Classes. Flash cards. Study guides. When it comes to preparing for the SAT, there are a multitude of ways for you to improve your overall score – many of which are solitary activities that require perfect discipline. How many of us can claim to have that? Humans are social creatures. We eat with others, we participate in activities with others, and most importantly, we learn best when we’re reviewing with others.
What does this mean for that 2400 you’re hoping to earn on the SAT? It means a tutor may be one test preparation option worth serious consideration. Though tutors cost more than a study guide, they offer more too. They’re interactive and can tailor a plan specifically to your needs. Here are some things to keep in mind when searching for one of these experts:
Why do some students hire a tutor? Isn’t a friend from school who agrees to study with you the same as a tutor, but just free? No. A tutor is typically older than you, which means he or she has personal experience with the SAT. He or she also has experience with the general tricks that standardized tests like to play on their takers; your friend from school probably doesn’t. A good tutor also possesses current knowledge about the exam and how to earn your desired score. He or she should be able to tell you things like when to guess and how to structure your essay, as well as why to do it that way. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of your tutor. The best tutors are happy to answer them.
By ‘flexibility,’ I mean the ability to recognize how you learn best and to adjust accordingly. A tutor may be a professor with impeccable lecture skills, but if you struggle to remember things you hear, and the tutor knows no other way to teach, the match is a poor one. You are not a difficult student and he or she is not a terrible educator – you just don’t suit one another personally. When this happens, it is better to request a new tutor than to just grit your teeth and bear it. A good tutor asks questions about how you retain knowledge (“Do you prefer to study with flash cards or by re-reading the chapter? Which subjects are easiest for you? Which are hardest?”) and then tailors his or her SAT strategies based on that information.
Preparing for the SAT is an enormous commitment, both in terms of personal motivation and time. A capable tutor recognizes that fact, rather than simply seeing you as an easy way to make some cash. A reputable tutor establishes a schedule of sessions that maximizes your ability to score well, not his or her free time. A reputable tutor also prepares for each lesson, locating additional materials outside the standard SAT preparation book. If you need another in-depth explanation, or still don’t understand how to do something after three attempts, a good tutor is happy to break it down for you one more time. You should expect your tutor to be on time and prepared, but make sure you are, too. The best results come when the student-tutor relationship is a partnership.
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