Posts Tagged ‘Online Tutor’

Executive Function Coaching: Improving Your Prospective Memory

Prospective Memory

 

Adam S. talks on Executive Function Coaching. Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts Adam S. teaches you valuable strategies on how to overcome your prospective memory issues.

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Prepped & Polished, LLC is a premier educational services company founded by educators in 1999. Our mission is to provide you with the highest-quality customized learning experience available. We will help you achieve top grades, higher test scores, and meet your academic and professional-related goals. Whether you are looking for in-person or online Tutoring and Test Preparation, we are here to help you succeed. Our caring, dynamic educators graduated from some of the most elite schools in the nation, including University of Michigan, Harvard, Brown, and MIT. They are ready to provide you with the strategies, tools and guidance necessary to ensure academic and professional success. Prepped & Polished proudly serves Boston and its surrounding areas including: Weston, Wellesley, Wayland, Sudbury, Dover, Needham, Belmont, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Newton, Brookline, Sherborn, Carlisle, Boston

February 13th, 2014
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Executive Function Building Blocks: Three Ways to Improve Your Sense of Time

Improve Time Management

 

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How to Improve Time Management Skills

Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you three strategies to improve your sense of time.

1. Use external reminders, such as clocks, watches, and signs
2. Use alarms liberally
3. Use a schedule to plan your time
SAT Prep

About Prepped & Polished:
Prepped & Polished, LLC is a premier educational services company founded by educators in 1999. Our mission is to provide you with the highest-quality customized learning experience available. We will help you achieve top grades, higher test scores, and meet your academic and professional-related goals. Whether you are looking for in-person or online Tutoring and Test Preparation, we are here to help you succeed. Our caring, dynamic educators graduated from some of the most elite schools in the nation, including University of Michigan, Harvard, Brown, and MIT. They are ready to provide you with the strategies, tools and guidance necessary to ensure academic and professional success. Prepped & Polished proudly serves Boston and its surrounding areas including: Weston, Wellesley, Wayland, Sudbury, Dover, Needham, Belmont, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Newton, Brookline, Sherborn, Carlisle, Boston

January 25th, 2014
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Executive Function, Featured
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Three Common SAT Grammar Mistakes Students Often Make and HOW TO AVOID THEM

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SAT Verbal Instructor Terri of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts lists three common grammar mistakes students often make and how to avoid them.

1. Avoid idiom errors by memorizing sets of words that must go together, usually involving a verb and preposition.
2. Avoid pronoun agreement errors by making sure pronouns agree in number and gender.
3. Avoid parallel structure errors by making sure that a series of equal items is written in the same logical structure.

 

SAT Prep

About Prepped & Polished:
Prepped & Polished, LLC is a premier educational services company founded by educators in 1999. Our mission is to provide you with the highest-quality customized learning experience available. We will help you achieve top grades, higher test scores, and meet your academic and professional-related goals. Whether you are looking for in-person or online Tutoring and Test Preparation, we are here to help you succeed. Our caring, dynamic educators graduated from some of the most elite schools in the nation, including University of Michigan, Harvard, Brown, and MIT. They are ready to provide you with the strategies, tools and guidance necessary to ensure academic and professional success. Prepped & Polished proudly serves Boston and its surrounding areas including: Weston, Wellesley, Wayland, Sudbury, Dover, Needham, Belmont, Lexington, Concord, Lincoln, Newton, Brookline, Sherborn, Carlisle, Boston

 

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January 21st, 2014
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Executive Function Building Blocks: 3 Tips for Improving Working Memory

3 Tips for Improving Working Memory

Adam S. Executive Function Coach and Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you ways for improving working memory.

1. Make important tasks stand out

2. Reduce distractions

3. Write out complicated problems and step by step instructions

SAT Prep

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January 17th, 2014
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Six Insider Tips to Attack and Master the ISEE Sentence Completions

Prepped & Polished History Tutor for Online ISEE Test Prep to help you with Online ISEE Prep By Terri K., ISEE Test Prep Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC

The ISEE has a Verbal Reasoning section that contains 20 sentence completions. These questions are designed to test a student’s vocabulary and reasoning ability. Each sentence completion item consists of a sentence with one missing word or pair of words followed by four potential answer choices. The student is the “detective” who must decipher the clues and select the correct word or pair of words that most appropriately completes the context of the sentence (keeping the sentence clear, logical, and consistent in style and tone). Sentence completion questions are arranged in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest. (Tip: Sentence completion questions come after synonym questions in the ISEE Verbal Reasoning section, but you can choose to do these questions first if you find them easier to answer).

