Posted in Child, children, classes, Courses, Education, Events, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, Learning Activties, Orange County, Orange County Events, Parent, Parent and Child, Parent Help, Parenting, Private Tutoring, SAT, SAT Test Prep, student, Studying, teaching, Tutoring Sessions, Uncategorized

What’s Going On At Oxford Tutoring

The new school year is several weeks in and Oxford Tutoring is in full swing.  Our students are receiving help for many K-12 subjects including math, science, reading, writing, history and more.  And many of our loyal customers have returned for another school year.  We wanted to take a few moments to update everyone on some Oxford Tutoring news, discounts, and processes.

Congratulations to our SAT students!

Recently, many Oxford Tutoring students who took our summer class got their official SAT results back.  Their hard work, focus, and dedication definitely paid off because their scores significantly improved.  We even had a student improve by 230 points!  Check out the chart below for more of the results.

SAT Scores Summer 2017 Email

We are very proud of our students and happy to see that they find our classes beneficial. We are currently gathering data from the ACT official test and can’t wait to share those results with everyone too!

There will be more SAT and ACT classes starting in the New Year.  Both our ACT and SAT school year classes are 8 weeks long and meet on the weekends.  They come with 2 free private tutoring vouchers, weekly practice tests, homework, practice work, test taking tips, strategies, and content coverage.  Sign up for either of these classes 4 weeks early and you will receive 15% off the cost of the class.

Practice tests are available on the following days:

Mon-Thurs: 4pm – 6pm

Fri: 2pm-6pm

Sat & Sun: 9am – 1pm

Call in to set up an appointment for taking your practice test.

Our next SAT class begins January 6 and will last until February 8.  It will be meeting on Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 AM – 12:00 PM.

The next ACT class will start on February 3 and end on March 25 .  Classes will be held from 12:30PM – 3:00 PM.

Call to sign up today! (949) 681-0388.

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We regularly post updates, news, holiday hours, discounts and more on Facebook.  Click here to follow us. 

Refer A Friend

Orange County Tutoring

As a way of saying thank you to our loyal customers, we will give you a free tutoring session for every friend you refer.  We appreciate you recommending us to your friends.

Don’t forgot to review us on Yelp.

Oxford’s Annual Savings Bundle

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Purchase a Silver or Gold Bundle and receive tutoring at a discounted rate.  With purchase of either bundle you gain access to Bundle owner benefits.  These include, a bank of sessions, a family plan, fixed savings rate for a full year, priority scheduling, 10% savings on “a la carte” services, and forgiven no shows.

Access your invoices online

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Your invoices and notes from your child’s tutoring sessions are now available at scanmytests.com.

To set up your account give us a call.

We look forward to seeing you around the center!

 

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Posted in ACT, Education, Individualized Tutoring, SAT, SAT Test Prep, student, Studying, Uncategorized

ACT vs. SAT Reading Passages

There are many factors that can help a student determine which test they should take – the ACT or the SAT. Variables such as strengths, weaknesses, timing, or style can all play a role in making this important decision.

Perhaps you are a student who feels confident in your math skills, so you can handle whatever math questions these tests throw at you.  However, your reading is an area in which you could use some additional help.  The reading passages will be the issue that justifies your choice.

If that is the case then this post should prove beneficial.  We are going to breakdown the differences between the ACT and SAT reading passages in order to help you make the difficult decision of which test is the right test for you.

Number of Passages

The SAT has 5 reading passages while the ACT has 4 reading passages.

 

Number of Questions

Every test you take for the ACT will have a total of 40 questions with 10 questions per passage.

While overall, the SAT will always have 52 questions, the amount of questions per passage will vary.

 

Timing

How much time will you have to tackle the reading passages?

Overall, for the SAT you will have 65 minutes, which breaks down to 13 minutes per passage.

You will have 35 minutes for the ACT passage, which means 8 minutes and 24 seconds per passage.

 

Passage Types

On the ACT, the reading passages will include one of each of the following: Prose Fiction, Social Science, Humanities, and Natural Science.   The Social Science and Natural Science passages tend to be more straightforward, and therefore less challenging.  While the Humanities and Prose Fiction passages require more analysis which lends towards more difficulty when reading these passages.  On occasion, one of these reading passages will be a paired passage.

