How to Tutor SATs
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To be a good SATs tutor, you should be fully prepared for the challenge your students will face in the tests. In this article, we share some practical advice on how to tutor for the SATs.
Create a Study Plan Specific to Each Student
Every child is different. When it comes to tutoring for the SATs, you must build a study plan that is tailor-made for individual students, rather than adopting a ‘one size fits all’ approach. This study plan should be created early on, to allow enough time to cover all the SATs topics. Discuss the plan with your students’ parents, as they will have a better idea of their child’s typical routine and can offer guidance and insight.
When creating a study plan, tutors should:
- Encourage short, regular study sessions – these make it easier for children to maintain their motivation, as opposed to long, more irregular study sessions.
- Find the right learning strategy for each student. As a tutor, it is your duty to ensure that the study plan is tailored to each student’s needs and includes a mix of learning techniques that will resonate with the student. For example, if the student has a particular interest in writing, note-taking could be a beneficial learning technique.
Learn the Exam Format
To be an effective SAT tutor, you need to have an excellent understanding of the material that you’re tutoring. This means learning as much as you can about the SATs and, in turn, making sure your students are familiar with the exam format.
In an early session with your student, cover the basics: how long the tests are, how many questions they will be required to answer and the difference between different sections in the SATs exam. In order to tutor children for their SATs, you must know exactly what your student should expect to see on the test papers and have a solid grasp of both the question formats and subjects covered in the tests.
In Year 6, children sit SATs exams that cover the following subjects:
- Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar – Paper 1 is a grammar and punctuation test (45 minutes) and Paper 2 is a spelling test (15 minutes)
- Maths – Paper 1 tests arithmetic (30 minutes), Papers 2 and 3 test mathematical reasoning (both 40 minutes)
Exam practice papers are an effective way to help students become more familiar with the SATs exam layout and question types.
For Year 6 students, we would recommend the following resources for SATs exam practice:
Practice Papers Under Timed Conditions
While SATs exams are relatively short time-wise, they do require children to read texts quickly, and answer questions confidently. For many students at this stage, it will be the first time that they have had to sit a test under timed conditions. Therefore, many students that come to you for tutoring might not have any experience of time management or its importance in the SATs.
You can test a child’s existing time management skills by asking them to sit a practice paper under timed conditions. If they run out of time before answering all the questions, it is likely that you will need to dedicate tutoring time to working on their time management. Similarly, if they finish the practice test too early, they might have missed a question, or not answered each one in full and therefore lose marks.
Practice SATs exam papers give children necessary practice ahead of the exam and provide you with immediate feedback after completion, allowing you to track their progress.
Set Tutoring Goals
It’s a good idea to establish what students (and their parents) are hoping to achieve from the tuition. It’d be easy to assume that all parents are simply interested in their child getting ‘a high SATs score’, but you might be surprised; it could be that they would like their child to focus on improving their concentration, or to become more motivated ahead of the SATs.
It’s impossible for all students to achieve top scores in the SATs, so setting achievable goals that work for both students and their parents will give you something to work towards in your tutoring sessions.
Do Not Leave a Question Unanswered
Previous SATs have shown that many children are opting to leave the harder questions unanswered, rather than tackle them. When tutoring children for SATs, it is important to encourage them continually to answer all questions, whether they believe that they know the answer or not.
Harder questions are usually worth the most marks, so children are missing out on potentially higher scores. Tutoring children to attempt every question on the test sets them up with a greater chance of achieving a high score.
Your students are likely to perform better in the SATs if they are confident, so help to build that confidence during your tutoring sessions. If students believe that they can do well in the exam, they are much more likely to perform at their best on the day. Acknowledge when a student has performed well and they will be motivated to keep receiving positive feedback.