Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"After doing a little math review, specifically covering test-breaking strategies, the student and I moved to the writing section of the test. We took a start-from-scratch approach; she did very little writing in college aside from lab reports for science classes, which don't typically allow for much style or creativity. We talked briefly about her strengths as a writer as best she remembers them, then moved to strategies for the essays and criteria the graders look for. Using samples from our books, we looked as Issue Tasks (saving the Argument Task for next week) that received high scores and analyzed their strongest points. I took pains to explain the importance of a clear stance on the issue, organized structure, developed supporting examples, and the general modes of critical thinking that translate to good scores. We talked the key difference between weighing in on Issue Task versus dissecting logical soundness on the Argument Task, about setting up one's position in a linear fashion to illustrate a logical flow of ideas, and about ending with a conclusion that draws deeper connections to the bigger picture. We covered a lot in a short amount of time, so to ensure nothing's forgotten, I left her with a two-page synopsis of the concepts we'd discussed. She feels her biggest challenge is to now re-train her brain to think along different analytical channels. For instance, taking an sample, test-worthy issue and breaking it down in terms of its economic versus social versus historical impacts, etc., and then pulling from her background knowledge to create good support. To work on this, we plan to do some exercises with sample prompts, wherein we develop a clear stance and summaries of the supporting examples we would theoretically use, plus a conclusion. We want to start small before moving to writing the whole thing. She seemed to enjoy the fast pacing of our session and was very responsive to my instruction. When we looked at sample essays, she raised some good points that I hadn't covered -- specifically, how to subtly keep your paper on topic while providing beefed-up analysis -- that I thought were very helpful. I think it was an excellent start to the writing section of the test, but one filled with concepts that will undoubtedly need to be re-hashed for a writer picking up the pen for the first time in four years."
"The student and I began the process of analyzing the issue essays. We discussed brainstorming, introduction, supporting paragraphs and conclusions. We also discussed completing the vocabulary portion. For our next meeting, he is to complete the vocabulary words till E, pages 53 - 74 and an essay, which I will send to him."
"We spent our time finishing discussion of the argument essay we started the previous session. This involved writing a sample third body paragraph and a conclusion. Additionally, we discussed different ways to style topic sentences and the qualities that make a strong concluding paragraph. We proceeded to discuss the issue essay. We conversed about one of the issue topics before writing a rough outline of how the essay might look. Finally, we spoke about prospects with respect to graduate school and the possibility of reapplying for spring 2016 admission."