T. is a young math genius, but his English language skills were lagging when we first met.
It was apparent that T. had very good comprehension, but had great difficulty in organizing his thoughts in English. We worked with the SAT work book for the most part, which is an excellent tool for getting a student to focus and to familiarize him/herself with the exam structure. We also worked on conversation, reading practice, and writing exercises.
We worked for two months every week. He took the SAT twice more, and his English exam score improved from the low 500s to the middle 700s!
Later, I helped T. with his college application process. In particular, he succeeded to write an excellent essay. His grades were very good, but we are sure that the interesting and unique essay helped to get him admitted to ALL five colleges of his choice.
Almost every college or university requires students to submit an ACT or SAT score. This score affects not only your admission application but also scholarship opportunities and which classes you will be able to enroll in. The vast majority of students do little to no preparation work before taking these exams. They may feel that all their hard work in high school should have prepared them already. Although this is partially true, it is actually quite easy to raise your score a large amount by just putting in a little bit more work. Students can see composite ACT scores raise 5 or more points and SAT scores raise 300 or more points. Why is this?
1) Both the ACT and SAT test many of the same concepts repeatedly and by learning these core concepts, you will easily get a higher score.
2) You will get more familiar with the format of the test and start to see patterns in how they ask questions. Once...
During the school year, my students balance classes, sports, social lives, and sleep. Their schedules are hectic. During tutoring lessons, students often only have time to focus on the immediate assignments at hand in their classes. We usually have little time for test prep unless the student and parent has specifically requested that we focus solely on the SAT or ACT. So, when is the best time to study for the SAT or ACT? You guessed it. Summer vacation.
Many of my students have a summer schedule that gives their school year calendar a run for it's money. However, their busy summers do not contain nearly as many academic activities as their school year schedules. Most have summer sports, camp, or jobs. This is the perfect time to balance those physical and social activities with test prep. In addition, students can learn the ropes of the SAT or ACT better when they are not juggling other classes and tests. Every kind of standardized test is unique and it takes...
Quickly after beginning work as a tutor, I came to realize that parents are the black belts of scheduling. They not only have to keep up with a number of annoying adult responsibilities, but they also have to keep up with their children's calendars. Parents' organizational skills (and possibly their sanity) are put to a very difficult test daily. So, to all my expertly organized parents out there, in this post I hope to let you in on a scheduling detail that often slips through the cracks but can make a big difference in a student's SAT or ACT scores.
One of the biggest obstacles I face when preparing a student for the SAT or ACT is the student's test schedule. Far too often, my student is signed up for two tests that are only a month apart. For example, a couple of my past students have been signed up for an SAT in May and then another in June. This short turnaround gives me very little time to receive the student's scores and prep the student in the areas he or...
I generally start by examining the kinds of questions a student missed on the PSAT, and we make a plan based on the SAT or PSAT score report.
I usually need to teach lessons on the most common grammatical concepts covered by the test: subject-verb agreement, pronoun-antecedent agreement, misplaced and dangling modifiers, parallel structure, and pronoun case. These five skills probably account for half of the most-missed writing questions.
We practice and drill - the only way to get better at something is to keep doing it! For the critical reading questions, I like to have older students do passages from the Advanced Placement exams; they are similar in format to the SAT passages and have slightly more challenging questions. Questions on the SAT are categorized as easy, medium, or difficult, and students generally don't have trouble with the easy ones! Practicing with difficult questions makes them feel more confident on test day.
We’ll also examine...
1. Repeating themselves.
In high school (and sometime beyond) there are unhelpful rules from teachers relating to number of paragraphs, minimum lines per paragraph, and number of quotes per paragraph. Page length, word count, and more fit under this heading as well. Too many times I've seen students try to say the same thing in a different way in order to puff up their writing to hit a word count. It's easier to just think some more about the subject matter!
2. Trying to sound academic (or something).
Many a time I'll talk to a student and ask their opinion about some topic or relevant subject. They'll explain themselves clearly and concisely, and sometimes even with some with and humor. Then, when it's time to write, they start saying things like: "This subject is truly fascinating, as I believe that it is truly relevant for children in our society to become educated about many of these diverse and sundry topics"....
In all of my lessons, I like to ask my students about their interests, and then I tailor the lessons to them! Yesterday my student and I went over Princeton Review's "5 types of Reading Comprehension Questions." These are:
1. Detail, 2.Purpose, 3. Suggest/Infer/Imply/Agree, 4. Vocabulary-in-Context, and 5. Tone/Attitude.
We did one of the drills from the book, but I didn't think it would be sufficient practice. Since this particular student loves music, I copied and pasted a music review from Pitchfork.com into a Word document, then wrote my own SAT Prep questions! It went over well; the student said that it was a good exercise because it actually held his interest. He's not a big reader in general, but music reviews are something that he "actually likes to read."
