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Tutoring in Columbus, Ohio

ACT and SAT Test Prep, College Admissions, Tutoring
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The founder of FreeTestPrep.com, Brian Stewart, has expanded his tutoring business to have several outstanding associate tutors.  Every tutor has scored in at least the 95th percentile and has extensive instructional experience.  Please click here to learn more about the tutor biographies.  

In addition to offering ACT Tutoring, SAT Tutoring, Math Tutoring, Writing Tutoring, and Science Tutoring, we still offer ACT Classes and SAT Classes.  Additionally, BWS Education offers help with College Admissions.  Please contact BWS Education Consulting with any questions about our tutoring services.  Thank you.  

List of 1000 SAT Vocabulary Words with Latin and Greek Roots

ACT and SAT Test Prep, PSAT, SAT Prep, SAT Reading, Tutoring, Uncategorized
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This is a PDF document that you are welcome to download, link to, or print out with 1,000 of the most common SAT Vocab words.  Along with the words and definitions, the list provides Latin and Greek Roots along with the use of the words in a sentence.  These are the same words that are featured on the SAT Vocab Flashcards here on FreeTestPrep.com.  I hope this helps you do well on the the SAT and PSAT tests!  Teachers and tutors are welcome to use this for their classes and tutoring sessions. 

 

SAT Vocabulary List

 

 

Why We Should Avoid Wordiness in our Writing

ACT and SAT Test Prep, ACT English, ACT Writing, College Application Essays, High School, SAT Essay, SAT Prep, SAT Writing, Study Tips, Teaching, Tutoring
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One of the worst habits that students develop in their high school classes is that of writing in a wordy fashion.   Students find that if they write longer and longer papers, their grades often get better and better.  They also discover that in classroom discussions and Socratic Seminars, the more they monopolize the discussion, the higher their “participation” grade.  Our grading system has a built-in tendency to inflate grades for those who inflate the length of what they create.    

As a former teacher, I understand how difficult it is to ignore the length of a student’s response when evaluating it.  It is much easier to justify a higher grade for a student who has put in more time to write an extended response than someone who has created a relatively brief analysis.  Why?  You can say that “Johnny put in so much more work into writing his essay than you did because his essay is twice the length.”  When grading a massive stack of papers, the tendency to start “scanning” the papers rather than reading them super-carefully is a temptation to which quite a few teachers will succumb.  Not to scare any teachers, but I have known of a case where a student put swear words in the middle of his essay to see if his teacher would actually catch them.  The teacher did not, and the student shared this episode with all his friends, significantly damaging the teacher’s reputation. 


Both students and teachers can change the expectations of the school grading process if they are aware of 5 ways that wordy writing will cause problems on standardized tests like the ACT and SAT, during the college admissions process, and in the workforce:

1.       You Won’t Develop Your Ideas on the SAT or ACT Essays.  The SAT only gives you two pages and 25 minutes for its essay, and the ACT only provides you 4 pages and 30 minutes.  If you are accustomed to writing in a wordy way, you will spend forever introducing your topic and not enough time developing your ideas and examples. 

2.       On the SAT and ACT Grammar Questions, You Will Consistently Pick the Wordy Answers.  Don’t get me wrong  – often, being more descriptive is exactly what is called for.  However, if you have it ingrained into your mind that the more you write, the better your writing is, you will pick the longest, most complex answers, even when they are not appropriate. 

3.       Your College Essays Will Be Pure Fluff.  When you write your Common Application Essay, you will be limited to 500 words.  If you are not used to packing a big punch in a short essay, you will not stand out among the thousands of applicants. 

4.       Job Applications.  For the foreseeable future, the job market will be extraordinarily competitive.  You will only have one chance to impress a potential employer with a fantastic cover letter.  It is critical that you are able to succinctly convey what makes you an incredible applicant. 

5.       Business Communications.  Whether in business meetings, conference calls or company-wide emails, no one wants to listen to someone blab on and on.  Your bosses and coworkers will respect you if they know that when you speak, you will immediately convey something of substance and value. 


