Posts Tagged ‘Writing Tips’

Episode #130, Nived Ravikumar, The College Statement Guru Gives His Best Essay Tips

On episode 130, Alexis Avila talks writing tutor Nived Ravikumar, AKA the Statement Guru. Nived took a pretty unusual path to essay educator extraordinaire. Born and raised in Southern California, he became obsessed with movies at a young age. In high school, he became so preoccupied with writing screenplays that he went on to major in Film Studies from UCal Santa Barbara and obtain a Masters from Chapman University (M.F.A in Film Production). Today Nived uses his creative writing talents to help thousands of students all over the world learn to tell unique, engaging college admissions narratives. Nived’s admissions statement philosophy? Tell a great story! Involve readers! Get them to care! On today’s episode Nived will give you his best tips for writing amazing, unique college admissions essays.

Nived’s 4 tips for writing college essays: 1. Don’t cram everything in it. 2. Create a dynamic title to act as your anchor throughout 3. Do a force retype, instead of superficial edits 4. Focus on the “hero’s journey” so don’t be afraid to show your flaws and how you were able to persevere and learn from mistakes.

Nived’s no no’s for writing essays: Don’t be redundant and don’t play it so safe!

Nived’s advice for teens? It’s great to have an idea of your long term goals but don’t be afraid to change your mind while in college and explore other possibilities. Be adaptive!

For another related conversation, check out podcast Episode #72 with Elly Swartz: How to start, write, and revise the college admissions essay

College Statement Guru

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July 11th, 2016
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Episode 73, Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know

On this episode of The Prepped & Polished podcast, Alexis Avila lists five grammar tips every student should know.

  1. Always use active voice
  2. Wordiness
  3. Serial comma vs. Semicolon
  4. Apostrophes
  5. Quotation Mark Placement


ep 73 five grammar tips

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June 24th, 2015
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Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know Infographic

Good grammar is an essential skill for every successful student, but the number of grammar rules to remember can be dizzying. Here are five essentials to help you up your grammar-game, especially when it comes to writing.

grammar1

Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know: click here for Infographic (PDF).

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June 15th, 2015
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Five Grammar Tips Every Student Should Know

Five Grammar Tips

Good grammar is an essential skill for every successful student, but the number of grammar rules to remember can be dizzying. Here are five essentials to help you up your grammar-game, especially when it comes to writing.

  1. Always use active voice.
    In the active voice, subjects of a sentence perform the action expressed in the verb. In the passive voice, this is reversed, and the subject is acted upon. Using the active voice makes your meaning clearer to readers, and helps you omit another grammar faux-pas…
  2. Wordiness
    It’s easy to get caught up in writing and include more words than you actually need. Never use two words where one will suffice, and strive to omit unnecessary details, adjectives, and adverbs.
  3. Serial Comma vs. Semicolon
    Never forget to pay attention to your punctuation! When it comes to lists, serial commas are used for three or more items. A semicolon is reserved for joining together two related ideas.
  4. Apo’strophes’
    Apostrophes are only used to show possession or missing letters in the midst of contractions. For example, in “it’s”, the apostrophe stands in for the dropped <i> of “It is”.  Alternately, in “Mary’s  book” the apostrophe is used to show that the book belongs to Mary. Apostrophes are only used with in plural words in the case of plural possessions, such as the “the students’ books”. They definitely don’t belong in the middle of a sentence!
  5. Quotation Mark Placement
    Make no mistake, periods and commas always go inside a pair of quotation marks! However, a dash, semicolon, exclamation mark, or question mark goes outside the quotation marks if the quotation marks do not encompass the entire sentence.

With these tips on your side, your grammar will improve by leaps and bounds!

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June 2nd, 2015
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Episode 52 : Dr. Bonnie Singer, Teaching Students to Overcome Challenges with Their Writing

Listen to Bonnie’s interview on Soundcloud

On episode 52 of The Prepped & Polished Podcast Alexis talks to Dr. Bonnie Singer. Bonnie is founder and CEO of Architects For Learning, which provides educational intervention and assessment services to underperforming students in grades K-12 as well as teacher education in instructional methods for teaching literacy nation-wide. She is co-developer of EmPOWER, a method for teaching expository writing, and Brain Frames, graphics for supporting language, learning, and literacy. Bonnie is author of numerous publications on methods for assessing and teaching writing, reading, listening, speaking, executive functions, self-regulation of learning, higher-level thinking, and critical literacy skills. On today’s episode, Bonnie talks about challenges students face with writing, and why writing is hard for so many people, why kids struggle with it, why teachers struggle to teach it, and how it relates to reading.

