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7 Ways to Overcome Test Anxiety and Conquer Your Exams

Have you had that nightmare?

You know - the one where you show up for a final exam and realize you’ve hardly attended class all semester? Many people have. It often features high anxiety or waking up in a cold sweat, and then joyous relief when you discover it’s not Final Exam day after all.


We all take tests that can cause stress - English, math, driver’s education or college entrance exams to name but a few. And what we find - regardless of subject or potential consequence - is that feeling prepared is the #1 tool in pushing back against test anxiety.

Preparedness requires more than becoming a subject matter expert - in math equations, chemistry symbols, historical facts - whatever! Preparedness is mental and physical, and can be a preemptive strike against test anxiety.

Try these steps to help you reduce angst and achieve peak performance:

1. Plan for each exam

A test-taking luxury is that the Day of Destiny is known, allowing you to plan accordingly. With your calendar marked, your study plan should include knowing the importance of the exam; the range of information to be covered; the types of questions to be answered; your best study methods; tools that can help you; and how to minimize distractions. Check out last week’s blog post for more tips on preparing for your exams.

2. Get sleep

Anxiety on or before test day will increase if you’re not well-rested. Showing up over-stimulated or sleep-deprived will cloud your mind or jeopardize your scores. Beginning two weeks out, try sleeping at consistent times to condition your mind and body appropriately.

3. Feel physically fit

Walking, running, a gym workout or yoga will get the blood flowing, release endorphins and disperse tension. Consider adding in a favorite playlist or podcast to heighten the distraction from intense study. Exercise and diet work hand-in-hand to help achieve an optimal test-taking, anxiety-reduced mindset.

4. Eat right

Incorporating a balanced diet into your test prep routine has many benefits. You’ll have to eat, so why not do it right - especially at this critical time? An excellent place to start is with less of the sugary stuff, and more fruits and vegetables. Having proper foods on-hand and accessible is a way for your family to contribute to your success.

5. Relax your way

Building up your relaxation or chill mode is a great antidote to anxiety. Consider socializing, seeing a movie, taking a power nap, listening to music or visiting a park.

6. Reduce obstacles and obligations

Simplify your life. A cluttered calendar can cause stress and confusion. Move appointments that can be rescheduled, or trade responsibilities around the house with another family member.

7. Leave nothing to chance

On exam day, awake promptly (having set two alarms), eat properly, leave home and arrive at the test center early - and even have contingencies for road congestion or accidents.

By following these seven steps, you - yes, you - can master anxieties, avoid nightmares and advance towards the school of your dreams.

Year-End Exams are Right Around the Corner: How to Prepare

It’s soon time to plan for year-end exams. But before getting too wrapped up in the Periodic Table of Elements or quadratic equations, look at the big picture and strategize to score your best.

Know the territory

Quickly learn each exam date and mark your calendar accordingly. Next, answer these questions to determine what’s at stake:

Implement your best learning style

You likely know what study methods work well for you. Does silence, music or ambient noise feed you or distract you? Will you study alone, or, will you convene a study group to divide, conquer and reconnect the pieces to get up to speed? If it’s a study group, keep it manageable with perhaps 3-5 total students, and clearly define deadlines and deliverables.

Know the tools of the trade

Using available tools wisely will contribute to your success. Ask your instructor if study guides or prior years’ tests are available. If the exam is open-book style or technology-permissible, create an outline to guide your answer-execution skills, and confirm that your apps or online-accessible resources are current. From the get-go, use a calendar to plan and guide your study time. Your phone likely has a calendar app; Gmail’s calendar provides easy color-coding of study times and milestone by subject. If you need additional help, consult a tutor, recent graduate or knowledgeable grad student.

Minimize distractions

With test dates known, it’s buckle-down time. Although you may worry how you’ll fit exam prep into your already busy schedule, turn that upside down and make exam prep the rule, not the exception by:

Think repetition, not competition

It’s only natural to wonder how your exam scores may compare to fellow students’, however, that’s neither productive nor purposeful. Instead, focus on what you control - your time and concentration commitment. Review until the correct answers become habit. Know that excellence results from subject mastery and repetition, whether in music, athletics or other endeavors, and the same applies to achieving outstanding exam scores.

Although the school year-end is the destination, don’t overlook exam preparation along your educational journey.

