A+ Featured Student: Geena Sarnoski

July 6, 2021 
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Curious and driven, Upper Dublin High School junior Geena Sarnoski took the SAT this past May and was able to improve her score by 110 points overall with an 80-point math increase and 30-point verbal increase. Geena was inspired by her brother’s similar success using A+ tutors who she says earned his praise and who made studying for the SAT a fun experience. Geena’s own achievement was the result of the winning combination of her impressive work ethic and the quality instruction from her math tutor, Angelica Jamatte, and from her verbal tutor, Pat Graber. To celebrate their accomplishments, we spoke with Geena about the process she went through with her tutors.

Congratulations on your success, Geena! Looking back, how would you describe the overall preparation you received and what specifically did you find most helpful?

GEENA: I think A+ completely presented and covered the information and topics that I needed to know for the SAT. My tutors taught me a topic, gave me some practice problems immediately after, and then some more for homework. They made sure the topic stuck in my head, so I would remember it on the test. They covered the material that I struggled with and the major topics that appear on every SAT. Talking to some of my other friends, I found that their tutors failed to do this.

Of all the skills and strategies covered during test prep, what stands out as the best piece of advice you received from your tutor?

GEENA: The best piece of advice that my tutors gave me was to stay calm while taking the test. They knew that they had taught me the material and that I was ready for the test physically, but they also made sure I was ready mentally. They told me to stay focused and calm and that I would do great.

Becoming a more calm and careful test taker was crucial to Geena’s success. Indeed, according to Geena’s tutors, what helped Geena most was how she embraced the learning process. Jamatte describes how Geena initially got some math questions incorrect because she would make “small errors on easy problems,” but instead of just telling her the answers or how to solve a problem, Jamatte guided her to clues so Geena could figure problems out for herself. As Jamatte reports, Geena “was very engaged with the material and didn’t take it personally when she got something wrong. She was interested in finding out why she got it wrong and making sure to not repeat the mistake.”

Getting correct answers is one thing. Getting them right while also getting through the test in time is an extra challenge that Graber worked on with Geena. As she took multiple practice tests, Graber says Geena “was able to pick up speed without sacrificing accuracy.” In Graber’s view, what was more impressive than the score gains was the “the time and effort” Geena put “into making improvements in the areas needed.” Geena reflected on that effort when asked about the challenges she faced during test prep.

What was your biggest challenge?

GEENA: I think my biggest challenge was time management. I had to complete my homework for tutoring, my homework for school, and practice sports. It took some time and practice, but eventually I found a schedule that worked for me and allowed me to get everything done.

A unique challenge that both Geena and her tutors faced this year was conducting tutoring sessions remotely. Generally speaking, sessions were conducted using A+’s virtual meeting platform iCollaborate. For Geena and math tutor Jamatte, iCollaborate’s interactive features were especially helpful because you can “write something and the student sees it immediately.” Graber, meanwhile, appreciated “having access to some of the extra materials, and being able to share them.” Geena sums up her remote tutoring experience positively, saying “I think A+ did a great job finding ways for students to prepare for the SAT during these unprecedented times.” 

What advice do you have for students just starting the standardized testing process?

GEENA: I would tell students just starting the standardized testing process to put in work early and trust your tutors. They know what they are doing and they will prepare you for the test. If you put your best effort forth early on, you will be prepared when you take the test and you will be more likely to get a score that you are happy with. As a result, you will not have to take the test again and you can move on with a score that you like.

With tutoring in the past, let’s look to the future. What colleges interest you and what do you think you would like to study?

GEENA: I hope to attend college and major in mathematics, but I am not sure where exactly I want to go to college. After college I want to travel and do work that involves math. 

We at A+ want to echo Geena’s verbal tutor, Pat Graber: “Geena is a great person and a pleasure to work with. I wish her the best of luck in the future!”

At A+ Test Prep and Tutoring, our practices are based on the latest developments in educational theory and research. We have an excellent team of tutors who can help you with standardized testing, executive functioning, or achievement in any other school subject. If you want to find out more about our services, our Client Service Directors Susan Ware and Joelle Faucette can be reached at 215-886-9188.

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