How to get ahead in academics this summer

For most students, the school year is coming to an end sometime in the next few weeks.  A seemingly endless expanse of summer break stretches out in front of them.  Visions of beach days and sleeping in abound.  However, time goes quickly and before they know it, August is rolling around again and it’s time to head back to school.

The “summer slide” is well-known, for good reason.  After taking several months off from academics, many students lose some of the achievement gains they made the year before.  While we don’t advocate devoting your entire summer to school (everyone needs a break!), it can be beneficial to weave learning into some of your free time so you’re not starting the school year at a disadvantage.

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

Read for fun.
Aside from being an enjoyable way to pass the time,canstockphoto27896823 reading for fun builds your vocabulary and reading comprehension.  Students who read for fun tend to do much better on the SAT and ACT as well.  Don’t assume that reading for fun has to mean picking up the classics like Dickens and Dostoevsky (although those are great too!).  For more reluctant readers, even magazines can do the trick.  Try magazines with well-written feature articles like ESPN The Magazine or The Atlantic Monthly.  Get a subscription and distribute the magazines around your house so you’ll pick them up when you have a free minute.  Remember, you can use a Kindle to bring books and magazines with you wherever you go!

Get a head start on test prep with easy-to-use apps.
Yes, there’s no substitute for old-fashioned in-person test prep for the most personalized instruction (this might be a good time to mention that current AJ Tutoring students should take practice SAT and ACT tests with us this summer!).  However, there are some great SAT and ACT prep apps out there that will help you take your test prep with you wherever you go.  Try the College Board’s app for SAT prep and ACT Up’s app for the ACT.  Even doing a question or two each day will help you make headway in your test prep for next school year.

Take a break from Snapchat and put your phone to work!

Improve your organization and executive functioning skills.
One of the most underrated contributors to academic success is the ability to stay focused, avoid procrastination, and make a study plan (and stick to it!).  A student who knows everything there is to know about US History but starts a 5-page essay the night before it’s due is probably not going to get the grade that he’s capable of achieving.  This summer, start by reading a book like The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg to learn how to automate your willpower and change your habits for good.  Then, harness modern technology for your benefit by trying a few productivity apps.  Google Calendar might be a good solution if the traditional planner has never worked for you.  Todoist is a powerful to-do list app that helps you plan out your tasks and reminds you when they’re due.  Finally, practice your new habits and try out your new technology on a smaller scale over the summer: use them to help you complete your summer assignments for next school year.

Explore an academic interest, or work ahead for next year’s classes.
Have you noticed a recurring theme yet?  Technology can help you make the most of your time this summer, allowing you to integrate learning with your summer plans.  The last few years have seen an explosion in free or low-cost online classes.  Interested in learning CSS, a foreign language, or early American history?  Coursera, Khan Academy, and Codecademy are a few options among hundreds of such websites.  However, while online courses are a great way to explore a new academic interest, many students have trouble staying motivated when they’re not meeting in-person with a teacher.  AJ Tutoring-4329For those students, AJ Tutoring offers a variety of 1-on-1 summer classes at our offices in the Bay Area.  Our summer offerings range from bridge classes to get you ready for AP Calculus to enrichment classes in subjects like “The Chemistry of California”.  To sign up for summer classes at AJ Tutoring or talk with a director about your summer plans, please fill out a consultation request or give us a call at 650.331.3251.  We’d love to work with you this summer!

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