On the SAT, the reading passages have one Literature passage, one History passage, one Social Studies passage (economics, Sociology, Psychology or another Social Studies passage), and two Science passages (there is a possibility that one of them will be a paired passage).  The difficulty level varies and very much depends on your familiarity with the subject and the complexity of the topic.

 

Question Types

The question types on the ACT will be the following: detail, words in context, generalization, cause and effect, inference, main idea, point of view, and except questions.

For the SAT, expect these question types: evidence, arguments, words in context, and synthesis (questions based on analyzing a graph).

 

Style

For the most part the reading passages you encounter on the ACT test are going to be more about what is actually in the passage.  However, this does mean that the reading passages in the ACT are going to be a little drier.

On the SAT test, the reading passages discuss more interesting topics.  But it will require that you dig deeper and analyze the passage for what the author is attempting to say rather than just what he is saying.

 

Challenge

The challenge with the ACT is time.  While the questions are more straightforward and the passages are more direct than the SAT test, you have significantly less time to read and answer the questions.  So if you struggle to read quickly, consider trying the SAT.

The struggle with the SAT is the level of critical thinking skills required to answer the reading passage questions.  If analysis is something that you find to be tough, try a practice ACT first to see if it fits your strengths.

 

Conclusion

Overall, both present their own unique set of challenges.  It really comes down to what type of student you are and an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses.

Still not sure which test is for you?  Sign up for a diagnostic SAT and ACT test to get a breakdown of your score.  We will even set up a consultation with our SAT and ACT experts to help you figure out which test is the best fit for you.

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Posted in ACT, Education, English Language Arts Tutoring, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, Private Tutoring, student, Tutoring, Tutoring Sessions, Uncategorized

The Power of “We” – Tutoring Stories

by Julia M. – tutor at Oxford Tutoring

She sat across from me, completely defeated.  Tears slipping through the cracks of her calm demeanor.

When I first began tutoring her, she wanted to study the writing section of the ACT, and she wanted to study it at rapid speed.  She is a visual learner, so once she viewed the standards of grammar she needed to know, it was imprinted in her memory, utilized easily when she answered questions.  We whizzed through that section, my voice relaying information at the speed of an auctioneer just to keep up with her alert, competent mind.

Approaching the reading section I anticipated more of the same.

Yet, I quickly learned that she is a perfectionist. Hard on herself in school, sports, and life.  She demands a lot of herself.  I admire her work ethic and willingness to push herself in order to complete her goals, however, in this case, her high expectations were holding her back.  She could not finish the reading section in a timely manner, while still maintaining respectable marks.  The ACT is a test that requires students to think critically, move quickly, and work efficiently. In a desire to do well right away, she overwhelmed herself, not realizing that it takes time to build up the stamina and skill necessary to complete this task well.

It was my job to show her.

I spent much of the weekend thinking of a way to reach this sweet, intelligent girl.  I wanted her to feel bolstered and help her to realize that with time, she would be able to master the reading passages.  I had tried to explain this to her on our last session, but her emotional state made it impossible for her to process any new information.  She was simply too entrenched by discouragement to hear me.

I needed to find the words to reach her.

Then, I remembered a few years back when I was going through a particularly difficult situation, disappointment encircled me in the same manner.  A friend of mine was helping me through this challenge.  I will never forget what she said to me as I sat across from her feeling defeated.  She said, “Julia, we are going to get through this together.”  We.  She said we.  That meant that I was not alone in my troubles.  I had someone supporting me and with her help I would be able to make it through to the other side.

Remembering this pivotal moment, I realized that this is exactly what my student needed.

At our next tutoring session, I hoped that these same words would bring the comfort to my student that they had brought to me.  Calling upon the student’s background as a gymnast, I asked how she knew when she was ready to attempt a new move.  She explained that her coach served as her spotter, teaching a new technique and not letting go until the coach was certain her gymnast could handle the new move on her own.

After hearing her response, I looked at her and explained that, just like in gymnastics, the ACT required time and practice in order to be able to master it.  And, I was going to be her spotter.  We were going to work on the new techniques together, and I was not going to let go of her until I was positive she could handle the ACT on her own.  I paused, trying to read her expression to see if I was getting through to her.  Her mind was busy processing; she stayed silent.

