19 Sep

No Time For Exam Prep – May Be Disappointing

I am a bit worried with the student that is unprepared for his yearlies. His parents aren’t expecting great results due to the time constraints, but I hope they are not disappointed.

The first thing you need to do is work out whether or not the client plans to continue tuition after this exam and what their goals are in general.

If they only sought out maths tutoring in order to pass this exam then the approach will be completely different. If they are looking for a real solution to the student’s maths challenges and want him to get good grades long term then this exam is of lesser significance. In order to make sure they are not disappointed you need to discuss the situation with them thoroughly and help them make a decision for what they want you to do:

If they are only interested in the exam then you can help the student achieve the best grade possible:

  • Make sure you explain this approach will not help him long term.
  • Explain you will focus on cramming as much knowledge as possible. Focus on easier types of questions that can be answered by rote learning rules and formulas. At the very least the student should be able to answer the easier questions.
  • Some focus on algebra will also help to minimize silly mistakes and help with those easier questions.
  • Do lots of practice tests so the student can get used to the exam experience and not be thrown off guard by how much he doesn’t know in the actual exam.
  • Make the student create their own formula sheets to review consistently and memorize thoroughly.
  • Make sure that they understand you cannot guarantee any results in such a short time frame and that passing the exam will mostly depend on how much time and effort the student can squeeze in during the next few weeks. Be very clear about this and make sure the student also understands this.
  • Encourage the student to see the school teacher for extra help at lunch, recess and after school if necessary. The momentum this builds will help! Also, you may suggest having longer tutorials or more frequent tutorials.

If the client is interested in the long term success of the student:

  • Discuss if they want you to go through the previously described methods to boost the grade for this exam and start the real tutoring effort after the exam OR if they want to write off this exam and start focussing on the learning that will create a successful student and strong grades in future exams?
  • The best approach is probably a combination of both. It is not good to completely neglect an exam but at the same time, a few weeks is not long enough to create genuine learning for a severely underachieving student.
  • Try to focus on topics like algebra/arithmetic which will immediately help boost grades while serving a useful long term purpose.
  • Also, try to create genuine learning for some staple topics but without delving too deep. Teach introductory components to the topic. For example, trigonometry is a staple topic in high school maths. The basics like SohCahToa are pretty easy and will allow the student to achieve at least partial marks but at the same time it will help familiarise trigonometry in general which will be useful later. The problem solving questions you can probably avoid since those take time to understand – leave that for after the exam.
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