skills

College Readiness Begins in Middle School

To middle schoolers, college may seem like a distant dream in an abstract future. However, the foundational significance of middle school is not to be overlooked. From developing study habits, preparing pre-requisites for rigorous high school work to considering college—middle school students and their families should use these critical years to plan and prepare for the future ahead. Below, consider a few strategic reasons why middle school is the perfect launch pad for success:

·       Taking rigorous courses in middle school builds structured, positive study habits, while insuring that students can take honors and AP courses in high school and reveals potential weak areas. 
Challenging courses inspire students to rise to the occasion, while meeting the pre-requisites for advanced honors and AP courses in high school.  They also offer an opportunity to develop solid study habits and critical thinking skills. With high school just around the corner—where good grades, rigorous curriculum and successful test scores are essential for college admission—middle school courses can provide an early, habit-building framework for your student. What’s more, academic weak spots may be revealed, allowing students to target problem areas through tailored study or tutoring, so that they don’t fall behind come high school.

·       Considering college and career goals during middle school gives students time and perspective to explore interests and talents. By exploring college and career options early on, i.e. middle school, students have ample time to plan for relevant courses and extracurricular activities or clubs. Depending on the student’s interests (i.e. type of college or potential areas of study), students can start planning the high school course trajectory to be competitive or to qualify for advanced courses in Science or Math.  By encouraging self-reflection and experimentation, parents allow their middle schoolers time to grow, find a passion, and tailor their future goals accordingly.

·       Some middle school students can have the opportunity to take standardized tests as they prepare for preparatory high school tests like the HSPT, SSAT or ISEE.  These tests give students the chance to develop test-taking strategies that can be used later in high school—when preparing for college entrance exams like PSAT, ACT, SAT, and AP Exams.  
Honing on middle schooler’s standardized test-taking ability on the three basic educational pillars, namely reading, math and writing, will helpfully demystify the college application process.  Likewise, early standardized testing can provide a litmus test for middle schoolers, revealing which subject areas are strengths versus weaknesses. Middle school students exposed early to standardized test formats and question styles will enjoy essential insight like time management into future exams.

·       Preparing for college during middle school is important for parents, too. 
While middle school students will surely benefit from a proactive approach to college, parents can also use these early years to develop a plan. Creating a long-term budget for tuition, mapping potential college visits, identifying programs of study that may appeal to your child’s interests and strengths, sourcing possible scholarship opportunities—all are ways to get a head-start on college preparedness from a parental perspective.

At Achieve Academics, we recognize each student’s potential—no matter his or her learning style, strengths, weaknesses, or academic goals. Whether your student is prepping for college or brushing up on the basics, we offer a range of small group classes and one-on-one tutoring services. Start off your student’s path to college on the right foot—prepare early and well and he or she will reap the benefits in the years that follow.  

Test Prep Part 1: Being a Good Test-Taker is a Lifelong Skill

It takes more than just academic ability to be a good test-taker. Some students spend countless, dedicated hours preparing for an exam or the SAT, only to be disappointed with the results. 

Here’s the good news: when students learn to become better test-takers, they develop positive habits that last a lifetime. One-on-one tutoring and small group classes can provide students with strategies to approach exams both methodically and successfully. Below you’ll find a handful of approaches to test-taking that not only have the potential to boost your child’s test scores, but may also serve him or her in the world outside the classroom.   

 

  • Plug Gaps in Foundational Skills
    Improving foundational subject skills—math, reading comprehension, writing, etc.—can do wonders to improve overall test-taking performance. When students are equipped with all the academic building blocks necessary, they’re empowered to perform in the short and long term. By reinforcing bedrock skills, one-on-one tutors and small group classes instill confidence and capableness in your child, creating a world of possibility for future academic success—from college entrance exams, to qualifying for scholarship awards, and beyond. 
     
  • Nip Anxiety in the Bud
    Of course, this bullet point is easier said than done. But parents and tutors can do much to foster a positive, effective, and can-do study environment. In fact, implementing structure, organization, prioritization, and time management skills encourages students to take agency in their learning, in turn easing much of the anxiety that comes from lack of preparedness or inefficient uses of study or test-taking time. 
     
  • Do: Understand Concepts. Don’t: Memorize Facts.
    In a pinch, a small cram-session to memorize a few key dates or formulas might come in handy, but a major reason why some high-achieving students balk come test-time is that they’ve overtaxed their short-term memory. In the stress of the moment, much of what a student has memorized can be lost. The wiser alternative? Approach studying holistically. When students understand all the moving parts of a particular concept—rather than a flashcard memorized tidbit—it’s much harder to forget. Mapping out academic concepts is an excellent way for a student to meaningfully understand what he or she is learning. 

At Achieve Academics, we work with students in a variety of settings—from small group classes to one-on-one tutoring, and more—to find the test-taking methods that work best for each individual. No two students are alike, so our tutors take a tailor-made approach to teaching that puts your child at the center.  

In the short-term, these approaches to good test-taking can empower students to ace their next AP exam or the SAT/ACT, but what’s more: instilling positive test-taking habits now will equip your child to face challenges, academic or otherwise, for years to come.  

Contact us today at 763-559-8378, or via email at info@achieveacademics.com.

 

5 Ways to Build Exceptional Writing Skills

Perhaps more than ever, good writing skills are a highly valued commodity when it comes to college admissions and—down the road—a successful professional life. In an era where students’ scores on the SAT’s writing section are steadily declining, it can make a world of difference if your superior writing skills stand out from the pack.

