Helpful Math Hints for SSAT Prep! Part 1

Studying for the SSAT

If you are writing the SSAT this fall, you are probably studying like mad for the quantitative section (aka the math section)!  There are two quantitative sections, with 25 question each. Each question is multiple choice with 5 options. Whatever you do, don’t completely guess, as you are deducted 1/4 of a mark for each incorrect answer.

We have a few helpful hints to guide you through the quantitative section that we’re sharing today, and we’ll share the rest next week!

Read Carefully and Underline Key Words

The questions in the SSAT can be tricky, so take a moment to make sure that you realize what the question is asking. Underlining key words will help you ensure that know what is important.  For example:

Read Carefully and Underline Key Words

In this question, it is important to underline what the question is really asking. That way you know that you will need to add the digits together, (2+8+1 = 11), and then multiply the digits (2 x 8 x 1 = 16), in order to determine how much less” (16-11=5). The answer must be D!

Eliminate Choices That Are Obviously Wrong

Sometimes at a glace you can see the obviously wrong answers. We suggest that you eliminate them from your answer options. For example,

Eliminate Obviously Wrong Answer

For a question like this one, we need to think about what we know. If a pizza costs $12, we can eliminate the answers that can be divided by 12, because a school can be all sorts of sizes, and perhaps not all kids ordered. The answer must be (D) because 254 isn’t a multiple of 12 and therefore it can’t be the cost.

Watch the Clock and Stay Focused

Watch the Clock

As there are 25 questions in each quantitative section, and you only have 30 minutes for each section, you have to work fast. Don’t spend too much time on one question – you really only have about 1 minute for each. There is no harm in skipping a question, with hopes that you can come back to it. Just don’t guess!  There will always be a clock in the room where you write, so that will help you to monitor the time. Some students like to make time estimations per page. For example, if there are 5 questions on the page, give yourself 5 minutes and then move on.

Staying focused can be tricky, especially on such a long test (3 hours!). If you are finding that you can’t concentrate, take a minute to close your eyes and take some deep, calming breaths. This is a great way to re-focus and conquer the rest!

If you are writing the SSAT this fall and would like to get some more helpful hints and great advice, contact us at Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space. We have qualified Learning Specialists that will teach you the best strategies to conquer the SSAT! We also have an awesome SSAT preparation workbook to help you master the skills and strategies for the Middle Level SSAT.

Rumack's SSAT Workbook Cover


How to Write Your First Persuasive Essay

You might have heard of this elusive ‘essay,’ but have never had the pleasure of writing one. It may seem overwhelming or daunting, but trust us, it isn’t!  Essays are just a way to argue a point. A persuasive essay is even more fun because it is just a way to argue in order to convince someone that you are correct — and we all love to be correct!

Often teachers will introduce the format of an essay by asking students to write an opinion or persuasive essay. The typical format of an essay while in middle and high school is usually 5 paragraphs: an introduction paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion paragraph. So, before you start getting anxious, follow these 5 steps and conquer your first essay!

#1 Select a Side

Considering Both Sides

Sometimes it’s hard to pick a side when writing about a particular issue, but essays require us to argue for one side, and one side only. So, before you pick the side you think is the strongest, why not prove it to yourself by making a T-Chart. Write the two sides of the argument (sometimes this is pros vs. cons, but not always) at the top of the T-Chart. Then, try to come up with at least 3 arguments for each side. The side with the objectively best arguments should become the basis of your essay.

#2 Prepare Your Plan

Prepare a Plan

Graphic organizers are the best. Whether you are just mapping out the sub-arguments, or if you are filling out a graphic organizer in complete sentences, organizing your work is immensely helpful. The internet is full of amazing graphic organizers, so snoop around and find one that you love! We also love using Inspiration because it is so colourful and customize-able!

#3 Think Through Your Thesis

Think about your thesis

Your argument should be summed up in one sentence, and that sentence is called your thesis statement. The thesis statement is usually found in the last sentence of your introduction paragraph, and it provides your audience with a clear understanding of what your essay will be arguing. It’s okay to change the wording or specifics of your thesis in the revising and editing processes, but just make sure it reflects your central point.

#4 Provide Proof

A.P.E.: Argue, Prove, ExplainProof for an opinion essay comes in the form of common knowledge, real-world examples, and/or personal experiences. Each paragraph needs a least one piece of proof, and often has three pieces of proof that supports each body paragraph’s sub-argument. We suggest using the APE Strategy to ensure that you don’t forget to introduce your proof and explain how it supports your overall argument.

