Thinkwell Resources

How We Plan Lessons / How to Prep Best

If you are considering signing up for our tutoring services, you are probably wondering how we plan our lessons. This is a great question! Every tutoring company does things slightly differently, so what is our approach?

During our sessions, we focus on three key areas: content, pacing, and strategy. When we begin working with a student, we start by focusing on test strategy. Both the ACT and SAT have specific kinds of questions that require specific approaches, and both tests prefer certain kinds of answers over others. We coach students on what to focus on as they read, how to identify the answers the tests favor, and how to eliminate incorrect answers when they are stumped. The content and format of the tests can be very different from what students are used to seeing in school, so learning a more strategic approach to taking the tests can give students a big advantage!

Next we work on filling in content gaps. Students can have holes in their knowledge depending on teachers and school curricula, especially in the areas of math and grammar. They may not know what a radian is, for example, or when exactly to use “whom.” Rather than attempt to teach every concept that might appear, we only review the content that they struggle with on their assigned homework, providing a lesson that gets right to the heart of how that content is addressed on the exams. Oftentimes, going over content involves more review than teaching. Students might have forgotten the difference between “its” and “it’s,” or they might only have a vague recollection of the middle school math unit where they learned about mean, median, and mode. 

Once they are solid on the concepts that appear on the test, it’s time to practice! Strong score increases often come from striking a balance between speed and accuracy, so homework is an essential way for students to develop the right pacing and become familiar with different question types. The faster students can recognize how to go about finding the answer to a certain kind of question, the more time they will have to think clearly, check their work, and finish the test! And while they do have a chance of getting some answers correct by randomly filling in bubbles in the last thirty seconds, we want them to get to the point where they can finish as much of each section as possible without rushing through and compromising their number of correct answers. We prioritize timed homework and timed practice tests from the official ACT and SAT prep guides, as well as pacing techniques that will help students get to their goal scores.  

Throughout our sessions, we keep track of students’ progress and tailor our time together to best suit their needs. Students struggling with math will receive more math homework and lessons, and students struggling with science or reading will get more coaching on those areas. Each tutor will cover all sections of the exam and will typically be the only instructor for a student throughout the course of their test prep. In addition to allowing for a smoother process overall, this gives the tutor a more holistic sense of how to coach the student on managing energy throughout the test so as to maximize composite scores. Working one-on-one with students allows us to create a more individualized approach and meet each student’s unique needs.

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