“You know,” I added, “We are going to get through this together.” She breathed.  Her shoulders relaxed.  She sighed, relieved, “Okay, good!”

Ahead we moved, student and tutor together.

Meet the author:  Julia M. 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.

Posted in ACT, Child, classes, College Planning, Courses, Education, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, New SAT, SAT, SAT Test Prep, Studying, Uncategorized

6 Steps to Prepare for the SAT

The dreaded SAT: a challenge that all high school student with dreams of going to college must face.  Success on this test begins with understanding the SAT test and facing it with courage and determination. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, an American politician, diplomat, and activist, “You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.”  The SAT may seem like a test too big to tackle, with some basic, manageable steps, you will find yourself on the way to not only taking the SAT, but conquering it.

 

Step #1 – Select an SAT Date.  Register!

It may seem like common sense, but with so many other activities, sports, classes, and studying, it is easy to let SAT test dates slip by without registering.  So, stop what you are doing right now.  Pick a test date, and go register here .

SAT Test Dates

The SAT test is offered a number of times during the school year.   Tests are offered on Saturdays.  Be sure to select a test date that you can feasibly prepare for. Be sure to take your other obligations into consideration, like finals, AP exams, sports tournaments, college applications, etc.

 

Step #2 – Set Score Goals.

It is important to set a goal for yourself.  That way you have a score that both you and your Oxford Tutoring SAT instructor are working towards.  This helps you develop a realistic expectation and provides motivation for you to do your best.  If you need help setting an SAT score goal, meet with an Oxford Tutoring SAT Counselor for free.

 

Step #3 – Track your progress.

Use the following chart to keep track of how you are doing.  That way, you can see where you started, take note of the areas that are still causing your trouble, and decide which subjects you want to continue tutoring in.

Track Progress

Step #4 – Study! Go to class, take practice tests, and do your homework.

While practice is helpful, practice does not make perfect if you are practicing incorrectly.  That’s where Oxford Tutoring comes in, with classes that cover content, teach strategies, and prepare you to achieve your SAT score goals.

Furthermore, when it comes to studying, treat the SAT like eating your vegetable.  Eating a few vegetables a day is manageable, helpful, and even good.  Studying is the same way.  Studying everyday is much more manageable and effective than trying to do it all at once.

Don’t try to do a week’s worth of studying in one day, just as you would not eat a week’s worth of vegetables in one day.  You will be healthier, smarter, and happier with consistent study.  And your SAT score will thank you! Consistent study builds long-term memory.

Step #5 – Focus extra study time on trouble spots.

Spend extra time on those areas that you are still struggling with.  This is especially helpful for critical reading and essay writing.

The following texts have been used by the SAT to construct SAT reading passages.  Thus, these readings are your best choice for practice of the reading passages.

Literature and Personal Narratives

U.S. Founding Documents (the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and the Federalist Papers.

The Great Global Conversation (Edmund Burke, Henry David Thoreau, Gandhi, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Martin Luther King Jr.

A speech delivered by Congresswoman Barbara Jordan of Texas on July 25, 1974, as a member of the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives.

Federalist No. 65, an essay by Alexander Hamilton

Richard Florida, The Great Reset

Social Science and Physical Science

Economics, Psychology or Sociology resources

Earth Science, Biology, Chemistry, or Physics resources

Step #6 – Succeed! Take the test with confidence!

Oxford Tutoring comes alongside you to help you achieve your SAT goals.  Sign up for an SAT or ACT test prep course today! (949) 681-0388.

If you follow these steps, you will be well on your way to conquering the SAT and achieving your score goal.  Don’t forget, Oxford Tutoring is here to help offering SAT classes that come with a score guarantee and SAT private tutoring.  Call us today to schedule a free SAT Consult to learn more!

 

 

 

Posted in Child, classes, Education, family, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, Learning Activties, summer, Uncategorized

Activities for Active Minds

With summer coming up, there is an old saying that comes to mind – “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.”  Regardless of grades and class performance, the vast majority of students I see are bright people who are looking for a challenge to which they can rise.  As someone who was once a student bored in classes, I very much understand the need for something to keep the mind active and engaged.  To stamp the word “OLD” on my forehead, many of the options below were not available to me when I was the ages of my students, thanks to the evolution of the Internet, but all are great options for minds that need a little more engagement.

