Monday, December 28, 2009

What Can Mom or Dad do to Help SAT Test Prep?

Standardized tests can be scary. Not all students thrive during timed-tests with pressure-inducing consequences.

So what’s a mom or dad to do? What can a parent, guardian or caregiver do to help out?

It’s a simple answer: get engaged.

Moms and dads, take note: you don’t need to be a successful test-taker for your teenager to succeed at the SAT. You don’t need to know all of the answers in the test booklet and you don’t need to know all of the strategies.

You simply need to be engaged with your student. Talk to him and her about what they know or don’t know.

The first place to start is the end goal. The end goal is the school your teenager wishes to attend. Get on that school’s website together and find out the test scores of the incoming students. That score becomes the goal to shoot for.

With that goal in mind, you can now engage your learner in meaningful discussions. This exercise alone will foster some discussions about the test and the strategy behind it.

But don’t end the conversation there. Continue to engage your student. Find reliable sources of information like and talk more about the test.

Make the test a journey with you and your teenager. Success with standardized tests requires preparation, support, confidence and repetition. You don’t have to know all the answers but you can be a great companion on your loved one’s trip.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Most Important SAT Tip

The number one most important SAT tip is Think With the End in Mind.

Simple enough, right?

Think With the End in Mind—I tell my students—means first figure out where you want to go to college. Even if you cannot decide on one school, narrow down your options to two or three.

Once you know the school or schools where you intend to apply, find out the average SAT score for the incoming students. Most schools post this information on their websites.
For example, about 10% of incoming Stanford students had a combined 2400 on their SATs. About 40% had a combined score of 2100-2399.

The score you find for your ideal school is now your goal, or your End.

Note that this score is “scaled” and based on your raw score. The raw score is basically a calculation of total correct answers minus ¼ incorrect answers (for most questions, you lose ¼ of a point if they are incorrect).

If you use the Official Guide to the SAT by the College Board, you can learn how the raw score is then converted into a scaled score. It’s a process that the College Board uses to standardize scores across all test takers.

In knowing your raw score, you know how many correct answers you need per section to achieve your scaled score. And this knowledge is more than half the battle.

This knowledge drives the strategy behind your approach to each and every question.

So Think With the End in Mind. This will determine your strategy which is really what the SAT is all about.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

SAT Crash Course Update

A quick update on the SAT Crash Course on November 21 and 22:

The class is strictly designed for a small group to keep the instruction highly personalized and focused.

As of Tuesday, November 10 there are still several spots available. Interest is high so spots may fill up quickly.

Materials can be provided, but I usually recommend that students bring their own books since they will want to work from them. The book we use is the Official SAT Guide produced by the College Board. The latest edition is best, but we can use older editions.

Contact Brooke directly at 831-70-TUTOR or for details on pricing, location and more.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

SAT Crash Course

Monterey locals take note: SAT Crash Course upcoming:

When: November 21st and 22nd from 8:30am-1:30pm
Where: The Stevenson School
Who: Ideally for those signed up for December 5th SAT, but anyone taking the SAT will benefit.

For more information, contact CROSSWALK. Call 831-70-TUTOR or email

Learn proven strategies that get results!

Friday, October 30, 2009

Routines: Boring but Effective

Part of what we do at CROSSWALK is to help with study skills. Many students simply need some guidance in terms of how to study, what to study and when to study.

Routines play a major role in successful study skills. The ability to keep a consistent schedule will make studying consistent and in turn learning will become consistent.

To maximize your study time, set up your own routine and follow it closely. Perhaps the first couple of hours after school are dedicated to extracurricular activities. And then dinner might follow.

After dinner, set up one to two hours of solid study time. Don't deviate. Dedicate the time needed to learn new material, prepare for exams or complete assignments. Even if you think you don't have anything to do you can always use that time to get ahead and learn more about a particular subject.

After a solid block of study time, have some time to relax. Watch some TV, play games, chat with friends or do something to refresh the brain. If you need to do more studying, take another block of time and focus on your studies.

Once you have a set routine you can always adjust. In fact, the beauty of a routine is that once you have it established you can learn that some activities might require more time and some might require less.

In all, one of the most important lessons learned in school is time management. Setting a routine will help you manage your time so you can maximize your study hours.

