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What to do in London this half term?

April 27, 2018

How to keep busy over May half term

With the May half-term fast approaching, keeping the kids – and yourself – occupied for a whole week can seem daunting. But fear not, we’ve compiled a list of wonderful activities for the kids, and the whole family, that you can be doing over the bank holiday break.

Get dramatic

Upstage Lab, the programme that focuses on developing children’s social skills through drama and performing arts, is running its cultural exploration camp.

This May half term holiday, Upstage Lab will be exploring all things amazing across London in a spring camp that will see students visit museums, theatres, cinemas and more. With an eye to exploring what art really is; the group will visit Shakespeare’s Globe, the Tate Modern and the Royal Opera House – to name but a few locations.

The five-day tour is available for students aged from 7-17 and priced at an unbelievable £189 for the whole week. What’s more we’ve teamed up with Upstage Lab and you can use the discount code TUTORHOUSE when purchasing tickets, receiving a £15 discount.

For more information, see here. 

Get going

With excellent transport links from central London, there’s no reason you can’t venture a little further out of the city to explore some breathtaking historical landmarks.

Hatfield House is one of these landmarks, only opening now for its 2018 season, the estate is home to the 7th Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and their family. It boasts gorgeous Jacobean craftsmanship and fabulous gardens.

With the royal wedding upcoming, there isn’t a better time to travel to Windsor. With the May half term holiday marking the end to the wedding celebrations, the town will still be buzzing. Windsor has great shops and restaurants, as well as stunning parks, for the whole family to enjoy.

If you really feel like travelling further afield – we recommend heading to Stonehenge for the day. You can drive, take the train or book yourself into an organised tour. The pre-historic monument in Wiltshire is one of the seven wonders of the medieval world. *p.s don’t forget Lego Land!

Get revising

Of course, if you’ve got exams upcoming, we recommend that you prioritise revision. That doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun! We’re running revision courses, intensive day classes and last minute private tutoring sessions, just to get you ready for those exams! With exam season round the corner, you can maximise your time with a trusted tutor – who will be able to work through past papers with you and ensure you feel prepared before the big day.

Best brain foods for better exam results

Brain foods for exams, the top foods, and drinks, outlined here

Exam season is fast approaching, and the pressure to combat long nights of cramming or days detained to a seat in the library may be comforted by the idea of Walkers crisps and IRN-BRUs as brain food. Preparing for exams does not mean your nutrition has to suffer. In fact, the healthier the food you consume during your study sessions, the higher the marks you earn will be. We’ve taken notes of our own from our previous recommendations for exam brain foods and have discovered a few delicious and nutritious options to aid your studying.

1) Eggs

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so it comes as no surprise that this wholesome product makes the top of our list. They’re a sure-fire way to start your energy levels off on a high, as well as keep you full and focused longer than carbs and sugars would. Packed with Vitamin D, B6 and B12, the vital nutrients will assist in memory-packed prep days. Brain food central!

2) Avocados

The apple of every health-crazed phenomenon’s eye, this fruit is one of the best when it comes to exam performance and keeping blood sugar levels in tact. Avocados improve cognitive function, particularly memory and concentration. The monosaturated fats that make up this fruit also allow for healthy blood flow, which further assists in memorisation and alertness during those long hours of studying.

3) Olive Oil

Known as one of the simplest cooking ingredients to incorporate into any stove-top meal, olive oil contains powerful antioxidants that improve your ability to memorise and retain new information. The catch: its recommended you swallow a spoonful of the stuff at room temperature or even refrigerated olive oil to get the most out of your oil. When heated, olive oil decomposes, losing those essential nutrients needed for brain power. It might be a tough spoon to swallow, but your brain will thank you for it.

4) Salmon

Calling all seafood-lovers, this one’s sure to help you ace your exams while being an easier one to swallow. Salmon is one of the most nutritious brain healthy foods that run on omega-3 fatty acids to keep your attention going strong. These acids make up two-thirds of your brain, which is why adding this fish into your study diet will boost focus levels.

5) Walnuts

When it comes to nuts and seeds, walnuts take the cake for optimising brain health. They contain a type of omega-3 fatty acid that complements the brain’s make-up, making them a beneficial snacking choice. Walnuts also have twice as many of these essential antioxidants in comparison to the remaining nuts and seeds family, and will improve your studying abilities the most.

