How to Write a Standard Five Paragraph Essay

     You will be writing essays in high school. When you begin writing, you will be starting out with a standard five paragraph essay. This will help you understand the development of thought processes that leads to a greater depth  of research and new ideas you will articulate and explain  about the topic. You will more than likely be required to write on literature including books and poems, along with other extraneous topics your teacher may choose. You will also be required to write five paragraph essays on standardized tests and you will more than likely have to take an entrance exam in college requiring five paragraph essays. When you are given a prompt, stay calm and focused. As you approach analyzing the topic, make sure to read through it several times underlying key phrases and ideas. Focus the most on the last statement because that will be the main point your thesis will be answering. You can annotate in the margins interrogating the main issues that ask yourself questions about the topic you would like to explore, Once you have decided to focus on one main idea that specifically answers the last statement of the prompt, write a brief outline before starting on your essay. The outline should include the main points you will introduce in the thesis that answers the prompt followed by a thesis statement that contains three main points interrogating the main point you are making. You will begin the statement with “therefore” or “in conclusion.”  You will then state the three main points that will be the basis for the next three paragraphs you will write. Each main point will be explained in every paragraph. The outline should proceed to ask questions and interrogate each main point you will make. These main ideas will build your argument and will lead to the end of the paragraph. Once you have completed an outline, begin writing your introduction. Think of an attention getter that will draw the readers interest into what the topic is you are writing about. You can begin with an interesting question or perceptive statement that will lead into the main ideas in the paragraph. Write one sentence describing each main point and then conclude with the thesis. The introduction should not contain any material that should be used to support your main ideas later in the paper. Make sure to define all of your terms if you are using any terms that need to be explained for the reader to understand your topic. This should be done specifically, if it is a topic most readers would not be acquainted with.

     When you begin the first body paragraph, along with the other two paragraphs you will be writing make sure to introduce the point you are making. Use an interesting lead in that addresses the topic in an open ended way that lead to more detailed thoughts in the rest of the body paragraph explaining the topic. In the other two paragraphs, make sure to transition by connecting the main idea in the last paragraph to the next main point you are making. Make sure to have a sentence introducing at least two to three main ideas that argue the main point you are making in each paragraph. Make sure to make your arguments clearly stated before you use logical appeals to substantiate and explain your ideas. Make sure that you do not get off topic and only discuss the one main idea using sub points to explain your idea. You should have at least three sentences per sub point within the paragraph. Your main points that describe your argument should build to the final conclusion you reach at the end of each paragraph. You will then conclude by linking the main idea that you discussed back to your thesis.

     The conclusion should present an overview of the main ideas discussed. Do not repeat the introduction. Go into more detail that was illustrated in the body paragraphs. Make sure to call to action. Offer an explanation as to why your research is of useful in a larger context such as your field of research or how your research is useful to the world. Then make sure to conclude. If you follow these steps, you will write a well developed essay.
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.

 

Summer Reading and SAT Scores

Summer reading often is not on the top of a student’s to-do list. Usually, over the break students
use their time to hang out with their friends, enjoy the weather, and do activities outside. Kids
don’t want to “waste” their time reading. (Of course, there are students who enjoy reading for
fun, but this blog post is not intended to convince those who already enjoy reading to read). To
those students who groan at the very sight of a book during summer vacation, this blog post is
for you.
“Why should I read over the summer?” you ask yourself and every adult within earshot. If
contemplating reading a dusty, ancient, library book seems like a chore, then you should listen
up.
Reading fluency is essential for those high SAT scores that you want. During the summer
months, when you will primarily read buzz feed articles and personality quizzes, play
video games, and go outside to swim, hike, or play sports, you are not wasting your time.
Relaxation is absolutely important to one’s happiness, and you should continue to do that. But
you should also make some time for reading, because the few hours you spend a week on a
book, either for fun or for school, will increase your SAT/ACT verbal scores tremendously.
It’s pretty obvious that reading over the summer will have this effect. If you spend some time on
reading a book, your ability in understanding the reading passages on the tests will increase.
You may learn new words naturally, and recognize them on the exam more easily. You will be
able to comprehend passages faster and more clearly. You will have practiced patience for
reading through a dense text with a lot of information. You will naturally go back and search for
answers in the text, and will remember where to find the answers more readily. With more
experience with reading, the easier it becomes, and the more you will enjoy the experience and
the faster you will get. If you enjoy it more, you will be less nervous when test day comes
around, and you’ll score higher because you will not make as many mistakes.
There are books out there that you may not even realize that you’d love.  Try to take the time in a book store or online to find a new book this summer.  You will be happy that you did!

