Tag Archives: academia

How to ask your teacher for help: sample phrases

hands up
Proven: students who ask more questions in class achieve higher grades

Asking for help can sometimes be a daunting task. Half of students aren’t in the habit of asking questions to their teacher when they need help – and it’s those students who get lower grades. Sending an email is a particularly good way to pose questions to your teacher because the teacher will respond when they have time. This means you might get a better-researched, more informative answer than if you asked them during the lesson.

But what should you write? If you want Chemistry help, try emailing your teacher with some of these phrases. Adjust each one to fit your specific situation.

When you want to arrange a time to meet

  • “Mr Kennedy, are you free period 7 tomorrow to go over Hess’ Law calculations?”
  • “Dear Sir, I’ve read through the textbook chapter and it still doesn’t make sense to me. Could you please explain it to me during a free period some time this week? Thank you!”
  • “Dear Miss, I’ve attempted some of the homework questions and I just don’t know where to start. Could I meet up with you this week so you can explain it to me? I’ve been reading the textbook chapter and it still doesn’t make sense to me! Thank you”

When you want your work marked

  • “Dear Sir, I’ve finished worksheets 3-6 on titrations. Could you please check my answers? They’re attached. Thanks!”
  • “Dear Miss, Do you have answers to questions 1-25 that we did on Friday? Or, even better, if I give you my answers next lesson, could you correct them for me? Thanks!”

When you want to learn a particular topic

  • “Dear Mr Kennedy, Could we please go over benzene rings in class? I’m not sure I understand them. Thanks”
  • “Dear Miss, Can we please do a summary of bonding next lesson? I think I need to learn this again before the test. Thanks!”

When you want more practice materials

  • “Sir, Do you have any more Unit 1 practice papers? I’ve finished the two you already gave us in class. Thanks”
  • “Dear Mr Kennedy, Do you have any practice questions on buffer solutions? There seems to be only one question on this in the Heinemann Chemistry textbook. Thanks”

When you think the textbook or teacher is wrong

  • “Dear Teacher, When we went through worksheet 7 in class, you wrote the relative molar mass of sodium thiosulfate to be 135.1. Isn’t it actually 158.1, which means the answer would actually be 0.309 M?”
  • “Dear Mr Kennedy, On page 185, the textbook has the structural formula for sucrose without a hydroxyl group on the sixth carbon atom. Could you please check it? Is the book correct? Thanks!”

When you’re absent from class

  • “Dear Mr K, Sorry I missed Thursday’s lesson. I was ill at home and missed two days of school. Could you please send me any work that I missed? Thank you”
  • Dear Miss K, I have a Biology excursion on Monday and therefore won’t be able to do the SAC. Can I please reschedule it for another time next week? Thank you”

Finally… when you want some specific Chemistry help

  • When asking questions to your teacher, it’s important that you number each question in the email. This makes it much easier for your teacher to refer to them in their response.
  • Don’t feel ashamed or embarrassed about asking for Chemistry help. Just send the email or knock on your teacher’s door. Don’t apologise for asking your teacher questions! It’s your teacher’s responsibility to help students: they enjoy doing this, and this is why they chose to teach!
  • An example “help” email is shown below.

“Dear Mr Kennedy, I have some questions about titrations:

(1) Why do titrations using 0.10 M ethanoic acid and 0.10 M hydrochloric acid require the same titre volume even though one is strong and one is weak?

(2) What’s the “pH range” referring to in the indicators section of the data booklet?

(3) I think I got question 4 wrong. Could you please check it for me?

(4) What’s the difference between benzene and cyclohexene?

(5) What are three different definitions of oxidation and reduction? I can only think of OIL RIG!


How to Make Time for 100 Days of Revision

Revision Timetable for GCSE studies
A well-planned revision timetable

Students who aim for a Study Score of 42 or above complete at least 20 practice papers for each subject they’re studying and correct them critically before examinations begin. High-achieving students print these 20 practice papers and make a detailed revision schedule before full-time revision sets in.

Learn how to make a quality revision timetable here.

Twenty practice papers, with proper correction and revision of theory, require 20 days to complete. A student studying 5 VCE subjects therefore needs 100 Days of Revision before their examinations begin.

VCE exams begin on October 28th, 2015, and 100 Days of Revision therefore begins on July 20th, 2015 for students who want to excel. Most schools plan to finish teaching Unit 4 at the end of August, which is just 40 days before the final examination. Forty days allows you only 8 days of revision for each of your 5 VCE subjects, and this simply isn’t enough practice for students who want to excel.

The best way to make time for 100 Days of Revision is to study Unit 4’s Area of Study 2 during this upcoming Easter Holiday.

In this upcoming Easter Holiday, by yourself, or with the help of a home tutor, you can study the topics that your school has planned to teach after July 20th, 2015. Typically, this is Unit 4’s Area of Study 2 (Chapters 23 to 28 in the Heinemann Chemistry 2 textbook). By studying this topic early, you’ll save time later in the year, which will allow you to complete 20 practice exams per subject instead of using that time to learn new theory.

