Free Tech Tools to Help You Study and Focus

A list of absolutely free tech tools to help you study and avoid distractions. Great read for both students and their parents!

We all know that technology can be a major source of distraction while studying. The temptation is there to check your Facebook and Instagram, look at Twitter, check the latest news, or see what the weather is going to be like for the weekend. Today, we are going to help you turn this around and make technology work for you. Here are some websites and apps that can be useful in aiding you while studying – including both study tools and tools to help you focus and avoid distraction. And best of all, they are all free.


Studying Tools

Quizlet allows you to create virtual flashcard, games, quizzes, and more. There is also a huge database you can search through and use flashcard decks and games that other users have created. More often quizlet logo
than not, you will be able to find content already made for the subject area you are studying. Quizlet also has a free app you can download on your phone, for convenient studying.


StudyBlue is an online studying tool that allows you to upload and share study guides, practice quizstudyblue logozes, and flashcards with other users. It also provides space for you to virtually store your notes. The best part about this website is that it connects students studying similar subjects (you could even connect with other students in your same class), providing a forum to share and collaborate. StudyBlue also offers an app.


OpenStudy is a free, online community of students from all over the world. Here, you can connect wOpenStudyLogoith students who are studying the same subject and create a study group – where you can ask questions on homework, prepare for an upcoming exam, or just clarify a confusing topic. Think of it as the biggest study group –  that is always in session!

Anti-Distraction Tools

We all know how much our computers and phones can be sources of distractions – a new Facebook notification or new email could mean an hour diverted from studying. We list some tools that can help you focus.

SelfControl is an OSX application that you can set to block access to websites, e-mail, and notificselfcontrol logoations for a pre-specified period of time. PARENTS: This is a great tool if you child needs to use the computer for an assignment or for study, but gets distracted in the process. Best of all, it is absolutely free!

StayFocusd is a Chrome Extension that will allow you to set a specified time limit in which you can use websites (you can decide on all websites, or specific StayFocusd Logowebsites). Basically, this works in reverse to SelfControl – giving you a specific amount of time to use the websites rather than blocking the websites for a specified amount of time. Again, parents – this is a great tool for you to use. StayFocusd

Insight Tutoring Center in Brooklyn can help in the studying process. We have tutors across all subject areas and grade levels, prepared and ready to get you those better grades. Call us today to find out more – 718-484-2150. Or email us at


Should You Take the New SAT or the ACT?

classroom sat act testWe receive inquiries all the time from students and parents alike – should I take the new SAT or the ACT? Today, we will delve into this question a bit to help you make the choice between the SAT and the ACT.

Ultimately, the choice between the SAT and the ACT is a personal choice. In our tutoring center, for students who are having difficulty making that choice for themselves, we offer a free session and consultation. In that session, we gather information from each student and aid the student in making the decision between the two tests.

There are people who will stand firmly in each camp. Some say they prefer the SAT because it is more representative of the mastery of skills needed to succeed in college. Others staunchly advocate the ACT, citing the fact that the new SAT is too new to be able to truly evaluate. The reality is that the new SAT and the ACT tests have gotten much more similar. You can take a look at the structures of each test and compare them here.

There are many components that go into this decision-making process: personal preferences, college choices, areas of comfort. Let’s take a look at some of these considerations.

