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How To Improve Your Writing

Replace Overused Words


We often advise our students who are looking to quickly improve their writing, to take the simple step of replacing commonly used words.  Words like very, said, look, and know are used so often and actually convey very little because of their overuse.

For example, if I was modifying something as very interesting, I am not actually providing a lot of description or letting the reader understand just how interesting I actually think the subject is.  However, if I wrote that it was exceptionally interesting or remarkably interesting, I have now made myself much more clear and made it certain my audience understands that something is outstanding.

Use this list as a reference guide when learning what words to replace and what words to replace them with.  You’d be surprised how much more enjoyable and understandable your writing can become from this easy first edit.

Paint a Picture


On the heels of using more specific words and less common words, we also encourage our students to paint a picture for their readers with descriptive language.  Much like an artist creating a vivid scene for a viewer to behold with a sweep of his paintbrush, so too is a writer detailing a moment that her reader will imagine with the stroke of her pen. The more concrete and colorful you are, the better your audience will relate and appreciate your hard work.

Let’s look at an example of well-done descriptive writing to learn how we can do this ourselves

Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills…The moist hungry earth, waiting upturned for the cotton seeds, showed pinkish on the sandy tops of furrows, vermilion and scarlet and maroon where shadows lay along the sides of the trenches. The whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pinktipped waves were breaking into surf.

Margaret Mitchell, Gone with the Wind

Most would agree that this a strongly written description.  But what exactly makes it so powerful?  Three things:

Word choice

Figurative Language


Word Choice

First of all, the author’s word choice boils down to descriptors, strong verbs, and specific nouns.  Notice the adverbs and adjectives like “upturned”, “sandy”, “scarlet”, and “wild”: they are numerous, clear, and descriptive.  The verbs are powerful and active like “breaking” and “petrified”.  Lastly, the nouns are specific like “blossoms”, “billows”, and “swamp”.

Figurative Language

Figurative Language by Oxford Tutoring.png

Next, is the figurative language.  Metaphors, similes, personification, and others are all tools that an author will yield when wanting his readers to get an even clearer image of what they are writing about.  When Mitchell describes the earth as “hungry” she is using personification to make an inanimate object more powerful and real. When she uses the metaphor of comparing the house to an island in a wild red sea, we can gather that it is the only “human” creation in the middle of the wild.


Finally, the author uses imagery, which is what both of the above categories could fall under.  It is all about showing, and not telling.  The author does not just tell us that there are waves in the sea, instead, she shows us just what that looks like: “a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into a surf.”

Take advantage of the extra summer hours

Front Side of Flyer for Center

Summer is a great time to work on writing because the commitments and demands on students are far fewer.  While it is important for children to get the opportunity to rest and relax, it is also important not to let those extra summer hours go to waste (beware of the summer slide).  Working on your writing during the summer provides an activity to help the mind stay active, and is more enjoyable than the drudgery of homework.

Check out some of our Summer writing courses at Oxford Tutoring like Phonics Galore, 1st – 12th grade English Language Arts, Creative Writing, and an Essay Writing Clinic.  See our full summer course schedule here.

What about College Application Essays?

College Night Flyer

Most writing instructors can assist you with the grammar and sentence structure of your college application.  Yet, making sure your college application essay accurately conveys who are you are to an application reader and addresses any lapses from your application, takes an expert hand.  That is why we offer our Coffee, Cookies, and College nights where our college consultant, a UCI and UCLA application reader, discusses what it takes to be a competitive college applicant and how to stand out from the crowd.  Learn more here.

And Those Pesky ACT and SAT essays?

SAT Summa

We’ve got you covered there as well.  Check out our SAT and ACT classes to learn how to write these difficult essays. We discuss strategies, content, and tools to complete these essays in the allotted time and achieve a top score.  See the schedule here.


Although many people are intimidated by writing and do not see how they can improve upon this necessary skill, utilizing a few, simple tactics like painting a picture and replacing overly used words can easily and immediately improve your writing.  Give it a try.  Or post your writing to our Facebook page and we will give you our feedback.

Oxford Tutoring Reading Writing Math Science Instruction

Posted in Book, Child, children, Education, ELA, English Language Arts Tutoring, Parent, Reading, school, student, Studying, Uncategorized

How to Annotate – Close Reading

Is it enough for students to simply comprehend their school readings? While reading comprehension is necessary for doing well in school, in order to experience success in current and future schooling, students will be required to go beyond what they see on the surface and dig deeper into the text.

This is where the process of close reading can make all the difference.  Close reading is when we slow down and think about what we are reading.  An important step in close reading is to annotate, as this allows for greater focus and attention to detail. Keep reading to learn how to annotate when you are practicing the art of close reading.

Comprehension of Key Ideas and Details

Unfamiliar Vocabulary

To help yourself determine the meaning of the vocabulary word, find context clues.  If necessary use a dictionary.

Main Ideas

Take notes on the central themes, clues or details that back up the main idea and themes.

Confusing Parts

Find unfamiliar details that you might need to clarify through re-reading, summarizing, discussion or research.

Questions to Ask

Who are the main characters?

What is the setting?

What is the main conflict?



Analyze the Text for Craft and Structure

Repeated Themes or Ideas

Think about the genre of the work and the ideas, use of language, and any lesson or moral.

Character or Author’s Feelings

For fiction, take note of how the author uses dialogue, descriptions, things the character says, does, etc. to develop character.

When it comes to non-fiction, pay attention to how the author talks about the subject to determine his or her feelings about the topic.

Note the Narrator’s Point of View

Determine how the point of view contributes to the story.

Questions to Ask

Why do characters behave as they do?

How do their actions advance the plot?

How does the author’s word choice affect the story’s tone?



Integrate Your Knowledge


Compare and contrast this work with other works you have read, information you already know, and ways in which you can relate to the story.

Deeper Meaning

Find the important images and symbols to analyze their deeper meaning.

Effective Writing

Look for literary devices, figurative language, powerful sentences, etc.

 Questions to Ask

How has this work increased my knowledge of a subject or author?

What is surprising about the story’s outcome?

What did I appreciate about the author’s style?



Tools for Annotation

Make your annotation system your own, use colored pens, highlighters or symbols to annotate for the above list of items.

This process of annotation will help you read more closely and allow you to dig deeper to find more significance in the texts you are reading.  This will not only provide more depth to your schooling, but will also be an influence on your life. ­­­­­­

How to Annotate - Close Reading Icon.png

Posted in Book, Child, children, Education, ELA, family, Homework Help, Parent and Child, Parent Help, Parenting, Reading, Uncategorized

4 Steps to Develop Comprehension and Analysis Skills at Home

The world of education centers on using new research and experience to identify what students need to learn and how teachers can present that information better.  While this system has been trusted to help students reach their academic goals in the classroom, what are students and parents supposed to do if they feel that more can be done to enable students to reach their goals?

