New SAT Includes Changes to the Essay Section

May 23, 2017

The comprehensive redesign of the SAT in March 2016 included making the Essay section optional and making its focus more rigorous.

If any of the colleges you are applying to require the SAT Essay, you will want to be sure to take it.

But you may also want to take the Essay section for other reasons. For instance, the task the Essay asks you to complete — analyzing how an argument works — is an interesting and engaging one, and will give you an excellent opportunity to demonstrate your reading, analysis, and writing skills. To write a strong essay, you will need to focus on how the author uses evidence, reasoning, and other rhetorical techniques to build an argument and make it convincing.

All of these skills are critical to success in college and your career. And your scores will provide you with insight into your strengths and weaknesses in these areas.

You will have 50 minutes to complete the SAT Essay which consists of one passage between 650 and 750 words that you will read and then respond to.

The Essay task will be the same in every test. What will change is the reading selection you’ll be asked to analyze. If you are familiar with the Essay prompt ahead of time – and understand exactly what your task is – you will save time on Test Day and write a stronger essay.

Your goal is to produce a detailed, well-structured analysis of the given passage. Key to this is developing a concise thesis statement. You can do this by building a response to this simplified question: How does the author build his or her argument? Answer this question in the fewest words possible without sacrificing clarity.

If you need help preparing for the SAT, be sure to call Optiminds at (248) 496-0150. Our SAT experts will create a customized, individualized program that focuses on the newly revised SAT. And be sure to visit the Optiminds website at: to learn more about us

Brain Scans: Early Detection of Autism

May 16, 2017

About one in every 100 people has autism, a condition that affects behavior, especially social interaction. Early, accurate diagnosis is the key to families being able to access the support they need.

The earliest age that children tend to be diagnosed with autism is around the age of two. But scientists say that autism can be present as early as the first year of life.

In a recent study, researchers took brain scans of children at six, 12 and 24 months. They uncovered early differences in the cerebral cortex— the part of the brain responsible for high level functions like language—in children who went on to be diagnosed with autism. They were able to predict which children would develop autism with 80% accuracy.

The study opens up possibilities for big changes in the way autism is treated and diagnosed. Giving brain scans to children in high-risk families could lead to children being diagnosed earlier with autism. Therapies that train parents in new ways of interacting with an autistic child could then be introduced earlier when they could be more effective because the brain is more malleable and the symptoms have not yet consolidated.

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping people of all ages improve cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance, including critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Don’t Let Attention Issues Hold You Back

May 8, 2017

Optiminds is proud of the work we do helping people of all ages overcome learning obstacles and improve brain performance. We’d like to share the following excerpts from an interview in the Santa Barbara Independent newspaper in which astronaut Scott Kelly talks about the attention issues he experienced in his early years:

Astronaut Scott Kelly is best known as the first American to spend a year in space. He lived aboard the International Space Station for 340 days, and holds the record for the longest space mission by an American.

But as a child, he thought being an astronaut wasn’t an option because of his attention issues.

“I never believed it was possible because I had a little bit of a problem paying attention in school,” he said. “If I was a kid today, I would have been diagnosed with ADD or ADHD. It was impossible. Every year, I thought, ‘This is the year I’m going to start paying attention and doing my homework.’ And that would last all of two days.”

Kelly was born in 1964, years before ADHD was officially recognized. It wasn’t until 1980 that “ADD” first appeared in the DSM. That’s the manual that mental health professionals use to make diagnoses.

Kelly says he was “not the greatest student” in high school. He was easily distracted and bored, and ended up graduating in the bottom half of his high school class. Seeking a more regimented environment to help him focus on schoolwork, he enrolled in the Navy ROTC program at the State University of New York Maritime College. That turned out to be just what he needed.

One day at the college bookstore, he stumbled upon Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff, a book about the early days of America’s space program. It was one of the first books he ever bought and read. He devoured it and decided right away that he wanted to be an astronaut.