So what can teachers and students do to avoid wordy writing?  First of all, if you are aware of a tendency to write wordily, that is half the battle.  You’ll recognize when you’re doing it and that will empower you to stop it.  Second, I would like to see more school assignments that require word maximums instead of word minimums.  Word minimums are the norm, and they encourage students to be verbose.  By requiring word maximums, students will learn to be more concise and precise in their writing, and teachers will be able to evaluate much more thoroughly since they won’t be overwhelmed with endless piles of grading.  This paradigm shift will help students do better on standardized tests, their college applications, and in the real world. 

I hope you found this piece helpful.  If so, please share it with your friends.  Thanks, Brian Stewart

 


12 Ways that Teachers Can Make Sure All Student Questions are Answered and Avoid Mock Participation

Teaching, Tutoring
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Is there such a thing as a stupid question?  As a professional educator, here are my two cents on this topic.  I believe there is no such thing as a stupid question – only a bad time or place to ask such a question.  What do I mean by this?  In a group setting, questions that can benefit the learning of the group as a whole, or at least some portion of the group, are perfectly fine.  Questions that only to pertain to one person’s personal situation are best asked at a later place and time.  The problem with classroom teaching is that it is very difficult to give students the opportunity to ask their “stupid questions” in a way that is emotionally safe for them.  The result is what we call “mock participation” – students pretend to learn when in fact they are understanding nothing.  As an educator in the private sector, if my students don’t learn, I will have no students.  I have had to find ways to be certain that my students are getting what I am teaching, and here are some ideas I’d like to share: 

1.  Happy/Sad Face Index Cards.  The idea is very simple.  Give every student an index card.  On one side, they draw a happy face, and on the other, they draw a sad face.  When you, as the instructor, need to see if students are understanding an explanation, simply ask students to “show their cards”!  Students are unable to see whether other students are having issues since the instructor is the only one who can see the face of the cards.  As a result, students will be comfortable sharing whether they understood a concept.  If you notice that many students don’t get something, take some time to go over the idea again.  If only one or two students are having trouble with it, chat with them at an appropriate time to address their individual concerns.   

2.  Teaching Assistant.  Last Spring I had my biggest class ever – 75 high school students.  I knew that there was no way I could answer all of their individual questions in order to provide a high quality instructional experience.  As a result, I hired a teaching assistant to go around the class to answer any individual questions.  This enabled me to keep the class moving along while ensuring that no student was left behind.  If you are a teacher in a regular classroom setting at a private or public school, recruit student volunteers to be student assistants to serve this role.  Any high-powered student who has a study hall during your class would likely be willing to help you with this.  My Mom, who teaches high school Spanish, has been able to find a student assistant for every one of her class periods.   

3.  Grade via Individual Conference.  Instead of simply giving students their graded essays back, I have found it far more effective to do mini-conferences with each student individually to go over their writing and address their issues and clarify my comments.  So many students simply take one look at their score and throw a graded essay away afterwards – by doing individual conferences, you can be certain that the students fully understand what they need to work on.  It is easy to do these individual conferences while another activity is taking place – a test or a video for example. 

4.  Social Media Interaction.  If you make yourself available to student via social media, they may feel much more comfortable asking questions.  Online discussion boards, twitter and moodle are great ways to do this.  Texting, phone calls and facebook are more problematic, since they may cross the boundaries between the proper student/teacher professional relationship.  You will want to see what your district policy is on this before you do anything. 


5.  Go around during class and ASK if they are getting it.  Instead of asking the class as a whole if something is clear, go around and ask each student individually.  It is remarkable how much more forthcoming students will be about their questions when you approach them this way.  Asking like this does not need to add several minutes on to a lesson – you can do it as another activity is taking place.    

6.  Ask “What Questions” instead of  “Any Questions”.  The way that we ask does so much to elicit solid student responses.  My wife, who is an occupational therapist, shared this idea with me; she has found it to be very effective in her interactions with special-needs students.  “What questions?” implies that the students should have questions.  “Any questions?” implies that the students should not have any questions, and they may feel much less reluctant to seek clarification as a result. 

