Improving Academic Performance

Lisa Alvarado

Recent Posts

Best Practices: Study Planning

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Wed, Mar 29, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


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.

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Tags: Study Planning

Brain Rules Part 2: 6 More Ways to Improve Brain Function

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Wed, Mar 22, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

In this second installment of Brain Rules, I’ll introduce 6 additional brain rules to leverage in understanding the ways we think, learn and retain new information. Hopefully, you can incorporate some of these into your routine to help you study more efficiently and effectively.

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Tags: brain science, malleable brain, John Medina, Brain Rules

Brain Rules: 6 Ways to Improve Brain Function

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Tue, Mar 14, 2017 @ 10:00 AM

In Brain Rules, John Medina, a molecular biologist and student of the brain, dissects the way our brains work, providing practical tips and advice for how to harness your brain’s ability to learn and grow to be more successful in every avenue of life from school to work and more.  

Oftentimes, students feel that the only way they can improve academically or enhance their performance on exams is by taking an expensive course or hiring a tutor, someone else to teach them. While seeking-out academic help is certainly important and can help you make great strides, there are many things you can do on your own to improve your brain function and ability to better comprehend and recall information.

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Tags: brain science, memory techniques, Managing Stress, John Medina

When, and When Not, to Hire a Private Tutor

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Thu, Feb 09, 2017 @ 08:49 PM

Much as an athlete benefits from a good coach, a student can reap incredible benefits from a supportive tutor. Tutoring, in many ways, is similar to coaching: it requires relationship building, positive reinforcement, support, and a true, unwavering interest in a student’s success. The right tutor can be the difference between struggle and success. With a willing and coachable student, a tutor can identify weaknesses, build confidence, and act as a constant support. There are many instances when hiring a tutor can be beneficial, including:

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Tags: When to hire a private tutor

Learning Specialist - Isn’t that just a tutor?

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Mon, Jan 16, 2017 @ 10:00 AM


Tutors have existed for as long as man. Elders helping the younger generation learn the skill sets necessary to survive in their environment.  Of course, early tutoring focused more on gathering food and creating shelter than on memorizing math tables. Fast forward to our test driven and memorization based school curriculum. Students have to absorb and repeat mountains of information on a regular basis.  They have to work quickly, efficiently, and a strong competitive sense emerges in most classrooms from an early age.  Most parents feel their children need to keep up, and some are concerned with even “Average” performance. As a result, Americans spend billions of dollars each year for tutoring support for their children.

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Tags: Learning Specialists, Cognitive Skills

Customizing the Tutoring Experience: An Example Approach

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Thu, Dec 22, 2016 @ 10:41 AM

Guiding students to a deeper mastery of mathematics, science, or language arts skills is a daunting challenge, since no two students are completely alike and instruction must, therefore, be individualized. However, “the wheel need not be entirely reinvented” for each student: after a diagnostic assessment has been administered, it is possible to view the individual student as aligning with one or another of several basic groups (or demonstrating a need for targeted instruction in multiple areas at once)

I work primarily with language arts students, so this article is geared towards that subject. But a similar approach can likely be applied to most other subjects.

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Tags: Reading Comprehension, Language Arts, Improving Writing

How Children Succeed: Part one

Posted by Lisa Alvarado on Wed, Nov 30, 2016 @ 10:00 AM


This is the first of a three-part introduction to Paul Toughs insightful book,  How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.
 
The ultra-concise executive summary and key takeaway is that children do not succeed academically because of their innate intelligence, as is commonly assumed. Instead, Tough shares reams of research which suggests character traits like curiosity, grit, and the ability to persevere may be more important to long term academic success, and particularly success in college and life beyond college, than cognitive skills like mathematics, logic, and reading comprehension. The rest of this three-part article will introduce the author, explain the structure of the book, provide an overview of the book's introductory chapter, and offer a brief analysis/review of the book.
 
Let’s start by providing some details on the author. 
 
Tough is a journalist with a specific interest in education, child
development, and poverty in America. He's written cover stories for the New York Times Magazine, and his writing has also
appeared in Slate, GQ, and Esquire. It's interesting to note that you don't find out until the final chapter that Tough himself
was admitted to Columbia University, but ultimately dropped out before earning a college degree. In that final chapter, Tough ponders whether he lacks some of the critical character traits he describes in the book.
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Tags: academic performance, beyond booksmart, hard work, Paul Tough