"The student and I began by reviewing the practice Math section that I had asked him to complete on his own using the techniques we had discussed in our first session. Although I hadn't given him a time limit, I had asked that he make a note of how long it took to complete the section. He did finish with minutes to spare, and only missed a few questions; we reviewed those to see whether they reflected mistakes of understanding, missing skills, or moments of inattention, and they uniformly proved to be the latter. He had no trouble understanding where he had overlooked details in the problems, nor any difficulty in applying fixes. The only case where we needed to review skills was in a problem dealing with the Order of Operations, and he was able to correct his mistake after only minimal review. I was very proud of him!
We moved on from the Math section to Critical Reading, since that section is the one in which he feels least confident after Math. He told me how he usually approaches passage-based reading questions, and I suggested some strategies to increase his efficiency and confidence. In particular, we saw how helpful it could be for him to read the questions and underline key words or phrases in them before reading a passage for the first time. We also practiced matching key words or phrases in the text to those in the questions, making brief notes next to each paragraph in a passage to act as memory cues, and using a series of questions to determine the main idea, author's purpose, and overall tone of a given passage. He expressed that using these techniques helped him answer passage-based reading questions more quickly and easily, with less guessing.
With only a little time left in the session once we finished our first foray into the Reading section, we set the stage for next week's shift into vocabulary work. We talked about the ways in which the student has studied vocabulary before, both in school and at home in preparation for his SSAT retake; I suggested that he try to come up with sentences or examples to illustrate the words he's studying from flashcards, in addition to his current practice of memorizing their definitions. From there, we moved into a discussion of word roots, prefixes and suffixes, and practiced identifying some common ones using the Synonyms questions of an Upper-Level SSAT practice test's Verbal section. I asked him to work with the remaining Synonyms questions in that section as homework before our next session: specifically, to practice identifying any familiar roots or prefixes and brainstorming related words that also contain them."