Local Family Enrollments (Feb-2018)

School / Student grade / Tutoring Program Focus

Central Catholic HS, 11, History, Test-taking Skills

Lincoln HS, 10, Algebra II

Franklin HS, 11, French 2
Trackers HOAP, 7, Core-content, Spelling, Spanish
Trackers HOAP, 6, Core-content, Read .Comp., Spanish
Oregon City HS, 10, Integrated math, Spanish
Grant HS, 11, SAT Test-Prep
Beaverton Health & Science, 6, Core-Content support
Wilson HS, 11, SAT Test-Prep
Wilson HS, 9, Geometry
Grant HS, 11, SAT Test-Prep
Lake Oswego HS, 11, Pre-Calculus, test-taking skills
Lakeridge HS, 10, Geometry, Organizational support
St. Mary’s Academy, 12, Writing
Wilson HS, 12, AP Calculus, Biology
MEWA Online School, 10, Geometry, Biology

Celebrating Influential Women in Education During Women’s History Month

March 1st marked the beginning of Women’s History Month! All of us here at Tutor Doctor would like to thank the many magnificent women that have changed the way we look at education. Here are some influential women in education that we’d like to thank for making the world a better place!

Anne Sullivan

“Children require guidance and sympathy far more than instruction.”undefined

Often recognized as Helen Keller’s lifelong teacher, Anne Sullivan changed the way people with disabilities are approached in education. Due to Sullivan’s diligence, Helen Keller was able to learn to read, write, and communicate despite being blind and deaf. In fact, Anne Sullivan had overcome her own obstacles as well – due to an eye disease, she was left blind as a child. Anne Sullivan’s incredible work with Helen Keller is a testament to the great things that people with disabilities can achieve.

Maria Montessori

undefined“Early childhood education is the key to the betterment of society.”

Maria Montessori pioneered the concept of child-centered education. Using creative hands-on learning methods and encouraging self-directed activities, Montessori was able to form a unique instructional approach that provided successful results even in students that were considered “unteachable.” Montessori believed that early child education should encompass all parts of growth, including social, cognitive, and emotional development. To this day, the Montessori Method is featured in schools all over the world.

Michelle Obama

undefined“We can't afford not to educate girls and give women the power and the access that they need.”

In many parts of the world, educational resources are already lacking. For young women and girls, education can be virtually inaccessible, and sometimes even frowned upon for cultural and societal reasons. Michelle Obama has done an incredible job creating programs and resources for girls living in disadvantaged countries that do not have access to education. Michelle Obama’s Let Girls Learn initiative has made huge advancements in providing schools and education to adolescent girls in Africa. For example, programs in Liberia are fighting to end gender violence in schools, as well as provide “second chance” opportunities for women who have become pregnant at a young age.

Mary McLeod Bethune

undefined“Whatever glory belongs to the race for a development unprecedented in history for the given length of time, a full share belongs to the womanhood of the race.”

Mary McLeod Bethune’s parents were both former slaves. As a result, she had very little access to education as a child. Despite this, Bethune went on to become a teacher herself, eventually founding her own school in 1904. Initially starting with only six students, Bethune went on to become a champion of African-American women’s education, founding the Bethune-Cookman College (now university) to help women of color receive access to quality education. Mary McLeod Bethune believed that education was the key to equality, and we couldn’t agree more.


Malala Yousafzai

undefined“In some parts of the world, students are going to school every day. It's their normal life. But in other parts of the world, we are starving for education... it's like a precious gift. It's like a diamond.”

Malala Yousafzai’s story of resilience and fighting for what is right is nothing short of incredible. Growing up in Pakistan, Yousafzai became an advocate for women’s rights and education at a young age. However, due to the Taliban rule of Pakistan, freedoms for women were severely limited, with access to education virtually nonexistent. Incredibly, Yousafzai survived after being shot in the head by a Taliban soldier at close range. After recovering, she went on to become an advocate of human’s rights and educational access for women. In 2014, at the age of seventeen, Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to ever receive the Nobel Peace Prize for her amazing work in bringing attention to these issues.

How to Teach Your Teens to be Financially Savvy

In today’s modern world, being financially savvy is crucial. Between the changing global economy, the rising costs of higher education, and the introduction of digital currencies, it’s more important than ever to start teaching your teens financial skills early on. Here are some great tips on how you can help your teens prepare themselves for the world of money-management!

Have them open a bank account. There’s no better way to teach a teen about saving (and spending!) their own money than by having them open a personal checking account. By receiving access to a debit card, your teen will be able to make purchases using their own savings. However, because a debit card is only linked to the available funds in their account, there’s no risk of falling into debt (like with a credit card). In addition, most banks have options for young account holders to sign up as a “joint” account under their parents. This way, the teen will still have their own funds, but parents can monitor and access their account. With the large consumer switch to online retailers and internet purchases, cash alone just doesn’t cut it anymore. Your teens will appreciate having their own money they can spend, and more importantly, the responsibility that comes with it.

Let them make mistakes. Although this may sound counterintuitive, it is better for teens to learn what bad or impulsive spending habits are now than later. Consider this – your teen decides to spend all $100 in their bank account on two new video games. They have the games, but they also now have no money left in their account for the rest of the month. This is a great way to introduce budgeting, and more importantly, financial responsibility. It is better for your teen to make a mistake now and spend “too much allowance” than later in life when real money is at stake!

