Junior Year and the SATs

The Five Tips to Math Success in SAT’s.

Onset of April causes many high school juniors a great deal of stress. They just finished their midterms in late March and they only have one more chance to bring up their scores before the school year ends. On top of that, they also have the stress of the impending SATs.


But why stress about something that doesn’t need to be stressful? Today we share five tips for SAT success that can exponentially increase your child’s SAT scores.


Tip#1: Start Young

While in kindergarten you did not need to worry about the SATs, as a freshman you do! Starting to study for the SATs as young as 8th grade or freshman year is the perfect time for reviewing complicated analogies or math ideas that may not be so clear. It could be as simple as twenty minutes a day. Have your child complete a ten minute math problem in the morning and a ten minute reading comprehension problem at night.


Tip #2: Focus on Weaknesses

Many children have tendencies to work on the things that they already know. This is good, but not the most efficient way of improving reading comprehension or math skills. Therefore, a key to success is to challenge yourself constantly. For instance, have your child look at a complicated sample SAT math problem and go over that problem together. If needed, get them to a math learning center like Mathnasium of Avon where they can work on weak areas without fear!


Tip #3: Complete Practice Tests

This may seem obvious, but many people simply don’t do it. One way of relieving anxiety about the SATs is to practice the SATs so much that your child becomes nearly bored with the idea of taking the SATs. For example, many professional boxers at the highest level will say that their nerves for a championship title match was less than their first amateur boxing match. This is because they know what to expect and have practiced so many times before that the pressure is less severe.


Tip #4: One Thing at A time

As the old saying says, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew.” Yes, it’s important to follow tip number two (Focus on Weaknesses), but make sure to only focus on one thing at a time. There is no sense in focusing on all weaknesses at once. It can become overwhelming and difficult if a child moves on to another subject before becoming adept at the previous one.


Tip #5: Get More Sleep

Not only will this benefit students’ physical health, but it also allows them to think more accurately and clearly. As Math/SAT tutor Anthony James Green says, “If most students just added one hour to their sleep schedule each night, they’d see their scores rise ~5-10% almost automatically, even without studying.” Wow, something so simple and yet so effective.



For more on how your child can prepare better for SATs, schedule their Math Assessment with us at Mathnasium of Avon today. We make math make sense!









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Celebrating Math on Pi Day

Here at Mathnasium of Avon, CT every March 14th we celebrate the most sacred of math days: the ‘Pi’ Day! No, not pies that you eat – that is another holiday in January celebrating edible pies. This Pi day is the celebration of mathematical constant Pi denoted with the letter π!

What Is Pi?

 π or Pi is a math term that describes the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. It is a mathematical constant and its number rounds to 3.14

Therefore we celebrate Pi Day on March 14th or 3/14!        

And math enthusiasts around the world enjoy the celebration of one of math’s most important concepts.


But why would anyone ever use ‘Pi’??

Children often ask of many math concepts what are the practical applications of math concepts. As math tutors, we give them examples that they can relate to. For example:

  • Pendulum clocks- Pendulums move in the arc of a circle, with the arm of the pendulum equal to the diameter of the circle. Therefore, pi is used for the adjusting of clocks for accuracy.


  • Statistics- Statisticians use pi in solving problems regarding probability. The standard distribution, or bell curve, depends on pi as a constant.


  • Sports!-The velocity at which a pitcher throws a baseball depends on the length of his arm and pi. The joint in the shoulder acts as a pivot point and the length of bone is the radius of a circle.

And there are many other facets of life that involve pi that most people don’t even know about. It really is used everywhere! And as a way to celebrate Mathnasium of Avon CT is offering 3.14% off first month fees to all students that enroll in the month of March! Visit us in person or at www.mathnasium.com/avon to learn even more about how Mathnasium of Avon CT can help your child with Algebra, Geometry, PSAT and SAT prep. Our award winning math tutors will instill the love of math learning in your child so your child will never depend on Math tutors!


