Student Spotlight

Meet our recent alums!

SATs and ACTs

Kathleen L

.

SAT 1530

The Westminster Schools

Kathleen was awarded the Charter Scholarship at UGA, where she studied Marketing and International Business with a minor in Spanish. Kathleen took the SAT Class at Georgia Tech with Kevin Lawkins and Sid Rao.

What did you find most challenging about the SAT?

Section wise, it was the math section for me. The reading was kind of my wheelhouse, so that came easy. The biggest challenge was managing time I would say. You know if you get stuck on a question you are not supposed to spend all of your time on it, but you can get into a perfectionist mentality. You think “if I just take 30 more seconds, I’ll be able to solve this,” and you have a mental block which can be stressful. It took me some time to break out of that habit.

What was the most useful thing you learned from tutoring?

You guys taught a lot of test taking strategy and that helped a lot. You learn to view questions as falling into a category, rather than testing one piece of knowledge. For example, even if you don’t know an exact word, you’ve seen the type of question before and have an idea how to solve it.

How would you describe the SAT class?

I liked that the you guys kept it relaxed and fun. We had the math and reading ‘games’ each class which were fun and kept things interesting. I also liked how we broke up into smaller groups to focus on areas we needed more help with. I remember spending a good bit of time in the breakout rooms at [Georgia] Tech, getting individual help on math problems.

What was the hardest part of SAT test preparation?

The SAT seemed daunting at first— I think I would have procrastinated a lot if I hadn’t had a reason to stay accountable. The class, with the homework assignments, helped to create structure and that made the process a lot easier.

Kathleen L

.

SAT 1530

The Westminster Schools

Kathleen was awarded the Charter Scholarship at UGA, where she studied Marketing and International Business with a minor in Spanish. Kathleen took the SAT Class at Georgia Tech with Kevin Lawkins and Sid Rao.

What did you find most challenging about the SAT?

Section wise, it was the math section for me. The reading was kind of my wheelhouse, so that came easy. The biggest challenge was managing time I would say. You know if you get stuck on a question you are not supposed to spend all of your time on it, but you can get into a perfectionist mentality. You think “if I just take 30 more seconds, I’ll be able to solve this,” and you have a mental block which can be stressful. It took me some time to break out of that habit.

Aidan G

.

SAT 1570

Pace Academy

Aidan is currently at Yale, where he is majoring in Economics and is a writer for the Yale Herald. Aidan did individual SAT tutoring with Cooper Link.

What did you find most challenging about the SAT?

For me, the reading section came naturally (I know it can be hard for others), but I most often got tripped up on little mistakes in the math section. Even if you know how to solve the problem, it's so easy to miss a step along the way or misread what you had written down. Those kinds of errors stack up over time, and were the hardest thing for me to fix. My tutor, Cooper, helped run me through strategies to avoid those careless mistakes.

What was the most useful thing you learned from tutoring?

The attention to detail my tutor emphasized was really helpful not only for the SAT but also in my academic life heading into college. I learned how to make less mistakes, sure, but also about how to have a set, structured process in your mind to run through no matter the material or class. This helps keep me on track- I can sit down and get to work right away without having to figure out where I want to start or how I want to attack a problem.

How would you describe your tutoring sessions?

My tutoring sessions were awesome. Cooper made sure the atmosphere was focused, but also more low-key than a school/class environment. I was never stressed going in, because I knew he just wanted the best for me. He was really engaging, and did a great job going through the problems I was having issues on and making those areas the focus of our next session.

What was the hardest part of SAT test preparation?

It can definitely be intimidating to look at the stack of problems in front of you and think about how much time you have to get it done. My biggest worry when taking the practice tests was timing, but because you get so much practice in, by the time the actual test comes around it feels like no big deal- been there, done that kind of mentality.

Aidan G

.

SAT 1570

Pace Academy

Aidan is currently at Yale, where he is majoring in Economics and is a writer for the Yale Herald. Aidan did individual SAT tutoring with Cooper Link.