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.

Avoid Three Things on Your College Application Essay

During the summer before a student’s Senior year of high school, students and parents work
hard on college applications. Some college deadlines start in the beginning of August! This is a
time that students and parents are understandably nervous about applying to college. Students
wonder if their junior year shows both their academic rigour as well as their commitment to
activities outside of school. Students want to get into their “dream school” but they often do not
know what to do every step of the way. Students often struggle with writing a thoughtful essay to
submit to colleges to demonstrate their character. Here are some specific take-aways that I find
help my students:
1. Make sure to answer the prompt!
One of the biggest problems I’ve noticed is that students don’t address the question laid out in
the prompt. This demonstrates one of two things: either the student did not understand the
prompt or the student was not capable of answering the prompt. Both faults can be detrimental
to a student’s overall application. Admissions committees ask specific questions for a reason.
They want to know if you will fit into the culture of the college, and that the student’s values align
with those of the college. They need this information to make the best decision, for you and for
their college. Don’t jeopardize your admission by not answering the prompt directly.
2. Don’t write in cliches
Writing in cliches is something that tutors, teachers, and admissions committees dislike
vehemently. Why? A couple of reasons: Cliches come from popular culture and are often only
understood by a particular group. Your essay should be clear and concise – anyone and
everyone should be able to read it and understand your thoughts. Furthermore, using cliches
shows that the student didn’t actually take the time to think about the prompt and answer the
question from his or her own experience. The admissions committee will question if the
information you include in your essay is exclusively your own thinking, or if you are borrowing
work from someone else.
3. Maintain your tense
When writing an essay, students sometimes jump from the past tense to the present tense to
the future tense, not realizing the havoc it wreaks on the reader’s mind. My advice to students is
to pick a tense and stick with it throughout the essay. You do not want your admissions
committee reader to be confused about when something happened. Don’t allow verb tense
errors to take over your paper.

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.

The Importance of Academic Calendar Planning and Organization skills

When you are too busy due to all of your after school activities and other events outside of school, you may not remember when your next test or quiz is coming up which leads to a poor academic performance and issues at home. To avoid this from occurring, it is best to use an academic planner even if the school you attend does not require you to buy one and use or use one on a regular basis. Instead of just using a planner when you think your schedule is the busiest as some people do, it is best to use an academic calendar even when you are not as busy to keep from forgetting when your next assignments are due. It is easy to forget doing homework even when your schedule is not as full due to the numerous of assignments given per week.

It is best to either use an academic calendar that gives you enough space to write in detail what you need to have done that week and what is due in the near future as well as when to accomplish your goals. You may need to type a written calendar on your computer and save it to the desk top which will allow you to write out the details you need to remember in order to succeed. You may need to use your cell phone calendar and save events on it to keep from forgetting when your assignments are due. The typed calendar should have specific details about what the assignment is and when you will begin working on it as well as when you plan to have it finished by. If you do not finish the assignment as fast as you had planned keep track of the issue and reorganize your calendar by estimating how many hours you think it will take to complete it based on how many days you have left before it is due.

It is best to begin working on major projects at least a month or so before the project is due to make sure you don’t wait until the last minute. It is too easy to forget what the teacher assigned in the first place if it is a paper or presentation and you do not plan ahead. You will more than likely not do the assignment as well because it takes time to brain storm ideas and put them together in a cohesive way that follows the instructions. You may end up losing the assignment sheet or notes that you took with the details about the assignment if you wait until a few days before it is due. It is best to keep your papers and notes written about your assignments in separate folders. Keep your homework papers in one folder or section of your notebook, your tests and quizzes in another section or folder, and papers your teacher gives you providing you with details about your future assignments in another section or folder. If you don’t start trying to work on your study skills in high school you more than likely will not do well in your college courses due to the many other distractions you will have in college that will keep you from completing your goals if you let it. Do not be like the other students that let the distractions keep them from completing your goals by being intelligently planning ahead. Learning to have good study skills in high school will help you succeed in the future.

