Get College Ready Now

One reason that working hard in high school is important is because it prepares you for college-level courses. At many colleges, accepted students must take placement tests in subjects such as reading, writing and math to see if they’re ready for college-level work in those areas.

When you take a placement test, your results may show that you can skip some introductory courses. Or they may show that you need more preparation for college work. If this is the case, your college may require you to take remedial courses.


What Are Remedial Courses?

Remedial courses are catch-up courses, also called developmental or basic-skills courses. They don’t provide credits that count toward your degree. But they do give you the opportunity to improve your skills so you can tackle college-level work and succeed.


Save Time and Money

If you don’t need to take remedial courses in college, you’ll save time and money. You’ll be able to start right away on classes that interest you and that count toward your degree. This means you’re more likely to graduate on time and save money on tuition costs.


How to Get College Ready

How can you avoid having to take remedial classes? To start, talk to a school counselor once you enter high school and find out which classes colleges look for. Then take college-prep classes in a variety of subjects. While key subjects like English and math are important, colleges also value classes such as foreign languages and computer science.


Further Steps

Here are some other important steps you can take to make sure you’re ready for college:

  • Choose challenging courses. The work will be closer to what you’ll experience in college.
  • Ask for help if you need it. If you’re struggling in a class, talk to your school counselor or teacher.
  • Make sure you have time for your schoolwork. Cut down on extracurricular activities if you feel like you’re spreading yourself too thin.
  • Take advantage of any courses your high school offers in skills such as taking notes, studying and doing research.
  • Stay focused during senior year. You’ll be able to get into the rhythm of college classes more easily if you keep working hard during your last year of high school.



5 Tips to Help Kids Look Forward to Math

Is math homework the least favorite part of your child’s afternoon? Do you both avoid sitting down to complete assigned math problems? Many children say they “hate” math and try to dodge or rush through it. Some kids who speed through their work actually have strong math skills, but they end up making silly mistakes.

Though you might also prefer sitting down to read a book with your child over tackling math homework, it’s helpful to create a good attitude about math — so that any negative feelings about the subject don’t linger over time.

Here are some tips to help make math more enjoyable for your child — and have him actually look forward to it!


1. Stay Positive: Get excited about math homework and keep a positive mindset (even if you have to pretend). Try to avoid making comments like “I’m not good at math” or “This is so easy.” Little ears hear everything!  Hearing a negative sentiment may influence your child’s own thinking, or make him feel inadequate or nervous about doing math.


2. Celebrate Mistakes: Mistakes are good. We simply can’t learn without them, especially in math. The more your child can learn to embrace her mistakes, the less scary math problems become. Encourage her to take risks in math and not be afraid to make mistakes. If she has an incorrect answer on her homework, don’t tell her which problem is wrong — instead, encourage her to find the incorrect problem and fix it.


3. Play Math Games: Find math games that are fun and exciting for your child. Set a goal to play four or five math games a week. Your child can even make up or change the rules however he wants. Teach him that math isn’t rigid. Cards and dice are terrific flexible tools for playing math games. Carry them in your purse or in the car so you can play at any time.


4. Build Mental Math Skills: Many children are afraid of numbers and don’t want to play with them. The bigger the numbers, the more terrifying the problem. Build your child’s number sense by finding numbers in her everyday world. Help her to see how math is always going to be in her life. Encourage your child to solve problems in her head (mental math). Start easy by adding or subtracting 10 from a number. For example: 52+10 or 84-10. Build up to larger numbers: 462+100 or 923-100. The more your child sees numbers, the less frightening numbers will feel to her.


5. Create a Math Toolkit: Math can be very abstract, which is overwhelming for a young child. Creating a math toolkit at home can help relieve some of the pressure of not knowing where to begin or how to solve a problem. Giving your child tools will help him see math more concretely and therefore feel better about his learning. Encourage him to use his “tools” before asking for your help.



Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Testing

Standardized tests play a major role in today’s schooling. Your child may take one or more standardized tests each year, and her teacher may devote a significant amount of class time to preparation exercises. Several states administer “high stakes” tests, which can have a significant impact on school assessment and funding, determine your child’s class placement, or even prevent grade promotion. No matter how you feel about this controversial assessment tool, it’s important that your child do her best.


What Do Standardized Tests Measure?

The tests provide a yardstick for educators to evaluate the performance of students and schools, measuring it against state and national standards. They generally fall into one of two categories: Achievement tests measure subject-specific knowledge, while Aptitude tests predict your child’s ability to learn by measuring his mastery of school-success skills like reasoning or problem-solving. These tests can provide you and your child’s teacher with insight into his progress, helping you identify areas for improvement. Standardized assessments also help schools and districts decide where they need to focus more attention.


