Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We continued coverage of perimeter and area. We reviewed reduction of fractions and conversion to mixed numerals."
"Today, we picked up where we left off last week. I quizzed her on some things we covered last week, and made up problems that were similar to some of the math problems that stumped her last week. She did much better, which tells me she absorbed things from our last session. Next, we went through the math achievement sample problems she hadn't gotten to last week and all of the reading comprehension sample problems in my practice book. The RC sample consisted of one passage and 5 questions. The time/questions ratio for that section is 1:1, so I timed her initial passage reading - she figured out how to skim a passage in 60 seconds. Then I asked her a few basic questions that she should ask herself immediately after reading a passage in the real test - what is the main idea, what general topic does each paragraph cover, and what kind of passage is it. Then, I asked her to categorize each question (there are 6 types) and tell me her strategy for each type of question. Next, she answered the questions (all correctly). We went to the practice test and picked another passage + 5 questions. I timed her doing the reading (60 seconds), asked her about main idea/passage type/paragraph summaries, then timed her answering the 5 questions (4 minute maximum). We figured out that during the test, she could take about 30 questions to ask herself the main idea and summaries questions (in order to anticipate the test questions) and still have more than enough time to answer the test's questions. She has excellent reading comprehension skills. We still had some time, so I gave her a couple of 5-question math sets, and timed her -- 5 minutes for each set. She came in under 5 minutes each time, which is perfect. There were a couple of questions that stumped her. I told her to always just put a question mark next to those and go back to them after she's answered all the easy questions. Next week, I'll continue quizzing her on difficult math concepts and timing her on the other sections, and also start to go over the writing section. She really impressed me with her test-taking speed this week!"
"More math for the placement exam - explained formula for volume of a cube, the concept or perimeter of a geometric figure, how to solve geometry problems algebraically, concept of "mean" and how the individual values relate to the mean; how to solve for a variable in an equation. Her performance was greatly improved on the placement exam problems, but she still needs plenty of work."
"We began test prep for synonyms and sentence completion. One of the hardest things for students with standardized tests is realizing that mid 70% to mid 80% are exceptional scores, especially when they are used to 90% or higher. The drills were hard, but they did very well with process of elimination and will hopefully not get discouraged with the practice test."
"Today the student and I continued working through a list of common prefixes and root words (mal, ben, ex/e, omni, bio, etc.). She took notes on the definitions, along with both familiar and unfamiliar examples. We discussed the strategy of breaking apart unfamiliar words in order to determine their meaning when answering questions in the verbal section. We also discussed the strategy of determining the general meaning or direction of a word (i.e., positive or negative) based on the prefix or root. We then applied this strategy while working through some practice verbal questions in her test prep book. Some basic test-taking strategies that came up in our conversation were making clear marks (such as an X, a squiggly line, and a question mark) to demarcate answer choices that are clearly wrong or need a second look if there is remaining time at the end of the test to go back and check."
"We reviewed the reading comprehension portion of the practice test and the strategies in Chapter 7 for test questions. We then broke down the types of questions and the sample passage. The student had taken my advice and written down some words from her outside reading and we looked up definitions in the dictionary. She then worked on the crossword puzzle I created which included some of the words she had seen on the verbal section of the practice exam as another review of the words to increase her recall. Then I pulled out a couple of math problems similar to some that she missed on the practice test to see if she now could remember how to solve them, and she did well. Next time we will focus on some of the math sections and the general types of questions she may encounter."
"The student and I worked on the synonyms section of the lower level ISEE. We went over her practice test from last week, and I pointed out that she already would have passed (80%). We began by discussing rules for working with synonyms; establishing context, seeing if we could replace the word with one we knew, identifying positive/negative/neutral words, and identifying, if possible, root words or known prefixes and suffixes. For words she doesn't know, she does really well when guessing based off of the positive/negative trick. From there, we could always narrow it down to one or two answers, and with some guidance she got the right answer. I'm working with her on looking for clues in words, and I plan on going over common prefixes, suffixes, and root words to help her identify them. Working with her was delightful. We worked for an hour and a half straight and she smiled the whole time. Next week I plan on covering a little bit more of synonyms, going over some common words, and hopefully starting some work on sentence completion."
"Today Student A and I began by reviewing several area problems. We practiced skills introduced in our last tutoring session, and refined the differences between different types of shapes. Next, we began exploring algebraic expressions, examining the ways in which we use our basic four mathematical operations to solve the different steps in equations. With Student B, we examined fractions and mixed numbers. We refined adding and subtracting fractions and mixed numbers, focusing on the skills needed to find common denominators. Next we focused on simplifying fractions."
"Went over the structure of the test. Went over math, vocabulary, sentence completion and writing. I gave the student some assignments to complete."
"Really strong session. We began looking at vocabulary and I asked him to write sentences again (which last time he excelled at.) We looked over his reading comprehension and it became clear that his issues lay in the "implied" and "inference" questions. We discussed how important it can be to identify what kind of question it is, as that will help with answers that are truthful but incorrect. This was a great segue into our math practice. Today our focus was on steps. We went through a number of questions with each problem to identify what we are being asked to do. Often he wanted to skip steps which he sees as unnecessary because he's quick with math, but we saw time and time again that he made far fewer mistakes when he slowed down and went step by step. Again, the vast majority of his issues came from simple mistakes, and we came up with strategies for finding the error in simple math. By the end of the session, he was following all the steps and seeing the benefits."
"During this session we worked on vocabulary words. We discussed the importance of gaining a general understanding of a vocabulary word, and how as we learn more about the word, our understanding becomes more specific. As the student has experience with multiple foreign languages, we discussed how knowledge of these languages (particularly French and Spanish) can help her determine the roots of English words. In the second half of the session, we worked on quantitative reasoning. The topics we spent the most time on were fractions, geometry, and proportional reasoning. We created fraction strips to compare fractions, I showed her a proof for finding the sum of the angles of a triangle, and we discussed how angle size corresponds to side length. Finally, she solved two problems involving proportional reasoning. The first was fairly straightforward, however the second involved conversions of units within a single dimension in order to find the squared conversions, and then applying proportional reasoning to solve the problem. This last problem was very complex, involving multiple math skills. She was able to grasp some parts of it, but had trouble seeing how it all came together. We will continue to work on these skills in isolation and within single problems to help her master complex problem solving."
"Today we went into further detail on the sentence completions as they are a great foundation for vocabulary building, and we also discussed the sort of reasoning found generally throughout the test."