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 children, Education, SAT, SAT Test Prep, student, Uncategorized

What To Do 24 Hours Before the SAT Test

You’ve spent weeks, even months reading and analyzing passages, practicing your math formulas, and writing more essays than you’ve written in your entire High School career.  The test is tomorrow morning.  Now what?  It seems like you should be doing something.  After all, this test is a factor in determining what college you are going to get into.  But what should you be doing for the last 24 hours before the SAT test?

The last 24 hours count just as much as the any of the other hours you’ve spent studying for one of the hardest tests you’ll face in high school.  So it is important to take advantage of  this last bit of time to come to the test fully rested, prepared and confident that you have done all you can to conquer the demanding SAT test.

The following checklist will help you utilize the last 24 hours efficiently and effectively.

#1 – Take a Study Break

This piece of advice usually comes as a surprise to the students who have heard “study, study, study” for the last several months.  In fact, at Oxford Tutoring, we encourage all of our students to put in outside hours of work, instead of relying solely on the time they spend preparing with us.  They need to put in the work on their own time as well.

But the day before the test is not the time to do this. The day before the test is the time to give your mind a break.  You’ve put in the work already.  Trying to cram in more information will most likely lead to anxiety, a challenge that can be extremely difficult to overcome.  So trust that you are prepared, and set the studying aside.

#2 – Get a Good Night’s Sleep

Seems like common sense, but it can be easy to make the mistake of not getting a restful night of sleep.  Maybe you think it will be more productive to study all night.  Or perhaps you just simply cannot turn that Xbox game off.  Most likely, your nerves are taking over and making it difficult to fall asleep.

If that is the case, there are a number of techniques to try and set your mind at ease.  One possibility is counting backwards from 100 by 7’s.  Or focus on the different muscles by tensing them for 10 seconds and the relaxing them.  Start with your feet and work your way up all the way to your head.  What both of these exercises do is get your mind off of your worries and onto the task at hand.  Your mind cannot focus on both.  Often times, you’ll find yourself simply drifting off to sleep because you’ve taken your mind off of the anxiety.

#3 – Eat a Healthy Breakfast

Now it’s the morning of the SAT test. Time for a healthy breakfast.  We are not talking about Fruit Loops here.  We mean something substantial – protein and fruit are always a safe option.  Whatever it is, make sure you are giving your body the energy it will need for the long test ahead.

#4 – What to Bring

Make sure you bring all of the following:

  • A calculator
  • Two #2 pencils
  • A healthy snack
  • A light sweater
  • Your ID
  • You admission ticket
  • A wristwatch
  • A water bottle

# 5 – Get to the Site Early

You do not want to arrive to the test rushed, sweaty, and stressed after sprinting to the classroom because you are running behind.  Make sure to give yourself enough time to arrive at the site at least 15 minutes early. That way you can find where you need to be, check in, and get settled.  This will promote a sense of calm that is necessary for taking the SAT test.

#6 – Take the Test with Confidence!

You have studied; you have worked hard; you know this material.  You are ready.  Trust the tools you have acquired and the information you have learned.  It’s time to conquer the SAT!

Oxford Tutoring

Want to take the test with confidence?  Check out SAT private tutoring or SAT courses with Oxford Tutoring.  We are here to help you succeed! (949) 681-0388

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Posted in ACT, Education, SAT, SAT Test Prep, student, Studying, Tests, Uncategorized

How to Overcome ACT and SAT Test Anxiety

There is no doubt about it – the SAT test and ACT test are difficult tests.  For many students, the idea of taking such challenging tests can fill them with dread and anxiety.  Because these tests are created to predict how well students will do in college, mountains of pressure are associated with the ACT and SAT.  Even extremely bright students are often frozen in fear when facing these giants.  Text anxiety is a very real struggle for many of our students. At Oxford Tutoring, we believe in not only preparing our students for the test as far as content and strategy goes, but also in helping them overcome their fear by giving them the confidence to tackle the ACT and the SAT.  Here are some Oxford Tutoring recommended steps to overcome ACT and SAT test anxiety.

Breathe

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It may seem simple enough – breathing is something we do without thinking about it.  But that is not the type of breathing we are referring to here.  We are talking about deep breathing.  The kind that, according Denise Scarbro, fitness and nutrition guru with a BA in Psychology, says, “The parasympathetic nervous system is what controls our fight or flight response. Deep breathing triggers our parasympathetic nervous system, neutralizes stress and elicits a calming feeling.” (Source).

The technique we recommend is something we call the 5-2-5.  For five seconds, breathe in deeply through your nose, hold the breath for 2 seconds, then exhale through your mouth for five seconds.  Do this several times at the start of your test, when you are practicing, or when you are feeling overwhelmed to calm you anxiety and relax your mind.

