FAQ'S ABOUT MY TEST PREP PROGRAM
What topics does the program cover?
We try to cover all factors that affect a student’s score. Among other topics, our curriculum includes:
Testing strategies: Managing time, using process of elimination, omitting problems, guessing techniques, minimizing careless errors
Academic knowledge: Geometry review, writing skills, grammar rules, vocabulary
Techniques for specific types of questions: Tone/Attitude, Possible Combinations, Probability, Main Idea
Study skills: Note taking, memorization, mnemonic devices, error analysis
Psychological factors: Confidence, willingness to guess, ability to focus
What time commitment do you require?
Students usually see us once per week. Most sessions are 1 hour long with 1-2 hours of homework assigned. We give more homework in the summer but can modulate the amount depending on the student’s schedule and frequency of appointments. Our philosophy is to give a reasonable amount of homework and hold the students accountable for doing it carefully and thoroughly.
What will you do in the first session?
We begin with a short meeting to answer questions and discuss the tutoring process. Then, we go over problems the student missed on the evaluation test or a previous SAT, ACT, or PSAT. The goal is to identify each student’s strengths and weaknesses and create a plan to address them. We usually give a report to the parent at the end of the session in-person or by phone or email later.
How do you evaluate the needs of students who have not taken the SAT or ACT yet?
When we work with sophomores in winter or early spring, we may use the results of the 10th grade PSAT. In late spring or the summer before junior year, we ask students to take a short evaluation test, which we email.
How do we decide whether my student should take SAT or the ACT?
Many students will end up taking both tests. Almost all students take the PSAT in mid-October. Many schools now offer the ACT free of charge in March. So the more pertinent decision is often which test to prepare for.
We may be able to determine that based on prior scores or a description of the student's strengths and weaknesses - some students are obviously better suited to one or the other. If it’s not clear, we typically ask students to take evaluation sections from both tests. At the first session, we go over the questions that they missed and try to figure out which test would be easier to improve.
Click here to learn more about the differences between the tests and students who do well on one or the other.
Will the preparation you've done with my student for the SAT carry over to the ACT (or vice-versa)?
Much of it will. On the SAT Reading and Writing and the ACT Reading and English, many techniques and grammar concepts are very similar. However, students who go from SAT to ACT need to speed up and pick more straightforward answers. Students who go from ACT to SAT need to slow down and avoid overthinking. So students need to practice with sections on each test to make the adjustment.
The ACT tests a broader range of math than the SAT and has less time per question. So students who go from SAT prep to ACT typically need to review some more math concepts.
The ACT has a science section, which is unlike anything on the SAT. It's vital that students who move from the SAT to the ACT get additional practice with, and ideally prep for, the Science.
The essays on the SAT and ACT are quite different. Aside from general writing and logic skills, little prep for one will carry over to the other.
How is each session structured?
We spend the first half of most sessions going over the homework from the previous session. We want to make sure that students understand the techniques and can employ them effectively. If they do, we usually go on to new techniques and material in the second half of the session. If they don't, we try to troubleshoot, identifying what is holding students back and devising strategies to help.
What type of homework do you assign?
We assign individual problems related to techniques from each session. We also assign complete test sections to address time management and accuracy. Initially, as students work to master the techniques, we may not ask them to time themselves. Once they can consistently get the questions right, we time them.
How will I know whether my student’s preparation is going well?
We try to update parents by phone or email every three or four sessions and to give a final report after the last session. Sometimes during busy seasons, we may not get to update parents as often. If you have not heard from us, please email, or text. We will certainly contact you if something is not going well.
How do I schedule sessions?
During our first conversation, we typically estimate the number of sessions needed and discuss when a student is available. Then we will email a schedule and introductory material. After that, it's best to email or text regarding changes in the schedule. Or, we can set up time for a phone call if you prefer.
Do you require a minimum number of sessions?
There is no set minimum, but we will not schedule fewer sessions than we think will help. It is important not to string out the prep too much, doing just one or two sessions for each test over many months. A very strong student may improve with just one or two sessions, but most students will need more reinforcement to be able to implement our techniques. Unless students are tutoring in just one subject, we usually need more than just a couple of sessions.
What is your policy regarding changing or canceling appointments?
We require 24-hours’ notice except in case of sickness or family emergency. We assume that students who cancel or change appointments have parental permission. If we are doing prep during an especially busy time of year, please ask your student to evaluate his or her schedule ahead of time.