#5 Revise and Edit

Revision and Editing

Revision and editing is the last step of all written expression, and for good reason. This step is crucial because you can catch silly little mistakes you might have made along the way. We recommend reading your essay out loud. You can choose to read it out loud to yourself, or to a friend or family member. We also recommend that you check for homonyms and other word errors while you’re proofreading. Common word errors are: their/there/they’re, affect/effect, then/than, and accept/except.

Still think you need some assistance with your writing?  Contact Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space to inquire about our newly developed online Essay Coach Program to help!  You’ll be introduced to each of these strategies and more during our extensive, skill-based essay writing programs. We offer online one-on-one, as well as group classes. 

Navigating the First Essay of the Year

It’s that time of year again. The leaves are starting to change colour, the weather is getting cooler, and you’re settling into your new school year routine.

As September speeds along, school work picks up again and, in the back of your head, you know that sooner or later you’re going to be asked to write a dreaded… dun dun dun… ESSAY! Don’t sweat. Even if essays are totally not your thing, we’re here to help with some helpful strategies to get you through the first essay of the year.

#1 Create Soft Due Dates

Soft Due Dates

As soon as you get the assignment, start planning out when you will work on it and what you need to do to complete the task. Give yourself lots of time. Do not write it the night before. Use a calendar or an agenda and give yourself ‘soft due dates.’ For example, you could make sure that you complete the outline two weeks before the hard due date (when you will need to submit it to your teacher).

 #2 Check Your Thesis

If this is your first essay of the year, or if this is your first essay ever, make sure that you have a thesis! We recommend asking your teacher before you finish your essay outline if he/she approves of your thesis. That way if your teacher thinks you should change it, you won’t have to rewrite everything! The thesis is the heart of your essay, so it is crucial for your success. Remember: ‘thesis’ is just a fancy word for argument, and most teachers want to find your thesis statement in the last sentence of your introduction.

#3 Ask Questions

Asking Questions

Your teacher is new to you, and you are new to your teacher. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! From an educator’s perspective, we LOVE when students come to us and ask questions. It shows that you are motivated, trying, and engaged!  Teachers are a wealth of knowledge and are always there to help.

#4 Proofread

Spelling error correction in writing

Give yourself lots of time by setting soft due dates and, whatever you do, don’t forget to proofread!  It’s so incredibly important and you’ll be amazed at the silly mistakes you’ll find. We always suggest reading your essay out loud while you proofread because it’ll be easier to catch awkward sentences, omitted words, and repeated ideas or words.

Here at RRLS we offer incredibly thorough programs that teach the essay writing process so that students not only leave with a finished product, but they also leave with pertinent writing skills they will use for the rest of their lives. We offer three different Essay Coach Programs: opinion essays, literary essays, and research essays. 

5 Ways to Help Prepare Your Teen for High School

hallwayHeading to high school is a big step. It’s a new chapter in your teen’s life with  new teachers, new classes, new hallways, new expectations… and that can be intimidating. Too many kids are totally unprepared for what awaits them at their new school in the fall and so their first experiences can be stressful.

We suggest that you help your recent elementary grads by sprinkling in some hidden skill-building fun while basking in the summer sun!  It’ll ease the stress of September and build confidence!

Write More!Creative

Letters might be a lost art, but I’m calling for a revival. There is nothing better than the joy of finding a letter in the mailbox. Encourage your teen to write postcards and letters while on trips or when visiting Grandma and Grandpa. Note: Texting doesn’t count as a letter.

Daily writing can be therapeutic. Suggest writing in a journal nightly. Learning to express yourself clearly through writing is a valuable life skill, so the content doesn’t really matter, it’s all about the effort. Sometimes kids need a little encouragement, so here are some summer journaling ideas from Simple as That.

Get an agenda

At the beginning of the school year, most schools will either provide each student with an agenda or one will be available to purchase.  However, many kids don’t know how to use it. Getting into a routine of using a calendar or an agenda is incredibly helpful for people of all ages, and summer is the perfect time to start.  Encourage your teen to begin by adding all of the fun stuff — camp, sleepovers, birthdays, trips — and then add tasks or chores they are responsible for. Check in once a week to see how they’re doing!

Visit the school

If your teen is expressing some anxiety about not knowing where things are in a new school, take a tour! Most schools are still open a week after the last day of school, and a week before the first day of school.  Squelch worry by brainstorming ways to make new friends, and how to ask for help from teachers!