Here are some tried and true tips and elimination strategies that will help you to more quickly attack and master the 20 sentence completions, since you only have approximately 30 seconds for each question:

1) A Strong Vocabulary: First and foremost, a strong vocabulary is an essential skill for the ISEE sentence completions. The best way to prepare and to strengthen vocabulary is to read all types of material as part of your daily routine. Take the time to look up unfamiliar words that you encounter and to make flashcards. Making connections with words helps to remember them (include definition, sentence, root, history, and even a picture, synonym or trigger word as a memory aide).

ISEE Test Prep :  Online Tutoring Services for Online ISEE Prep

2) Look for Familiar Word Parts (Roots, Prefixes): Knowing roots of words is a great aid in figuring out correct answers. Again, looking up words in the dictionary and adding roots to your flashcards will make a huge difference. For example: the root MOR (or MORT or MORS) means death in Latin. Now, even if you do not know the definition, you can more confidently guess the meaning of words such as mortuary (dead bodies are kept in a mortuary), mortician (prepares dead bodies for a funeral), immortal (cannot die). Other common roots are sub (under as in subterranean or submarine), extra (beyond – as in extraterrestrial), terra (Earth – as in terrain), geo (earth, ground as in geology), mar (sea as in maritime), anima (spirit as in animated), mal (bad as in malevolent).

3) First Step – Read the sentence to get overall meaning; cover up answer choices until you find the clue(s) in the sentence: Mentally fill in the blank(s) with your own answer that makes sense. Then, find the answer choice that is closest in meaning to your own answer. You might be surprised to find the exact word that you had in mind. Select that as your answer. If the word you thought of is not a choice, look for a synonym of that word. Eliminate any that are definitely wrong; it is often easier to eliminate wrong answer choices than to pick the right choice. If you still have choices left, guess among the remaining possibilities. Sometimes it is enough to know that the blank requires a word that means something good (positive) or something bad (negative). Note: To assist you in finding the right answer among the answer choices, one-word answers are listed alphabetically and two-word answers are listed alphabetically by the first word.

Example:
Always ——-, the journalist actively questioned the relevant viewpoints on both sides of the issue.
(A) enigmatic
(B) ignoble
(C) impartial
(D) partisan
When reading this sentence, you might recognize that the journalist is fair and unbiased. “Impartial” (choice C) is a synonym for fair.

4) Signal Words: There is almost always a word that obviously points to the correct answer. These signal words are clues that can aid you in figuring out what the sentence actually means.

– Support Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate that the blank continues a thought developed elsewhere in the sentence (examples: and, moreover, in addition, furthermore). A synonym or near-synonym should provide the correct answer. Example:
Mr. Jones is an intelligent and ——– teacher: his knowledge is matched only by his concern for his students.
(A) caring
(B) experienced
(C) unusual
(D) original
(choice A) caring is the answer, a synonym for concern.

– Contrast Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate a contrast between one idea and another (examples: but, although, however, even though, despite)
Example:
Although much of the worst pollution has been ——- in the United States, traces of many toxic chemicals still ——-.
(A) discussed . . . escape
(B) eliminated . . . persist
(C) exaggerated . . . remain
(D) foreseen . . . arise
(choice B) is the correct answer. “Although” is the clue that indicates a contrast and signals you to look for words with opposite or different meanings (eliminated, persist).

– Cause and Effect Signals – look for words/phrases that show that one thing causes another (examples: because, since, for, therefore, as a result, due to, though).
Example:
Because Martha was naturally ——-, she would see the bright side of any situation, but Jack had a ——- personality and always waited for something bad to happen.
(A) cheerful…upbeat
(B) frightened…mawkish
(C) optimistic…dismal
(D) realistic…unreasonable
(choice C) is the correct answer. “Because” is the clue that indicates cause and effect. Note: The word “but” indicates a contrast between Martha and Jack’s personalities.