Easter Holiday Tutoring 2015

If you want to learn Unit 4’s Area of Study 2 this holiday, and free up your homework schedule later in the year, get in touch for a short-term set of tutoring sessions in April 2015. I am offering new students a short-term Easter Holiday tutoring package for $300.

The $300 tutoring package includes:

  • Chemistry Unit 3 & 4 diagnostic test;
  • Quizzes based on knowledge areas that need to be improved upon (as identified in the diagnostic test);
  • Three home tutoring sessions of 2 hours each, which includes:
    • Critical review of the student’s homework answers;
    • 1-to-1 teaching of Unit 4 Area of Study 2 (Chapters 23-28) with homework exercises and quizzes;
    • Answering any Chemistry questions the student has accumulated while doing homework exercises.
  • Personalised Chemistry study timetable for the whole year; and
  • 24/7 email and phone support for the duration of the Easter Holiday.

The program includes 6 hours of home tutoring and requires 15 to 18 hours of self-study to be completed by the student during the holiday.

Get ahead in Chemistry this Easter. I am available for VCE Chemistry tutoring on the following dates and times.

Monday 30th March 2015 to Friday 3rd March 2015: 9am – 5pm daily
Monday 6th April 2015 to Friday 10th March 2015: 9am – 5pm daily

*UPDATE: I am now fully booked for the 2015 Easter Holiday. Fill in the contact form below to enquire about term-time tutoring at evenings and weekends.

Request VCE Chemistry tutoring using this online form.

More information about my tutoring services can be found here.

Book: The Case for God

I love Goodreads. It makes it so easy to discover new books and create reading lists.

Sometimes, it’s too easy to select books on Goodreads. Recently, I made a few selections based solely on the book’s title because my small, shattered iPod screen makes reading Goodreads reviews inconvenient. I say “never judge a book completely by its cover”, but on three occasions recently, I did just that—and I regret it.

If the title were an accurate representation of the book, however, then this wouldn’t happen… if only books were labelled as strictly as, say, medicines or wines. Never mind.

The Case for God
The Case for God

376 pages, ★

I found this book inaccessible partly due to my disappointment that it was not a “case for God” at all. The title was lying and I never really forgave it.

This book should be called, “A meticulous history of some major religions” instead.

What did I learn? That religion requires “perseverance, hard work and practical action”. We Buddhists agree.

I read half of this book then skimmed the rest when I realised that not only is it an academic book rather than a religious one, but also that it contains no “case for God” whatsoever. I recommend this book for Philosophy of Religion students only.

Book: Whackademia

Whackademia: An insider's account of the troubled university
The title and subtitle together is an anagram of, “KIDDISH WANNABE AUTHOR FERMENTS REVOLUTION. SAUCY DICE, Act I.” How apt.

Sooooo predictable with added juvenile cynicism and pranks. Yes, pranks.
239 pages, ★

Too mechanical? Yep. Too expensive? Yes. Not what the prospectus promised? You got it. Too market-orientated? Yes. Too market-irrelevant? That, too. Academics feel overworked and students feel neglected? Absolutely right.

Without reading this book, you can guess all the criticisms of higher education that he’s going to make.

Two third of this book is about complaining. Yes, many people don’t like their jobs, but only a small fraction go about writing a book about it. This author didn’t just do that: he gathered rants (yes, they’re rants) from 60 education workers and pasted them into his Whackademia scrapbook. The result is unhealthy.

Rants range from the banal to the absurd. A tearful professor details how she is inundated with work: “I get emails at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning!” To this, I reply: So? You don’t have to reply to them at 3 or 4 in the morning! Do that in your “email time” instead, be it 9am, 4:30pm or on the morning train. That’s the beauty of email.

I noticed how Stephen Fry only ever mocks himself: his appearance, his weight, his smoking habit, his lack of dancing ability, and his opinions of Cambridge people (after all, he is one of them!) In Whackademia, Richard Hil does the opposite of Stephen Fry: he criticises everything around him, wittily, assuming that only he is right. I don’t like that.

The final third of the book opens with, “Enough complaint, now what?” Here, the author squanders the opportunity to save his whiny reputation by telling teachers and administrators to pull pranks on their employers. Yes, pranks.

On the one hand, he describes universities as stubborn and delinquent, just like the student body they supposedly nourish:

“Andrew observed that the universities appeared self-absorbed and resistant to change—a bit like recidivist juvenile offenders. To break this apparent recalcitrance, Andrew called for a ‘modern parnership’ between business and the university sector.”

Yet, on the other hand, his solutions are mostly from the Anarchist’s Cookbook:

Never sign off on critical reports;

If you are on video link, turn on the ‘mute’ button.

Never admit to screw-ups, cock-ups, student complaints…

Keep adding to and subtracting from your workload documents over time as, over time, this will exhaust the apparatchiks.

Claim depression, stress, anxiety disorders, backaches, drug and alcohol problems resulting from excessive workload.

If the author’s being sarcastic here, then this book nothing more than a useless collection of 60 rants. If he’s not being sarcastic, then he’s caving in to the same stubborn, juvenile behavour that he spent two-thirds of his book criticising; and doesn’t deserve any of my jameskennedybeijing stars at all. Conclusion: just love your job. Never publish rants, and never read them either. ★