Encourage them to save up for a purchase. Larger and more expensive purchases often require a bit of saving! By encouraging your teen to save a little each month, they will learn the value of long-term financial responsibility. In today’s world of instant gratification, your teens will appreciate the feeling of having earned something they worked towards.

Involve them in real-world financial decisions. Having your teen engaged in the process of smart-shopping is integral. Many teens, for example, get their learner’s permit or driver’s license around this age. They’re going to need car insurance, and there’s plenty of plans, discounts, and companies out there. Get your teen involved in the decision-making process to give them an introduction to these modern necessities (health insurance, car insurance, etc.)

Plan their college finances together. On a related note to our last point, college is a huge real-world financial decision. At Tutor Doctor, we encourage all of our students to pursue higher education, and it’s important for your teen to be aware of the costs. By reviewing tuition costs, room and board fees, textbook expenses, etc., you are helping your teen to understand the reality of what it costs to attend college. In addition, the large number of financial aid, grant, and scholarship programs are another great way to get your teen involved in the process. By filling out these applications together, you can help them to understand the true value of these programs.

3 Steps to Help International Students Get into the American University of Their Dreams

America is home to some of the best colleges and universities in the world. For international students, the process of applying and getting accepted to a school in the United States can be complicated and confusing. Thankfully, some simple steps can help get you moving in the right direction toward an acceptance from your top choice.

Find the right fit

Just because a school has a recognizable name and is lauded as “one of the best” does not mean that it’s an ideal match for every student. This is especially true for international students whose backgrounds and experiences are often very different from those of domestic applicants.

When researching possible schools to apply to in the United States, consider the following:

Of course, visiting a school is one of the best ways to get a true feeling of a campus and its energy. Sitting in on some classes, scoping out the dorms, and meeting with admissions faculty can give a better impression of a school than a brochure or website can.

When in-person visits aren’t possible, consider reaching out to admissions offices about facilitating time to speak with faculty members and current international students. A school’s willingness to help you understand its programs and philosophies while you are still only an applicant can be a telling look at how they might someday treat you as a student.

Once you have your sights set on a list of potential schools, the real work begins…

Start test prep early

Most colleges and universities in the US require (or at the very least strongly encourage) applicants to submit scores from either the SAT or ACT.

Simply registering for and taking these exams isn’t enough. To stand a chance against the other students competing for the coveted spots in college and university classrooms, applicants need to excel on the tests they take. If studying in the United States is your goal, test prep needs to be at the top of the list of your priorities.

Start by identifying what exams the schools on your wish list are asking for and/or are willing to accept. Note that some schools and programs have additional content exam requirements (like the SAT Subject Tests) or English proficiency exams (like the TOEFL) that require separate registrations and involve extra preparation.

Thankfully, there’s help available. Enrolling in a reputable, proven, online test prep program is a great way to ensure can reach your score achievement goals. Test prep professionals can help focus your studying efforts in the areas ripest for improvement as well as ensure you are making the right exam selections.

Simply put, once attending an American school is even a consideration, test prep should begin. Learning both the content and format of these tests is crucial to attain the highest, most competitive scores possible.

Plan to take exams more than once

Many applicants to American schools take their entrance exams multiple times. There are several benefits to this approach:

To be competitive, students should actually start taking their exams no later than two years before expecting to start their higher education careers. This provides ample time to re-register and re-test if necessary. Since international test dates and locations are not always as readily available as they are in the United States, be sure to consider the calendar when planning ahead!

Getting into American schools as an international applicant requires some extra legwork, but as long as you do your research, plan ahead, and take the appropriate steps to prepare, it is a dream that can be realized.

Got Anxiety? Check these symptoms for your students… and you too!

Thinking with the End in Mind – Keep Goals in Sight

This blog post provides a great summary of a chapter from our recently published book, Academic Success Formula: How ordinary students get extraordinary results. The chapter was written by Ashley Mulcahy, a Tutor Doctor franchisee out of Orange County, California, who has more than 100 tutors in 20 cities.

Author Stephen Covey believes that all things are created twice – first, we imagine things in our mind, and then we can take the steps to make them a physical reality. This same concept applies to setting goals – without an end target in mind, it can be very difficult to determine what path we need to take to succeed. Imagining where you’d like to be later in life gives you a distinctive end goal to work towards. Using this future image as reference, we can begin to create a “blueprint” for our lives.

