Get Ready for AP Exams

In the middle of March students and parents look forward to Spring Break, vacations, and some needed relaxation time. After almost an entire school year of getting through another academic grade, families and their students have cause to feel worn out.  For those parents who help their children with homework, Spring Break is a needed respite from the homework routine.

Unfortunately, I have to be the bearer of bad news for some parents and students.

Those who are studying for Advanced Placement (AP) Exams have a deadline on the horizon–the two weeks in May devoted to taking AP Exams are creeping ever closer. As I mentioned in my post about why AP scores matter, which you can find here, parents and their students should use this time to begin preparations for the exams.

Many parents don’t know how to help their child succeed.  They may not be familiar with the content of the exams themselves–AP courses are on the level of college classes and require specially trained instructors to teach students the materials covered on the exam. Parents and students need to collaborate to come up with a study plan to ensure their students do the best they can when test day rolls around.

My advice is to have a family discussion to set clear goals for the student. Parents and their student should decide if the student should aim for a 3, 4, or 5 on the exam. Every student learns uniquely and at their own pace; outlining a plan is a surefire way to support the student’s education. Creating realistic goals for achievement allows students to improve their confidence.

There are many options to accommodate test preparation. Firstly, the student and parents can reach out to a teacher of the respective AP Course and ask for supplemental material. The teacher may be able to provide the student with extra practice exams so that the student can master the exam before the test date. Secondly, students and parents could prepare for the exam together with test preparation books. I have found this method to be effective.

Students and parents should also consider tutoring for the exams that they deem the most important for the student’s college goals. By adequately preparing for exams with tutors, parents and students can save money and time in the long run. If the student achieves a score of three or higher on the test, depending on the college the student attends, he or she can be awarded up to 30-40 hours of introductory college credit (depending on the number of exams taken)! Tutors, like many teachers of AP Exams, have expertise that covers the breadth of the exam’s content. Unlike many teachers, however, tutors can individualize the lesson plan for each student’s learning style. This equips the student with the best resources to tackle the exam, get great scores, and acquire college credit.

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the content of this post, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com.

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

Taking a Gap Year

When I was a senior in high school, none of my friends even considered a “Gap Year.” I do not think that any one of us had actually been exposed to the idea that a newly-graduated high school senior could take a year off from school before starting their college education. Now, the idea that students could, and maybe should, take time off to explore themselves, the world, and possible careers is in vogue. And why not? From personal experience, I will tell you that most college freshmen don’t even know what they should major in, much less what career they expect to pursue. It’s heinous that college students nowadays sign for thousands of dollars in loans but could not tell you what they are working toward. A year of self-discovery may give these students the necessary experience needed to see what jobs appeal to them, in addition to a year of personal growth. Many schools are beginning to encourage their students to take a Gap Year. For instance, the prestigious Harvard and Yale Universities promote taking time off to incoming freshman.[1]

For clarification purposes, students that take a gap year, like other juniors and seniors, take their SAT or ACT tests at the same time as their peers who intend to continue on to college immediately. These students would work hard to achieve their personal best scores, and then would apply to college in their the Senior year. Once admitted into a college, students who wish to take a gap year appeal to the college and ask permission to matriculate a year later.

Each of my friends who took a gap year before matriculating into college benefitted from a wider, yet more focused perspective than our peers. One friend developed an online presence through her social media in the year that she took off from school. She found her niche in creating jewelry, t-shirts, and artwork and has since been hailed as a rising star in that sector. Through her experience, she found out that she wanted to pursue a business marketing degree in order to further her ability to grow her own small business. Before her gap year, however, she didn’t have a clue as to what she wanted to study. This year of exploration grounded her in her interests, while also showing her that she lacked the skills necessary to run a business.

Another friend joined a year-long travel program that took him to countries all over the world–from islands in Oceania to Tierra del Fuego in Argentina. He encountered different cultures, learned new languages, and discovered interests that he had never known he would enjoy. In South America, for example, this young man learned that he enjoyed dancing! He had always felt uncomfortable at school dances, but when he immersed himself in the Latin culture, he found Tango and Salsa dancing exciting. He came back to school the next year completely changed by his experiences, yet he was also still uniquely himself. He decided he wanted to study medicine so that he could one day contribute to Doctors Without Borders. Some great Gap Year programs are Thinking Beyond Borders, Dynamy, and Youth International. Find some great advice and more in depth information at UsaGapYearFairs.org.

