10 Things that ruin Easter Revision

We’re about to give you the greatest excuses for all that procrastination you’ve been and will go through. Here’s our theory, it’s not your fault! Our thoughts and thus our choices are shaped by our environment; our architecture. Don’t believe us? Then read Nudge by Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein. If there’s fruit on offer instead of cake, we choose the healthy option. If you put a target in the centre of a urinal, you get less spillage. And if you get the architecture wrong, your productivity suffers. Here are our

1. Your Bed:

Studying in a room where your bed is nearby is a recipe for disaster. Or rather, a recipe for falling asleep. You associate your bed with rest and relaxing. Having that thought right by your desk will only lead your mind astray.

2. TV:

Working near a TV may seem such a great idea on the surface. You may think it will keep you stimulated and working for longer. That won’t happen. You’ll just abandon work and end up watching another episode of Breaking Bad or the live football.

3. The Internet:

The Internet is much too abundant with distractions like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. ‘It’s a research tool’ you may say. Yes, it is. But it also can be the source of many funny cat videos, memes and embarrassing photos of your friends. Avoid it if you can.

4. Rowdy People:

Don’t work near your friends. They’ll just start talking to you/making funny faces/poking you profusely. Unless your friend is super keen and has a cataclysmic fury which prevents you from disturbing them, keep your studying an individual affair.

5. Sugar:

Okay we’re being a bit hasty here. Some sugar is good. You need lots of fruit and carbs to power your day. But don’t binge on sugary snacks and drinks. They’ll simply make you hyper (and thus unable to work) before crashing (and thus unable to work). You get the picture.

6. The Great Outdoors:

Two issues with this. Firstly, if you’re reading this in the UK, we so rarely have the weather for an outdoor retreat whilst studying. So we advise being less idealistic. Secondly, working outside always gets messy. Be it papers being blown away, an uneven work surface or simply the thought of lying in the mid-day sun, desks indoors were invented for a reason.

7. Hunger:

Your body needs fuel. See point 8. Not eating properly will also mean you snack badly. Eat well and regularly – mealtimes will also act as targets in the day to aim towards.

8. Sleep:

We said our thoughts are a product of our architecture. Yet our thoughts are also a product of our rationality (without getting into a philosophical debate). Basically, the part of our brain that acknowledges our future selves and includes them in our thinking doesn’t work as well when we’re tired. So sleep.

9. Messiness:

A cluttered workspace means a cluttered mind. Start your day by tidying your workspace and/or room. In the process, you’ll probably start structuring your thoughts and how you’ll attack the day.

10. Human Nature:

Be it your recent infatuation, thoughts of lunch or simply imagining that big sports game tomorrow, our own brains are our own worst enemies. We can’t combat our own desires. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. The best advice is simply to put mechanisms in place like those above to make sure your architecture inclines you to be productive rather than lethargic.

Want to avoid procrastination? Book a #Tuition tutor for Easter Revision today!

Carpe Diem,

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10 Things that ruin Easter Revision

National Tutoring Conference: 1st April

We’re going to this…. Book now!

1pm – 4pm, Wednesday 1st April 2015

Nutford House, University of London, Brown Street, London W1H 5UL

Bringing together practitioners and stakeholders in the area of the 11 plus preparation

Providing a platform for discussion and debate in the future of the 11 plus

Raising money for the Charlie Waller Memorial Trust. 

Contact: Cleo Watson

Tel: 07870559780

Email: info@nationaltutoringconference.co.uk

 Speakers are to be confirmed, but are expected to include tutors specialising in the 11 Plus exam, teachers, head teachers, examiners and education industry experts. If you are interested in speaking, please contact us at info@nationaltutoringconference.co.uk.

Just some of the topics include:

The future of the 11 plus and its possible alternatives

The evidence surrounding ‘tutor-proofing’ and how to address this

Fairness of pupil premium priority at lower scores in “tutor-proof” tests or tests that examine innate ability

Are catchment areas necessary when parents are willing to move?