Project Gutenberg

For readers with voracious appetites, Project Gutenberg is going to be your new library.  All of the books on the website are in public domain (no longer have copyright protection), and the library is still growing, to include readable versions of the stories, as well as audiobook versions of many stories, and many works in languages other than English, for the multilingual reader.  While you won’t find the latest fad book on Project Gutenberg, you will find everything from classic stories that have more than stood the test of time, such as the Sherlock Holmes stories, to stories about the myths and legends for various cultures, perfect for children.

Project Euler

For the more analytical mind, Project Euler is a way to test your meddle against mathematical and algorithmic problems.  Many of the problems are designed so that thinking about the puzzle can take some time, but, with a good method, the actual process of getting the answer will take less than a minute.  Some of these can require some programming savvy to solve, but that just means it’s time to…

Learn a new skill

Be it picking up programming, or starting a little carpentry, learning new skills and picking up new hobbies not only fills time, but provides a great brain-boost – studies are showing that learning new, challenging skills boosts memory.  There’s a number that floats around, that it takes 10,000 hours to master a new skill, but don’t let that daunt you – that’s if you’re looking to master it to the level of doing it professionally.  Thinking about learning the ukelele?  It only takes about 20 hours of good practice, in any skill, to get to the level of doing it as a proficient hobbyist, which is little more than maybe a few weekends before you start serenading friends!  (Unless you’re like me, and don’t have a singing voice.)

TED Talks

Looking for a good new word?  Here’s one: “portemanteau.”  It’s the term for a word created by mashing two other words together, like “education” and “entertainment” to make “edutainment.”  (Fun fact: Portemanteau is itself a portemanteau of “porter” and “manteau”, both French, respectively meaning “to carry” and “coat,” meaning “coat hanger” or “coat rack.”)  Edutainment is a great way to pass the time, and I find TED Talks to usually be very mind-opening and a good place to find new perspectives on things.  The videos range from the methods used in human beatboxing, to ways to revolutionize 3D printing, to how pickpockets get away with their thievery.
Also, that number in the previous section, 20 hours?  Learned that from another TED Talk!

The Moth

Like a good story, but want something a little more “real” than the works of literature? Storytellers at The Moth present true stories told live at events around the country without the aid of notes.  The stories can be streamed online for free from their website, and can range from hilarious to dark, but all of them keep it real.

What If?

A personal favorite of mine, “What If?” takes the absurd questions people have, and answers them with science!  Randall Munroe, the author of the xkcd webcomic and (at the time of this posting) two best-selling books, addresses such varied topics as “What would happen if you tried to hit a baseball pitched at 90% the speed of light?,” “If every person on Earth aimed a laser pointer at the Moon at the same time, would it change color?,” and “What if New Horizons hits my car?”  Often infused with the question of “What if we tried more power?” to ramp up just how much the questions can push the boundaries of reality, these “Seriously Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions” are sure to delight!
… despite how many of them, as we add more power, turn into doomsday scenarios.

Summer classes at Oxford Tutoring Center 

According to the students reading this post, I just wrote the most evil thing I could – I’m encouraging classes during vacation time.  However, Oxford offers more than just preparation for the next school year.  We have new classes for Speech and Debate, Building a Computer, and an Introduction to Programming course with some very cool design work that many of our employees want to take.  If any of those topics sound interesting to you, be sure to sign up before they take all the spots!
Contact us at 949-681-0388.
Posted in English Language Arts Tutoring, essay, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, Orange County, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Tools

Elements of an Essay: Editing and Revising

Writing an elegant, thorough, well-written essay is a necessary skill that any student will use all the way to college and even beyond.

If you cannot put together an essay that is organized, despite the argument you are making, you will be at a disadvantage.

That is why we at Oxford Tutoring have created a simple, yet helpful, outline for the elements of an essay.

Visit any of our previous blogs to learn how to write powerful thesis statements, bold body paragraphs, relevant details , insightful commentary, intriguing introduction paragraphs, and strong conclusion paragraphs.

