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,...
Practice is the key to SAT mastery. No matter what preparatory course you take, what tutor you hire, or what study guides you purchase, all of your resources are for naught if you don’t devote significant time and effort towards practice exams.
Knocking out a healthy load of practice tests is particularly important for standardized exams. Why? Because standardization means that the test makers (a.k.a. the College Board) are bound by an obligatory adherence to consistency. As such, from year to year, while the precise questions vary, the core subjects and concepts are constant. Moreover, the style of questions is uniform. Translation: the more questions you see, the fewer curve balls can be hurled your way. With enough practice, you can familiarize yourself with the majority of possible question types, which will (1) improve your test taking abilities and (2) bolster your confidence come test day.
Another reason why practice tests are so important is that they are...
Many of my students second guess themselves or tend to speculate. So I devised the
Beth Cof strategy to help students eliminate wrong answers.
There are five possible answer choices on the SAT; four on the ACT. Therefore, it's crucial to be comfortable when choosing the right answer.
B stands for too broad. E stands for extreme answers.
T stands for true for the passage as a whole but not for the lines in question, and
H stands for half-right, half-wrong.
C stands for could be true but not enough info. O is off-topic, and
F is factually true but not stated in the passage.
Students who applied this strategy tended to get the answer right. The only downside is it can be time-consuming, so don't use it for every single Critical Reading question. Be selective - and be right!
Hey folks, I am sure many of you have plans of going to college or finishing up that last hectic year of school. Well with these endeavors comes not only tests and quizzes created by books and your professors/teachers, but you also have to take nation and statewide test in order to pass and/or qualify for a position in a higher learning institute. Such tests include the SAT, ACT, MCAT, etc. What you want to remember about taking these tests is that these tests are testing you ability to locate small mistakes and easy to miss information. They also want you to understand this material. You have to be prepared for these easy to miss situations. For example, I am sure you all have done a math question, felt like you did it perfectly correct only to find out that you actually got it incorrect. Furthermore, the answer you got appeared as one of the answer choices! Or you were on the right track to answering correctly, but made a simple...
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...
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...
As a seasoned SAT tutor, my students have informed me of many different online resources for SAT prep. Some have been quite useful, while others are not so much. In this post, I will rank 5 resource links to SAT review websites or apps that I find helpful in preparing for the SAT. Keep in mind that these resources may be immensely helpful but are not perfect solutions for stand-alone SAT preparation. The best SAT preparation is done with a live tutor who is knowledgable about the SAT itself and about the different strategies for test-taking that work best for each individual.
Top 5 SAT Prep Resources
CollegeBoard.com's full practice SAT exam is the very first place every student should begin. Who better to provide SAT test prep, than the makers of the SAT?!
2. INeedAPencil is a great free resource for an entire comprehensive prep program funded by the CK-12 Foundation.
Number2 is another free resource with an all...
This website is basically a concept map of every physics topic, and I mean every. It's not a comprehensive guide to all of them, but it provides a basic overview of pretty much everything you could ever want to know about physics. It's not a "Physics for Dummies" site, so if you're struggling, you'll still need a competent tutor. That being said, if you want to look up and equation or definition, or just learn a little more about something your teacher only mentioned, it is the best resource I know.
2. Paul's Online Math Notes
This website offers extremely detailed lessons on Algebra, Calculus I, II, and III, and Differential Equations. To be honest, I learned most of what I know about Calculus through Paul, not my professors. I'll even admit that many students can use this in place of a tutor. Paul's teaching style isn't for everyone, though, so many people will still need some extra help.
A website I like to use with my SAT students is freerice.com. This website has a vocabulary section which asks students to pick a synonym from a list of 4. For every correct answer, the website donates 10 grains of rice to the World Hunger Programme. It's a great way to study vocabulary and do good at the same time! You can create a profile and the website will track your progress with the vocabulary. For every 5 consecutive correct answers at a given level, the difficulty is then increased, so it is also a good way to challenge yourself. Encourage students to look up words that they have never heard of and create a list of their own of vocab words to study.
I've found this to be much more effective than simply using flashcards as it is less repetitive and more fun.
This is also a great resource for those learning English! Additionally, there are minimal vocabulary games for other languages, but the website is constantly improving, so in the future these...
With the wealth of SAT prep materials out there, it can be tough to find the best resources for SAT study. I've been tutoring for the SAT for over a decade, and these are the materials I've found to be the most helpful.
SAT General Study
For all-around SAT preparation, nothing beats The Official SAT Study Guide, published by the College Board. With ten full practice tests, this book contains plenty of study material for all sections of the test. Because the questions are written by the College Board and, in many cases, have appeared on actual administered SATs, they accurately reflect what students will see on test day. (I've never found a test written by a third-party company that comes close to matching actual SAT questions, and I do not recommend third-party practice tests for study.) Working through the questions in this book is the best, most effective way for any student to prepare for the test.
I have several students who would be glad to read more, if they have books recommended to them that are 'interesting'. I'm compiling a list of books for different grade levels, and would appreciate any recommendations from tutors or parents.
My immediate need is for books for an advanced 5th grader, and a 9th grader who is only interested in sports and the Odyssey!
Also, I have an ESL student who likes interesting non-fiction. Who can recommend something that is good for a college-age student? Maybe a business book, or a biography?
Thanks for joining this conversation.