What did you find most challenging about the SAT?

For me, the reading section came naturally (I know it can be hard for others), but I most often got tripped up on little mistakes in the math section. Even if you know how to solve the problem, it's so easy to miss a step along the way or misread what you had written down. Those kinds of errors stack up over time, and were the hardest thing for me to fix. My tutor, Cooper, helped run me through strategies to avoid those careless mistakes.

Riya P

.

ACT 35

King High

Riya is currently at Cornell, where she is studying Policy Analysis and Management, and is a peer ambassador. Riya did online individual ACT tutoring with Alexander Academy’s Emma Smith.

What did you find most challenging about the ACT?

The ACT is really long and trying to stay focused and not make mistakes the entire time was definitely challenging.

What was the most useful thing you learned from tutoring?

How to categorize the easier math and grammar problems. I think that’s one of the big things that clicked for me—knowing how to identify the type of problem and having a method, or approach, already in mind. I think that helped save a lot of time and made the test feel easier and less stressful.

How would you describe the tutoring sessions?

I loved my sessions. I know most of my friends did not like studying for ACTs and SATs, but I thought the whole process was pretty smooth. My tutor, Samantha, would start each session by going through homework from the week before, and reviewing any mistakes that I made. We would usually spend about 30 to 40 minutes on exercises and problem sets related to those areas, and the rest of the time on new material.

What was the hardest part of SAT test preparation?

I’m not sure, I didn’t think it was too bad!

Riya P

.

ACT 35

King High

Riya is currently at Cornell, where she is studying Policy Analysis and Management, and is a peer ambassador. Riya did online individual ACT tutoring with Alexander Academy’s Emma Smith.

What did you find most challenging about the ACT?

The ACT is really long and trying to stay focused and not make mistakes the entire time was definitely challenging.

Jason R

.

SAT 1540

Pace Academy

Jason is currently at Duke, where he is double majoring in Computer Science and Economics. Jason did individual SAT tutoring with Aradhya Rajanala.

What did you find most challenging about the SAT?

I thought that the hardest part of the SAT was the reading section. I’m more of a STEM person myself, so reading the passages and digesting all the important information in the time limit was hard for me. However, with a lot of practice and getting used to the test, I improved a great amount over a few months.

What was the most useful thing you learned from tutoring?

The study skills were definitely the best thing I learned from SAT tutoring. My tutor, Aradhya, not only helped encourage me to study more than I would have otherwise, but also helped me analyze my mistakes and led me to fix those mistakes in future tests. Now, in college, I feel like my studying tactics have improved exponentially since high school, and that was in part due to my SAT tutoring.

How would you describe your tutoring sessions?

Doing practice SAT sections and going over my answers was the majority of what I did during the sessions, but Aradhya and I also got to know each other and connected on a personal level. Aradhya and I would often talk about his college experience at Georgia Tech and he let me know what college would really be like. In a way, those tutoring sessions were akin to how I now study in college: I usually get together with a friend and practice but also make it enjoyable by being with other people.

What was the hardest part of SAT test preparation?

For me, the hardest part of preparation was doing SAT practice tests day-in and day-out. If I had to guess, I probably did 2-3 tests per week to prepare myself, and it would get tiring at some points. However, I reminded myself of the goal of my preparation, and that helped motivate me to continue throughout the weeks.

Jason R

.

SAT 1540

Pace Academy

Jason is currently at Duke, where he is double majoring in Computer Science and Economics. Jason did individual SAT tutoring with Aradhya Rajanala.

What did you find most challenging about the SAT?

I thought that the hardest part of the SAT was the reading section. I’m more of a STEM person myself, so reading the passages and digesting all the important information in the time limit was hard for me. However, with a lot of practice and getting used to the test, I improved a great amount over a few months.

Mitchel 0

.

ACT 36

The Westminster Schools

Mitchel is a neuroscience major and undergraduate researcher at Yale. Mitchel did individual ACT tutoring with Aradhya Rajanala.