5) Take One Blank At A Time: Double-blank sentences can seem daunting, but they are actually easier because they supply more clues. After you read through the entire sentence for meaning, insert the first word of each answer pair in the sentence’s first blank. Does it make sense? If not, you can eliminate the entire pair. Next, check out the second word of each of the remaining answer pairs. Both words must make sense when used together.
Example:
The skydiver was ——- to survive after his parachute operated ——-.
(A) unable…perfectly
(B) anxious…instinctively
(C) surprised…adequately
(D) fortunate…improperly
(choice D) is the correct answer. It is the only choice where both words make sense.

6) Eliminating/Guessing: Even if you can’t eliminate any choices, you should guess. There is no guessing penalty on the ISEE. Never leave a question blank. Of course, eliminate before you guess using the strategies that you have learned. On sentence completions, you are looking for the best answer, so use the clues that must be there, in order for the question to have one answer that is better than the others. If you only have a minute left and you are not yet done, fill in all remaining sentence completions.

Summary – 6-step strategic plan to answer sentence completion questions:
– Read the sentence to get the overall meaning.
– Look for clue words that show how sentence parts are related.
– Use the clue words to anticipate the answer based on the relationship indicated.
– Read the answer choices and select the best one.
– Check your answer by reading the sentence with your answer choice in place.
– If you still cannot determine the best answer, eliminate answer choices that clearly do not make sense. Then guess from among the remaining answer choices.

Which level of the ISEE are you getting ready for? Did you find these tips helpful?

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Terri graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Connecticut, with a dual degree in Education and English. She has 15 years of teaching and tutoring experience as a licensed teacher (Grades 5-12). Terri works with students from elementary school through college, and serves as an incredible resource when it comes to preparing for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, MCAS). em>

August 15th, 2013
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7 SAT Tips For Teens

Josh Ochs of Media Leaders interviews Alexis Avila Founder of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts. Alexis list his favorite seven tips for teens preparing for the SAT Test.

Tip 1: Take Advantage of Free SAT Material on the Web
Tip 2: Buy the Official College Board Study Guide
Tip 3: Understand the SAT Format
Tip 4: Don’t spend too much time on Sentence Completions
ACT Science Tips and SAT Tips and Strategies
Tip 5: Skip around a little on the math fill-in section
Tip 6: Wake up early Saturday morning for two months
Tip 7: If you get stumped, circle the question, then move on

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Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Josh: Hello and welcome to Media Leaders. In this video we want to
show you seven SAT tips for teens. I’m honored to have Alexis Avila, the
founder of Prepped and Polished with me today, Alexis welcome to the call.

Alexis: Thanks for having me Josh.

Josh: Well it’s an honor to have you here. Let’s jump right in to the
good stuff, you’re going to walk us through seven tips for people that are
taking their SAT. Can you tell us what you’re going to teach us?

Alexis: I’m going to teach you how to take advantage of free stuff so
you don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for tutoring. I’m going to tell you
about buying a key book for SAT. Walk you a little bit through the SAT
format. Talk a little bit about sentence completion, just some insider tips
on the math fill-ins. How to wake up early, you know really get primed and
ready. And also lay a cool strategy for an SAT.

Josh: Sweet. Walk us through the first one.

Alexis: All right. So SATs, you’ve got to take advantage of free stuff
out there, okay? There’s a lot of free stuff that you can study with. Khan
Academy.com, great videos to help you with problems that are found in the
old official college course study guide. CollegeBoard.org go to it
immediately, sign up for the question of the day, have it delivered to your
in box, SAT problem, free, again. Quizlet.com, you want to practice your
SAT vocab, you don’t have to buy books in the book store for that, go to
Quizlet.com, it’s all free. Free SAT vocab, practice and take quizzes.

Josh: Great resources. Walk us through the next tip?

Alexis: Okay. So you’ve got to buy the official college board study
guide whether you work with a tutor or independently. It has the most
realistic practice tests possible in this book, there’s ten of them. And I
recommend that you get through as many practice tests as possible. And make
sure that you time yourself when you take these practice tests. And if you
want to get explanations for the questions found in the SAT official
college board study guide, purchase Tutor Ted’s SAT Solution Manual, it’s
not perfect but it’s pretty much the only one out there, the only book out
there that actually has an explanation for each question found in the
official college board SAT study guide.