  • College admissions: Most schools accept either test. But do your research. Look into those schools that you might be interested in attending, and see what their admissions requirements are. This will also help identify those schools that require an essay.
  • Ability to work in a time crunch: If you looked at our comparison between the new SAT and the ACT, you may have noticed that the ACT has significantly more questions than the new SAT (215 vs. 154), in about the same time period (2 hr 55 min vs. 3 hr). In fact the average time per question on the ACT is 49 seconds, while the average time per question on the new SAT is 1 minute 10 seconds. So if you are the kind of person who buckles under time pressure, the new SAT might be a better fit for you. Also, if you are the kind of person who would panic if you did not get to every question, the ACT might not be a good choice for you.
  • Vocabulary: While it has incorporated some modifications in this area, the new SAT still has more challenging vocabulary in the test than the ACT. If you have found that you struggle with upper-level vocabulary, you may want to take the ACT.
  • Geometry: Do you struggle with Geometry?  In the old SAT, geometry was a much bigger part of the test. Now with the new SAT, there is significantly less emphasis on geometry (it is estimated that there are at most 6 or 7 questions on Geometry on the new SAT). There are many more geometry questions on the ACT (up to a max of 27 questions on coordinate and plane geometry combined). So if you like geometry and feel that is your strong suit – go with the ACT. If you hate it – stick with the new SAT.
  • Formulas: How are you with formulas? Unlike the SAT, the ACT test does not provide you with formulas to use on the test – it’s up to you to know them on your own.
  • Calculator: Does the thought of doing math without a calculator completely scare you? Then stay clear of the new SAT, which now has a section where a calculator is not allowed.  The ACT does not have such a section, you can use a calculator in the entire section.
  • Math Grid-Ins: Are you comfortable filling in answers for the math portion of the test? The new SAT has some fill-in-the-blank grid-in math problems, while all of the math questions on the ACT are multiple choice.
  • Science: If you cringe from the thought of your science class, you may not want to take the ACT. The ACT has its own Science section, the new SAT does not. You will find some science questions in each of the SAT sections, but not to the extent that you find them on the ACT test. Specifically, you will find many questions on the ACT on experimental design – dependent and independent variables, experiments, etc.
  • Retaining Details while Reading: There seems to be a notable difference between the ACT and new SAT when it comes to the reading section. On the new SAT, questions regarding the reading passages often indicate a line number to refer in the text or they go in order. On the ACT, are often random in order and do not always give line numbers. So if you are the kind of person who struggles with retaining details while reading, this is one advantage to taking the new SAT over the ACT.
  • The Essay: If you decide to take the essay portion of either the new SAT or the ACT, it’s important that you know the differences between the two. First of all, the new SAT gives you 50 minutes to write the essay, while the ACT gives you 40 minutes. On the new SAT, you will be asked to read an passage and analyze how the author builds a persuasive argument, using evidence from the text. You are no longer asked to agree or disagree with a stance or write about a personal experience. On the ACT, you have to (1) read and analyze three different perspectives on a given issue, (2) develop your own perspective, and (3) explain the relationship between your perspective and those given.

The verdict? If you have to choose one over the other, do your research and see which is best for you. It may also be helpful to take a practice test for each one and see how you score.

Insight Tutoring Center, a local and convenient tutoring and SAT/ACT prep center, offers free consultations to help determine which test might be best for you.


Getting Technical with the New SAT

scantron SAT testIt’s that time of year where high school juniors and seniors have the College Board website bookmarked, are looking up SAT test dates and test centers, and are starting to dream of that perfect score.

Today, we will answer some basic questions about the New SAT: When is it? When should I register?  When will I get my scores back? And what’s so different about the New SAT? We’re going to give you all of that information here to save you the research time on your end. Let’s break this down piece by piece…



SAT Test Dates & Registration Deadlines

So the first thing you need to know about the New SAT is when it is administered, and when you must register by to avoid paying a fine. We have all that information for you here:

Test Date Registration Deadline Late Registration Deadline  (online or by phone)
October 1, 2016 September 1, 2016 September 20, 2016
November 5, 2016 October 7, 2016 October 25, 2016
December 3, 2016 November 3, 2016 November 22, 2016
January 21, 2017 December 21, 2016 January 10, 2017
March 11, 2017 February 10, 2017 February 28, 2017
May 6, 2017 April 7, 2017 April 25, 2017
June 3, 2017 May 9, 2017 May 24, 2017

Can’t take the test on a Saturday due to religion? Don’t worry. There are Sunday test dates for those who cannot take the test on Saturday due to religious observances. In most cases, the Sunday test date is usually the very next day after the Saturday test dates listed above.

SAT Score Delivery Dates

So, now that you’ve taken the test, you cannot wait to find out how you scored. Here is how long you will have to wait:

Test Date Score Delivery
October 1, 2016 October 27, 2016
November 5, 2016 November 29, 2016
December 3, 2016 December 22, 2016
January 21, 2017 February 23, 2017
March 11, 2017 April 13, 2017
May 6, 2017 June 8, 2017
June 3, 2017 July 12, 2017

What’s so “new” about the New SAT?