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5 Tips To Increase Your Child’s Math Confidence in 2017


Welcome to the year 2017! The New Year is an excellent time to sit with your children and reflect upon their academic goals for when they return from winter vacation. What are their study habits? How are their homework routines going? Are they practicing their math every night? These questions are definitely important to consider for when your child gains more independence with their studying habits. And a start of a new year is a great time to do it!

Here are 5 things you can do TODAY to increase your child’s Math Confidence in 2017:

  • Setting ‘Math’ Goals for our Children- Create an environment that is fun and supportive for your child. Ask your child to create a poster listing all personal goals (sports or arts accomplishments) and professional goals (grades and other academic accomplishments). Then ask them to add their ‘Math Goals’ for the year. Throughout the year, this will help you remind them what they set out to do in 2017!
  • Math Homework- It’s imperative to review the homework schedule and make any adjustments if necessary. Are math homework assignments being turned in on-time? Does the order in which math homework is being prioritized need to change? It might be good to consider cleaning out and reorganizing the homework folder.
  • Mathematical Facts- Children from kindergarten to senior year of high school should be reviewing their math facts every chance they get. Math facts are concepts that can be instantly recalled without resorting to strategies. Many times, basic math facts like understanding times tables are placed on the back burner throughout the school year, but it’s a very valuable skill that should be done weekly.
  • Quizzes and Tests- It’s important that your child understands how to use their studying time efficiently. Reviewing old math quizzes and tests is a great way to begin evaluating repetitive mistakes. Look for trends- are they making ‘clueless’ mistakes or more of ‘careless’ mistakes? While careless mistakes can be reduced by regular math practice, clueless mistakes mean your child needs expert help in math concepts!
  • Problem Solving- One area that many students struggle with are word problems. Sometimes a child can solve the problem, but they are unable to explain the reason for how they solved it. Giving your child a sense of math vocabulary is a wonderful way to develop problem-solving skills. Consider creating math problems where a child has to use a few math words in order to explain the solution. Combine concepts to make sure they can cross-reference their math concepts.


For example, if they know their decimals, fractions, and percentages well, ask them an easy question first like “The family dinner at the restaurant cost you $200 and you want to leave an 18% gratuity. What dollar amount of tip would you leave?”

If they get that right, progress to a medium difficulty question like “Midway second quarter of the football game, how much of the game is left?”

Having fun with math is a great way to bring about a lot of change in a child’s math confidence.

 So make sure to ask your child to have a Math Resolution for 2017 and make sure that the goal is within reach as well as stimulating and exciting.

For more on what you can do to help your child with math at home, contact us at Mathnasium of Avon today. We can help develop solid math confidence in your child backed by A grades!









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Math Life Hacks For Those Tricky Situations


Have you ever had an event or a date that you need to remember, but you just can’t seem to know what day of the week it was? Hmmm, was that a Monday or a Tuesday? And of course, it ends up being a Friday!

Or maybe you have traveled outside of the U.S. and the temperature is in Celsius. Oh man, I don’t know how to put that into Fahrenheit.

Well, you’re in luck! These Math Hacks are great tricks to give you the solutions to those problems.

For instance, If we decide that today is March 18th, and we recall that the months of April, June, September, and November each have 30 days, while the other 5 months between now and next January each have 31 days. This will mean that calendar-confusionthere will only be 13 days left in March, 4 x 30 = 120 days left for all the months that have 30 days between now and next January, 5 x 31 = 155 days left for all the months that have 31 days between now and next January, and then 1 more day to get from December 31 to January 1. Finally, this will give a grand total of 13 + 120 + 155 + 1 = 289 days until the following January 1st.

