New School Year!!!

It is the start of a new school year, and with that comes a lot of pressure on students and parents. As a teacher, I both dreaded and anticipated the beginning of the year; it was the end of the care-free summer, but also it was a great opportunity for students to start fresh.

Some students don’t see a new school year as a fresh start, and already feel defeated before walking through the doors of a classroom.  I find this is especially pervasive in students who claim “I’m just not good at Math.”  For some reason Math has gotten a particularly bad rap among students who don’t “get it” in a matter of instants.

I do not believe that anyone is naturally good or bad at Math; it is a learned subject just like language or an instrument.  Six years ago, when I was a teacher in Portugal, I began offering tutoring services and realized that students had the wrong idea about Math.  I also realized that “just” teaching Math wasn’t the antidote; I needed to change a student’s thinking and opinion of their abilities.

As an avid reader of books about the positive effects of thought and a certified 500-hour advanced yoga instructor, I began to work holistically with my students with staggering results: one student (struggling with a move from South Africa to Portugal) went from a D in her International Baccalaureate class to a B by year end of her 12th grade year, another student with severe dyspraxia went from a C student (with massive accommodations) to a B student with very few accommodations.

Recently, after moving back to the United States, I decided my work was best suited exclusively for private tutoring.  I would take all of my effort and energy and put them into helping as many students as I could change their mindsets and self esteem through Math and ACT test prep.  I have seen huge gains in scores and grades this past school year, and equate that to my unique approach and ability to connect with students.

I am grateful to be living my passion and helping as many students as I can each year!  I love what I do and am very successful in using calming techniques, self-esteem building, and breath to improve grades, to alter mindsets, and to change lives.

Please visit my website at 6oulx.hosts.cx if you would like to know more!



How to get motivated to study for ACT

When I was in high school, there was this underlying belief that you couldn’t really study for the SAT or ACT.  There was an attitude of, “You either know it, or you don’t,” which I now believe is completely false.  Not only is it very possible to study for these tests, but they are actually easy to completely master in a relatively short amount of time.

So you have decided to take on work with a great private tutor, or are following some specific program to structure your studying…but you lack the motivation…what can you do?

To succeed at the ACT or SAT, you have to want it.  Forcing yourself to study will ear off quickly as the days go by and you have other, more appealing, options at hand.  In order to get yourself to want it, my recommendation is that you have to see a deep intrinsic benefit to scoring higher.

Of course higher scores mean more scholarship money, which if  your family is strapped for cash might be a huge motivation for you.

Higher scores also mean a greater likelihood of admission into various colleges and universities!  But Yale or Harvard are only motivators if you actually WANT to go to Yale or Harvard.

So here is my suggestion to you, and it is a bit radical, but trust me, it works!

1. Figure out what your greatest passions are today

2. Find specific colleges that tailor to those passions in the academic setting

3. Find colleges that have the social life you desire

4. Find colleges that have the extra-curricular opportunities you desire

5. Set these schools as your dream schools

The number one issue with motivation is if you are studying to get into the wrong school for you!  Most students are pushed or coerced by parents to go to specific colleges but I find that it is utterly impossible to have a student self-motivated if the colleges to which he/she is applying does not make his/her heart sing out with joy.

Do yourself a favor and make this big decision for yourself without high regard to the prestige or amount of money you can make by picking certain colleges and majors.  In the long-run your life will be on it’s true track toward what makes you happy and fulfilled as an adult.

Take the choice of which college to attend into your own hands and you will find huge motivation to study for the ACT/SAT because it is something that you truly desire within your heart.


How to study for the ACT

There comes a point where you begin to feel like you don’t know what to do to study for the ACT.  Where do you start?!

Let’s talk about math here and you can also apply this information for studying for the other parts of the test…

So first the types of math tested on the ACT….

1. Pre-Algebra/Elementary Algebra
Pre-Algebra (20-25%)
  • Basic operations using whole numbers, decimals, fractions, and integers

  • Place value

  • Square roots and approximations

  • The concept of exponents

  • Scientific notation

  • Factors

  • Ratio, proportion, and percent

  • Linear equations in one variable

  • Absolute value and ordering numbers by value

  • Elementary counting techniques and simple probability

  • Data collection, representation, and interpretation

  • Understanding simple descriptive statistics

Elementary Algebra (15-20%)
  • Properties of exponents and square roots

  • Evaluation of algebraic expressions through substitution

  • Using variables to express functional relationships

  • Understanding algebraic operations

  • The solution of quadratic equations by factoring

2. Intermediate Algebra/Coordinate Geometry
Intermediate Algebra (15-20%)
  • The quadratic formula

  • Rational and radical expressions

  • Absolute value equations and inequalities

  • Sequences and patterns

  • Systems of equations

  • Quadratic inequalities

  • Functions and modeling

  • Matrices

  • Roots of polynomials

  • Complex numbers

Coordinate Geometry (15-20%)
  • Graphing and the relations between equations and graphs, including points, lines, polynomials, circles, and other curves