You may have heard that there is a New SAT in town as of March 2016, and that there have been changes made. Let’s examine the key differences between the new and old SAT test.

  • The essay portion of the SAT is now optional, and reported separately.
  • The old SAT was 3 hours and 45 minutes in length. The new SAT is 3 hours long (+50 minutes if you decide to take the essay portion).
  • The test is now scored out of a total possible 1600 points (without the essay). The Math section is scored out of 800. There is an Evidence-Based Reading & Writing section that is worth 800 points.
  • There is no penalty for guessing – points are not deducted for incorrect answers.
  • While the old SAT had a strong emphasis on vocabulary, the new SAT is much more concerned with understanding vocabulary within a larger context.
  • The new SAT now has two math sections – one in which you are allowed to use a calculator, and one in which you are not allowed to use a calculator. On the old SAT, a calculator was permitted throughout the entire math section.
  • The new SAT has fewer and longer sections than the old test.

Are you preparing for the New SAT?

Insight Tutoring Center in Brooklyn offers SAT test preparation services. We have both classes and private tutoring to get you to that perfect score. Our tutors give individualized attention to students so that they can work on the areas they struggle with most. We also offer in-house diagnostic testing so that you can take a full length practice SAT under true testing conditions.


What Kind of Learner Are You? Understanding Various Learning Styles

studentWe hear it time and time again – every one learns differently – but what exactly does that mean? What is your learning style or your child’s learning style? And once you know that, how can we use this information to improve opportunities for success in school? Today, Brooklyn Insight Tutoring Center takes a deeper look into learning styles.

There are three broad learning styles – visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. Often times, these are subdivided into more specific learning styles (you’ll often see reference of up to seven or eight different types of learners). But for today, let’s focus on the core styles…
What do we mean by visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners? Visual learners respond well to images, diagrams, maps, and graphic organizers – those kinds of students who need to see the material in front of them to truly understand it. As the name implies, visual learners respond best to sight.They remember things that they have seen in the past. Auditory learners respond well to hearing the content. They retain information best when it is read aloud to them. Kinesthetic learners are those “hands-on” learners. They retain information well when they have actively engaged with it.
So now that we have defined the three broad styles of learning, let’s take a closer look at each one to learn more about the strategies best suited to each type of student.
Visual Learners
Visual learners need to see the material in front of them. If you find yourself drawn toward looking at the diagrams and images in a textbook before reading the actual text, you are probably more of a visual learner learning stylevisual learner. For students who are visual learners, try these strategies to aid in studying and to improve retention of information:
  • Read over your notes and use various colors of highlighters to organize and segment information.
  • Watch video lectures of the material you are studying, or just videos related to the content area.
  • When studying, use a whiteboard to rewrite information, redraw diagrams, and work through problems.
  • Make use of graphic organizers and infographics.
  • Create flashcards with images – linking concepts to a picture will help make it more concrete (these are sometimes referred to as “concept cards”).
Auditory Learners
Auditory learners rely on hearing the information. If you find that you remember material better if you read it out loud rather than reading it silently and if you remember instructions when they are auditory learning styleread to you, you are probably more of an auditory learner. Here are some strategies for auditory learners:
  • Have someone re-read your notes to you or read them out loud to yourself.
  • For especially difficult-to-remember material, record yourself reciting it out loud and then listen to it.
  • Create a rhyme or a song out of the material, and then repeat it to yourself out loud.
  • Listen to podcasts on the material.
  • Listen to an audio version of your textbook.
Kinesthetic (or Tactile) Learners
Kinesthetic learners need to be actively engaged in the material in order to remember it. If you find it difficult to remember material simply by watching your teacher or listening to his/her voice without physically doing anything yourself, you are probably more of a kinesthetic learner. Kinesthetic leaners also respond well to classes that have labs and simulations. Here are some strategies that kinesthic learners can try adokinesthetic tactile learning stylepting:
  • When watching a video in class, listening to a podcast, or sitting in a lecture, always take notes. This will push you to be active in the learning process. (This is actually a great tip for most people, regardless of learning style).
  • Create flashcards when studying.
  • When possible, create simulations or role-play to model a concept you are learning.
  • Don’t be a passive reader. If you have to read something for class, have a physical copy in front of you that you can highlight, underline, write notes in the margins, and question as you read (of course, if you are allowed to write in the text). If not, use post-its.
  • When studying math, use physical objects to practice what you learned. For example, when learning how to add and subtract, use grains of rice, toothpicks, or any other small objects to illustrate.