Josh: That’s super helpful. Walk us through the next one.

Alexis: Okay. Understand the SAT format, okay? This is what I do with
all my students to get them feeling confident and knowing what to expect.
First, section one and section ten are always the same section. Section
one, essays, section ten, short grammar writing section. The next level of
predictability is found in section eight, nine, and ten. Those are always
the shortened versions of the critical reading math, and like I said
section ten is also a short grammar writing section. Section two through
seven, not as much predictability but guaranteed in those sections your
going to find two critical reading long sections, 25 minutes, two math long
sections, 25 minutes, and one long, 25 minute, writing grammar section. And
then you’ll have one experimental section.

Also, know the nuances within each section, and learn how to pace for
them. So for example, the two long critical reading sections, one of those
long critical reading sections has eight sentence completions as opposed to
five sentence completions on the other one. So there’s a different kind of
pacing structure that you should learn. So that’s what I have to say about
the SAT format. I could go on forever about it.

Josh: That’s good to know. Take us on to the next one.

Alexis: Okay. Get to the critical reading. So don’t spend too much time
on those sentence completion questions folk. Why? It’s simple, it’s math,
there’s 19 sentence completions versus 48 reading comprehension questions.
If you get complacent and smug, and take your sweet old time doing those 19
sentence completion questions you’re going to have five minutes left to do
all that reading. You don’t want to be in that pickle. So trust your gut,
study your vocab, get through those sentence completion questions
relatively fast so you can have ample time to do the reading questions.
Scan the questions first when you at the critical reading, scan the
questions first, mark up the passage that answers the specific question on
the fly as you’re reading, it’s like an open book test. And the at the very
end, answer all the general questions, answer those last. It will make
sense because you can only answer general questions once you have the full
scope of the passage.

Josh: Wow, that’s really helpful. Walk us through the next one?

Alexis: All right. We’ll skip around, here’s a little insider technique
for you. Skip around on the maths fill in, the long 25 minute math fill in
section, where you have eight multiple choices and then ten fill-ins after.
Why? Because on the SAT you want to answer all the easy immediate questions
before you tackle the hard ones. Well the order of difficulty goes from
easy to hard, from one to eight multiple choice, and then they get easy
again. So I recommend that you do the first five or six multiple choice
questions, just take a quick glance at number seven and eight multiple
choice which are the hard ones, and if they’re too hard just circle them
and go right to those easy fill-ins, take care of those, and at the very
end go back to those last two multiple choice questions.

Josh: I love it. That’s really helpful. Very counter intuitive. Walk
us through the next tip?

Alexis: Yep. Okay. Well this is kind of like another tip, I really
believe that kids have to develop a routine going into the SAT. So I
recommend you wake up early for at least two months before, each Saturday
leading up to the test. Up to two months before that. The key is to build
your confidence. It’s to build a consistent study program if you want to
get your confidence going up. So you want to wake up early for two months
so you get used to doing SAT problems early in the morning. Again, now
while you’re waking up Saturday, I want you to eat a good healthy breakfast
devoid of fatty foods. Find a quiet study area free of distractions. Have a
nice stop watch so you can pace yourself. And waking up early means go to
bed early too.

Josh: So smart, very true. Walk us through the next tip?

Alexis: Okay. Stumped? Circle the question. The tip is basically this,
the SAT is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, which basically means that you
want to keep moving at a nice steady pace, you don’t want to cram and
agonize over question number one. If you can’t answer it you circle that
question and you keep moving. If you spend more than a minute on a problem
it’s probably a good indicator that you’re kind of going about the problem
the wrong way. You circle that problem and then you keep moving to the next
question. Answer as many questions as you can, and then at the very end
with a fresh set of eyes you go back to the questions that you circled
along the way, tackle those, that’s the way to go.

Josh: That’s super helpful. well walk us through what you’ve taught
us.

