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Tutors: How to write the perfect blog post

October 1, 2018

As a tutor, it’s no surprise that you would be considered an expert in your field of study.

With that in mind, we are thrilled to have our tutors share their knowledge further by writing some of their own unique blog posts for us. We understand that curating blog content may not be the easiest task, especially when there is a world of information intended to be conveyed within a 250-300 word count. Therefore, we have come up with a few ways to help get your blogging on the right track.

Keep it concise

We all know how short attention spans can be. For that reason, keeping your blog posts short but informative will keep your reader engaged from start to finish. It’s easy to get caught up in talking about your passion, and you can, of course, go mad and write a thesis! However, sticking to a limited word count will optimize the reading experience. Using shorter sentences (below 20 words per sentence) and considering throwing in some visual aid where appropriate can also go a long way in making your blog post a successful one. We’d say try and stick to under 500 words.

Stay true to yourself

When writing your blog post, consider how you would interact with the student you’re teaching, or their parents, perhaps. While you are in fact extremely qualified for the subject at hand, it’s important to be able to relate to your reader to some extent. Keeping your tone as relaxed and free of verbose language will leave you with a much better final product.

Remember your audience

It’s hard not to type passionately away at our keyboard when we’re elaborating on topics that are near to our hearts. However, considering the demographics of our readers should reflect the ways in which you present your ideas. The Tutor House readership varies in age, but maintaining a consistent writing style that can be easily grasped by any reader is vital in creating a successful blog post.

What topics could you talk about in your blog?

It’s always hard to say. But always stick to the subjects and levels you teacher, or at least the subjects that you’re interested in. Some interesting blog titles may include:

  • Algebra; you’d be surprised how relevant it is, every day
  • A quick guide to the works of Shakespeare
  • Arts aren’t dead and here is why
  • How to write the perfect essay, from structure to layout
  • What you do and don’t need to know about the 11+

Why blogging will help you

If you’re wondering whether blogging with Tutor House is the right thing for you, trust us, it will be! It will boost your profile and increase the number of enquiries you get, and subsequently increase your income! 🙂

Each blog that you write for us will link to your tutor profile and will be shared on our various social media platforms, too. That way, your content will reach many more people, and increase your chances of tutoring more students. The more you write, the likelier your tutoring sessions will be. It’s a win-win!

If you’d like to find out more about blogging with us or have any specific questions for our team, we are happy to help. Please contact us via email or by phone.

A guide to Oxbridgeapplications
How to write the best personal statement in 5 simple steps

September 24, 2018

How to write the best personal statement in 5 simple steps

I’ve helped thousands of student’s write, re-write, re-re-write (and re-re-re write) their personal statements for university, for college and for jobs. I’ve helped students applying to all sorted of different fields – medicine, optometry, business management, even golf studies. And, more often than not, I see the same thing. So, below is a list of ways to write a top personal statement. (And some things to avoid, or at least consider, when writing your personal statement)

Key points to remember about a personal statement:

It should be personal
It should be about you
It should include academia, achievements, work experience and hobbies/interests
It should have a maximum of 4000 characters
It should have a maximum of 47 lines

1. Don’t start your personal statement at the beginning

This is probably the most important. If you try to start at the beginning, you’ll fail before you’ve started! Always leave the opening paragraph until last. This is (luckily) the opposite of what you’re ever told at school, but trust me, it’s the right way to write a personal statement. Get the meat of the statement together first. Jot down 5-6 important factors about you, make it personal. For example, if you want to study accountancy at UCL then highlight (say 2-3) reasons as to why you want to study this degree. Then list the subjects you’re currently studying, most likely at A-level, and link them to the degree. Then make note of 3-4 important things that will set you apart from the next student. (Who is trying to get the same place as you are) Perhaps an accountancy book you’ve read,* or the work experience in accountancy you’ve had, or even a part time job you’ve had. (It doesn’t have to link to accountancy). And finally outline the best things about you, the cricket captain, the best cello player in the school, the aspiring actor.

It’s basically a crummy recipe for your favourite meal, although this specific meal will take time to perfect; it’s not edible, you’ll be crying for most of it, you’ll scream and it will stimulate not a single taste bud.