What did you find most challenging about the ACT?

I would say avoiding the small mistakes under time pressure. I felt comfortable with the material, but seemed to always make a handful of small errors on the practice tests.

What was the most useful thing you learned from tutoring?

Tutoring helped me to practice in a more disciplined way than I probably would have. [My tutor] John would bring back questions that I missed, and have me re-do them for homework or on [review] quizzes. We also worked a good bit on speed. I remember having to learn different methods for solving algebra and geometry questions, which helped me to finish those sections faster.

How would you describe the tutoring sessions?

A lot of timed exercises!

What was the hardest part of SAT test preparation?

The homework could be a little tedious at times. I was taking 4 AP’s my junior year, so getting through all of the problem sets and mock tests at the same time was difficult. But I’m glad I stuck with it!

Mitchel 0

.

ACT 36

The Westminster Schools

Mitchel is a neuroscience major and undergraduate researcher at Yale. Mitchel did individual ACT tutoring with Aradhya Rajanala.

What did you find most challenging about the ACT?

I would say avoiding the small mistakes under time pressure. I felt comfortable with the material, but seemed to always make a handful of small errors on the practice tests.

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Academic Tutoring

Kayla J

.

AP Biology 5

Price High School

Kayla is currently a rising senior at Price, where she runs on the track and field team. Kayla did online individual AP Bio tutoring with Alexander Academy’s Emma Smith.

What was most helpful about tutoring?

I think what was most helpful was just knowing that I could ask questions whenever I needed to. I would meet with my tutor [Emma] once a week usually, but I would also be sending her questions maybe 3 or 4 times a week, which she would always answer within an hour or two. That was really helpful, because I wouldn’t stay stuck on homework assignments, and also just knowing that I had that support.

Kayla J

.

AP Biology 5

Price High School

Kayla is currently a rising senior at Price, where she runs on the track and field team. Kayla did online individual AP Bio tutoring with Alexander Academy’s Emma Smith.

What was most helpful about tutoring?

I think what was most helpful was just knowing that I could ask questions whenever I needed to. I would meet with my tutor [Emma] once a week usually, but I would also be sending her questions maybe 3 or 4 times a week, which she would always answer within an hour or two. That was really helpful, because I wouldn’t stay stuck on homework assignments, and also just knowing that I had that support.

What was the most useful testing strategy?

Mainly it was figuring out what was important on the test and what was not. Emma was really knowledgeable about AP Bio, and helped me to organize my study plan and to divide the material up into categories. I probably wouldn’t have known where to start without that!

How does the difficulty of college courses compare to AP courses?

It depends on the course, but pretty comparable actually. Exam periods in college are harder overall but I thought my AP classes were pretty challenging and the work load was comparable. I think AP courses are definitely good preparation for college.

Charlotte R

.

Algebra II A

AIS

Charlotte received a full scholarship to the University of Stuttgart, in Germany, where she is studying business management. She did individual academic tutoring with Alexander Academy’s Erica Shin.

What was most helpful about tutoring?

Explaining the material in a way that made sense. I think different people learn in different ways and having someone take the time to explain concepts in a way that clicked for me, was really helpful.

Charlotte R

.

Algebra II A

AIS

Charlotte received a full scholarship to the University of Stuttgart, in Germany, where she is studying business management. She did individual academic tutoring with Alexander Academy’s Erica Shin.

What was most helpful about tutoring?

Explaining the material in a way that made sense. I think different people learn in different ways and having someone take the time to explain concepts in a way that clicked for me, was really helpful.

What was the most useful testing strategy?

I would say it was less about testing strategies and more about how to prepare. [My tutor] Erica helped me to create study plans for every test, which we would usually start on the week before. I was really grateful for that because it made the class feel much more manageable.

Are there any skills you learned that have been useful in college as well?

Yes definitely! I have taken two math classes in college and I’ve used several things that Erica and I went over in our sessions. The counting methods [permutations and combinations] that we learned, in particular, have been very useful.

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