6) Tea

Ok it’s not brain food, but with just the right amount of caffeine, tea will enhance brain power when it comes to memorisation, focus and even improving your mood. Incorporating 2-3 cups per day during exam preparation will improve overall blood flow, and help create a steady work ethic. Keep in mind: freshly brewed tea is the way to go–or even tea bags–to maintain the antioxidants.

Looking for some further exam preparation help? At Tutor House, we have experienced tutors for every subject and all levels.

How to pass the creative writing section of the English Language GCSE

April 26, 2018

How to pass the creative writing section of the English Language GCSE

The creative writing component of the English Language GCSE can leave most students petrified. Having not practiced writing creatively since a much younger age, the dive into creative writing, especially when students are hounded to write academically, can be a challenge.

Often the English Language creative writing component will be phrased as so:

Write a story about a time you felt overwhelmed.

Or

Write a story inspired by the picture below

 

All of the above instructions are relatively vague. For students who are used to being told what to do, and for the English Literature component, asked to explore only a very specific area of the text – the idea of writing free reign is enough of an overwhelming story.

However, students shouldn’t be scared. English is nothing but the study of stories – and while you may feel left in the proverbial dark, actually stories are weaved into your every day life. From posts on social media, to newspaper articles and the texts you study for English Literature. So, there’s nothing daunting. You can weave a narrative just as succinctly and easily.

Here are some tips to consider:

  • Read anything and everything

Well, start with novels. When you turn 16, there’s no novel too detailed for you to explore and while I’m not saying you should start off reading War and Peace, you should be reading literature that excites and interests you. Whether it’s The Hunger Games, 1984 or Pride and Prejudice ­– all of these texts are filled with exciting stories for you to think about. Ask yourself: how does the author create suspense? What about the character is intriguing to you? For example, in The Hunger Games, Katniss Everdeen sacrifices herself for her sister – while she acts bravely, the author still indicates that she is frightened and overwhelmed. There is an internal conflict here that makes the character fascinating.

  • Be varied in your vocabulary

Words like “nice” and “said” are a bun with no burger, relish or cheese… bland! So, take a look at the example below so you can see for yourself why:

“Good to see you,” she said.

“Likewise,” John said.

Now take a look at the same examples with the “said” removed and some more detail added.

Lucy finished walking her bike up the hill. Drenched and exhausted, she extended a sweaty arm. “Good to see you,” she panted.

            “Likewise,” replied John, who shook her outstretched hand lightly and then proceeded to wipe the remains on his tweed trousers.

See the difference?

  • The five senses rule

When writing creatively, especially when you are being asked to write in the first person, you can describe the immediate area drawing on your five senses; taste, touch, sight, sound and smell.

If in the English GCSE exam, you were presented with a picture of a crowded market place and asked to write a story revolving it, you could open with the following (bonus points if you can spot any literary techniques):

The food market was a buzzing hive; its occupants busying themselves with the buying and selling of sweet smelling delicacies sourced from Toulouse to Timbaktu. I caught a whiff of Jasmine on the wind and was delighted to find a pastel painting of Turkish Delight, coated with a light dusting.

“You like?” cried the seller, ignoring the three other customers in the queue and trying to entice me in. I waved an apologetic hand and squeezed my way deeper into the market.

I was trying to remember to the words for ‘excuse me’, but had forgotten the teachings of the busboy at the hotel. The noise built into crescendos at every stand, with gossip, commands and bartering taking place in a rich dialect I couldn’t comprehend. Each and every direction I turned, I was jagged with an elbow or forced to fake-interest in a stall in which I had none. I was becoming overwhelmed, so I stole into a small crevice on the side of the market to seek respite.

Obviously, you will need to write more than this. But try to make your language as rich and engaging as possible.

  • Make sure to reread your work

Your creative writing component will be judged on spelling, grammar and punctuation, so make sure that you read your work once you’re done to iron out any potential mistakes.