Are There Limitations to These Exams?

While testing companies strive to create effective evaluation tools, several factors can affect your child’s performance. The conditions in the testing room, how well the school curriculum fits the material, whether she had a good night’s sleep, and her test-taking ability can all affect her score. As a result, you may see inconsistencies between her grades and test scores. It’s best not to place too much emphasis on a single test result.


How Can You Help Your Child Prepare for Standardized Tests?

Teachers tell us that successful test-takers tend to be students with good attendance, homework, and study habits; therefore, your daily assistance with homework and attitude toward school have the biggest impact on your child’s performance. However, there are key ways you can develop his test-taking ability.


  • Optimize brain power.
    Teachers say the students who struggle the most on testing days are the ones who didn’t have enough sleep or a good breakfast the day of the test. Also, students who are physically or mentally unprepared often encounter problems. Make sure she has every tool she needs — pencils, an eraser, paper, a calculator, etc. laid out the night before, as well as any preliminary paperwork filled out, if possible. If she isn’t feeling well on the test day, it’s better to keep her home and let her make up the test later rather than risk poor performance.


  • Encourage good study habits and challenge critical-thinking skills.
    Reviewing test-taking strategies is important, but monitoring overall academic progress and staying in good communication with the teacher will help you ward off potential problems. Good reading skills factor heavily in a timed test, so encourage reading (consider magazines, newspapers, or even comic books if he shies away from books) as much as possible. Testing also measures critical-thinking ability, so ask him to discuss ideas or voice his opinion often to stimulate these thought processes.


  • Know what to expect. Most teachers will send home information about the test schedule and class preparation plans well before the test date. However, if you don’t hear from your child’s teacher, you should contact her to find out:
  • What is the name of the test, and what will it measure?
  • What’s the format? (multiple choice, essay, short answer, etc.)
  • How will the class prepare in school?
  • How is it scored? Will students be penalized for incorrect answers or should they guess randomly when stumped on a question?
  • When will you receive the results?
  • What are the test’s implications? Will it affect your child, school, or both?
  • Are there any specific ways you can help your child prepare?


  • Look at your child’s past performance.
    If she scored low in a particular area, you may want to provide her with exercises that reinforce that subject. Aim for activities that simulate the testing experience, such as multiple choice geometry questions or vocabulary practice that asks her to identify antonyms or synonyms. Workbooks geared towards standardized test preparation often provide these kind of exercises. Avoid drilling her in areas where she excels; you run the risk of boring her and her losing patience with testing.


  • Provide practice opportunities.
    You may be able to request sample or practice tests from your child’s school or find them at the library. Be sure to time any practice tests (assuming the standardized test will be timed) so he’s not surprised by time constraints on test day. Start practicing several weeks before the date and keep study sessions short. Setting small goals, such as learning five new words each session, will help him measure his progress and boost his confidence. Make sure he takes the night before the test off — cramming can increase his stress level.


  • Relax and remain positive.
    The best test-takers are confident, committed, and at ease. Even if you are nervous about her performance, be wary of transferring that concern to your child. You never know, some kids actually enjoy tests! If she is likely to get nervous, practice a few relaxation techniques, such as counting from one to ten or taking deep breaths, which can help her relieve tension during the test.


How to Interpret Your Child’s Results

Because assessment varies from test to test, it would be impossible to include all the terms you may encounter here. However, the scores should be accompanied by information to help you interpret them. Don’t hesitate to contact your child’s teacher if you have questions or need help understanding the results. You could also talk to the PTA or school administrator about inviting a testing expert to host an information session for parents.



Experience the Omega Difference

  • Omega helps students who have just begun having difficulty with a subject or combination of subjects. They may have even achieved straight “A’s” all through elementary school. Now their skill gaps are evident through falling grades and confidence.


  • Omega helps students who have always struggled in school and don’t know why. Their grades are inconsistent and they lack confidence. They have never had their child tested and are concerned there may be a learning disability or ADHD.


  • Omega helps students who know they have a learning disability. These students know their deficiencies and respond well to year-round tutoring. They know Omega could never fill all of the skills gaps in all of their academic areas. Our tutors complement their IEP accommodations in school.


  • Omega helps students who want to maintain their good grades through honors classes. They are concerned that, without our extra help, they will fall behind. The Woodcock Johnson may show advanced grade placement or no skill gaps. But our goal is to ease their anxiety throughout the school year with classes as needed.


  • Omega helps students who want to improve a letter grade. This is the average student who just needs that extra help. The student needs us to keep them focused throughout the school year with test preparation, homework help, and study skills.