Had these two students went straight to college, they would not have had the perspective that they gained from their year off. Both of these students went back to school self-motivated and excited to learn skills that could help them in their career. Instead of feeling burnt-out from high school, they were fresh and ready to learn more.

If you want more information about the Gap Year and specific programs associated with them, please do not hesitate to contact me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com. Thanks for reading!

[1] Find Yale’s information on a Gap year at http://www.yale.edu/yalecollege/international/welcome/gap_year.html and Harvard’s at https://college.harvard.edu/admissions/preparing-college/should-i-take-time

rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)

 

About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
 
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

Improving Your Scholarship in High School

In high school, you typically are very busy with after school activities and may not have enough time to put into your studies.  Nonetheless, you can still find time to set aside for your studies and work on improving your overall GPA by using your time wisely. Do not quit one of your activities if you can. Instead work to plan strategies that will provide you with more time to study by changing with your schedule. Add a study hall to your schedule to give yourself more time to study during the day, or make sure to use the time you have before your extracurricular activities begin to study. During your lunch break, use the time to study if you have an upcoming test or quiz.  It is better to get your work done earlier than later because you will be less likely to focus at night and you won’t do your best. Do not wait until late at night to study because you will not retain the information you need to succeed and do not cram the night before.  Make sure when you study on the weekends to take a short break every hour, because you can only focus for a certain amount of time. Your short term memory cannot remember what it needs to and process loads of new information if you wait until the night before an examination to study. You should make sure to study for a test at least two to three weeks in advance to remember the information.

You should go through your notes from class and power points. Use these notes as a guide when you go through your book. Re-write or type your notes by combining the notes from class and adding the corresponding information from the text to study. You can write questions for yourself on flash cards or make a chart out of the information with the answer on the other side to review. If you make a chart, you can fold the paper or cover the answer over so that you can look at the question and write it out and then check your answer on the other side of the page afterward. Make sure to re-read the chapters at least two to three times. When you read the chapters, make sure to annotate your text with notes and highlight important definitions, words, or phrases that you think are important and that were discussed in class. You can also create a mnemonic device as code to remember information.  If you don’t re-read the chapters and write a set of review notes or highlight important information, you will not retain the material as well. You must learn to take good notes in high school if you want to succeed in college. Do not sit in the class and not take down as many notes as you can. You will not get the information you need out of the course and at the end of the semester; you won’t remember everything the teacher said in class. Organize your notes and save all of your papers to study for an exam study guide.

Try these strategies, and find a study plan that works best for you. You can also create a study group and compare notes to make sure that you wrote down all of the most pertinent information from the lecture. You do need to focus on more than just your grades if you want to get into college as they look for the best leaders. Whether  you sign up for the debate team, dance team, mathletes, cheerleading, band, foreign language club, forensics, social studies club, joining the band, doing ballet, gymnastics, playing a sport, or playing other musical instruments you must show that you are dedicated to becoming a well-rounded scholar that will contribute to their campus. These activities improve your ability to think and reason critically on a much higher level, which will help you succeed in your studies. You can also use these activities as a guide to choose a major. If you succeed at activities that use the right side of your brain you should choose a major that is artistic, while if you excel at activities that use the left side of your brain you should choose a major that is scientific. Thus, to do your best make sure to manage your time wisely, continue to do extracurricular activities, and you will begin improving your scholarship in high school.

Julie

 

About Julie

Julie is a tutor and featured blogger with Academic Advantage Online Tutoring who enjoys Reading, Writing, Studying the arts, humanities, and sciences.

Do AP Exam Scores Really Matter?

When I was in high school–the nerd that I am–I thought that AP Classes were adequately challenging. The endless essays and readings didn’t faze me! But, I know that was far from the truth for many of my peers. They struggled with the course load. They’d taken the AP courses in pursuit of getting into their dream schools, whichever school that may be, but my peers never believed that the AP scores would actually help them when they got to College. They just thought the scores were a ticket into their college of choice, not an integral part of helping them to achieve the most they could in their undergraduate career. To be honest, I didn’t really see it that way either. I had found classes that showed me a different side of learning, but I also did not see how AP scores would really matter once I got to college. I was just looking to get my foot in the (best) door.

