Archives for March 2015

Characteristics of a Good Tutor No ratings yet.

Knowing the subject material is important. On top of qualifications, there are certain qualities that the great tutors possess which have nothing to do with any type of certification.

1. Patience

Regardless of how skilled or knowledgeable you are, if you lack the patience to transfer that knowledge, you simply cannot be a good tutor. Excellent tutors know that each student learn at their own pace and sometimes, the most difficult pupils are the ones that hold the greatest potential – if you have the patience to wait and see.

2. Make people comfortable around you

The ability to put others at ease is an essential characteristic of every good tutor. In order to learn, one needs to feel comfortable. The best tutors are able to have a friendly, casual conversation with their pupils which puts the students’ minds at ease and motivate them to learn.

3. Passion

Sure, you are an expert in your field, but do you feel passionate about it? If you really want to be a great tutor, you need to have passion. You can always spot the good tutor just by the look in their eyes and the way they talk about their subject. Someone who loves what they teach is the one who can motivate you enough to learn.

4. People skills

Last but not least, the good tutor will care about their students. They’ll address each and every one with their full and undivided attention and a special, personalized approach. The good tutor knows how to address each student and how to work with them in order to achieve best results. Tutoring is, after all, a noble profession that involves not only the ability to teach others, but the desire to do it.


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The Goal of Canadian High Schools for University Bound Students No ratings yet.


What is the goal of high school in the 21st century? Since a high school diploma seems no longer sufficient for even the lower level jobs, the goal of high school is to prepare students and give them the tools to pursue their passion after graduation- whatever that passion may be. The goal of high school is not simply to get the grades to get into university. Even if it is a great short term goal, students need to see the real picture and be able to set long term goals for themselves.

Getting into university is hard – staying in it is harder. Many kids are not adequately prepared for university. Around one-third of students find their studies ‘really stressful’, partly because they are not accustomed to the academic rigours of university, said James Cote, a sociology professor at the University of Western Ontario.

Easy grading in primary and secondary school and less testing is not in students’ favour, especially for those who want to pursue a university degree. With a more accurate representative of their grades, students can make better decisions for their post high school studies as well as prepare to achieve their long term goals.

According to a Persistence in Post Secondary Education in Canada report, about 14 per cent of the first year students drop out (versus 16% overall). Youth In Transition Survey (YITS) results suggested that the drop outs are due to students’ struggling to meet assignment and test deadlines, struggle with academic performance, and lack of study habits in their first year classes. Within the course of a semester majority of students see their grades fall, often dramatically, and those who used to be top high school students get hit the hardest. “The business program or engineering program that they thought they were going to pursue [is] not an option for them anymore,” said Brock University economist Felice Martinello who co-authored a study on the changes in grades between high school and first-year university.

The skills that students who plan to go into university need to master are note taking, time management, exam preparation, and exam taking skills. Students need to be prepared to take good notes while sitting in large classes with one professor speaking at the front of the lecture hall; they need to learn time management skills to keep up with the large amount of material covered in a short amount of time. Students, especially those pursuing sciences and engineering fields, need to be prepared and comfortable with having majority of their marks come from a midterm and a final exam. That’s the reality of an undergraduate program at a university and yet so few students are prepared for it.

Students who are passionate about going into university to continue their education need to train to become disciplined learners during their high school years. They need to become comfortable with being tested as a form of assessment – to see it as an opportunity to showcase their knowledge rather than as a stressful event. They need to learn to manage their anxiety and become confident test takers. More importantly, they need to train to adopt a competitive view where the only person they are competing with is themselves – to be the best they can be at any given time.



Mehrnaz Bassiri, M.Sc.

MyGradeBooster Tutoring Services

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Canada – The Only G8 Country without a Federal Ministry of Education No ratings yet.


Canada is the only G8 country that does not have a Ministry of Education at a Federal level. We have Health Canada for issues related to our health. We have the Department of National Defence for our protection. But for education, we do not have such a federally regulated system. Elementary and secondary education in Canada is a provincial responsibility and each province is responsible for its own curriculum and method of assessing K-12 students.

This creates inconsistencies in our school systems. On one hand we have Alberta, where the amount of material covered and the frequency of testing is higher than some other provinces. I completed grades 7-12 in Alberta schools where midterms and final exams in all of the core subjects – math, chemistry, physics, biology, English, and social studies are mandatory. Grade 12 students in Alberta must write mandatory diploma exams in all the core subjects and these exams are worth 50% of their entire grade. Imagine being sick with the flu or stressed because your parents got into a fight on your exam day! A lot of kids have lost their admission offers from universities because of one poor test mark.

On the other hand we have BC schools with less material covered in the curriculum, and less midterms, final and provincial exams. On top of that, some teachers are more generous towards re-tests and extra credits than others.

Our education system does not allow for a consistent and accurate comparison between two students unless those students go to the exact same school and have the exact same teachers.

In 2012 UBC introduced their new broad-based admissions process. In addition to high school grades, applicants are required to submit supplemental material description experiences outside of their academics. Andre Arida, UBC’s director of undergraduate admissions explained to Ubyssey that high numbers of applicants, competition and grade inflation pushed the university to look for alternative ways of measuring an applicant’s preparedness: “Hopefully, in the long run, we get students who are more likely to be engaged on campus”.

The Ministry of Education in some provinces are currently undergoing curricula re-design and placing more emphasis on collaboration, engagement, and creativity. With this change, consolidation of curricula, harmonization of assessments, and equal standard of education across the country becomes even more important since placing grades on ‘creativity’ or ‘engagement’ is subjective.

A true consistency and fairness among all students ensure that all students are assessed based on the exact same curriculum and assessment criteria in all school districts in all provinces across Canada.  It is only then that we can accurately compare the grades of a student to one that has a different teacher, or is in a different school or province.

As for what parents can do to ensure their kids succeed in higher education is to be active in their learning and/or seek supplemental services to ensure that their children are appropriately prepared for life after high school.  About 14 per cent of first-year university students drop out, according to the Persistence in Post-Secondary Education Canada report that analyzed data from Statistics Canada Youth in Transition Survey. The overall post-secondary drop out rate, however, was about 16 per cent, suggesting that those who are going to drop out, do so early on due lack of preparation for the workload in university. With this in mind, the goal for high school students should not be to merely score high grades to gain acceptance into the university or college of their choice. It is equally important that students who wish to seek higher education are trained to be disciplined learners who perform well under pressure and are comfortable being challenged and tested.


Mehrnaz Bassiri, M.Sc.

MyGradeBooster Tutoring Services

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