Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"During this session, the student and I prepared for her SAT on Saturday. We primarily focused on math, grammar, and vocabulary. Overall, she has seen a big improvement in her math sections, especially in really attacking the easy and medium problems with confidence and purpose. We focused on ways to maximize her points, allocating her time to the problems she has a good chance of getting right, and not worrying so much about the ones toward the end. We have also steadily been alleviating her anxiety toward skipping questions, since trying to pick an answer for every question can be quite costly points-wise. This strategy has been working well for her in math, as well in grammar. As far as grammar goes, we worked on sentence improvement and error identification. Again, we stressed strategies - targeting usual errors like tense, number, and verb agreement, modifiers, fragments, etc. We also emphasized the positive impact that strategic skipping could have on her score in this section, as well as in the reading sections when dealing with vocabulary. We have worked a lot on improving her vocabulary recognition using prefixes and roots, but for questions where most of the words are unfamiliar, we stressed that guessing simply isn't a productive plan. I left her with extra practice and the instruction to reread her notes and highlight any sections she'd like to cover in our final session."
"I met with the students yesterday for our first SAT verbal tutoring session at their home. We discussed a bit about their 11th grade courses this semester including 4 or 5 AP classes. I also asked them about the target university programs they are applying for. They are both National Merit Scholars who performed in the top percentile for the PSAT. They mentioned they would like to score a 2280 or above for their SAT in January. For our first session, we used the official SAT book. I timed the twins for a 19-question, 20-minute practice test section, including sentence completions and critical reading. They both finished with at least 5 minutes to spare, and then they self-checked their results. Each of them only got one or two questions incorrect. Student A accidentally skipped a question and forgot to go back and answer it. Student B mentioned that he doesn't like to go over his answers for the verbal sections because he doesn't like to second-guess himself. I understand that thinking, but I also think that it would be beneficial for them to at least use some of the ample remaining time to make sure they answered each question and bubbled in the correct answer on the multiple choice answer sheet. The SAT does not give you extra credit or know if you finished much earlier than anyone else, so it is to their advantage to use the given time to review their answers. We then went through each question, alternating between each of them, and I asked them to explain how they chose each answer and why they were able to rule out each incorrect answer choice. It's important to me that they understand not only which answer choice is the best answer but also what makes the other answer choices incorrect. I also reviewed the vocabulary words in each answer with them to make sure they knew what they meant. I prompted them to fill in the word blanks in their heads first to set up the proper relationship between the two-word blanks in the sentence completion section. These can be identified through the clue/trigger words placed throughout the section; for example, "Though/however/semicolon/nevertheless/despite, etc." give the reader clues about whether the words are synonyms or might have an opposing relationship. For most of the words, they were able to tell me the correct meaning/definition. Afterward, they proceeded to complete a timed 35-question, 25-minute "improving sentences/improving paragraphs" practice test section to work on grammar. I know that the SAT is a long test that requires intense focus, since you don't get much time for a break in between each section. I recommended that they get ample sleep the night before their SAT and to make sure to eat a healthy breakfast and bring snacks (nuts, fruit, banana, maybe even some chocolate) and water to keep their brain fueled and sharp during the test. Each of them got about 4 or 5 questions incorrect out of the 35 questions. Student B mentioned he didn't get as many questions wrong as he thought he would. We only reviewed the incorrect answers during this section due to time constraints. Our next session will be on Monday at the same time two weeks from now. I know that they are both extremely busy with all their AP classes, as well as tennis team. I asked them to try and complete additional practice test sections before our next meeting so we can review them together. I also want to work on the essay writing portion for our next session. They mentioned that they feel that three total sessions will be adequate, given they had eight previous sessions with their former tutor."
"For this session, the student and I worked on finishing up practice test #2. He was given section 5, 6, and 7 as homework, but had only time to finish section 6 and parts of 5 due to final exams for his classes, which he is still working on currently until this Friday. We worked on finishing up section 5. We also worked on section 8 as a timed section, to get practice with time management and working on questions quickly. Overall, I feel that he is improving little by little and will continue to get better with each session."