How to Have a Successful School Year

When you are beginning the school year, begin thinking about how you can plan ahead. Consider your major tests, papers, and projects beforehand. When assigned a book report or a test on a book you have read, begin by annotating the text. Look for important lines that define the plot and characters. Analyze their roles as either the protagonist, antagonist, flat character, or round character. Define their role in the story and how they move the plot forward. Look for key elements such as setting, the main event in the story, and literary themes, literary devices, or motifs. How does the books compare or contrast to others you have read that are similar and in the same genre?
Research the author’s contemporaries and tell how this book stands out from others in the genre. Research the genre and found out more about it and what the genre was like during the time it was written. Focus on one of these elements to write about. When taking a test, make sure to write key quotes, the author’s biographical information, when it was written, famous lines made by the characters and their qualities, as well as literary devices, such as metaphors, and symbolism. Look for key elements that are symbolic in the story. Prepare for other projects by working on an annotated bibliography early. Make sure to document all sources in MLA format and write about the purpose of the article or chapter in the book you are using. Keep these sources on notecards and the annotations, as well. Put the number at the top in alphabetical order, in order to use the information to cite in your paper or project. Use purdue owl and night cite websites to help you document your sources. Remember to always use a .gov, .edu, or a .org site. Do not use Wikipedia. Make sure that the .org site is credible. Only use the most pertinent information that summarizes the author’s purpose and your stance. Answer why you used that particular quote to explain your stance or purpose. All annotations should be a paragraph and can include a quote or two that defines the thesis of the text you are reading. Keep track of all of your sources, as well as outlines, and drafts, in order to prepare you for the final research project. Make sure to research your topic thoroughly, especially if it is scientific. Only use the most recent sources for all scientific topics. Try to uses sources within the last twenty years for other papers, as well. Only use credible articles for an academic audience online or periodicals from the public library. Ask a librarian for assistance and they will help you find periodicals online. Prepare well in advance and do not wait until the last minute.

About Julie

Julie is a tutor and featured blogger with Academic Advantage Online Tutoring who enjoys Reading, Writing, Studying the arts, humanities, and sciences.

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.

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:


About Julie

Julie is a tutor and featured blogger with Academic Advantage Online Tutoring who enjoys Reading, Writing, Studying the arts, humanities, and sciences.


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!

When a Student Needs Academic Support

There’s one easy pin-point moment when a parent knows without hesitation that a child needs help with their school work. That’s when the parent receives a phone call from the student’s teacher explaining that the student is struggling with the topic, is falling behind with school work, and may be making grades below a “C.” As a parent, you may feel relieved to hear that the teacher is in touch with your child’s progress and that you were promptly alerted to the difficulties as they appeared. Some parents even feel a little guilty for not realizing the problem themselves. Parents may even wonder to themselves, “What are the warning signs that my child is falling behind in school? How can I better prepare my child for success?”

Parents can identify when a child is struggling in school when that child comes home and has a strong aversion to completing homework. When a parent has to play “homework police” that may be the first warning sign that the child is struggling with a concept. Students may try to avoid a specific type of school work because they feel bad that it is a subject that they struggle with. Essentially, a student’s self-esteem drops when they come across a topic that they cannot master without the help of an adult. Students can become vehemently against completing assignments that make them feel inferior. They may disobey parents in order to avoid doing homework that they need extra help with.

These anxieties should be eased by reinforcing the concepts that the student needs help with. Parents could do this by asking for some direction from the student’s teachers and then helping the student with the concepts. Parents should try to become familiar with his or the child’s personal areas of strength or weakness. Reviewing the child’s test scores and seeing how they are doing with their work firsthand is the best first step to help a student to succeed in school. Every child’s learning style is different, and a parent could spend some time getting to know how their child learns in order to evaluate his or her needs.

Asking a tutor for additional help is also a great way to bolster a student’s skills in their most needed area of learning. Tutors have experience with evaluating where the student’s learning level is and how to best support continual growth in a student’s skills.

Thanks for reading! Please do not hesitate to reach out to me with questions. Email me at

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.

Improving Your Scholarship in High School

In high school, you typically are very busy with after school activities and may not have enough time to put into your studies.  Nonetheless, you can still find time to set aside for your studies and work on improving your overall GPA by using your time wisely. Do not quit one of your activities if you can. Instead work to plan strategies that will provide you with more time to study by changing with your schedule. Add a study hall to your schedule to give yourself more time to study during the day, or make sure to use the time you have before your extracurricular activities begin to study. During your lunch break, use the time to study if you have an upcoming test or quiz.  It is better to get your work done earlier than later because you will be less likely to focus at night and you won’t do your best. Do not wait until late at night to study because you will not retain the information you need to succeed and do not cram the night before.  Make sure when you study on the weekends to take a short break every hour, because you can only focus for a certain amount of time. Your short term memory cannot remember what it needs to and process loads of new information if you wait until the night before an examination to study. You should make sure to study for a test at least two to three weeks in advance to remember the information.

