Summer Learning and Tutoring

Summer Learning Happens So Fast Summer is nearly here and, as students get through their finals and AP tests, it can be hard to convince them that summer learning is an opportunity rather than a chore. Depending on the individual student’s strengths, goals, and timeline, summer tutoring can be optimal for ACT or SAT preparation. Test Dates to Target There are several dates remaining to take the ACT or SAT in 2018 for students to consider: These dates may be more or less valuable depending on your class year, as well as several other factors: The summer and early fall test dates can be terrific opportunities for rising juniors to wrap up their standardized test preparation before the winter holidays and the hectic schedule of junior year classes and extracurriculars. The remaining 2018 test dates are critical for rising seniors to lock in their test scores before sending in college applications. Students who have yet to take a test can utilize the summer for a comprehensive introduction/overview. Students who have official scores already, but who want to try for a bit more growth, can review material they’ve already covered previously for deeper understanding, as well as incorporate more advanced content and skills from their junior year studies.   A Focus on Math One of the factors to consider in designing a student’s summer test preparation plan is the student’s most recently completed classroom math level. The ACT and SAT both cover math content up to and including trigonometry. However, there are a limited number of questions that require this content knowledge, so students shoring up their foundational math skills can make terrific gains without covering the most challenging material on the tests. Summer tutoring can help a student to close any gaps in previous math knowledge, such as geometry, while connecting more advanced math skills to the student’s foundational skills. This leads not only to score growth, but also to deeper math learning that can be applied in the next school year’s math class and beyond. Building Comprehension Tutors and students can make great use of the summer months by building comprehension skills, which often take more time to develop. The deeper comprehension skills required for success on the reading and science passages can benefit from early intensive focus while math and grammar content knowledge are being refreshed and developed throughout the summer and subsequent school year. There are strong opportunities for growth available throughout the test preparation process before advanced algebra and trigonometry are addressed in students’ math classes. The ACT’s Science section and the SAT’s focus on historical documents are examples of areas that students should be thinking about early and often. Comprehension ability and individualized annotation techniques are tools that students can develop during their summer tutoring and then utilize in the fall (and beyond). The Advantages of Summer Tutoring Another consideration is your student’s school-year extracurricular commitments. Grades are critically important in the semesters before college applications are due, and the added stress of a big [...]

To SAT or ACT? That is the Question.

Major changes to college-entrance exams like the SAT or ACT can make Hamlets of us all, leaving us wondering what to do, what path to take, whether ‘tis nobler to SAT or ACT? To help students and families with their “Hamlet-izing,” let’s consider the following issues. Reading Comprehension: What Kind of Decision Maker is your Student? When reading, some students are more like Rodin’s Thinker — deliberate, calculating, cautious in their decision making. Others prefer more of a Looney Tunes roadrunner approach: reading and reacting quickly based on initial impressions, interpretations, and judgments. The recently redesigned SAT features passages with greater text complexity, so the reading requires a bit more thoughtful analysis. The SAT also grants 43% more time per question, however, so students have increased time for thorough pondering of the passages and the questions. So, if students prefer the extra time and enjoy deep-sea-diving into texts to arrive at decisions and conclusions, then the SAT is for them. However, if students prefer to skim the surface waters and glean the meaning quickly, making decisions on first impressions, then the ACT is their choice. Mathematical Reasoning: What Kind of Problem Solver is your Student? While the SAT and ACT math largely covers similar material, the SAT is a bit more demanding on thorough, algebraic problem solving and less concerned with a student’s memory of geometry formulae. What’s more, ACT allows a student use of a calculator throughout its 60 math questions, while SAT does not allow calculator use for 20 of its 58 math questions. Of those 58 questions, 13 are student-produced-response questions, which feature no multiple-choice answers. In short, on the SAT, students have to do math more the old-fashioned way: they earn it! So, if your student is a problem solver, who is comfortable working it out, grinding it out, and calculating answers by hand, then SAT is the preferred option. If your student is more calculator-dependent in arriving at his or her answers, ACT may be the more comfortable math path. Science Reasoning? Does your student enjoy a full science serving or merely appetizer portions? Whether your student takes the SAT or ACT, they will be asked to assess science through data presentations and analytical questions. The ACT, however, features a standalone science section consistently situated at the end of the multiple-choice sections. On the ACT, science is always the fourth section, after English, Math, and Reading, while on SAT, 35 science-related questions are spreadthroughout reading, grammar, and math. So, if your student is fond of science, and enjoys a healthy, full order of science (ending the test with science as the last section), then ACT is the right choice. If your student would prefer some assorted science appetizers, delivered as small servings throughout the exam, then he or she has an appetite for the SAT. English Grammar and Essay Writing: Apples to Apples The Hamlet-like dilemma, “To SAT or ACT,” is simplified when it comes to the English grammar and essay writing sections, which are largely [...]

By |2018-01-26T15:24:25+00:00January 26, 2018|ACT, One-on-One Tutoring, SAT, Special|0 Comments

Simple ways to ace the ACT (WGN Chicago)

Matthew Pietrafetta, founder of Academic Approach, gave some simple tips for students ahead of the ACT. Math Section: This section is 60 questions in 60 minutes. If you focus on the first 40 questions, you will maximize your time as they go in order of increasing difficulty. You can use your calculator for all items, but certain calculators are banned, like the TI Inspire with CAS, which many students use in school. Be careful to bring a calculator, with fresh batteries, that is permitted. English section: This section is 45 minutes and covers 75 questions. It is broken down in 5 passages, each with 15 questions, which need to be completed in 45 minutes. That’s 9 minutes per passage. Use a silent wristwatch to pace yourself.  English does not go in order of increasing difficulty, so you want to finish it all. #75 could be the easiest!   Eliminating redundancy is one of the high-impact skills tested. Be clear.  Be concise.  If you can express a thought in fewer words, do so.  Students tend to pad their writing with irrelevancy and redundancy; over 10% of ACT English items test against this tendency, placing a premium on concise expression. The Reading Section: On a standardized test of reading all answers exist in the passage, so this is a test of your ability to find evidence in a text.  Don’t go from imagination, outside knowledge, or gut.  If you can’t link it to the passage, you can’t think it.  Evidence is central to any answer you select.  Prove it. The Science Section: This whole section will test students’ ability to interpret charts, tables, and graphs, analyze and evaluate data. Tough part is that it’s the last multiple-choice section before the essay, so students are tired.  Working on endurance and speed is key to success on this section, so practice with a stopwatch: 35 minutes, 40 questions. That’s fast. The Essay: This sections is an optional 40-minute exercise. What matters most here?  Structure and evidence. If you can break your argument down to 4-5 paragraphs, this structure shows logic and development in your thinking. What’s ‘more, if you can provide detail, real compelling evidence to support your claim, then you are providing proof to persuade your audience.  Use structure and as much evidence as possible to show you understand the necessary skills for writing effectively and persuasively. View the original story:

By |2022-02-07T16:04:34+00:00April 26, 2016|ACT, News, Press|Comments Off on Simple ways to ace the ACT (WGN Chicago)

Getting the Most out of ACT and SAT Test Prep

Supporting your child through the standardized testing process can raise some age-old anxieties. Am I starting too early and overwhelming her? Am I starting too late and neglecting him? What are other parents doing for their child? Although these feelings intensify as SAT and ACT testing approaches, they are by no means new. Here are some guidelines to help parents get the most out of test prep.

By |2022-02-07T15:55:32+00:00April 7, 2016|ACT, One-on-One Tutoring, SAT, Special, Test Prep|4 Comments