Saturday, August 24, 2013

3 Ways to Refuel a Drained Brain

Alarms, homework, and close-toed shoes. Yes, summer is officially over. 

One of the drawbacks of a relaxing summer is the brain drain that occurs after months of limited academic activity. An idle brain over the summer makes for a sluggish start to the school year. 

So how do you recharge and refuel a drained brain? How can you jump into the school year focused and ready to learn? 

If your brain is drained after a summer of lethargy, here are three ways to get your brain alert, active and ahead of your peers: 

1) Read Ahead: 

Most courses follow a syllabus or a text book. If you know what is coming, read ahead and get ahead. I spent part of my summer tutoring a rising fourth grader who had missed a lot of school in third grade. Instead of reviewing what he missed in third grade, we studied what he will learn in fourth grade. When his class starts to learn about the California Missions this coming year, he will already be comfortable with the material. A little sneaky perhaps, but get comfortable with material before it is assigned. And no worries if you don't fully understand everything you read ahead. Even coming up with questions about upcoming material will recharge a drained brain. 

2) Do Extra Work

Doing extra work sounds dreadful, right? Fear not. You only need to do enough extra work to get your summer brain refocused. For example, if your teacher assigns just the odd math problems, do the even ones as well until you achieve mastery of the subject. Once your extra work is no longer challenging, move onto to other pursuits. Be sure you do a little extra in the beginning of the year. Not only will you get ahead of your peers, you will also practice problems and questions that may appear on a test. 

3) Make Connections:

An excellent way to recharge a brain, and keep a brain working optimally, is to continually make connections. Making connections means taking one topic and relating it to another topic. For example, connect a history lesson to literature you are reading. Or connect your chemistry homework to an everyday situation. The deeper the connections you make, the more active your brain becomes. If you can weave what you have learned into what you are learning, your brain will be a tapestry of profound knowledge. 

Combat the intellectual fatigue brought on by summer by reading ahead, doing extra work and making connections. Your brain will thank you. 

Learn more ways to refuel a drained brain and get ahead in class with tutoring from CROSSWALK, Monterey's local resource for tutoring, test prep and SAT/ACT Boot Camps. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

SAT vs ACT: Which is Better?

A recent article in the New York Times lays out a great case of why more students are taking both the ACT and the SAT. Check it out here.

The SAT vs ACT debate is a frequent topic of conversation with my students and their families. Many families want to know: which test is better, the ACT or the SAT?

Nowadays, colleges will accept either score.

So the bottom line, I tell my students, is to figure out which test is better for that particular student. As the New York Times article describes, some students prefer the more straightforward and predictable layout of the ACT, while others like the gaming, scoring and shorter sections on the SAT.

Take both and see which one yields a better score. Once you figure that out, focus test prep for only one test. Assuming the college of choice will accept either score, a student would be wise to ignore one test and strictly focus on the preparation for the other. Guide books, private tutoring or other instruction can be an excellent way to boost test scores.

Also remember that some colleges don't even look at test scores (click here for a list of schools that do not emphasize SAT or ACT scores in their admission process).

Maximize your test prep by focusing on one test. Contact CROSSWALK to learn more about our private tutoring, Boot Camps and academic tutoring on the Monterey Peninsula.