What are the advantages of private primary school education in the 11+?

And more.

The full agenda and schedule for the event can be found at www.nationaltutoringconference.co.uk with regular updates posted to Twitter, via the hashtag #11plus

Due to the popularity of the National Tutoring Conference on 10th February, early bird tickets for this conference are available, as well as standard entry. Please visit here  to get your tickets.

National Tutoring Conference: 1st April

Interviews: 10 Ways to Succeed

There’s a lot of information floating around the Internet about what  to do during an interview. You’ll read a rule on one website only to discover the exact opposite on another. Here, we’ll simplify it all by giving you advice adapted from the techniques of one of the world’s top interview trainers.

1. Do your homework: 

There’s no excuse for being oblivious. You should know about the institution/company for which you’re interviewing. Know about the company to which you’re applying. Look up key facts and commit them to memory, they may come up during the interview. If you know who’s interviewing you, know them intimately (no, don’t be stalker…and popping up as a LinkedIn notification doesn’t really help your cause…)

2. The Golden Words:

‘For Example’ are the two most powerful words you could ever say during an interview. They show that not only have you answered a question but you’re also directly linking past experience/prior knowledge to it. In short, it kills two birds with one stone.

3. Eye contact:

Most people struggle with maintaining eye contact throughout an interview. Not looking at someone means you lose the opportunity to build a rapport with them. As such, it severely diminishes your chances. Eye contact when speaking displays confidence, but be careful not to stare/leer at your interviewer. It’s off putting (as is staring at that stapler instead…)

4. The Handshake:

No, you’re not Rocky Balboa going in for battle. Nor are you doing an impression of a somewhat wet fish. Quite simply, you need the goldilocks of handshakes. In all seriousness, better to be too enthusiastic than too lethargic. Wait for your interviewer to offer their hand to you, it’s a sign of respect. Crucially, look your interviewer in the eye when shaking their hand, it shows confidence.

5. Sitting down:

Wait to be invited to sit down: this will clear up any confusion as to where you should sit etc. If you’re seated in a comfortable chair, sit towards the front as you’ll be in a more commanding position (and, importantly, not seep ever deeper into depths of that particular sofa). It’s hard to take someone seriously if they’re being consumed by a chair. Sitting upright gives you a good centred position from which you can engage the interviewer.

6. Take your time:

Often people think that silence equals stupidity. In fact, the opposite is true. Listen to the question, compose yourself, take a breath, then answer. If you need a minute to think through an answer, then take it. Your interviewer will appreciate that you’re formulating your thoughts rather than spewing out the first thing that comes to your head. Even if you know the answer straight away, take a pause to consider how you’ll formulate it.

7. Listen:

Quite often, the person who interviews you will be your immediate superior if you get the position. If you don’t really pay attention to what it is they’re saying, they won’t want to have to spend time with you in the long run. Don’t get so caught up in your answers that you’re not listening. More often than not they’ll be helping you out.

8. Be ready to adapt:

Interviews can often go off the beaten track. Be ready to think laterally and make your answers relevant to what it is you’re interviewing for. If you can link questions together, you’ll show this ability and impress the interviewer.

9. Too fast, too slow. Too loud, too quiet: 

The pace and volume at which you speak will vary from interview to interview. Generally, try to match your pace with that of your interviewer. It cultivates a rapport between your interviewer and builds trust. With regard to volume, your interviewer doesn’t need to see your tonsils, nor should they wish you had a microphone. Speak at a neutral volume and make sure you’re speaking clearly.

10. Multiple interviewers:

Having more than one interviewer is actually quite a common occurrence, and most people panic as to who they should talk to when answering a question. Split your time between the two, and shift your eye contact. Slightly favour the interviewer who has asked the question you’re talking about. By looking at both interviewers, you ensure that everyone is involved in the conversation.