Still feeling stressed? It may be because you are breathing from your chest and not your stomach.  Place your hand on your stomach when breathing to ensure that you are breathing from the proper place to experience the full benefits of the 5-2-5 deep breathing exercise.

 

Practice

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Another basic but often overlooked concept it practicing.  Theses tests is beasts – they are almost 4 hours long.  Think back to the last activity you did that lasted for four hours straight.  Can’t think of one? That is because four hours is very long time for your brain to be focusing on one activity.  It is not natural and not what students are used to.  An hour test? Sure.  Maybe even two hours.  But four! That is gonna require some work.

Which is where practice comes in.  Just like in a basketball game, coaches cannot expect their players to be able to run for an hour or more without preparing them for it.  So players practice and build up their stamina. It is the same thing for the ACT or SAT.  You can take a test for four hours, you just have to build up the stamina.  So take practice tests in a setting like that of the one you will be taking the ACT or SAT in.  If you need a place to practice, Oxford Tutoring offers practice tests to help you conquer the ACT test or SAT test.

 

Prepare Ahead of Time

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Nothing will cause panic quite like feeling unprepared.  If you have not put the time and effort into getting ready for the test, then fear is a completely expected reaction.  Things are a lot scarier when you haven’t trained to face them.

So yes, you need to practice.  But you also need to give yourself enough time so that the practice will be a benefit to you.  Practicing the night before is not going to give you the confidence you need to take the test.  So start preparing.  That way you can walk into the room on test day and know exactly what type of animal you are facing and how to take it down.

 

Give Yourself Some Grace

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This is a hard test.  You are being asked to do college-level analysis and college-level math.  It is no joke.  Furthermore, most high schools do not have the time to prepare you with the type of knowledge you will need to have to take the ACT and SAT.  So, do yourself a favor, don’t expect perfection right off the bat.  It is like a marathon, not a sprint.  Taking our practice tests once or twice is not enough to get to the finish line.   It takes consistent practice, hard work, and time.  Show yourself some grace, you will not get there overnight, but if you understand that improvement is going to take time and are willing to put in the hours, you will get there.

 

Take the Test with Confidence

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You’ve prepared, you’ve practiced, you’ve put in the time, and you even have your handy-dandy breathing technique.  Now take the test with confidence!  You have got this.  You are ready.  Believe that.  We are rooting for you!

Need practice tests, private tutoring, or courses to get ready for the ACT or SAT?  Oxford Tutoring is here to help!  Call us today! (949) 681-0388.

 

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 ACT, Education, grammar, SAT, SAT Test Prep, Studying, Uncategorized, Writing

Top 10 Grammar Basics to Master Before Taking the ACT or SAT

10 Grammar Basics to Master Before Taking the ACT and SATBasic grammar may seem like common knowledge to students in the 10th – 12th grades.  However, it might surprise you to know that many of our high school students come to us having not reviewed their beginning grammar since elementary school.  That is why our English ACT or SAT preparation always starts with a basic grammar review before moving onto the more complex grammar concepts found in the ACT and SAT.  Often, it is not that our students do not understand grammar, but simply they do not remember it.  So we wanted to give you a head start.  If you come to our ACT and SAT private tutoring or ACT and SAT courses with this basic knowledge in your back pocket, you will be ready to move on to the more advanced grammar concepts from the ACT or SAT.

#1 – Nouns

Definition – person, place, thing, or idea.

Examples –  boy, Denmark, desk, happiness.

In a Sentence – She showed great courage when faced with the death of her husband.

 

#2 – Pronouns

Definition – takes the place of a noun

Examples – she, who, anyone, his

In a Sentence – After Marie won the tennis tournament, she thanked her coach and her parents.

 

#3 – Verbs

Definition –  1. action or helping; 2. linking (state of being) “to”

Examples – ran, am, been working

In a Sentence – Elyse is training for a marathon; she wants to race in six months.

 

#4 – Adjectives

Definition – modifies a noun or pronoun; answers the questions “Which one?”; “What kind?”; “How many?”

Examples – warm, disgusting, angry

In a Sentence – The large dog with the shaggy coat played with the three rambunctious children.

 

#5 – Adverbs

Definition – modifies a verb, adjective, or adverb; answers the questions “How?”; “When?”; “Where?”; “Why?”

Examples – excitedly, momentarily, noticeably

In a Sentence – My lovely cat usually sleeps quietly on the kitchen table.

 

# 6 – Prepositions

Definition – shows the relationship between two nouns, usually location or direction; always comes with a phrase

Examples – in, over, under

In a Sentence- I ran barefoot through the soccer field and stepped on a cleat.

 

#7 – Conjunctions

Coordinating

Definition – connected related words, phrases, or clauses

Examples – for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so

In a Sentence – Marc likes to eat, but he doesn’t like to exercise.