You should go through your notes from class and power points. Use these notes as a guide when you go through your book. Re-write or type your notes by combining the notes from class and adding the corresponding information from the text to study. You can write questions for yourself on flash cards or make a chart out of the information with the answer on the other side to review. If you make a chart, you can fold the paper or cover the answer over so that you can look at the question and write it out and then check your answer on the other side of the page afterward. Make sure to re-read the chapters at least two to three times. When you read the chapters, make sure to annotate your text with notes and highlight important definitions, words, or phrases that you think are important and that were discussed in class. You can also create a mnemonic device as code to remember information.  If you don’t re-read the chapters and write a set of review notes or highlight important information, you will not retain the material as well. You must learn to take good notes in high school if you want to succeed in college. Do not sit in the class and not take down as many notes as you can. You will not get the information you need out of the course and at the end of the semester; you won’t remember everything the teacher said in class. Organize your notes and save all of your papers to study for an exam study guide.

Try these strategies, and find a study plan that works best for you. You can also create a study group and compare notes to make sure that you wrote down all of the most pertinent information from the lecture. You do need to focus on more than just your grades if you want to get into college as they look for the best leaders. Whether  you sign up for the debate team, dance team, mathletes, cheerleading, band, foreign language club, forensics, social studies club, joining the band, doing ballet, gymnastics, playing a sport, or playing other musical instruments you must show that you are dedicated to becoming a well-rounded scholar that will contribute to their campus. These activities improve your ability to think and reason critically on a much higher level, which will help you succeed in your studies. You can also use these activities as a guide to choose a major. If you succeed at activities that use the right side of your brain you should choose a major that is artistic, while if you excel at activities that use the left side of your brain you should choose a major that is scientific. Thus, to do your best make sure to manage your time wisely, continue to do extracurricular activities, and you will begin improving your scholarship in high school.



About Julie

Julie is a tutor and featured blogger with Academic Advantage Online Tutoring who enjoys Reading, Writing, Studying the arts, humanities, and sciences.

What to do if You Didn’t Get Accepted into College

If you did not get accepted into college and want to continue your education for your career goals such as nursing or accounting, don’t give up.  You can still get into college.  For students who have struggled with grades, SAT/ACT test scores and Compass Exam scores, you will need to put in extra time to study and build your basic skills.

There is no substitute for not having the academic background.  Take the full year to build critical skills such as Reading Comprehension, Grammar, Writing and Math.  Not only will you need to improve your academic level in these areas to improve your test scores, you will need to have mastered these subjects to do well in your college courses.  It is never too late to learn.  Don’t look at this time as failure, but as a new opportunity to learn the concepts that you did not learn or missed while in school.  The good news is that you are still young and have your entire life ahead of you to succeed.  When you get to college after taking the year to better yourself, you will find out that not all college freshmen are 18 years old and just graduated from high school.  You will not be the only student that did not enter college directly out of high school.

We have had students to come to the learning center everyday for a year to fill in gaps in math, reading comprehension, grammar and writing to prepare for college.  Those students took that year and worked hard in class and on home assignments to gain the knowledge and confidence needed and successfully went on to college.

We have had adult students to come to the learning center to improve Reading, Math and Writing skills after working for years and realizing that higher education would improve their ability to receive raises and job promotions.

If you are a student just graduating from high school, don’t be discouraged that you did not enter college in the fall.  Set a new time table for yourself.  Be determined that you will take the time, put in the effort to study and learn to improve your skill set.  Only you can determine your future.  Decide if you want to work hard and put in the effort to learn now and be ready to move to the next level by next year or if you want to wait until you are older and have more responsibilities when you return to schooling.  It’s your decision and your choice to make.  Following the old adage of doing things now and not putting off tomorrow what you can do today is always the best strategy for life successes.

Starting the School Year Strong

A new school year.  A new start.  Start the school year strong with the focus on organization.  Keep the course syllabus and all class handouts in three-ring notebook binders.  Have a binder for each course. Use a color coding system to help quickly identify the correct notebook.  For example, if you have a green math textbook, use a green notebook for Math.  Use a blue binder with your blue science book and so forth.  The color coding system works when you are short on time and need to get the correct books from your locker during class changes.