 

If you want a little bit more help, Tutor House offers world-class English GCSE tutors. To find out more, or to book your tutor today, call 020 9500 320.

exam stationary pencils
5 tips to help you sleep better before exams

April 23, 2018

Finding it hard to sleep before an exam? You’re not alone

 

Students across the country often struggle to get a good night’s rest before the big day. Don’t panic, take a deep breath and read some of our useful tips that will help you doze off before exams.

1) Don’t cram study

You heard us. Don’t study the day before your exams. At this point, if you don’t know the material, you don’t have much hope. All you will do is get anxious if you stumble across something you don’t know, which will seriously serve to keep you up at night. If you want to, do some light subject reading before bed, but no timed tests to stress you out.

2) Eat a healthy dinner

You may have seen our blog about the best brain foods to eat before your exams? If you haven’t, we can surmise that you should be eating a healthy dinner before your exams. Put down the McDonalds and pick up the McBroccoli. You should be eating a balanced meal that’s low on sugar and caffeine – so you’ll be able to sleep easier. We know the struggle is real, but you have to say “no” to pudding.

3) Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is all the rage. (Although ‘rage’ may not be the right word.) Mindfulness is a mix of breathing exercises and meditation that, when used before exams, can help you stay calm and focused. There are a number of techniques you can learn to centre yourself. With anxieties gone, you should be able to get to sleep quicker and have a restless night.

4) Turn off your phone sheep’le

Shock horror, but it’s a well-known fact that smartphone screens stop your brain from producing melatonin (the hormone that helps you sleep). So switch it off, put it in another room and lock the door so that you’re not tempted to spend the night before your exams scrolling Instagram rather than getting rested.

5) Don’t worry

If you’ve tried all of the above and you still are struggling to get a good night’s sleep… then don’t worry! One night’s sleep won’t hurt your exam prospects. You’ve still studied hard and worked towards success and a few lost hours won’t limit your chances of success. So just dive right in.

If it’s not the night before your exam and you still want to revise, then get a tutor. At Tutor House, we have experienced tutors for every subject and all levels. Call us on 020 3950 0320 or email info@tutorhouse.co.uk to find out more.

Revision Brain Food
The 10 best brain foods to eat when revising

April 9, 2018

The 10 best brain foods to eat when revising

Let’s face it, when revising for important exams sometimes pupils need all the help they can get. Putting the time and effort into revising is extremely important, and private tuition offered by Tutor house will give students the best chance to achieve their optimum results in the forthcoming summer exams. Do not forget how important is your nutrition program during revision and exams time.

However it’s not all about the revision. It’s about looking after your body and mind as well. Eating the right kind of foods can significantly improve energy levels, concentration and brain power. Just as eating well day to day can prevent many diseases, there has been a great deal of evidence from health professionals that certain foods can give your brain a boost. This means you are more likely to be able to not only concentrate better, but also feel more energised, enthusiastic and have the ability to better retain information too!

So what are these super foods that we should eat when revising? The top ten ‘super brain’ foods to keep you alert and ready to process information are listed below.

1. Apples

We have all heard the saying ‘an apple a day keeps the doctor away’ well now it seems these easily accessible fruits are also fantastic for keeping your brain in tip top shape as well. Apples contain quercetin (particularly in the skins), which is an antioxidant which protects the brain cells against free radicals. This is important as free radicals can damage the outer lining of neurone around the brain and therefore cognitive function.

2. Blueberries

These lovely little berries don’t just taste great, they are a powerful fruit jam packed with antioxidants and goodness too. Research has shown that eating one cup of blueberries every day can have a significant impact on your ability to learn and your memory. There are loads of ways to eat berries, put them in porridge or cereals for a breakfast boost or make them into smoothies for a healthy and delicious drink

3. Broccoli

Perhaps not everyone’s favourite, broccoli is well worth eating as it’s high in vitamin K which has been shown to improve the brains ability to process information as well as having a powerful effect on your cognitive function. Broccoli can be made into soups, pan fried into stir fry’s or simply boiled as a side dish.

4. Oily Fish

The natural fats occurring in some fish are known as the ‘good fats.’ Scientifically proven to prevent the brain from aging, having plenty of fatty fish such as salmon and sardines as part of your diet is definitely a wise move. Fatty fish such as these contain omega-3 fatty acids and DHA and NPA which are wonderful brain boosting supplements to help with concentration and improve memory function.

