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Videos on how to study with the techniques W. S. Emara used through high school and refined at Columbia University.

Habits of a Successful Student

by W. Sam Emara

One of the most common practices among successful students is the proper use of their textbooks.  Are textbooks written to be an organic experience with a subject designed to foster real world understanding?  Not really.  But they are well suited as tools from which we can ascertain the necessary information to ace a test.  Beyond applying what has been learned to end-of-chapter problem sets, chapter summaries are valuable in determining which topics are going to require more attention.  Instead of inefficiently going through the entire chapter, the chapter summary is a quick guide to what should be reviewed so that time is not wasted going over material you already know.  Glossaries and indices are frequently underutilized and can make finding the answer to a homework or test prep question simple and efficient.

Another one of the habits of successful students is to make the most of time in transit and lunch periods.  The half-an-hour that it takes to get to and return from school is tapped into by time-conscience students to review flashcards, stay ahead of the readings, and create a study schedule for the next few days.

The rigorous nature of being a premed biology major at Columbia University forced me to find interesting ways to stay focused, methods that can increase the efficiency of less intense studying needs.  Among them is to have specific goals when studying.  For example, reading to answer specific homework questions, hunting for a quotable line to reference in a paper, or reading to ground classroom participation, it is always important to have a clear purpose.  Flashcards are habitually used by successful students to memorize small nuggets of information like equations and vocab, or for breaking down a concept into its integral steps for a greater understanding of the material.  The act of making flashcards is useful for those that are better able to internalize data after having written it, and reviewing them is valuable for visual learners.  The more material there is to learn the more differentiated the cards should be.  Using different colored pens, organizing them in an intuitive order, or for larger amounts of info adhering them to different parts of a wall in the student’s room will make the cards more memorable.  So that when it comes time to recall or apply this knowledge, a student will find it easier to remember the associated color and location of the card to pinpoint the flashcard’s information in his or her brain, making connections to bridge the gap between short and long-term memory and reinforce retention.

Peak performance students recognize that they are being compared to their peers and benchmark their progress against those that may be doing better than they are.  Asking themselves, “what are they doing that I am not?” successful students have the drive to be on point and outperform the competition.  The gift of hunger that gives a student the appetite to do better can be instilled by the patient mentorship of an experienced authentic tutor.  Sometimes, creating the opportunity to succeed means asking for a reevaluation, an extension, or some other leniency.  Provisions that even the most disciplined students need, students that know that you don’t get what you don’t ask for.  Part of an educator’s desire to see their students succeed is a willingness to bend the rules in their favor, in everything from the impact of an exam to the overall determination of a grade.  Encouraging teachers to want to buy into their academic success is a common quality among accomplished students.  If only for the fact that a student will be seeing his or her teacher everyday for at least one academic year, it is good policy to foster an amiable relationship with one’s teachers.  Going to school is a chore for most students, but for teachers it’s a job, and nobody wants to work with people who are disagreeable.  Beyond having a smooth high school experience, having a respectful and positive relationship with teachers allows successful students the benefit of the doubt in any situations that may arise.  It also sets positions a student with more options when it the time comes to request letters of recommendation.


NYC Lab School
Chosen by his High School teachers to tutor peers.
W. S. Emara tutors New York City students from K–12 in-person, and online via skype video calls for those outside NYC.
New York University Medical Center Microbiology Research Laboratory
Design and perform experiments in infectious disease as a member of the lab group of Department of Medicine Chairman Martin J. Blaser, MD.
Recieved email:
Accepted into Columbia University
Continued to tutor students and conduct research as a premed biology major.
Publishes article on microbiology research
click to read
Emara Academic Solutions™
Returned to NYC to continue his tutoring practice.
Friedrich-Engels Gymnasium Senftenberg, Deutschland
Taught English to students from grades 9 to 12 in German High School.

Revitalized English department, streamlining the ambitions of the students and the requirements of standardized testing into a contemporary curriculum.
Internship in Building Community
Facilitated the livelihood of students enrolled in Columbia University’s High School Summer Program as a Resident Advisor.

Coordinated and supervised extracurricular activities for students throughout NYC.


Larisa F.
(tutored regularly from September ’05 to June ’08 in Math and Chemistry)
"I walk into a session not even knowing how to start a type of problem, and I leave able to solve any version of it."
Dan B.
(a Writing client in January’09)
"He’s just so good at it… he’s like a machine, you give him a writing prompt and out comes an A paper."
Ben T.
(tutored regularly from August ’06 to June ’07 in Math and then College Admissions Essay Writing)
"[W. S. Emara] was involved and interested in my success. While other tutors I’ve had were impersonal time-watchers, my Emara Academic Solutions sessions wouldn’t even start until after some time talking with the family."
Ina R.
(mother of two students tutored in English in ’07)
“Besides the immediate results of higher English grades, the more striking results were long-term. Both of my children became more engaged students that take pride in their work raising scores in more than just English class.”