Good luck to all students taking the SAT this morning! Remember: they're trying to trip you up, so watch your feet!
Don't feel like you did your best? Anxious about how many questions you skipped? Don't worry, there are more test dates this year. Many people take the SAT multiple times, and if you get some tutoring in between (from yours truly!), you can dramatically increase your scores on the second time through.
The remaining test dates for the current school year are:
I recommend you start studying for the SAT at least one month in advance, longer if you plan on going it without a tutor. If you'd like to work with me for the January or March test cycle, send me an email ASAP. The sooner we can get to work, the higher your scores will be!
The holidays are almost upon us - school will be out soon -
and parents and students are looking at a 2-4 week hiatus from the regular
routine of school work.
What happens to all of the knowledge and skills learned from
school and tutoring during those weeks?
Well, having been a high school principal for years, as well
as a classroom teacher, my experience is that students often will not read on
their own, review math on their own, or if in an AP class "read
ahead" on their own. If you have tutors in the educational
profession, we also have that time off and our lesson times can be flexible -
so instead of all of those late afternoon, early evening, or weekend
appointments, most of us can now meet with our students in the morning or
So, what would your student gain from tutoring in the winter
1. Weekly reinforcement of knowledge and skills already...
As a Language Arts tutor helping students prepare for and improve their scores on high-stakes tests such as the ACT and SAT, there are a strategies, study methods, tricks, and of course, loads of practice that I prescribe.
Oftentimes, a student who's perfectly capable of getting a good score on these tests may lose out on precious points because of seemingly trivial oversights.
Below are a few easy-to-implement steps that can safeguard a student's best score from being needlessly lowered:
- Be regular in putting in study time. erratic and sporadic bursts of studying, followed by a lull, cause you to 'unlearn' important strategies that you may have picked up in the course of your studies. Put in regular hours of study to ensure that all the skills you learn are reinforced and become second nature to you.
- Box it: loose sheets of paper, vocabulary words scribbled on random notepads, and textbooks strewn everywhere - having your study materials in...
Lexile and You
Does it seem like you are always hearing that word? Your child is below his or her Lexile? They need to be at a 540 or at a 1080? What exactly is a Lexile and how can you make it work for you?
Lexile is a reading meta-matrix that actually takes reading material and assigns it "value". The "value" is referred to as its Lexile score or simply as its Lexile. It is simply a numerical device for charting reading material. As with all reading values, there are anticipated levels each student will reach at each grade. You will hear them referred to as benchmarks. They also have other names and phrases teachers use, though. Perhaps you have heard expressions like 'just right books', or 'on level', or 'on grade level'. These are all used to refer to books meeting Lexile expectations. Not all books are created equal in the Lexile system. Higher value is awarded to non-fiction,...
Did you take the SAT on Saturday? Are you freaking out about how confusing it was, and feeling like you had no idea what you were doing? Never fear; many people take the SAT's multiple times, and if you get a little tutoring help in between (from yours truly) you can radically improve your score on the second go-around.
Here's the remaining test dates for the 2013-2014 school year:
I recommend you start studying for the SAT at least one month in advance, longer if you plan on going it without a tutor. If you'd like to work with me for the November or December test cycle, send me an email ASAP. The sooner we can get to work, the higher your scores will be!
The SAT messes with your head. Don't feel embarrassed, it messes with everyone's head. It's designed to. The SAT is a test of your critical reasoning skills, meaning it's actually far more about logic and figuring out the correct course of action than it is about actually knowing the material. This is nowhere more evident than on the Math section.
The SAT Math trips up so many students because they expect it to behave like a math test. The truth is, the
SAT Math is about figuring out how to answer each problem using as little actual math as possible. It's all about working quickly, and the questions are structured such that they conceal the quick logic and context-based route behind the facade of a more complicated math question. They're trying to psych you out; to make you think the problem is harder than it is. In math class you're taught to be thorough, to show your work and not leave out any steps. On the SAT, it's...
Well, we're getting down to the wire in terms of my departure for Japan. I will be leaving for Japan to start my Master's in classical Japanese literature on the 16th of September, which means I only have 6 more weeks to fit in students. Since my standard SAT course is 20 hours, this is really the last week that I'd feel comfortable starting a normal course where we meet two or three times a week (depending on 2 or 1 1/2 hour lessons). Any later than that and I would worry about being able to finish before I leave the country.
So if you're interested in an SAT course, please let me know as soon as possible. Intensive courses will still be available for a couple more weeks (where we meet for long 6 or 7 hour stretches over a few days) but with many school districts starting in the next couple weeks, it will become harder and harder even to fit those in.
Thank you all for your patronage, and keep "studying smart, not hard."
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...
I was excited on Tuesday, July 16th, 2013. This was my third meeting with this student and I finally had a breakthrough with him. On the first meeting it was clear that he saw Algebra I almost as a foreign language. I began with one of the test packet, and had him do 10 questions and reviewed the questions he had done wrong. So this continued for a while, and of course sometimes he would say that he understood, but it was clear that he did not. Anyway, after reviewing the entire packet I began a teach and learn session, in which I picked a variety of topics and had him practice various equations. After which I gave him a quiz.
He failed the quiz miserably, so of course he still did not understand. Anyway, I gave him another packet for homework. When I saw the student again, I reviewed with him, but still not much improvement, but at least he tried. I did the teach and learn session again, of which some of the questions were from the previous session, and I gave him the same...