The rest is history. Kelly got an engineering degree and became a Navy pilot. He went on four space missions, logging a total of 382 days in space.

In 2016, after returning from his last mission, Kelly retired from NASA. He’s now writing a memoir about his experiences called Endurance: My Year in Space and Our Journey to Mars. The book is due out in November 2017, and Sony Pictures has already acquired the movie rights.

With the right tools, people with learning disabilities can overcome any challenge. Optiminds professionals can help you determine if your child has a learning disability. We’ll design a customized program to help improve your child’s cognitive skills for success in studying, reading, math and more. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Being Sociable Helps Brain Health As We Age

April 23, 2017

According to a recent report by the Global Council on Brain Health (GCBH), staying socially engaged with a wide circle of friends and family may help us maintain our thinking skills and slow cognitive decline as we age.

The Brain and Social Connectedness report shows how important social connections are to brain health. It addresses the social benefits of having pets, the role that age-friendly communities play in fostering social ties, and how close relationships promote both physical health and psychological well-being. The report also covers how social media like Facebook and Skype helps older adults maintain their social connections.

The report supports findings from a new AARP consumer survey, including the following:

Nearly 4 in 10 adults age 40-plus say they lack social connections and report worse brain health.

About 37 percent of adults over 40 say they sometimes or often lack companionship; 35 percent find it hard to engage socially; and 29 percent feel isolated from others. This is particularly true for adults without a spouse/partner and for those aged 50-59. In fact, adults who experience loneliness and isolation have significantly smaller social networks and lower mental well-being scores.

Adults who are dissatisfied with their level of social engagement are significantly more likely to report a decrease in their cognitive functioning in the previous five years.

Adults say their social relationships encourage them to try new things and take better care of their health. This is especially true for African Americans/Blacks and Hispanics/Latinos.

Almost all adults 40 and over say that having a purpose in life is important.

Here are a few suggestions to help older adults improve their social involvement:

  • Cultivate social connections with people of different ages, including younger people
  • Join a club or take a class to meet new people
  • Visit, call, or email regularly with relatives, friends and neighbors
  • Volunteer, or visit a lonely neighbor or friend

At Optiminds, we love to work with your brain. If you are looking for ways to keep your brain healthy, Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

How to Be a Better Problem Solver

April 16, 2017

We humans are constantly solving problems—whether it’s what to fix for dinner or how to find a better job. And the better we are at it, the easier our lives are.

Problems are simply choices which require making decisions. There are things we can do to enhance our ability to solve problems we are confronted with every day.

Neuroscientists have proven that when we focus on a problem we are actually feeding “negativity” which activates negative emotions in the brain. These emotions block potential solutions. Staying calm helps us acknowledge the problem and then shift our focus to a solution-oriented mindset. At this point, we can focus on what the answer should be, instead of on what went wrong or who is to blame.

When we face a problem with a mind that is open to all possible solutions, we boost our creative thinking, which can trigger potential solutions. Remember, no idea is a bad idea; it’s often the far out idea that becomes the actual viable solution.

Rather than being scary, a problem is often just feedback on a situation. A problem tells us that something is not currently working and we need to find a new way around it. Approach problems neutrally, without being judgmental and you are more likely to come up with more potential solutions.

Try changing the direction of your thoughts by thinking laterally, looking at things in a new way. Maybe flip your objective around and look for a solution that is the polar opposite.

Think using language that creates possibility. Think of phrases such as “what if” and “imagine if.” This will open up your brain to think creatively and encourage solutions. Avoid closed, negative language such as “I don’t think” or “This is not right but.”

Avoid the tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be. Try simplifying a problem by generalizing it. Remove all the detail and go back to the basics. Look for a really easy, obvious solution; you might find it!

Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping people of all ages improve cognitive skills. Our customized brain fitness programs take brain performance, including critical thinking and problem-solving skills, to new levels by strengthening nerve cells and improving cognitive power and concentration. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Focus, Focus, Focus

April 8, 2017

It’s been said that the greatest power of the human mind is its ability to focus on one thing for an extended period of time. In today’s world, it’s harder than ever to focus and concentrate. Emails, texts, and the latest YouTube video sensation beckon.

