Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"The student and I met for our first session, in which I elected to review solution chemistry, as I thought it would be a good physical science topic to highlight her ability to solve computational problems without a calculator (which she indicated she's had trouble with before). Once we got into our problems, I could tell that she'd memorized ways of solving problems without actually understanding the conceptual underpinnings behind her techniques--and often her strategies failed if she didn't have the exact same set-up as she'd seen before. One of my big goals with her will be to break her of this habit and help her to really understand the how and why behind each problem. I felt by the end of our session, she was much better able to approach any computational problem in solution chemistry, especially after we went over some tricks for working with scientific notation, exponents, and square/cube roots sans calculators. During our first session, I brought in a handful of discrete, computation-based questions and a more conceptual passage and then ended by reviewing solution chemistry problems she'd encountered on earlier AAMC tests. She seemed comfortable with this format and indicated that she felt like I was really able to explain things she'd never fully understood before--we'll continue in this way unless she finds something else to be more helpful. My only concern is that she hasn't actually completed physics 2 yet, so I'll have to do much more thorough teaching with some of the later material. Our next session is scheduled for 4/20 at 11:00 a.m."
"The student and I solved about 18 general chemistry problems and discussed them. The problems were mainly from these topics: solutions, equilibrium, rates, solubility, and acid-base. I encouraged the student to solve more problems before the MCAT -- e.g. at least 50-100 total (chem, bio, physics, verbal) problems per day (e.g. at a rate of 10/hour = 5-10 hours -- which is possible). It is not the student's knowledge, but the application of knowledge, that is the biggest challenge here, so practice is key. However, to improve the student's knowledge base, I recommended that he make flashcards of key equations and concepts (e.g. Graham's law of diffusion). Reviewing within 24 hours is also very helpful for improving the student's knowledge base and storing concepts in long-term memory, thus the student should take just a few minutes to review the problems he gets wrong 1 day later. Attempting problems he gets wrong from scratch, and relying on their solution as little as possible, is the most helpful approach for maximizing his understanding. Also, the student should complete the problems again 1 week or 1 month later to ensure that they're solid. However, solving new problems the student has never seen before, is in general the highest priority thing for preparing for the MCAT. The student has plenty of practice problems to do, and I recommended that he do them regularly."
"During our session we covered: Differentiation, Enzyme Pathways, Bonding, Aromatics, and Polarity. We began by discussing two biology experimental passages. That led to us branching out several times into adjacent areas, especially to answer the questions. The student's bonding knowledge was good, but lacked a coherent synthetic theme. I was able to provide that for him based on Electrostatic Potential Energy. I left the student with work before our next session. He will read a PDF I provided for him on the Electrostatic basis of molecules and inter-molecular forces. He will let me know what he wishes to discuss next."