Once you have figured out the number of days until the date you’re interested in, then you’ll be all set because we’ve already learned how to finish the rest of the equation from that point. Now, 289 divided by 7 days a week is 41 remainder 2.The date that we are calculating is Friday, March 18, we’ve found that next New Year’s Day must be 2 days after a Friday…which is a Sunday!farenheit-to-celsius-image

Ok, now for a more simple math life hack. Suppose you visit England and you want to set the temperature in your hotel room to something comfortable. Instead of doing a guess-and-check method, there is an easy way to make a quick estimate. So let’s try Celsius to Fahrenheit: Multiply the temperature by 2 and then add 30. Fahrenheit to Celsius? Just do the opposite.  While the exact formula is more complicated, this quick estimate is so easy and will put you closer than you can tell.

Well friends, that’s it for today’s math life hack edition.  If this math made your head spin, or if you’d like to learn more cool tricks come on down to Mathnasium of Avon, the Math Club.  At Mathnasium of Avon, we strengthen mental math, build number sense, and help children develop all sorts of terrific Math Hacks.



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This is your brain. This is your brain on math.


As we all know, the brain is the most complicated computer in existence. Like a computer, the brain updates its software periodically. This can come from the having the classic  “ah-ha” moment.

But what exactly is the “ah-ha” moment and how do I get it?

A recent article in New York Times explains that the “ah-ha” moment is that time when our brain is struggling to find the solution to something, but later finds the answer. From that point on, there is a clear path for the brain to take directly every time. It is like clearing the driveway of snow in order for the car to access the road. Once it is cleared, then the car doesn’t have anymore trouble and can pass with ease.

Every time the brain confronts a difficult math problem an “ah-ha” moment can occur. This feeling of accomplishment after the struggle is wonderful. Not only does it feel good to finish something difficult, but it also updates the software.

Yes, that’s right, you are updating your brain!!

From that point on, the brain is able to recognize similar problems and use the methods it had just learned to complete it.

We see such ah-ha moments at our center everyday when a student struggles with a particular mat problem and then suddenly “gets it” – we see students math confidence soar but what they do not know is that at the subconscious level they will now remember this concept and the approach for a long time to come.

You can have similar ah-ha moments for your child-come in for a free trial and see the results for yourself! Click now to go to http://www.mathnasium.com/avon and book your appointment today!

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Transitioning to Common Core: not just a struggle for students

frustrated childWe know the implementation of the Common Core has caused more than a few headaches. Parents see their children struggling and don’t understand why their child is being taught math so differently. Frustration is especially prevalent in students who started learning the “traditional” methods, and now are being taught differently.

Revamping educational standards has this unfortunate side effect; there are inevitably those whose education suffers during the transition period.  It is equally challenging for the teachers, because they have to completely change the way they teach, sometimes after decades of the same way of teaching.

frustrated teacherIt’s easy to get upset with teachers because of the strain this change is putting on the children. First we notice that our children are being forced to take too many tests, then we see them struggling with the common core. It’s easy to lump these frustrations together. However, believe it or not, one of the purposes of the common core is to reduce the number of standardized tests* issued by states and districts. The choice to revamp our educational system was not made lightly, for all of the reasons our teachers and students are currently struggling.

So what does this mean for the struggling students? If even our teachers are struggling, what hope do we have? Well, Mathnasium of Avon can help.

Mathnasium’s curriculum is designed specifically with the Common Core in mind, ensuring that our students are prepared, confident, and are masters of each topic they are taught. Such a mastery is hugely important for young minds during the transition to the Common Core.

Unfortunately, it seems that this transition period is resulting in students who either get it, or who don’t. There are are few in between.

What that boils down to is that either the student will be able to rise to their new expectations, and gain a mastery in their future math endeavors, or they will fall behind now, and stay behind. It is common knowledge that a student that falls behind a little bit will continue to fall further and further behind as their schooling progresses**.

It falls you, the parents, to make sure your children aren’t part of the statistic. Get your child started on path to Math Confidence today by visiting our website or calling us at (860) 785 MATH (6284) to schedule a risk-free assessment for your child today!

