FAQs About General Tutoring Services
- How long are tutoring sessions? Both curriculum and test prep sessions generally run an hour in length, but adjustments can be made to suit a student’s needs and schedule.
- Where are sessions held? Most sessions are held at one of the library locations listed below, but on occasion a tutor will come to the student’s home (travel fee added) or hold sessions at his/her own home.
Edina Library: 5280 Grandview Square, Edina, MN 55436 (952) 847-5425
Southdale Library: 7001 York Avenue S., Edina, MN 55435 (952) 847-5900
Linden Hills Library: 2900 W 43rd Street, Mpls, MN 55410 (612) 630-6750
3. Do you have a cancellation policy? Yes. The English Tutor’s
cancellation policy is 48-hour notice or you will be charged the session fee. Fee
is waived for family emergencies and illnesses.
4. Can tutoring start and stop at any time? Yes, to both questions. However,
please note that high seasons for The English Tutor are spring and fall, so
sometimes there may be wait period before you can start with a particular tutor.
Most students/ parents have a pretty good idea of when tutoring has met the
child’s needs. To terminate tutoring, simply notify your child's tutor with at least
48-hour advance notice. The English Tutor understands that some students
only need “spot treatment” from time-to-time, while others may need to see a
tutor on a more regular basis.
5. Can a specific tutor be requested? Yes. However, please note that some tutors
may have a full calendar at the time of your request, so you will then either need to
work with someone else or be willing to be put on your requested tutor’s wait list.
6. Can students of like-ability and in the same class share sessions? Yes. In
fact, that is highly encouraged for ACT/SAT prep, but shared sessions are
generally limited to 2 students per tutor per session.
FAQs About ACT/SAT Test Prep
See #5 & #6 for differences between ACT & SAT & suggestions for your child
click here for link to ACT.org click here for link to collegeboard.com (SAT)
- How will test prep help my child and/or enhance his score? The vast majority of people are not natural born testers, and those who are still do some level of test prep, even if it’s on their own. Test prep will familiarize your child with the test questions and format, show him the traps and tricks, give him problem-solving strategies and short cuts to answers, and teach him to work against the clock.
- How many hours do I need? The national test prep organizations (Kaplan & Princeton Review) sell test prep in 30 or 36-hour packages. While there is nothing magical about the 30-36 hours in and of itself, it fits nicely into their test format (10-12, 3-hour sessions) and gives students approximately 5-8 hours of prep time per subject area (English, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning). However, students progress at different academic rates, so while some students may only need a total of 6-8 hours of prep, others may need closer to 20-25. Very few students actually need 30 hours! I have found that the average student needs about 15-20 hours. Students with high ability and aptitude in specific areas may only need some spot-treatment in their weak areas.
- What are the benefits of private tutoring vs. classroom tutoring? Private tutoring offers a one-on-one or two-on-one focus that can quickly identify each student’s strengths and weakness and help her hone her strengths and improve her weaknesses. No one gets any individual attention in a classroom setting and often times the instruction is a “blanket type” of instruction. Furthermore, unless one instructor is covering all classes for the 30-36 hour package, you never know what quality of instruction your child is going to get from class-to-class. My tutors and I work with kids from both ends of the testing spectrum: those who score 17-19 on the ACT (26-42% national percentile rank) and those who score 35-36 (99th percentile rank). From a private tutor’s perspective and a former classroom teacher’s perspective, a classroom environment with this kind of spread does not benefit either party very well. The English Tutor's tutors typically meet with test prep students once a week, 60 minutes each time (once in awhile sessions are expanded to 75 min).
- Is one-on-one better than a shared session? With the rare exception, No. Admittedly, all students would greatly benefit from 2-4 one-on-one sessions, but after that point, the benefit of one-on-one vs. shared becomes negligible. Most students respond well to some level of academic competition; some even thrive on it. If your child does not fall into either of those camps, he needs to know that other students may have the same struggles that he does with standardized tests. That can be reassuring. (Shared sessions typically means 2 students of similar testing ability to 1 tutor. On occasion, triplets have been run)
- What is the difference between the ACT and the SAT? The ACT is largely based on high school curriculum and is therefore a knowledge and achievement test. The SAT is a combination of aptitude and achievement and a much harder test. While the new SAT is more closely aligned to curriculum than the old SAT, it still contains difficult vocabulary (in sentence completion format) and the longer readings are more like college-level readings. Depending on the level of math class your child’s in, he may not be ready for some of the SAT math.
