Back-to-School Success

Tips for Students and Parents

And just like that, another summer is over and a new school year begins! Here are some tips for both parents and students to work together to ensure a successful school year.


1.  Set goals: Write them out clearly and display them somewhere that you see them everyday

                ex: I will complete my HW before I watch TV

2.  Get organized: This includes finding a way to organize papers going back and forth from subject to subject.  How are you going to know what your assignments are and when they are due? 

3. Plan: What HW, tests, and quizzes do you have this week?  How will you prepare for them?  Make sure you plan out your study time.

4. Practice: This is how you learn!  Make time each day to practice.

5. Get Help: Are you not understanding what you are supposed to be learning?  Ask!  Get help!  Go to your teacher, parent, and of course, MaThCliX!  That is what we are here for.


1.  Make sure that you know how to communicate with your student’s teacher.  Know when conferences are and plan to have a presence and be proactive in your student’s academics.

2. Check grades!  Even if your student is old enough to check their own grades, it never hurts to have a parent checking, too.  Know when progress reports and report cards are due.  If you see grades dropping, intervene quickly!

3.  Make sure your student is doing the success tips for students.  Ask them how they are doing each one.

4.  Find out about what student’s are learning each week so that you can help or get help, as needed.  Find out about tutorials, teacher websites, and recommended resources.

5. Bring your student to MaThCliX! 

AP Exams

The Importance of AP Exams

The majority of people know what an Advanced Placement (AP) course is, but many do not realize the true importance of taking these higher level classes, as well as the AP Exams. There are many benefits of taking AP classes, including but not limited to: the increased rigor of your overall course load which colleges take into consideration during the application process, an added 0.5 onto your letter grade which counts towards your HOPE GPA (for example, if you make a “B” in an AP class, it counts as a 3.5 instead of a 3.0), and an extra ten points on your net grade point average which class rank is based off of. However, the biggest reason to take an AP class is to succeed on the corresponding AP test in May and receive college credit for the class.

The AP exams are scored on a 1-5 scale; generally 10% of people get 5’s, 20% of people get 4’s, 20% of people get 3’s, and the remaining 50% receive either a 1 or a 2. The College Board, the organization that creates the tests each year, designs the exams and scoring system in an effort to only give approximately half of the people that take the test college credit, which at most universities is a 3 or higher.. However, if you have a good work ethic in the course throughout the year and then study heavily prior to the test, a 3 or higher is definitely attainable.

If you pace yourself with AP classes starting freshman year, it is very possible to come out of high school as a sophomore in college – which would save anywhere between $5,000 to $40,000 depending on the university. A suggested AP course schedule to complete this task is as follows: one AP class freshman year, two sophomore year, 3-4 junior year, and 2-4 senior year. Each exam that you score well on gives you anywhere from 3-6 credit hours – keep in mind a full year of college consists of 30 hours. So this means that to complete a full year from AP exams requires passing about 7-9 of these tests. Although you do have to pay to take the exam – about $95 per test – that is a heck of a lot better than paying thousands for the first year in college.

Keeping Focused in Classes You Don’t Enjoy

By Tyler Mathena

Nobody likes every subject in school. Teachers love to pretend that their subject is fascinating to everybody because they like it, but it is pretty clear that is not the case. Many students are passionate about history, others prefer english, and some (like myself) love math and science. As a student, I know how difficult it is to justify learning material in classes that aren’t your favorite, but it is important to learn every subject.

Every subject, regardless of how bizarre or boring, can be applied to real life. Math is everywhere, every job has to write occasionally, and past events are extremely relevant and can help you understand why the world is the way that it is. Also, learning to pay attention and feign interest in these subjects can help you learn how to learn. In your future job, no matter what it is, there will be things you have to learn that you may think are not important. Learning these subjects that you do not like in school makes learning these skills much easier and can make you seem mature to your employer.

Additionally, if you walk into a class convinced that you are going to despise it, then you will. Keep an open mind and maybe you will be surprised. I have a history of disliking social studies classes, so I was not hopeful when I walked into the first day of Microeconomics. I kept an open mind though, and it turned out to be my favorite class of the semester. That single class inspired me to minor in business in college. Keeping an open mind can be tough when you know that you dislike similar classes, but it definitely pays off in the long run.

I know better than anyone that it is hard to stay awake in that one terrible class (we all have one!). Lucky for you, I have learned and stolen some tricks over the years that can make any class bearable. My best advice is to find a study partner. It is better if your partner enjoys the class because often their enthusiasm for the subject can rub off on you. Even if you both aren’t a fan of the class, simply studying with a friend can help. If you absolutely do not get along with anyone in the class, it can sometimes help to talk to the teacher before or after school and get them to honestly explain to you why they enjoy their subject. Again, the enthusiasm may rub off on you, or they may convince you that it is important by bringing something up that you never thought about.

If it is math that is not your thing, do not worry, you have MaThCliX! All of us here love math and it shows. Coming in often, even if you do not enjoy it at first, will make math (or any subject) at least bearable, if not phenomenal.