*If you want to make friends at university don’t show them this bit.

2. Don’t link everything in your personal statement!

The best (or worst, depending on who’s asking) example I saw of trying to link everything, was – “Being the captain of hockey at school, I realised this was so closely linked to dentistry, just even the hand dexterity, let alone the teamwork and fitness.” What you may have noticed here, and if you didn’t I’d advise you to probably give up now, is that this is not good. Linking everything is not advisable. Hockey has, in fact, absolutely nothing to do with dentistry. In no way does fitness influence your dentistry skills. My dentist is a lovely old boy, who’s slightly overweight, but this makes no difference at all! (I have lovely teeth).

Link things that link, and remain calm and be normal! Do not link everything to your degree, it won’t work, and you’ll begin to look deranged. Having said that try and link, but only where appropriate.

3. It’s a personal statement, not your first go at a romantic drama.

Keep it personal, talk about you. Whatever you may think, you are interesting and you are unique. And that’s what we want to see. What can you bring to university that is different to the next person? Yes, I would encourage you to focus on an area you find interesting, or go into some detail about a book you’ve read. That’s a good way to go about writing a personal statement. But please don’t waffle, don’t break every little detail down, and don’t blab.

4. Take plenty of time to write your personal statement.

A 2015 applicant emailed me – “I need help with my 2015 UCAS application, can you help?” he yelped, “Yes of course, but you know the deadline is the 15th January 2015, that’s tomorrow.” I replied. “Can you help me with by 2016 UCAS application?” Came the response.

Most students do 5 drafts of their personal statements before they are happy. If you’re going to do something 5 times, you’ll need loads of time to get ready. Unless you’re applying to Oxbridge or a Medical degree (medicine or dentistry) where the deadline is 15th October every year, you have until 15th January. I would bring this deadline forward to 1st December, and I would start early. September would be late! Start over the summer – you’ll be doing almost nothing anyway. Get a few ideas together and start preparing:
– Fascinated by maternal deprivation hypothesis
– Read Bowly’s book
– Read ‘other’ books, like…
– Went to a talk about infant attachments
– Country rugby player
– Worked at my local garden centre±

±Don’t use these examples, well you can, but you probably won’t get into university.

5. Don’t watch YouTube videos on personal statements

YouTube is for certain things – Ed Sheeran’s – The Shape of You, if they weren’t recorded you’d never believe it, Tutor Talks or baby gender reveals. It’s not for personal statement advice. Students leave advice on YouTube because they wrote a terrible personal statement first time round and they are now telling the world that they are (indirectly) upset – because they are not at University! Or, after your search, you’ll find a man, with a beard, who probably drives a Volvo and takes Tupperware into work, who is so boring, you will pick up your accountancy book after all.

Read amazing blogs like this one, get advice from school, speak to other students and peers – what did they include? And ask for help. But don’t watch, or rely on videos to give you the right advice. A personal statement is a big thing, you need to get it right, it’s your future. So take time and write it the best dam personal statement out there.

§Obviously you will

Anxiety: the real reason you fail exams

July 9, 2018

What is the definition of anxiety?

There are a number of definitions of anxiety. The primary one is…

It’s the anticipation of a future (or sometimes a past) threat. Fear is incorporated in that definition, but this is usually regarded as a real threat to survival, rather than a perceived threat.
High stress levels can result in muscle tension, poor sleep patterns, cautious behaviours and/or avoidant behaviours. These maladaptive behaviours include failing to attend events, usually cancelling last minute and avoiding specific social situations, like giving speeches. But, it also incorporates other mental disorders, including OCD, social phobias and panic disorders.
Due to poor definitions and sometimes even diagnosis. It’s pretty clear that a huge amount of people, at some time in their life, will suffer from anxiety. It can be born out of a daily hassle or an upsetting issue, like workplace stress, family arguments or daily commutes. Anxiety affects, more or less, everyone. But how people cope with it differs immensely.

Are there specific examples of examrelated-anxiety?

