The ACT English section, like the SAT Writing Skills section, focuses on a limited set of grammatical rules. I teach my students these rules, how to quickly run through a mental checklist to identify the most common errors, and how to avoid any traps. The ACT English section focuses more on punctuation than does the SAT Writing Skills section, so I make sure my students solidly understand how to use a comma!
The ACT essay is optional, though many schools request that students complete it. The ACT essay prompt is usually far more straightforward than that of the SAT, and it asks students to take a particular position on a topic that the test writers feel relevant to high school students’ interests. I teach students techniques to generate sufficient examples that support their perspective on the issue, craft a thesis that states their argument and enables them to quickly organize their essay, and argue their point capably and succinctly.
The ACT Reading section focuses less on vocabulary and more on rhetorical strategies than does the Critical Reading of the SAT. I help my students choose from several possible approaches the one that best fits them. I then teach them tricks to tackling the passages with a ready “ear,” as well as how to avoid the traps awaiting and common mistakes made by unsuspecting and incautious readers.
I have extensive experience tutoring and teaching elementary students, not only coaching them on their reading, writing, and conversation, but also working with them to develop effective study skills and time management. My students have won regional essay contests, as well as teacher-presented awards for "most improved writing." Each of my students who has tested for entrance into selective honors English programs has been accepted. I’ve aided kindergartners and 1st graders with their literacy and reading comprehension. Beyond standard tutoring, I have designed curriculum for and privately taught supplementary and advanced English courses for 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th graders.
I try to make everything as engaging and fun as possible, and after extensive research on the matter, I've come to the conclusion that, while the kids love my motivational speeches on the merits of "knowledge for knowledge's sake," nothing - absolutely nothing - motivates like Skittles. A perennial favorite game for two of my students is one in which I write a word on a whiteboard, and the students then select colors of Skittles which correspond to the word's (sometimes multiple) type(s) of speech, and justify their choice. Should they do so correctly, they get to eat the Skittles. They have gotten AMAZINGLY good at parts of speech. I'm sure their mother both loves and hates me in equal measure.
I have worked with English language learners of college age and beyond to introduce them to and solidify their grasp of the many quirks, intricacies, and wonders of English. My students have greatly improved their spoken and written English, as well as their comprehension of various American and British accents, idioms, and customs. My familiarity with the structure of language (syntax, semantics, and phonetics in particular), as well as my knowledge of other languages (French and Japanese predominantly, but I'm familiar with characteristics of Spanish, Italian, German, Russian and Ukranian, etc.) allow me to ground my instruction in practical application and relevant examples.
Both of my parents are software engineers, so I grew up surrounded by and accustomed to computers and computer-related technology. Originally, we had only Windows and then Linux machines in the house, but my father migrated toward Macintosh products during my college years, so I’m very familiar with both major operating systems, Windows and Mac OSX. My father and mother have always been my first line of technical support, and over time I absorbed every solution and/or method of finding or deriving a solution. I have instructed students in how to get the most out of their programs, applications, browsers, and machines, and how to troubleshoot any problems that might arise. Though I will never possess the coding genius of my parents, I am confident in my ability to help students discover the amazing things that computers empower them to do, as well as the everyday tasks computers can make more efficient. I have also worked with students who wished to learn how to use their iPods, iPads, iPhones, Android phones and tablets, Kindle, external drives, and all sorts of other useful peripherals.
I have taken – and adored – many courses in literature, including British Literature, American Literature, Russian Literature, Japanese Literature, Arthurian Romance, Fantasy Literature, Literature of the American Revolution, Chaucer, Shakespeare, and more. During college, I assisted in teaching a course in Children’s Literature to incoming freshmen. I have read and translated old classics such as Beowulf, and I have read Dumas and Sartre in the original French and critiqued the translations. Each time I ask a question of one of my students that prompts that student to see a text in a whole new light, or to reach a new conclusion about the author’s intent, or to posit a theory on why a particular wording was chosen, or even to understand and be able to articulate why he or she absolutely hates the book, my world gets brighter. I help my students to hear the voices of the past and present and to learn how others have interpreted those messages. I encourage my students to come to their own understanding of these works, and in doing so, I hope to inspire them to develop their own voices and to make those voices heard.
I scored a perfect 800 on the SAT 1600 Verbal section, back in high school when it consisted of 2 sections, Math and Verbal. I have been teaching the SAT 2400 Critical Reading and Writing Skills sections for years now; I have helpful tips and effective techniques for every type of question students will encounter, as well as strategies for efficient essay composition. My students have all greatly improved their scores, and I've gone on to work with them on their college application essays.
Passage-based reading questions and sentence-completion questions comprise the Critical Reading section of the SAT. Many students find this section the most daunting; presented with a wall of text, they shut down. I help students to realize the critical reader inside them and tackle these questions with enthusiasm. Indeed, even pretending to be enthused by the passages is one of the most important tips my students learn: this shift in attitude has been proven to increase comprehension, retention, and accuracy to an amazing degree. Get psyched and get rewarded with a great score!
I provide many universal tips and tricks for this section that I explicate fully and that my students and I practice. I allow my students to encounter the reasons for these tricks organically while we study, which I find to be the best method to ensure that students absorb and retain them. For example, one of my tips is: if there is any way an answer can be wrong, it is wrong. This sounds obvious and nearly tautological, but once students find themselves agonizing over a decision between two answers for the first time, they will understand exactly what I mean by this tip. Each question on the SAT has only one correct answer; it must be correct under all conditions and circumstances, not just “if I look at it this way.” If an answer has to be qualified, it is incorrect.
Beyond universal tips and tricks, I also provide students with several options for their personal approach to the passage-based questions, which we can then test to see which fits each student best in terms of efficiency and accuracy. My students scale those walls of text victoriously in no time!
Questions on improving sentences, improving paragraphs, and identifying sentence errors, in addition to a 25-minute hand-written essay, comprise the Writing Skills section of the SAT.
The questions in this section deal with a limited set of grammatical rules, which are easily taught, as well as the vocabulary and sentence-parsing skills of the student, which I can greatly augment by teaching word roots and key words. I also teach my students to recognize the limited number of forms the questions take; learning to recognize these forms provides the students with even more tools to use to eliminate incorrect answers and avoid traps.
The essay portion of the SAT has its own distinct, teachable set of strategies and techniques. First, I familiarize my students with the range of prompts they can expect to encounter. We then practice an effective, efficient approach to developing a thesis and supporting evidence, which in turn allows the student to craft an organized, coherent, cohesive, and (above all) *strong and engaging* argumentative essay.
I have instructed students in all forms of writing, including expository, persuasive, and creative. I work with students on their brainstorming and research processes, helping them to unleash the words inside them, or, if they have "nothing to say,” helping them to discover something about the topic that they can connect with and explore. I guide them through the formulation of their argument and the search for strong evidence (sometimes in the reverse order). And I instruct them in the technical aspects of writing, such as grammar, usage, vocabulary, style, and structure.
My students have won regional essay contests, as well as teacher-presented awards for “most improved writing.” My SAT students have greatly improved their scores in the Critical Reading and Writing Skills sections. Three of my students have applied for acceptance into competitive Honors English programs, and all three were accepted.
In addition to academic writing, I educate students in many forms of creative writing. I have worked with students on their novels, screenplays, poetry, and short stories. I have written essays and narratives published in school newsletters, I have composed poetry that my grandmother loved (sometimes one writes only for oneself and one’s family), and I have sold one screenplay and hope to sell more.