academic coaching northern va

Get Back into the Flow of School Days

For many students the first weeks of school can be a big adjustment after the less structured days of summer, whether they were spent at home or on vacation. Think of this time of the year as an opportunity to establish new, positive patterns that will carry you into your future success during the school year. Here are some tips for getting back into the routine before school begins and beyond:

  • Set those alarms! Figure out when you’ll need to leave for school and work backward from there. Get up, take your shower and get dressed as if it were a school day. Then when the day comes, you will be awake and ready on time.

  • Read, Read, Read! Get the brain working while improving your vocabulary. Studies have shown that the best way to keep your brain functioning at its peak is by reading books.

  • Go to Bed Early! Once school starts you’ll need to be able to fall asleep in time to get at least the recommended seven and a half hours sleep, so train your body to fall asleep early starting NOW. Cut off screen time at least thirty minutes before you go to bed.

  • Clean Out Old School Supplies and Closets! Free up mind space by cleaning out your closets, your drawers, your backpack, and your desk. You’ll find the peace of mind it gives you is phenomenal. And you’ll have room to organize the new!

  • Eat Breakfast as Soon as You Wake Up! Whether it’s a granola bar, cereal, a piece of fruit, or eggs and toast, breakfast is still the most important meal of the day. So do your best to get something into your system right away. When you go to school you need brain power, energy, and a good attention span—all of which are fueled by your meals!

  • Get Curious! Smile, and look forward to all the new things you are going to learn at school!

Implementing these simple steps can ease the transition from lounging to learning, and help you make sure you’re ready to hop back into the school routine. Once you do, you’ll be amazed at how good you feel with what you accomplish each day, and how easy it is to embrace the challenges of your new schedule!

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CONTACT US FOR A FREE PRACTICE TEST PACKET AND DIAGNOSTIC REPORT (VIEW SAMPLE STUDENT REPORTS: ACT, SAT, SSAT, ISEE, AND HSPT)

Vint Hill Educational Services offers mock tests for the ACT and SAT. These are taken in a group setting to simulate the testing environment. For the ACT and SAT, we will review the scores to see which test the student is scoring higher on. Since all colleges and universities accept both tests, it's beneficial to know if your child is scoring higher on the ACT or SAT. Check out our ACT versus SAT comparison chart for test differences. Sometimes the difference is like night and day, and for others, it may be a hairline higher on one versus the other. The student won't know which test is better, unless the individual takes one of each. We'll use our score concordance chart in order to make a test recommendation.

2019-2020 MOCK ACT/SAT TEST DATES  

VIENNA, VA AREA:

Click here to register for a mock ACT/SAT or click on a specific test date below

ACT - 7/27/2019, 10/12/2019, 1/18/2020, 3/7/2020, 5/16/2020

SAT - 8/3/2019, 9/28/2019, 11/30/2019, 2/15/2020, 5/23/2020 

WARRENTON, VA AREA:

Click here to register for a mock ACT/SAT or click on a specific test date below.  

ACT - 7/20/2019, 9/28/2019, 11/9/2019, 1/11/2020, 3/21/2020, 5/9/2020

SAT - 7/27/2019, 9/21/2019, 11/16/2019, 1/25/2020, 3/7/2020, 5/16/2020

RICHMOND, VA AREA

Click here to register for a mock ACT/SAT or click on a specific test date below.

ACT - 7/27/2019, 10/12/2019, 1/18/2020, 3/7/2020, 5/16/2020

SAT - 8/3/2019, 9/28/2019, 11/30/2019, 2/15/2020, 5/23/2020 

CHARLOTTE, NC AREA:

Click here to register for a mock ACT/SAT or click on a specific test date below.

ACT - 7/20/2019, 9/28/2019, 11/9/2019, 1/11/2020, 3/21/2020, 5/9/2020

SAT - 7/27/2019, 9/21/2019, 11/16/2019, 1/25/2020, 3/7/2020, 5/16/2020

 

We also offer one-to-one mock testing at our offices. This consists of a full-length practice test for your child. Tests include: ACT, SAT, PSAT, SSAT, ISEEHSPT, and SAT Subject Tests. We provide the test booklet, essay booklet, answer sheet, testing timer, calculator, and pencils. 

We can send parents a practice test as well, to administer to their student in-home. We will send out a free practice test packet along with proctoring instructions. Parents must send the answer sheet back to us via email or mail. 

High School Students: 6 Ways to Get Motivated

Whether you're studying for exams, preparing for the ACT/SAT, or trying to get a few college applications done, getting motivated can be incredibly difficult. With summer vacation starting, every time you sit down to start your work, you end up daydreaming about swimming, camping, skating, and just hanging out in the sun.