So, if you have a student who really loves music, then here's a copy of the Pitchfork article and my questions!
When beginning to tutor a student preparing for the SAT, there are a couple steps that will lead to greater student success than just working through practice problems.
1. Explain what types of questions will be asked on the exam
The SAT is an exam that works by using the same certain types of questions. For example, in the Reading section there will be types of questions that focus on the main idea of a passage or others that ask the reader to compare and contrast two shorter paragraphs. Getting your student familiar with the types of questions that will be used on the exam is a very effective way to practice and avoid any test-day surprises.
2. Identify which questions your student struggles with the most
Once you cover what types of common questions are on the exam, you can determine which your student finds the easiest and which need some work. It isn’t helpful to study questions that aren’t difficult for your student, so find the types of...
Some basic tips for students preparing for the SAT exams.
If your goal is to score high on the exams (and who doesn't want to score high) then you must start preparing early and spend the time. The preparation must be organized into a daily study schedule with a detailed list of tasks. A high score on the SAT translates directly into money in your financial aid package in college.
How to organize the preparation:
1. Study time should be scheduled for the time when you are most alert. For most people, this is the morning hours and it is entirely possible to study an hour before the start of the school day - if you go to sleep early.
2. Cut back or eliminate other social activities to properly prepare for the SAT
3. Purchase a preparatory book (used from Amazon is ideal) and use that book to organize a daily schedule for studying
4. Read printed material that you DON'T like - especially newspapers like the New York Times, Washington...
The first thing to do when teaching a frustrated student is to listen to, and acknowledge, their frustrations. Let him or her vent a little. If you're working with young children, they probably won't even realize or communicate that they are frustrated. Therefore, the first thing to do is say "you're very frustrated with learning ________ aren't you?" If you are in a group situation, take the student aside to talk to him or her about it so he or she doesn't become embarrassed.
One of the best things you can do when teaching frustrated students is to watch them one-on-one in academic action and observe every little detail when they think, write, and speak. Often, students are lacking very particular, previous basic skills. By watching them work, you can identify where they are going wrong and notice common patterns. For instance, I have tutored many algebra students whose frustration stemmed from an inability to deal with negative numbers. Once this problem was corrected,...
The night before, collect:
plenty of sharpened #2 pencils
a small pencil sharpener (in case your pencils break during the exam)
a watch (you cannot rely on the proctor and there may not be a wall clock or it may be on the wall behind your seat)
your admission ticket
directions to the testing center
medicine (if necessary)
disposable earplugs (if you find the background noise of people coughing and fidgeting distracting)
It may be helpful to collect these items in a clear plastic (Ziploc) bag that you can grab and go in the morning. If you have to search for these items in the morning, you are likely to forget something or become frazzled.
Eat a substantial breakfast that will provide you with sufficient energy throughout the test...
Here is the body of the Pitchfork article, copied and pasted from: http://pitchfork.com/reviews/albums/19514-spoon-they-want-my-soul/
They Want My Soul
Loma Vista; 2014
; August 4, 2014
BEST NEW MUSIC
All these soulsuckers, they're among us. They're stealing our privacy, our convictions, the very essence of our being, and leaving behind little more than a "for sale" sign and some vague, constant hollowness. In music, a dwindling whirlpool of funds only spurs on these parasites as they scavenge
5 for scraps of humanity wherever ears can hear. Their thirst is real. And artists—those blasphemous and holy conduits for truth, liberty, and whatever else is missing from our lives—can't help but succumb. To last more than 20 years in rock'n'roll without sacrificing a lethal amount of one's soul requires a certain vigilance; to navigate around the pitfalls of
10 both punk and ambition...
1. The author’s tone can best be described as:
2. As used in line 6, “blasphemous” most nearly means:
(A) Someone who is deeply religious & a devoted follower
(B) An individual who is highly respectable
(C) Cheap and abusive
(D) Someone who does not show reverence or respect for the holy or sacred
3. The author mentions “Costello, Lennon, Can, & the Cure” (lines 25-26) in order to:
(A) Diminish the importance of They Want my Soul
(B) Assert that Spoon will never be as great a band as these.
(C) Give the reader a reference for the album’s sound.
(D) Illustrate a contrast
4. According to the author, They Want My Soul is:
(A) Better than Girls Can Tell, Kill the Moonlight, & Transference
(B) Trying too hard to be something it’s not
(C) Highbrow, and therefore too difficult to understand and enjoy
(D) A bitter...