Many parents have come to Oxford Tutoring with that very question, and there are times when instruction with our trained and knowledgeable tutors is warranted, if not necessary, especially since the Common Core has changed the way students’ skills are evaluated.  However, when it comes to improvement in English Language Arts, there are a number of activities that are effective, free, and fun which students and parents can work on at home.

The Challenge

The most common request our English Language Arts instructors encounter from students is help with comprehending and analyzing plots and arguments.  The interesting thing about most of these requests is that the real problem is that they are simply unfamiliar with explaining what they know.

Prior to the last couple years, students were only asked to summarize, or repeat back, what they read, but the new requirements ask them to explain themselves.  So, the problem isn’t that they don’t know how to comprehend or analyze, it’s that they aren’t being taught to explain their findings.

Given this revelation, let’s give students some credit for the skills they do have and help them learn to explain their ideas effectively.

The Usual Fix

Most of the time, when a student comes to us because his or her reading and writing scores are less than impressive, we begin by asking the student to read a passage and answer specific questions about what was read.  Then, to the tutor’s surprise, the student answers most, if not all, of the questions correctly.

This is surprising to us because the student asked for help with something they already know how to do.  So, the tutor ponders the situation for a moment and realizes that the student actually needs help explaining how he or she got those answers.

Thus begins the process of guiding the student through each step of his or her internal analysis process and making it an external process with spoken and written words.  The trick is helping the student realize that once they’re finished analyzing the passage, the hard part is over.

An Alternative Fix

I must admit, I love teaching students to comprehend and analyze texts.  But I also think that students can try to develop their own strategies and processes without my help.  Such an endeavor could even be entertaining and might even begin a lifelong fondness for thinking critically.

The entertaining aspect comes from the fact that students are not limited in their choices of practice materials.  One might think that we have to use the same texts provided in English and Social Studies classrooms, but that is just not the case.  A more effective option is to use a medium that truly engages the student, and this is easily accommodated when dealing with only one student.

Therefore, the first step in the process of developing comprehension and analysis skills is getting the student to identify the material that will be most engaging.  For example, because novels can take so long to get interesting, I like to begin by discussing the student’s favorite movie.  Yes, I know our goal is to improve our skills with texts, but, in the beginning, the most important task is getting started – just finding an idea the student finds worthy of putting forth effort to figure out.  Even if the student isn’t a movie/television aficionado, the initial and most engaging themes and plots are guaranteed to already be present in the student’s everyday life.

The Actual Practice   

So, you’ve decided to conduct some at-home practice, and you know what topic(s) your child is truly interested in.  Now, let’s talk about some activities that can help him or her learn to comprehend and analyze the content and then present his or her findings in an effective way.   If I write out the process in a list, you might get intimidated and shy away from this whole process, so I’ll start by explaining the core activities and then we’ll get into the process.


workplace-1245776_1920Step 1: Oral Exercises

The most entertaining activities are the oral activities in which you’ll just talk to the student about one of his or her interests.  That is, you’ll strike up a conversation with him or her about the thing that he or she really wants to talk to you about.  Let’s face it; we are talking about young people here.  If you give them an excuse, they’ll talk all day and night, and you are going to give them the perfect excuse.

For example, if your student is an avid Netflix user, strike up a conversation about what he or she is currently binge-watching.  The goal of this simple sounding activity is to get the student to think critically about what they’ve experienced and decide what is important enough to be included in the explanation and what is not.  Then they will have to analyze the content in order to explain how each of those “important” scenes/episodes fits together into the overall plot of the story.

I know; just reading all of this makes it feel like a college level activity, but the student will want to do it and will enjoy it immensely.  And you the “instructor” will have to do very little to make it work; just show interest in what the student finds interesting.  The only challenging aspect of this first activity is keeping the student on track – focused on the same topic throughout the entire conversation.


light-bulb-1246043_1920.jpgStep 2: The Socratic Method

The next activity in the process is applying the infamous Socratic Method.  You may be familiar with this form of questioning from your own educational experiences or from modern media’s distortion of it through the angry college professor’s lecture.

However, at heart, the Socratic Method and our main goal in this second type of activity is based on trying to truly understand what the student likes about the topic he or she has chosen to discuss.  What makes him or her so passionate about it?  Why is it worth talking about?  The difference between this activity and the previous is that you are more of a participant now.  In the first activity your goal was simply to keep them talking about the same thing.  Now, you want to understand that thing, game, sport, skateboarding trick, movie, whatever.  It’s kind of like the game children like to play with adults, where they ask you a question and then keep asking “why?”  It’s hilarious and frustrating when the kids do it because there’s no point except to keep you talking.

For us though, there is a point – deep and true understanding, not only of the thing itself, but of the student’s relationship with and to it.  You will probe for more and deeper understanding through a back and forth conversation that tests and then expands your and the student’s conception of the topic.  To make this work, you’ll want to channel one part: that annoying kid who asks “why” all the time, one part: wise person who says, “hmm” and “that’s interesting,” and one part devil’s advocate who challenges what is known by pushing the idea to the extreme and taking the idea and standing it on its head.  Doesn’t that sound fun?  I thought you’d think so.

Once you’ve completed these two oral activities a few times, the student will become accustomed to thinking critically about the things he or she cares about.  Then, the student will be ready to start writing about what he or she has been thinking about.


coffee-1128136_1920Step 3: Written Exercises

The first stage of getting comfortable with writing about what’s on our minds is based on the tried and true method called Journaling.  The great thing about Journaling is that there are no rules, so you can’t mess up.  For this to work, the student need only put pencil to paper or fingers to keyboard.  Ask him or her to fill a page with text about a single topic.  These pages will not be subject to reading or critiquing, just ask the student for a quick glance so you can see that writing took place.

The reason this activity is so informal is that the goal is to get the student to put more than a single thought or sentence into the writing process.  His or her teachers are expecting more than a yes or no answer and more than just a sentence or two in response.  Asking a student to fill a page with text, even if it’s not the most eloquent text, helps him or her to get comfortable with putting ideas together and building on or expounding on an idea.  Just give the student some time and a comfortable place to work and watch the ideas trickle and then flood onto the page.

Once the student is able to fill a page with text, it’s time to move on to actual essay writing practice.

