Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"The student and I focused overwhelmingly on language skills and test techniques during this session. We started by working on the essay section of the test, which led us into some grammar review and eventually vocabulary. Since he had used the song-writing analogy we discussed last time to write a sample essay for us to review together in this session, we started there. His structure, organization and ability to express his points using both abstract statements and concrete examples improved dramatically when he used this approach! His content and arguments were much better supported, and flowed much more smoothly. He was proactive about asking me to clarify points of grammar and punctuation. We discussed the use of commas to set off parenthetical clauses, when to use whom vs. who, and, at his request, the grammar of direct and indirect objects and relative clauses. With his grammar questions addressed, we turned our attention to strategies for approaching the sentence completion questions and to the development of his vocabulary in preparation for that section of the test. In particular, we discussed coming up with his own idea for a word to complete the sentence as he reads it, and comparing his own choice to the answer choices to find the closest match; deciding what tone the missing word should have, based on the context of the rest of the sentence; identifying logical or contrasting relationships between the two missing words in double-blank sentences; and choosing the blank for which greater context allows for easier narrowing of choices when dealing with double-blank sentences. Our vocabulary work initially consisted of identifying and discussing word roots and prefixes among the keywords and answer choices of some sample sentence completion questions. Once we established a basic repertoire of roots and prefixes, I had him brainstorm related words that also used those components and anticipate their meanings. His background in Latin promises to be helpful; and some bits of vocabulary have already started to help him find ways that make it easier to decode unfamiliar English words that have Latin roots."
"Discussed test-taking strategies (e.g. how many questions to skip), as well as common question types."
"The student and I spent the session going over passage-based readings for the reading section of the SAT exam. We read through a number of passages. Sometimes I'd guide, highlighting areas and key phrases of text, such as anything in quotation marks, and I'd pause to ask him what he was taking away from the writings so far. Other times, he worked through the passages and related questions mostly by himself; here or there, I'd help eliminate an answer or provide a corrective if he got the questions wrong. In the instances where he wasn't locating the best answer, he was almost always locating a suitable answer, and we discussed what elements are necessary for a "best answer": usually answers that are half-right contain in them some key idea or word that eliminates it, even though, either in different context, that answer may be totally logical. A few times, he needed some assistance with vocabulary, but he seems to be retaining the definitions of words, especially those that repeat throughout different iterations of the test, like whimsy. We also talked a little about wordplay. Next, we will embark on the writing section of the exam."