A key example is exams stress. There is a clear correlation between state anxiety (mental worry) and exams. Usually, as exams draw nearer, anxiety levels can rise to detrimental levels. Lotz and Sparfeldt found that State Test Anxiety showed an overall increase and peaked shortly before exams.” They also found that “Trait worry and emotional stress correlated substantially with State Test Anxiety.” (Lotz and Sparfeldt 2017)
So, in the lead up to exams, students’ State Anxiety (unpleasant emotional arousal and stress, cognitive based (thought processes)) and Trait Anxiety (individual difference and biological predispositions) rise. Individuals with naturally high levels of trait anxiety, and those who are ‘worriers’ are already more prone to high levels of State anxiety. Hormones can also play a part. It’s suggested that females experience higher levels of trait anxiety than males. This corresponds to girls reporting higher levels of stress in exams.

Does school life fuel anxiety in children?

Not wanting to go to school is a common morning ritual, but there’s a difference between not enjoying school and fearing going to school. Communication with children is the only real way to know and to help. With culture and society expecting more from children and even nursery kids, there is a rise in anxiety-related issues. At this age, it’s extremely hard to help, as sometimes, communication skills are still growing and changing. Intervention at this age is not really advisable or wanted by parents – they just want their kids to be happy.
But with new exams, the 4+ for example, and the issue with stretched staffing in schools, identifying and helping children with this is really hard. On the other end of the scale, it’s well documented that university students struggle with pressure, stress and anxiety. The rise in these cases, you’d assume, is isolation (universities have a very much ‘get on with it’ approach in their support) coupled with exam stress. This is leading to an increased state of numerous anxieties, and it’s becoming commonplace at university.

Another issue, which is giving rise to anxiety, is the school environment.

A school is a fantastic breeding ground for stress. Exam stress, pressure from teachers, social conformity, bullying and ridiculously high expectations on students all lead to one thing. The issue is that no one is doing anything to help. Children are on their own, and when they are on their own, they are on their phones. As discussed by Simon Sinek, we know that phones and specific apps are addictive. This addiction is not even being treated. If kids do have the skills to help alleviate their stress and recognise their anxieties, they don’t use them. Their addiction– the smart phone, the cause of a lot of anxieties– is easy to access and to be influenced by. If you can’t leave your phone alone for 2 minutes, that’s an addiction. Addictions lead to dependence, and dependency leads to worry and stress.
Schools don’t focus on individuals, they focus on cohorts– “90% of our students gain A-B at A-level.” Schools are exam factories, focusing on the masses, not the individual. As far as social support and stress interventions are concerned, schools are failing. It’s important to note that I’m not, as one myself, blaming teachers. Their jobs are full-on, and they won’t have time to help individuals. Schools should implement tutoring sessions, to help specific children, to help them deal with their anxieties, rather than assuming that either the stress will dissipate, or ‘everyone is in the same boat during exams’.

So, does small group and one-on-one tutoring  work?

One-on-one mentoring is proven to work. It’s proven to alleviate stress and reduce arousal and also boost motivation and confidence. In 2015, Cliff Boutelle found that focusing on personality factors and traits between mentor-mentee relationships helps to reduce anxiety and stress. We’re back to traits again. To reduce anxiety, stress and depression we need to look at people’s traits– how they operate, how they think and how they work. Yes, it takes time and effort. But it’s worth it long term, as you have students who aren’t stressed and perform well.

What does other research show us about anxiety?

Research and studies into anxiety in early life have been associated with long-term adverse outcomes and negative effects in adult life. These adverse outcomes include substance abuse, depression, abnormalities in brain function and personality disorders and dysfunctions. And more often than not, poor intra and inter personal relationships.
‘Dependency was also a big factor; high anxiety leads to nicotine, drugs and alcohol abuse’ Alexander McFarlane et al. Other studies have shown that gastrointestinal problems and sleep disturbances were significantly related to stressors, Ashley E. Nixon et al. Nixon also found that ‘it’s important to examine physical symptoms, as they are related to a wide range of job stressors.’
Psychological stress and anxiety can lead to physiological illness, both acute and chronic. Kiecolt-Glazer found that in a number of medical students, natural killer cells (white blood cells) were significantly reduced. What was interesting, is that these NK cells were reduced more severely just before their finals, compared to two weeks before and a week after their exams. This shows that while stress causes high anxiety in the short term, it’s also a long-term health worry, and can result in immune-suppression.