- Which test(s) should my child take? Both the ACT and the SAT changed in February 2005. The ACT simply added a 30-minute essay component while the SAT did a fairly drastic overhaul of the test and bumped it from a 1600 point test to a 2400 point test. The new SAT contains a section called Writing that is comprised of 49 high level Grammar questions and a 25 minute essay. This is where the additional 800 points come in. Please note that the new SAT has created so much controversy nation-wide that virtually all colleges (including most Ivies and colleges on both Coasts) have now dropped it as a requirement and will accept either the ACT Plus Writing score or the SAT I. The vast majority of students do NOT need to take the SAT.
- How is the ACT composite figured? The ACT composite if figured by adding up all 4 subject composites and dividing by 4. While rounding can make a difference, the general formula for moving the overall composite is a 4-to-1 ratio: 4 combined subject composite points = 1 point overall composite increase. (Rounding is determined by the .5. Example: 23.5 and a 24.25 are both a 24.)
- How is the new SAT scored? Each section (Reading, Math, & Writing) is worth 800 points for a total of 2400 points. If you’ve heard or received literature from test prep institutions stating that the new test is easier than the old, Do not be fooled. The test is much harder!An article written in May 2006 covering colleges across the nation stated that since the implementation of the new SAT in Feb '05, scores have fallen 10-12 points, instead of the usual 1-2 point fluctuation from year-to-year.
- What is the difference b/t the ACT and the ACT Plus Writing test? The ACT contains the 4 subject tests (English Grammar, Math, Reading, Science Reasoning). The ACT Plus Writing contains the 4 subject tests and a 30 minute essay at the end. Most colleges now require this portion of the exam. To check out whether your child’s potential colleges require this, go to act.org and click on the link called Available Now: The Writing Test. Follow the steps in the successive windows.
- How are the ACT & SAT essays scored and do those scores affect the overall composite? Both the ACT and the SAT essay are scored in the same manner. Two readers score each paper (independent of each other) on a scale of 1-6. These two scores are added together for a final score ranging from 2-12. The ACT essay does NOT impact the overall composite score. However, the SAT essay accounts for ~30% of the Writing score.
- What kind of scores should my child shoot for? That is largely based upon natural intelligence, but the magic number students shoot for on the ACT is a 25 composite (81st percentile) and at least a 600 on all sections of the SAT. A 28-29 on the ACT is outstanding; 30-36 is elite.
- What kind of scores can I expect from test prep? Again, that is largely based on your child’s cognitive abilities. It is unreasonable to expect that someone with average-below average intelligence, coupled with large deficits in grammar, math and reading, will be able to score a 25 on the ACT or a 600 on the math and verbal portions of the SAT. While you may live in a community of high level achievers and professionals, the students still represent the total bell curve. On the other hand, if a student has deficits in those areas, but has a natural high level of cognition, she may be able to make up those deficits quickly—at least to score well on a standardized test.
- When should my child take the ACT and/or SAT? While some students and parents have been told by counselors to wait until the spring to take the test for the first time, I totally disagree with that advice regarding the ACT. I know the counselors give that advice based on the fact that your child will have an additional 7-9 months of schooling under her belt, but since she only needs to submit the highest ACT score, the more options she has to take the test, the better. The April ACT test date conflicts with many schools’ spring breaks, and if your child waits to take the ACT for the first time till June, he has no other option during his junior year to retest. Retesting in the fall of one’s senior year is not the most ideal time—but many kids do. Between college essays and applications, fall sports, and senior year giddiness, most students do not want to buckle down to do test prep. Understandable. Please plan ahead for optimal testing conditions for your child. As far as the SAT goes, your child should not take this test until he’s ready for it, meaning his scores are at least in the upper 500s, but he should leave himself at least one option to retest during his junior year. PLEASE NOTE THAT STUDENTS CANNOT TAKE ANY OF THE SAT II SUBJECT TESTS ON THE SAME DAY THAT THEY TAKE THE SAT I. Therefore, if your child also needs to submit SAT II subject test scores, he really needs to plan ahead.
- My child is an A (or A/B) student, but she hasn’t been able to score a 25 on the ACT. Why? Your child may perform well in school because she has multiple ways of learning and processing information: lectures, notes, study guides, study groups, etc. She also usually knows what will be on tests, and her general diligence may push her to do extra studying for difficult subjects. On the other hand, she only knows general concepts and general content that will be covered on a standardized test, but not the exact content and/or questions. Moreover, poor readers and students with weak vocabs can often boost classroom grades in ways that do not reflect knowledge or performance in those two areas, but they will not be able to perform well on a standardized test that has a strong focus on these. Students who experience a high-level of test anxiety and/or who have traditionally scored low on standardized test will not necessarily see a direct correlation between classroom performance and test scores. And finally, while I hate to say it, there is a thing called grade inflation.