Use the binders daily to keep your papers neat and orderly.  When your teacher gives you a handout or returns graded assignments, put them into your notebook and make sure the grade on the assignment matches your grade in your computer student portal.  Look at your recorded grades weekly to make sure your assignments have been entered correctly.

Read your course syllabus.  Make sure you fully understand your teacher’s expectations on assignments and class content to be covered for the semester or quarter.  Write down all homework assignments including page numbers, due dates and other teacher requirements.  Don’t try to remember everything.  No matter how much you think you can remember it all, you won’t be able to.  Write down everything in your agenda book so that you can refer back to your assignments and reflect back over your day.

The most important thing is that you don’t get behind.  Look at your class syllabus and read upcoming chapters before the lesson is taught in class.  If the teacher teaches a new topic that you don’t understand, don’t wait to ask for help.  Ask questions in class. Find out if your teacher has before or after school tutoring hours.  Ask your classmates or get a tutor.  Work ahead of the class.  Read the syllabus and take note of the upcoming topics and read the chapter in advance.  When the teacher explains the topic in class, you will have confidence and a better understanding of the class material.

Get organized and stay organized. Read and study ahead. Ask questions and get help when needed to have a successful year so that you can start the school year strong and make the top grade.

Academic Common Market…An Opportunity Worth Considering

School counselors and college advisors often hear students mention the desire to attend college outside of Georgia. Many decide to stay due to the costs associated with out of state tuition and the irrestible lure of the HOPE scholarship. If your high school student is interested in a major that is not offered in a Georgia public institution, they may be eligible to take advantage of the Academic Common Market (ACM). ACM enables students to pursue out-of-state college degrees at in-state tuition rates through agreements between Georgia and 15 of our neighboring states.


    A few things you should know about the Academic Common Market:


  • Students should be admitted to the college of choice before submitting the ACM application materials.


  • Residents of SREB states should start their application process early to allow time for getting all the necessary authorizations.


  • States offering undergraduate degrees in our region include: Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia & West Virginia. North Carolina, Florida & Texas participate at the graduate level.


  • Georgia residents have access to almost 280 programs including: Sports Communication, Dance, Interior Design, Urban Planning, Forensic Chemistry, Business Analytics & a host of others.


This is an opportunity that will require some legwork and a few hours of research, but the return is definitely worth the investment!


For more details visit

Get Ahead-Summer Tutoring

Summer time is a time to refresh and renew! We all set aside some time to relax, visit family and vacation. Summer time is also the perfect time to get ahead of the upcoming school year. We offer various programs for students to fill in academic gaps, take refresher math or writing courses or work on class work for the upcoming school year.

Reading and Math Remediation-If your Math and/or Reading diagnostic pre-test revealed some gaps in learning, use the summer to work on your basic skills. A strong foundation in Reading Comprehension and Basic Arithmetic and Geometry is needed for standardized test success including SAT and ACT exams.

Math Workshops can refresh your memory and help reinforce learning in all areas of basic math that were not learned before, unclear or simply forgotten. Math knowledge builds student achievement and confidence.

Writing Workshops can help students with writing a cohesive and organized essay which is needed for class papers, standardized testing and SAT and ACT exams.

Summer Prep Academy-Grades 2-8 we work with students on the upcoming school year’s curriculum. Students work on Reading comprehension, English Language Arts and Math to get ahead of the class for fall. Students are knowledgeable when teachers teach the class material and poised to make A’s.

Summer Courses-Grades 9-12-Students take upcoming math and science courses in Biology, Chemistry, Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, and Physics.

PSAT Prep-Students can get prepared for the newly designed PSAT which will be given in October. Students will have the advantage of learning the new test format and practice. 12 week course.

SAT or ACT Prep– Rising Juniors, Seniors and Sophomores can prep to improves scores on the SAT before the redesigned test is released. Research shows that the greater the time students have to practice and prep, the more scores increase and test anxiety decreases.

Navigating the College Application Process– Students will bring their laptops for an interactive planning session to plan for life after high school.

Study Skills-Learn organizational skills to become confident! Handle stress, learn note-taking and reading comprehension strategies.

Get a HEADSTART on the new school year. The reality is that students have the years between Kindergarten and 10th grade to obtain the core academic skills needed before taking college admissions exams to continue on the time scale of entering college directly after the high school senior year. Don’t wait until the sophomore, junior or senior year of high school when there is too little time left to improve Reading, Math and Writing skills before taking SAT or ACT.