5. Tomatoes

The humble tomato is another example of a fruit that is packed with nutrition and the antioxidant lycopene which strengthens cells helping them to remain unaffected by toxins. Tomatoes are great in salads, roasted in the oven, or simply as a healthy snack on their own.

6. Nuts and Seeds

Another handy snack, nuts and seeds are fantastic to boost energy levels as they release energy slowly and steadily over a period of time. Like fish they are also a brilliant source of ‘good fats’ and vitamin E which has been proven to enhance your ability to make decisions. There is a huge variety of nuts to choose from, so easy to find some to enjoy. Just remember that despite being powerfully good for you, nuts do contain very high levels of fat and calories so remember to eat them in moderation!

7. Whole grains

Whole grains are an important source of energy, and keeping energy levels up during revision is imperative. They provide a steady source of energy which is released slowly making them very effective. You can find them in cereals, brown rice and pasta, and brown granary bread.

8. Sage

Who knew that this little herb could do so much? Studies have shown that sage can improve memory so simply sprinkle it on other foods for a quick and easy brain boost!

9. Lean Meats

Lean meats are an excellent source of protein, go for organic free range chicken and you’ll also be stocking up on all important vitamins B3 and B6 which help convert carbohydrates into glucose which is great for energy levels. B3 is also excellent for reducing stress levels making them a wise choice of brain food for revision. Lean meats also contain Selenium which is great for boosting the immune system.

10. Chocolate

Saving the best until last, the good news is that chocolate has many great health benefits. Studies have shown that not only can chocolate reduce your blood pressure, but it also keeps your brain alert and focussed and can prevent memory loss. The reason? The presence of polyphenols in cocoa increases blood flow to the brain.

 

There are a great many foods that make excellent choices as the best brain food for revision. Tutor House offer private tuition for students studying at any level. Tutor House also run revision courses which are perfect for students who work better in a group setting, or simply get distracted working alone. Providing structured learning environments, a robust revision schedule and eating these fantastic brain foods are sure to put students in the best possible shape and frame of mind to do well in their summer exams.

Why A Level & GCSE Short Retake Courses are a must!

April 4, 2018

Well there are a number of reasons for intensive A Level & GCSE Short Retake Courses

The main reason is that you can simply focus on a problem area with a private tutor one on one. There is no-one else present, which can lead to distractions and time wasting.

Tutors work closely with you, identifying weaker areas, focusing on them and working through them with you. In addition tutors work through past papers and provide you with individual model answers and key exam phases and key words.

The course is intense, but the key is to focus on exam papers and how to answer questions.

A Short Retake Course – these courses are seriously intense, so you have to hit the ground running. You’ll have to sit exams every week and revise every day, it’s hard but worth it in the long run.

You can undertake these short ‘crammer‘ style courses over a 4 or 8-month period. Colleges and tutoring companies can support you. Private tuition is of course a very good option. Private tutoring always achieves the best results. Financially it makes sense as well. I would suggest at least 20 hours private tuition before your exams, perhaps even book block sessions every week. Make sure tutors are CRB checked and have tutoring experience!

Make sure you highlight modules/units that you didn’t do too well in; you may not need to re-sit every unit again! ☺ Also, take the time to work out your UMS score, which can be found on your results certificate.

You can Learn more about Short retake courses at Tutor House or simply contact us by mail  support@tutorhouse.co.uk   or call us on 0203 9500 320

We are also on HuffingtonPost. Check it out!

 

pros-cons-online-tutoring
The Pros and Cons of Online Tutoring

VIDEO: Tutor Talks: How Competition in Schools Creates Anxiety

The Pros and Cons of Online Tutoring

Online tutoring has really come into it’s own in recent years, and with the rise of technology it’s no longer essential for the student and the tutor to meet face to face.

The Internet is an influential ally for knowledge and has made tutoring easy for anyone who needs help, no matter how far away he or she lives. Online tutoring can be as simple as logging onto a website for support in almost any subject, at any level. However, it’s not all good news as the whole experience can hugely vary depending on the student’s age, requirements, their confidence with technology and the tutor’s level of experience.

