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Private In-Home and Online SAT Writing and Language Tutoring in Louisville, KY

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Session Summaries by SAT Writing and Language Tutors

Louisville, KY SAT Writing and Language tutoring
The student completed a practice essay for today which we reviewed during the lesson. He still needs some guidance with brainstorming and planning as the body paragraphs of his essay did not make adequate use of examples. We looked at a number of sample essays written by real students, as supplied by various websites to find some positive attributes and structuring methods that he can incorporate into planning and writing his essay. His writing style seems geared towards regarding concepts abstractly rather than rooting them in examples from history or his personal life. However, we saw that essays written in these formats often scored higher and fashioned themselves more to a methodical flow as the author's body paragraphs each presented an example, illustrated its connection to the thesis through a step-by-step explanation, and closed with a summation of the author's point. While he may not necessarily be prepared or have enough knowledge in a subject to write an essay based on going into depth on one example, I encouraged him to brainstorm in order to find two very concrete and related (or contrasting, in some specific way) examples that are relevant to his thesis as this approach might be more conducive to the type of logical flow expected on the test essay.
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Louisville, KY SAT Writing and Language tutoring
I met with the student this morning for the first time. Her family provides a fantastic environment for concentration. She has a good work ethic that helped her achieve a 4.0. Unfortunately, hard work does not always translate to success on standardized tests. She only scored the equivalent of a 1500 on her PSAT. Many of the schools that she wants to get into have average SAT scores in the 1800-2000 range. We set our sights at 2020 because it would allow her to feel confident submitting an application to any school that she feels that she can realistically go to. We started our work by completing a math diagnostic working in tandem. I knew right off the bat that she would feel a bit "put on" if I threw a test at her, so I felt like a collaborative, educational look at the diagnostic test was the best way to proceed. We spent a while working through the test, during which I showed her specific tricks on solving geometric problems faster (properties of a triangle, both angles and sides). I finished by letting her take half of a writing diagnostic. The first half went very well.
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Louisville, KY SAT Writing and Language tutoring
The student and I had a very good session reviewing the SAT Writing and Math. She has an SAT date coming up rather soon in mid-March, so we decided to make sure we spent at least some time reviewing all portions of the test. We spent the first part of today's section looking at the writing multiple choice section. She has good instincts, particularly for sentence corrections, but she answers questions by instinct rather than by concrete knowledge. In order to give the student the knowledge to speed up her work and the confidence to find the correct answer when two seem to be right, we spent time identifying sentence errors, emphasizing that there are a handful of errors that the SAT tests for again and again, in particular: 1) subject-verb agreement, 2) verb tense, 3) pronouns (its / their), 3) modifiers (place descriptive clauses next to subjects), 4) comparison ("Monet's painting" can't be compared to "Renoir"), 5) parallel construction / parallelism ("running, dancing, juggling"), 6) dependent and independent clauses (avoid run-on sentences; determine whether sentences are connected), 7) verb-prepositions (some verbs require certain prepositions). She noted that she felt overwhelmed, even though she was performing fairly well (she said that she didn't feel confident on later Identifying Sentence Error questions) -- the key will be to solidify the possible errors to look for in her mind so that she can feel confident in her choices. The last part of the hour we spent looking at Mathematics problems -- she is definitely doing much better on the Math section (she's gained confidence and is more familiar with the concepts), so the key at this point will be for her to start drilling herself under time pressure to continue to polish her skills. She'd been having trouble finding time to complete practice exercises outside of tutoring, but it's important that she complete at least some mathematics sections (timed!) before our next session to give us an idea of how she is doing. She should also make a little time to review vocab (2-3 new words per day) every day.
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Louisville, KY SAT Writing and Language tutoring
The student and I reviewed both critical reading and math in this session. For the critical reading, we worked through a practice section in the SAT prep book together. The student seemed to have trouble deeply comprehending parts of the passage. Moving forward, we will focus on close reading these passages to ensure that she can interpret the point and message of the passage. However, she did well in using some of the strategies we went over. Her process of elimination for the section was on point and in many of the cases, she managed to correctly eliminate two or more incorrect choices. For the math section, we covered algebraic methods, including operations with polynomials, factoring, systems of equations and inequalities. She did very well on the practice worksheets. I've noticed that she sometimes stops her algebraic manipulations short, but after telling her to keep going and keep factoring/simplifying, etc., she generally arrives at the correct answer. We will focus more on these algebra problems so that the student can develop the confidence to solve the problems to fruition on her own. For homework, I assigned her the rest of the algebraic questions on our worksheets (~40 questions) and to do another two critical reading sections at home.
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Louisville, KY SAT Writing and Language tutoring
The student and I transitioned into the critical reading section of the SAT. We worked specifically on sentence completion questions. On the three sections from practice test 8, he scored a 2/5, 6/8, and a 3/6. From the first section (which he completed unassisted so that I could observe his habits), I noticed he had a little difficulty establishing relationships between the question and the answer choices, as well as he seemed not to be using strategic discarding of answer choices. Also, he was very inclined to justify a correct answer with somewhat circuitous logic over picking an answer choice he did not know the definition of (even though said choice had to be correct due to process of elimination). As a result, we discussed the concept of signal words and punctuation as a way to discover what the questions are pointing at as a definition; he seemed to grasp this concept well, but a little more practice with exploring conjunctions will help him determine relationships. We also discussed the concept of tone and how to select answers based on which fit into the "timbre" of the sentence. Another strategy we discussed was dropping the suffix of verbs and reconfiguring them as nouns and verbs that he may know the definitions of. Right away, he improved from a 2/5 to a 6/8, so a good deal of these strategies helped him. Where he still struggles with are the last questions in that those are the most difficult, and tricks don't do much to eliminate answer choices. This means that vocabulary is his limiting factor on this portion of the exam, and the best way to ameliorate the situation is by him practicing words. I have provided him with a starter word bank, but he needs to add to it for a more comprehensive study. For our next session, we will continue with the passage-based questions.
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Louisville, KY SAT Writing and Language tutoring
When presented with familiar information, the student picks up quickly. Today we covered plane and coordinate geometry, but we will need to spend a significant time period on arithmetic and number rules. I asked the student to practice similar problems and try to replicate the steps we took in her practice.
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