Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"The student and I began this session by focusing on the reading comprehension section; in particular, we reviewed the importance of reading the questions that follow each passage before reading the passage itself and went over a few different approaches for proceeding through the passage and answering the questions afterward. She seemed to do the best with our sample non-fiction passages when she read through them and answered each question as she encountered the relevant portion of the passage that would allow her to answer it, then went back to the passage to continue reading. Poetry was a little more challenging, but she diligently practiced applying tone and context clues to questions that dealt with less straightforward lines or metaphors. In fact, she picked up fairly quickly on some kinds of questions she could ask herself about lines of poetry when a question presented two or more tempting answers, and she did very well at avoiding "trap" answers once she adopted a poetry-specific mindset. After our work on the reading section, we went back to verbal skills; specifically, we tackled the verbal logic problems in some depth. Her vocabulary and word classification skills are relatively strong for her grade, so while we did spend some time on vocabulary enrichment and analogies, we spent far more time working out processes that would help her keep track of the relationships between given data points in the verbal logic questions and use them to evaluate proposed follow-up statements as true, false, or uncertain. She found it helpful to diagram information as it was given, although she needed a little help -- as most students do -- to avoid making assumptions about where to place less-specific data points on her diagram and thus to spot which comparisons couldn't be determined. For an eighth-grade student working through one of the most complex question types on the upper level exam, though, she did very well."
"The student and I covered definitions and synonyms. We will meet more this week to strengthen his skills in all areas of the test."
"We continued to work through the grammar section of the prep book. We picked up where we left off last time with verbs. Today we discussed verb forms. He had learned them before, so we focused on differentiating between them in context - I asked him to give me examples for each form, and we talked about the types of verb tense errors he might see on the test. We went over irregular verb forms briefly. We talked a little about modifiers - adjectives and adverbs - he's good with these concepts, and he had a few complex modifier questions inspired by English class. When he asks questions related to English class, we then talk about the types of mistakes he'll see on the test vs. distinctions he's asked to make in class - test sentence errors are much more narrow and codified than many of the grammar decisions he encounters in school. We went through parallelism errors and the difference between comparatives and superlatives. We looked through the style review section of the book, which really consists of grammar rules -- pronoun/antecedent ambiguity, dangling modifiers, and double negatives. There was also a section on relevance and wordiness, which is a style issue, but one which is relatively narrow on the test. Next, we looked through a list of commonly misused words, capitalization rules, and spelling notes, and he practiced on his existing tests."
"I brought a new high school assessment exam prep book to this session so that we could start working on new problem sets in order to test his progress. We spent a short time working on some vocabulary that I had him review in his SAT vocab book. We then jumped right into a brand new language section, which took up the rest of our session. I am exceptionally pleased to report that he has improved by leaps and bounds. He told me that reading Elements of Style had been a huge help in understanding the usage portion of the language section, and his newfound comprehension really shined through. Where before he was getting over half the problems wrong, he is now missing only a quarter, and many of those minor mistakes were due simply to letting jitters get the better of him. Once we spoke a little about staying Zen and remaining calm, he markedly improved, getting only three questions wrong out of a total of 30 that we did. He has improved even more drastically than I could have hoped for and I am extremely proud of his progress. He is struggling far less with the language and vocabulary sections now that he has gained much stronger fundamentals in both. I cannot overstate how happy I am with his progress! As his homework for our next session, I left him my high school assessment exam prep book with instructions to complete an entire diagnostic test under timed conditions. It will be the perfect measuring stick to determine just how much the grammar/vocabulary practice I gave him has helped, and we will be able to compare it to his last diagnostic."
"We spent 45 minutes doing a math section, and the student was able to get through most of it. I wanted to focus most on the logic and reasoning questions, so we specifically looked at those. We then went over math word problems, focusing on both logic based questions and normal word problems. She was able to do the logic questions very easily. We then practiced more ability questions, such as rotating shapes and finding sequences and folding paper. She is very good at most of these questions, so I wanted to give her a confidence boost on the night before her big test. I introduced some new logic questions just for fun and good practice, and then we went over the roots and prefixes that she did not get a chance to look at. At the end of the session, we went over some test taking tips in the book (such as answering every question even if you have to guess), as well as some specific tips for her, such as making sure to write down work, draw pictures, and find patterns."
"The student received a 100% on the math portion of her practice exam that she took on Saturday, so we decided to shift the focus of our tutoring session towards the reading comprehension, verbal skills, and vocabulary section. We reviewed test strategies from her test prep books. She took some of the reading comprehension, verbal skills and vocabulary portions of the practice exam from the prep book and reviewed the answers. She typically had about 5 minutes left on her time to review, and I pointed out to her that some of the answers that she changed last minute were wrong, the original answers were correct. I suggested that if she is able to eliminate all but 2 answer choices and the remaining choices are 50/50 to go with her gut feeling, it is usually right. Also, there were a some vocabulary words that she did not know, so I suggested that she review them with a dictionary so that she can improve her vocabulary. We will continue to work on these areas in future sessions."
"The student and I had our first session this evening (the first of two that I will have with her before her test, in addition to two sessions she will have with another tutor). She will need some work with both math and verbal sections this week so we decided just to start with quantitative skills problems. She is very meticulous in her work. Where possible I tried to point out ways that she could save time ("responsible" shortcuts like when dividing by 4 or 5 or looking for pairings of numbers that can expedite adding strings of numbers, crossing out unnecessary information, etc.). She would do well to review some basic times tables, too, to save time with calculations). There are some concepts that she hasn't been taught yet, but I'm not sure whether it is worth focusing much on those topics (like set notation), given the impending test date and the relative infrequency of those topics on the exam. The student is good at asking questions when she doesn't understand something, and she did a good job of applying the concepts that we discussed."
"I had some material to assess the student in every section of the assessment test. I had her work on all the even problems on the sheet and then I would go through each one asking her how she got those specific answers, that way if she got the questions with a lucky guess we were able to address the exact problems she had issues with. We got through 3/4 sections. I was able to look at some of the books she has been using in school. I left her with a bit of homework to do. She had to finish the odd problems in the assessments as well as go through the chapter explanation for each section. The chapter explanations have short work for her to complete as well."
"For this session, we simulated the verbal skills and mathematics skills portions of the test and reviewed the answers, clarifying some previous tips and adding specific tips to the appropriate portions such as with exponents, fractions, and decimals/percents. We also reviewed the answers for the previous simulations, which helped prepare him for the simulations in this session. While he got approximately 50-55% on the verbal section and 55-60% on the math section, I pointed out that this is a standardized test, so he wasn't necessarily failing with those percentages. Yes, he could use some more practice, especially with the vocabulary section, but he is improving and making satisfactory progress. We also discussed his concerns and stress over the test. I reassured him and his mom that I thought he was doing relatively well and would be able to take the test this weekend. They wanted to know if he should take more practice tests and I said yes, but in moderation; two to three more tests would be good practice but anything beyond that might be overkill. They considered taking the test the following week to give him more time to practice and feel less stressed. I also gave some pointers on the mindset he should have to reduce stress and other pointers on how to deal with the stress during the test. They researched online and found more practice tests, and I mentioned that we hadn't used two practice tests between the books. Overall, while he did need more practice, I left them with the tools and info to best prepare them for the test and allow them to practice on their own."
"Looked more closely at author's tone and purpose. Sorted vocabulary/tone words. Practiced pacing for reading sections."