Jordan is a student we at Victory Step Education had who got 25 on her first ACT. Due to timing and other factors, her family decided to buy an 18 hour package after talking with us about the benefits of a minimally sized tutoring package (as opposed to a class or no tutoring at all) while wanting to be conservative with their money. Below is a session-by-session breakdown of the progress she made, the subjects she was taught, and the practice exams that she took. Jordan ended up improving and got a 31 on the real ACT exam, truly showing how much a student can benefit from even the smallest amount of tutoring with Victory Step Education!
The introductory session involves the Victory Step Education tutor meeting Jordan, getting to know where she is at in terms of study habits, what her favorite and least favorite subjects are, and to give an overview of the ACT. The overview includes the structure of the exam, how important timing is, and a brief outline of each section’s question types. They also have a English lesson about transition words, sentence flow, and the relationship between sentences. Science is also covered, mainly teaching about interpreting figures and graphs. Reading chapters along with some practice questions in the provided textbook are given as homework.
From the second session onward, as with many subsequent sessions, they review the homework from the previous session. Encouraging questions from the student is paramount to a productive tutoring lesson. Any questions Jordan may have are answered by the tutor in detail, allowing her to see her mistakes and how not to make them again. They then start running through the different sections of the exam, breaking down strategies and subjects to study. Homework involves reading and practice questions about sentence and idea flow in English passages, and a multitude of ideas in trigonometry and geometry.
The first proctored exam is a practice exam designed to gauge where Jordan is and will be utilized to guide her on subject areas she may be weak in and reinforce the ones she is strong in. Her score very slightly improves from 25 to 26. Question and topic analytics from each of the sections will be provided with this and every following exam.
After the first exam, Jordan learns she has a long way to go before she will see the significant improvement she wants. The tutor assures her this is a gradual process that takes time, dedication, and tons of practice. Considering the time they have left, they both go over the exam she took over the weekend and question by question, review what she did right and wrong, emphasizing process of elimination, healthy timing tactics, and reinforcing strategies she is already implementing effectively. Online diagnostic quiz modules are assigned as homework.
The tutor goes over homework from the previous session and the rhythm of the tutoring is set from here on: review homework first, learn new material second. After that, Jordan and the tutor start focusing on evidence-based reading questions, interpreting graphs and figures in conjunction with a passage, correct punctuation and sentence structure, and the basics of algebra. As science is her least favorite subject, modules about relating graphical data to the experimental process are assigned. At Victory Step Education, targeting weaknesses and elevating strengths is a key tutoring strategy to boost student performance.
The second practice exam follows an increased amount of advanced material and test-taking strategies. These practice exams are meant as a benchmark for how she has progressed as well as solid practice for the real deal. Jordan gets through most of the questions in the exam, but doesn’t get to double check all her answers. Her score improves from 26 to 27.
Jordan did better than last time on this practice exam, which gives her some reassurance that tutoring is working. The tutor makes a point to teach how practicing healthy test-taking strategies and going at a steady, yet brisk, pace are very important. Focusing on test-taking and timing skills is a cornerstone of Victory Step Education, as the way a student takes an exam is as important as the exam’s content. They also go over trigonometric functions, circle functions and graphing them, and special triangles as she is new to advanced math. Reading chapters and practice questions in the textbook are assigned.
Continuing from the last session, they go more into detail about evidence-based reading and how to spot important details in a passage relating to questions, further practice about punctuation leading into colons, semi-colons, and dashes, and more intensive algebra rules to remember. Tutor engagement in a student’s learning is incredibly important. In more specific terms, a tutor has to put in a good amount of work as well as the student. Homework is a full exam, untimed, to test Jordan on endurance before her next practice exam.
This next exam has Jordan really starting to connect with and effectively implement the lessons she’s been studying for the past few weeks. Taking a practice exam gives insight into how the actual ACT will feel like and hands on experience while at Victory Step Education. She has some extra time at the end of each section to review answers she wasn’t completely sure about, fixing them and gaining some more points. Her score has greatly improved from 27 to 29.
As some progress is being made in Jordan’s skills and knowledge, so too is her confidence growing. The tutor points out that having a good attitude during study time, practicing, and especially actual exams is a key factor. After all, if one believes they will do poorly, they probably will. However, a positive attitude isn’t the only factor in getting a good score, so they review the exam from the weekend like last time. Additionally, Jordan asks about linear equations and systems of equations, their different forms, graphing them, solving them, and identifying their parts. Homework is another full practice test, but this time Jordan records the time she took on each section.
After going over the homework from last session fairly quickly, Jordan and the tutor jump into the topic of the day: mathematics. She has gotten much better at science, but has been struggling with math recently. The tutor reviews factoring, the distance formula (and how it’s actually the Pythagorean Theorem), exponent rules, and synthetic division. Any good tutor must learn how the student studies and why they answer questions in a certain way. Breaking bad habits is a huge part of learning and making mistakes and recognizing them is the best way to learn! A timed practice test is assigned as homework.
Utilizing the previous few sessions’ increased focus on timing and process of elimination, Jordan manages to follow a trend of building up test-taking endurance. Practice exams are meant to be taken as endurance challenges and as a way to give students the confidence they need. This time, she blazes through the reading and English sections but takes her time on math to comfortably soak in the information and double check her answers. Her score improves very slightly from 30 to 31.
Reviewing the recent exam gleams some flaws in Jordan’s test-taking and critical reading skills, which they intend to address. The first part of the session is the tutor pointing out and rectifying many of the problems she has such as not going through every answer. The rest of the time, they review how much progress Jordan has made since the beginning and is an opportunity for the tutor to give more holistic tips on taking the exam. Get to sleep early, eat healthy every day but especially before and the morning of, drink lots of water and bring a snack and drink to the exam, and most of all, stay positive. The rest of the session the tutor answers any last-minute questions her now prepared student might have.
Jordan took the ACT shortly after her last session and got a 31, giving her an easy in to the University of Texas at Austin (with her great GPA and extracurricular activity)! She and her family were extremely receptive, welcoming, and grateful to Victory Step Education and her tutor!