Instructional/Informational Essays

Before you get too excited and feel the need to remind me that I said this would be easy and fun or that you might not be an English teacher, let me assure you that my use of the term essay in this passage is rather loose.  I, and you, don’t want your student running for the hills at the very mentioning of these activities.  Given that, let’s think of essays as writing down thoughts in an organized fashion.  Just as with the prior activities, we are focusing on helping the student think critically and fully about an idea, not on the technical correctness of their expression.

When presenting this activity, remind the student that you are not asking him or her to think up anything new.  He or she will have already informed you about the basics in the first oral activity.  You both will have thought about the ins and outs and finer points of the idea through the Socratic Method.  He or she will have already written about it in the Journaling activity.  All you’ll be asking for now is an “organized” presentation of the information.  In the Journaling activity the student was asked to fill the page, so there was no organization, just thoughts recorded as quickly as they entered the brain.

Now we want to organize those thoughts into an intelligible sequence.  If the idea the student wants to express is about explaining how to drive a car, help him or her put the steps in the proper order.  Should he or she write about the finer points of shifting the car into fifth-gear before putting on the seatbelt and starting the ignition? No.  That’s the kind of organizational awareness we are going to be looking for.  If you knew nothing about the topic, was the information presented in a way that would make it possible for you to understand what the student was trying to explain?  That’s it.

Neither you nor the student need worry about effectiveness of the hook or if the imagery was descriptive enough for you to feel like you were there in the car hammering the gas pedal while simultaneously feathering the clutch and yanking the E-brake hard enough to make the car Drift through the S-curves like Vin Diesel in a “Fast and Furious” movie.  That’s my job.  You just need to help the student present all of the really important parts and put them in order so that you can follow along.  The same goes for an essay where the student is trying to present his or her opinion about something.

In these analytical or critical essays, ask yourself if you can identify the student’s position or feelings about the issue and why he or she feels that way.  Think of it like watching a story on the news or reading an article; don’t worry about how well it was presented as long as you get the important parts.

books-1605416_1920.jpgLevel 4: It’s the same, but different

At this level the student will make the transition from working with an idea that he or she is completely familiar with to an article or novel that is new to him or her.  This is the stage where you and your child can work together through each of the first three level’s activities.  You will work together to build the student’s comprehension and analysis skills as partners.

In the previous activities, the student was teaching you something only known to him or her.  Now, you will work together to build each other’s understanding through a genuine partnership.  You will read the text at a similar pace and you will think about and discuss the text with the same level of unfamiliarity and newness.  By completing each of the first three level’s activities with a new text, you will be able to operate from the perspective of a peer rather than a know-it-all teacher.  There will be no wrong answers, no errors, just two people’s unique perspectives on a singular topic.

Keeping It Real and Really Fun

The first thing the more pragmatic of you might think about is, “How long is this going to take?”  While it is a good question, the answer depends on how motivated you and the student are.  Ideally, you could complete one activity every other day, but I know that life and complicated schedules can get in the way.  So, in the end, this can be as formal and regulated as you desire.

You can work with a set schedule so that you and the student can be fully aware and accountable for completing the activities, or you can play it a bit looser and focus on the oral and journaling activities that can be done during car rides and lazy weekends.  You know your student best, so you will likely know how best to motivate him or her to start this process as well as what it will take to get you both to stick with it and keep practicing.

My most fervent hope and strenuous recommendation is to keep it fun at all costs.  Save the “work” aspects for the classroom teachers and us here at Oxford.


Meet the Author: Alex Claude is an SAT and ACT ELA Director and an ELA tutor at Oxford Tutoring.  He takes the time to get to know his students so he can learn and apply how to best teach them.  Alex teaches his students how to effectively communicate through writing, and how to analyze informational texts and novels.


Posted in Book, Child, children, Education, family, Parent, Parent and Child, Parent Help, Parenting, Reading, student, Uncategorized

Thank You, Jim Trelease! – The Power of Reading Aloud to Children

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My son, Matt, reading to my four grandchildren.

Reading aloud to my four children is one of the fondest memories I have of their growing up years.  They are all adults now with their own families and busy lives, but I have wonderful memories of cuddling on the couch with them, reading stories together, watching their eyes light up as we traveled to other lands and other times through story.

As a teacher, reading to my children seemed a natural part of the parenting process.  Even when they were babies, they would sit on my lap as we enjoyed books like Pat the Bunny.  As they grew older, we graduated to story books.  Some were fairy tales, some were Bible stories, but all were chances to bond together over printed word. They had their favorites that they asked to be read to them over and over and over. We went to our local library’s story time and listened to books read aloud that we would then books that we checked out to take home to enjoy again and again.

However, it’s a common belief that when a child begins reading on his or her own, there is no longer a need for parents to read aloud to their children.  I confess that I held that same view until I met Jim Trelease, author of The Read Aloud Handbook. He was advertised as a guest speaker at our local library.  The title of his book sounded intriguing, so I went to hear what he had to say.

I am so glad that I did.

Jim Trelease’s idea that reading aloud can and should continue long after a child is an independent reader powerfully impacted both my parenting approach to reading as well as my own teaching  philosophy.  His belief was that children will be excited about reading if we are excited about reading.  They will think it’s fun if we think it’s fun. That evening, Trelease read aloud to us, an adult audience, the Bernard Waber classic, Ira Sleeps Over. He read it with energy, enthusiasm and wonderful vocal animation.  That’s all it took.  I was hooked!

Read-alouds became a fixed part of our family routine.  We cried together through books like Where the Red Fern Grows, laughed together through books like The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, and experienced the  thrills and adventure of C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia.  I am happy to report that I have raised children who love to read.

Now, as a grandmother, I am enjoying reading some of those same familiar stories to my six grandchildren.  What is even more rewarding to me is that my children are reading to their children; the torch has been passed!

I have never forgotten the way Jim Trelease closed his evening talk, reading from a poem by Stickland Gillian, titled “The Reading Mother.”

I had a mother who read to me
Sagas of pirates who scoured the sea,
Cutlasses clenched in their yellow teeth,
“Blackbirds” stowed in the hold beneath.

I had a Mother who read me lays
Of ancient and gallant and golden days;
Stories of Marmion and Ivanhoe,
Which every boy has a right to know.

I had a Mother who read me tales
Of Gelert the hound of the hills of Wales,
True to his trust till his tragic death,
Faithfulness blent with his final breath.

I had a Mother who read me the things
That wholesome life to the boy heart brings–
Stories that stir with an upward touch,
Oh, that each mother of boys were such!

You may have tangible wealth untold;
Caskets of jewels and coffers of gold.
Richer than I you can never be–
I had a Mother who read to me.