Learning to concentrate may be more important than ever to get and stay ahead at work or school, but most of us struggle to concentrate.

If you want to improve your concentration to perform better at work and school, increase your reading comprehension or just make life easier, there are things you can do to allow your brain to focus better.

Reduce clutter in your life. MRIs and other diagnostic tools show that clutter affects your ability to concentrate and process information. Having an organized environment makes you more focused, relaxed and productive. You will remember information better and even improve your mood.

Meditation is one of the best ways to train your brain to focus and stay on task. It alters your brainwave state to improve focus, inspire creativity and enhance your ability to learn. Regular meditators experience greater productivity, increased focus and attention, greater creativity and better sleep quality.

Stop multitasking. When you are doing several things at once, your brain is toggling back and forth between tasks. So you are not focusing as well as you could be, sacrificing the efficiency of one task for another. In addition, a lack of mindfulness in the present has been found to promote brain aging by shortening telomeres, the protective end caps on your chromosomes.

Find the sound environment that works best for you. Do you need complete silence, classical music or the bustling atmosphere of a coffee shop to do your best work?

Get enough dopamine. If you can’t concentrate, it’s possible that your brain isn’t getting enough dopamine, a chemical that provides your “get up and go.” Signs of low dopamine levels include low energy, motivation and libido; needing pick-me-ups like caffeine, sugar and other stimulants to get through the day. Eating a protein-rich diet provides the amino acids needed to create dopamine. Avocados, apples, bananas, beets, green leafy vegetables, green tea and coffee also promote dopamine production.

In addition to these recommendations, why not explore an Optiminds training program? Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math, cognitive skills and memory of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

Encourage Your Child to Be an Independent Reader

March 23, 2017

indy3“The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”–Dr. Seuss, “I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!”

From Thomas Jefferson to Abraham Lincoln to Dr. Seuss, many of our most respected fellow humans have been avid readers and advocates of reading.

Thomas Jefferson believed that every citizen must know how to read, and that children should be taught to

read during the earliest years of schooling. Of course, reading is a fundamental subject in schools today. But you as a parent can do even more by encouraging your child to do more independent or voluntary reading.

Independent or voluntary reading is the reading students choose to do on their own. The reader chooses their own material and chooses when and where to read it. Independent reading is done for information or for pleasure. No one assigns it; no one requires a report; no one checks on comprehension.

Independent reading has been shown to have a positive effect on learning and academic achievement. Studies suggest that the more children read, the better their fluency, vocabulary, comprehension, depth of background knowledge and cultural literacy.

Students are much more likely to view reading as a priority when they have some control over what they want to learn. Independent reading gives them ownership in the reading process and a way to contribute to their own knowledge.

Optiminds is a metro Detroit tutoring and brain training services company that has earned a reputation for helping students of all ages boost their efficiency in a wide range of subjects, including Reading. Our customized programs cover reading fundamentals including: phonetic skills, vocabulary development, analogies, identifying inferences, sequencing skills, cause and effect relationships, drawing conclusions, etc. We also specialize in Speed Reading training.

Help your student become an enthusiastic independent reader. Give Optiminds a call at (248) 496-0150 and learn more about us by visiting our website at:

Optiminds Offers Support for Homeschoolers

March 16, 2017

tutor1Many parents choose homeschooling as the best option for educating their children. But homeschooling today is somewhat complex and may be more demanding on parents than they expected.

Help is available from Optiminds, a metro Detroit tutoring and brain training services company that offers individualized assistance for homeschooled students and their parents.

As a homeschooling parent, you want to be sure your child has the solid foundation and complementary knowledge necessary to pursue further education. Optiminds can provide the guidance and additional academic resources to help you create a high quality homeschool learning program for your adolescent or teen student.