*PDF by the Center for American  Progress:  https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/working_papers/2012/RAND_WR967.pdf



At Mathnasium of Avon, we take pride in using the Socratic method of teaching math where we always ask, even if a child has the right answer, how they got to that answer. This approach helps them in classroom as well with the Common Core standards. Mathnasium of Avon has been recently voted the Best Tutoring center in the Farmington Valley and we work with students with Autism too! Call us today at 860-785-6284 to find out how we can help your child excel in Math.

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The Importance of Mental Math

In a world where calculators are so ubiquitous, parents may be asking themselves, “Why should my child develop strong mental math skills?”

After all, a calculator tool comes standard on every smart phone, so a calculator is always on hand. Besides, they will learn (if they  haven’t already) the algorithms that we learned in school for multi-digit addition, subtraction, multiplication and addition. So why go though the hassle of learning to do these problems mentally? It turns out, the answers to this question are numerous.

A strong mental math foundation:

  • Harbors a deeper conceptual understanding
  • Creates a better memory
  • Increases accuracy of calculations
  • Improves PSAT and SAT scores

These are some of the most important aspects of a mathematical foundation, and we don’t need to address here the importance of increasing SAT scores. The best time to build mental math foundation is between the ages of 5 and 10, but it’s never too late to start! If you realize you’re late changing the oil in your car, you don’t leave it because you should have changed it sooner, and now it’s too late! You change it right away!

Harbors a deeper conceptual understanding

Mental MathWhen calculating a problem with the traditional algorithm (i.e. carrying the one….), the most common problem is not remembering how to do the algorithm properly. This comes from not knowing why the algorithm exists as it
does. We were taught to memorize this method, often without learning why or how it works. Many students don’t know that “carrying the one” is splitting up our sum into ones and tens (e.g. 8+9=17, 7 ones, and 1 ten, so we carry the 1 ten over to the next column with the rest of the tens and continue adding).


When working with students who are having trouble doing these algorithms, we have found that the best way to help them is not by having them go over it again and again until they have memorized it, but working on both the mental math and the algorithm with which it corresponds. There are countless cases like this one where a student has been struggling with an algorithm, and when learning mental math, has that teacher’s favorite moment of “Oh!, I get it!”

Creates a better memory

Mental math promotes faster and faster calculations, allowing the brain to quickly recall memorized math facts to calculate the given problem. Mental math isn’t about memorization, though, it’s about manipulating what you are able to quickly recall to calculate a given problem. For example, we have students as young as 7 who are able to calculate 194 x 7 by multiplying first 200 x 7 , then subtracting 6×7, 1400-42=1358.

This comes as a result of a couple of steps:

  • The student practices mental math to the point where recalling basic calculation becomes effortless
  • The mental math practice also promotes retaining the results of the calculations after each step (i.e. remembering 200 x 7 = 1400, and that 6 x 7 = 42, so that the student may focus on the resulting subtraction)
  • Understanding the concept, and knowing the most efficient way to calculate the problem.

This translates to better recollection of everything, not just mathematics, and can even postpone the onset of Alzheimer’s

Bank ErrorIncreases accuracy of calculations 

As mentioned above, a very common mistake in algorithm calculation comes from a lack of conceptual understanding. This can result in a young student trying to calculate 610-130, and getting 780! However, by using mental math, a student will often use approximation so they will know what their mental calculation should be close to, and can adjust their calculations, resulting in a higher percentage of correct answers! The applications for this are countless, ranging from raising grades to helping activities that come up in everyday adult life!

Improves PSAT and SAT scores

SAT ChartWe’ve gone over how students typically do math problems by rote memorization of the process (i.e. recalling the algorithm) or by flexing their mental math muscles.

A recent study by the Journal of Neuroscience delves into the results of students who use each method to calculate their problems. The findings were quite conclusive (complete with brain scans). Students who used mental math as their primary method of calculation were shown to have consistently higher results on these standardized tests than those who had simply memorized the algorithms.