Still not sure what type of learner you are? Take one of these online tests to determine your learning style:

If your child struggles in school and could benefit from more individualized instruction customized to his or her learning style, contact Insight Tutoring Center, a local tutoring business in Brooklyn.


Time Management in the New School Year

fall leaves back to school

Leaves are changing colors, pumpkin spice lattes are on the menus of coffee shops, and the air is starting to turn brisk – fall is here, and with it a new school year. As we head back to school, we must make that switch from lazy summer days to the world of early morning alarms, tests, and sports practices. Time is essential, and we all must make the best use of every single minute.

Here are some tips to improve our time management:stressed student

The (In)Famous “To-Do” List
We’ll start here, since this is one of the best strategies to improve your time management capabilities. Make a to-do list. Every day. Although this may soundto-do list back to school time-consuming and unnecessary, writing out a list of everything you need to do helps to visualize your tasks, and makes them much more manageable. Put the most important (and time-sensitive) tasks on the top of the list. Each time you complete one of the items on your list, cross it off. You will feel a great sense of accomplishment each time you are able to slash through another task. And don’t worry if you don’t get to everything on your list (as long as they are not crucial and time-sensitive). Just start the next day’s list with those that you have rolled over. Don’t do this too often though! It’s a slippery slope to procrastination (which you will read about soon)…

Know When to Say “No”

We can only do so much. Know your limits and when you are overextending yourself. If you are up to item #20 in your daily to-do list, it is probably time to start scaling back. While it is good to be involved in school, everything must be done in moderation. Evaluate what is most important to you, and then decide what you can cut back on.

Review Your Notes Every Day
A few minutes each day reviewing your notes will come a long way when it is time to prepare for a test. Each day, spend a few minutes going over your notes. Many times when taking notes in class, we are more concerned with getting everything down than truly understanding the material. Going over the notes a second time will help make the material more memorable. Also, it will help identify potentigoals targetal confusions that you can look up yourself or ask about in class. Which brings up another tip – seek help as you go, not the day before the test. Don’t let it become overwhelming.

Set Goals
Eliminate those Sunday-evening blues. Instead of dreading going back to school that week, be optimistic and set yourself some goals for the week. Each day, set towards achieving those goals and evaluate your progress.

Travel With Your Work
Always have something on you – whether it is an upcoming assignment, class notes, or a study guide for an upcoming test. In our daily routines, we often find ourselves waiting. Waiting for the doctor, waiting for the dentist, waiting to start practice, waiting at the bus stop, waiting on the bus. Take advantage of this time to study for an upcoming test, read over that day’s class notes, or start outlining for that upcoming essay. It is amazing how much you can get down with that down time.

organized books schoolStay Organized!
Don’t allow yourself to get unorganized – it is a huge time waster! Keep everything organized – your room, your notes, your backpack. It will make finding things so much easier, and will save time in every aspect of your life – especially when it comes to studying. 

And Lastly …. Don’t Procrastinate
If there is something you can do today, do it today – don’t wait until tomorrow. When you procrastinate, you push everything to the last minute, leaving you with no time to complete all of your tasks. Furthermore, when you leave yourself with a limited deadline for getting things done, stress becomes a factor. And we are all less productive and efficient when we are stressed out. Setting a schedule, and sticking to it, is one of the most valuable tools you can use to manage your time.

If you are struggling with time management and need some help getting organized, contact a local tutoring center, which can help with subject tutoring and skill development.