I'm a former boarding school math teacher and so-so student that nevertheless got into Yale. By thinking like a test designer I got the three 800s in math and physics APs which apparently made the difference.
An aptitude test's effectiveness is measured by how well it separates the students of various achievement levels. For example, one mechanism in both ACT and SAT test problems is to offer shortcuts, which is apparently a good separator. I train students how to hunt for the tell-tale signs of these shortcuts, which is an extremely cost effective way to improve scores. Another cost effective score improvement technique is finding and fixing gaps in students' grasp of the material.
Which brings us to motivation. Young kids are born engineers, taking things apart to see how they work. Traditional schoolwork dulls this driver. Besides strategic training and gap filling, an effective test prep program needs self-imposed practice. A student who spends equal time on his own doing web-based sample tests will truly maximize the cost effectiveness of my tutoring program.
While "teaching to the test" is the necessity here, I try to reawaken my students' natural curiosity by sharing practical knowledge from my flying 6000 hours and four boat races between Bermuda and Newport.
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