Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We went over the practice test that the student took to get a feel for the best topics to focus on. For the verbal parts, a large part of the time will be spent on vocabulary, primarily as homework, to give the most exposure to the words and thus the best chance at retaining them. Math will be broadly focused, as she is only beginning 4th grade and has only basics for many of the topics. She has specifically requested that we discuss decimals, and except for basic functions, needs at least some time on most math topics. I have also reassured her that she will only be scored in comparison to other 4th graders and reminded her that the test is also made for 5th graders and she is not expected to know everything on it."
"We reviewed the purpose of a word box and the definition of context clues. We worked through the first passage of the 4th grade reading assessment using test-taking strategies."
"The student and I worked through a QR practice drill. She did very well. Strengths: process of elimination, knowing what kind of mathematics to perform (multiplication versus division), understanding of order of operations, and working systematically through a problem (not skipping steps or discounting answers because one answer leaped out as correct). Areas we'll work on: rereading questions (her making sure she is 100 percent on what a question is asking before deciding on her approach), looking for shortcuts, determining if working from beginning to end, backwards, or halfway in between makes the most sense, using visuals (jotting ideas or pictures down on scratch paper) to help with understanding of a problem and/or to help with faster answer elimination. The one item she had not been exposed to was the essay portion of the placement exam so after completing the practice drill I gave her a brief rundown of the essay section (the kind of question she'll be asked, what schools are looking for, how to best use the 30 minutes she'll be allowed to complete the essay). To kick things off, I asked her to talk to me a little bit about how she plans for essays. She talked about placing a thesis statement at the end of the introduction, about reiterating the thesis statement throughout, and including supporting details in supporting paragraphs. She mentioned creating a paragraph outline with bullet points as well as a tree map. I gave her the choice of several essay questions. She opted to create a tree map to assist with answering the questions. This was an extremely beneficial exercise because I had her talk me through her answers and select details and as she did she was quick to find holes in her logic or areas she could tighten up. Next session, we are going to work on building out her tree map (asking how, why, when, what questions about the various ideas or points listed) so that the transition from the planning stage to writing stage is as fluid as possible and the result exemplifies the sort of organization and detail private school admissions committees will be looking for."