Alexis: Okay. well I basically taught you to take advantage of all the
free SAT material on the web, you know you don’t have to spend a gazillion
dollars on SAT preps, there’s a lot of free stuff out there. And if you do
spend a gazillion dollars on SAT prep, fine, but also take advantage of the
free stuff. Buy the official college board study guide, that is basically
the number one and number two key resource you can buy. Everyone uses it,
buy it. Understand the SAT format. I don’t know about you but I feel more
confident when I know what to expect going into game day. Understand the
SAT format. Don’t spend too much time on sentence completion questions,
because there’s more, the lion’s share of those questions in the critical
reading section are critical reading questions themselves. Skip around a
little in the math fill-in section. Take care of the easy and medium
questions first. And then wake up early Saturday morning for the next two
months leading into the test so you get accustomed to what it’s like to
work your brain with multiple choice questions early in the morning. And
finally, if you get stumped circle the question and keep on moving, the
test is a marathon not a sprint.

Josh: Wow this has been really helpful. Alexis, thank you so much for
joining us today.

Alexis: My pleasure Josh. I’m humbled. Thank you very much.

Josh: Thank you. And those of you that are watching this video, click
the links below this video and in the area below, and you can learn more
about Alexis and his company Prepped and Polished. Thank you everybody for
being a part of Media Leaders. Have a great day, and as always, keep it
light, bright, and polite.

Are you preparing for the SAT? Which tip do you find most helpful?

Post your tips/comments below.

 

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August 5th, 2013
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4 Tips for The Night Before and 4 Tips for the Morning of SAT Saturday

It’s 24 hours until the SAT. This is what to do.

Alexis Avila Founder of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts, gives you Four Tips for The Night Before and 4 Tips for the Morning of SAT Saturday.

Friday
1. Pack the stuff that you’ll need for tomorrow
(admission ticket, photo ID, calculator with fresh batteries, two-three sharpened number two pencils with erasers, snacks and water, sweatshirt)
2. Know how to get to the testing site.
3. Eat well and relax tonight. Watch a movie or read. Study vocab only-flashcards or online vocab on quizlet.com
4. Rest and get to bed early

Test Preparation

Saturday
1. Wake up early
2. Grab a breakfast. Nothing too greasy. Waffles, muffins, bagels, cereal (not Lucky Charms ☺)
3. Do a couple of easy math problems to wake up the brain or memorize ten vocab words
4. Leave for the test site early

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Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey, guys, Alexis Avila, Prepped and Polished. So your SATs are tomorrow
and I want to give you some tips. So here are four tips for today, for
Friday, four tips for Saturday morning.Tip one, what I want you to do is pack the stuff all in one backpack. The
stuff that you need for tomorrow. Pack your admission ticket. Pack a photo
ID. Calculator, make sure that there are some fresh batteries in there. Two
to three sharpened number 2 pencils with erasers. Snacks and water. Bring a
sweatshirt. I am a Michigan fan so I am going to bring my Michigan
sweatshirt but you can bring whatever sweatshirt you prefer.Tip number two, know how to get to the test site. I know somebody who got
to the test site late, didn’t know how to get there, came to the SAT late
and only had ten minutes to do his essay. You don’t want to be that person.Tip number three, eat well and relax tonight, Friday night. Have a good
meal. Relax means like watch a movie, read. Don’t go to a party. Stay at
home, rent a movie. Maybe, go out to a 5:00 one but don’t go to like a
seven and come back at ten. And get to bed early. Don’t cram for the test.
You can study vocab because vocabulary is not going to fry your brain. It’s
going to keep you sharp and quick and if you want to join our online vocab
program, shoot me an email.

Tip 4 is rest and get to bed early. Don’t go to bed late. I want you to get
to bed at a reasonable time, maybe even a little earlier than you usually
do. So you can kind of get your body relaxed and fall asleep, and get ample
rest. You are going to need it for tomorrow morning.

Now four tips for Saturday. I want you to wake up early. You are not going
to be too stressed because you’ve already packed your backpack, right? So
you are not going to be scrounging around looking for stuff.

Tip 2, grab a good breakfast. A good breakfast means nothing with too much
fat, nothing with too much sugar because you’re just going to crash and
burn. I want you to grab some waffles, muffins, bagels, some cereal. Don’t
get Lucky Charms. Don’t get eggs and bacon. Save that for after as a
reward.

Tip 3 is do a couple of easy math problems to wake up the brain, keep you
sharp. Or you can memorize ten vocabulary words just to kind of get your
brain moving in the morning.