In all things, experience brings wisdom. I remember receiving my assigned time to enroll in my first semester of classes late in the summer. The email from the university had come unexpectedly, and I was excited that my enrollment time was so soon. In fact, I felt quite puzzled because I knew other freshman whose enrollment times were way later than mine. I thought, what makes me so special?

Little did I know that the AP Scores I had sent to my college played an essential role in this process. Later, when I had access to the transcripts section of the “Student Portal” (the online website through which a student enrolls in classes, checks grades, financial aid awards, among other things), I had achieved Sophomore-status as a Freshman. But, I had never attended college before! It was really encouraging to feel that I had a head start.

When I finally declared my major, I had another surprise. The introductory AP History courses that I took (AP World and AP US History) helped me to place out of the 100-level classes necessary to the requirements of my major. Instead of taking the boring 100-level classes, I could take Special Topics courses, take an extra elective for fun, or simply take a lighter course-load that semester and pursue an internship instead. The flexibility that the AP credit had given me allowed me to develop new interests and skills outside of my major.

Bottom line–if you are thinking that AP scores won’t help you in the long run, you’re wrong. They totally can and will help you to get the most out of your college experience! More information on the AP Exam here https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/takingtheexam/about-exams

Any questions? Contact me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com

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Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring

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About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

 

 

Get a Head Start with the CLEP Exam

Students and their parents are usually aware of the Advanced Placement Program. The Advanced Placement Program is taken as a high school class, either in school or online. Through this class, the student learns a subject at the introductory College level. Students can take as many Advanced Placement or “AP” classes as their schools allow. Some schools offer AP classes to only Juniors and Seniors, while other schools offer these classes to students as freshman. The allure of the AP class is that the student–if they do well enough–can earn credit toward their college degree. This can come in handy when you’re trying to get ahead in college, especially if the student wants to graduate early. Sometimes AP credit comes in handy when a student has a heavy course-load and would rather take only three advanced-level classes in a semester, instead of four. There are all kinds of reasons why AP Scores can make your life easier as a college student. Two advantages of AP Credit are earlier enrollment times and placing out of General Education Requirements.

While the AP Exam is an excellent program to introduce you or your student to college-level work, there are other ways to earn college credit while still in high school! One of these methods is through taking the CLEP Exam (College Level Examination Program). The CLEP Exam offers 33 Exams in many of the same areas that the AP Exam covers, but the student is not required to take the class for the exam. The student can independently study for the exam, take the exam, and then use the exam toward gaining college credit!

So what does this mean for the student? Oftentimes, students struggle in the AP classes that their schools offer, and this may be a good alternative to gaining college credit while still in high school. Because the student does not have to take the AP Class, they could take an Honors-level class or a regular class and maintain their GPA. That way, the student wouldn’t have unnecessary stress levels trying to complete the rigor of work in the AP Class. On the other hand, many students take the CLEP Exam if their school does not offer the AP class on-site. For example, some schools may not offer AP German, but there is a CLEP Exam in that area, so the student can still take that exam for College credit if it is an exam that interests them!

As for non-traditional degree seekers, CLEP exams remain the best source to finally get your degree! The CLEP Exams can cover almost all introdu

ctory-level classes in college. By taking these exams, you can really get a foothold in finally graduating and moving forward in your career. More Information here on the exam  https://clep.collegeboard.org/overview/collegecredit

Thanks for reading! If you have any questions about the CLEP Exam, feel free to email me at rachelsstuart@gmail.com.

Like what you read? Follow Us!

Blog Post by Rachel S. Stuart a Tutor and Featured Blogger for Academic Advantage Tutoring
rachel-close-up-good-pic (183x200)About Rachel

I have always been a proud “nerd.” When I could, I always helped my friends with their homework because I just loved to teach them how to think about the world differently. In particular, history and writing have always been my specialties. When I was a little girl, my aspiration was to one day be a history professor! I hope to begin Master’s classes in the field of education and continue to be fascinated by changing technology in the classroom and different ways of engaging my students’ creativity!
Honors and awards: Phi Beta Kappa, Highest Honors in History Honors Program at Emory, Recipient of the Theodore H. Jack Award, Phi Alpha Theta, Pi Sigma Alpha, Dean’s List at Emory.

