Wednesday, July 27, 2016

True Confessions of an SAT/ACT Tutor: No Quick Fixes

As August approaches, my phone starts to ring a bit more. Parents look at the calendar and realize that only weeks remain until their high school senior takes the SAT or ACT for the last time. So they call me in hopes of finding a good tutor for a quick fix, last-minute push to boost a test score. 

"There is not much time to make a difference," I always respond. "I can walk through some things but truth be told, the quick fix is rare and not much will happen in a month." 

While I am always happy to meet with any student facing the SAT and ACT, I must confess that scores rarely increase very much if I only have a few weeks to work with the student. 

There are exceptions to this, but in general, test improvement takes time. My students and followers of this blog now that time on task is the key to boosting a score

Test-taking is like any skill: the first time you try it, you are not very good. But when you dedicate quality practice over time, you get better

So here is the confession: not much will change in a test score if the tutor only has a couple of weeks or months to make a difference. 

This means that students should plan ahead. Start your test prep with at least three months lead time. Six months is better and a 12-18 months is really where we see students make the biggest leaps. 

I always confess to a family that short and sweet does not yield much yet this rarely dissuades them from wanting a quick fix. 

The quick fix is rare so be sure you plan for the long term

For more test prep advice, contact CROSSWALK. We offer private tutors and group classes for SAT and ACT prep as well as academic tutoring for all subjects. Learn more at our website,

Monday, July 11, 2016

850+ Reasons to NOT Stress About ACT & SAT

My students know my mantra, "stress is the enemy of test performance." In a given class, I might repeat this phrase five or ten times.

Science proves that an unstressed brain learns more efficiently than a stressed brain. Science also proves that stress fosters anxiety which leads to poor test performance

While a little stress can keep students focused and on task, too much stress will push test scores down. The SAT and the ACT are not content-driven tests that reward cramming and all-night study sessions. 

As such, the recommended approach to SAT and ACT prep is to avoid stress. If you remove stress from the process, you can practice problem sets with your best problem-solving and critical-thinking skills. 

But if you are not convinced with my one reason to avoid stress, here are 850 additional reasons to avoid stress. 

This link will take you to a list of over 850 school that do not use ACT or SAT scores to admit a substantial number of students. The list is produced by FairTest, the National Center for Fair and Open Testing. 

In other words, there are over 850 schools that will ignore your test scores and instead focus on your GPA, your letters of recommendation, your essays and the many other elements in your application package to consider your admission. 

More importantly, there are many excellent schools on this list. Perhaps some schools are unfamiliar to you but all of these schools offer tremendous educational opportunities. Chances are, there is a school on this list that can offer exactly what you are seeking in a college experience.

So avoid stress in your ACT and SAT preparation. Find the motivation to keep working at it if you want your score to improve, but don't forget that are many schools that will consider the other elements your bring to the table before considering your test score. 

For more stress-free test preparation, contact CROSSWALK. The Monterey Peninsula's local resource for SAT/ACT/PSAT/SSAT prep, CROSSWALK offers face-to-face tutoring and Skype tutoring for standardized tests and academic subjects.