7.  Plenty of Wait Time.  This is one of the most helpful general teaching strategies imaginable.  Allow a few seconds of time after you’ve asked students a question before you begin calling on kids or before you move onto covering the next concept.  Many students require more time to digest an idea before they can determine what questions they may have about it. 

8.  Praise those who ask good questions.  Foster a safe and welcoming environment for students by giving genuine praise to students who ask quality questions.  Never dismiss a student’s question as absurd – do your best to clarify and restate what the student is asking so that he or she may save face. 


9.  Allow time before and after class to answer questions.  Whether it is making yourself available in the five minutes between classes to answer student questions or conducting a voluntary study session for students before, during or after school, every little bit makes a difference. 

10.  Have them write down questions on index cards and you answer them in front of everyone without saying who asked what.  At the end of a major conceptual review, I find this to be a great way to determine what open-ended questions students still have.  An added bonus of this is that students tend to think of questions that other students also have, but didn’t think to ask! 

11.  Online Education.  Many critics of online education see it as a passive approach to learning in which students just mindlessly sit on their laptops viewing lectures.  The way I have crafted my freetestprep.com practice section allows for considerable personalization in the learning process, despite the fact that it is online.  Students can work at their own pace and go over the video explanations to missed questions as many times as they need.  Online learning done right has the potential to give students who would never ask a question otherwise the anonymity they need in order to feel comfortable building on their weak areas.  You can see my questions & explanations here:  http://freetestprep.com/category.php

12.  Have the students get to know one another.  When I teach an ACT or SAT group class, it never fails to amaze me how quiet and reserved students are at the beginning of a class.  Why?  They don’t know one another and they don’t want to be the “idiot” who is asking stupid questions.  In a long-term class, if you can do icebreakers and create a safe, respectful learning environment, it will pay tremendous dividends throughout the school year. 

I hope you found this discussion helpful.  If so, I would invite you to share it with your friends and colleagues.  Thanks!  –Brian Stewart


How Focusing on Areas of Weakness Can Hurt You in Preparing for the ACT, SAT and Other Standardized Tests

ACT and SAT Test Prep, ACT Prep, GED, PSAT, SAT Prep, Study Tips, Tutoring
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Many people take it as common sense to focus on their weaknesses when preparing for the SAT, ACT, GED and other major tests.  If you have taken the ACT, for example, and done poorly on the Reading and Math, why not focus more on preparing for those problem areas the next time around?  Here are some things to consider when trying to decide the extent to which you want to focus on your weak areas when studying:

1.  Are you doing the ACT or the SAT?  Since the vast majority of schools superscore the SAT (i.e. they take the best score from each section), it makes perfect sense to focus on your weak areas on the SAT.  If you have already scored well on the SAT Math, for example, you can focus on doing much better on the SAT Critical Reading for the next test.  The vast majority of schools do not superscore  for the ACT, so you will need to have a strong across-the-board performance in order to have a solid composite score.  There are some exceptions to this general rule:  some colleges will superscore the ACT, and some may not superscore either test.  Contact the college to be certain as to its particular policy. 

2.  Have you maxed out your prep in one area?  Have you focused all your energies on bolstering your math score while doing virtually nothing for English or reading?  A little bit of prep can go a long way in an area of strength.  Perhaps you need to clarify some punctuation rules in English, or perhaps you need to adjust your timing on the Reading.  Think about where you will find the biggest bang for your buck.  I have often found that when I have tutored students just  a little bit in an area of strength, the score improvement was more on that section than it was after a great deal of focus on an area of weakness. 

3.  Are you going to let things slide?  Are you the type of person who gets really focused on one thing when you take the test?  In the back of your mind, will you be obsessing about your area of weakness even while you’re doing the sections with which you are more comfortable?  If so, you will want to adjust your attitude prior to taking the test – you will want to have a balanced attack and conserve your energy to perform at a high level on every test section.  I have had many students over the years who have gone into the test so determined to improve on one section that they let the areas of strength fall by the wayside.  Mentally prepare yourself so that you don’t let this happen. 

I hope you found this article helpful.  If so, please share it with your friends!  Thanks, Brian Stewart




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