Enjoy, Thanks for Listening and remember at The Prepped and Polished Podcast, We Empower You to Take Control of Your Education!

ep 52 Bonnie Singer

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March 19th, 2015
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There/Their/They’re? How to Avoid a Common Grammar Mix-up

If there’s one grammatical error that tends to trip people up again and again, it’s when to use there, their, or they’re. Picking the incorrect usage is especially common among students, but make no mistake, adults frequently make this error too (just scroll through your Facebook feed for proof!). Here’s a quick breakdown between the three, and helpful tips to remember when to use which word.

handraise

 

  • There:<There> is used to represent a place, like in the sentence Please put the hat over there, where <there> represents where the hat should be placed.If you’re using <there> in a sentence, think of another word used to represent places, <here>. <Here> fits nicely into <there>, so you can be sure you’re using the right spelling!
  • Their:<Their> is used to show plural possession, like in the sentence Their hats belong on the rack, with <their> meaning a group of individuals.To be sure you’re using<their> correctly, try substituting <our> into the sentence. For example, Our hats belong on the rack is just as correct as Their hats belong on the rack, making the usage of <their> correct.
  • They’re:<They’re> is a contraction, the shortened version of <they are>. It can be used in a sentence like They’re going to buy some hats, with <they’re> standing in for <they are>. To be sure to use this word correctly, always test if the sentence still makes sense when you use the full spelling of <they are>.

With these tips in mind, you’ll be a pro at picking the correct usage in no time, and will even be able to write such sentences as They’re going to put their hats over there!

There, Their, They’re INFOGRAPHIC

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February 13th, 2015
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Mastering the SAT Essay in 25 Minutes: The Bode Miller Approach

SAT Writing Instructor Terri of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you how to approach the SAT essay. Similar to the way Bode Miller approaches an Olympic skiing event, Terri shares Gold Medal advice on how to pace yourself wisely during this section.

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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 4th, 2014
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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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Five Writing Tips for High School Students

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

You are in high school; undoubtedly, you’ve got more papers to write than you’ll have ’til, well, college. Yup, you’ll be writing late into the night for many nights to come, exercising your writing muscle to its fullest potential.

How, then, to make it stronger? How can you ensure the writing you’ve got to do will be better than it’s been?

In my experience, great writers follow a few simple rules.

1) Read.
Great writers are great readers, too. If you find reading tedious or have trouble making time for it, don’t worry; reading is like distance running. The more you do it, the better you get at doing it efficiently, which often means you’ll like it more. Try setting your favorite online newspaper as your homepage on the internet. Make it a goal to read two articles a day; often times, topics in the news make great topics for papers you’re writing, or for important conversations you need to have during college interviews. Another way to incorporate reading into your daily schedule is to consider your nighttime routine; do you dabble on Facebook, or play games on your phone? Swap out your computer or phone for a book. Read a chapter a night before bed. (It’ll help you sleep!)

2) Put the strongest word at the end of the sentence.
(Which of the following sounds more powerful? The adopted girl realized she could not be at peace until she found her mom, the woman she was related to.The adopted girl realized she could not be at peace until she found her mom, the woman to whom she was related.) It may seem a subtle difference, but it goes a long way to make the meaning of your writing clear.

3) Delete “There is,” or “There are,” any chance you get.
These are filler words that can easily be replaced with a little editing. For example, try changing, “There is a lot to be done around the house today,” to “A lot remains to be done around the house.” Doing so means every word you write is valuable. Makes your writing pack more punch.

Tutoring

4) Ask for feedback.
The only kind of feedback that doesn’t make you a better writer is feedback that is dishonest. Teachers can provide good feedback; you don’t have to only solicit feedback from teachers though. You can submit an e-copy of something you’ve written for school to a local newspaper author (you can often find email contacts of these authors online). You can also submit your writing to teachers at your school that aren’t your teachers, but who focus on writing.

5) When describing complicated (or even simple but lengthy) processes, follow the AB-BC-CD method.
That is, make the last word of a sentence the first word (or concept) of the next sentence, and so on, until the description of the process is complete. Here’s an example: Everyone needs a widget. A widget works because the wire inside it is based on a complex architecture. The architecture allows the wire to perform varied tasks. The tasks the widget can perform include emitting light and absorbing moisture.

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.

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April 27th, 2012
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