Featured Test Prep Student: Nicole Tan

Featured Test Prep Student Nicole TanSixteen-year-old Nicole Tan is a junior at Wissahickon High School in Lower Gwynedd, PA. Nicole stays busy with dance, the robotics team, math club, and key club—but she is also looking toward her future.

Like her classmates in the class of 2017, Nicole will face a unique situation with college admissions testing: the new SAT will first appear during the spring of her junior year, which is a popular time for students to take the SAT. Because of this timing, Nicole wanted to be sure to take the current version of the SAT, so she took it in June following her sophomore year. 

“I wanted to take the old SAT. There is more study material out for it, and it isn’t as similar to the ACT as the new SAT will be,” she said.

Nicole excels in math, but she wanted to improve on the Critical Reading and Writing sections of the SAT. Her school’s guidance office gave her a list of recommended tutoring programs in the area, and ultimately her father selected A+ Test Prep and Tutoring. She began a five-session tutoring program with verbal tutor Kathy Astrue.

“Nicole was unique. Not every student comes in so high on her diagnostic test. With a baseline Critical Reading score of 750, the goal was to get a perfect score.” Kathy determined that to boost Nicole’s already high score, they would focus on content and strategy, as well as sharpening her essay-writing skills.

“I really liked working with Kathy. One of the main things I wanted to work on with her was the essay portion of the Writing section. I’m not a very strong writer,” Nicole explained. “She helped me focus my point and to stay on topic when I write.”

Kathy worked with Nicole on bolstering her thesis with better and more detailed examples, as well as avoiding mechanical errors.

Despite her struggles with writing, Nicole said the Critical Reading was the hardest section for her. Kathy came up with a strategy that helped her make better choices when selecting an answer.

“Sometimes it was pushing her to figure out the logic of a sentence a little more than she had initially,” Nicole’s tutor explained. “Every time we met, we went over every question she got wrong in detail. I had her re-think each of those, and had her explain to me why the answer she initially picked was not the best answer. This microanalysis helped her understand how the College Board constructs incorrect answers and sharpened her already very good analytical skills.”

When it came to test day, Nicole was a bit nervous since it was her first time taking the full SAT, but she felt more confident than when she had taken SAT Subject Tests in the past. “Once I was in there, I just got in the zone, and it went well.”

Nicole was awarded two perfect scores of 800 in Critical Reading and Math, and earned a 720 in the Writing section.

“It’s definitely worthwhile to go through a tutoring program like A+. It focuses what you are studying. I found that the SAT is less about knowing the answers to the questions and more about understanding how the SAT questions are made. Going to A+ really helped me understand that. It was a positive experience,” Nicole said.

Nicole still has plenty of time to decide, but at this point she is interested in studying engineering and possibly economics when she goes to college. She plans to apply to Stanford, Columbia, Pitt, and Drexel.

Congratulations to Nicole on her outstanding scores and best of luck as to her she in her future academic endeavors.

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