A surprising thank you from a reluctant math studentBy Daryl CapuanoStudent Mastery
“You’ll be happy and surprised to hear that Alyssa thanked me for setting up all that math tutoring!” Mr. Rhodes, Alyssa’s father, said as she was just accepted to a top liberal arts college.
Alyssa had first started working with us in 8th grade when she was at John Winthrop middle school in Deep River, CT. She entered our sessions reluctantly. But she had not mastered fractions, ratios, percentages and a variety of other K-8 math concepts that would haunt her throughout high school if she didn’t put in some extra time. Alyssa was a big reader and did wonderfully well in English and social studies. She also had a strong memory and a good work ethic, at least for areas that she liked. Straight As and a B- math would be a fine report card except that Alyssa, even in 8th grade, had ambitions to attend a top college.
During 9th and 10th grade, Alyssa struggled with math, particularly because she did not connect with her Algebra II teacher, but was bolstered by tutoring and managed to both learn a great deal and earn reasonable grades. She continued to get straight As in all other subjects.
I finally worked with her when she took our SAT Mastery Seminar. She demonstrated brilliance in both the reading and grammar sections. In math, she said she was terrible but her initial scores on practice sets were solid. The reason was that she had mastered math processes related to the fundamentals. She was not conceptually strong but our math tutor had taught her ways to deal with fractions, percentages, ratios, basic Algebra and geometry such that she knew how to work through the problems mechanically. The fundamentals really matter for test prep success.
Ultimately, her math grades and scores, while always trailing other areas, were good enough to keep her GPA and SAT scores within the lower range of top colleges. Her test scores in reading and writing as well as her grades in other areas carried into college admission and led to her surprising “thank you” to her parents.