About the Author: Kathy H. is a tutor at Oxford Tutoring who enjoys tutors because she can make a difference in the lives of her students.  Her goal is to make learning fun by teaching to each student’s unique method of learning.  For fun, she likes to read, binge-watch TV shows on Netflix, serve at her church, and spend time with her grandchildren.

Posted in Book, Child, ELA, English Language Arts Tutoring, family, Reading, summer, Uncategorized

6 Reasons to Spend Your Summer Reading

For students, an ideal summer is made up of hanging out by the pool, trips to the beach, video games, shopping at the mall and most importantly, absolutely no school!  While we highly recommend students spending at least some of their summer  maintaining skills or preparing for the new school year with summer classes there is also another way to make sure you are not falling behind over the summer: summer reading.

Summer Reading

So why bother reading over the summer? What’s the point?  You spend the whole school year reading  book after book. Summer is the time for relaxing.  Well, before you completely abandon any thought of school, hear me out.  You might reconsider allocating at least some of your time to your next favorite book!


kids-summer-reading.jpg#1 – Avoid Summer Learning Loss

Think about it, you have just spent nine months of your life dedicated to learning.  Remember all those all-nighter’s, last minute, frantic papers, never-ending tests and hard work you have put into the pursuit of learning.  One of the greatest reasons for reading over the summer is to ensure all of that effort is not lost.  Studies show that over the summer “the average learning loss in math and reading for American students amounts to one month per year” (New York Times).

Reading keeps your mind active.  While spending lazy summer days by the pool sounds ideal, you are not doing yourself any favors for the upcoming school year.  We are not saying, don’t take some time off.  We are just suggesting that you need to keep learning over the summer to avoid losing some of your hard-earned education.  Reading is one way to do this!  And hey, you can even do it laying out by the pool!



#2 – Increase Vocabularydictionary.jpg

One of the biggest challenges for students who struggle to comprehend what they are reading is vocabulary.  Much of the texts you will encounter over the school year contains advanced vocabulary.  Reading exposes you to brand new words that will help you with future reading, but will also increase your vocabulary skills when it is time to write your essays.

Additionally, come test time, school tests but especially ACT and SAT tests, you will have a larger vocabulary arsenal at your disposal.  Also, when reading you learn how to use context clues in order to determine the rough definition of a new word.  Another crucial skill come test-taking time.


summer-reading-africa-studios-shuttersthock-e1436293933664#3- Obtain Analysis Skills

The ability to analyze, to find the deeper meaning, behind the words you read is a necessary skill for your high school education and beyond.  Practice makes perfect.  And the more time you take to read, the more naturally analysis will come to you when it is time to analyze those pesky classics during the school year.

Analysis also plays an important role in your everyday life.  Ninety-three percent of communication is nonverbal – body language and the tone in one’s voice. (Philip Yaffe).  Which means that what a person does facially, physically, and the inflection in their voice is far more telling that what they actually say.  We must be able to analyze in order to determine the deeper meaning behind the action’s of others and what is being said.  This will put you at a great advantage in your personal life, school life, and work life.

Lecture et coquillages

#4 – Improve WritingJournal-Photo.jpg

Famous American writer, William Faulkner once said, “Read, read, read. Read everything…just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master” (Shortlist). Writers need to read.  Why? Because that is how they learn to write.

Perhaps you struggle with writing description – read a writer who is a master of descriptive writing like Margaret Mitchell. Check out this excerpt from her well-known book, Gone with the Wind:

“Spring had come early that year, with warm quick rains and sudden frothing of pink peach blossoms and dogwood dappling with white stars the dark river swamp and far-off hills…The whitewashed brick plantation house seemed an island set in a wild red sea, a sea of spiraling, curving, crescent billows petrified suddenly at the moment when the pink-tipped waves were breaking into surf.”Gone-with-the-Wind-Scarlett-in-front-of-Tara

Or maybe writing an argument is your biggest challenge – find a well-argued essay or speech like Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail”.  Notice what he writes here:

“We have waited for more than three hundred and forty years for our God-given and constitutional rights. The nations of Asia and Africa are moving with jetlike speed toward the goal of political independence, and we still creep at horse-and-buggy pace toward the gaining of a cup of coffee at a lunch counter. I guess it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say “wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim… then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” (Source)


Taking in excellent writing will most definitely improve yours.


#5 – Read What You Want

One of the irritating aspects of reading during the school year is that you are forced to read the assigned texts.  You have no say in what you will be spending hours studying and learning about.  Reading over the summer means you get to read about whatever you want!  You are in control, so go out and find your next favorite book.

#6 – Relax!relaxed-theta-brain-waves-reading.jpg

Summer is all about relaxing.  Reading seems like the opposite of relaxing.  But guess what? According to recent research, “Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce stress levels by more than two-thirds” (Source).

Even just a little bit of reading can significantly reduce stress.  While school reading may be stressful, summer reading certainly is not.

So in between video games and the beach (or why not at the beach?) crack open a book.  Summer reading is calling!


Copyright Oxford Tutoring 2016


Posted in ACT, Algebra, Biology, Book, Calculus, classes, College Planning, Computer Science, Courses, Education, ELA, essay, Geometry ', STEAM, summer, Uncategorized

Summer Classes Begin Today!

Summer Classes Begin.jpg

 It’s not too late to sign up! Call us today. (949) 681-0388.

Don’t forget summer session 2 begins July 18th. ‪

What are the benefits of taking summer courses?

Studies show that over the summer, students experience a drop in their academic learning, something that is known as the summer slide.  Most students spend very little time engaging in activities that keep their brains active and growing.  Summer courses are an ideal way to maintain what students learned throughout the school year, and even get ahead for the upcoming school year.  And let’s face it,  students face a lot of pressure to take on AP classes, extracurriculars, and to have solid grades.  Summer is a great time to help alleviate some of that stress.  Don’t let your student’s summer go to waste!

How are your students going to spend their summer?

Oxford Tutoring is offering a variety of courses including STEM Courses, ACT and SAT Test Prep, Mathematics, Science Courses and much more.  Keep reading to find out more!

1. How about enhancing their understanding of those challenging math concepts?

Mathematics is a foundational skill that all students must learn.  We are offering the following summer courses:

1st – 8th Grade Math

Algebra 1


Algebra 2 Trigonometry


Integrated Math 1

Integrated Math 2

Integrated Math 3

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Get a head-start on concepts from the upcoming school year.

2. Do you want to give them a head start in cutting edge careers?  Try STEM Courses.

Oxford Tutoring is aware of the importance of incorporating STEM into student’s education.   That is why we are covering a variety of summer courses including:

Build a Computer

Python Programming

Website Design

AP Calculus

AP Statistics

AP Physics

AP Computer Science

Review troublesome concepts from last year and be ready to jump into the next school year.

