Recent Tutoring Session Reviews
"We spent most of the time doing critical reading. First, we did a timed section from a practice test in the student's SAT study guide and reviewed the incorrect answers. We then did 2 more critical reading sections together and untimed so that we could see each other's thought processes and approaches to each question. I also gave the student some tips on how to do better in the critical reading section. We ended our time discussing the essay section, and I assigned her some sample perfect score essays to read and compare."
"Tuesday afternoon was my first session with this student. She is taking the January SAT and would like to crack 2000; she mentioned she scored the equivalent of about 1500-1600 on her PSAT. Her current area of difficulty is managing her time while taking the test. She said finishing the problems within the allotted time is stressful, so the time pressure definitely affects her ability to answer the questions accurately. We used the SAT study guide book and started with a section 3 math multiple choice practice test. Since she mentioned her time difficulty earlier, I decided to work on the problems with her without timing her. I asked her how she would go about solving each problem, and I suggested less of a "math class" approach and asked her to look at the SAT from more of a common sense/ logic perspective instead of immediately spending time resorting to algebraic equations. Many of the answer choices can be eliminated early on due to something as simple as knowing a graph shows a negative slope (ruling out all the positive number answer choices). That seemed to be an a-ha moment for her. We completed section 3 together, with some tricky problems near the end that we will discuss during our next session on Monday. Since she said that "improving sentences" and "improving paragraphs" sections are problematic for her, we worked on that type of practice test next. I told her that the answer choice is going to be one that isn't necessarily the only "right" choice but the "best" choice, one that is both grammatically clear and free of word clutter and awkward phrasing. After a few tries, I think she felt more comfortable with ruling out answer choices based on -ing verb forms and unnecessary filler phrases. I reviewed the "misplaced modifier" and "singular/ plural noun" agreement errors that are commonly tested on the SAT verbal section, as well as verb tenses and active vs. passive voice. I asked her to complete that section along with a critical reading test section for our next lesson on Monday."
"The student had completed the verbal/ writing sections from one entire SAT practice test (although he did not write the essay). I encouraged him to write the essays (since they are 30% of the writing section scores) and said that he could take a photo of the essays and send them to me to be graded. I think that the student should grade his own tests in the future as a way of saving time (so that I can immediately help him with the problems rather than spending time having to grade it during our sessions). We went through the CR/ writing sections that he did complete and worked on the questions that he had gotten wrong. For the writing section, he seems to have trouble sometimes with comma usage (specifically in participial phrases) and pronoun usage. He also had some trouble with idiom usage and other instances of awkward phrasing (such as with redundancy). For the verbal sections, we analyzed passages and went through all the questions related to those specific passages. He has the tendency to pick choices that make claims outside of the scope of the passage; I stressed that it is important to only look at the arguments or points that are directly stated in the passage itself and not to make outside interpretations. For the sentence completion questions, I suggested that every time he encounters a new word (or a word that he is unsure about the meaning), he should write it down in a book and work it into a sentence. I asked him if he wanted me to assign "homework" from the workbooks, and he seemed enthusiastic about the idea so I will try to assign specific problems or sections."