  • Omega helps students who need the instruction and/or positive reinforcement that a tutor can provide. Some children are very shy and lack self-confidence. They don’t ask questions publicly in school. They do OK with classwork, but freeze on tests and quizzes with performance anxiety.


  • Omega helps students who need homework help because of poor study skills and time management. They need our structured homework environment and study skills instruction (time management, agenda organization, test prep, listening skills, note-taking).

3 Differences Between the ACT English and SAT Writing

When deciding whether to register for the ACT or SAT, high school students should choose the test that plays to their strengths. Understanding the differences between the ACT English section and the SAT Writing and Language section – both of which test a student’s ability to understand and improve written passages – is key to making an informed decision.


Here are three differences between the two tests for students to consider.


1.Number of questions and time allotted per question. One of the greatest differences between the ACT English and the SAT Writing and Language sections is that the former contains many more questions. The ACT English section requires students to answer 75 questions in 45 minutes, which provides students with 36 seconds per question. Contrast this with the SAT Writing and Language section: It contains 44 questions to be answered in 35 minutes, which equates to roughly 48 seconds per question. Students should not interpret this difference as an indicator that the SAT Writing and Language section is easier. Test-takers are expected to work through the ACT English section more quickly because some ACT English questions are more straightforward than their SAT counterparts. If you are the type of student who has strong English skills but is prone to overthinking, the ACT, with its tighter time frame, may be the right assessment for you. On the other hand, if you enjoy dissecting and contemplating test questions on a deeper level, you might perform better on the SAT.



2.Number of reading passages. The ACT English section requires test-takers to read and comprehend five passages, while the SAT Writing and Language portion asks students to assess four passages.  The difference in the number of passages on the ACT and SAT reveals the types of reading styles students may need to have to succeed on each exam.The ACT benefits students who can read rapidly and efficiently – more passages means more information to review and analyze. Meanwhile, the SAT benefits students who prefer to work more slowly but also more analytically. However, it is important to note that the ACT English section is not devoid of analysis. Consider what type of reader you are before deciding on the ACT or the SAT.



3.Presence of charts, graphs and tables. Another noteworthy difference is that the SAT Writing and Language section includes several graphics that supplement the passages in some way.These graphics may contain numbers, but they do not require students to perform calculations. Therefore, students should not assume that the SAT Writing and Language portion is best suited for mathematically inclined test-takers. What is true, however, is that students who can make sense of simple graphical representations may perform better on the SAT Writing and Language section. Questions related to charts, graphs and tables prompt students to identify patterns and trends, and to reach a general conclusion based on the data represented.


The ACT and the SAT differ in significant ways, especially in their respective language sections. Before you sign up for either college entrance exam, it is crucial to think about what kind of learner and test-taker you are. Considering the pace you work at, your reading tendencies and your comfort level with graphics can help you decide on the most appropriate assessment for you.



6 Tips To Help Your Elementary Student With Homework

Homework doesn’t have to involve a battle. Families shouldn’t have to dread daily homework. Here are 6 tips to help alleviate homework frustration, and make homework time a more positive experience for both children and parents.


1. Timing Is Everything

Imagine spending a full day at work, only to come home and be forced to immediately begin working again. Our kids work hard at school, and need to be given time to decompress when they get home. Allow your child some time to play and relax after school. After some designated playtime and a healthy afternoon snack, set aside a block of time that works with your family’s schedule. Be as consistent as possible, allowing flexibility for evening activities when necessary.


2. Create an Environment for Learning

Minimize distractions during homework time by turning off the TV and limiting phone calls. Choose a communal space where the family can work together — and where adults can be available for assistance. Set an example by allowing your children to see YOU reading or working during this time. Honor any “no screen during homework” rules your family might have in place. If everyone in the house is going “screen free,” your children will be less likely to feel as though they are missing out by having to complete their homework. Pick up a book or catch up on work as your children study. Your example can set your kids on the path towards life-long learning.


3. Provide Breaks

Focused seatwork is a challenge for many children. Providing short breaks can help alleviate frustration, adjust attitudes, and allow your kids to revisit more challenging problems or papers with fresh eyes. Work with your children’s abilities. Set goals that are reasonable for their age levels and unique learning needs. If your children cannot focus for 15 minutes, have them work for 10, and then allow a small break.



4. Don’t Hover

Be available to help without hovering. Allow your children space, and let them dictate when/if they need/want assistance. Be present without being over-involved. While often well intentioned, hovering can be interpreted as a lack of faith in the children and in their abilities. Your children need to know you believe in them.



