Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We worked on timed practice tests and vocabulary practice. We are working on addressing her tendency to not stick with her gut answer."
"We went over the analogy section of a practice test that the student did for homework, then spent the remaining time reviewing quadratic equations and doing some math multiple choice problems."
"The student and I started off by going over a strategy for the synonyms section. If she was unsure of the word's definition, I had her run through a series of questions to help her eliminate answer choices: Does the word sound positive or negative? Do you recognize any roots? Does it look like a word you know? If you said it means this answer choice, would it sound correct? She had a pretty good instinct for some of these. We made a vocabulary list out of the ones she did not recognize, and then we moved on to math. I gave her a geometry overview and reviewed the area and perimeter formulas for circles, triangles, squares, and rectangles. I also went over the Pythagorean theorem and volume for 3D shapes. We then did some practice problems involving right triangles, area, perimeter, and angle measures."
"Today, we worked on the practice test. The student takes her exam tomorrow. We focused on testing strategies and any last minute questions she had."
"We bounced around doing a little bit of all question types - focusing most on Synonyms. Nick is progressing nicely."
"We covered more reading comprehension during today's session. The student did well on the first half of the practice questions."
"I met with the student yesterday afternoon to check his homework and continue our review of the concepts covered on the math section of the SSAT Upper. His homework was to complete a reading comprehension section, and after grading it, he would have scored in to the upper 40th percentile on that section. That's a 15 percentile improvement from his January test. We spent the rest of the session working 5 math problems at a time and then stopping to check them. We discussed a strategy of narrowing the multiple choice answers based on common terms. The student averages 2-3 correct out of 5, but once I explain to him the ones he missed, he gets it. I have been giving him 2 practice problems like each one he misses and he does excellent on those. I think the best strategy is to expose him to as many types of SSAT Upper problems as we can (the themes and types of problems repeat). To keep him in SSAT mode, I assigned him another reading comprehension section for tonight, and I'll send him a math section on Wednesday."
"Today, the student and I first reviewed his practice essay and quantitative section. We established that choosing the essay prompt over the creative writing prompt will be more advantageous to reflecting his command over writing and English in general. The essay prompt is a straightforward and reliable process that will allow him to effectively demonstrate his writing skills and write enough, separating his ideas with paragraphs. I encouraged the student to work on his vocabulary for the verbal section. The analogies section requires a solid understanding of some uncommon words, so I would recommend that he improve his vocabulary by reading in his spare time and making flashcards to help learn the words he encounters that he doesn't know the meaning of. We will continue to work on vocabulary in future sessions."
"Today we did examples of the three types of problems he will face on the Reading Comprehension and Verbal portions of the exam. For reading comprehension, we did three "Test Yourself" sets (TY) from this chapter, which each presented him with a short passage followed by questions. On Sunday, he had sometimes risked running out of time, even with the skimming and scanning approach, and had correctly solved about 50% of the questions he attempted. This time, he read the questions before reading the passage, which seems to work for him. On the three TYs that we tried, he came in under time (1 min/question, but that has to include reading the passage) and had 100% accuracy. There are still many more examples to try, but I'm hopeful that this is progress. We also worked on the synonyms and analogies that will appear on the verbal section (60 questions in 30 minutes). These are presenting a larger challenge. For the synonyms, the answer is the word that is the best synonym for the given word (which is presented without context). He struggled with these (answering with 41% accuracy) because in many cases, he was completely unfamiliar with the given word. We only attempted two TYs because it quickly became clear that this section will require the memorization of many new words or word roots before he will be able to master it. His homework before our meeting tomorrow is to read and review the list of word roots from his prep book. After synonyms, we reviewed the antonym section. Initially he struggled, missing half of the questions from his first two TYs, but on the last one we tried, he did much better. I am hopeful that this and his improvement of the reading comprehension section will be lasting changes."
"During this session, we got to know each other, and I questioned him about what subjects he tended toward in school, his history with standardized tests, and any concerns he had about the test. I also answered his questions and referred to resources in the book for more specific questions. We then proceeded with sections of the first diagnostic tests, focusing on Synonyms, Analogies, a Reading Section exercise, and part of the Quantitative section. His time management is good, though he needs to slow down, and he typically narrowed down answers to the correct answer and the "next best" answer - a very promising start, but we will work on strategies and plain know-how to pick the correct one more often. The Verbal seems to require more work than the quantitative, so we will focus more of our energy there. To give him exposure to the full test with all its structure, I asked him to take a full-length, timed practice test for all sections. We will review the answers, and I will go through his essay with him. In general, there is definitely room for improvement, but he has already begun on a much higher bar and I am quite confident he will ultimately do well."
"This was my first tutoring session with the student. We began the session by talking about the verbal section of the test. I told her that although it's pretty difficult to study for the verbal, there are ways to prepare. I had already emailed her parents the practice section for the Verbal, and she said she had been practicing on it. I provided flashcards I had pre-made that had the most common root words, prefixes, and suffixes that appear on the test based on several guidebook recommendations. We reviewed these and discussed possible words that might appear on the test containing these word parts. We then did practice reading questions together. She was very quick to read and answer the questions in this section, getting most correct as well. We ended by going over common math question types for the test. She did very well on the first half of problems. We will finish reviewing math questions during our next session. I left her with an essay prompt (creative story starter) to complete before our next session. I told her to study the notecards, work in her practice book, and continue with the verbal practice section."
"When I arrived, I saw her initial and secondary test score reports which were very different. We started by studying two sections on the math portion: Basic Math an Rounding/Averaging. Repeatedly. She struggled with place value, algebraic concepts, and the properties of math (i.e.. distributive). Then we did one session on Analogies. She had the whole concept of analogies wrong. I think I explained it in such a way to her and her parent that she will now perform significantly better on this portion of test. We closed our session by going over an analogies website, homework ideas (several pages of problems I designed on the spot based off the problems she had the most trouble with), and study management."