Q1 is an Attitude/Tone Question
Q2 is a Vocab.-in-Context Question
Q3 is a Purpose Question
Q4 is a Detail Question
Q5 is a Vocab.-in-Context Question
Q6 is a Suggest/Infer/Imply/Agree Question
Q7 is a Suggest/Infer/Imply/Agree Question
Q8 is a Detail Question
In my experience tutoring students in both essay writing and test prep, one of the most difficult and tiresome challenges for both student and tutor is vocabulary improvement. Because the ideal way to improve one's vocabulary includes reading a variety of sources over a long period of time, the optimal strategy for vocabulary improvement is often not available to students who have a very compressed schedule in which they must improve. Many of my students have needed to show marked improvement in vocabulary within 2 weeks to a month, due to a looming deadline, so I have had to get creative to find efficient, effective techniques in vocabulary training.
One of the most important lessons when it comes to vocabulary is that multiple approaches are key. Students should engage with the material using as many senses as possible. This means not only reading a word and its definition silently, but also reading them aloud, hearing them read by someone else,...
On standardized tests and in your general academic life, you are going to run into long reading passages that at first may seem like a lot to tackle. Let's face it - a long block of unbroken text on a standardized test is not the most inspiring sight in the world!
An effective strategy for digging into these passages with the gusto required for high scoring is to underline and note-take with intensity. Underline the first sentence to get you going, then underline, circle, and mark up the passage to your heart's delight. Let the pencil be your anchor to the text.
In my many years of experience as a tutor, I've found that students don't mark up SAT Reading passages nearly enough. Marking up the text not only keeps you on task and prevents your mind from wandering, but also gives you a personal little "road map" to the text when it comes time to answer questions about what you've just read.
And hey, while we're here - remember...
1. Encourage students to read the newspaper daily-If you meet once a week, assign 2-3 articles from a difficult paper.
2. Rather than memorizing thousands of vocabulary words on index cards, re-teach the basics[I.E. the root word, pre-fix, suffix, etc.]. Many of the level five questions include difficult vocabulary and this skill set will offer an alternative to guessing.
3. If you're not sure of a word, allow yourself to be vulnerable and show them that no one's perfect. Then, break down the word or phrase and walk them through your thought process. Students respect a teacher/tutor who admits that they don't know every vocabulary word on the exam.
This strategy has yielded immediate results. Of course, the student must be willing to do the work and you'd need about two weeks of focused study.
Hope this is useful.
The news broke recently that the College Board is once again changing the SAT. These new changes, scheduled to be implemented in spring 2016, represent a pretty large departure from the SAT of the past. The College Board states that this new SAT will “ask students to apply a deep understanding of the few things shown by current research to matter most for college readiness and success.” Here are the changes that will have the biggest effect on test preparation, as I see them:
An Increased Focus on Evidence-Based Analysis
The new SAT will place a higher priority on analysis based on evidence. In the critical reading and writing sections students will now be asked to support their answers with evidence, including citing portions of the passages. In effect, the new SAT will require students not only to know the correct answer, but to be able to explain why the answer is correct, and point to specific evidence in the passage that supports their choice. The essay will...
Schedule for SAT Crash Course:
Lesson 1: Test Basics, Sentence Completions (singles and doubles), Short Paragraphs
Lesson 2: Long Passages (Narrative, Expository, Persuasive)
Lesson 3: Double Passages, Difficult Passages, Essay
Lesson 4: Grammar Basics (Voice, Parallelism, Continuity, Conciseness)
Lesson 5: Verb and Pronoun Errors
Lesson 6: Modifier, Comparative, Idiom, Confused Word Errors
SAT English Basics
Reading Section: (70 minutes)
Sentence Completions 19 Questions Worth 30%
Reading Passages 48 Questions Worth 70%
Writing Section: (60 minutes)
Grammar: Worth 70%
Identifying Sentence Errors 18 Questions
Improving Sentences 25 Questions
Improving Paragraphs 6 Questions
Essay (25 minutes) Graded from 2-12 Worth 30%
1 point given for each question answered correctly. -¼ point for each question answered incorrectly. No points for unanswered questions.
As the school year ramps up again, I wanted to put out a modified version of a Memo of Understanding
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Memo_of_understanding for parents and students. It seems each year in the rush to get through the first weeks of school parents and students forget the basic first good steps and then the spiral downwards occurs and then the need for obtaining a tutor and then the ‘wish for promises’ from a tutor. Pay attention to your child’s folder or agenda book. A student is generally not able to self regulate until well into high school. Some people never quite figure it out. Be the best person you can be by helping your child check for due dates, completeness, work turned in on time. Not only will this help your child learn to create and regulate a schedule, it prevents the following types of conversations I always disliked as a teacher ("Can you just give my child one big assignment to make up for the D/F so they can pass"; "I am going to talk to...