Recently, the National Commission on Writing published a report that delved deeply into the reasons why good writing skills are so important. For instance, two-thirds of all salaried employees in the United States have regular writing responsibilities as a part of their professional duties. To boot,The Wall Street Journal counted coherent writing as one of its “Must-Have Job Skills,” for young job hunters. Whether you’re completing a research paper, crafting a personal statement for college, or tackling the SAT, honing your writing skills now can create a solid foundation for years to come.

At Achieve Academics, we’ve compiled an effective and easy-to-practice list of tips for developing outstanding writing skills that will serve students in the classroom today, and in their professional lives in the future.

 1. Study Structure

Learning to write may sometimes seem like a daunting prospect, as the question of where to begin can be an overwhelming one. That’s why studying the structure of successful essays and articles can teach valuable tools to help you craft your own effective writing. There is a formula to good writing that can be studied by simply taking note of what you’re reading and how the author of the piece executes his or her point, from introduction to conclusion.

2. Don’t Forget to Edit

After finishing a lengthy essay or term paper, the last thing a student may want to do is go back and re-read what they’ve already spent so much time completing. However, editing is one of the most effective weapons in a good writer’s arsenal. Not only does editing allow you to catch careless mistakes, it also causes the writer to take a step back and digest the written piece as a whole—on the look out for themes, transitions, clarity, and redundancies.

3. Use the Buddy System

Enlisting the help of a writing partner is a highly effective way to improve one’s writing skills. By recruiting a second set of eyes to look over your work, you begin to understand how your writing reads to different audiences, what material is unclear, and what portions are most effective.

4. Make an Outline

By taking the time to organize your thoughts, you limit the risk of miscommunicating material en route from your brain to the paper. In delineating introduction, thesis, body, conclusion, you create a natural organizational flow for your writing project, which takes much of the guesswork out of ordering and prioritizing your points and supporting information.

5. Foster a Writer’s Environment

Limiting distractions is a simple yet effective method to improve the quality of your writing. By setting up an area solely for the purposes of writing and completing work, your mind becomes trained to hone in on the task at hand. Writing requires sustained concentration, so fostering an environment free of distractions allows you to complete your work more efficiently and coherently.

As is the case in acquiring any skill, learning to write well takes practice, commitment, and time. Adopting some of these good writing habits may be the boost you need to take your abilities to the next level. At Achieve Academics we offer one-on-one tutoring, summer intensives, and small classes geared towards sharpening students’ writing abilities, so that no matter the goal, students are readily equipped with this indispensable skill.

Whatever your student’s academic needs may be, Achieve Academics has a summer program that can help. Contact us today at 763-559-8378, or via email at info@achieveacademics.com.

Avoid a Springtime Slump

Avoid a Springtime Slump!  Achieve Academics Provides Tips for Studying Smartly To Finish the High School Year Strong.  When it comes to college admissions, good grades are paramount to receiving that coveted letter of acceptance to the College or University you’re dreaming of attending.   As the latter half of the school year continues, it is easy to lose focus or motivation and let grade point averages slip. To prevent grades from slipping, as you’re dreaming about summer, and to ensure that your student’s college admissions profile stays stronger than ever, here are few valuable tips to consider:

Handle your hardest homework first

In outlining a study plan, students should first focus their efforts on the subjects that are the most challenging for them personally, before tackling subjects that tend to come more naturally. For instance, if a student wants to improve his or her grades in math, he/she should complete math homework as early as possible. By addressing difficult subjects first, students can best focus on their troublesome subject areas before they become fatigued.

Schedule study times, then see them through

Students aiming to maintain or improve their grades in 2016 should outline and plan for study times, then commit to follow through with their study schedule. Nearly all students are guilty of last minute “cramming,” but studies have shown that it is a far less effective study method for retaining information over the long term. To prevent this, students should plan their study hours ahead of time, then follow their schedule with the same dedication shown to scheduled sports practices, rehearsals, or other scheduled activities.

Declutter, Disconnect, and Do Away with Distractions

When it’s time to study, studying should be the only focus. Remove any potential distractions by turning off your phone, television, computer, or tablet notifications. Find a quiet place to focus, and then give your full attention to the task at hand. Scheduling study times in designated planned blocks of time can be an effective way to maintain deep focus. Give yourself a pre-arranged break every hour or so, but then get right back to work.

Resist the Urge to Refrain from Reviewing

Even if all your weekly assignments have been completed, reviewing your notes, test questions, or prepping for future assignments is a great way to stay ahead of the game the following week. By keeping learned material fresh in your mind, you’ll be less likely to find yourself in the situation where “cramming” is unavoidable.

Whether your students need a leg-up, a refresher, or motivation to continue on their winning streak, our tutors at Achieve Academic’s can help your student in the following ways:

·         Discover test-taking strategies that work best

·         Take notes that they understand

·         Conduct more efficient research

·         Develop better listening skills

·         Enhance their reading comprehension

·         Focus on the details they need to know

·         Improve their organizational skills

·         Prioritize and manage their time

·         Strengthen their writing skills

·         Study more efficiently and effectively

Even top students benefit from individualized tutoring, and/or small group classes which can improve upon subject areas that come naturally by keeping material challenging and stimulating. Working one-on-one with an experienced and knowledgeable tutor at Achieve Academics will assure students improve test scores, grade performance, and overall academic ability.

Whatever your student’s academic needs may be, Achieve Academics has a summer program that can help. Contact us today at 763-559-8378, or via email at info@achieveacademics.com.