What to do if You Didn’t Get Accepted into College

If you did not get accepted into college and want to continue your education for your career goals such as nursing or accounting, don’t give up.  You can still get into college.  For students who have struggled with grades, SAT/ACT test scores and Compass Exam scores, you will need to put in extra time to study and build your basic skills.

There is no substitute for not having the academic background.  Take the full year to build critical skills such as Reading Comprehension, Grammar, Writing and Math.  Not only will you need to improve your academic level in these areas to improve your test scores, you will need to have mastered these subjects to do well in your college courses.  It is never too late to learn.  Don’t look at this time as failure, but as a new opportunity to learn the concepts that you did not learn or missed while in school.  The good news is that you are still young and have your entire life ahead of you to succeed.  When you get to college after taking the year to better yourself, you will find out that not all college freshmen are 18 years old and just graduated from high school.  You will not be the only student that did not enter college directly out of high school.

We have had students to come to the learning center everyday for a year to fill in gaps in math, reading comprehension, grammar and writing to prepare for college.  Those students took that year and worked hard in class and on home assignments to gain the knowledge and confidence needed and successfully went on to college.

We have had adult students to come to the learning center to improve Reading, Math and Writing skills after working for years and realizing that higher education would improve their ability to receive raises and job promotions.

If you are a student just graduating from high school, don’t be discouraged that you did not enter college in the fall.  Set a new time table for yourself.  Be determined that you will take the time, put in the effort to study and learn to improve your skill set.  Only you can determine your future.  Decide if you want to work hard and put in the effort to learn now and be ready to move to the next level by next year or if you want to wait until you are older and have more responsibilities when you return to schooling.  It’s your decision and your choice to make.  Following the old adage of doing things now and not putting off tomorrow what you can do today is always the best strategy for life successes.

Starting the School Year Strong

A new school year.  A new start.  Start the school year strong with the focus on organization.  Keep the course syllabus and all class handouts in three-ring notebook binders.  Have a binder for each course. Use a color coding system to help quickly identify the correct notebook.  For example, if you have a green math textbook, use a green notebook for Math.  Use a blue binder with your blue science book and so forth.  The color coding system works when you are short on time and need to get the correct books from your locker during class changes.

Use the binders daily to keep your papers neat and orderly.  When your teacher gives you a handout or returns graded assignments, put them into your notebook and make sure the grade on the assignment matches your grade in your computer student portal.  Look at your recorded grades weekly to make sure your assignments have been entered correctly.

Read your course syllabus.  Make sure you fully understand your teacher’s expectations on assignments and class content to be covered for the semester or quarter.  Write down all homework assignments including page numbers, due dates and other teacher requirements.  Don’t try to remember everything.  No matter how much you think you can remember it all, you won’t be able to.  Write down everything in your agenda book so that you can refer back to your assignments and reflect back over your day.

The most important thing is that you don’t get behind.  Look at your class syllabus and read upcoming chapters before the lesson is taught in class.  If the teacher teaches a new topic that you don’t understand, don’t wait to ask for help.  Ask questions in class. Find out if your teacher has before or after school tutoring hours.  Ask your classmates or get a tutor.  Work ahead of the class.  Read the syllabus and take note of the upcoming topics and read the chapter in advance.  When the teacher explains the topic in class, you will have confidence and a better understanding of the class material.

Get organized and stay organized. Read and study ahead. Ask questions and get help when needed to have a successful year so that you can start the school year strong and make the top grade.

Academic Common Market…An Opportunity Worth Considering

School counselors and college advisors often hear students mention the desire to attend college outside of Georgia. Many decide to stay due to the costs associated with out of state tuition and the irrestible lure of the HOPE scholarship. If your high school student is interested in a major that is not offered in a Georgia public institution, they may be eligible to take advantage of the Academic Common Market (ACM). ACM enables students to pursue out-of-state college degrees at in-state tuition rates through agreements between Georgia and 15 of our neighboring states.

 

    A few things you should know about the Academic Common Market:

 

  • Students should be admitted to the college of choice before submitting the ACM application materials.

 

  • Residents of SREB states should start their application process early to allow time for getting all the necessary authorizations.

 

  • States offering undergraduate degrees in our region include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia & West Virginia. North Carolina, Florida & Texas participate at the graduate level.