3. Have they discovered their scientific aptitude yet?

For some students, science can feel like a different language, for others, it can open the door to an exciting new world.  For either student, we have the summer courses to match:

Science Explorer 1 (Grades 3-4)

Science Explorer 2 (Grades 5-6)

Science Explorer 3 (Grades 7-8)

Integrated Science 1

Integrated Science 2

Trade those lazy summer hours for productive academic practice and skill building.

4. Do they need to improve their reading and writing skills or push to become the next Shakespeare?

Some students have a passion for writing, and here at Oxford Tutoring, we want to give them the tools to excel in their writing.  We also have support for students needing to improve reading and writing skills, an imperative skill to help them succeed in their college lives and beyond.  We offer these summer courses:

1st – 10th Grade English

Creative Writing Workshop (Middle School)

Creative Writing Workshop (High School)

Essay Writing Clinic

Northwood High Required Reading (9th Grade)

Northwood High Required Reading (AP English)

Irvine High Required Reading (9th Grade)

Irvine High Required Reading (AP English)

Intro to Speech and Debate

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Provide support for your student’s education with engaging summer courses.

5. Should they be preparing for the academic rigors of college life?

At Oxford Tutoring, we want to set up your students for the best chance to succeed in their college life.  Which is why we provide summer courses to prepare them the challenges of college:

High Stakes Writing

This course is broken up into two sections: (1) SAT/ACT essays, and (2) college application essays, where students learn to write polished essays.


Students in 8th-10th grades should begin preparing for the newly formatted SAT.  The materials and pacing of instruction are designed to build on classroom studies, providing extended instruction at the SAT level.


Students learn Oxford’s proven strategies by master instructors whose students have consistently scored at the top.  Small classes, weekly testing on full-length exams, test report and reviews, and personalized tutoring are included in the course fee.  Students in the SAT and ACT courses may purchase discounted packages of private tutoring sessions.  All courses guarantee score increases of at least 10 percent.

If you do not find a summer course that fits your schedule, we have private tutoring available, or the option of creating a class for your student and a few of their friends.

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Seats are filling up, so sign up today!  Call Oxford Tutoring for class times at (949) 681-0388.

© Oxford Tutoring 2016

Posted in Book, Child, classes, Courses, Education, ELA, family, K-12 Tutoring, Learning Activties, Orange County, Orange County Events, Reading, summer, Uncategorized

Required Reading Summer Course at Oxford Tutoring

Don’t let your summer go to waste! Try our Required Reading Book Club course to study the novels you will be reading in the upcoming school year.

Sign up for an Oxford Tutoring summer course today! (949) 681-0388

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Posted in Book, Child, Education, ELA, English Language Arts Tutoring, essay, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, Private Tutoring, Tutoring, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing, Writing Tools

Elements of an Essay: Writing Commentary

For several weeks now, we have been identifying the essential elements of essays and learning how to incorporate these effectively and successfully. We have discussed that the thesis statement is the glue that holds the entire paper together, the body paragraphs are the meat where the majority of your argument will be found, and last week we looked at how the details are the key to unlocking your argument.  Today we are going to take a look at the other extremely important factor in writing a well-thought out essay.  It is needed for every single detail that you write.  It is the commentary.


Commentary Definition

When you write commentary, you are explaining to your reader how the details relate to the thesis statement. Commentary does not contain facts.  Instead, they help explain why the details are relevant to the topic.


Writing Commentary


You are going to need at least two sentences of commentary for every detail sentence.  A good rule of thumb is that your commentary should be twice as long as your details.  Otherwise, your paper is just full of facts.  We want to know how YOU think these facts prove your point and what YOU think they mean.


Here are a few different methods for writing commentary:

1) Opinion: this is where you write your belief, subjective judgment or way of thinking about a detail .

2) Interpretation: your explanation of something that is not clear.

3) Character and Subject’s Feelings: when you describe what the character or subject of the detail is feeling (ideal for literary analysis papers)

4) Personal Reaction: your personal emotions about the detail.

5) Evaluations: your objective judgment of a detail.


Commentary is the Treasuretreasure

Your commentary is the treasure that makes your paper shine.  It should always strengthen and extend the details. This is your chance to show us what you’ve got.  It is where you can impress us with your analysis and interpretation skills.


“What and Why” Method

You may be thinking, “Analysis and interpretation skills?  What if I don’t possess those skills?”  Well breathe easy, because interpretation is really just a fancy word for “what,” while analysis simply means “why”.

So if you are struggling to write your commentary try using the “what and why” method.  First, tell the reader WHAT your detail is talking about by defining or explaining.  Next, let your reader know WHY this detail is relevant to your thesis statement.


Starting Commentary Sentences

If you are struggling to start your commentary, consider beginning your commentary in one of the following ways:

“This shows that…”

 “This is important because…”

Obviously, you cannot start every sentence you write like that since this would be redundant.  However, even if you do not write these phrases at the beginning of all of your sentences, it is helpful even just to think these phrases in order to guide your commentary in the right direction.


Applying Commentary Techniques

Now that we have discussed the different options for writing commentary, and the method for doing  so, let’s put them together and see what is looks like.


Commentary Type: Opinion using the “what and why” method


Topic: education

Detail: According to the 2013 National Assessment of Education Progress Reading test, 80% of students score below grade level in reading.

Commentary: Your commentary for this detail will answer the following questions: (1) “WHAT is my opinion?” and (2) “WHY is my opinion relevant to my thesis statement?”

(1)  A statistic like this shows the poor state of the education.  (2) If we are to help students become successful adults, we need to change the way we are educating our children.


Commentary Type: Interpretation using the “what and why” method

Topic: benefits of college

Detail: First of all, of 2,350,000 college students enrolling per year, only 1,750,000 will graduate.

Commentary: Your commentary for this detail will answer the following questions: (1) “WHAT is my interpretation?” and (2) “WHY is my interpretation relevant to my thesis statement?”

(1) This shows that the high demand placed on students during their college years is too much stress for many.  (2) However rigorous it may be though, the pressure and expectations are reflective of a future career and help prepare young adults for these challenges.


Commentary Type: Character or Subject Feelings using the “what and why” method


Topic: cost of higher education

Detail:  For example, Benjamin Davis, a recent college graduate with a degree in Business, struggled for many years to find a job because of the recent unemployment struggles in America

Commentary: Your commentary for this detail will answer the following questions: (1) “WHAT is the subject’s feelings?” and (2) “WHY is subjects feelings relevant to my thesis statement?”

