Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"The student and I spent an extremely productive session working on his SAT writing skills. He is having problems with the time constraints -- he is still a developing writer, and while he certainly has the potential to be scoring in the "4" range (and even higher with further work), he's very solidly in the "3" range at the moment. So, he and I worked to develop a very concrete strategy for him to use in confronting this section: 1) use first five minutes to plan essay (position, main focus, list two "claims" with a piece of concrete supporting evidence), 2) spend 15-18 minutes writing the essay according to plan, 3) use the final 3-5 minutes looking over the essay and correcting grammatical mistakes. The key for the student is first of all to use details to support clearly stated claims, and secondly to generate ideas quickly so he has time to create an essay that is relatively polished. It's vital that he give himself a bit of time at the beginning and the end to smooth out his writing flow. The student and I practiced planning a number of different essays, and he clearly gained confidence as we went along. Finding a rough "formula" for SAT writing success (two points, two pieces of evidence, developing a central claim) seems to have given him additional confidence, and he left the session feeling much better about this section. He will complete a full practice essay for our next session."
"For this session, I asked the student to do an essay from PT #5. I graded her essay first. She had good body paragraphs and a solid conclusion. I coached her on making a better introduction and we discussed methods for doing so. We also discussed ways to link her body paragraphs more to create a more articulate essay. We spent 3/4 of the session on math. We covered a lot of different topics: average, slope, the Pythagorean theorem, cross-multiplication, and median. We also reviewed the strategies of plugging in a number and plugging in the answers. For homework, I asked the student to do the two remaining math sections in PT#7. I also asked her to prepare flashcards of the math reference information."
"[COVERED]: We began with a math section, continuing to develop the student's word-problem-solving ability. We introduced a few more concepts (for which I again made full-color notes): Knowing that the even-numbered root of a number can be positive or negative, the idea that the sum of the angles of a triangle equals 180, and how to figure out the slope of a line. We moved on to begin to cover a verbal section, beginning with sentence completion problems. I explained to the student that the key method was to focus on vocab, creating a list of definitions, and studying with an online dictionary open during the entirety of her review. I also showed her how there is ALWAYS a clue to give a general idea of what the "blank" must be in the context provided by the rest of the sentence, especially conjunctions and parallel constructions (an SAT favorite). We closed with a few questions on a passage-reading section, at which point I introduced the question types that could be asked about, showing how the two question types could be wrong answer choices for each other (main idea vs. detail), and how wrong answers were often out of scope. [PROGRESS/CHALLENGES]: The student showed considerable improvement in her math ability in this session. She is beginning to be able to see the relationships that are being described, and to choose variable assignments on her own most of the time. She still needed some guidance in terms of being asked questions to initiate her problem-solving, but these often coincided with her needing a first-time explanation of the tested concept, and she grew more comfortable after explanation. I encouraged the student to work on vocabulary to improve in the verbal section. [EXTRA PRACTICE]: We scheduled our next session for Monday. The student will go through the verbal questions we did and write down vocab in a list or on flashcards for every word she didn't understand, both in the right and wrong answer choices."