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BlsdMama

SAT/ACT gurus - esp. in math - a ?

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I'm currently speaking to someone about math tutoring.  DD3's math scores were abysmal (as in a previous post.)

It's very hard for me to gauge how knowledgeable someone is about the subject.  I feel very confident coaching her in English/reading.  I do NOT feel I am the best person to do her SAT/ACT prep for math.  This person said something that caught my eye, "I have found that students will have a very hard time on the math section unless they have completed or nearly completed Algebra 1, Geometry, and Algebra 2.  Currently taking Pre-Calculus would be the best opportunity for a good math score."  This would be in regards to a junior.  

My understanding is that the ACT and SAT focus almost entirely on basic Algebra, Geometry, and advanced Algebra with little to no Calculus.  Thoughts?

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I interpreted that quote as saying that somebody who is currently in Pre-Calc by definition would have already completed Algebra 1&2 and Geometry so they should be sufficiently prepared for the exam content (i.e., they would have seen everything already), not that the exam content would cover Pre-Calc.  In contrast, somebody currently in Algebra 2 or Geometry could face a question with content found in the latter part of the course they're currently in and thus haven't covered yet.

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Also, students who are taking pre-calc will be applying much of their algebra and geometry and so will have forgotten less than someone who is taking nothing at all. 

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The revised SAT contains trig and radians so definitely need to have seen them. They are typically pre-calc subjects. From the college board:

Questions on the SAT Math Test may ask you to apply the definitions of right triangle trigonometry. You should also know the definition of radian measure; you may also need to convert between angle measure in degrees and radians. You may need to evaluate trigonometric functions at benchmark angle measures...

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I tutor public school students for the SAT as a part-time job to fund home school adventures. *grin*

The most important thing to know before hiring a tutor (IMO) is WHY your dd's scores were poor; for a strong reader, it's usually (a) fear of the test, (b) weak math foundation, (c) simple lack of practice with SAT-style questioning. A neurotypical, motivated kid can self-tutor by taking a practice test, scoring it, and then thoroughly analyzing why he/she missed each question. If there are "holes" (AKA factoring quadratics / working with fractions / etc), shore those up (via Khan, an old math book, or a tutor / friend), and then take another practice test.

I ask my tutoring kids to have 4 full practice tests complete prior to their first "real" test day. 

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Dd#1's math scores were best when she was in Pre-Calc so, for us, that statement was true. I attributed it to practicing some of the algebra content multiple times, using the geometry concepts in pre-calc, and familiarity over multiple years with the same problem types.

What type of problems did she struggle with? A seasoned tutor will be able to use her practice tests (and real one if she took it on a test release date-which I insist on for my kids) to hone in on the problems and get the most bang for her time & $.

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There are few trig type problems and skipping them would not cause a abyssmal score so it depends on what you are looking at.

Speed is also an issue, so for someone who has to really think about the problem and write things down and can't do mental math (most of the numbers used were smaller and easy to do mentally) might struggle with even finishing. Honestly, a kid in pre-calc will have had more experience at all the types of problems (pre-calc reviews all of those more advanced algebra concepts) and it is likely that if they got to pre-calc faster, it might be because they have the aforementioned skills down. So of course, it makes sense.

But honestly as a tutor I would choose to work on the speed and understanding of the more basic material. I'm assuming the point is to get the score up not get a perfect score. So I would ask how she usually works with students at your daughters level.

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I found that my dd needed to have completed through Algebra 2 with Mathusee PLUS several chapters in Mathusee PreCal which included functions (important!) and radians.  (We actually had to skip around to cover those before she took the SAT as they fall a bit later in the PreCal book.)  We are also now hitting graphing sine and cosine curves which she just mentioned would have been helpful on the SAT.  

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