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Sonia R.
Biochemistry Major at Boston College
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SAT II Chemistry
TutorMe
Question:

How would you explain redox reactions using a mnemonic? Why are redox reactions important?

Sonia R.
Answer:

Redox: as the name says, redox comes from "REDuction and OXidation reactions". These are chemical reactions in which one molecule loses and electron, while the other gains an electron. One mnemonic that is often used is LeO says GeR. This is read as: Lose electron Oxidation, Gain electron Reduction. How I remember it is pure and simple: a molecule that gets reduced has a lower oxidation number (because it gained one electron), while a molecule that is oxidized has a higher oxidation number (because it lost one electron). By looking at a chemical reaction and establishing oxidation numbers for both the reactants and products, we can determine which element is oxidized and which is reduced in order to balance the equation. In a more elaborate question, we could also balance the equation under acidic or basic conditions, and this requires a little more attention and math, but it should be no problem as long as you respect the basic rules of redox. But why are redox reactions worthy of our time??? One answer would be that they are the basis of electrochemical reactions, which occur in electrolytic cells - cells which produce electrical current that powers our always-expanding society! As a fun experiment in high school, I was tasked with powering a battery solely from a Galvanic cell that used a fruit. Thus, we can see that chemistry is the study of life as we know it - of how things work in the real world.

Calculus
TutorMe
Question:

How would you apply some of the concepts of calculus and mathematics to your life?

Sonia R.
Answer:

My progress in math in ninth grade followed the path of a cosine curve: high, zero, low, zero, high, but that’s part of my life, and it was only important to me that I transformed that progress into an exponential function , whose limit, as x goes to infinity, is infinity. The x in a problem has infinite potential and I like to think of myself as the x because when I try to find a solution, I become one with the problem. My mind goes into a state of Brownian motion, orders the data, uses the formulas and finds the solution. Regardless, the beautiful aspect about math is that it is not always that easy. Sometimes, certain theorems are only tangent to the method of solving the problem, and you have to make a path for the x yourself! Over the years, I have learned that math is very similar to life: there is no already carved path for me in my life because it is not predestined by anyone or anything; instead, I have to choose the equations that I want to be part of and my entourage of friends and variables such as a, b, c. Sometimes, I have encountered removable discontinuities in my journey, but in such cases, the function can always be redefined to become continuous again. Sports injuries are removable discontinuities: they are bumps in the road, but they can only make me stronger. Redefining the functions in my life helps me grow and learn from positive and negative experiences.

English as a Second Language
TutorMe
Question:

What is the most important aspect that helps you learn a second language most efficiently?

Sonia R.
Answer:

Having learned English as a second language myself since the age of 6, I have found that exposure and conversation are the utmost factors that influence language learning ability for a person. Standard grammar exercises or recorded listening activities only do the trick up to a certain level. However, from that point on, it is only dialogue that helps you truly master a language. The more you practice nuanced pronunciations and characteristic English idioms, the better and more lasting your learning will be. As a tutor, I will emphasize the conversation part of learning a language because based on my experience, English teachers sometimes oversee the fact that people learn a language to actually speak it. I have encountered many, many times in my life people who can do grammar exercises on paper perfectly but have trouble speaking the language due to low confidence. That should never be the case. As a tutor, I will do my best to ensure conversation that also certainly focuses on correct grammar and appropriate sentence formation. In no way will I undermine the importance of grammar, but I will also focus specifically on dialogue in my lessons.

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