So, how do you keep up with your work? How do you finish strong? Here are six things you can do to stay academically motivated:

1. Make a to-do list

The first thing you should do is make a to-do list. Just write down everything you need to get done and everything you need to do to make sure those things get done. For example, if you are trying to work up the motivation to study for an exam, your to-do list might look something like this:

Complete review packet

Re-read chapters as needed

Review past tests and quizzes

Make notecards of important material

Putting all these things under the larger umbrella of "studying" may lead you to feel overwhelmed with all the work you have to do. Making a list of smaller to-dos will help you digest your task more easily.

2. Set goals

Once you have made your to-do list, it is important to set goals. Goals remind you of what you are working toward and why. Try to set a goal for each of the following areas:

Preparation

Result

Deeper Desire

In the case of studying for an exam, your goals might look like this:

Preparation goal: Complete all items on my to-do list. Study for 1 hour every day during the two weeks leading up to the exam.

Result goal: Receive a 92% or higher on the exam. Achieve an A in the class.

Deeper desire goal: Be accepted into my desired college.

Your preparation goal should be directly related to the task you need to get motivated for. In the instance of studying for an exam, this would be the actual studying itself. So, your goal is to complete all the to-do list items and to study for 1 hour every day leading up to the exam.

Your result goal should be related to the consequences of your efforts. In this case, you are getting motivated and studying for the exam because you want to get a 92% or higher on the exam and receive an A in the class.

Lastly, the deeper desire goal should be your number one reason for being motivated. In this case, why do you want to study, and why do you want an A? The answer could be that you want to make sure you get into your top college.

If you set goals on all three of these levels, you should constantly be reminded of what you need to do and why you need to do it. With your "deeper desire" at the forefront of your mind, you should have no problem pushing through periods of discouragement.

3. Set rewards

A great way to boost your motivation is to set rewards for yourself. Tell yourself that if you study for an hour, you can watch 30 minutes of your favorite Netflix series (just don't end up binge watching it). Or if you finish three college applications during the week, you can treat yourself to something nice on the weekend.

If you need a little help with this, see if your parents will make a deal with you. That way, they are in charge of the reward and will hold you accountable for your actions.

4. Plot your progress

Sometimes it isn't the motivation to start that is the issue, but the motivation to keep going. How many times have you been midway through an assignment only to end up playing video games and having to finish it the next day?

If you want to make sure you stay motivated throughout your work, plot your progress. Being aware of how much you have done will give you a sense of accomplishment that may just be enough to push you through your work.

5. Make it fun

One of the easiest ways to get motivated is to find a way to make your work fun. It seems impossible to make filling out applications or studying for a test fun, but there are ways. For example, filling out college applications with friends makes the work go by a lot faster. Instead of dreading the work, you look forward to talking to your friends and getting their opinions. As for studying, instead of quizzing yourself, why not grab a few classmates and play trivia!

If you can find a way to enjoy your work, you won't need motivation – or, rather, your motivation will be the enjoyment you get from doing it.

One last tip...

Take a break! Remember that sometimes you don't need more motivation; you just need a little break! If you've been working for an hour or so, take twenty minutes to relax and recharge! Watch a YouTube video, get up and run around, take a weird Buzzfeed quiz, do whatever you feel like. You'll come back to your work with a new attitude and a refreshed mind.

Reading Strategies: Academic Coaching Specialist - Washington DC, Northern VA, Charlotte NC, Richmond VA

There is a host of tools at the student's disposal for interacting with what we are reading. The concept is known as active reading and it will work to increase comprehension and retention of information. Try out some of the strategies below. 

BEFORE YOU READ:
•    Z – Sweep:  Performing a Z-Sweep will help you understand what lies ahead. Move your hand from the left to the right under the first line, then back around through the body of the text, and then finish with a sweep from left to right at the bottom. Read the first sentence, glance or sweep through the body, and then read the last one or two sentences. By using this strategy, you can gain a cross-section of what you are about to read. 

•    SCAN:  This strategy significantly improves text book reading comprehension in middle and high school students.
S = Survey Headings and Turn Them into Questions
Find each bold heading, and turn it into a question. For example, if the heading is The War of 1812, you should think, “What happened in The War of 1812?”
C = Capture the Captions and Visuals
Glance at the pictures or diagrams and read each caption.
A = Attack Boldface Words
Be sure to focus on the terms in bold. Quickly read these words for an understanding of the main vocabulary words.
N = Note and Read the Chapter Questions
This is perhaps the most important pre-reading strategy. Read the review questions at the end of the section first. This will help with the main idea behind the passage.

