1) The Knowledge Gap: There are a manageable number of hard skills addresses on these tests. The math skills are the easiest to identify, test and teach. Most are at the sophomore class level, with a few questions reaching Junior level Algebra and Trigonometry. With an untimed practice test, you can quickly identify your student’s opportunities for improvement, and provide practice material that will build the necessary skills.
The English section tests a high school to early college level of vocabulary. The grammar skills tested are at approximately high school sophomore level. This means the avid reader has a distinct advantage. Rather than having your student read the complete works of Shakespeare, he/she can learn techniques designed to comprehend what is read, discern the meaning of words by context clues, and quickly get to any question’s correct answer.
Consider the following example, where an SAT question asks to choose between various meanings of the underlined word:
The coming decades will likely see more intense clustering of jobs, innovation, and productivity in a smaller number of bigger cities and city-regions.
In the above example, students should examine the text surrounding intense, and come to the conclusion that the answer means “concentrated” or “dense” rather than “emotional” or “determined.”
2) The Logical Thinking Gap: This is the focus of the ACT/SAT. Most questions in both Math and English require you think beyond the hard skill and apply that knowledge to get to the right answer. This is easier than most students think, and is critical in obtaining a high score on the test. There are simple strategies that help students understand how to approach the problems, and apply their natural talents to grasp the meaning of the test questions.
For example, taking a few seconds to make sure the student understands what the question is asking for makes a large difference in their score.
An object travels at fifteen feet per minute. How many yards does it travel in 24 minutes and 40 seconds?
In this question, the student should realize that his initial feet calculation must be converted to yards. It is very likely the answer in feet will also be an answer choice.
3) The Confidence Gap – This is most common gap, and it is no wonder. We are a test-focused society and learn to view college entrance exams as one of the greatest challenges to a successful life. Of course, that is not really true; perhaps we should rethink our definition of success. Until that happens, the clearest path toward dealing with test pressures is managing them. With the right cooperation between student and tutor or parent, it is easily overcome. A student taking classes or tutoring lessons can employ homework, the opportunity to work with other students taking the test, and encouragement from teacher and family to increase confidence.
For example, if the student has problems with geometry problems, tackling multiple problems found on actual tests will ultimately increase knowledge and confidence on the actual test. Then your student will face test day with no fear, and the ability to get his/her highest potential score.