Why is setting goals important? Too often people believe that life happens “to” them, and that luck plays a larger role in achieving success than it really does. For example – if another student at your child’s school graduated valedictorian, it’s not uncommon for a parent to think, “Why can’t my child be like that?” We often mistakenly assume someone’s just got “good math genes” or must’ve been born “smart.” However, we never really get to see what happened behind-the-scenes – the multiple late-night study sessions and years of academic diligence – that more likely led the student to their success.

It’s also important to make sure goals are specific, and not too abstract. For example, “getting good grades” is not an end goal, but rather a part of the blueprint that will ultimately help to achieve the end in mind. At Tutor Doctor, we prefer to hear goals from our students more like, “I want to be a veterinarian!” Then the student can begin to start mapping out the steps, moving backwards, of what is required to achieve that end goal. Undoubtedly, getting good grades will play an integral role in gaining acceptance to veterinary school – but remember that the grades themselves are just part of the process, and not the final accomplishment! Even considering 75% of college students will change their major at least once, the important part is having that end vision in mind to be worked towards.

So, what are some good ways to set goals? One method is to make a “vision board” – a visual representation of your goals, including (but not limited to) relationships, finance, career, travel, home, and anything else related to personal growth. Try putting pictures on a poster board to represent these goals. This can serve as a great visual, constant reminder of your end goals!

Writing down your goals (and the steps needed to get there) is also a great way to start planning, and studies have shown that people that write down their goals are more likely to achieve them. Don’t be afraid to dream! To get started, here are five things to keep in mind to help set your goals effectively:

As we say here at Tutor Doctor, “It’s never too young to start.” The earlier we start setting goals for our future, the sooner we can start taking the path to success!

Local Family Enrollments (Jan-2018)

School / Student grade / Tutoring Program Focus

PCC Sylvania, Adult Student, Geology + lab, Anthropology
PDX Waldorf School, 7, Math, Academic Confidence
Lakeridge HS, Algebra II, Organizational support
Our Lady/Lake K-8, 8, Math, writing, Classwork mgmt
Glencoe ES, 5, Math, Academic Confidence
PCC (online), AS, Pre-calculus / Calculus
Wilson HS, 11, Algebra II
St. Mary’s Academy, 11 Algebra II
Lakeridge HS, 10, Geometry,
Benson HS, 9, Science + geometry, Org. Skills
PCC Sylvania, AS, Geology + lab
Jesuit HS, 10, Chemistry
West Sylvan MS, 6, Math

How to Protect Your Child on Social Media

As we’ve touched on in previous blogs, social media can be a great way to stay connected with others, keep up to date with current events, and even aid the learning process! As technology continues to advance, we find social media playing a larger role in our lives than ever before. However, it is important to remember to talk to your children about the responsibilities that come with using these technologies. Here are a few ways to protect your kids on social media!

Check privacy settings. This is one of the most important things you can do to ensure strangers are not interacting with your kids. Every major social media network, from Facebook to Instagram, has an entire settings page devoted to account privacy. We recommend that children refrain from keeping their profiles on public settings. Otherwise, anyone will be able to view their content. By keeping your profile private, only people you approve as “friends” or “followers” will be able to see what you post!

Follow or friend them yourself! In today’s day and age, most adults have social media accounts as well! Although your child may be hesitant (or embarrassed), try “following” or “friending” them on the social network of your choice. This will help you to see first-hand what your child is posting online and better gauge the type of people they are interacting with.

Check the age requirements. Every social media network has an age requirement to even sign up. Popular networks like Twitter, for example, have a minimum age of 13. The now-defunct video sharing app, Vine, was widely used among kids – despite having an age requirement of 17. Other social media networks have certain settings that change based on the age of the user. YouTube only requires you to be 13 years old to sign up. However, age-restricted videos and mature content is available to users over the age of 18. The point is – don’t lie about your age on social media, and make sure your children are not using networks for which they don’t meet the age requirements.

Don’t share your location. Social media networks generally give the option to share your location when posting something. For example, the popular video app Snapchat has a new feature called Snap Maps that displays your location when posting content. The point of this is to allow adults to easily share events and places with each other – if your friend decides to Snapchat some delicious food, you’ll be able to know the restaurant they are eating at! However, this is obviously not a good feature for children and minors. Luckily, Snapchat has “Ghost Mode” – enabling this in your settings will disable location sharing! It’s important to research the networks your child uses to see if special settings should be enabled for their protection.

Talk to your kids about online safety. In reality, this is the most effective way of protecting your children online. Teach your kids to use “common sense” when approaching people online – if a stranger contacts them, they shouldn’t respond. Immediately report any cases of harassment, bullying, or inappropriate messages to the network. Don’t tell people your address, and never share personal information about yourself. Only talk to people you know in real life, and privatize your profile so only your friends (not the whole world) can see what you post. Social media is a wonderful tool, but it is important to remind your kids that this technology comes with great responsibility.
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