5. Stay Positive 

Point out what your kids are doing well! Be quick to mention their improvements and slow to remark on their mistakes. A word of encouragement is far more motivating than a negative comment. Remember that homework for elementary school students is typically about responsibility and practice. Homework is a way for students to work on developing skills. In many cases, perfection is not expected. Mistakes let teachers know what skills and subject areas need more classroom instruction.


6. Reach Out

When your child is really struggling with a new concept, reach out to the teacher. Attach a note to your child’s homework letting the teacher know your child had a lot of difficulty completing a certain section, or that he/she isn’t comprehending how to do XYZ. While not all teachers will respond or take action, some will. If asked, some teachers are willing to give parents tips or tools to better understand the homework personally or offer additional help or support for the student at school.



Academic Action Plan for High School Seniors

Senior year is a whirlwind of activities. This is a big year for your child as he or she balances schoolwork, extracurricular activities and the college application process. Use the suggestions below to help you and your child successfully navigate this important time.



  • Help your child process college responses. Once your child starts hearing back from colleges about admission and financial aid, he or she will need your support to decide what to do.
  • Review financial aid offers together. Your 12th-grader will need your help to read through financial aid award letters and figure out which package works best. Be sure your child pays attention to and meets any deadlines for acceptance.
  • Help your child complete the paperwork to accept a college’s offer of admittance. Once your child has decided which college to attend, he or she will need to review the offer, accept a college’s offer, mail a tuition deposit and submit other required paperwork.



  • Visit colleges together. If you haven’t already, make plans to check out the campuses of colleges in which your child is interested.
  • Ask how you can help your senior finalize a college list. You can help him or her choose which colleges to apply to by weighing how well each college meets his or her needs, for example.
  • Find out a college’s actual cost. Once your 12th-grader has a list of a few colleges he or she is interested in, use the College Board’s Net Price Calculator together to find out the potential for financial aid and the true out-of-pocket cost— or net price—of each college.
  • Encourage your child to get started on applications. He or she can get the easy stuff out of the way now by filling in as much required information on college applications as possible.
  • Help your child decide about applying early. If your senior is set on going to a certain college, he or she should think about whether applying early is a good option. Now is the time to decide because early applications are usually due in November.
  • Gather financial documents: To apply for most financial aid, your child will need to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You’ll need your most recent tax returns and an FSA ID to complete the FAFSA, which opens Oct. 1.



  • Encourage your child to meet with the school counselor. This year, he or she will work with the counselor to complete and submit college applications.
  • Create a calendar with your child. This should include application deadlines and other important dates. Your child can find specific colleges’ deadlines in College Search. If your child saves colleges to a list there, he or she can get a custom online calendar that shows those colleges’ deadlines.
  • Help your child prepare for college admission tests. Many seniors retake college admission tests, such as the SAT, in the fall.
  • Help your child find and apply for scholarships. He or she can find out about scholarship opportunities from the school counselor. Your high school student will need to request and complete scholarship applications and submit them on time.
  • Offer to look over your senior’s college applications. But remember that this is your child’s work so remain in the role of adviser and proofreader and respect his or her voice.
  • Fill out the FAFSA to apply for aid beginning Oct. 1.. The government and many colleges use the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to award aid. Now it’s easier than ever to fill out this form because you can automatically transfer your tax information online from the IRS to the FAFSA.
  • Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE®, if required. If your child needs to submit the PROFILE to a college or scholarship program, be sure to find out the priority deadline and submit it by that date. Read How to Complete the CSS/Financial Aid PROFILE.
  • Encourage your child to set up college interviews. An interview is a great way for your child to learn more about a college and for a college to learn more about your child.



  • Work together to apply for financial aid. Have your child contact the financial aid offices at the colleges in which he or she is interested to find out what forms students must submit to apply for aid. Make sure he or she applies for aid by or before any stated deadlines. Funds are limited, so the earlier you apply, the better.
  • Learn about college loan options together. Borrowing money for college can be a smart choice — especially if your high school student gets a low-interest federal loan.
  • Encourage your senior to take SAT Subject Tests. These tests can showcase your child’s interests and achievements — and many colleges require or recommend that applicants take one or more Subject Tests.
  • Encourage your child to take AP Exams. If your 12th-grader takes AP or other advanced classes, have him or her talk with teachers now about taking these tests in May.



3 Things Parents Should Do In January

Most grade slippage happens in the third quarter of the school year, and it’s no wonder — with all those fresh holiday toys at home and summer so far away it can be hard to stay motivated and on track with schoolwork. And hectic family schedules combined with shorter daylight hours can make it tricky to find time together for important conversations. Here are three simple things parents can do to make sure your kids start the New Year off on the right foot.