Remember, your interview is a conversation, not an interrogation. Relax, and talk with confidence. The fact that you’ve made it to the interview stage of a process shows that you are of genuine interest to them, so don’t panic.

If you’d like interview training with one of our coaches, including the world expert, get in touch via this link.


Who are Hashtag Tuition? Find out here

Interviews: 10 Ways to Succeed

10 Essentials for Writing an Essay

You’ve written the title. Your pen is poised at the paper. You’ve chewed your pen lid copiously, itching like a stallion at the starting gate. And then, ‘oooh, doesn’t that cloud outside look like a rabbit!’ We’ve all been there. Writer’s block. In fact, most have this every time they write an essay. But here’s the secret (whisper it quietly)…essays are quick and easy. Once you follow these tips, you’ll polish off that beast in 2h max, maybe even less.

1. Understand:

Essays require you to be in control of the material. Your clarity of thought manifests into your clarify of prose. Or at least, your ability to waffle constructively (a sign of a great essay writer). The first step is understanding your title, what it means, what it is hinting at. Start with a piece of paper and just brainstorm ideas. Even if you don’t reach the right understanding, you’ll at least have a clear interpretation of what you’re trying to argue.

2. Plan

Great plans come from great understanding. Take all those different threads and start to weave them together. Decide your argument.Then choose the arguments on both sides that you want to employ. Next, start to see the links between them and how your essay can flow.

3. Skeleton

Your essay has to flow. Don’t be all creative with your structure. Keep it rigid. We suggest this:

Intro: Set out the framework of the debate and what you will argue.
Major Argument: Your big point, theory or contention. It should bind your whole essay together.
Counter Arguments + their rejection: See point 6. for more details. The trick is to mention and dispose of the other side’s points.
Connecting secondary argument : Another big point that backs up your argument, maybe just supports.
Maybe tertiary supporting argument: Same as he above, if you have time.
Conclusion: Bring everything together and add some perspective. Don’t just repeat what you’ve said prior.

4. Read Around

If you have time (and mostly you will not) investigate the topic. Reading books can be too time consuming. Instead, read articles, journal pieces or academic summaries. It’s by knowing the nature of the beast that you’ll be able to conquer that essay. Otherwise you may miss the key point that disqualifies (or maybe enhances) your whole argument.

5. Writing style:

Here are some pointers taken from our previous post: 10 Rules of Writing. Succinctness is a sign of a writer in control.

– Short and punchy sentences
– Using connectives to start sentences
– If you can cut a word or sentence out, do so
– Don’t use stale imagery
– Don’t use analogies are used to seeing in print
– Enliven your vocabulary (or buy a thesaurus)

6. Straw-men:

This is a great way to knock down the other side of the argument. Caricature their argument, make it seem extreme and attack its exposed flaws. Make it seem simplistic. You always want to criticise an opposing argument in the context of why yours is better.

7. Paragraphing: signpost

Your structure still needs clarity. Start every paragraph clearly by saying what you are trying to achieve in that verse. Don’t make it simplistic, something like ‘Yet now let us establish this to reject that’ or ‘Furthermore, this is disputed due to x fact’ will do perfect.

8. Argue!

Be opinionated. Take a firm stance (even if it’s a balanced one) and attack from that perspective. Have that fiery side in your essay, your points and counter-arguments will benefit no end.

9. Evidence:

Empiricism is a weapon. Like your straw-men arguments, evidence is yours to be interpreted and used as you wish. Your points cannot exist in the ether, they have to be backed up.

10. Revise: Heuristics for checking

We all make grammatical or rhetorical errors. Try reading your essay backwards or in a different font. Your eyes may be used to reading what you’ve composed so it’s good to look at things from a different perspective.

Take a break before finishing your essay. Leave it for however long you can (not an excuse to procrastinate) and then reevaluate critically. Do you need that paragraph? Can I cut you those superfluous words? Does my argument flow?