Good writing is rewriting, rewriting, and rewriting so don’t be discouraged that your essay needs editing.  Every writer from a professional to the high school student goes through the revising process so that they can write a complete, grammatically correct, and relevant piece of writing.

Today, we will wrap up our elements of an essay blog series with an often overlooked, but entirely necessary step in essay writing – editing and revising. Look at the following questions about each element of your essay and answer them truthfully.

Introduction Paragraph:

The introduction paragraph has all of the following elements:

– A hook 

– Background info

– A thesis statement

      If not, what elements are missing?

The hook uses one of the methods learned in class:

      If so, which one?

The background information shows why the hook and thesis statement are relevant:

If not, how should the writer improve the background information?

 

Thesis Statement:

The thesis statement is easy to identity?

The thesis statement makes it clear what the subject of the essay will be?

The thesis statement tells what the writer of the essay thinks about the subject?

The thesis statement has at least 2 points of support or contention?

What elements of the thesis statement are strong and clear?

What elements of the thesis statement are missing or unclear?  How can the writer                                                make their thesis statement stronger?

 

Body Paragraphs

There are at least two body paragraphs:

Topic Sentences

There is a topic sentence in each body paragraph?

The topic sentences refer to the points of support or contention from the thesis      statement?

Details

There are at least 2 details in each body paragraph?

The details fall under one of the categories discussed in the details blog:

If so, which ones? If not, which ones do you recommend the writer use?

The details support the topic sentence: ?

If so, how?  If not, why?

Transition Words

Each Detail sentence has a transition word?

The transition words are appropriately varied?

Commentary

The commentary fall under one of the categories found in the commentary blog:

        Which ones?

The commentary makes the details clearer and easier to understand:

      If so, how?  If not, why?

The commentary uses the what and why method:

      If not, what is missing?

There are at least two sentences of commentary for every detail?

Concluding Sentence

The concluding sentence closes out the body paragraphs well?

If so, why?  If not, why?

The concluding sentence transitions into the next topic well?

If so, why?  If not, why?

 

Concluding Paragraph:

The conclusion paragraph has all of the following elements?

– Restatement of the thesis:

– Recap of what the reader learned in the body paragraphs:

– Sum up sentence:

The sum up sentence is powerful?

  If so, why? If not, why?

General:

What is your overall impression of the piece?

Does it feel complete? If so, why? If not, what is missing?

What did you learn about your writing by editing this essay?

What did you like about the essay?

 

Now that you have answered all these questions, rewrite your essay with the new edits and revisions.  Or give us a call and we can edit your essay with you!

We hope this blog series helped you feel empowered to take on the intimidating essay.  If you need additional help, feel free to book a session today!

 

 

 

 

Posted in Education, ELA, English Language Arts Tutoring, essay, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, student, Studying, teacher, Tutoring, Tutoring Sessions, Uncategorized, Writer's Block, Writing, Writing Tools

Elements of an Essay: Conclusion Paragraphs

For the last several weeks, we have broken down the format of an essay into easy to understand parts.  There is a basic formula for writing a well-structured essay.  Ultimately, it is the writer’s job to plug their words into the formula effectively and correctly.

However, having the tools to put an essay together in an organized manner can go a very long way to writing a successful essay.

Structure is one of the key elements in essay writing, and with the conclusion of today’s blog, you will have all the elements needed to present a well-structured essay.

Speaking of conclusions, today we are going to look at conclusion paragraphs.  As a reminder, let’s briefly look at all the components  of an essay.

The introduction paragraph is the heart.

It is designed to catch my reader’s attention.

Next, the thesis statement is the glue.

It holds my entire paper together and is placed at the end of introduction paragraph.

The body paragraphs are the meat.

They are the largest portion of my essay.

Then, the details of my body paragraphs are the key.

They unlock my argument.

Also, the commentary is the treasure.

They make the paper shine.

Lastly, the conclusion paragraph is the bow.

It ties my whole essay together.

 

Since the conclusion paragraph wraps everything up, we need to learn how to write one well.

Let’s take a look.

Your conclusion paragraph is your chance to remind the reader of your thesis, points you made in your body paragraphs, and leave the reader with a powerful closing statement. It should be made up of three parts.

