If you are reading this article, you may be thinking about private tutoring for the ACT. Is it worth it? Of course, the answer to that question is, it depends.
Tutoring can be a very valuable investment in your future, particularly if the results help you gain admission to a college at the top of your list. Or if you win a merit scholarship because of higher ACT scores — then private ACT tutoring literally pays for itself. And it’s pretty much that simple: ACT tutoring is worth it if you get into a school that would have rejected you, or if you get a scholarship that you wouldn’t have won.
If those are the goals, how do you know which tutoring company can help you reach it? Many companies claim to have expert tutors, but that is seldom the case.
Here are 5 features of expert ACT tutoring:
1. Pre- and post- measurements with authentic testing materials
- It’s hard to develop a tutoring program for a student if we don’t have a starting point from which to build. So one of the first things a tutoring program should do is give you some sort of pre-test that measures where you are at right at that moment. This way, tutors can evaluate your current strengths and weaknesses and focus the program on what you need most.
- At strategic points in the tutoring program, your tutors should test you again to see your progress. Further tweaking of your tutoring program should happen after each of these assessments – you’ll be getting better at certain things, so your tutoring program should be refined and refocused accordingly.
- The materials used for each of these pre- and post- assessments should be as close to the real thing as possible, preferably using full-length official ACT practice tests.
2. Organized, measurable practice
- A strong ACT tutoring program will be well organized around a scheduled study plan. Your tutoring program should be mapped out in a logical sequence, and on any given day your tutor should be able to tell you the objectives of the lesson and how they fit in with your long term goals for the ACT.
- The practice you undertake with your tutor (and for homework) should be assessed on a regular basis so both you and your tutor can see how you progress over time. The assignments given should be quantifiable-i.e. you should be given a grade of some sort on your work based on its completion and as well as the percentage of the work you answered correctly.
- Your practice should serve as small assessment points throughout the tutoring course so that your tutor is always aware of what you most need to work on and on what you excel.
3. A clear rationale that features different focuses to achieve different goals
- Your tutor should work with you to determine your goal(s) for the ACT. Your program should then be tailored to help you reach that goal specifically.
- This means that a tutoring program can’t be a "one size fits all" approach. Your tutoring program should focus on the aspects of the exam that matter most to you.
- In addition, your tutoring program should evolve over time. In the beginning, the most important thing is to get comfortable with the test passages and questions styles. Over time, you will want to master the material itself. As you get closer to test date, focus on completing each section within the time allotted. You should also prepare for worst-case scenarios (we like simulating distractions, for example).
4. The best ACT tutoring now features performance psychology
- Want the best of the best in ACT Tutoring? Find a program that incorporates aspects of performance psychology to help you perform your absolute best come test day.
- What does performance psychology include? A tutoring program that utilizes this approach will include guidance on sleep management, mindfulness meditation (to improve cognitive sharpness and manage stress), and addressing problematic thinking patterns (e.g. fixed mindsets, expectations of failure, destructive perfectionism).
- Your tutors should obviously be versed not only in best practices of ACT prep but also in all the ways to take your performance from good to elite means you’ll be confident, well-prepared, and in an excellent frame of mind when you sit for the exam.
5. An adaptation to learning styles
- As we said before, tutoring can be a wonderful investment for your future. But it certainly is an investment: tutoring is often expensive. This is mainly because you have a single instructor working with a single student. That 1:1 ratio means you’ll be getting the instructor’s undivided attention. The instructor should absolutely tailor the course to your unique needs.
- Adapting a tutoring program to an individual student’s learning style is one way studies should be customized. Conversations should be had about how you study, learn best, and perform on tests. The program should be refined over time as your tutor gets to know you and your learning style.
- Again the one-size-fits-all tutoring program is not going to be as beneficial because it doesn’t take into account the most important thing: YOU. Your tutoring program needs to adapt to you, not the other way around.
So what does this mean for you? Now you have a blueprint to evaluate any tutoring offer you may come across during your ACT preparation. If a company or service doesn’t off the features above, find one that does.
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