And then Tip number 4, I want you to leave for the test site early. You
don’t want to get there late again. The really late ones will end up in the
worst room, the cold room probably. So just get there early and when I say
early, 15 minutes early.

Everything is going to go well. I wish you good luck and I will talk to you
soon.

Are you ready for the SAT? What other questions or comments do you have about last minute preparation?

Post your tips/comments below.

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March 7th, 2013
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Avoid These Four Common SAT Math Exponent Rule Mistakes

You will need to learn the exponent rules in preparation for the SAT. http://www.preppedandpolished.com Alexis Avila Founder of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts, teaches you the exponent rules and shows you the four common mistakes many people make with exponent rules.

Test Preparation

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Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey, everyone. Alexis Avila; Prepped & Polished, LLC, South Natick,
Massachusetts. A lot of students over the years, they keep making the same
exponent mistakes. I’m going to go through some of the exponent rules so
you don’t make the same mistakes I see kids make over and over again. Let’s
get these rules straight once and for all. Let’s go to the board.One of the exponent rules students confuse is if you have X2 xX3; you have
the same coefficient here and you’re just multiplying. X2 x X3, students
will multiply the exponents. They’ll say X2 x X3 = X6. That’s wrong. You
don’t do that. Let’s get this straight once and for all. It’s X2 x X3, you
add the exponents when you’re multiplying two of the same coefficient. X2 x
X3 = X2+3; X5. You add the exponents when you multiply exponents with the
same bases.Another exponent rule students confuse is if you take X3 and you raise X3
to the 4th power. What they often do wrong is they will add these
exponents; they’ll just say that’s X7. That’s wrong. Let’s get this
straight once and for all. If you have an exponent and you’re raising it to
another exponent . . . if you have X3 all raised to the 4th, that’s when
you multiply the exponents. It’s the same as X3x4, or X12, final answer.

Sometimes, students make this mistake: If you have division with exponents.
If you have the same base for a numerator and denominator, but it’s X6 /
X3. Sometimes, students will say, “I’m just going to divide those
exponents.” What they say wrong is they’ll say it’s X6/3. X6/3 = X2. That
is completely wrong, do not do that. What you want to do when you divide
exponents, you subtract the exponents from one another. X6 / X3 is the same
thing as X6-3; X3, final answer.

One last error I want to show you, that students often make, is if you have
(2X)3. What students often do wrong is they will only apply the exponent to
the X. They’ll say “That is 2X3, final answer.” That is completely false.
Do not do that. What you’re going to do is apply the exponent to each
entity in the parentheses. The answer to (2X)3 is the same thing is 23 x X3
= 8X3, final answer.

Just go over those 4 rules I taught you, and you shouldn’t make any
careless mistakes when you see an exponent problem on the SAT. Good luck on
your test. I’ll talk to you soon.

Do the exponent rules confuse you? Which of the exponent rules trips you up the most?

Post your tips/comments below.

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October 5th, 2012
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Marathon Training and Test Preparation

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished, LLC located at 21 Eliot Street in South Natick, Massachusetts discusses similarities between marathon training and test preparation.

You do not want to jump into rigorous preparation at week one of a sixteen week training schedule. Rather, you want to prepare and build you miles/study harder and longer gradually.

Test Preparation

You don’t want to cram a few days before the test, nor do you want to run a 20 + mile run the week of the marathon!

On test day/marathon day, you want to move through the test steadily and pace yourself well.