Restatement

 

Use different words to remind the reader of your thesis statement.

 

Recap

 

Remind the reader of the main points from each of the body paragraphs.

 

So What

Your last sentence of your paragraph should be powerful. It tells the reader why they should care about your essay.

How to Write a “So What” Sentence

Your “So What” sentence will change based on the type of essay you are writing.

Informative Essays

Consider writing an objective truth.

If your paper was an informative essay on the devastation of the Black Plague, your sentence could look like this:

As society continues to develop and grow, it is necessary to remember that maintaining health standards is just as important now as it was in the 14th century.

Persuasive Essays

If your essay was persuasive, try writing a call to action.

For instance, if you were writing a persuasive paper on how Peeta is better for Katniss than Gale, your last sentence could look like this.

Show your support for Peeta by liking the Facebook page “Team Peeta.”

 

Analysis Essays

Write an expression of why your analysis improves the reading the text.

For example, if you are writing about how Fitzgerald develops Daisy’s character, your last sentence could look like this:

Fitzgerald allows the reader to see different sides of Daisy in order to create sympathy for a character who might otherwise seem thoughtless and unkind.

 

Your conclusion paragraph is the last thought your reader will be left with. So, it is important to make the conclusion powerful.

Now, we suggest you put your own essay together based on the elements of an essay that we have discussed.

Then check back in with us next week for proofreading.

 

As always, give us a call if you need help with essay writing.

(949) 681-0388.

Posted in Education, ELA, English Language Arts Tutoring, essay, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, Learning Activties, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Tools

Elements of an Essay – Introduction Paragraphs

So far, in our elements of an essay blogs, we have learned about thesis statements, body paragraph and transitions, details, and commentary .

Today, we want to take a look at introduction paragraphs.   Remember that introduction paragraphs are the heart of your essay.

This is because your introduction is the first impression that your readers will get off your essay.  If it does not interest them or they do not like what they read, then they will not take the time to read the rest of your paper.

 

What should an introduction paragraph look like?


An introduction paragraph should consist of three parts:

A hook

This is your chance to grab the reader’s attention with a compelling statement.

Background Information
This is where you connect the hook to the thesis statement.

Thesis Statement
A thesis statement is an opinion that can be proven and is worth proving to others.   For more information on how to write a beautiful thesis statement, check out our thesis statement workshop.

 How do I write a hook?

A hook should grab your reader’s attention and make them want to read your essay all the way until the very end.  

There are many different ways to write a hook including:

  • A literary quote
  • A quotes from well-known people
  • A rhetorical question
  • An anecdote
  • A statistic

 

What is an example of a literary quote?

If you were writing an essay about persevering through difficult times, you might consider beginning your essay like the following example:

“Tomorrow is another day.” This quote by author Margaret Mitchell from her 1939 novel Gone with the Wind, emphasizes that no matter what uncertainties and trials we are facing today, the new light of tomorrow can provide us with hope for the future.

A literary quote can be a powerful statement drawing readers in with descriptive language.

What is an example of a quote by a well-known person?

Perhaps you are writing an essay about leadership. You may want to write an introduction starting like this:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.  It is our light, not our darkness, which most frightens us.” Here, Nelson Mandela, revolutionary politician and philanthropist, explains our fears are much more about achieving success than they are about failing. 

A quote by a well-known person can inspire your reader to think deeply, desiring to keep reading so they might understand the reason for including this quote.

What is an example of starting your paper with a rhetorical question?

Let’s say your essay is focusing on bullying. Using a rhetorical question to start your introduction paragraph could look like this:

How would you feel if your child came home, crying and distraught, telling you about another student at school who had called him horrible names?

A rhetorical question encourages the reader to become invested in your essay.

What is an example of an anecdote?

Maybe your essay is about courage. You could start your essay with an anecdote like this:

A close friend of mine fought in the Vietnam War. He admitted that he was terrified every time he to go into battle.  Even so, he is one of the most courageous men I have ever know.  Courage is not defined by the lack of fear, but by the ability to take action in the face of fear.

Using an anecdote will present the reader with a real person or story, allowing them to be more invested in your essay.

What is an example of a statistic?

If your paper is about divorce, maybe your hook could look like the following:

Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce. This well-known statistic reflects the ever-changing family dynamic.

