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Private In-Home and Online SAT Writing and Language Tutoring in Riverside, CA

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Session Summaries by SAT Writing and Language Tutors

Riverside, CA SAT Writing and Language tutoring
We spent our first half hour working through and discussing practice problems from the writing section. She understood her mistakes readily, and even with her relative lack of focus, I think that she did better than she had on our first meeting. We talked about the importance of rest and focus for ensuring peak performance on the day of the test. We spent the rest of our time working on the essay. I had previously noted that the student's writing tends to be stronger towards the end of the essay than it is in the introduction, so we spent much of our time writing introductions and discussing writing strategies for them.
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Riverside, CA SAT Writing and Language tutoring
Based on the errors on the student's practice test, I prepared a review of grammar and punctuation topics relevant to the SAT writing section. She asked thoughtful questions about the explanations and successfully completed the examples. She mentioned that she is familiar with many of the topics we covered. She said she will need to keep these kinds of grammar/punctuation errors in mind as she tackles SAT questions. We also discussed working more slowly. She tends to move quickly through the questions, so sometimes she makes minor errors. Next, we completed a practice set for writing questions based on the types of errors on her practice test. We also discussed the SAT essay. She will read sample prompts and the explanation of the SAT essay before our next session, as well as complete a timed essay. To end the session, she studied her SAT vocabulary flashcards. Many of the words were new to her, but she was able to remember the meanings after seeing them three or four times.
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Riverside, CA SAT Writing and Language tutoring
We discussed the student's results on his mock test. I looked at two more sample 12 essays. We then discussed the importance of "sophistication" and "insight." I asked him to type up his mock tests for tomorrow.
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Riverside, CA SAT Writing and Language tutoring
My goal with this session was to get through all the strategies of the writing section, multiple-choice and essay alike. It was challenging, but she did a great job keeping pace. My first order of business was to break down the three multiple-choice question types and highlight the key strategies for them. Specifically, I really went out of my way to emphasize the importance of reading sentences aloud, slowly, and utilizing the ear as an editing tool. With improving sentences, I explained the importance of reading the entire sentence with the answer choice inserted, and of trying to choose the answer that made for the smoothest and most concise read. Before tackling the identifying sentence errors questions, I did a grammar review to see where she stood. Several key SAT concepts, such as parallel structure, phrases and clauses and pronoun-antecedent agreement needed extra review, but altogether, I was happy with the amount of grammar she'd retained over the years. I took a moment to explain its importance in college-level writing. Eventually, we ran the gamut of grammar terms and rules until I felt she was ready to put them into practice. Along the way, I also tried to point out the various ways in which the test-makers apply your grammar knowledge, such as spacing subjects and verbs, or pronouns and antecedents, with meaningless phrases in between to throw you off. The student did OK with our practice questions here; we didn't have much time to dwell on the results, so I simply encouraged her to study the grammar chart I'd given her and to resume practice on her own time. After a quick discussion on the final question type -- improving paragraphs -- we moved on to the essay. Here, I tried to highlight the most important elements: a strong thesis, a resounding conclusion, well-developed examples that pull from one's knowledge of history, science, current events, etc. We still have a little more to go over during our next meeting, which will also involve a lot of math work. In closing, I tried my best to motivate her to try to find time to practice every day until her test. I think this will be the biggest encumbrance going into the final week.
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Riverside, CA SAT Writing and Language tutoring
For our first session, the student expressed that he felt he needed the most help with an essay. To start the session, I asked him if he had a sample of an essay he had written so I could see where he needed the most assistance. Overall, the sample essay he gave me was well written. His writing was clear and concise, with good vocabulary usage and he provided relevant examples to support his response. The only area I saw where he could make improvement content wise was in his introduction. I suggested he not flip-flop in the introduction. He needed to make sure he stuck to one side so that his thesis would be clear. Since he has the fundamentals of writing, he expressed that his biggest concern was writing the essay within the 25 minute time limit. To assist him with this, I went over the nine universal topics he would most likely receive an essay topic on. I told him that the best way to assure finishing the essay on time is to cut down the brainstorming to a maximum of three minutes. To help him do this, I suggested he try to apply the same literary and historical examples to as many topics as he could. This would help him reduce his brainstorming time and increase the amount of time he had to devote to writing the essay. For the first hour of our session, I gave him a quote from each of the nine universal topics and three minutes to apply the two examples he had chosen (Jay Gatsby and Rockefeller) to each quote. After the three minutes had expired, we discussed the examples he had come up with. I periodically gave him suggestions to make his response more specific. As we were completing these exercises, he began to notice that he could use many of the same examples for different topics, which was ultimately the goal of the exercise. For the 2nd hour of the session, I wanted him to apply this exercise to an actual timed essay. We selected a prompt from his SAT practice book and he completed the essay in the 25 minute period. After completing the essay, he expressed that he did not think the essay he had just wrote was very strong. After reading it, I agreed that there were some things we could do to make it stronger. For starters, he made his essay too specific by limiting his prompt to technology, when the prompt was about anything that made life easier. I suggested he not make his focus so narrow so he could use a wider variety of examples. My second suggestion was to make his examples more specific. While his examples were relevant they were general. I discussed with him how we could take the example of Jay Gatsby and apply it to the prompt and how he could use a more specific answer of nuclear technology to write a better essay. After our discussion, I had him rewrite the bodies of his essay, which were much improved from his first version. For our next session, he expressed the desire to go over reading and writing multiple choice strategies.
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Riverside, CA SAT Writing and Language tutoring
The student and I worked through his test prep book's writing session together and focused specifically on improving his accuracy with sentence error questions.
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