Optiminds’ professional tutors can:

  • provide insights into how your child learns best
  • determine which concepts your child may be struggling to understand
  • find the right style of teaching for your child
  • discover alternative ways to teach your child difficult material
  • help your child with test preparation
  • help you make the learning process as easy as possible
  • help you take the worry and stress out of home schooling

Our convenient, customized sessions cover a wide range of subjects—English, Reading, Math and more—as well as SAT prep.

So enjoy the benefits of homeschooling without the stress. Optiminds has earned a reputation for helping to improve the study, reading, math and cognitive skills of students of all ages. Learn more about us by calling us today at (248) 496-0150 or by visiting us at:

More Education Could Reduce Risk of Dementia

March 8, 2017

dementia3Dementia is a general term for a loss of memory or other mental abilities that’s severe enough to interfere with daily life. Alzheimer’s disease, believed to be caused by a buildup of plaques and tangles in the brain, is the most common type of dementia. Vascular dementia, which occurs after a stroke, is the second most common type of dementia.

A number of recent studies have found steady declines in dementia rates in the United States and Europe—with dementia rates in people over age 65 falling from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012.

A study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggested that two possible reasons for the decline are better heart health and rising educational levels, both of which are closely related to brain health. Not only are doctors doing a better job controlling high blood pressure and diabetes, but today’s senior citizens are better educated than even half a generation ago.

There are a number of reasons why higher education may lower the risk of dementia. One is the “cognitive reserve hypothesis” which proposes that education changes developing brains in a good way, making them more resistant to dementia.

In addition, people with more education:

  • tend to earn more money and have better access to health care
  • are less likely to smoke, more likely to exercise and less likely to be overweight
  • may live in safer neighborhoods and have less stress
  • may have more intellectually stimulating jobs and hobbies that help exercise their brains
  • can better compensate for memory problems as they age, finding ways to work around their impairments

The research is welcome news and suggests that there are lifestyle factors we can implement to stave off dementia, which currently affects an estimated five million Americans. Dementia remains the most expensive disease in America. It costs more to care for dementia patients (up to $215 billion in 2010) than heart disease and cancer.

Concerned about maintaining your mental capacity as you grow older? Check out our Optiminds Brain fitness programs that take brain performance to new levels by strengthening nerve cells, plus improving cognitive and concentration power. Call us today at (248) 496-0150. Visit our website at

New Research Supports Brain Benefits of Mediterranean Diet

February 23, 2017

med3Scientists know that people who exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking and keep mentally stimulated generally have healthier brains than people who aren’t as careful about diet and exercise.

A study published this January in the journal Neurology seems to confirm that eating an easy-to-follow Mediterranean diet can have lasting benefits for brain health. Over a three-year period, scientists analyzed the diets of about 400 adults, 73 to 76 years old, in Scotland. MRIs allowed the researchers to see just when and how their brains changed as they moved from late middle age into early old age.

Those who ate more fruits, vegetables, olive oil and the like, and less fried food, red meat and cheese had less brain shrinkage—on average about half the rate that would normally be expected over three years for people this age.

Loss of brain volume is inevitable as we age but the bigger the brain is in late life the more resistant it makes us to the effects of brain diseases. People who have bigger brains in general can tolerate more brain pathology, more brain disease, than those who have smaller brains.

Another study conducted in 2015 suggests that a Mediterranean diet (which includes wine) may help make your brain about five years younger. Researchers evaluated the diets of 674 people with an average age of 80 and then scanned their brains. The group that ate a Mediterranean diet had heavier brains with more gray and white matter.

More research is needed to determine an association between a Mediterranean diet and a specific effect on risk for degenerative brain diseases, such as dementia. But at a minimum, following this diet can help you manage your weight better and can lower your risk for cancer and cardiovascular diseases.

For more ways to keep your brain healthy, call the professionals at Optiminds. Our brain training programs serving metro Detroit have earned a reputation for helping to improve the cognitive skills of people of all ages. Learn more about us by visiting us at:

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