What about people’s own experiences?

More recently, Megan Nolan discussed the rise in her worries and fears from her own experiences, and subsequent application to students taking exams this year. She recalled the time when ‘my chest simply stopped letting me push it out so that air could flow in.’ This is scary. It’s now estimated that there has been a 70% increase in anxiety and depression in teenagers over the past 25 years. That is alarming – and as far as I’m concerned, it’s not something that anyone really talks about. Obesity and diet are covered by the press every day, very few mention arousal, stress or depression. Specifically compared to the volume of new cases and diagnosis.
A student I taught discussed more with me, his teacher, than his parents, peers or friends. I think he saw it as a form of weakness. He thought it was just him who it affected. Nonsense, it affects everyone – in its own way. Anxiety is bad, it’s inhibiting, it’s painful, but it’s not lonely, you’re not on your own! Some people habitually bite their nails, twitch, or look from the corner of their eyes during conversation. Some people get a dry mouth and others can only look at the future pessimistically. But that’s ok, we’re all different. What we need are coping strategies.

How can I reduce my anxiety levels?

There are a few ways to reduce it. First, you need to look at somatic and cognitive anxiety management techniques. Somatic techniques include deep breathing and progressive muscle relaxation. These are usually non-specific techniques and can be used in a number of anxiety-provoking situations. Whereas, cognitive techniques are more specific, like anxiety in a social situation. You need to recognise your anxiety– the feeling of dread and sickness when preparing for a social situation, or an interview, or an exam.
You can use specific techniques for coping and these are anxiety controlling skills. These skills include positive self-talk, rational thinking and imagery. They do require time, effort and often a mentor to support you. However, they are lifelong skills that will help reduce anxiety, stress and fear.

Are there any other techniques?

Two other non-invasive techniques are meditation and mindfulness. Meditation has been adopted in many countries, although these are usually countries which are less focused on exams. A school in San Francisco, however, ran a meditation programme and found an improvement in pupil’s behaviours, work ethic and happiness. Years later, the school now has some of the best attendance rates in the city. Reduced anxiety and stress leads to improved mental health and cognitive function. Mindfulness has also been used, but it’s been criticised as it can result in some children becoming more anxious as they’re focusing on their specific stress.
Tutor House is looking for people – students, parents and teachers to share their experience of anxiety. How it affected/affects their everyday life? And how you beat or are coping with anxiety?
5 of the best ways to make money as a Tutor

May 23, 2018

How to make money tutoring, the top 5 best ways:

To make money as a tutor usually depends on a number of things. Your experience as a tutor, how long you’ve been tutoring, are the lessons face-face or online, and also what level the tutoring is for. (A-level maths tutoring is usually more than primary)
Let’s look at 5 ways to make money as a tutor…

1. Private tutoring – in person – usually travelling to the student’s home

Using our website parents and students can find you, message you and book in lessons with you. You can set your own rate for tutoring, ranging from £20-100 per hour. Some Tutors only want to teach for 2-5 hours per week, so whilst you can’t make a living from that, it’s still a great way to make money. Most tutors charge £40 per hour. Of course if you do 20 hours per week, like a number of our private tutor do, you can earn a lot more. Some tutors that work for Tutor House make over £3000 per month, whilst that would only be for 8-9 months of the year- that is still great cash.

2. Online tutoring from your home or a cafe

This is a growing area- usually tutors charge slightly less online. But this all works out in the end, you don’t have to pay for travel costs and you don’t lose the time travelling. Travelling to the student is usually dead time. Online tutoring is very popular because it allows you to share files, share more than just a book with students, look up ad hoc problems, answer questions and also leave lots of homework for students. Online tutoring is an easy and flexible way to make money.

