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Case Studies

Student A
Student ATest Type: ACT
Student A’s hometown is San Diego, CA, they received a public education. The student’s cumulative GPA is 4.3.

First Diagnostic Test: 26
English: 28 | Math: 28 | Reading: 20 | Science: 31

Official Score: 36
English: 35 | Math: 35 | Reading: 36 | Science: 36

Student A came in scoring above average but not at her target score. As an ELL student, her grammar was strong, but she had a major issue with the Reading Test. It would take her a long time to read the passage and there were a lot of words she did not understand.

Our initial goal was to make sure she understood the grammar content and math content. We then focused on coming up with a strategy for grammar that allowed her to increase her accuracy. For math, we originally focused on getting through the first half of the test with only one or two questions wrong. The tutor also decided to boost her reading skills. The tutor focused on slash reading and using context clues to figure out what a word meant.

Once the tutor felt confident in the students content knowledge, she focused on accuracy. The tutor taught her a systematic way to approach each of the question type. Because of the student’s tutors initial focus on accuracy. 

The tutor then taught the student our Basic Approach for all of the question types. Focusing on accuracy and execution of the strategies, Student B’s accuracy went from inconsistent to a consistent 95%.

Once his accuracy improved, the tutor started working on pacing the sections so that the student would finish the section while maintaining his accuracy. One of the things our tutor did was to switch the order of the questions attempted on the math section. We noticed that the student could answer the last ten questions of the math section (the hardest questions), but he would run out of time and was unable to finish the section. The student also made a lot of errors in the more easy and medium questions. This was because he was rushing to get the last 10 questions. 

The tutor had the student do questions 1-10, 51-60, 11,20, 41-50, 21-30, and 31- 40. By changing the order, the student was able to spend the appropriate amount of time answering the hard question, but was also able to move quickly through the easier questions to make up for the time spent on the harder questions. 

Click here to see final results.

Student B
Student BTest Type: ACT
Student B’s hometown is Sacramento, CA, they received a public education. The student’s cumulative GPA is 4.6.

First Diagnostic Test: 27
English: 24 | Math: 25 | Reading: 31 | Science: 28

Official Score: 36
English: 35 | Math: 35 | Reading: 36 | Science: 36

Student B came in as a very strong student but lacked the content knowledge to do well on the English section, a strong math background, an inconsistent reading strategy, and over analyzed the science section. He had also met with several other tutors, but he was growing frustrated with simply doing problems and simply getting answers and solutions. Despite this, student B was reluctant to try a more strategic approach. He felt that being an excellent student was enough to do well on the exam.

Our initial goal was to abrogate his content deficiencies. Our tutor went over all of the grammar rules tested and assigned him several pages of homework to ensure that the student understood the rule. The tutor also went over some of the more rudimentary math content to make sure the student remembers them.

Once the tutor felt confident in the students content knowledge, she focused on accuracy. The tutor taught her a systematic way to approach each of the question type. Because of the student’s tutors initial focus on accuracy. 

The tutor then taught the student our Basic Approach for all of the question types. Focusing on accuracy and execution of the strategies, Student B’s accuracy went from inconsistent to a consistent 95%.

Once his accuracy improved, the tutor started working on pacing the sections so that the student would finish the section while maintaining his accuracy. One of the things our tutor did was to switch the order of the questions attempted on the math section. We noticed that the student could answer the last ten questions of the math section (the hardest questions), but he would run out of time and was unable to finish the section. The student also made a lot of errors in the more easy and medium questions. This was because he was rushing to get the last 10 questions. 

The tutor had the student do questions 1-10, 51-60, 11,20, 41-50, 21-30, and 31- 40. By changing the order, the student was able to spend the appropriate amount of time answering the hard question, but was also able to move quickly through the easier questions to make up for the time spent on the harder questions. 

Click here to see final results.

Student C
Student CTest Type: SAT
Student C’s hometown is Worcester, MA, they received a boarding school education. The student’s cumulative GPA is 3.8.

First Diagnostic Test: 1090
ERW: 530 | M: 560 |

Official Score: 1490
ERW: 730 | M:760 |

Student C came in scoring slightly above average but not at her target score. As an ELL student, she was overwhelmed by the amount of words she did not understand, and the content of the Reading section was difficult to grasp.

Her math issue was that there were too many word problems. She could do the math, but the way in which these questions were written was very confusing.

Her major issue stemmed from reading comprehension. The tutor worked with her by using our Test Prep Reading Workbook. She learned how to use our slash reading technique as well as how to incorporate grammar to enhance her reading. 

Once the reading issue was addressed, the tutor focused on making sure she read only what she needed to answer the reading questions. This cut down on her time as well as enhanced her accuracy. It turns ot that the passages were confusing because she tried to read the whole thing. Once she started to read only what she needed to answer the question, things became easier. 

The tutor also went over the basic approach to word problems on the math section. This allowed her to take “inventory” of what the problem was telling her, what more she can infer from the information given, and what equations she needed to solve the problem.

Once her accuracy improved, the tutor started working on pacing the sections so that the student would finish the section while maintaining her accuracy. One of the things our tutor did was to identify instances of the student doing things that took up time but did not help her answer the question. For example, on the reading section, the student would check every answer choice with what she read in the passage. She did this even though she thought the answer was likely to be wrong. The tutor incorporated the “keep it/throw it away” method. The “keep it/throw it away” method asks the student to either do one or the other. If the answer choice doesn’t match with what was stated in the passage, then throw it away. If the student isn’t sure, or if the student doesn’t understand the answer choice, then she keeps it. After she goes through the first round of process of elimination, she then checks the remaining choices against the passage. This saved her substantial time without sacrificing her accuracy.

Click here to see final results.

Student D
Student DTest Type: SAT
Student C’s hometown is Seoul, South Korea, they received their education in Seoul International School. The student’s cumulative GPA is 3.7.

First Diagnostic Test: 1190
ERW: 630 | M: 560 |

Official Score: 1570
ERW: 770 | M:800 |

Student D was a South Korean student who had never lived abroad and spent much of his time taking English classes during the summer in Seoul. His English classes focused on reading comprehension. He was very comfortable with math, but he struggled with the word problems on the SAT.

Student D did not have any glaring content issues so the tutor began working on the strategies. 

Throughout Student D’s preparation, our reading strategies helped him improve his score from a 630 to a 700. Despite this increase, the student was still getting approximately 1 wrong per passage. The tutor realized that he was getting those questions wrong because he thought more than 1 answer “looked good”. In order to get past this, the tutor had the student cover the answer choices with a post it note and write down what he thought the correct answer should include. This allowed him to stay focused on what makes an answer choice wrong.

The tutor also went over the basic approach to word problems on the math section. This allowed the student to take “inventory” of what the problem was telling him, what more he can infer from the information given, and what equations he needed to solve the problem.

Click here to see final results.