High school students have a lot on their plate with grades, testing, social challenges, and extracurricular activities. One particular challenge for almost every high school student is the SAT – which plays a significant role in the college application process.
Many colleges have unofficial rolling “cutoffs” that they use to screen applicants for acceptance therefore students can find themselves under tremendous stress to reach certain SAT score goals. As is the case with many standardized tests, succeeding on the SAT does not solely depend on knowledge or intelligence. Doing well on the SAT also involves developing test-taking skills. A great tutor can often be the solution that a student struggling with the SAT needs since so much of the score can be a result of preparation. The right SAT tutor will assess where the student stands, implement individualized learning plans to address specific SAT test taking needs, track progress, and provide support for as long as needed.
5 Tips For Finding a Great SAT Tutor
Chuck Cohn, Founder and CEO of Varsity Tutors, offers these tips for finding a great SAT tutor:
Identify Your Needs
You’ve already established that your student needs help with the SAT, but what exactly are you looking to achieve from test prep? There are a multitude of concepts that need to be covered for this test, but every student has different strengths and weaknesses. Therefore, every student will need help with different areas of the test. Do a bit of research on the various sections of the exam and look at the various challenges they each entail. Once you have a basic understanding of what to expect, you can identify what your student is likely to have the most trouble with and then get set with a tutor who will proceed to focus on those specific areas.
Assess the Tutor’s Communication Skills
Communication is possibly the most important element of successful tutoring. Take note of how the tutor explains certain methods to your student and then evaluate how well your student responds to them. The tutor must be able to not only describe concepts behind the test well, but also describe them in a way that your student can easily interpret. More importantly, the tutors should be able to identify how your student learns best and then tailor their explanations to that style. Additionally, any questions about the test – both your student’s and your own – must be able to be answered by the tutor in a logical and efficient manner.
Assess the Tutor’s Technical Skills
All great SAT tutors will inevitably be experts on the test, but how directly familiar are they with it? It can make a big difference in your student’s tutoring experience whether the tutor has recently been through the test themselves or if they’ve simply mastered the structure and material over time. Neither case is necessarily better than the other. What is most important is the style that fits your student. Either way, your tutor will constantly be deeply in-tune with the areas of the SAT your student needs tutoring in. Their own preparation for how they stay up-to-date is what differs, however, and is something you should examine.
Assess Personality and Teaching Style
Note how well your student and the tutor get along on a personal level. If the student genuinely likes and respects the tutor as a person, they will be more inclined to want to learn from them. It is crucial that the tutor’s personality is one that the student is naturally compatible with so the tutoring sessions can have a smooth and enjoyable flow. This kind of comfortable interaction will lead the student to care more about the SAT topics that will be discussed and subsequently be able to digest them better.
Run a Background Check and Review Qualifications
You certainly want your tutor to be someone you trust. Companies like Varsity Tutors put their tutors through background checks. The best tutoring companies go to extreme lengths to verify that a tutor has listed truthful credentials. These are very important measures that must be taken in order for you and your student to feel safe moving forward in the process.
Work with your tutor to set up an appropriate scheduling of sessions that gives your student plenty of time to study before the acknowledged test date. A strong SAT tutor will develop a lesson plan dedicated to every element of the SAT, organizing the detailed sessions to focus on areas that your student struggles with the most.