But do the benefits outweigh the cons? Alex Dyer, the Managing director of one of London’s leading private tutoring agencies Tutor House, said “Students are able to learn from experts and ‘attend’ sessions almost anywhere in the world. However, a lot of people are wary of studying online and rightfully so – the online world of tutoring is an unregulated industry, and for every quality tutor out there are also many incapable ones.”

Positives of Online Tutoring:

1. Easy Accessibility

Students can access educational support whenever they need to, rather than working around the schedule of the private tutor. This comes in handy for students whose daily activities are packed with extracurricular activities in school, university and even work.

2. Saves Energy and Time

Online tutoring saves energy and time from traveling place to place. Even if the student is from a remote area, the student can learn from the comfort of his/her home through the internet.

3. Work Around Your Agenda

Most tutoring companies or individual online tutors have business hours designed specifically to accommodate families. These scheduled hours can be extended from after school hours to late evenings which makes it likely that the tutor would be available when you need them.

4. Flexibility in Curriculum

Online tutoring allows students to select the amount of consultation time with their tutors. This provides autonomy to students to decide whether he or she needs more or less time to learn a subject matter. Curriculum can also be made more flexible in order to suit a student’s needs. Students can even record lessons to review and revise at a later time. Scoring and feedback is also available for online tutoring.

5. Personal Touch to Teaching

With the evolution of latest software technologies, an online tutor may write, speak and dictate, in real time as the student watches. The tutor is also able to interpret the student’s actual work time. This interplay adds a personal touch to teaching. Students can also benefit from the tutors previous essays and how to write guides in order to be able to understand the subject matter better.

Negatives of Online Tutoring:

1. Loss of Personal Interaction

The student can lose the opportunity to gain benefits of online tutoring if he/she is less focused or distracted. Online tutors would not be able to identify this unlike the physical presence of a tutor. If the student is upset or frustrated with a certain task, the tutor might not be able to console them without being physically present.

2. Technology Isn’t Always Up To The Mark

Not all students have access to good, high speed, internet connection. Some might lose connection in the middle of lessons. Students require a high speed internet connection for them to receive the best advantage of online tutoring. They need to also use video-conferencing and webcams on their computer and all this might prove quite costly!

3. Disorganised Students

Students who don’t take learning seriously may fail to turn up for online tutorials. If there is no one to push the disorganised or disinterested student to make their online tutoring session then the tutor does not have any control and therefore can not help the student learn.

Summary of Online Tutoring:

With the above positives and negatives, there is indeed a rise in online tutoring with an increasing number of students partaking in it to accompany school or college teaching. Tutoring online will also become more portable due to the rise of working on Smartphones and Tablets too.

However for now, there really is no substitute for the real thing. Private tuition can really positively influence a student’s academic success in ways that online tuition simply cannot match.

Article written by Alex Dyer, managing director of one of London’s leading private tutoring agencies, Tutor House.

Three ways to revise for your exams this Easter

March 28, 2018

There are two ways you can see ‘exams’

The first way is revise for exams, spoken by a teacher, with all the spiel about exams being the gateway to your future and without doing well, implying you won’t amount to anything; you’ll be stacking shelves in Tesco before you can say ‘exams scare me more than Trump’.  

Naturally, this association with exams is known to cause a minor breakdown; illusions of running away, sobbing, sweating, shouting, a raising of blood pressure, and at best, a general poor, miserable mood – have all been reported, when revising. 

Then there’s ‘revise for exams’. Exams in the sense that you get the chance to take all that knowledge you’ve acquired over the years and put it in one place. You’re not worrying about the future, you’re only worry is to use that information to portray exactly what you’ve learnt and understood in a clear and succinct way on the day. Think about it as a hoop – just a hoop to jump through. A hoop that everyone has to jump through and most people you know have jumped through previously. Let’s call it the ‘exam hoop of happiness’. So what’s the best way to prepare to jump through this hoop?