Read… Anything!8435321969_c1eea0631a_o

This just in: reading books in the summer doesn’t cause allergic reactions! Not a single hive or rash to be found. Incredible news, right? Reading is a great way to relax, and a fantastically fun way to exercise those brain muscles. It doesn’t matter if your teen is reading Shakespeare’s folio or a favourite sci-fi author — just keep reading. Lead by example by bringing a book to the beach or have dedicated reading time at night.

Need some book suggestions? Check out our blog, Throwback Summer Reads — Tween Edition for some great titles.

Hone Those Skills

If your teen had trouble last year academically in any area or lacks confidence, find a program this summer that will help build the skills needed  boost confidence. Don’t wait until the middle of the school year!  There are so many wonderful programs and academic summer camps that foster and develop foundational skills.  Of course it is hard to hit the books while on summer vacation, but spending a week learning how to organize an essay will save your teen (and you!), from a lot of unnecessary stress during the year.

Don’t forget to get outside this summer and explore. Some of the best learning comes from exploring the world around you. Remember to enjoy your vacation — it doesn’t last forever, so make every second count.

There are a plethora of fantastic programs  and one-on-one classes offered by Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space to help your teen hone skills before high school. This summer we are offering two essay coach camps where teens can build the necessary essay-writing skills to help them confidently tackle any essay a teacher throws their way! Happy learning!

5 Strategies to Help Prepare for University

The change between high school and university is dramatic, no matter where you go to school. Many high school students feel a mix of excitement, stress, and fear in the months leading up to post-secondary.

Ease your anxiety by preparing for university with these five strategies:


Agendas help to keep you organized!

Get a calendar or an agenda and start using it, daily. Incorporate it into your daily routine. Check your calendar when you wake up and when you hit the hay. Add appointments, dates with friends, and upcoming trips or events.  That way, when you get your syllabuses for your classes you can easily enter that information into an existing calendar.

If you don’t like using the antiquated method of paper and pen, look into calendar apps for your  smart phone. The teachers at RRLS are fond of iCal and Google Calendar.


Read with a buddy!
Read with a buddy!

Keep your thought-box in tip-top condition by reading a lot – all summer. Definitely pick books that pique your interest, but remember to challenge yourself by reading books with some unfamiliar vocabulary — it’s good exercise for that brain!

If you are taking classes in the humanities, try to find last year’s reading list. Professors usually choose a lot of the same books from year to year, so check it out and get a head start! It’ll save you a lot of time during the school year and your future self will definitely thank you.


Don’t let those writing skills of yours wane over the summer break — you will need them when September comes, no matter what your discipline of study is. We encourage you to journal about anything that interests you, blog about new movies, apps, or games, or write short annotations or opinion pieces about articles you’ve read recently. If you’re feeling really ambitious, write essays!


Take a day and honestly reflect on what you want to get out of your university experience. Make sure your goals are SMART (Specific, Attainable,  Relevant, Time-bound) and that you set a plan for how to achieve them. A good goal might be to improve your study habits, but unless you know how to do that, it’ll be frustratingly unattainable.

Strengthen Skills 

Foster the necessary skills over the summer

Taking the summer to fine-tune and foster important academic skills is smart. When you get to university, professors will expect you to already know how to research and write papers without being provided with scaffolding or graphic organizers. If you feel your skills aren’t up to snuff, or if you feel instant anxiety when you hear the phrase, 2000 word essay, find a program that will help you foster your writing skills before the school year begins!

The Essay Coach is a fantastic, online essay writing course designed to strengthen your essay-writing skills.  You work with a certified teacher one-on-one and leave with new strategies, skills, resources to use in the future, and a finished, polished essay! We are also offering group classes this summer. Contact us for more information. 

New Online Essay Coach Program From Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space Teaches College, High-School and Junior High Students How to Leverage Critical Thinking to Create Superior Essays

Taught by Certified and Experienced English Teachers, Students Receive Professional Online Coaching on How to Think About and Write College Common Application, Literary, Opinion, and Research Essays

By Ruth Rumack

Toronto, Ontario – For parents, teachers and school guidance counselors seeking professional essay counseling services for their students, Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space (RRLS) is now providing a seasoned team of experienced educators to coach students through the essay-writing process. Students learn how to write superior college common apps, literary, opinion and research essays. Click here to sign up.

The Essay Coach is a face-to-face, online teaching program designed to develop critical thinking skills and a thorough understanding of the essay-writing process for students in Grades 7 through 12, and those attending leading universities and community colleges.