(1) He, like most, experiences extreme frustration at spending a great deal of time and money obtaining his degree, but feeling like he has very little advantage over others without a degree when finding a job. (2) As a result, many who find themselves in a similar situation are left wondering if higher education is worth the high cost.


Commentary Type: Personal Reaction using the “what and why” method

Topic: bullying

Detail: Also,  a bully might speak cruelly in order to intimidate, steal a student’s belongings, or intentionally exclude one from a group .

Commentary: Your commentary for this detail will answer the following questions: (1) “WHAT is my personal reaction?” and (2) “WHY is my personal reaction relevant to my thesis statement?”

(1) It is extremely upsetting to know that most children undergo this type of treatment at school. (2) It is hurtful, isolating, and can have long-lasting psychological damage on those students who experience bullying often.


Commentary Type: Evaluation using the “what and why” method

Topic: bears

Detail: Naturally, a bear, when threatened, will rise up from the ground, growl loudly, and begin charging at a speed of up to 35 mph.

Commentary: Your commentary for this detail will answer the following questions: (1) “WHAT is my evaluation?” and (2) “WHY is my evaluation relevant to my thesis statement?”

(1) Although this is a frightening experience, it is not entirely the bear’s fault. (2) In fact, most of the time when a bear attacks a person, it is the result of a person not understanding that when going out into the woods, he or she is entering a bear’s environment; forgetting to be respectful and cautious can cause the bear to react thusly.


When To Use Commentary Types

Depending on your assignment, choose the types of commentary that best fits your argument.  Use of a variety of different types of commentary to write a well-argued paper.




Go back and look at step two of writing details from last week’s blog.  Look at the commentary you wrote and update it to fit into the “what and why” method using some of the above types of commentary.  If you did not do that step last week, go ahead and use the worksheet found here.

We hope this helped you when writing commentary.  If you still need help, call Oxford Tutoring for support or to schedule a writing tutoring session.



Posted in Book, Tutoring, Tutoring Sessions, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing, Writing Tools

18 Overused Words to Replace When Writing

Words, Words, Words

There are many words that when writing we tend to overuse.  Sometimes, when we are in the middle of expressing a thought on paper, we just cannot think of a better term other than “very” or “said” to get our thought down, so we simply write the word and move one.

Why does word choice matter?

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As a result of using overused words, we end up using words that many other essay writers will use, making our paper or piece look just like the others.  Furthermore, we might end up using the same word repeatedly.  Lastly, what does the word “very” mean anyway?  It is not very descriptive; and is not a word to use to accurately explain our intended message.  This is just one example of an overused word that does little to make our paper unique.  Check out our list of words that we recommend you replace in your writing, and lists of replacement words you can use to make your essay stand out.

1. Bad

25 Words to Use Instead of “Bad”


abominable, appalling, atrocious, awful, beastly, careless, cheap, crummy, defective, dire, dreadful, erroneous, faulty, frightening, gross, horrid, inferior,  inadequate, incorrect,  lousy, poor, raunchy, rough, shocking, unacceptable

2. Big

25 Words to Use Instead of “Big”


bulky, burly, colossal, considerable, enormous, fat, gigantic, gross, heavyweight, hefty, huge, humungous, husky, immense, jumbo, mammoth, massive, monster, oversize, sizable, thundering, titan, tremendous, vast, voluminous, whopping

3. Funny

21 Words to Use Instead of “Funny”


amusing, capricious, comical, clever, droll, engaging, entertaining, hilarious, humorous, hysterical, joking, jolly, laughable, merry, playful, priceless, rich, riot, silly, whimsical,  witty

4. Good

25 Words to Use Instead of “Good”


admirable, agreeable, commendable,  excellent, exceptional, fabulous, fantastic, favorable  great, honorable, marvelous, neat, phenomenal, pleasing, positive, precious, satisfactory, spectacular, splendid, super, superb, valuable, wonderful, wondrous, worthy

5. Happy 

25 Words to Use Instead of “Happy”


beaming, blissful, cheerful, chipper, delightful, ecstatic, elated, excited, glad, gleeful, intoxicated, joyful, jubilant, lively, merry, mirthful, overjoyed, peppy, perky, playful,  pleased, sparkling, thrilled, tickled , upbeat

6. Know

17 Words to Use Instead of “Know”


appreciate, apprehend, catch, comprehend, conceive, discern, envision, estimate, experience, fathom, gauge, grasp, imagine, learn, measure, notice, perceive, realize, recognize, see, think , understand

7. Laugh

18 Words to Use Instead of “Know”


burst, cackle, chuckle, crow, exult, giggle, grin, guffaw, howl, rejoice, roar, shriek, snicker, snort, teehee, titter, whoop, yuck

8. Like

22 Words to Use Instead of “Like”


admire, adore, appreciate, care, cherish, commend, devoted, embrace, esteem, exalt, fancy, fond, glorify, honor, idolize, love, prize, respect, revere, treasure, value, worship

9. Little

21 Words to Use Instead of “Little”


bitsy, dainty, delicate, diminutive, infant, microscopic, mini, minor, minute, modest, petite, puny, short, slight, slim, slender,  small, teensy,  teeny, tiny, undersized

10. Look

22 Words to Use Instead of “Look”


behold, bore, eye, fix, flash, focus, gander, gawk, gaze, glance, glare, inspect, leer, notice, observe, peel, regard, squint, stare, survey, view

11. Mad

21 Words to Use Instead of “Mad”


angry, annoyed, enraged, furious, heated, irate, irritable, offended, outraged, exasperated, incensed, boiling, upset, riled, livid, aggravated, fuming, steamed, cross, indignant

12. Nice

25 Words to Use Instead of “Nice”


amiable, charming, cordial, courteous, delightful, favorable, friendly, genial, gentle, gracious, helpful, inviting, kind, lovely, obliging, peaceful, peachy, pleasant, polite, swell, sympathetic, tender, welcoming, well-mannered, winning

13. Pretty

20 Words to Use Instead of “Pretty”


attractive, beautiful, cute, appealing, sweet, gorgeous, striking, eye-catching, alluring, charming, pleasing, pleasant, lovely, delightful, fascinating, desirable, stunning, graceful, fair, elegant

14. Sad

21 Words to Use Instead of “Sad”


depressing, gloomy, miserable, cheerless, distressed, heartbroken, discouraged, bitter, melancholy, pessimistic, somber, sorrowful, sorry, wistful, blue, dejected, despondent, downcast, forlorn, grieved, troubled

15. Said

36 Words to Use Instead of “Said”


alleged, argued, asked, asserted, babbled, bellowed, bragged, commented, complained, cried, declined, demanded, denied, encouraged, expressed, giggled, growled, hissed, inquired, lied, moaned, nagged, rebuked, rebutted, replied, rejected, retorted, roared, scolded, shrieked, shrugged, stated, taunted, vowed, warned, whined, whispered, yelled