Doing Test Prep Right! Marathon Training and Test Preparation Article

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hey, everyone. Alexis Avila, founder of Prepped and Polished LLC, here at our new office in South Natick, Massachusetts. Now studying for a standardized and preparing for a marathon are really quite similar. This April, I recently completed my first marathon in Boston, and believe me, it was not easy. To cross both finish lines, you have to spend a good four to five months preparing, doing smart preparation. So here are some similarities between marathon training and test preparation training.Now when you train for a marathon, you don’t want to, week one, go out of the gates and run a 20-miler. Okay? You’re going to collapse. It’s not going to work well. Similarly, when you train for a standardized test, you don’t want to dive right into rigorous preparation right away. You have to figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Get familiar with the test format, the types of questions you’re going to find on the test. Once you figure out the road map, then you can start to study harder and really crank up those miles. Now any marathon runner will tell you that if you run a 20 plus-miler the week of the actual marathon, you’re going to heighten your chance of injury. Similarly, you don’t want to cram for the SAT a few days before the big test. See, cramming for the SAT could hurt your concentration and injure you mentally on test day. See, if you spread out your SAT studying over a series of months and get some ample rest, you’ll put yourself in the best position to ace the exam.Okay, it’s the big day, and if you want to run a marathon, you have to run a smart race. That means on race day you got to hydrate well and run in a relaxed and comfortable pace. Now on test day, you don’t want to rush through the test and make a bunch of careless mistakes. That could hurt your score. Nor do you want to spend any significant amount of time on one problem. What you want to do is you want to move quickly but carefully through the easy problems at the beginning, and then you want to slow down when you encounter the medium and difficult problems. Now if you get stuck on any one given problem, you’re going to circle that problem and go back to it if you have time. Like a marathon, on a standardized test, you’ll score the best if you pace yourself wisely from start to finish. Okay, I wish you really good luck on your test preparation. And whether you prepare for a test or a marathon, just remember, prepare yourself well. I wish you good luck and I will talk to you soon.

Have you considered running a marathon? How else is marathon training similar to test preparation?

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June 19th, 2012
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Well-rounded, or Lop-sided: What do Colleges Really Want?

Writing Tutor By Meagan Phelan, Writing Tutoring Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC

When applying to college, you’re likely to hear about “the importance of being well-rounded.” It seems to be common knowledge that colleges look for students who’ve shown interest not only in school work, but in other pursuits, like sports, theater, music, or volunteering. Y

The reasoning is clear. These endeavors challenge you in different ways than classwork does and help you develop sensibilities separate from those you can hone as a student. For my part, I know that four years on the high school cross-country, swim and track teams taught me that even the hardest workouts—the ones that exhausted me physically and taunted me, “you can’t finish!”—were doable; I felt more confident at critical moments, like job interviews, as a result. Hours of practicing the violin, meanwhile, slowly grew in me a reserve of patience developed nowhere else; that came in handy when big school research projects required my long commitment. And I remember my theater classmates, whose work on the stage translated to confidence in public speaking, which I greatly admired.

Colleges want bodies of students who reflect these qualities: determination, confidence, patience. So as you work hard in the classroom (which is indeed critical), remember that the work you are doing elsewhere—as a Scout, volunteer, or lacrosse player—is shaping you, too. Take a moment to reflect on the way in which these activities are impacting how you approach the world; could you sum it up in a sentence?

Deviating slightly, I heard an interesting discussion recently, with respect to what colleges seek as they evaluate student candidates. Though colleges want “well-rounded” classrooms, they do not want well-rounded applicants; that is, students who are “jacks-of-all trades” and masters of none. The advice stemming from this discussion was to focus on a specific extracurricular about which you are passionate in order to reflect your investment in it. (We often do this naturally anyway.)

But focusing on one area—putting all eggs in one basket—is still not the goal; rather, the remaining advice was to layer your passion in diverse ways that guide you toward a greater understanding of it. (For example, if your passion were water color, find a way to explore that interest in your local community, perhaps by leading a class at a local retirement home. Do you like to teach? If your passion were Spanish, get involved in translating websites for local businesses who require Spanish webpages. Do you enjoy applying your skills in the business world?)

Simply put, these kinds of effort in an area you love separate you from the next student.
As you work hard now, in high school, you are likely already taking steps to stand out. This is just another to consider; what’s great, too, is that it involves more deeply pursuing that which you enjoy.

And don’t worry; if you haven’t found your “passion” yet, pursue what you appreciate, whatever that may be. Your motivation for investing time in such activities will fall out naturally when it comes time to articulate who you are in a college admissions essays (or in the world beyond). And all the while, you’ll be cultivating aspects of your character that you will call on for the rest of your life!

Meagan Phelan holds an M.A. in Science Writing from The Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD and a B.A. in Biology from Gettysburg College in Gettysburg, Pa. She has freelanced as a science writer and is a Fulbright Scholar. She currently works as a Senior Writer and Editor at AIR Worldwide, a catastrophe risk modeling firm based in Boston.

Is it more important for students to be well-rounded or to be a master of one craft? Do colleges look at both?

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May 18th, 2012
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College Admissions Tips
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