For those who like to read the technical jargon, the article describing the study can be found here.

And of course, if you are looking to improve your child’s calculation speed and ‘math fluency’ bring your child on for a free session at www.mathnasium.com/avon

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The Amazing Math Skills Of Olympians!

OlympicaMathThere are many times in high school when kids are put into cliques by others and labeled as Jocks, Drama kids, Academics, etc. However, in most cases, there is much more to people than a singular attribute which defines them.

The Summer Olympics are coming up and so we decided to research some of the backgrounds of the Olympians that will be representing the United States. Even though these athletes have dedicated much of their time and effort to their sport, there is much more to them than their physical ability.

amy-cozad-web-nup_172060_0235Some of the American athletes have extensive backgrounds in mcraft2athematics. For example, Amy Cozad (Left), a swimmer from Indiana also has a B.S. in mathematics. Amy works as a math tutor at Indiana University where she gives back the knowledge that she acquired throughout the years. Another example is skeet-shooter, Morgan Craft (Right), from Lindenwood College in Missouri who recently said, ” I’ve always had a love for math and science.” She plans on receiving a masters degree in order to work as a physicians assistant after the Olympics.  The list of athletes competing in this summer’s Olympics with diverse backgrounds is vast. Yes, while it is important to train hard and play hard, it’s also important to study hard!

Here at Mathnasium we understand the importance of a strong mathematical foundation.  Whether you plan on being an engineer, a mechanic, a doctor, or an Olympic athlete, you don’t want your future to be restricted by your knowledge of math. So if your kids rely on math tutors or are simply seeking math enrichment, bring them to Mathnasium of Avon. Our unique method of explaining math concepts has helped thousands of kids nationwide develop solid math confidence. We help kids Catch up, Keep up, and Get AHEAD!!

Here is wishing Team USA all the best for Olympics 2016!!!

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This Summer, strengthen your child’s Common Core

Frustrated_CommonCoreThe push for common core school curriculum began in 2009, with the idea that this standardized curriculum would get students thinking about the solutions to problems, rather than just arriving at the answers.

Generally, the math common core assignments require problem-solving strategies to be shown, rather than just having the answers written. This is important because it provides the necessity of students thinking about how they arrived at the answer. However, a lot of the time when students do mental math or solve the problem in a way that is not on the rubric, this involves a grading penalty.


The debate for vs. against common core is complicated, as there are significant pros and cons to each side. Some of the most important points, both for and against, can be read here.

The strengths of common core principles are to require students to think about why answers are true, rather than that they are true. The image below shows two different ways of thinking about the same problem, one of which requires addition strategies that people who have not learned common core will be more familiar with, the other way a method of solving the problem that goes with grouping of 10s and 1s.

Both problems, obviously, lead to the correct answer. But in a graded method, only the work shown on the right would be graded as a correct solution. The question behind this problem is: if a student solves the problem correctly, in the “old way”, is it fair to penalize him/her? If the point of the lesson was to practice the new problem solving technique of grouping 10s and 1s, the “old way” would not demonstrate understanding of the concept, but it is not wrong. So is it fair?

The argument could go either way, but the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter your opinion on common core, because that’s the reality of school teaching today. It’s important to focus on the how instead of the why; rather than asking ourselves why common core is necessary, we should be asking ourselves how we can set our children up for success with the common core worksheets they are assigned.

At Mathnasium of Avon, we take pride in using the Socratic method of teaching math where we always ask, even if a child has the right answer, how they got to that answer. This approach helps them in classroom as well with the Common Core standards. To know more about how we can help your child get ahead and stay ahead in Math, contact us today.

Mathnasium of Avon has been recently voted the Best Tutoring center in the Farmington Valley and we work with students with autism too! Call us today at 860-785-6284 to find out how we can help your child excel in Math.

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