16. Ugly

20 Words to Use Instead of “Ugly”


awful, beastly, deformed, disfigured, foul, frightful, grotesque, grisly, gross, gruesome, hideous, homely, plain, repelling, repugnant, revolting, unattractive, uninviting, unseemly, unsightly

17. Very

33 Words to Use Instead of “Very”


awfully, chiefly, clearly, completely, deeply , dreadfully, enormously, especially, , exceedingly, exceptionally, extraordinarily, extremely, evidently, fantastically, greatly infinitely, immeasurably, immensely, incredibly, intensely, mainly, notably, obviously, outstandingly, particularly, remarkably, seriously, significantly, tremendously, uniquely, unusually, vastly, wholly

18. Went

35 Words to Use Instead of “Went”


avoid, bolt, bound, depart, exit, escape, flee, fly, hike, hop, jaunt, jolt, journey, jump, leap, leave, lurch, march, mosey, move, pace, parade, pass, progress, retreat, saunter, scoot,  skip, split, step, stride, stroll, tour, travel, vanish

What do you think of our list?  Are there any others you would add?  Tell us and we will make a chart for you of replacement words.

Thanks for reading!

Oxford Tutoring

(949) 681-0388

Posted in ACT, Algebra, Anamtoy, Bilingual, Biology, Book, Calculus, Chemistry, Child, College Admissions, College Planning, Computer Science, Education, ELA, English Language Arts Tutoring, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, Learning Activties, Math Tutoring, Mathematics, New SAT, New year 2016, New Year's, Reading, SAT, SAT Test Prep, Studying, Tutoring, Uncategorized

10 Study Tips to Study More Effectively in 2016


The New Year is just days away.  For many, it’s a fresh start; a chance to re-evaluate decisions made in the past year and their results.  Was my money well spent?  Did I make exercise a priority?  And if the answers aren’t to the individuals liking, the New Year provides an opportunity to make some changes.  At Oxford Tutoring, we suggest, in the next few days before the New Year, students take the same action, focusing particularly on their studies.

Ask yourselves a few questions: Did I get the grades I wanted this last semester?  Did I put the effort into school that I wanted to?  Did I feel prepared for the tests I took?  If your answer to any or all of these questions is no, then most likely it is time to evaluate your study habits, then consider adopting some new ones so that you can start off 2016 academically strong.


Here is a list that we at Oxford Tutoring have compiled of tips to study more effectively in 2016.  Even if you choose to use only one of the tools, you are already in a better place for 2016 then you were in 2015.


Planner Icon

#1: Get a Planner

PlannerIt seems simple enough and it is.  But planners are an often overlooked option for preparing to take exams.  And don’t just buy a planner, make sure that you actually use it!  There you can put down every upcoming test,
every project, every deadline.  You can even add checklists, use different color pens, utilize post-it notes or develop whatever system necessary to help you get organized.

Why does organization matter in becoming a more effective studier?  Keeping track of upcoming tests and events will help you be prepared.  If you know what is coming you can prepare for it.  And your grades will not suffer from those inevitablely forgotten assignments which can quickly add up if you aren’t paying attention.


Furthermore, putting down everything on paper is an excellent way to clear your mind.  Worries about deadlines can often creep into our subconscious and nag at us even if we do not realize it.  With all your to do’s written down, your thoughts have room to breathe and focus on the task at hand.  It will be easier to study and easier to retain information with a clear mind.


Plan Ahead Icon

#2: Plan Ahead

Plan ahead

Now that you have purchased your planner and filled it up with tests and project dates, you have the chance to look down the road and see what lies ahead.  Which means, you can plan ahead.  Mark out time in your calendar to study.  Make it a priority, or set it up as a checklist that you make sure to complete before you move onto anything else.

Study all nightAdditionally, it is extremely helpful to study a little bit every day.  One of the biggest mistakes students make is that they prepare for their tests and write their papers the night before.  This works against you in several ways.  First of all, the stress level alone means you are not going to be as present while studying.  Secondly, trying to cram week’s worth of learning or writing into one evening is an excellent way not to learn.  Lastly, because you have jammed all that information into your brain just for one test, chances are once the test is over, all that information is going to fall away.  This will be detrimental come final’s time; and, even more harmful in classes like Math and Science, where concepts build upon one another, meaning that it is necessary to have a firm foundation of one formula before being able to understand another.

learning style

#3: Determine Your Learning StyleLearning style.jpg

In order to be able to study the most effectively, it is imperative that a student knows what study habits work for him or her and what study habits do not.  Many students do not take an assessment on their learning style until college, if then.  Meaning that they may have spent years struggling through studying simply because they did not know  there were other resources available to them based on how they learn.

There are three main learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic.  A quick break down of these styles is that visual learners retain information through what they see.  These are usually the students that all of their friends are jealous of because they can remember facts just by viewing them.  Then, there are auditory learners.  These are the students that do best recalling knowledge if they have heard it out loud.  Lastly, kinesthetic learners are those that require touching and moving in order to best understand what it is that they are learning.

To figure out what learning style you are, take the quiz.


apply learning style

#4: Use Learning Style Study Methods

Once you determine youR learning style, you can use suggested study methods to better prepare for tests.

Check out the following lists to get some ideas.

Study Tips - Visual

Study Tips - Kinesthetic

Study Tips - Auditory


Take a break icon

#5: Set a Scheduled Break

There is only so much information you can remember in one sitting of studying.  And while some may think that taking break is counterproductive in reality, breaks give your mind a chance to rest.  Therefore, you can come back to your study table refreshed and ready to take on more reading.

So get to know your own mind.  Do you tend to stop remembering what you are studying after 30 minutes, an hour, or an hour and a half?  Whatever it is, set an alarm on your phone as a reminder to get up from your desk and let your brain breathe.

For weekly tests, you probably do not want to take more than a ten minute break.  However, if you are preparing for a big test, such as a final or an SAT or ACT, taking longer breaks around 20 minutes is recommended.

Basketball break.jpgNo matter how long the break, do not, I repeat do not go on Instagram, play a video game or turn on the TV.  These activities are not actually giving your brain a rest.  Furthermore, you will most likely end up spending longer than your planned break and waste precious study time.  It is ideal to grab a healthy snack, get outside or go for a quick walk.  On your longer breaks, consider shooting hoops or playing a quick game of catch.  Exercise helps your brain in a number of ways, including fighting stress and improving your ability to focus.  (It’s true, really!)