Hoop one: Revise – Past papers

It amazes me how many students we talk to who say they’ve never looked at a past paper! I find this crazy, why would schools not look at them? They say practice makes perfect and to be perfect, to master a skill, you need to work on that skill for 10,000 hours! You’ll spend that on Instagram or some other nonsense, so spending it on revising would certainly be beneficial. Having said that 10,000 is quite a few hours, so let’s be a bit realistic. The rule is the more past papers you do, the better you’ll do! It’s simple learning; familiarity and replication. Take a driving test as an example, you’d never turn up to the test, having not had a single driving lesson, sit behind the wheel and say “which one is the brake?” That’s an instant fail, you crashed into the building. You’d never do it, and your GCSE, A-level or Pre-U exams should be no different – get those exam papers out, do one, do two, do three, and review them. You can find all exam papers on the Edexcel, AQA and OCR websites. And you can also find the answers to those exam papers on the same websites, under mark schemes. Otherwise search for them online, they’re easy to find.

Hoop two: Revise – Seven is the magic number

George Milner in 1956 found that the magic number for encoding in short term memory (this memory lasts less than 30 seconds, due to decay or displacement, if repetition doesn’t occur, and is usually encoding using auditory stimuli) was 7-/+ 2 chunks, so, a maximum of nine chunks of information at any one time. Information should be digested in small, manageable, bite-sized chunks. Think about a lot of things you remember and code in memory, they are in chunks; a pin code, a password, a phone number, 0203 9500 320, the whole number is too long to remember, so we automatically break it down, to make it manageable. Your brain does this automatically for you, so use that automatic help, and break things down. When revising, make sure you only revise the key small bits of information. Don’t go mad and write and write, you simply won’t remember the information, then use this information as the foundation for essays plans, poetry analysis or even for recalling an Economic theory.

Hoop three: Revise – Spider diagrams

These are linked to chunking; spider diagrams allow students to focus on important areas in visual learning (chunking is often auditory. You’re combining stimuli here) which is simple and doesn’t require a huge amount of repetition. The best way to revise for your GCSE, A-level or Pre-U exams is to plan them, and the easiest way to do this is through spider diagrams. They give you a short, sharp way to analyse and assess the key points. Let’s look at a quick example – Psychology A-Level AQA Memory. Note – No Pablo Picasso is not reborn, but I appreciate your support. (Aka, I’m the opposite of an artist.)

revise

Alex
Psychology – quick spider diagram for the Mutli Store Model of Memory
Making information visual increases memory capacity and learning.
Good luck with your exams this Easter!
How important is your English and Maths GCSE?

March 21, 2018

How important are your English and Maths GCSEs?

If you first don’t succeed, try, try and try again! Or at least, for the sake of your future, you absolutely must pass (with a B or 5 grade on the new system) the English and maths GCSE to move forward academically and vocationally.

The importance of you succeeding in these two GCSEs cannot be stressed enough. Whether you’re looking to go onto a sixth form or college, or simply undertake a vocational apprenticeship, it has become crucial for candidates to have passing maths and English GCSE grades.

It can be easy to underestimate these subjects, especially if you will just be dropping them when you continue study. It’s easy to ask: “Why is maths GCSE important?” or “If I’m going to drop English GCSE, why does it matter I do well?” The maths and English GCSE ensures you have good enough numeracy and literacy skills to go on to your chosen career path in whatever field.

If you don’t pass your English and maths GCSE, you can’t:

• Go to college/sixth form – Colleges and sixth forms require candidates to have at least a 5 grade and above in English and maths GCSE. Without this, you won’t be able to proceed to A-Levels, BTEC or Pre-U. Hence, you cannot go on to your chosen career path.
• Do foundation courses – Even if you miss your college experience altogether but still want to go to university, you will need to do a foundation course. To do a foundation course, you will need to have passing grades in maths and English GCSE.
• Do an apprenticeship – On the UCAS website, it states that students wanting to undertake an apprenticeship at the age of 16 must have at least five GCSEs, all with passing grades.

How do I pass my English and maths GCSE?

That’s a simple question to answer, but it will require a lot of work from you.

1) For starters, study, study, study! I know it may be hard to understand certain concepts, but the more time and effort you put in, the better you will do. You can’t expect to pass without putting in any actual work.

2) Of course, we’re biased, but get a tutor. There’s a reason one in three families have one, and it’s because tuition actually works. Having a professional tutor come to you to help you understand concepts and prepare you for the exam is the quickest route to success.

3) Attend a revision course. A revision course is a quick and direct way to understand exam content and practice – making sure you utilise techniques that will get you the most marks in your exam. We host a number of exam courses throughout the year, find out more here.