Ruth Rumack Learning Space Essay Coach
Ruth Rumack Learning Space Essay Coach

Ruth Rumack’s Essay Coaches are experienced, certified teachers who instill students with the strategic thinking, research, and writing skills they need, not only to succeed on individual assignments, but also to become confident, capable writers in all areas of their lives. During the online coaching sessions, personal Essay Coaches encourage students to become discerning researchers; demonstrate how to structure ideas and research notes into well-thought out, organized theses or persuasive arguments; and teach them how to use APA, MLA or Chicago style citations to deliver written essays with impeccable grammar and formatting.

“Our Essay Coach program is a life-changer for kids who want to be the best students they can be, but need precise instruction in order to blaze a path toward successful writing,” says Ruth Rumack, RRLS’ Director of Education. “Parents also enjoy using our service as a buffer to have someone from outside of the family circle who can establish a structured and systematic approach to writing, which inspires self-discipline in the student, and relieves stress within the family. Our program is not a quick-fix; we are not an essay-writing service. Rather, we build a student’s writing skills for a lifetime of success.”

More information on Ruth Rumack’s Essay Coaching Services:

All lessons are delivered via Adobe Connect web conferencing service, which does not require any software downloads! It is as easy as clicking on a single link! Students can see, hear, and collaborate with their RRLS Essay Coaches in real time.

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Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space Opens Summer Camp Early Bird Registration for Lively Little Learners: A Pre-Reading & Art Camp for Children Ages 3-5 in Toronto, Ontario

Grounded in Phonological Awareness Activities and Art Appreciation and Taught Through Songs, Movement, and Crafts, Classes Are Structured Around a Theme So Children Learn the Joy of Language and Art

By Ruth Rumack

Toronto, Ontario – After the first year of parental leave, there is a huge demand from Canadian families that need childcare for children from three years old until they begin school. These early childhood learning years are critical for preschoolers because research shows that children gain a tremendous advantage in their ability to learn when they are taught to develop not only academic skills, but also non-cognitive social and emotional skills and behaviors that lead to their long-term success.

Alpha-Mania Early Childhood Learning and Literacy
Alpha-Mania Early Childhood Learning and Literacy

There are many non-cognitive skills that are critical for an individual to strive for and succeed in when reaching long-term goals. Researchers have found that habits such as tenacity and perseverance can have just as strong an influence on achievement as intellectual ability.

What attitudes do children have about learning? Do they feel like their abilities in a subject are fixed — “I’m just not good at reading!” or do they recognize they can grow — “I can learn to read, but I need to learn some Alpha-Mania strategies to figure out tricky sounds and words in order to master the fun puzzle of reading.”

“Growth mindset,” for example, is more likely when students believe they can achieve and when they believe that intelligence is malleable rather than fixed. This also helps develop non-cognitive skills such as perseverance, self-regulation, and effective strategies for enhancing student motivation and engagement.

To offer parents and preschoolers this type of specialized education, Ruth Rumack’s Learning Space (RRLS) provides an in-depth portfolio of regular early childhood learning classes during the school year as well as day camps during the summer.

This summer two 5-day Lively Little Learner Summer Camps are being held August 24th and August 31st. During each summer day camp, RRLS will be teaching Alpha-Mania, a pre-reading foundation class, and Mini Masters, an art class, from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Taught by accredited educators, Lively Little Learners Day Camp begins each day with Alpha-Mania, a theme based pre-reading program, where children explore the alphabet and learn to love their letters. Grounded in phonological awareness activities and taught through songs, movement, and crafts, the week is structured around a theme so children learn the joy of language while pretending they are in space, on a pirate ship, or exploring the rainforest.

The themes and activities relate directly to the Letter of the Day, so children learn seamlessly while engrossed in Alpha-Mania fun that not only boosts their pre-reading skills, but also prepares them for a classroom environment.

After lunch, children explore the world’s great artists in Mini Masters. Inspired by the inner creativity in all children, Mini Masters is an opportunity to delve into the minds and techniques of the world’s greatest artists, from Da Vinci to Henri Matisse to Georgia O’Keeffe. Once inspired by the artist of the week, the “Mini Masters” create their own dynamic pieces of art, which could include painting, sculpting, and crafting media arts and murals. Children are introduced to the idea that behind every great piece of art stands a great artist.

Registration is open now and classes will fill up quickly. The Lively Little Learners Summer Camp fee is $275 per child. Families that register more than one child before June 30th will receive a 10% sibling discount. Please visit to sign up and pay online with any valid credit card.

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