Case Study 3: The Prep Plateau
Teresa was a popular girl at Franklin High with a starting score of 21. She never thought of herself as an academic-type, but she needed a 27 for her dream school. Her tutor unearthed the academic insecurities that were preventing real growth.
Many students anticipate their development will be a linear progression: the more hours devoted to study and prep, the greater the results. After every session, you should be able to earn a higher score. Right? In reality, this isn’t the case. Real educational growth spikes and plateaus: after long periods of time without tangible progress, suddenly a strategy or concepts will lock into place, and you’ll see a tremendous breakthrough. These breakthroughs happen unpredictably, when you finally dig up the root of a misconception or misunderstanding. This requires patience and determination on the part of the student: you can’t be shy about voicing confusion. This was Teresa’s main stumbling block. In class, she was the never the person to raise her hand — she was afraid of being wrong.
Teresa’s first official ACT was the exact same score as her diagnostic. She felt deflated. Could it be that tutoring just wasn’t working — or worse, that she really couldn’t manage the content? Teresa’s slow growth is typical of students with her starting score. She needed time to finally shore up those baseline skill sets to experience true growth on the ACT. Her tutor pushed her to keep at it, working to the end of the concept review phase before testing again. This time, her score went up to a 25.
In the one-on-one setting, Teresa couldn’t hide in the back of the classroom until someone else gave an answer. It was just her and her tutor. He didn’t let her off easy, either — he pushed her past frustration, demanding resolute decision making in the face of questions that challenged her most. Despite Teresa’s frustrations with her scores on practice tests, we saw qualitative improvement: with each test, she was getting closer and closer to finally getting the questions she was missing right. Her tutor knew was on the verge of breaking through one more plateau.
Teresa scored the 27 she was hoping for on her final ACT. She’s been accepted everywhere she applied!