3. Upload your teaching resources

This is another area, where as a Tutor, with daytime availability, you can share and upload resources for all subjects and levels. This makes a huge amount of sense. You have the resources for all classes and lessons, so you may as well share your resources online. Sharing is caring. You only make a small amount per downloaded resources- usually £2-£5- but if 100 people download your resources you’re making decent money. Watch this space- Tutor House is building a resource platform as we speak…

4. Residential tutoring placements abroad and in the UK

We offer customers residential placements- where tutors travel with families abroad. Tutors travel with the family whilst they move around the globe, or tutors travel with the family on holiday. That may be for just a week, but quite often it’s for a month of residential tutoring. Tutors live in with the family and work with the children on a daily basis. Usually this is for 30 hours tutoring per week. All accommodation, travel and food is paid for. Tutors can earn £800+ per week. For current jobs- click here.

5. Teaching and tutoring abroad, especially in China

Teaching abroad for a year is a growing field. There is a big demand to teach in China. Tutoring and teaching in China is growing so fast due to a number of reasons:
China’s changed- China is a great place to live now. It’s a great place to explore, to eat and to understand. It’s not all about big cities and pollution, China has some amazing countryside. Many schools are also moving there. We work with a nursery based in a tea plantation! Lovely.
The pay- the rate of pay is much higher than in the UK and Europe. You can earn between £22,000-£30,000 per year of teaching as a standard teacher with only a few years of experience. All you need is a degree. That doesn’t seem like a lot, but considering schools pay for your accommodation and food and sometimes even flights- this is serious money! It’s £50,000 per year when all added up, and that’s big.
It’s a new experience- for some people, Dubai is the new place to teach. Yes, it’s more westernised, but it’s in the desert. Imagine living in a tea plantation! Teaching in China is very popular for young groups of people who want to teach and explore the world. Flights from China to Thailand, Vietnam and the Philippines are cheap and easy.
We have a number of teaching jobs in China. Read more about China teaching jobs here.
Email is to find out more- info@tutorhouse.co.uk.
Teach in China – how to find English teaching jobs in China?

Ever wanted to teach in China?

Of course you have, we all have. Teaching in general helps to broaden horizons, but teaching in a foreign land opens doors and opportunities like never before.
People want to travel. In fact, most people want to “live with no excuses and travel with no regrets.” It’s important to grab these opportunities and enjoy. Teaching in China is a growing, popular experience. You’d never get the same experience anywhere else in the world. We’ve worked with a number of schools over the years in China. We’ve placed English teachers in Shanghai, we’ve even placed nursery teachers in a school in a tea plantation! Teaching in China has a number of benefits and 3 of those teaching benefits are outlined below:

1. Travel and teach in china

Most of the teachers and tutors we place in China go there to both teach and to travel. Every weekend you’re free to explore, and you also have holidays to travel even further. Teachers take short flights to Japan for the weekend, and travel around Thailand for weeks. (Flights are only 2-3 hours direct to Japan). Being based in China allows you to explore all of Asia. Teach in China, and travel all over Asia- perfect.

 

2. The rate of pay in much higher in China

The average rate of pay for teachers in China- teachers who have a degree in their subject and only 1-3 years of teaching experience- is £23,000-£29,000. This is much more than in the UK, and what’s more is that it’s just your pocket money! All of your accommodation and food is paid for! Some schools will even pay for your flights, and if you want- Chinese lessons!
So all in all you’re looking at a salary of about £50,000. More and more people are working in China for a few years, saving a huge amount and then returning to the UK, rich!

 

3. Something different- teaching in China is just that

You may not speak Chinese, you may not like Chinese food and you may not like long flights. But when your Chinese lessons are paid for, you can buy English food (fish and chips) and the flights are paid for- why wouldn’t you teach in China? China is not the same as Dubai (another popular supply teaching destination). It’s not as westernised, but it beats Dubai! If you’ve been, you know it is bloody boiling. China has culture, China has amazing countryside, China has amazing tea. There are some lovely places in China, and if you are placed in cities, 9 out of 10 times, it’s only a 15 minute drive into amazing countryside, rolling hills and nature- sounds like Devon!
Tutor House currently has 8 jobs to fill in China as of June 2018. Drop us an email to find out more- info@tutorhouse.co.uk.
#wiserinchina
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.