 

  • Georgia residents have access to almost 280 programs including: Sports Communication, Dance, Interior Design, Urban Planning, Forensic Chemistry, Business Analytics & a host of others.

 

This is an opportunity that will require some legwork and a few hours of research, but the return is definitely worth the investment!

 

For more details visit http://www.sreb.org/page/1304/academic_common_market.html

Parents Are You Ready for 9th Grade?

In a few short weeks 8th graders will be graduating from that familiar place of middle school and begin contemplating what it will mean to be a high school student. While both parents and students will surely experience feelings of pure excitement and joy, some might also feel a tad bit of anxiety about what is to come. Here’s a few tips to help parents prepare for some of the academic and social challenges your rising 9th grader may face.

    • Many high schools will offer a visitation day and hopefully your child has attended one of these events. If not, make an appointment to visit the school sometime over the summer to alleviate some of the stress freshmen feel about navigating a new and oftentimes larger building.
    • Many schools will also offer a summer transition program for the rising 9th grade class. It can last anywhere from a few hours to multiple days but it is an invaluable experience. These programs allow students to make friends, learn their way around the building, learn study and time management skills, meet teachers and most importantly it can help to reduce the anxiety that many students may feel.
    • If your child has any academic deficits use the summer to remediate and get ahead if possible. Many academic centers offer summer tutoring courses to help students prepare for the upcoming year.
    • Research shows that students who don’t engage in some type of structured academic program during the summer break experience learning loss. If your budget is tight, at the least make sure reading is still happening by utilizing the resources at your local library. Your local high school may also offer a summer reading list.
    • Request a copy of a grade reporting schedule at the beginning of the semester. Schools typically provide progress reports every 6-8 weeks and have the dates already set. Plug these dates in your calendar and ask to see reports. Students don’t always bring documents home and this will keep you informed and avoid end of semester surprises!

 

If this is your first high school student please prepare for the operational changes. High school teachers will expect more and until your student gets the hang of things this may mean you will have to do more. Jump in the boat with your students and make sure they have a strong start by helping them to get and stay organized, create and monitor your parent portal, monitor their academic and social commitments and remember, no matter what they say, they need you now more than ever!  Parents and student get Ready for 9th Grade!

Get Ahead-Summer Tutoring

Summer time is a time to refresh and renew! We all set aside some time to relax, visit family and vacation. Summer time is also the perfect time to get ahead of the upcoming school year. We offer various programs for students to fill in academic gaps, take refresher math or writing courses or work on class work for the upcoming school year.

Reading and Math Remediation-If your Math and/or Reading diagnostic pre-test revealed some gaps in learning, use the summer to work on your basic skills. A strong foundation in Reading Comprehension and Basic Arithmetic and Geometry is needed for standardized test success including SAT and ACT exams.

Math Workshops can refresh your memory and help reinforce learning in all areas of basic math that were not learned before, unclear or simply forgotten. Math knowledge builds student achievement and confidence.

Writing Workshops can help students with writing a cohesive and organized essay which is needed for class papers, standardized testing and SAT and ACT exams.

Summer Prep Academy-Grades 2-8 we work with students on the upcoming school year’s curriculum. Students work on Reading comprehension, English Language Arts and Math to get ahead of the class for fall. Students are knowledgeable when teachers teach the class material and poised to make A’s.

Summer Courses-Grades 9-12-Students take upcoming math and science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Physics.

PSAT Prep-Students can get prepared for the newly designed PSAT which will be given in October. Students will have the advantage of learning the new test format and practice. 12 week course.

SAT or ACT Prep– Rising Juniors, Seniors and Sophomores can prep to improves scores on the SAT before the redesigned test is released. Research shows that the greater the time students have to practice and prep, the more scores increase and test anxiety decreases.

Navigating the College Application Process– Students will bring their laptops for an interactive planning session to plan for life after high school.

Study Skills-Learn organizational skills to become confident! Handle stress, learn note-taking and reading comprehension strategies.

Get a HEADSTART on the new school year. The reality is that students have the years between Kindergarten and 10th grade to obtain the core academic skills needed before taking college admissions exams to continue on the time scale of entering college directly after the high school senior year. Don’t wait until the sophomore, junior or senior year of high school when there is too little time left to improve Reading, Math and Writing skills before taking SAT or ACT.

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