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Arlene G.
Graduate Student and Private Tutor
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Writing
TutorMe
Question:

How am I supposed to begin my paragraphs? My instructor always marks my paper down because he doesn't like my paragraph transitions.

Arlene G.
Answer:

Each paragraph is supposed to have a dedicated introduction called a "topic sentence". The goal of a topic sentence is to guide the reader through your essay by communicating the primary argument and methodology for each paragraph. For example, let us say that you are writing an essay on how a specific painting has influenced a broader artistic movement within the United States during a specific period. One paragraph might begin with a topic sentence expressing why the specific historical period is important to study, while the rest of the paragraph will introduce evidence to support this claim. Another purpose for topic sentences is to progress your argument consistently throughout the essay so that you are not repeating unnecessary information or writing in a convoluted manner. Although it can be difficult to master topic sentences, they are essential to good writing, which is why your instructor is marking your papers down.

Study Skills
TutorMe
Question:

I just can't focus on what I am working on at the moment. I also feel very overwhelmed with all of the work tasks that I have to complete. How am I supposed to finish all of my assignments while also performing with high grades?

Arlene G.
Answer:

First, I want to assure you that studying new material and completing academic work is difficult, especially if you have potential for growth in regards to study skills. There are several ways that you can approach your first issue of not being able to focus on work tasks. The first approach is to eliminate all distractions in your nearby area. Are you working with the TV on? Are you constantly checking your phone? Are you taking a moment to decompress from your day so your head is clear before beginning your assignments? The second approach is called the Pomodoro technique that calls for a student to work within 25 minute intervals with 5 minute rest periods. This will help you dedicate a set time to complete a task while also allowing you to rest. As for your second issue about feeling overwhelmed with all of your work tasks, there are additional approaches to help you manage your time. You may want to break each work tasks into several micro-tasks or milestones. For example, if you have to write a report on your book chapter, micro-tasks or milestones include the following: read the chapter, take notes on each section, choose your report theme, write your introduction, write your body paragraphs, write your conclusion, edit your bibliography section, revise your paper. The next approach is to label the amount of time you would like to spend on each tasks, such as two hours to read and take notes or thirty minutes to revise your paper.

College Admissions
TutorMe
Question:

What do I type in additional information boxes for my college applications? Do they have a purpose? Can't I just leave them blank?

Arlene G.
Answer:

Although the "additional information" sections on many college admission applications are optional, I highly recommend that you use this space to write more about yourself. These spaces provide you with a unique opportunity to communicate extenuating circumstances related to academic performance or additional information on your financial situation. You may also consider using these sections to write more about your extracurricular activities or information on why you are a good fit for the respective institution.

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