Many test takers need significant help mastering the content that is tested, so with many students I spend time helping them with these core fundamentals. But the content merely serves as a foundation and what most test takers lack is an understanding of how to go beyond this knowledge base to apply their reasoning and critical thinking skills (the exact abilities that the SAT and ACT measure).
Most test prep companies and tutors focus primarily on teaching the “content” that is tested on the SAT and ACT. But both the SAT & ACT are above all else reasoning exams. As the name ReasonSAT suggests, my primary focus tends to be on the strategy and reasoning aspects of the exam, since this is what leads to real success on the tests.
Most test takers have time management issues on at least one of the sections. So by analyzing practice tests with them and by watching them work through sections, I help students understand where they are spending too much time and how to be more effective in the distribution of their time.
Most parents hire a Math tutor and English tutor to help their children with the SAT or ACT. However, there are huge advantages to hiring someone who teaches all aspects of the test and who can manage and guide the entire process from start to finish.
When parents hire a Math tutor and an English tutor they are locking their children in to 1 or 2 hours of Math help and 1 or 2 hours of English help per week. However, that kind of split is rarely what is called for. In most cases a student needs help more urgently in one area than another and that often changes over time as the student gains proficiency. Because I tutor the entire test I have the ability to allocate the appropriate amount of time to what is needed most, both in terms of what we do in our sessions and what I ask a student to do for homework. I usually start with a heavier focus in one area and then shift that as the student’s needs change. Even in a single session we may originally have planned to cover Math, but if the results of a particular homework assignment or practice test suggest that we should focus on Critical Reading or Writing, we adjust accordingly and focus on what is most needed at that time.
More importantly, tutors who teach a single subject tend to focus on teaching the specifics of that subject and don’t provide more comprehensive guidance. My job is to do more than tutor: I am a guide and I manage the entire process from start to finish. I design an overall study plan, assign specific homework to be completed between sessions, and guide my students on exactly when to take practice tests, which ones to take, and how to take them. And because my focus is on the entire test, I also spend time with students on some of the other big picture intangibles like managing test anxiety and understanding how to guess effectively.
One of the things I pride myself on is my ability to help guide students in the methods that best suit them and their own particular manner of thinking.
Naturally all people have different ways of approaching things and one of the key responsibilities of a tutor is to understand how a person’s mind attempts to navigate through a particular problem so as to be able to guide that person most effectively. Some people are very visual, some are great at algebra, some have their own intuitive ability to do Math and tend to struggle when things become too formal or technical. Some people need a ton of repetition in order to master a concept while others pick things up more quickly. One of my abilities and one of my responsibilities as I view it is to steer a student towards exactly what will be most effective for him or her, something that I do for all the people I tutor.