1. Get them organized.

Even if your kids keep their room on the cleaner side, January is the perfect time to make sure everything else is in order for the year to come. Replace busted binders, worn out notebooks, and pencils that have lost their erasers so they’ve got the tools they need to excel in class. Ask what their biggest roadblock to staying organized is; they may need an adult to suggest a system like color coded folders.  It’s also a great moment to take inventory of any appointments they need scheduled in the upcoming year.


2. Evaluate their extracurriculars.

Being stuck inside during the long winter months is a great time to try a new hobby. Then, ask if there’s a free drop-in class or lesson to test the waters. If your child already has a packed after school schedule, use the calendar changeover as the time to have an honest talk about whether she’s still finding joy in her hobbies or if it’s time to switch things up.


3. Check in on their emotional health.

Progress reports, report cards, and online school portals let us know how our kids are doing academically, but it can be harder to know how your child is doing socially and emotionally, especially if they are the shyer type. A quiet car ride is a good time for a casual conversation about who he’s been spending time with in school and whether they have been experiencing any friction in their relationships.If anything concerning comes up, try to help him work through it, and don’t be afraid to reach out to the teacher or a counselor for extra support.



New Year Resolutions for the Family

This is the time of year when many people make resolutions for the coming year. Unfortunately, this often produces incredibly ambitious goals that don’t survive the month.

Let’s try to make some resolutions that your family can maintain. This will not only achieve the desired results but it will also teach your kids to follow through with their goals.


1. Increase Physical Activity.
Exercise is a passion for some, dreaded by others. If your family is more in the latter camp, just aim for at least 20 minutes of “moderate to vigorous” physical activity during the day. This can include actual exercise or alternatives like sports, dance, gymnastics, walking, biking, or active games. Increasing your kids’ physical activity will not only keep them healthy, it’ll also help encourage improved behavior and learning.


2. Increase Healthy Eating.
Set realistic targets that can be met and made part of your daily lives. For example, set goals to eat more fruits and vegetables, decrease sweets and sugary snacks, or drink more water and less sugary drinks. Setting specific targets (e.g., 2 fruits per day) will help. Similarly, the more you can get your kids involved in your family’s food selection (like menus) and preparation the more likely they’ll participate.


3. Track and Reward. 
Everyone is more likely to participate in their resolutions if you track them and reward for the ones your family succeed at. Feel free to print the chart below to help your kids keep track.

4. Get Adequate Sleep.
Proper sleep is one of the simplest yet most productive steps we can take with kids, benefitting their health, mood, behavior, and learning capacity.


5. Increase Learning in Fun Ways.
The key here is fun. Kids already go to school so how can we help them learn, while making it fun? Think of goals like a monthly family trip to a museum or historical site. Can you set a target for fun (non-school) books per month for your kids to read? What interests your kids and works for your family? And don’t forget about giving them rewards!



Take Control Of Homework

Although very few students love homework, it does serve a purpose. Homework helps you:

  • Reinforce what you’ve learned during the day.
  • Build study habits that are essential in college.
  • Prepare for your classes.
  • Get a sense of progress.

Here are some tips to help you deal with homework more efficiently and effectively.


Set the Mood

Create a good study area with everything you need (for example, a calculator). If you don’t have a quiet place at home, try your school or local library.


Know Where to Begin

Make a list of everything you need to do, and note all deadlines. Do the more difficult assignments first, so you don’t have to face them at the end.


Study at the Same Time Every Day

Even if you don’t have homework every night, use the time to review notes. If sitting down to work is part of your normal routine, you’ll approach it with less dread. Also, you’ll become a pro at using time productively.


Keep Things in Perspective

Know how much weight each assignment or test carries, and use your time accordingly.


Get More Involved

Keep your mind from wandering by taking notes, underlining sections, discussing topics with others or relating your homework to something you’re studying in another class.


Organize the Information

People process information in different ways. Some people like to draw pictures or charts to digest information, others prefer to read out loud or make detailed outlines. Try to find the methods that work best for you. Ask your teacher for recommendations if you’re having trouble.


Take Advantage of Any Free Time

If you have a study period or a long bus ride, use the time to review notes, prepare for an upcoming class or start your homework.


Study with a Friend

Get together with friends and classmates to quiz each other, compare notes and predict test questions. Consider joining a study group.



If you have concerns about the amount or type of homework you have, you may want to talk to your family, teachers or counselor. They can help you understand how much time you need to allot for homework and how to manage your tasks.


Celebrate Your Achievements

Reward yourself for hitting milestones or doing something well.