 

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.

Study Tips for Finals Week

As it gets closer to the holidays, you will be anticipating finals. Do not wait until the last minute to start your review and study sessions. Start reviewing at least three weeks ahead of time to make sure that you are well prepared. If you wait until the last few days before the exam and cram, you will more than likely not be able to remember the information because it will not be stored in your long term memory. Instead, during the first week of review begin by reviewing over your notes. It is best that you review your notes throughout the semester. As you start reviewing your notes, highlight the important ideas and add in more information that you have learned from your reading. In other words, fill in any missing information from your notes as you probably were in a hurry writing everything down. Make sure to take thorough notes so that you are able to remember the main ideas the teacher has discussed because more than likely they are going to use mostly information from what they have talked about in class, along with adding details regarding this information from the book on the exam. They expect you to have done all the reading so that you know the details in correspondence with the main ideas and concepts they have focused on in class. Once you have added in any missing information from your notes and added details from the text based on the main ideas written in your notes, type out the new notes on your computer. Use bullet points to emphasize the main ideas and make sure to add plenty of details combining your notes with the text. You can color code your notes to organize the main ideas. You can also make flash cards with the information you have gathered from your notes and the book to review for exams, and this way you will be able to make sure you have mastered the materials. Read and re-read your notes.
During the last week or two before your finals re-read the chapters focusing on the main ideas the teacher has discussed in class. Annotate your text with notes from class and review your text. Make sure to focus on the dark print terms in the text and the information under the pictures in your text book. Anything is fair game on the final. Do not just focus on the main terms, but all of the main ideas as a whole in the chapter. Read the notes at the end of the chapter if there are any and review your homework questions. The homework questions could reappear in the exam because the teacher has let you know that they are significant. Also, if you have your tests from the semester, make sure to review them because the teacher may use material from old test questions in a different context or the exact ones. Once you have studied your revised notes and the book, write down everything you can remember and check what you know about the terms and the ideas with your notes and the book. Fill in any missing information or change information that you missed. Re-read over the revisions and repeat this pattern until you can remember most everything. This will prove that the information you have studied is in your long term memory. You should not get test anxiety or go blank because you know the material and you can recall the information. You can also use creative techniques to recall information and terms using rhymes or connecting one term to the next in a way that you can remember. You can use diagrams, charts, webs, or graphs to help you connect information and remember it for recall purposes. Teach the material to some one else to make sure you have the information down. Hold a study group and write down any questions you have and compare and contrast answers with your friends. Write down questions based on the terms that you think might be on the test and cover over the answer when you are reviewing. These are all great studying techniques to make sure you have mastered the materials. Once you get to the exam, you will be confident that you know the information by following these strategies.

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.

 

Steps to Finding the Right College Major

Choosing electives in high school that more accurately align with your subject interests will help you find the right college major. If possible, it is best to choose a high school that offers the most electives in the subject areas that interest you. These electives will help you prepare for college by extending your critical thinking skills outside of your main academic courses and you may be able to take the electives at the college level for the major or minor that you choose. Some schools only offer a few electives such as band, art, study hall, teacher’s aid, or a foreign language while others offer electives in most subjects. By choosing electives such as communication skills, journalism, accounting, business law, creative writing, computer applications, graphic design, painting, drama/theatre, CPR training, first aid, nutrition, rhetoric, science courses, religion, social science, among others you will learn to apply what you have learned in related topics in your main courses to these practical subject areas.

Choosing an elective that is based on one of your strongest academic subjects is the best way to find out if choosing a college major in the subject is right for you. You will have to make the transition from mainly using rote- memorization in high school to application based learning on tests, papers, and other assignments. Finding an elective that helps you learn these critical thinking skills in high school will greatly help you in college. One way to choose an elective that best corresponds to your subject interests is to take the Myers-Briggs personality test and use it to find what subject matter connects to your personality type. Most students change their majors numerous times once they start college because they either did not spend enough time thinking about how to approach finding the right major before they started school. To avoid this, take time out of your schedule to talk to a guidance counselor, find electives that meet your subject interests and personality type, and do outside reading on your favorite subjects before starting college. Though most students do not take electives as seriously as their main courses, focusing on an elective that interests you may help you find a college major that you will finish school with a degree in.

