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Sydney G.
Bio/math/writing tutor for high schoolers, genetics major at UC Berkeley
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Writing
TutorMe
Question:

What does "analyze the text" mean?

Sydney G.
Answer:

Analyze can mean a lot of things, but for the most part, it involves an understanding and appreciation of the work. I like to think of literature as it really is, a work of art. But perhaps it really is best explained as a literal painting. To analyze this painting, first we must visualize (read) what is being painted, and decipher the underlying meaning of the work. Perhaps there is a painting of a bear in the forest. The literal components may be an image of a bear, and images of trees (this is analogous to syntax, diction, or plot). But perhaps the forest is dark and gloomy, or some lovely yellow brushstrokes illuminates the cheery green landscape (tone, pathos). Maybe the bear is being hunted, and appears distraught. Perhaps her cubs are in the corner, cowering in fear. There are themes here, ideas, messages the artist wanted to convey- perhaps the cubs are a symbol of innocence; there is irony in the idea that the bear, a normally fearsome creature, has now become a helpless victim. The concept of hunting bears is critiqued by the artist in this painting. Analyzing requires you to understand the subject of the painting, the message behind the depicted subjects, and how each brushstroke contributes to the perception of this message in the reader. Looking at literature as parts of a painting, things become much clearer, and analysis can be broken down into understandable and manageable steps that one can take.

Study Skills
TutorMe
Question:

How can I prepare myself for my upcoming exam?

Sydney G.
Answer:

This answer will vary from person to person, and from exam to exam, but one underlying secret to success for all examinations is to PLAN AHEAD. Keep a calendar by your bed or on your phone, so you can see upcoming exams in the weeks ahead. Using your own experience, decide if you need to study 1 week, 2 weeks, or 2 months ahead. A great piece of advice I have for students is to "study less and study early". Although I don't literally mean study less, if you start studying early, and studying a little bit every day (there are many articles online discussing the benefits of reviewing material 24hrs, 48 hrs, and then at etc benchmarks after first seeing them) not only will you retain more information, but you will also have MUCH less on your plate in the immediate days or weeks in front of the test. But it's important to always go in having a game plan. Take the extra ten minutes today to figure out how you're going to study for the rest of the week. Knowing what you need to do and when is so crucial- even if you have trouble sticking to a study plan at first, the fact that you have goals and benchmarks in the back of your mind is already a huge step in the right direction.

Biology
TutorMe
Question:

What is a virus?

Sydney G.
Answer:

By definition, a virus is a minute, infectious particle possessing only some properties of life, and must using living cells to reproduce. However, the real answer to this question goes much, much deeper. A virus is a group of genetic mutants, with each "species" of virus encompassing a spectrum of individual genetic identities. These individuals can proliferate at a rapid rate, and with much less machinery in place to prevent copying errors, successful mutations develop and spread quickly through host populations, with new forms appearing in a matter of months (take the flu). But another key component of what makes many viruses so successful, also makes them essential not only to life on earth, but to the future of modern medicine. Many viruses, like retroviruses (ex, HIV) integrate their genetic material into that of their host- this integration allows for future infections, causes cancers, and sometimes, benefits evolution. In fact, the DNA in our own body that is left as a relic of past infections outnumbers our protein-coding genes. Scientists are now postulating these ancient viral infections to kickstart the development of the mammalian placenta, and to be vital for the evolution of almost all life forms. Viruses are constantly oversimplified and associated with death and disease- and for good reason. But one cannot characterize such a thing as entirely good, or bad. Viruses are not only necessary for ecological balance, but are being used by scientists to reverse genetic disease. Viral vectors are currently being developed for various gene therapies, and one day they will be used on humans to address genetic disorders at their source. Inside their tiny protein capsids, viruses hold a wealth of information and potential for new technology. The answer to the question: "what is a virus?" is one that is evolving just as rapidly as viruses themselves.

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