How to Ace Bio

May 20th, 2014

How to ace Biology class

  1. Learn Latin! No, you don’t have to be fluent, it is a “dead language” after all. But knowing your Latin roots is a valuable help. Biology is full of strange words that need to be memorized. Endotherm, hemophilia, cephalization, echinoderm, autotroph, mesoderm…the list goes on. It can get overwhelming, and you aren’t going to remember everything. The good news is that knowing your Latin roots will let you “fake” your way through words you’ve never seen before, and remember words that you probably knew a while ago. Take echinoderm. If you know that “echino” means spiny, and “derm” means skin, you know you are talking about something with spiny skin. What has spiny skin? Sea urchins! Echinoderms are members of the sea urchin family, including sea stars and sea cucumbers. How about autotroph? Well, “auto” means self, and “troph” means food. Self food…what organisms make their own food? Plants! Now you can avoid being bogged down in big scary looking words, even if you have never seen them before.
  2. Pretty colors. Biology involves more than writing. You need to be able to recognize images and figures, as a lot of biological learning comes across visually. Would you rather explain what a cell looks like with words or with a picture? A picture is usually much easier to understand. This is where the colors come in. When you are labeling and drawing figures for different biological concepts, try to use different colors for the different pieces. This will help the image stick in your mind, and differentiate between the important parts. When you think back to remember the image on a test, it will be much easier to remember what “the purple part” of the cell was rather than the gray part in a gray picture. Color coding your flashcards works the same way; the color will help the word stick in your memory and your recall will be faster.
  3. Repetition. Let’s face it, biology takes a lot of memorization, more than most subjects. You are going to have to sit down and memorize the process of cellular respiration, the different amino acids, the phylogeny of birds. The fastest and most reliable way to do this is to write down the info. Then write it again. And again, and again, and again until it becomes easy. Physically writing down information you have to know can really cement that info in your long term memory, especially for things that aren’t pictures, but just words or names you have to know. Instead of passively looking at a textbook page, fill up pages with the Krebs cycle if you need to, or the reactions of photosynthesis, or the structure of amino acids. By test time writing the whole thing down will be second nature, and getting an A will be a piece of cake.

A proud tutor story!

May 1st, 2013

I tutor a girl who is in the 7th grade and she has a twin sister – both in the same classes. These 2 girls have been struggling in all their classes and have not been receiving the best grades (though as a tutor I knew they could do much better).

We bought the girls planners – so that they could get organized and write all their assignments down instead of using only their IPAD. We really want to help them get their grades up before the end of the year – and I feel like it can happen! I tutor one of the twins and another tutor helps her sister.

For many students, it’s only one or two classes they are focusing on – but these girls need help in all their classes – English, Spanish, Science, Social Studies, and Math.

I am very well versed in Spanish and math – my two best subjects – and not so well in English, Social Studies, and Science – but it’s nice to tutor these subjects – not only to help my student but also to reteach myself things that I have forgotten about over the years.

So together, my student and I have made a good plan and we are on the same page – with preparing ahead – doing flashcards, section outlines, and section reviews right when she finds out she has a test.

Last week we knew she had a Science test – so we prepared very early instead of her waiting until the last minute and not studying and also not telling me she had a test.

We worked on the Cardiovascular system and studied all about the heart, veins, lungs, capillaries, arteries, and many other interesting subjects. 

Long story short – she came in today and told me she got a 91% on her test and her sister got an 83%. She told me she wanted to scream with excitement when she got her test. Today, we then studied for her Social Studies test for Thursday and she really wants to get another good grade!!!

My tutoring session today!

April 5th, 2013

Today I tutored a third grade boy who goes to Hermosa Valley School. He is on Spring Break but his mom brought him in to work on multiplication and division problems for math. Usually we work on his homework but he was caught up on his homework for the following week so we concentrated all on math.

We did not have any division flashcards in the office, but we did have multiplication ones so we worked on multiplication first. I let my student study the flashcards for 15 minutes and then I quizzed him on the answers for 15 minutes and re did the ones he was not sure about. I wrote down the ones he got wrong so he could study them at home. 8 x 7 = 56 was the hardest one for him to remember.

He knew most of the answers, the easiest being the 1’s times tables – 5 times tables. He knew all the tricks like using your hands for the 9s times tables.

When he didn’t know any answer or did not want to figure it out, he would just guess, even though I knew that he knew the answer. I then made him fill out a worksheet of multiplication tables that he got to take home and look over after his session. The ones he really struggled with were the 12s times tables, which are difficult for any 3rd grader.

Then we moved on to division. I printed out worksheets since we did not have division flashcards, so we went over different worksheets. He struggled more with division, but he said he enjoyed division more than multiplication.

I let him have 15 minutes to fill out the division worksheet and then we went over it for 15 minutes. It was perfect timing. It took him a little longer on the division since you have to think backwards in a sense. He was in great spirits and knows that if he thinks about it, he can get the answer right.

How to study for Science

December 6th, 2012

Biology can be a complex subject to grasp. Difficult terminology and concepts, typical of chemistry and physics, partnered with vast and often times redundant biophysical processes make General Biology, AP Biology and SAT Biology a hotbed of tutoring activity. Relating specific concepts within daily notes to the seemingly endless volumes of information in Bio texts is paramount to success in the classroom and on standardized tests.

Developing teaching and testing strategies that work is our passion. Our tutors formulate a step by step approach to address problem areas within the subject matter. Our tutors focus on relating in-class information to everyday case studies and experiences to help students identify with the subject matter. We feel that resolving conceptual errors and becoming versed in basic biological processes is the first step to success in Biology. Using advanced placement tests, practice SAT’s and in-house report cards, we are able to assess, in real-time, the progress our students are making.

During our one-on-one sessions, we provide a tailored experience that partners with the pupils own personal study strategy. We provide a wide range of study materials: Texts, workbooks, flashcards, SAT Prep, SAT Tests and online materials are all resources we utilize in order to help students gain a better understanding of the subject matter. Students are also paired with extremely capable and knowledgeable tutors who are familiar and have a background in subjects such as Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. We do our very best to deliver the most advantageous tutoring session for each individual student.  Working with a tutor is much like working with a personal trainer:  we are here to make your “work out time” more efficient so your results are better and come faster.  We are not here to do their work for them, but to help them make the most of what little time they have!