Take a look at the link below:

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.

 

High School Students and Summer Plans

High school students, what are your summer plans? By the time the school year is close to its end, all of my students can’t wait for the summer break to arrive. Students anticipate spending their time with friends and family, focusing on enjoying their carefree summer. Although I think it is essential that students have fun over the summer, it is also important to make sure that a student’s summer is a productive time of preparation for the year ahead. Summers should certainly be filled with fun activities with friends and family, but students should also not lose sight of their educational dreams goals.

I spoke with some of my SAT Prep students who were telling me about summer travel plans, summer camp plans, and other fun-sounding activities. One of my students is taking a cruise to Alaska with her grandparents, while another is going to camp for the last time as a camper. I am happy to hear their excitement as they describe their plans to me. In the back of my mind, however, I think about their dream schools, and the test scores they would need to achieve to get into these schools. I remind these two students that they need to stay committed to continuing to prepare for the SAT, ACT, and Advanced Placement tests.[1]

The students both respond that they know they cannot just have fun all summer. The students know that they have to continue to study so that they can have a less stressful school year. “But how,” they ask me, “can I study for these exams and stay focused during all of these fun activities?”

I tell my students that planning ahead of time is the best way to achieve success. Together, we form an individualized plan for each student and their particular summer plans. The student who is going on a cruise to Alaska with her grandparents will take her SAT Prep book with her, as well as her AP English Language Summer work. We plan that she will spend one hour every other day working on SAT Prep and read a chapter of her AP English Language Summer Work on the days that she does not do SAT Prep. The other student who is going to camp for the last time will utilize the camp’s SAT Prep sessions. The class meets once per week as an extra enrichment activity at the camp. She will also try to complete her Summer AP Biology work, spending at least one hour every week on reading her AP Biology textbook.

With these plans in place, both girls will definitely be prepared for the next school year. Take the advice in this article, and your child can be prepared too.

[1] I encourage my students to get ahead over the summer for the coming year’s AP Classes. This way, they can make sure they achieve good grades but also not feel too stressed about preparing just a few months before the exam.

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.

Diagnostic Testing before Tutoring

Diagnostic testing before tutoring students is important. Testing allows the tutor to view the test results and tutor the student in the shortest amount of time possible. The tutor knows first-hand any weak or strong areas of the student and does not have to waste time trying to determine what a student knows and does not know.  Initial diagnostic testing saves the student both time and money and gets the best results possible for the student.

It is difficult to help a student achieve positive results in one or two tutoring sessions. When students start tutoring and notice improvement and then stops attending the tutoring the sessions, it results in the students not completing the sessions to fill the academic gap.  The academic gap, although shortened within  the short tutoring time, still exists and grows larger again during the school year. In addition, last minute tutoring cram sessions for final exams and test prep do not work.  Last minute tutoring puts stress on both the student and the tutor.  When students come the night before a test, or just weeks before SAT or ACT, there is usually not enough time to cover the material and practice to make sure that the student has mastered the material and is comfortable with the curriculum.  Waiting until the last minute leads students to procrastination.  Research shows that students who procrastinate do not do well in college.  See article.

Tutoring works best when students and parents are committed to improving academic levels and agree to a planned scheduled of academic lessons at the beginning of the school year, preferably, starting during the summer before the upcoming school year. Improving gaps in learning and working ahead of the class curriculum reduces stress and anxiety for the student and gives the student confidence in his or her academic abilities.  When students are on a consistent tutor/study schedule, they learn how to plan, practice and study ahead.  This breaks the cycle of procrastination.  In addition, the student gains an academic foundation for success on college admissions exams and will do well in college.   A current research study states that only a third of high school seniors are equipped for college-level math and reading.  See article. When students do not have a proper academic foundation, they will struggle in future courses and on tests.

SAT/ACT/PSAT test prep also works best when students begin as early the 9th grade year to prepare for these exams.  Students are competing on a national playing field and must begin preparing as soon as possible.  Although a student is making A’s and B’s in his or her school, this is no guarantee that the student will do well on the SAT or ACT without test prep.  School work is simply not enough for a student to do well on the test.  Many students have not had English Grammar since elementary school and lack the knowledge of the grammar rules needed for the English/Writing and Reading portions of the SAT/ACT and PSAT.  Many students are also weak in math.  A consistent math review helps students to learn the math needed to do well on the exams.  Test prep also helps students to know the format of the test first-hand and know what to expect when they take the test.  It is never a good idea to allow a student to take the SAT or ACT to merely see how he or she will do.  Students should know what is on the test and know what to expect on test day to significantly increase their chances of obtaining a high score.

