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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.
In the course of getting two 800s in the old AP math, I learned the importance of strategic savvy. As I work with a student through the various types of problems in the ACT Math, I suggest shortcuts and strategies appropriate to each student's different strengths. In most cases this gives the best return in terms of points gained per hour of work.
In getting an 800 in the old AP in physics, I learned the value of looking at the answers before solving some of the questions, as this gave the best return in terms of correct answers per minute.
The ACT Science is an odd duck, being half reading and graphical comprehension. The strategy--whether to read the questions first--is the same. While understanding the science is primary, I help students develop a technique for making this decision, as it will give them the same edge that I had.
Typically, test designers use shortcut-prone problems to reward the out-of-the-box thinking typical of the better students.
Getting two 800s in the old AP in math confirmed to me the usefulness of this approach. Working with a student on the SAT Math, highlighting this strategic approach has been a cost effective way to improve scores.
Very flexible — Ted is so flexible with his schedule. He connected very well with our son and he is able to see where he needs more polishing. We are happy to see how our son is so eager to work with Ted. ...
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