful for the professor to know what students are struggling with.If this isn’t the first time he’s seen a student, you may be helping others in the class by alerting the teacher to a comprehension issue. Before you leave, never forget to say thank you.


Four Tips for Presentations | TutorNerds

Powerful Preparation for Speeches and Presentations

Public speaking is tough for most people. When you have to do it for a grade, the pressure can feel really intense. Instead of worrying whether you’ll forget a part or mess up a word, use your energy to prepare. Any accomplished speaker will tell you the more you practice, the more comfortable you’ll feel, and the better you’ll perform. Following the suggestions below will lead you away from nervousness and tension and closer to confidence and grades worth bragging about.


1. Give It Your All!

When you’re practicing, are you reenacting how you’ll be giving the presentation? Assuming you won’t be giving the speech from a chair or your couch, try to re-create the way in which you’ll speak. If a podium or lectern will be available, practice standing behind something similar at home, like a tall table. If you’ll be using props such as PowerPoint or physical items, include them in your rehearsal. Standing and delivering the speech with all your tools will help identify any nervous habits, including looking at the screen for prompting, fidgeting with props, or leaning on podiums.

2. Obtain Feedback

Continuing with the idea of re-creating the presentation, invite an audience to join you. Ask them for honest feedback. Make sure your information is easy to understand, you’re keeping their attention, and you’re able to be heard. Want to be certain of your public speaking skills? Have someone record you; video recordings can be quite eye-opening. Give yourself the opportunity to view the good and the bad: gestures, speed, enunciation, volume, and eye contact.

3. Be Open to Change

Practice is also a good opportunity to make changes. Practice phrases that are confusing or difficult to say aloud. If you just can’t master them, try something else. If a line doesn’t sound right or you want to change a point, do it! That’s what practicing is for. Timing is also essential. Ensure you are within the given limits, and if not start cutting material or add where you can.

4 . Don’t Forget the Details

Once the big day arrives, don’t worry about memorization; all the work you’ve done should be enough. Stay calm and rest assured you did your best to prepare. One day-of tip is to be careful of your wardrobe. Change in your pocket could be distracting when you move or if your hands are drawn to play with it. Girls should keep hair away from the face to avoid distractions. Ultimately, presentation clothing should allow you to move and breathe comfortably.


Presentation skills are not typically mastered overnight, but with enough preparation you should be ready to wow your teachers and peers.

Need more help? Talk with your Orange County private-tutor. As you may know, our tutors have graduated from an array of prestigious universities, and are more than familiar with giving important presentations.

No sweat, Los Angeles!