Tag Archives: Test Prep

Three More Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Irvine Tutor

Get the Most Out of Your Private Orange County Tutor: 3 More Tips

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We discussed here three pieces of advice to help you have successful lessons with your new tutor. In short, the tips were to send them your material ahead of time, have specific goals in mind that you want them to help you reach, and to show them your previous graded assignments to review. These are beneficial actions that can best allow your tutor to evaluate your situation beforehand and help you work toward your goals in the sessions – book your private Irvine tutor today.

Now we’ll talk about advice for a tutoring session itself. Here are three things that you should and shouldn’t be doing if you want to get the most out of your lesson.

Do Assignments Early

One often under-appreciated benefit of having tutoring appointments is that it makes you accountable to someone else to finish your work on time. This benefit can be amplified if you strive to do your work before your tutoring session. This way, you will already know what parts confuse you and what parts you want to focus on before your tutor arrives. This can save time and energy and also reduce the stress caused by procrastinating. Get your assignments done early and use your tutoring appointments as a deadline to make yourself finish work ahead of time – you’ll be grateful you did it later.

Be Working and Ready

Unless your tutor is bringing you the material you need to study, you should already be working before your tutor arrives. Have your paper/notes/laptop/practice test or whatever necessary materials out and ready. A lot of time is wasted in tutoring sessions by dawdling and getting prepared in the beginning. Get yourself in a studying mindset ahead of time and have your materials ready. This also shows that you are professional and eager to improve – good traits to practice displaying for the future.

Don’t Focus on Complaints

One of the most common conversations a tutor has with a new student is the talk about how the student dislikes their class and/or teacher: the teacher is mean or isn’t fair, the class is too hard or confusing, other teachers give an easier class, your assignment was graded harshly, the teacher doesn’t know how to teach, etc. While many of these problems can be valid – there are many terrible teaches and unfair classes out there – they shouldn’t be a focal point of your Irvine tutoring. If your goal is to improve your grade in a class, then you should be focused on what steps you need to do to accomplish that. You likely aren’t going to change your teacher; you can only change your approach to studying and working. It’s okay to explain the situation and vent to your tutor every once in a while, but don’t become one of the students who only want to complain and gossip instead of working to improve.

Remember: it’s you and your Irvine tutor working together to help you reach your goals. If you set yourself up for success with your tutor, then you will be able to achieve it.

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 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.

Why You Might Regret Not Taking an AP Class

Why AP? A Savings Story

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With homework, clubs, sports, and friends to juggle, it can be difficult for a high schooler to justify the added pressure and workload of an Advanced Placement (AP) class – book your private Irvine AP tutor today. US History was hard enough, right? Why would you want to throw an AP in front of it and make your life that much harder?

Because it might help you save $70,000.

But before we get to the money, let’s talk about other important reasons for signing up for AP. AP classes are meant to simulate a college-level educational experience. This is why they tend to be more rigorous; the curriculum is programmed at a level above traditional secondary school material. As such, when college admissions counselors see that you are taking (and hopefully excelling in) AP classes, this is a signal that you are capable of handling college work. This is a big positive since colleges want to accept students who will be able to handle their classes and succeed in their school.

In many high schools, AP classes are also weighted differently than your standard classes for your GPA. This means that an “A” in an AP class will improve your grade point average and class rank more than an “A” in a normal class. Ever wonder why you hear people talking about GPAs even higher than 4.0? AP classes are usually key contributors. Need a GPA boost? Try adding an AP class and consider finding an experienced tutor to help you make sure you stay on track and get that “A” to maximize your GPA.

Aside from just showing that you are capable of taking college-level courses, AP classes also allow you to cap off the year by taking the AP exam in that subject. And, if you’re successful, you can expect colleges and universities to give you free college credit for your score (READ: Irvine AP Tutor Tips: 5 Ways to Conquer Your AP Exam).

This is where the savings come into play. I can speak from experience that the credit given from AP exams can be very significant to your college career. For me, my university estimates a cost of attendance at a whopping $72,000 per year. Over $50,000 is intuition alone. Without significant financial aid or scholarships, this is what students at this college can expect to pay out of pocket (or out of loans) for a year of education.

However, I was able to find a fast track out of these high costs. In high school, I took seven AP classes: Chemistry, Physics, Calculus AB, English Language, English Literature, US History, and US Government and Politics. For me, this was the maximum number of AP classes I could take since students at my high school were only allowed to enroll in AP classes in their junior and senior years. I took all of the AP exams for these classes to earn college credit, but I still wanted more. Outside of my regular classes, I self-prepared for four more AP exams: Biology, Environmental Science, Calculus BC, and Psychology. You do NOT have to be enrolled in an AP class to take the exam at the end of the year. By creating a schedule for myself and studying explicitly to pass the exams, I was able to prepare myself successfully.

When it came time to attend college, this hard work paid off. My school granted me credit for all but one of my AP scores. For most, I earned 3 college credits, and for a few, I earned 4. This is typical practice for nearly all universities, and their policies for which scores they accept and how many credits they grant can usually be found online or by contacting the school in question. Before I had even begun college, I already had 33 college credits walking in the door – or the equivalent of just over a year of full-time college education.

This allowed me to have more freedom in school. I had many prerequisite classes out of the way, and I had an amplitude of credits for wiggle room. I ended up graduating with a double major degree after only three years. My AP credits allowed me to add a second major, graduate an entire year early, and even have the luxury of taking more fun and interesting classes in my senior year instead of only classes needed to graduate.

Even if your college is fully paid for by scholarships, financial aid, or family, AP credits like this can still save you a fortune. You might not be cutting out a $70,000 cost of attendance bill, but you will be entering the workforce a year earlier, allowing you a head start on your career, gaining experience, and making your own money. Graduating early doesn’t look too bad on a resume either.

While eleven AP exams might seem unmanageable or overwhelming, it can be accomplished by many students with the right guidance. An experienced tutor, teacher, or mentor can help you plan for which tests meet your skill set and circumstances. Did you take honors biology but not AP biology? With some extra help, you might be able to study the new information faster than you think. Do you excel at English but your school doesn’t offer an AP Literature class? You might be surprised by the progress you make with a study plan and official practice tests. Looking for which tests are the easiest for you to study and pick up some extra credits quickly? Many educators are experienced with these tests and with students in your situation and can help you pick the AP exams for you.

My only regret is not taking a few more AP exams. You shouldn’t have the same regret, especially if you’re looking at expensive loans for school. Don’t underestimate the importance of free college credit, and don’t underestimate your ability to learn new material on your own and succeed.

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

tutor logo Ask A Nerd! SAT Subject 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.

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).

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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!

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.

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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.

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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!