ACT      SAT      ESSAYS



Available on Skype and in Manhattan


1.  How much have your students’ SAT and ACT scores improved?


In 2014-15, most of my students took the ACT instead of the SAT - except two.  My SAT students were short-term projects that focused on only one Section (one on Math who rose 140 points, the other on Critical Reading who rose 40 points) and lasted only several weeks.


My seven ACT students were longer-term and we covered the entire test together.  They averaged an 8-point jump on composite ACT score from the first test they took until their super-scored best practice test, and a 6-point jump on composite ACT score from the first test they took until their super-scored best real ACT.


To “super-score” means to take the best score on each Section of the test (English, Math, Reading, and Science) anytime you have taken the test and to average those “Best Section” scores together – that is your “super-score.”  Colleges "super-score" students 2-3 SATs or ACTs and take the very best score when submitting average test scores to college ranking services.


The highest jump of any student on ACT English was a 17-point jump on practice tests and a 15-point jump on the real ACT.  Overall, my students averaged a 9-point jump on ACT English practice tests and an 8-point jump on the Real ACT English.


The highest jump of any student on ACT Math was an 11-point jump on practice tests and a 9-point jump on the real ACT.  Overall, my students averaged a 7-point jump on ACT Math practice tests and a 5-point jump on the Real ACT Math.


The highest jump of any student on ACT Reading was a 14-point jump on practice tests and a 12-point jump on the real ACT.  Overall, my students averaged an 8-point jump on ACT Reading practice tests and a 7-point jump on the Real ACT Reading.


The highest jump of any student on ACT Science was a 12-point jump on practice tests and a 12-point jump on the real ACT.  Overall, my students averaged an 8-point jump on ACT Science practice tests and an 6-point jump on the Real ACT Science.


2.  ACT Math and Science seem to have had lower score-raises – why is that?


Math and Science have been slightly tougher nuts to crack – so far.  This year however, I have made major changes to my approaches to ACT Math and Science.


For Math, I am creating topic-specific Math tutorials, such as on Matrix Addition/Subtraction or on Logarithms, with practice problems from real ACTs.  I give these to my students and they have been very effective at plugging specific students’ Math topic knowledge gaps.


In Science, I am having all of my students work through Michael Cerro’s fantastic “For the Love of ACT Science” workbook, which only came out this year.Cerro has written the “Meltzer of Science” (referring to Erica Metlzer’s excellent ACT English workbook) – he breaks down questions by type and makes the entire Science Section much simpler and less scary.  My students are loving his book, and I am already seeing better practice test score increases, apparently as a result of it.


3.  How have your students fared on the ISEE? 


In 2014-15 I tutored three students in the ISEE exam.Overall, their scores rose dramatically over months of practice, in the end scoring a 7 and two 8’s on the real exam – all three were accepted into Horace Mann.


On Verbal Reasoning, they scored two 7’s and an 8.


On Critical Reading, they scored a 6 and two 7’s.


On Math, they all scored 8’s.


On Quantitative Reasoning, they scored two 8’s and a 9.


4.  What makes your tutoring different from that of other tutors?


Based on conversations with other tutors, my students, and my students’ parents, the following seem to be distinguishing features of my tutoring:


(a)  Personal connection.  “You took the time to know [my son] and teach to who he is specifically,” one mom told me recently, echoing many others I’ve spoken to as well.  “You connected with [my son] more than other tutors have,” another said. Quite simply, I love helping people, and to do that effectively I need to know each person’s uniqueness.  I am fascinated by people’s differences.  Certified in Myers Briggs personality type, I started the Personality Type consultancy Type Wise (www.type-wise.com) in 2013 and constantly use personality expertise to better understand my students.  Knowing personality gives me a deep sense of each kid I am working with, how he/she connects socially, how he/she likes to approach tasks and deadlines, and how he/she is best motivated. 


(b)  I impart more than just test skills.  “You’re like a life coach!” one mother of a high schooler once told me.  While I am not in the business of being a life coach, there are moments in tutoring when skills that go far beyond the test – performance psychology, mindfulness, personality type, growth mindset, and obstacle-tackling habits – are needed to be taught in order for my students to reach their full potential on the test.  Kids take these skills and find them applicable not just in their other classes, but even outside the classroom as well, and both they and their parents seem glad to have gained skills that apply far beyond the one test for which they have hired me.


(c)  Fun!  Teaching and learning have to be fun.  Sense of humor is a major way in which I connect with people, and that is definitely true with my students.  Recently I have experimented with others ways to make lessons enjoyable, too, such as playing music in moments or bringing a snack.


(d)  Serious, professional, reliable, committed – these are some of the adjectives that come to parents’ minds when I ask them to think of which words they would associate with my tutoring.  I do not flake.  I do not change the lesson last minute or give an excuse for why I can’t make it.  I am eagerly and constantly available for phone calls to answer parents’ questions about any nuance of these tests or their children’s own performance in tutoring so far.


(e)  Results – my kids’ scores go up, their work habits sharpen, and they get into excellent schools (be they high schools or colleges).  I take the tests I tutor (last June I sat for the ACT and this coming May I will sit for the new SAT) and am always reading a book or three relating to the tests I tutor.  I find the best prep books out there, synthesize the best strategies, and try them out with my students to see which ones work best for each kid.


5.  What inspires you most as a tutor?

They say most people go to a romantic relationship as a way to "get something," and that never lasts.  You have to show up seeking to give.


I think it is the same in work:  most people go to work as a way to get something - usually money, or maybe significance.  But you have to show up to work looking to give.


I show up to tutoring looking to bring as much value to my students and their parents as I can imagine.  


I brainstorm and spell out my clients' needs for myself (professionalism, reliability, fun, score-raises, skill-learning, rapport, mentorship, knowledgability, and many more needs) - interview them to learn their needs even more deeply - devise new plans on how to meet needs even more effectively, and brainstorm and check in with clients again to find out if I am meeting needs and how I can find NEW ways to meet needs even better in the future.


I am most inspired by giving - by bringing value to my clients' lives.


6.  Email more questions to jamestreadway@harvard.post.edu and I will post answers as they come in.