  • Graphing inequalities

  • Slope

  • Parallel and perpendicular lines

  • Distance

  • Midpoints

  • Conics

3. Plane Geometry/Trigonometry
Plane Geometry (20-25%)
  • Properties and relations of plane figures, including angles and relations among perpendicular and parallel lines

  • Properties of circles, triangles, rectangles, parallelograms, and trapezoids

  • Transformations

  • The concept of proof and proof techniques

  • Volume

  • Applications of geometry to three dimensions

Trigonometry (5-10%)
  • Trigonometric relations in right triangles

  • Values and properties of trigonometric functions

  • Graphing trigonometric functions

  • Modeling using trigonometric functions

  • Use of trigonometric identities

  • Solving trigonometric equations


You can see there is a lot of information here, but what do you actually study?  Do you need to study an entire course in trigonometry in order to get a high score on the ACT?!?!?!  What about reviewing all 16 chapters of the Geometry course you took freshman year?!

The answer to these questions is NOOOOO!!!

In all honesty, you only need to study the pieces that will be on a test, and the things you don’t already know.

I know that seems logical, but for some reason I see a lot of students wasting time reviewing things they already know because it gives them this false sense of confidence.  What you really need to zero-in-on are the things you don’t know and use those to eliminate weaknesses.

So make flashcards of all questions you get wrong when you take a practice test and study those questions as often as possible.  There are only so many types of questions on both the ACT and SAT.  Once you go through enough sample test questions, you will start to see patterns and repeats of the same things over and over again.  So familiarize yourself with the test and continue to review your past mistakes over and over resolving the flashcards for the correct answer.  Once you know the card inside and out, then you can put it in a separate pile that you go through less often.

If you missed a question once, but learned it again and again, you won’t miss a similar question again when you see it on the ACT.

General Benefits of Private Tutoring

We all know that students with access to private tutors tend improve faster in subjects of difficulty than those without tutors.  By WHY?  What does tutoring really do for students?

  • Provides personalized attention

  • Improves grades

  • Increases knowledge and understanding of subjects

  • Increases motivation to succeed

  • Provides intensive practice

  • Allows progress at own pace

  • Leads to better use of study time

  • Improves self-esteem and confidence

  • Encourages higher levels of learning

  • Encourages self-directed learning

  • Reduces competition

  • Provides praise, feedback, and encouragement

  • Provides review of skills not mastered but no longer taught

  • Creates a sense of power and independence by the student

These are big pieces in the puzzle of how to get students to actually start liking school and feeling like they are capable of success!

Private tutoring is a financial investment, but if your child is struggling to achieve in school or doesn’t  like school, it is worth finding a tutor to help them.  Also, this does not mean that they will need tutoring forever.  A year of tutoring, in some cases, can completely transform a student.

New School-Year Habits

What are habits that can make this school year get off on the right foot?

1. Do your homework as soon as you get home.  Have a snack and relax for a few minutes, but don’t wait until late at night.  You will feel tired and work inefficiently.  The sooner you do your work, the fresher it is in your mind.

2. Keep a planner with all of your assignments in it.  Get really good at recording assignments so nothing is missed or forgotten.

3. Pick out your clothing the night before.  If choosing what to wear in the morning is a source of stress, pick something the night before and then stick with it.  You can waste less time worrying about what you’re wearing and start out the day feeling better.  The fewer choices to make in the morning, the better.

4. Choose a bedtime.  I know that it sounds really juvenile to have a “bed time” but all humans need good sleep at every age, and it is important that you are well rested.  Sleep makes you more able to learn and gives your brain the time it needs to process the information from the night before.   Try to get to bed before 11pm if possible.  There is science that shows that sleep before midnight is more effective than sleep after midnight.

5. Drink a big class of water right when you wake up, and then wait at least 10 minutes to eat anything.  Sleep is dehydrating, and it is important for the brain to be hydrated in order to function well.  I keep a big glass of water next to my bed while I sleep and drink it immediately when I wake up.

These are just a few relatively simple things you can do to make this school year more successful than the last!!!

Enjoy back-to-school time!!!

How Raising Grades and Test Scores Can Save You BIG Money!

Everyone knows that merit-based aid is based on merit, but what is all of your hard work actually worth?

$62: Each “A” on a teen’s transcript generated $62 worth of merit aid.

$400: Teenagers received roughly $400 for each tough course that they took. Courses that would qualify included Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate, and honors.

$115: Each 10-point improvement in the SAT above the average for Rochester freshmen garnered an extra $115.

Read more here

Also, there are monetized values for certain scholarships nationally that have certain cutoffs.

For example, at Baylor College, an ACT score of 34 will give you an automatic merit-based scholarship of $20,000/year.  32 gives $17,00 and 28 gives $14,500

This could give you up to $80,000 in savings over your entire degree!!  You see how important high scores are?  High grades in hard classes don’t even come close to the total savings you might experience from high test scores…though they also contribute in a visible way!

Read more here