And if all else fails, our tutors are brilliant at working on essay-technique. Make an enquiry today!


10 Essentials for Writing an Essay

Ten Tips for Tutoring Teens

With the exam revision season drawing ever closer, here are ten ways tutors can make sure their teenage tutees get the most out of any session. 

1. Take a break:

In reality, most school lessons consist of around 25 minutes teaching time in a 40 minute lesson, with the rest being used for settling down, handing out work etc. This means your tutees are used to short lessons, and will need to pause in a 1 hour tutorial. 

Try and coincide short breaks where you talk about something else as you come to the end of a topic/question.

2. Talk to them:

Teenage tutees are often more self aware of their needs than younger learners. Use this to your advantage and find out what it is they could be better at. This is especially important in the pre-exam period. However, it is crucial that you do so in a constructive way.

Find the areas needing improvement and plan your tutorials accordingly.

3. Use the syllabus:

Making a tutee aware of what it is their course actually covers is invaluable, as this is often left out in school. Using the syllabus will also help act as a checklist.

Having a physical tick by a topic will motivate your tutee.

4. …and the mark scheme:

In the pre-exam period, students will often struggle to gain the extra marks they need in humanities subjects. Clearly explaining different sections of the mark scheme will help them understand what they need to do to improve.

Consider going through an essay and mark it with your tutee.

5. Keep it simple:

Often tutors fall into the trap of overloading a teenage tutee with too much in one tutorial, simply on the grounds that the student is older. All this does is confuse students.

Choose one or two relevant and related topics to cover in a tutorial (with a short break between the two). 

6. Encourage them:

Teenage tutees need just as much as praise and encouragement as younger learners. This is often forgotten by tutors.

A supportive environment is still essential for effective learning.

7. Keep the parents in the loop:

Of course, this is a key part of any tuition done with Hashtag Tuition, but with teenage tutees, parents will often take a step back.

By informing parents of progress you create an extra route for encouragement.

8. Use past papers, but not too much:

There’s a huge temptation to rely on past papers when tutoring for exam support. They can be effective, but also cause setbacks. Past papers can highlight areas that need development, but at the same time can demoralise a tutee if they struggle to tackle a question. 

Instead, select a few relevant questions to do at the end of a tutorial, and then tell your tutee they are from a real paper. This will create a sense of achievement.

9. Have a warm up activity:

Warming up before introducing a topic is important. Again, tutors will often skip this out assuming that it’s not necessary with teenage tutees.

A simple introduction to build confidence at the start of a tutorial will lead to a much more effective session.

10. Be realistic, but not nihilistic:

There’s a fine balance to be struck here. Often schools teach to an acceptable minimum, and while you should definitely not do the same, circumstances can dictate the amount of progress. 4 hours of tuition can’t get a student from a D to an A*, however good our tutors are. You must be able to adjust the level of your tutorials according to the level of your tutee.

However, you should encourage and help your students achieve beyond their perceived potential.

Think you could be a great tutor? Find out here why you want to join Hashtag Tuition today http://www.hashtagtuition.co.uk/network/why-be-a-tutor


Ten Tips for Tutoring Teens

Eton: A Four Letter Word

There are two Etons. There is the school itself; a bastion for the highest educational standards. Then there is ‘Eton’, as exists in culture. This ‘Eton‘ stands for elitism, of inequality, of arrogance, of undeserved privilege and frankly, of intense animosity. This distinction was the conception of Eton’s own (outgoing) headmaster, the brilliant Tony Little. He’s the man who’s changed and is still changing the perception of Eton.

Tony Little went to Eton and onto Cambridge. Same old story, eh? Well you’d be mistaken in thinking Mr Little was a stereotype. His father worked as a security guard at Heathrow, his mother as a secretary at a local hospital. He won a scholarship to study at Eton. As such, Mr Little has unique perspective on educational inequality.

