Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"This was my first session with this student. We spoke about his impressions of the first placement exam that he took the previous year. Overall he felt like the test went "okay," but he admitted struggling with the reading comprehension and the writing portions. Looking at the results from the test, I can confirm that he did struggle with the reading portion. This is an area that we will focus on in upcoming sessions. Next we talked about the format of the exam. Despite having taken the test once before, he was a little unsure of exactly what was on the test, how long the sections were, etc. As such, we spent time going over each of the different sections, looking at how long each section is and how many questions are contained in each, discussing the issue of pacing along the way. On his first attempt at the exam, he left many questions blank. Having noted this, we spent some time discussing strategy for guessing versus leaving a question blank, noting that correct answers earn one point while incorrect answers lose 1/4 of a point. The decision was made that if he can eliminate one or two incorrect answers, it is better to guess than leave the question blank. We spent the majority of the session working on math. The student worked through one 25 question section from a practice test. While he worked through the problems, I had him share out loud his thinking to assess whether he understood the operations, terminology, etc. Overall he was very successful working through these questions, however he needs additional practice and review of: area and perimeter; averages; and algebra, specifically involving multiplication. Some of the problems in the practice test had already been solved by the student in preparation for his previous test, but nearly all of the answers to the questions he had attempted were wrong. After successfully answering nearly all of the 25 questions, it is clear that he has made a lot of progress from when he first took the exam last year. Before our session next Saturday, he is going to complete three assignments. First, every day he is going to make note cards for two vocabulary words, writing down the word and its definition and then finding a way to use each word in conversation during the day (and then recording this sentence on his note card.) Second, he is going to complete one 25 question math section from a practice test on the website. Finally, he is going to complete one 25 minute writing exercise, using one of the prompts from the practice test. We will review this writing sample at the start of our next session."
"The student had done some vocabulary work since I last saw her, and had completed about half of a reading comprehension practice test. She finished the practice test and graded it - out of 40 questions, she got 37 right; she skipped 2 questions (which she had narrowed down to two options) and got one question wrong. I encouraged her to always guess if she can narrow it down to two answers. I think a perfect score on this section is well within reach. We also did a timed practice-test for the verbal section - synonyms and analogies. The student answered all the questions, checked her answer-sheet, and reviewed the questions about which she was uncertain, all with time to spare. For this section, she only left questions blank when she could not eliminate any of the options, and she did better than the last verbal practice test, which was itself much better than the last time she took the test for real. She will take another timed reading comprehension test section before our meeting tomorrow. The reading comprehension test should go extremely smoothly when she takes the real thing. For the vocabulary and analogy section, the key is having a strong vocabulary and knowing how to guess the general meaning of a word from its component pieces. She continues to make vocabulary work part of her daily routine. I'm extremely pleased with the student's progress. She's doing very well."
"This was to be the last session for the student's SSAT exam prep. Her mom and I believe that all that could be done has been done in order to ready her. Her math skills are advanced for her grade level, her verbal skills are improving (with much drilling and with the use of particular apps her mom has found), and she has learned that writing can be an enjoyable task, something that will be necessary during the 25-min writing portion of the exam. Her lowest score thus far, after much simulated testing, has been in reading comprehension. However, after reviewing one particular strategy which I believe to be highly convenient and useful for her, she seems more confident and ready to tackle that portion of the test, while not becoming pressed for time. Namely, we discussed reading questions before the passages, in order to familiarize oneself with the content of the passage, and then skimming the passage to highlight relevant information. She enjoyed this greatly, and her pacing improved as a result. Overall, the most powerful outcome of these sessions has been an increase in the student's confidence in tackling academic work formerly considered too difficult or intimidating. I'm so happy to have worked with her, and I hope that she utilizes all that we reviewed together in coming years."