Tricks, Tips & Secrets…………..

Posted in Uncategorized on October 24, 2017 by Steve


Whenever a new parent calls me about tutoring, he or she inevitably asks “What tips and tricks are you going to teach my child to master the test?”

My response, “If he or she wants to learn tricks, hire a magician!”

The point being– there are no shortcuts which will make a non-reader become a brilliant reader; there is no magic pixie dust which will automatically turn your student into a problem solver, master of grammar, critical thinker or logical reasoner.

Think about this– How did your son or daughter become a skilled dancer, artist, writer, athlete, musician, singer, or actor? Answer-Years of practice, every day, several hours each week, no days off, no weeks off.

Only when the student has acquired the necessary fundamental skills of reading, writing, critical thinking and problem solving will any “tips and tricks”add any value to her overall scores on standardized tests.

Ask successful students how they achieved their testing goals.  I bet none will tell you that “tricks and tips” were responsible.  I bet they will all say, “Hard Work”.

So start early, encourage your child to do something each day, no days off and eventually your child will master anything he or she sets her mind to.


Summer Reading Club

Posted in Uncategorized on July 18, 2016 by Steve

On our Facebook Page we will be posting several articles each week from the NY Times and other publications on a variety of topics.  Everyone is invited to read these articles, define the words we put out there and join in the discussion.  This will accomplish many things–it will help you become a better reader; it will help increase your word power; it will make you a better writer; and it will give you a greater depth of knowledge about many different subjects.  To access our Facebook Page Click HereSAT Reading

Servers Who Refuse to Write Down Your Order

Posted in ACT, SAT, SHSAT on August 3, 2014 by Steve


How many times has this happened to you?  At a family function 6 to 10 of you are sitting at a round table when the server comes over to take the drink and salad order.  He or she politely listens to everyone with hands behind the back.  Not writing anything down!  Amazing you think– this person has a steel trap memory.  She can probably tell me that I was born on a Tuesday 55 years ago.

Ah, but then the food comes.  Uncle Bob asked for a lemon in his drink and got a lime instead.  You wanted dressing on the side with no onions but not surprisingly, your salad is smothered with both dressing and onions.  Yuck!

What does this have to do with test taking?  Great question.  Many of my students try to figure out complex (and sometimes simple) math problems in their head.  Many times this will result in sloppy mistakes and even worse– a blank test booklet makes it impossible to re-check your work should you have extra time!

As soon as I see this, I tell them the above waiter story which they can all relate.  I also tell them solving a math problem is not like enjoying art at a museum.  Math is a systematic step by step logical progression.  Yet many like to solve a math problem by tilting their heads, sizing up the shape or pattern and filling in a blank as enjoying some piece of abstract art.

Math is not abstract art.  Math is precise. Math is not subject to interpretation.  There can be no debate about the correct answer.  Don’t try to be cool while solving math problems.  This is not Jeopardy where you must buzz in before your opponent.  You will not impress me and you will certainly not be impressed with your score if you continue to juggle things in your head.



Math Problems With Only Two Outcomes

Posted in SAT on April 21, 2014 by Steve

Recognizing when there are only two possible outcomes to an SAT Math Problem will save time and the potential for errors in calculation. For example, if 30% of books are on sale, then 70% of the books are not on sale. If  2/5th of the students in Mrs. Smith’s kindergarten class are girls, then you must immediately realize that 3/5th of Mrs. Smith’s kindergarten class are boys.  If it rains 3 out of 5 days in a month, then it did not rain 2 out of 5 days in that month.

This binomial logic also helps with problems involving discounting.  Understand that 20% off the existing price is the same as 80% of the original price.  The natural tendency is to figure out what the 20% discount is and then subtract this amount from the original price.  This involves two calculations, extra time and the potential to make a careless mistake.  Why not just multiply the original price by .80?

Back to School

Posted in ACT, SAT, SHSAT on August 26, 2013 by Steve

Summer is winding down and for most High School Seniors this means revving up ACT Prep (for late Sept) , SAT Prep (for early Oct) working on your first essay draft for college applications, getting your program card, and setting up a meeting with your guidance counselor–  WOW!

For those coming up from middle school this means adjusting to life as a High School Freshman. For Sophomores and Juniors this means keeping up the same expected standard of excellence.

Enjoy the last passing days of summer and get mentally prepared for the tasks ahead.

Where Can I Get In With My SAT Scores?

Posted in ACT, SAT, SHSAT on February 24, 2013 by Steve


What You Should Be Doing Now

Posted in ACT, SAT, SHSAT on February 23, 2013 by Steve

High School Juniors registered for the March SAT should be completing one practice test per week until test day.  There are 2 weeks left–  So, a minimum of two practice tests should be completed, scored and reviewed.

Those taking the May SAT should be arranging tutors and/or SAT prep classes as well as ACT prep classes.

High School Sophomores should be focusing on their grades, their after school community service, their vocabulary and their reading skills.