Breaking Down the Writing Process: 5 Tips

Posted by Evan J on 7/17/19 4:14 PM

I was recently helping someone with a comparative essay they had to write for school. This person did not like writing—a common enough state of affairs. They felt that they had no talent for it. The process frustrated them. I could see that they were struggling in part because they were trying to do everything at once (come up with ideas, write grammatically sound sentences, discover their own thinking and opinions on the topic at hand).

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Tags: creative writing, English, expository writing

A 5 Part Plan to Studying SAT Vocabulary

Posted by Chris Schlegel on 5/17/19 4:09 PM

Hello! My name is Chris S., and I’m an SAT tutor with Cambridge Coaching. I’m also a PhD student in American poetry at Harvard. Like Mac S., who’s written about vocabulary studying, I think it’s unhelpful to worry too much about the millions of novels, essays, poems, and new words that exist—those mountains upon mountains of text. Instead, I like to de-stress vocab through the reinforcement of good habits—little fixes to the big question of improving English proficiency.

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Tags: English

It’s All Greek to Me—How to Build Vocabulary from the Ground Up

Posted by Claire C. on 4/24/19 8:26 AM

A meritorious lexicon is imperative for perspicacity. Or, in plain English, a good vocabulary is important for understanding things. It helps you in your education and your career—and, for our immediate purposes, on standardized tests.

But it can be tricky to memorize a slew of words you don’t understand, especially if you don’t see or hear them all that often. When’s the last time you said to a friend that something seemed, say, “diaphanous,” “multifarious,” or “truculent”? Beyond reading widely and memorizing flashcards with fancy words on them before bed each night, what can you do to increase your vocabulary? 

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Tags: English, expository writing

Tips for Writing an Exam Essay in 80 minutes

Posted by Martha C. on 11/14/18 4:30 PM

We've all been there.  The teacher is at the front of the classroom with a pile a blue books.  She begins handing them out.  You scrawl the name and date on the front, and wait for her to start the timer.  As you open the first page, an overwhelming white page stares back at you.  And you panic.

Luckily, there are ways to prepare for essay exams that make this moment easier. Believe it or not, is a matter of remembering steps -- simply master the approach and practice it, and you will do better.  Promise.

So what are the steps?

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Tags: English, expository writing

How to Begin Writing: The Art of Imitation

Posted by Alyssa N. on 11/12/18 6:24 PM

The blank page can be scary, terrifying even.  It represents the unknown.  And who isn’t afraid of what they don’t know? I, for one, feel intense insecurity and fear when confronted with an empty word document, the clicker blinking insistently at me as if impatient with my lack of progress.  And I’m a writer! I’ve been writing and teaching writing for years! So, how do we conquer this fear? How do we get ourselves to write when it feels impossible?

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Tags: creative writing, English

6 Young Adult Books Everyone Should Read

Posted by Danielle on 10/26/18 6:00 PM

It doesn’t matter how old you are, I firmly believe that everyone can enjoy a young adult book. While they are typically targeted at teenagers since the main characters range from 14-19 years old, these stories can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of their age.  The following books are impactful and important stories that I firmly believe everyone should read. 

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Tags: English, middle school

Three Ways to Build Good Vocab Habits for Standardized Tests

Posted by Abhi on 8/31/18 3:16 PM

When taking standardized tests, especially the SAT or GRE, people often struggle with memorizing enough words for the (often tricky) vocabulary sections. When it comes to vocabulary, unlike other parts of the test, you either know the word or you don’t. So how can you ensure you improve your vocabulary memory for the test? It’s all about building good habits!

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Tags: study skills, test anxiety, English

Taking Essays To The Next Level: How To Write In Your Own Voice

Posted by Zoe Balaconis on 8/24/18 4:59 PM

It’s not unusual to get an essay back from a teacher with the feedback, “write in your own voice,” scrawled across the top. But it’s easier said than done. Here you are, writing your own thoughts and your own opinions, all according to the directions of the assignment; how can it not be in your own voice? What your teacher is actually telling you is that your writing sounds too formulaic, too stilted, or too bland. Sure, you’ve learned how to write using proper grammar and you’ve learned how to formulate and format your thoughts into an essay, but now you need to take it to the next level. Don’t stick to the formula; write in your own voice. Here are a few tips for getting started.

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Tags: English, expository writing

3 Ways to Better Analyze Poetry

Posted by Tess on 8/20/18 6:23 PM

“Cikgu Tess!”
“Miss. Look lah.”
“Girl’s bathroom,” she says. “Cikgu, you touch?”
Our state has the highest concentration of venomous snakes in the region.
“Is it poisonous?”
I mime the action of being bitten (by my hand) and then dying.
“Mm, don’t know.”

In 2017, I taught ESL, literature, and political science at a rural secondary school in a conservative, rice-paddy-laden state in northern Malaysia. To say the least, it was a year of questions.

This extended to my methodology as a teacher. Given Malaysia’s exam-centric educational system, I sought to help students develop Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS). Over the course of my grant, I refined an arsenal of questions that enabled students to improve their analyses and become active question-askers. 

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Tags: creative writing, English

How To Strengthen Your Writing In One Easy Step

Posted by Susan on 7/9/18 5:42 PM

Very few rules of good writing are without exceptions, and this one is no exception, but I think it might be close: 

You can always — or nearly always — make your writing stronger, clearer, and sharper if you follow the word “this” with a noun.*

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Tags: English, expository writing