Over the past few years I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and a fair amount of writing on this blog, around what truly drives academic performance. One of my favorite (and most important) insights has been that IQ, or natural intelligence, is far less important than people assume it to be. This article considers that insight from a different angle, and introduces an interesting new book about how it may be possible to improve your IQ through targeted training.Read More
Improving Academic Performance
As we’ve mentioned, there are many things you can do before the initial tutoring session to get the most out of tutoring. After you have attended your initial tutoring session, there are a few things you should do to ensure that you retain all the information you reviewed. In this blog article, we will discuss four things you should do after the initial tutoring session.
Write Summary Notes
It can be hard to absorb the lesson content or test-taking strategies your tutor is reviewing while also taking copious notes on the session material during a tutoring session. Because multi-tasking during a tutoring session may take away from you absorbing important material or test-taking strategies, I would recommend focusing on the lesson content during the tutoring session. After you’ve completed your initial tutoring session, be sure to take time to write down notes about test-taking strategies, content knowledge, and tips that your tutor reviewed during the session when everything is still fresh in your head. In fact, as Dr. Barbara Oakley teaches in her popular MOOC “Learning How to Learn: Powerful Mental Tools to Help You Master Tough Subjects,” summarizing in your own words is a powerful strategy for learning new things in general. You are more likely to retain information by summarizing lesson content or test-taking strategies in your own words, than if you copy things down word for word.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
The age-old adage that there is no better way to absorb, retain, and excel at something than to practice at it as much as possible still holds true today. It may be the case that you quickly understood new content that your tutor reviewed with you. Or perhaps, you were able to quickly absorb and apply a new concept or strategy in your session. Even so, you should still take time to continue practicing using the new strategies or content that you just gained in order to commit it to your memory. Some ways that you can practice using a new test-taking strategy is to complete practice problems on a practice exam. To commit new content knowledge to your memory, try writing out or summarizing the content knowledge, drawing diagrams, or teaching it to someone else. Make sure that you are engaging in “deliberate practice” when completing practice problems. Taking time to focus deeply on what you are doing, why each step matters, and when and how you are making mistakes, is far more powerful than rote repetition, as noted by the American Psychological Association. Practice new strategies/content knowledge regularly, preferably on a weekly basis until you are completely comfortable with it.
In order to retain new and old test-taking strategies and content, it is important to review them regularly. Set aside a few minutes a day, or 30 minutes each week to review test-taking strategies and content. Additionally, prior to each tutoring session, take time to review strategies and content so that it’s fresh in your mind during each tutoring session. This will make tutoring sessions flow smoothly, as you can dedicate more time to building on concepts and strategies, rather than spending a chunk of time reviewing strategies and content that you covered in previous tutoring sessions.
Complete Homework for the Week
It is important to come prepared to each tutoring session, ready to learn new content and strategies. In order to do so, make time to complete any homework assignments or practice problems that your tutor assigned you. If you are having difficulty with the assignment, make sure to jot down your questions and ask your tutor about them during your next tutoring session.
Taking the time to complete these four simple tasks after each tutoring session will help to improve your retention of new strategies and content, as well as improve your test scores and academic performance.Read More
As a follow up to the previous article, "Six Things Students and Tutors Should Do BEFORE an Initial Tutoring Session", we share some tips on how to make the first tutoring session as productive and successful as posssible as it's happening.Read More
Six Things Students and Tutors Should do BEFORE an Initial Tutoring Session
The initial tutoring session is perhaps the most important tutoring session. It’s a critical opportunity to establish good rapport, set expectations, develop a study plan, and set a precedent for constructive sessions. Waiting until the second or third session to truly establish expectations or a study plan can lead to students feeling as though the tutoring isn’t proving productive. In fact, in many cases, the primary reason a tutoring session “fails” is because objectives weren’t set in advance and thus expectations weren’t aligned.
Here are six things that you can do to ensure that an initial tutoring session is highly effective and productive.Read More
In the world of education, new fads can sometimes garner swift support but fall fast. As parents, we sometimes look for quick fixes to our children’s learning struggles; but that approach can lead to wasted time spent on strategies that aren’t effective in the long term. Thankfully, some trends do seem to make a lasting, positive impact. SEL (Social-Emotional Learning) is steadily proving itself to be an effective force in a growing number of school districts.Read More
Last time, we wrote about becoming more productive by organizing your things and your work space. Today, we’ll focus on your school work and your time (perhaps the most important element of your life to organize).Read More
Tests are part and parcel of school, and are especially important in higher education; whether it’s midterms and finals in college, language exams or massive paid exams required for certifications, tests are used to demonstrate each student’s knowledge of the material and determine whether or not they’ll pass.Read More
Keeping abreast of school assignments, tests, and projects can be quite a hassle if you are not organized. Not only can good organizational skills help you complete tasks in an orderly and timely manner, good organizational skills can also help you stay focused and earn higher grades and better test scores.
In this two-part article, we’ll talk about organizing your: a) things b) work space c) schoolwork and d) time.Read More
Tags: organization skills
Over the past five years, I’ve done a fair amount of secondary research (reading articles, books, etc.) on academic performance. Two of the most interesting and actionable discoveries I’ve made are that A) a student’s mindset is far more important in explaining academic success than I would have imagined and B) a concept called Grit is what seems to power the performance of a student with the right mindset.
The “Growth Mindset” is a concept invented by Dr. Carol Dweck, a Standford Psychologist. Her research shows that individuals can generally be placed into one of two buckets: a) those that have a growth mindset and b) those that have a fixed mindset.Read More
Whether the topic is ACT prep or improving performance in a math or history class, developing a customized study plan is without a doubt a critical success factor. It’s something I talk a lot about with parents, and something we constantly reinforce with our tutors.
But, what are the key components of an effective study plan?
In this blog article, we reproduce and share a “follow up email” sent by one of our most experienced ACT tutors to a new student as a means of illustrating the key issues any good study plan should address. We have changed the names of the tutor and student to protect their identities. Emails like this should be a core element of any effect tutoring relationship.Read More
Tags: Study Planning