How to Raise a Student's Test Scores Between Tutoring Sessions
Any expert tutor will tell you that test prep is all about repetition of concept. As we've discussed in the past, it's relatively simple to keep your students energized and focused during sessions, but how do you make sure they put in the time between sessions? After all, you can lead a horse to an answer sheet, but you can't make him bubble-in the answers. In today's post, we discuss the best practices for raising a student's scores between tutoring sessions.
As a general principle, it's a good idea to work big to small. To put it another way, go where the points are. For example, you shouldn't study misplaced modifiers until you've learned the parts of speech. You may notice some overlap with the John Dillinger approach to test prep. That's not a coincidence.
Before you apply today's actionable advice for getting the most out of your test prep students between sessions, you'll probably want to work big to small by revisiting these three posts.
Once you're consistently able to deliver highly focused and energetic test prep, and you've got your accountability framework dialed in, then it's time to focus your efforts on getting the most out of your students between tutoring sessions.
Here are a few best practices that we've identified by working with some of the best SAT & ACT prep tutors in the country.
Stagger the assignments and due dates to prevent students from procrastinating.
We all procrastinate. As a general rule, every task takes exactly as long as you have to complete it. That's a paraphrase of Hofstadter's Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter's Law. You've almost certainly experienced the validity of this self-referential axiom in your own life. High school students, being younger, full of hope, and utterly without time-management skills, have not yet had that experience. Do them a favor. Help them account for Hofstadter's law by staggering due dates to prevent them from showing up to the next session unprepared.
Assign a few short assignments rather than one long assignment.
Let's talk about portion control. When it comes to dessert, if you put it on my plate, then I'm going to eat it. Homework, on the other hand, is pretty much the anti-dessert. If it looks like too much for me to finish, then I won't even start it. I'm not alone on this. Science has (probably) shown that students are more likely to complete two shorter assignments than they are to complete one longer assignment. That's Psychology 101 (maybe). Regardless of where this phenomenon has been documented, it's been reported anecdotally for years by tutors across the United States. So next time you're planning to assign 60 problems, consider breaking that assignment in to two shorter assignments.
Challenge your students to go above and beyond.
Often, you'll work with a student who completes everything you assign, every time, without fail. It's great. If you're pleased with the student's over-all effort and the pace of the course, but you want to make sure that you're getting as much as you can out of that student, then think twice before you pile on more work. You may find that issuing a challenge is a more effective way to get the student to complete more work. Make it clear which parts of the homework are required and which part is designated as the "super-double-bonus, above-and-beyond, best-student-ever, challenge homework."
Assign a day off.
When your student has been working really hard or has an exciting social event coming up, make it very clear that you do not want him or her to waste any part of that day thinking about the subject-verb agreement or simultaneous equations. Be clear. Test prep is about getting the most out of life later, but that doesn't mean you should completely put your life on hold.
Provide your students with instant feedback and support.
Make sure your students get the most out of every homework assignment by providing targeted feedback and support for each assignment. The best way we've found for supporting students between sessions is to use our 100% custom branded test prep system. Seriously, if you can find anything like it, we'd love to hear about it. The workflow is simple. The benefits are obvious. And the results are profound. Tutors assign lessons and quizzes for completion between sessions. Students complete the work in their workbooks and on printed quizzes before punching in their answers online. As soon as they hit "submit answers," the system scores the assignment and queues up the solution videos for all the problems that student answered incorrectly. At the end of each video solution, the student is prompted to rate the video and flag the problem for review at the next session. Not only does this help students get much more out of their homework assignments, but it also helps tutors and students get much more about of each tutoring session. This is a big deal.
Make good use of the official SAT & ACT practice tests.
There aren't a whole lot of authentic tests available. If you assign single sections of full-length tests as homework, then you'll be burning through the best resource you've got for helping students prepare for the soul-crushing length of the ACT & SAT test. Instead, save those tests for diagnostic and stamina training purposes. Our FREE SAT & ACT test grading system will handle are plenty of tests if you use them wisely.
Implementing these simple changes can go a long way toward maximizing the effectiveness of your tutoring, which leads to increased score improvements, which leads to more referrals, which enables you to grow your tutoring company.
It turns out that the secret to increasing revenue and growing your business isn't really a secret at all. It just requires a dedicated and sustained effort to deliver an exceptional test prep experience and hold students accountable for their role in the process before, during, and after each session.
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Finally, if you'd like to learn more about how Clear Choice Test Prep can help you grow your tutoring company using our 100% custom branded test prep system, please sign up for a software demo by clicking the link below. We look forward to hearing from you!