AS YOU READ OR AFTER YOU READ:
•    Highlighting:  Using color helps to increase attention.  Highlight the main points and be careful not to become “highlighter crazy”.  Highlight the main points after you read a section.  As yourself, “What’s the main point of the paragraph I just read?”

•    Margin Notes:  Questions or comments jotted in the margins next to important paragraphs provide visual cues.  Writing down quick notes as you read really helps with retention.  Furthermore, when you go back over the book before finals, all the main ideas will be there for you. 

•    Summary Writing:  Summarizing information is time-consuming, but it is the best way to be sure that you understand and remember what you read.  You can write brief summaries at the end of each chapter or at the bottom of your 2-column notes.  If you write a summary within 24 hours of taking notes or reading, you’re much more likely to retain the information.

Contact us and you can start working with a tutor on active reading strategies!  

How to Organize Your Homework Assignments

Organizing your homework is a great way to improve your grades. One successful way to do this is to incorporate a color coding system into your homework routine.

Here are the steps: 

1. Get a set of inexpensive supplies arranged by color. 
You may want to start with a pack of colored highlighters, then find folders, notes, and various stickers to match them. 
•    Folders
•    Sticky notes
•    Highlighters
•    Round stickers
•    Labels
•    Flags

2. Select a different color for each class. For example, you may want to use the following system: 
•    Orange=US History
•    Green=Algebra
•    Red=Chemistry
•    Yellow=English
•    Blue=Health
•    Pink=Marketing

3. Create a connection between the color and the class. Here's a good starting suggestion, you might relate the color green to money or plant life. This may make you think about math subjects or biology class. Try to relate a few colors to some of your classes. The connection will be clear in your mind after a few days. 

4. Pocket folders: Use each folder to keep track of homework for each class. The type of folder isn't important; just use the type that is best for you. Sometimes your teacher will recommend a specific folder. 

5. Notes work well when it comes to researching articles. You can note down book and article titles, phrases, passages, comments, and such, to use in your paper, including bibliographical citations. Keep standard manila notes if you can't carry multiple packages of colored sticky notes. Use different colored pens in order to keep track of each class. 

6. Flags are for marking pages or reading assignments. Place a colored flag at the beginning and ending pages for each assignment. You can also use flags for marking dates in your organizer. Place a flag on a date when an assignment is due. You can use different colors for your various classes. You'll have an everyday reminder that a due date is approaching. 

7. Highlighters should be used when reviewing your notes. During a lecture, take notes like you usually do and be sure to include the date in your notebook. Once you get home, look over and highlight using different colors. You can breakdown the colors by subject, information type, or relevance. If your papers get jumbled up (or never get put into your classroom folder) you can recognize them by the highlights. 

8. Round stickers are great for your wall calendar. Be sure to keep a calendar in your room or in the kitchen, and place a color-coded sticker on the day that an assignment is due. For instance, on the day you receive a research paper assignment in history class, you should place an orange sticker on the due date. This way, everyone can see an important day approaching, even at a glance.

Contact us to learn more about Academic Coaching. Our tutors will make sure you stay on track and on top of your assignments! We have coaches in Northern VARichmond VAFredericksburg VABethesda MD, and Washington DC

All About Learning Styles

What are learning styles?

Learning styles can differ from student to student. Learning styles are the approach an individual takes in learning, or acquiring and assimilating new information. If the student can discover how he or she learns best; the individual will know what strategies and study techniques to employ, in order to accommodate one’s learning style. 

Primary types of learning styles:
1.   Visual
2.   Auditory
3.   Kinesthetic or experiential 

Who are visual learners?
•    Don’t like long speeches
•    Responds to viewing charts, pictures, and graphs
•    Enjoys observation
•    Enjoys visual stimulation
•    Develops images in their mind
•    Thinks in terms of images and pictures
Visual recommendations:  
•    Watch your teacher’s body language and pick up on certain cues
•    Keep a notebook and pencil readily available
•    Write material over and over again
•    Draw pictures to help associate what your notes mean
•    Utilize technology: computer, tablets, laptops, apps, and other media
•    Ask questions in class and stay involved
•    Visualize information as a story 