And if you don't set a routine, you might get lost and overwhelmed with outside influences that do not contribute to your academic learning. A routine may be boring, but they do work.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

My "Go To" Study Resource

No matter what the subject or what the objective, it's hard not to find an excellent use for Flash Cards.

I might argue that Flash Cards are the number one "go to" study resource.

I've used them for Foreign Languages, SAT Prep and even Math tutoring. They are so versatile since they can be personalized for any study use.

Vocabulary words is the obvious choice but any concepts that require definition or explanation can be captured in a Flash Card.

And the best part is when using Flash Cards, you can discard the words or concepts you know and focus on the most challenging topics. This is a great way to optimize studying.

Next study time, try some Flash Cards. Old school, but very effective.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Why CROSSWALK Offers a FREE Consultation

For most students, the educational landscape evolves over time. New teachers, new classes and new skills tutorstudent.jpgrequire students to be able to adapt and adjust to learning environments.

Despite this ever-changing atmosphere, one thing remains constant: successful learning truly takes place when a strong relationship is created between the teacher and the student.

Think about your favorite teacher: you undoubtedly learned more because you enjoyed working with and for that particular instructor.

We take the same approach at CROSSWALK. After hundreds of students and many tutors, the relationship between the student and the tutor is always the determining factor for success.

For this reason, we offer free consultations. The first meeting is the chance for the tutor to meet the student and vice versa. If a strong match is made, the chances for success grow. If there is not a strong match, then CROSSWALK will work to find a better match at no charge.

As much as we are in the educational business, we find ourselves more in the relationship business.

It’s the relationship between the student and the tutor that truly matters. CROSSWALK won’t rest until we’ve found the right match for all.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Overcome Test Anxiety

At CROSSWALK, we see a number of students that struggle with test taking. Many bright, articulate and well-rounded students freeze up during test time.

There is something about a test environment that creates nerves and lowers self-confidence.

So if you are struggling with test taking, try some of these techniques to improve your results:

1) Keep the Confidence Up: build yourself up before, during and after the test. Tell yourself you are just as smart, or smarter, than the next student. Often times, test taking is more about your internal confidence than your knowledge. This is most true during standardized tests.
2) Don't Spend Too Much Time on One Question: this obviously depends on the test, but the advice is applicable in a lot of settings. If you cannot develop a good answer quickly, move on to the next question. You can always go back, so score points where you can. Taking too much time will also lower your self-confidence.
3) Stay Calm: part of successful test taking is the ability to stay calm and focused for the entire time. Take deep breaths and eliminate any extraneous thoughts.
4) Make Sure You Are Answering the Question: sounds obvious, but may test takers don't read all of the directions or they don't understand precisely what is being asked. Many teachers want to ensure you know the material, so they will plant traps or tricks to catch people that don't read the directions or understand the question. Take the time to understand exactly what is being asked.
5) Double Check Your Answers: this is the oldest trick in the book, but extremely necessary. When reviewing tests the next day, many students find silly errors or slips that could have easily been avoided if they checked their work. So take the extra time to check your work.

These are just some techniques to overcome test anxiety. Ultimately it comes down to preparation, focus, confidence and practice. Tell yourself you are good test taker, study for the test and practice the good habits listed above and test anxiety will be a thing of the past.

Monday, September 21, 2009

What are the Best SAT Resources?

CROSSWALK has specialized in SAT preparation over the past five years.

Over that time, one question dominates the SAT scene: what is the best way to study for the test?

The answer to that question depends on the student and this or her goals. That said, here are two resources that I always recommend:

1) Kaplan SAT Prep Book/Course: Kaplan has some excellent resources, particularly when it comes to strategy. I've used a lot of their books with other test preparation, like GMAT, and I've found them to be spot on. Their classes are great as well, albeit a bit pricey for some.

2) The Official SAT Guide: this book is produced by the same organization that produces the SAT. I encourage all of my students to take as many of the 10 full-length tests as possible. Time them and score them. Uncover strengths and weaknesses. Knowing these will help prepare future studying and test taking.

As far as other resources, I recommend the College Board website. There are some great tools, like SAT Question of the Day and online courses, that can keep the mind fresh.

One final note: I shy away from anything other than Kaplan or College Board for my SAT prep courses. I've found other study guides to be too easy. If the studying is too easy, students freeze up when they get to the more difficult questions on the actual SAT.

