quality teaching matters
Test prep companies offer some help in preparing for the ACT or SAT. They share some (but not all) tips and techniques that every student should know before taking either test, and they expose students to the tests' structure and content.
But to do well on the ACT and SAT, your teen's particular needs must be addressed so that he or she feels focused, confident and motivated. This is where the one-size-fits-all approach breaks down, and can actually work against your teen.
Test prep companies offer classes that provide a review of all the material covered on the ACT and SAT tests. That’s a lot of material. As students sit for hours under fluorescent lights, they are going to be in one of three states:
- Bored because they already know the material being covered. Not only is this time wasted, but it often causes teens to zone out and miss other material that is relevant to them.
- Confused because they have unanswered questions or need more practice with the material being covered. This can have a demoralizing effect on students, causing them to lose confidence and therefore motivation. Furthermore, the social pressure of being in a class often makes teens feel reluctant to raise their hand and ask for clarification when it seems like the rest of the class understands.
- Engaged and learning material that is relevant and therefore valuable to them.
The time your teen spends in the first two states is wasted. It can also be detrimental to his or her overall learning. The bottom line is that test prep classes are not a cost- or time-efficient way to prepare for the ACT or SAT.
a customized approach gets better results
My ACT and SAT prep approach is more flexible and effective. Because why come up with an elaborate plan for an abstract “student,” when I’m going to be meeting a real-life kid?
I have a deeper background, more expertise, and access to more practice materials than do test prep company teachers. But I don’t dump all this on your teen. I match your teen’s level, temperament, and schedule.
When students work with me, the first thing I have them do is take a complete timed practice test. This immediately familiarizes them with what the test looks like and gives us a baseline starting point.
We then use the results of that test to customize a study plan that exactly targets where that student needs to focus their practice. We keep a record of and review only those concepts that your teen needs to review, in part through my workbooks offering extra practice.
We also periodically check in on those skills and review them before the next practice test.
Here’s something else test prep companies don’t generally shout from the rooftops. In order to keep their costs down so they can spend money on advertising and offices, they can’t hire top-notch tutors with years of experience interacting with teens.
These companies need to spend a lot of money on advertising and infrastructure. You may be paying from $50 to $70 an hour for a teacher whom the company is paying $25 an hour. And that’s not even for individualized instruction.
With a private tutor, all your money goes into the quality of the teaching.
Tips, Tricks, and Techniques
Of course, I also give students prepared outlines of each test section, listing what is covered as well as tips, tricks, and techniques for each section and for test-taking in general (some of which are more relevant for the ACT or the SAT in particular).
I’ve gathered this collection of tips and tricks from many sources, including all the test prep companies’ books, other books such as the ACT Prep Black Book, the material of local Bay Area test prep companies, my experience teaching for a test prep company (Think Tank Learning), helping a company develop an online test prep course (Versal), and thousands of hours of one-on-one tutoring.
In other words, I meet your teen with a uniquely broad toolkit to help them succeed.
I look forward to talking to you about your teen and answering any of your questions.