Stay Sharp Over Breaks

Stay Sharp Over Breaks

Every teacher’s worst nightmare is to come back to a classroom of students in desperate need of review material after having a long break.  Likewise, no student wants to be left behind after returning from their break because they have forgotten things learned in the fall.  Here are some tips to help you stay sharp over your breaks to avoid an unpleasant return to the classroom.

  • Spend at least 10 minutes each day redoing problems from your finals study guides until you have completed it again.
    • These study guides are reusable!  Try making an extra copy before completing it the first time, or simply cover the answers to work through it again.
  • Make flashcards of important vocabulary, formulas, or rules (hint: it’s on your final, it will likely be important for the rest of the school year)!
    • These can be made on index cards, or using an app such as Quizlet, to have in an easy, on-the-go format.
  • Read over your textbook or course material for 10 minutes each day to stay on top of the information.
    • This won’t take long and will keep the relevant material fresh in your mind.
  • Involve your friends and classmates with your reviews!
    • Everything is more fun with a friend, so get someone to quiz you to insure you’re at the top of your game.
  • Make it a competition!
    • A little friendly competition between friends is a great motivator! Form teams and race for the answer, or compete head to head and see who can get the most right answers in a session!
  • Come visit your MaThCliX family!
    • We are here to support you in all your academic needs.  We’ll run flashcards with you, help you complete your reviews, understand textbook concepts, and quiz you to get you ready for your return to class.

“You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.”
-Abraham Maslow

In order to learn and grow, you have to step out of your comfort zone.  To help you “step forward into growth” your MaThCliX family will be beside you to cheer you on and support you in every step you take.  Don’t step backward into safety this break or any break, use these tips and become the best you you can be!

Study Tips for Midterms and Finals

As midterms/finals approach, both students and teachers become very stressed. It seems that the only thing on anyone’s mind is how much work they have ahead of them, yet how little time to do the work there is. Because of this, students tend to shut down to the pressure and give up. They tell themselves they’ll pick their grades up next year and let whatever happens, happen. This is the wrong mindset.

Despite how it may seem, finals do not have to be all that stressful if you have the right approach. If you start with these simple tips and tricks, finals will not be as bad as everyone makes them out to be.

  • Start by reviewing the topics you have covered throughout the year and make some notes on your weak areas that way you can come back to them.
  • Based on your weak areas, make your own personalized study guide.
  • Be sure to write down any questions you come across on a separate piece of paper so you can ask the teachers quick and concise questions as their time is just as limited as their students!
  • Be sure to go in for any tutoring sessions available to you! More often than not, your teachers will teach during these final/midterm tutoring sessions to the very material on the test itself.
  • Be sure to start the studying process early. As the time gets closer to finals you do NOT want to be overwhelmed studying for 4-6 finals at a time.
  • Get together with some friends and study together. Often, any questions you have one of your friends may be able to help you with and vice versa.  
  • Possibly one of the most important, take breaks! Do not overload yourself with too much information at once. Every hour or so watch TV or relax for 15-20 minutes. NO LONGER. If the break is too extensive you will lose focus and desire to return to studying.  
  • Be sure to stay well-nourished and well-rested. A healthy body and brain will result in better focus and concentration.
  • Believe in yourself! You made it this far and as long as you taken the necessary steps in studying for finals, you will do great!

Although this can be a stressful time, make sure you do not become overwhelmed. Even though finals are a large portion of the final grade, worrying will not make anything any better. Make sure you study and prepare to the best of your ability and then there is nothing more to worry about. And after you have test, enjoy your break with friends and family!

I Can’t Do Math

I Can't Do MathI know very intelligent people who for whatever reason believe that they just can’t do math.  While there may be some people who have suffered a brain injury of some sort where that part of the brain is damaged, for normal people, the brain is quite capable of learning and doing even complex math.

Brain researchers have discovered a section of the brain that is wired specifically for math. Studies show that part is activated when a person concentrates on math problems much like the speech center reacts when speaking or reading. See the references at the end.

So why is it that many people believe they cannot do math? I think it is partially due to mental laziness because learning math takes time and effort. Like learning to do any complex task, doing math requires practice and focus. Another reason people believe that they cannot do math is because they have been told by others (parents, teachers, friends) that mastering math is only for “special math people”, who have the talent of math. You have probably heard people remark that they can’t do math because they are not a math person, perpetuating the myth even further.

Another reason some don’t want to believe that they can do math is because they think that those who do math well are socially inept nerds. The stigma of being a smart person (in math, science or any other academic subject) is promoted in the media and is “uncool” among middle school and high school students. How many of us remember such a character in TV and or movies? That is a stereotype that needs to be demolished. I believe it is part of the belief that if you work hard to excel that you will miss out of fun that you would otherwise have. I have discovered a wise saying from a friend, “If you take the easy way out of life, life gets harder, if you take the hard way out, life gets easier”.. That’s why I take exception to the phrase “take it easy”.

Resist the temptation to excuse yourself from learning math. You are born with the ability, all you have to do is develop it. While you may not eventually do higher math in your vocation, studies have shown that exercising the math part of your brain strengthens the decision making part of your brain (prefrontal cortex) which will help you in mature relationships and the wise decisions you have to make.

References: About being bad at math:–pmPog#t=192.26306

Brain on math:


Innumeracy –