Kaplan provides great strategy, College Board provides great questions. Stick with these two and you should be okay.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Good Tutor Connects the Dots

Most students are bombarded with many learning resources.

Books, websites, teachers, parents, siblings and even other students are all viable tools to faciliate the learning process. But with so many resources, a student can get overwhelmed.

Sometimes the best way to navigate the ocean of information is to utilize someone that can connect all of the dots.

A good tutor will be able to optimize the information flow and connect the dots.

A good tutor will cut through the clutter and determine the most useful and important information.

A good tutor will help the student understand what the best resources are and what resources to avoid.

Usually this process takes time as the tutor learns the student's learning style and capabilities. But even if it takes time, the results should speak for themselves as the student will learn how to study better and how to learn more optimally.

So if you need to connect the educational dots, consider some sessions with a tutor.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

SAT Road Show!

CROSSWALK is taking our SAT Prep course on the road!

Two-day workshop over Labor Day weekend in Auburn, CA.

Contact us to join the show.

Monday, August 31, 2009

3 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Tutor

CROSSWALK serves student and life learners alike. We supplement the classroom setting and we also create our own curriculum and program depending on the student's needs.

However, most of our clients fall into the first category: they need some help in addition to the classroom work. This post is directed towards these same students and their families.

CROSSWALK is not simply about hiring a tutor. CROSSWALK is more about finding the right supplemental education fit so a student can achieve both academic and life goals.

So before you jump into finding a tutor, ask yourself these three questions:

1) Can I schedule some extra help from my teacher?

Sometimes it's impossible, but the first place to start is with the current teacher. If there is a gap between a student's expectations and the student's results, the teacher can be the first to recommend a program.

2) Is there another resource available on campus?

Most local schools offer a resource center with study guides, tutors and extra help. Often times, a regular visit to the resource director is all a student needs.

3) Can Mom or Dad help out?

Many times, a student simply needs some motivation and support. Mom and Dad might not have the subject knowledge, but they can certainly help encourage and direct.

If you answered "YES" to any of them, consider your other options.

But if you've answered "NO" to all three questions, then it is probably a good idea to think about a tutor.

Wherever your decision-making process leads you, give us a call and we can offer some ideas.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

It's the Teacher's Fault, Isn't It?

Learning is complex. Students respond to different materials and different methods.

We see this time and time again. In a classroom setting, especially when there are a lot of other students, the needs of one particular student can get overlooked. It's a fact of the matter.

Despite a teacher or a school's best efforts, some kids fall through the cracks. Other kids don't achieve their potential.

It can be frustrating for the student, the parent, the teacher, the school and anyone else involved.

But don't be too quick to blame the teacher. I've heard it time and time again from CROSSWALK's clients. They bad mouth the teacher for not helping the student.

While that may be the case for some students, the vast majority of our clients find that there are other factors involved. Simply blaming the teacher is an easy excuse, but underneath there might be other learning challenges like too many distractions or lack of motivation.

Whatever the case, a tutor is a great resource. A tutor can sift through the learning challenges and personalize a program to achieve maximum results.

We do it everyday at CROSSWALK. Achieving a student's academic potential is what drives us.

After all, we're teachers. And we're here to serve your academic needs.

CROSSWALK Celebrates 7 Years

It all started back in 2002. I was starting an MBA program at M.I.I.S. and I had reconnected with some of my high school teachers. One requested that I tutor a student of hers in Spanish. One student led to two, two led to four and soon I had more than I could handle. It was great for me because I didn't have to do some work study desk job! And since I was pursuing my MBA, I figured I'd start a business. I hired out my classmates and CROSSWALK was born.

Thinking back, I had no idea I'd still be tutoring and helping people achieve their learning goals. It's been great fun. CROSSWALK has seen a lot of learning: SAT courses at Soledad HS, ESL classes for Scheid Vineyards field supervisors, private instruction for all of the Monterey Peninsula high schools and everything in between. Even a crash Spanish course for an elderly couple preparing for a trip to Nicaragua! All great--and wonderfully learning--experiences.

I've even got to travel a bit and take my SAT prep show on the road. I'll be doing some SAT prep classes in Auburn, CA in September. Who knew?

Yet at the core we still remain a small, flexible and responsive service. We still aim to personalize our programs and we pride ourselves on hiring only the best instructors.

So far a recipe for success, but more a recipe for serving the tutoring and supplementary education needs of our clients.