If you are in a time crunch, instead of taking a break, switch subjects.  For example, if it is finals week, and you have a History final and Mathematics final on the same day, you may find it helpful to switch from History to Math after an hour and a half.

Take a break you earned it.jpg

So, schedule your break for a time that will be most helpful for you, and take that break you have earned it.  But do not, I repeat, do not go on Instagram.


study envionment

#6: Set up a Study Environment

Just as important as the way that you study is the environment in which you study.


Because much like your routine before you go bed, is the routine you Study deskestablish when studying.  For example, when you get ready for bed you might (hopefully) first brush your teeth, then wash your face, put on your pajamas, set your alarm, and finally hop into bed.  These steps, taken in the same order most nights, signal to your brain that it is time to sleep.  Forget one of your steps or add surfing the web while lying in bed to your routine, and you may find yourself tossing and turning.

take a tstThis is the same for when you study. If you listen to music while studying, your brain will associate the information you are learning with music.  So when you go to class and sit down to take a test, your brain will have a harder time recalling that information because it will be waiting for music that never actually plays.

Furthermore, the classroom environment is generally quiet, your desk is empty, and you’re sitting in a hardback chair.  So when studying try and mimic this layout and atmosphere.


Sleep icon

#7: Get Several Good Nights of Sleep

Speaking of sleep, getting several good night’s rest in a row is important.  When getting ready for a test, it is not enough to simpsleeply get in your eight hours of sleep the night before.  (And hey guys, it should be at least 8 hours.  Because, as an adolescent, your bodies and brains are working harder as they develop, studies  show that most teenager actually need closer to 9 1/2 hours to feel fully refreshed). Your body won’t feel the full effect of that rest until a couple of days later.  So, ideally, you want to be sleeping well for several nights in a row before a big test.

I can see many of you wondering, with all the studying I have to get done, how in the world am I going to get 9 1/2 hours of sleep, let alone 8?  Time management is key.  And if you take the steps mentioned above, you most certainly will have enough time to get the necessary sleep.

If, even after applying these study tips, you still do not have time to get enough sleep, you may want to look at the number of commitments you have made.  Between sports, school, extracurriculars and social activities, it is extremely easy to take on too much.  Many students think they have to do a lot in order to get into a good college.  But what will colleges appreciate more, a student who gets average grades because she has over-extended herself or a student who excels in the few activities she has committed herself to? Here’s a hint, it’s the latter.

Bottom line: go get some ZZZ’s.


Brain food icon

# 8: Eat Healthy Food

brain-food.jpgNot long ago a student was preparing for her finals, and her mother, knowing that she would have a lot of studying ahead of her, put together a care package of goodies to help her get everything finished.  This act was kind on her mother’s part, but the contents were cringe worthy.  Inside were salty pretzels, chocolate muffins, candy, soda and several other junk food items.  The irony here was that though her mother was trying to help her, this care package was not at all useful.  These foods would do nothing whatsoever to give her energy and the mental strength to get through finals, in fact these foods would work against her.

Eating “brain food” is another simple way to make your study time more effective.

Check out the chart below for suggested foods and their benefits.

Brain Foods.jpg

Read an article about brain food here.


study group

#9: Form a Study Group

study group funnyMany do not discover the power of a committed study group until after High School;  however, students as young as Jr. High can find study groups valuable.  We’re not talking about a group of friends who get together for an hour, talk for half of it, take selfies for another 15 minutes, and do not get around to studying until it’s almost time to leave.

What we are referring to is a study group with committed students whose goals really are to improve their grades and do well on tests. Kids who want to goof off, talk, or not do the work should not be invited.  And if you cannot get school work done with friends, then look for other serious students in your class.

This can be helpful for a number of reasons.  First of all, discussion is a powerful tool for learning.  Also, if you are not sure about something, there are several students you can go to for help.  Between a group of minds, one of the students is most likely going to have the answer or your group can reason it out together.  Lastly, if another student is unsure, this gives you the opportunity to teach them.  When you get the chance to apply what you learn, you deepen your understanding.


goals icon

#10: Set an End Goal

Maybe, you are the type of student who knows exactly where you want to be in ten years.  Maybe you know exactly where you want to go to college.  Or maybe you are just trying to make it through the semester, so please stop talking about goals, thank you very much!  Regardless of where you are at, it is important to have objectives, whether they be short term or long term.
Star Wars Yoday GoalNot sure where you want to be in the future?  Take a few moments to reflect.  Decide what grades you want this semester.  Think about the college of your dreams.  Even go as far as what type of job you want.  Write them down.  Go back to them throughout the semester to remind yourself of what it is that you are working so hard for.

What is your motivation? What keeps you getting out of bed in the morning and going back to school every day?  All this time you are putting to school is not in vain.  You will use it down the road whether it seems like it or not.

Plan Goal.jpg

At the very least, school is a stepping stone to get you to where you want to get.  So when you feel overwhelmed and like you want to throw in the towel, remember your purpose for studying.  You are headed somewhere, and there is a reason for giving school your best effort.

. . .

Untitled-2We hope that this list gave you some helpful tips to study more effectively in the New Year.  Even if using just a few of these tips end up making your studying more efficient, then it was worth the effort of applying these tools.

Which one of these tips sound the most helpful?  Are there any tips not on the list that you use to study?

new year.jpg

© Oxford Tutoring 2015

Julia Author PicMeet the author:  Julia Myres is an ELA instructor at Oxford Tutoring who has been working with students for over 10 years.  She builds up her student’s confidence in the subjects they struggle with through encouragement and support.  Striving to make her students ready to tackle even the most difficult concepts as they move up in their education, she motivates her students to take their education into their own hands and thrive.


Alex Claude:  Alex Claude is an SAT and ACT ELA Director and an ELA tutor at Oxford Tutoring.  He takes the time to get to know his students so he can learn and apply how to best teach them.  Alex teaches his students how to effectively communicate through writing, and how to analyze informational texts and novels.

Jason Orens: Jason, a Math and Computer Science Instructor has been tutoring with Oxford Tutoring for over nine years.  Utilizing the student’s existing knowledge and a touch of humor, Jason strives to remove students mental barriers between themselves and the difficult, technical materials.  He combines his years of tutoring experience and expertise in the fields of Math and Computer Science to give his students the tools they need to succeed in these challenging classes.

Yuriko Lord: Yuriko is a Math and Science instructor who has been tutoring at Oxford Tutoring for over eight years.  Fully invested in her students, Yuriko sees her students through the demanding Math and Science courses, motivating her students through encouragement, accountability, and by challenging them to take their education into their own hands.  She incorporates visual and auditory tools into her tutoring method in order to best reach her student’s learning styles and educational needs.