 

Correlative

Definition – comes in pairs

Examples – neither…nor, either…or

In a Sentence – I want not only a bike but also a coat for my birthday.

 

Subordinating 

Definition – creates a dependent clause

Examples – since, because, as

In a SentenceAlthough Paulina wants to go with us to the game, she has to finish her homework.

 

#8 – Infinitives

 

Definition – to + verb; acts like a noun

Examples – to jump, to try, to act

In a Sentence – Paulina to go with us to the game.

 

#9 – Gerunds

Definition – verb + ing; acts like a noun

Examples – skating, yelling, crying

In a SentenceHiking and running are my favorite activities.

 

#10 – Participle

Past

Definition– verb + ed

 

Present

Definition – verb + ing

Acts like an adjective

Example – aged, dancing

In a Sentence – While tying her running shoes, Rita sat on a broken chair.

 

Understanding basic grammar goes a long way in preparing you for the ACT and SAT.  So if you have not done so yet, make sure you have a thorough understanding of the above list.  Then come down to Oxford Tutoring and sign up for an ACT or SAT class or a ACT or SAT private tutoring session.  Sign up 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 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

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.

Study

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.

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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.

 

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#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.

 

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#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

 

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#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.

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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.

 

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#6: Set up a Study Environment

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

Why?

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.

 

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#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.

 

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# 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.

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Read an article about brain food here.

 

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#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.

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#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.

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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?

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© 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.

Contributors:

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.

Posted in College Admissions, College Planning, Homework Help, Individualized Tutoring, New SAT, SAT, SAT Test Prep

Changes to the SAT: Coming to a Test Near You

Confident studentIn 2014, Collegeboard announced changes to their SAT test, and now it is time to prepare for them. The revamped SAT test will be implemented on March 5th 2016, which is only 5 months away.  Should you be worried?  Well, after looking over the test changes, and conducting extensive research, I have found that while there will be some hardships, there are also some positive aspects with the new test.  Let’s go over a summary of the changes and discuss how they affect you.

Summary of changes coming to the test:

Difference

As you can see, there are a lot of changes to the SAT Test, so I will break down each category.  The test CAN be shorter (Yay!), but at least for the moment, colleges still require the writing component, so we will not see a reduction in the test duration (Aww!).  Be sure to select the writing option when you sign up for the test, or make sure that schools you want to apply do not require it.

Test Content

SAT Test Content

The components of the SAT exam seem to be the same, but strong reasoning skills are still required so it is not necessarily an easy SAT test now. However most people have found that the reading section is easier and the math section is harder.

I have looked over both, they have started to add charts to the reading section and there will be questions about trends and interpretations.  At least they got rid of uncommonly used vocabulary, so that is a plus.

Also, I have found that the math section does require a more advanced level of math than before. Students should have solid understanding of Algebra 2 and Trigonometry when taking this new SAT test, whereas before it was only up through Geometry.

WritingSAT Essay

As I mentioned earlier, the SAT essay is now “optional”, but most likely required for most colleges.  The major challenge students will face with the new SAT essay is being able to provide a written analysis of a given text, since this is not commonly done at the high school level to this extent. On the bright side, students will have a lot more time to complete the SAT essay, but breaking down the response into parts is more important now than ever before.

Scoring

SAT Scoring

The SAT score reporting will not make a major difference since colleges will use a concordance chart to scale each score out on the same measure.  For example, a 1,400 on the new SAT will be the same as a 2,000 on the old SAT.  The subscore reporting will not affect college admission, but it will provide additional information about students’ performances on the SAT in comparison to how they do in school.

What do toSo what can I do about the new SAT?

Well, if you have the capabilities, you may want to take the old SAT before it changes.  I have collected 10 years of data on the current exam, and the Oxford Tutoring methods have been proven to work time and time again.

In the case where you are unable to take it yet, because of age or academic knowledge, then I recommend that you plan ahead.  For example if you will not finish Algebra 2 until the end of Junior year, then plan to take the SAT exam around the same time (May and June).

Also, make sure to keep up on reading and writing skills by reading additional material outside what is assigned for school. Lastly, come to Oxford Tutoring, where we have brand new curriculum designed specifically around the changes in the test and our instructors know the ins and outs of the SAT material.

David LordMeet the author: David Lord is the SAT and ACT Director and Math and Science Instructor at Oxford Tutoring Center in Orange County, California. He has helped hundreds of students achieve the SAT and ACT test scores they want and accepted into their desired college. He reaches his students through challenging them and asking questions to make sure they are absorbing the material they are being taught.

Prepare for the new SAT with Oxford Tutoring courses and private tutoring.  Class us today! (949) 681-0388.

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© Oxford Tutoring 2015