Anna is a student that we at Victory Step Education had who got 1200 on her first SAT. Due to timing and other factors, her family decided to buy an 18 hour package after talking with us about the benefits of a minimally sized tutoring package (as opposed to a class or no tutoring at all) while wanting to be conservative with their money. Below is a session-by-session breakdown of the progress she made, the subjects she was taught, and the practice exams that she took. Anna ended up improving and got a 1420 on the real SAT exam, truly showing how much a student can benefit from even the smallest amount of tutoring with Victory Step Education!
The introductory session involves the Victory Step Education tutor meeting Anna, getting to know where she is at in terms of study habits, what her favorite and least favorite subjects are, and to give an overview of the SAT. The overview includes the structure of the exam, how important timing is, and a brief outline of each section’s question types. They also have a writing lesson about transition words, sentence flow, and the relationship between sentences. Reading chapters along with some practice questions in the provided textbook are given as homework.
From the second session onward, as with many subsequent sessions, they review the homework from the previous session. Encouraging questions from the student is paramount to a productive tutoring lesson. Any questions Anna may have are answered by the tutor in detail, allowing her to see her mistakes and how not to make them again. They then start running through the different sections of the exam, breaking down strategies and subjects to study. Homework involves reading and practice questions about sentence and idea flow in writing passages, and a multitude of ideas in trigonometry and geometry.
The first proctored exam is a practice exam designed to gauge where Anna is and will be utilized to guide her on subject areas she may be weak in and reinforce the ones she is strong in. Her score very slightly improves from 1200 to 1210. Question and topic analytics from each of the sections will be provided with this and every following exam.
After the first exam, Anna learns she has a long way to go before she will see the significant improvement she wants. The tutor assures her this is a gradual process that takes time, dedication, and tons of practice. Considering the time they have left, they both go over the exam she took over the weekend and question by question, review what she did right and wrong, emphasizing process of elimination, healthy timing tactics, and reinforcing strategies she is already implementing effectively. Online diagnostic quiz modules are assigned as homework.
The tutor goes over homework from the previous session and the rhythm of the tutoring is set from here on: review homework first, learn new material second. After that, Anna and the tutor start focusing on evidence-based reading questions, interpreting graphs and figures in conjunction with a passage, correct punctuation and sentence structure, and the basics of algebra. As writing is her least favorite subject, modules about identifying correct word choice and utilizing vocabulary in tone and style with the passage are assigned. At Victory Step Education, targeting weaknesses and elevating strengths is a key tutoring strategy to boost student performance.
The second practice exam follows an increased amount of advanced material and test-taking strategies. These practice exams are meant as a benchmark for how she has progressed as well as solid practice for the real deal. Anna gets through most of the questions in the exam, but doesn’t get to double check all her answers. Her score improves from 1210 to 1250.
Anna did better than last time on this practice exam, which gives her some reassurance that tutoring is working. The tutor makes a point to teach how practicing healthy test-taking strategies and going at a steady, yet brisk, pace are very important. Focusing on test-taking and timing skills is a cornerstone of Victory Step Education, as the way a student takes an exam is as important as the exam’s content. They also go over trigonometric functions, circle functions and graphing them, and special triangles as she is fairly new to advanced math. Reading chapters and practice questions in the textbook are assigned.
Continuing from the last session, they go more into detail about evidence-based reading and how to spot important details in a passage relating to questions, further practice about punctuation leading into colons, semi-colons, and dashes, and more intensive algebra rules to remember. Tutor engagement in a student’s learning is incredibly important. In more specific terms, a tutor has to put in a good amount of work as well as the student. Homework is a full exam, untimed, to test Anna on endurance before her next practice exam.
This next exam has Anna really starting to connect with and effectively implement the lessons she’s been studying for the past few weeks. Taking a practice exam gives insight into how the actual SAT will feel like and solid hands on experience while at Victory Step Education. She has some extra time at the end of each section to review answers she wasn’t completely sure about, fixing them and gaining some more points. Her score has greatly improved from 1250 to 1320.
As some progress is being made in Anna’s skills and knowledge, so too is her confidence growing. The tutor points out that having a good attitude during study time, practicing, and especially actual exams is a key factor. After all, if one believes they will do poorly, they probably will. However, a positive attitude isn’t the only factor in getting a good score, so they review the exam from the weekend like last time. Additionally, Anna asks about linear equations and systems of equations, their different forms, graphing them, solving them, and identifying their parts. Homework is another full practice test, but this time Anna records the time she took on each section.
After going over the homework from last session fairly quickly, Anna and the tutor jump into the topic of the day: mathematics. She has gotten much better at writing, but has been struggling with math recently. The tutor reviews factoring, the distance formula (and how it’s actually just the Pythagorean Theorem), exponent rules, and synthetic division. Any good tutor must learn how the student studies and why they answer questions in a certain way. Breaking bad habits is a huge part of learning and making mistakes and recognizing them is the best way to learn! A timed practice test is assigned as homework.
Utilizing the previous few sessions’ increased focus on timing and process of elimination, Anna manages to follow a trend of building up test-taking endurance. Practice exams are meant to be taken as endurance challenges and as a way to give students the confidence they need. This time, she blazes through the reading and writing sections but takes her time on math to comfortably soak in the information and double check her answers. Her score improves very slightly from 1310 to 1330.
Reviewing the recent exam gleams some flaws in Anna’s test-taking and critical reading skills, which they intend to address. The first part of the session is the tutor pointing out and rectifying many of the problems she has such as not going through every answer. The rest of the time, they review how much progress Anna has made since the beginning and is an opportunity for the tutor to give more holistic tips on taking the exam. Get to sleep early, eat healthy every day but especially before and the morning of, drink lots of water and bring a snack and drink to the exam, and most of all, stay positive. The rest of the session the tutor answers any last-minute questions her now prepared student might have.
Anna took the SAT shortly after her last session and got a 1420, giving her an easy in to the University of Texas at Austin (with her great GPA and extracurricular activity)! She and her family were extremely receptive, welcoming, and grateful to Victory Step Education and her tutor!