Who are auditory learners?
•    Prefers oral instruction
•    Not a fan of lengthy notes
•    Diagnoses meanings through tone and voice
•    Responds well to speech and lecture format
•    Talks ideas through in their head
•    Picks up quickly on words, pitch, and voice nuances
Auditory recommendations: 
•    Talk things out to yourself
•    Try to use word analogies
•    Say information out loud, over and over for memorization
•    Practice classroom presentations
•    Get involved in debates
•    Use songs and melodies to aid in memorization
•    Converse with friends about your ideas
•    Read words out loud when proofreading 

Who are kinesthetic or experiential learners?
•    Likes to touch and handle objects
•    Uses their hands when communicating
•    Design oriented
•    Enjoys using tools and equipment
•    Responds well to activities: painting, drawing, or physical activities
•    Sitting for long periods of time is not easy
•    Willing to take more chances
•    Attracted to exploring
Kinesthetic or experiential recommendations:
•    Take breaks when studying
•    Switch up topics frequently
•    Do more physical things when studying: walk around, ride an exercise bike, play with a squishy ball, read notes while doing chores, chew on taffy
•    Make your work desk colorful and intriguing
•    Visualize your work from beginning to end
•    Play soft music in the background
•    Have parents and friends proofread your work
•    Use bright colors for highlighting reading passages
•    Glance over a passage first to get a feel for it 

Learn more about how our tutoring services can help your child! 

Improving Study Skills

Today's students usually walk out of their classrooms with a backpack full of study guides, notebooks, binders, folders, chapters to read, etc. However, they don’t know how to put that information into a bin or storage system, for a week from now, a month from now, or even three months from now. The assignments students receive are both short-term and long-term. So, how do students know what to focus on and when? How do they store this information until they need it? How should they study? Take a look at the following tips.  


Have the Student Teach - Students retain far more information when they draw up an assignment or breakdown a problem for others. Part of the reason this works is because the student is reviewing and teaching the parent or their peers at the same time. You can use note cards, but have the student hold them, read the words, and define the solution or answer.

Push the Learning Button to On - Students believe that if they read a chapter, they’ve studied and they'll be prepared. When in fact, studying should be full, in-depth, and involved. In order to study well, students shouldn't sit on the bench, but become an active participant or an active learner. Students will retain more when they highlight the concepts, ideas, facts,  write down notes in the margins, develop their own study guides, and test themselves. Student need to do more than just reading. 

Study Comfortably - Find a good place in the home or away from the home. Make sure this place is quiet, away from gaming/app electronics, and anxiety free. Set goals for breaks and use of electronics. For example, "After 30 minutes of studying, I'm allowed to take a 5 minute Facebook break." If studying with a group, utilize a place where distractions will be minimized. If possible, try to leave your cell phones at home, so that progress won't be hindered.    

Come up with Catchy Acronyms - Using acronyms can be highly beneficial. Here is an example: The 5 current largest cities in New Jersey in terms of population - J E E P' N. The word Jeep is associated with a passenger vehicle. Jeep'n makes it sound like driving around to the 5 current largest cities in NJ: Jersey, Elizabeth, Edison, Paterson, and Newark. This technique is flexible; it can be used with almost any type of memorization. Once students are shown how to use this technique, they will come up with all kinds of catchy acronyms to make retention easier. These also can be fun and entertaining to come up with! 

Participate in Class - Class participation can help boost study skills. The student is more engaged in class which will transfer to homework and studying. They will know more about the subject and be more familiar with what it encompasses. Asking questions to your teacher and creating classroom discussions can increase focus, interest, and motivation. The desire to get better, increase grades, and perform well takes over. 

Space Out Studying - This will help reduce anxiety over assignments. Spacing out study time over a few days is far better and less stressful than studying the day or night before. When your child has a quiz or test within the next few weeks, help him or her break the study time into multiple days. Have your child write these tasks in an organizer or on your family's refrigerator calendar. An example, if there’s a math test on Thursday, have your child write down to "review my study guide" on Monday, "memorize formula note cards" on Tuesday, and "do practice problems on page 50" on Wednesday. 

The earlier students learn how to study the better off they will be. As they move up to higher education, secondary and post-secondary, and are assigned more challenging work, these skills will become even more useful and help them to understand the material better. They will be prepared, more comfortable, have less stress, and better grades. 

Let us know how we can help improve your child's study skills! 

Tips for Homework Success

1)    Show your child how to be and stay organized
2)    Get rid of as many distractions as possible
3)    Create a plan for tackling homework assignments
4)    Get your child to see how homework can relate to tasks in everyday life
5)    Support your child and provide encouragement
6)    Make your child look up to you by working on a task at the same time
7)    Be interested in what your child is working on 

These tips should help get you and your child set in the right direction!

Learn more about homework help and Academic Coaching by contacting us today.