Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"Today, we reviewed every math concept to be tested on the PSAT that the student felt she needed review on. We worked through at least one example problem for each concept, using example problems from PSAT math packets wherever possible and using standard math problems when no example was readily available in the packets at hand. Then, we talked about test-taking strategies for math. She has been doing regular PSAT practice through her school, and she says that she has been trying to incorporate more of the strategies we talked about into her practice. She has made considerable improvements in math, and she had also made some improvements in critical reading and writing. The strategies we discussed will help her most in critical reading, which is her weakest point. If she has time before the test on Wednesday, she should take another practice section of critical reading, math, and writing after going through all of her notes and reviewing the strategies one last time."
"The student and I devoted most of this session to the math section before finishing with a brief critical reading section review. Building on our work with mathematical word problems yesterday, we examined more closely where in the process of working through word problems or multi-step non-word-problem questions her confusion arose. In general, it appeared that she ran into trouble most consistently when she tried to skip or combine steps in ways that allowed her to lose track either of what the question was ultimately asking her to do or of what intermediate steps she needed to take to get from the information she had to the result that the question demanded. With these challenges in mind, we worked on her reasoning process as she approaches complex, multi-step math problems. We practiced identifying the final goal of a problem first, then identifying what information she needed in order to reach that goal and what calculations she would need to perform with it as a second and third step; finally, we worked on taking stock of what information the problem gave her and how to use it to find any missing information needed to solve the problem. We practiced breaking complex problems down according to this step-by-step process, without actually solving them until she felt comfortable with it, then moved on to actually solving practice problems and reintroducing some of the time-saving strategies we had previously discussed that did not involve combining steps of a calculation. Finally, we explored ways to identify which intermediate steps to solving a problem could safely be combined after she identified the ultimate goal of a problem and the steps and resources (information) needed to achieve it. She did very well with this approach and began maneuvering through multi-step and word problems with much greater accuracy and confidence. We spent the last 20 minutes or so of the session taking a break from math to refresh our previous work on vocabulary-deciphering and time-saving strategies for the critical reading section. We revisited the use of word roots, tone, and logic cues to help navigate the more difficult sentence completion questions and briefly reviewed general strategies for the reading passages ahead of a more in-depth review tomorrow."
"Overall, the student is doing very well in preparations for the PSAT Math section. He scored a 90% on a diagnostic test that I sent him before our first tutoring session, and out of the five questions that he got wrong, three were mistakes due to inattention rather than not understanding the subject matter (when we redid these questions he easily calculated the right answer immediately). There was just one question that required additional knowledge that he did not know. However, we did review a couple of concepts that were relatively new to him. First of all, we went over algebra word problems and how to algebraically write numbers such as consecutive even numbers or consecutive odd numbers. We also went over all the formulas for solid plane geometry, including the volume and surface area of spheres, pyramids, cones, cylinders, etc. Next time, we will review probability, geometric series, and simple and compound interest. In addition, I will be giving him a couple of more practice exams to do, and we will be going over those next time as well."