Why do people despise Eton despite rarely going and seeing what goes on for themselves? The concentration of ‘OEs’ in the most powerful positions is worrying, I admit. Yet it should serve as a motivation to assess what’s going wrong elsewhere. The archaic uniform serves as a divisive tool at times between ‘Eton’ and the rest of society. I personally think that the uniform, despite the tradition it encapsulates, will be gone soon. Perception is everything, as Mr Little has embraced.

What one forgets amidst all the cries of elitism is that Eton retains the highest educational standards. On almost every front it is one of, if not the, best in the country. Many have asked what causes this success and whether it can be replicated. It can, but not easily. It’s the culture of excellence which drives Eton. An unquestioning desire to do things better than anyone else. It’s pride. Be it the architecture, the achievement of its students, the calibre of its staff or simply the community; Eton has a magic to it. The community is important. Behind all the pomp and glamour lie those who keep Eton ticking over. They too believe in the magic of Eton. It’s the little details that matter. Go to Eton’s School Hall and be amazed at probably the most impressive school auditorium in the world. You’d be forgiven for not noticing the one brilliant man who runs, curates, invigorates the whole place. School Hall is just a building. What makes it special and so glowing is the spirit of a certain Mr.W (he never wanted acclaim, just definition) driving, noticing the little detail and being unflinching in his desire for excellence. Champions like Mr.W make Eton.

Panel Event Nov.2013: How to Avoid another Financial Crash
School Hall: Panel Event Nov.2013: How to Avoid another Financial Crash attended by 650 people from 30 schools.

It’s very easy to forget the men and women behind the scenes who are integral to making Eton. Try accusing them of elitism. It is
a meritocracy. The students all attend because they are über talented, subject to strict entrance tests. Mr Little recently admitted on Radio 4 that he would turn down ludicrous sums of money from those who wanted to ‘buy a place.’ The teachers are amongst the most gifted in the land. They come from all walks of life, defined by their brilliance and dedication. Are they elitist for wanting to be the best? And why do Etonians achieve so much? It’s because they leave confident and assured of their talents. They have been ‘educated’ in the proper sense, their talent having been led out and honed. For sake of analogy, Eton offers everything an Oxbridge education does, just for longer and from an earlier age, maybe even to a greater degree. Think how powerful that is.

Of course, whilst the composite parts may not be elitist, the end result might be. Eton gives such an unfair advantage. Yet, why bemoan Eton for its effectiveness? It should be a benchmark to be aimed towards. Now there is a financial cost, you may say. I agree. Whilst an Eton education costs £30k+ pa, I’d say it’s actually worth more like £100k+. An Eton education is an incredibly valuable investment. Yet I think if we isolate the culture that lies beneath and inject it into the state sector, we may be part of the way there to bridging inequality. Drive and high standards are what count. Or at very least, why are we not investing more in state education?

Eton is trying to bridge the gap. What has Mr Little done for this? Let’s break it down to both a micro and macro level. On a micro level, he’s massively increased the number of scholarships. Sixth form entrants come in from the state sector and are, without fail, exceptional. Almost 1/3 of students are now on some sort of bursary. Eton are trying to become means blind, requiring US university type investment to achieve this. Beyond that, Eton sponsors the new Holyport College, the London Academy of Excellence and several other schools. It runs a free Summer School for talented students from disadvantaged backgrounds. It also opens its brilliant speaker programme up to other schools. I’m proud to say that I played my part in this, having organised two landmark events for 650 students, with 30 schools attending each. It is by breaking down these barriers that Eton can start to share the culture which drives it.

Yet it is Mr Little’s overarching project which is even more awe-inspiring. It’s his crusade to change the perception of Eton beyond the four letter word. In the press, in speeches, in print, his all round approach is to make Eton a more open institution. The new Tony Little Centre is a testament to that. It’s through this clear dialogue that we can tackle educational inequality. He knows, and I know, that once you come and see Eton and what it is all about, you may well change your mind about ‘Eton.’


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Eton: A Four Letter Word