A statistic creates authority, leading your reader to trust you and your opinion presented in your essay.

How do I write background information?

Background information is a bridge that will connect your hook to the thesis statement.

The goal is to show why your hook and thesis statement are relevant.

Depending on what type of paper you are writing, the strategy for writing your bridge will be different.

Background Info for an Informative Essay

For an informative essay, after the hook, write sentences that detail information that will help your reader understand the topic.


For example, if you were writing an informative paper on the devastation of the Black Plague, it would help the reader to know details about the time period in which the Black Plague took place, how many died from the disease, what areas it affected, etc.

Background Info for a Persuasive Essay

For a persuasive essay, after the hook, give the reader information about the argument.

For example, if you are writing a persuasive paper on how Peeta is better for Katniss than Gale, you would present both camps, telling the reader why some people support Gale and why others support Peeta.

Background Info for an Analysis of Literature Essay

For an analysis of literature essay, after the hook, give the reader technical or contextual information about the novel or topic to make the thesis easier to understand. 

For example, if you are writing about how Fitzgerald, in his novel The Great Gatsby, includes various aspects of Daisy’s character in order to make her dimensional, you could define
characterization and discuss aspects of Daisy and Gatsby’s personal relationship. 

 

Check back in next week for the conclusion paragraph.

Need for information about the introduction paragraph? Call us to set up an appointment today. (949) 681-0388.

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in ACT, College Admissions, College Planning, Courses, Education, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, K-12 Tutoring, New SAT, Orange County, Private Tutoring, SAT, SAT Test Prep, student, Studying, summer, Tests, Tutoring, Tutoring Sessions, Uncategorized

Summer Courses 2016: College Prep Courses

How are your children going to be spending their summer?

Summer is a great time to get ahead for the next year’s courses or to catch up from the previous school year.  Instead of your children wasting their summer playing video games, spend the summer hours productively, building their skills and preparing for the challenges of the next year.

Find a balance between vacation and edification to truly bask in all summer has to offer!  In Oxford’s summer courses,

  • Maintain or Build your child’s skills in Math, Science, Reading or Writing;
  • Explore a new skill such as Speech and Debate, Python Programming or Web Design;
  • Discover the joy of hands-on learning with Science Explorers or Build-a-Computer courses;
  • Ensure your child completes Required Summer Reading; OR
  • Prepare for college entrance with Essay Writing, and SAT or ACT
  • And much more….

Let’s take a look at the College Prep Courses we will be offering this summer.

For a complete schedule click here.

College Prep

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Designed for students entering the course or seeking to explore the field, these courses focus on essential concepts in a hands-on, exploratory manner

High Stakes Writing (grades 10-12): In this course, students learn how to write memorable and commanding personal and timed essays.  Session 1 focuses on SAT and ACT essays, while session 2 focuses on personal statements for college applications.

PSAT (grades 8-10): 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.

SAT and ACT (grades 11-12): Oxford SAT and ACT courses are demanding programs for high school juniors and seniors committed to raising their scores over the summer.

The Magna course is designed for students of all levels and guarantees a significant score improvement, typically 200 points for the SAT and 4 for the ACT.  Classes are small and students are provided with 2 private tutoring vouchers for individual sessions in addition to the weekly classes and testing.  The 8-week summer schedule (below) is followed by a fall extension of weekly testing and a 6-hour Crash Course review prior to the student’s selected test date.

The Summa course is designed for highly motivated students of advanced levels and guarantees a top score, typically 1400 or more for the SAT and 30 or more for the ACT.  Classes are small and students are provided with 4 private tutoring vouchers for individual sessions in addition to the weekly classes and testing.  The 8-week summer schedule (below) is followed by a fall extension of weekly testing and a 6-hour Crash Course review prior to the student’s selected test date.

Enrolled students interested in additional sessions in a private tutoring setting may purchase sessions at a discounted rate.

Enroll for a summer course by May 15 and get 15% off!

Refer a friend and you each will receive 25% off the course fee.

Check back with us next week to learn more about our Summer Enrichment Courses!

Call us today to enroll in our summer courses! (949) 681-0388

 

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

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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

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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

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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.

 

Workshop

workshop

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.