Questions & Answers  

 

 

Practical Information
 
Q: How do I prepare for my first tutoring session?
A: If you have never used Zoom before, register at zoom.us/join.  Prior to the first session, please join a Zoom test meeting using Google Chrome as your web browser.  Please order a workbook and gather the other recommended materials (paper, pencils, calculator, etc.). If you have diagnostic results or previous test scores, please email them to me ahead of time, or have them on hand at your first session. Please also submit your full payment via Paypal prior to the first session (see the 'Rates' tab).  Decide on a quiet, private spot for tutoring (with a good internet connection), where you will not be interrupted or distracted.  It is nice to have earphones or headphones for video chatting, but this is not required.    
Q: It’s time for my first tutoring session. What do I do?
A: From Google Chrome, click on the Zoom meeting link I sent to your email. This will enter you into the video meeting with me.  Make sure that you have your workbook and materials nearby, and that you are in a quiet, distraction-free zone where you will be able to focus on doing excellent work.  
 
Q: What materials do I need at each session?
A: You will need your workbook, blank notebook paper, a couple of pencils, and a calculator. It is also nice to have earbuds or headphones, some water, tissues, a wristwatch, and even a snack on hand. You should use a computer with a high-speed broadband internet connection. You’ll want to be set up at a desk or table where there is a comfortable amount of space for you to work with the computer and your workbook, away from distractions.
 
Q: I ordered a workbook. What if it doesn’t arrive by the first session?
A: That's OK. During the first one or two sessions, we can use practice tests and handouts. Please just let me know if your workbook hasn’t arrived, and I will email alternate materials to you.
 
Q: Do I have to take a practice test before my first session?
A: That is optional. Once we have begun working with the test material and you have a firmer grasp on how to best approach the material in each section, I will assign you timed practice test sections, and eventually an entire practice test.
 
Q: What happens during tutoring sessions?
A: We will start by briefly discussing any previous test experiences you had, your plans for college, your score goals for the next test, your strengths and challenges, and so forth. We will cover organization and scoring as needed, to make sure that you are clear on the mechanics of the test. Then we will strategically begin going through the test material. We will do practice problems to gain familiarity with the test content and to pinpoint content that needs reviewed. You will receive my full, personalized attention to fit your needs, learning style, and goals. During subsequent sessions, we will continue to systematically cover material, learning effective approaches and helpful techniques along the way. As we progress, we will begin working against the clock, refining how we advance through the material, with increasing focus on maximizing your performance and score outcomes. In our sessions, you will gain the tools and awareness conducive to solid results. On test day, you can be confident that you have the skills, preparation, and ability to rely on yourself for optimal performance.
 
Q: Two hours is a long time. Will I get a break?
A: We usually take a 10-minute break about halfway through the session. If you ever need a quick break for the bathroom, water, to let the dog out, etc., that’s fine. We may also take some quick stretch breaks.
 
Q: Will I be assigned homework?
A: Yes. Homework is a chance for you to put into practice what we cover during our sessions, and also a way to further target what you still need to work on. Typically, I will assign about 1 hour’s worth of homework after each session, plus a shorter optional assignment. We can discuss what is realistic for you, your schedule, and your test goals. Please note that your schoolwork comes first, and should take priority over the homework I assign.
 
Q: What if I have a learning difference or learning disability?
A: It is helpful to let me know, so that I can better work with you. The benefit of one-on-one tutoring is that you will receive my specialized attention to fit your needs and learning style. I have experience working with students with a variety of learning differences and disabilities, and am eager to help you achieve your personal best. (Note: if you have a documented disability, you may be eligible for accommodations on the SAT or ACT. Please let me know if you want to discuss.)
About Videoconferencing 
 
Q: How do I use Zoom? 
A: Zoom works best if you use Google Chrome as your web browser.  You will want to have a good internet connection -- ethernet or a strong wi-fi signal is best for optimal video and audio quality.  It may be helpful to watch this video on how to join a Zoom meeting.  Also, it is a great idea to join a test meeting before your first session, to get comfortable with the technology.  
 
Q: I’m a technophobe. Can’t you just come to my house?
A: Tutoring via video call is much more convenient for everyone involved, plus it is better for the environment. You can feel good about using a tutoring service with a low carbon footprint. For practical reasons and everybody's convenience, I tutor students exclusively via video conference.
 
Q: My internet connection is poor. How will that affect my experience?
A: A high-speed broadband internet connection is best (400kbps or higher is recommended). If your internet connection is poor, there may be a slight delay between when you speak and when I hear you. The video picture quality may also appear more pixelated, or the image may occasionally freeze. In extreme cases, the call will be dropped, and we may be interrupted for a few seconds before we can reconnect. Using a good internet connection (either a strong wi-fi signal or ethernet) will prevent such minor annoyances.
 
About scheduling
 
Q: How do I schedule my sessions?
A: Scheduling can be worked out with me via email. You should schedule all of your sessions before we get started. Ideally, you will pick a 2-hr timeslot on a certain day that consistently works for all or most of your sessions. Weekends tend to be best.  Email me to let me know your test dates and to check availability.  
 
Q: How often should I have tutoring sessions?
A: That depends on how far in advance you are planning, and how much progress you need to make. If you plan months ahead, one or two sessions per week is comfortable. If the test is fast approaching, you may consider scheduling several sessions per week. It is best to avoid a big gap of time between the last tutoring session and test day.
 
Q: I need to reschedule a session. What do I do?
A: Please email me if you need to reschedule a session. I understand that sometimes things come up, and schedules change. Please give at least 48 hours notice for schedule changes (more is appreciated).
 
Q: Can you tutor me for just one section of the test?
A: Yes, definitely. If you only want to work on one section of the test (for example, Math or Reading), you can sign up for a few targeted sessions during which we will focus on strengthening that particular area.
 
Q: Can I use some of my sessions for the SAT, and some for the ACT?
A: Absolutely. Some students take both tests, and we can designate certain tutoring sessions to each one.
 
Q: Is only one-on-one tutoring available, or can my friends and I have small-group sessions?
A: Small groups (2 or 3 students) will be considered if the group members are at similar levels. Discounts apply – please contact me to inquire.
 
Q: I have friends who also need a tutor. Do you take referrals?
A: Yes. The majority of my clients come from word-of-mouth recommendations from former students and their parents. Please feel free to refer your friends and their parents to my website, or give them my email.
 
Q: Can you tutor me for the SAT Subject tests, or if I need extra help in my classes at school?
A: I no longer offer tutoring for the SAT Subject tests; I now specialize solely on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT. Due to time constraints, I do not offer academic tutoring for high school course subjects.
 
Q: I’m taking the SAT/ACT in a couple of weeks. Is it too late to get tutoring?
A: Even if the test is right around the corner, a few last-minute tutoring sessions can still be extremely beneficial. Because my schedule will be pretty full already, you may need to be flexible in terms of availability. Please contact me right away.
 
Have more questions? Please email me at sara.jane.otis@gmail.com.