Study and preparation along with time and effort is the key to academic success!

Multiple Choice Portion of AP Exams

So many of my students detest the Multiple Choice Questions portion of AP exams. However, with some guidance, a student can easily conquer this portion of the exam. Here is the caveat:  this portion of the exam requires practicing the right skills. However, to the inexperienced student, knowing what the right skills are remains a major challenge. This is why most students need a teacher or a tutor to help them ace the AP Exam.

After going over their multiple choice questions, I had  a conversation with two of my AP Human Geography students. Their problem with certain questions of the AP Multiple Choice Question portion of the exam were due to their lack of strategic thinking when answering the question. We had come up against a problem that was a definition-identification question, and I asked them to go through each of the options strategically together. I told them to go as slowly as possible, and to think through why each option was correct or incorrect. While talking of each option together, they both reached the right conclusion, after careful examination.

During multiple choice exams students sometimes lack the care to pay attention to details. They want to get through the exam quickly–which is definitely important–but their choice to prioritize speed over scrutinizing the question got them into trouble.

That’s why I advise my students to first take exams without paying attention to speed. During practice exams, students should focus on developing the critical thinking skills to answer high-level multiple choice questions for any kind of AP Exam–from science, to the humanities. After achieving high numbers of correct questions, the student should then move on to practicing during a timed test.

Tutors or teachers are best suited to help students simulate a timed exam. Tutors also know how to gradually introduce the timed test to a student. They know the point at which a student is ready for a timed exam, and they know how to help students become accustomed to timed exams so that students don’t feel overly anxious. Moreover, tutors know how to proctor exams properly, and they know how to score exams in the same manner as an AP Scorer.

With a tutor’s help, any student can become thoroughly prepared for test day!

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.

 

AP Exam-Steps to Write a DBQ or Synthesis Paper

DBQs and Synthesis papers continue to be very challenging to AP students. As I mentioned in my previous post about what a DBQ or Synthesis paper is [which you can find here] I will explain the method to write a successful DBQ or Synthesis paper on your AP Exam.  (For clarification, a the DBQ is a Document-Based Question for social science exams, while the Synthesis paper is a similar for the English Language and Literature Exams.)

First, you should read the prompt carefully and bullet point what the directions are asking you to do! Generally, for the these types of essays, the directions ask you to use prior knowledge of the subject area as well as the given sources to create an argument or answer the question. First, note what your prior knowledge is on your scratch paper. Write how you would answer the question or the prompt based on only prior knowledge. You should try to formulate an answer before looking at the sources because this will guide your interpretation when surveying the sources.

The next step is to actually look through the sources. Note each author’s argument in the sources and the way that they made their argument, also known as the author’s rhetoric.The student must identify rhetorical devices on the AP English Language and Literature Exams, while on the AP World and US History Exams, the student must look for historical data and author biases. Understanding an author’s bias on a history exam is one of the requirements of the DBQ for these exams. Biases affect the way that historical actors record history, so as historians, we have to make sure to account for certain biases when analyzing the historical actor’s written work. We cannot always take their writings at face value, for historical actors may have had a certain agenda when writing the document.

Mark up each document and leave yourself a note in summary of the document so that you can go back to the document later and remember in detail what the document argued or meant. For the AP English Language and Literature Exam, many teachers advise their students to mark the document’s tone through a visual aid: a “+” represents a positive tone, while a “-” represents a negative tone. This quick representation of tone helps when the student begins writing the response.

The next step is to outline your argument, starting with your thesis. In general, an English Language thesis requires the student to analyze an argument, either historical or contemporary. An English Literature thesis compels the student to analyze the author’s use of rhetorical devices to create a successful piece of literature. On social science exams, the student must create a thesis that his historically-sound and also uses the given sources as evidence for their argument.

Once you have created a thesis, and an outline, you are ready to begin writing your paper. Good luck!

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.
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