Tutoring Implies Weakness
Working with a tutor in no way suggests that you are less smart than anyone else. Unfortunately, the remedial aspect of tutoring has a negative connotation. While we do work with students who have fallen behind in school, we also work with those who simply want to improve upon their overall skill level before the SAT or ACT.
Tutoring is for Little Kids
We are constantly learning throughout our lifetime. It is perfectly acceptable to ask for guidance beyond the elementary school classroom. In fact, Ivy Bound offers tutoring up to the graduate school level! Those students who seek a tutor to prepare for the GMAT, LSAT, MCAT or GRE are looking to receive the best score possible to secure their future.
Games That Keep the Mind Sharp
The app store has thousands of games. Admittedly, not all are educational, but even some of the most popular games keep your brain working. If your child needs to improve upon vocabulary, have him start playing Words with Friends. To simply keep the mind active, a puzzle game like Sudoku will set the logical wheels of your child’s brain in motion.
This is a more straight-forward approach, but you can download strictly educational apps for your kids right on to your smartphone or tablet. You can explore options for reading comprehension, vocabulary, writing, math and language apps to practice with each day. It’s important for your child to have a break from school, but the trade-off of one hour of learning in order to go to the park with friends should be easily negotiable!
ACT – Tutoring in One Section
Since many schools do not superscore the ACT, it is important to build upon test skills as a whole. To focus on one section may not be the most beneficial. Let’s say your math rises, but other areas fall – there’s no net gain.
Students with the chance to have a tutor for all areas of the ACT are fortunate, so taking advantage is usually wise. You have the chance to build scores in all four areas, even if you feel you’re an expert in one. Several strong areas could become outstanding, so you can worry less about your weakest subject. Thus, even if your weak subject score doesn’t increase much, you have other areas that come up big and lift your entire score.
Unfortunately, the SAT has almost no tried-and-true materials to help students prepare. The College Board offers sample problems and even simulated tests, but a full practice test has never been released to use in an actual testing situation. The scales for the SAT are also unreliable, as the College Board needs at least a full year to make true correlations.
Thus, our strong recommendation at Ivy Bound is for students to study the ACT. Since the ACT material covers all but two aspects of the SAT, the ACT study allows a student to prep for the SAT at the same time. The two unique areas of the SAT are:
- Vocabulary — difficult vocabulary is tested in Reading Comprehension questions.
- Essay – the SAT’s essay is very different from the ACT.
- Preparation for the future: As technology continues to advance, understanding how different types work is going to be a required skill for many career paths.
- Hands-on engagement: Kids are so familiar with and comfortable using technology that they will likely be more encouraged to interact in class.
- Access to information: The Internet is full of information and the answers to most questions are right at your fingertips, updating with the latest in real time.
- Motivation to learn: Learning becomes more exciting than reading a textbook or listening to a long lecture with no visual aids.
- Students with special needs: There are so many tools available to accommodate this group, including voice recognition, voice-to-text speech and volume control.
As owners of an AP monopoly and half owners of an SAT/ACT duopoly, it is hard for parents, students and even test prep professionals to relate to The College Board. Amid some publicized cheating, The College Board’s image has become almost completely opaque.
Dramatically changing the format of the SAT didn’t help. A once-reliable standard that students could prep well for suddenly became difficult and unpredictable. An experimental section was unexpectedly added in March, the first test results were delayed so students could not adequately prepare for the spring SAT and the right for non-students to the SAT was taken away without notice.
June and early July are the best times to get a good chunk of the test prep out of the way. As soon as school is out, it makes sense to get started on SAT/ACT prep because the students are not overwhelmed with other schoolwork at the same time.
Taking a break in August before school starts is fine because Ivy Bound’s prep is largely skills based. Skills take a while to master, but once learned, they rarely fade. A four to six-week break does not mean having to start over from scratch. Ten minutes of vocabulary work a day is all we ask, and only for students taking the SAT. The ACT does not directly test vocabulary.