Ivy Bound Essay Evaluations
The essay prompts that follow the ACT and the SAT are optional. At the end of the multiple choice sections, students are allowed to leave. Those who have paid to stay and receive an essay evaluation commence reading and responding to a prompt. They have four pages on which to hand-write an essay. There is no spell-check, grammar-check, or formatting help, so for many students this old-fashioned task is very new.
The prompts themselves are novel. Few students practice this kind of impromptu essay in school. However, it can be coached! Ivy Bound students can see significant gains on their essay scores with relatively little coaching.
Our coaching takes three forms: a group lecture, an individualized work-through, and individualized essay evaluations. Students can enlist in one, two, or all three.
The group lecture is given on two successive nights in a Zoom conference. These two 45 minute sessions give students the basics of what the ACT/SAT readers are looking for, what students should avoid, how students should organize, and how they should manage their time. We also cover specific “do’s and don’ts” of sentence writing and paragraph exposition. These sessions are free of charge for all students in our ACT and SAT programs.
The individualized work-through is done with a private tutor. One or more sessions are devoted to the student making a “game plan” for various types of prompts. The work includes making sure a student will cover the criteria the prompt seeks, making a compelling first paragraph, creating body paragraphs quickly, and making sure to wrap up on time with a strong call to action. Most of Ivy Bound’s ACT/SAT math and verbal tutors are trained in essay work-throughs, so parents can smoothly enlist them for extra tutoring devoted to the essay. Some tutors will conduct this work as part of a longer session that covers an ACT/SAT lesson or in a practice test review.
The individualized essay evaluations are done by an Ivy Bound tutor who is not the student’s regular tutor. The evaluators are steeped in essay evaluations. They receive a student’s emailed essay and return it with a score on the ACT or SAT scale and helpful suggestions for how the student can improve the next time. The typical turnaround for this process is 72 hours. The student’s private tutor can see these comments and work with the tutor from there. Parents purchase a block for $350 that allows up to six evaluations, or for $675 that allows for up to 12 evaluations. These can be any mix of SAT or ACT. We encourage the student to send two essays of the same type at a time; it gives the evaluator a sense of an error that is being repeated or a good habit that has been ingrained.
Sample Pacing, using two or all three modes:
Set a Target Test date. Then count back the weeks.
- Six and a half weeks before: attend / download the Tuesday & Wednesday lectures
- Six weekends before: do two essays and email to the Evaluator
- Five and a half to five weeks before: do individualized work-through with your tutor*
- Four Weekends before: do two more essays and email to the Evaluator
- Three and a half to three weeks before: if needed, more work-through with your tutor*
- Two weekends before: do one or two more essays and email to the Evaluator
- One and a half to one week before: finalize a Game Plan for the Essay**
*The tutor may not be needed. Many essay hints and a few exercises are in the ACT and SAT home study materials given to all Ivy Bound ACT and SAT students.
** The Game Plan has a Multiple Choice counterpart. The SAT and ACT Game Plan blanks in the back of our Ivy Bound binders are meant to be filled in by the student as the student gains experience with Practice Tests.
The Importance of the Essays
Colleges have placed less importance on the essays in recent years. The most competitive colleges still tend to require and admire high scores on essays. Essays have been used as an admissions “tie-breaker” among applicants whose credentials put them on the edge of admission or rejection.
A high essay score can be a boost for a student who fails to show high SAT or ACT verbal scores. It can obliquely reassure a concerned admissions officer that a student has proficient language skills.
ACT and SAT essays were reputedly used to help a college corroborate whether the crafted admissions essay was actually the student’s original work. We know of no incidents where this was actually used against a student.
Our suggestion for students wanting admission to a top college or a high scholarship from a college is to show strong scores on all standardized tests. Essay prep for the ACT and SAT requires relatively low effort – four to at most ten hours of study and practice time.
One major benefit of this kind of essay preparation is that impromptu hand-written essays are still the major mode of testing in college liberal arts classes. 30 to 60 minute essays written in “blue books” remain widespread throughout college campuses. Displaying subject knowledge is paramount for a good grade, but test-taking and time-management skills also come into play.
Recommended SAT/ACT Texts:
Ivy Bound Private Tutoring
Private tutoring is Ivy Bound’s most requested service. Students everywhere love private tutoring because it offers four benefits to your learning:
1) a tutor can meet you on a flexible schedule
2) session length is also flexible, 1-3 hours is standard, but we work with your needs
3) a tutor can tailor the work to your abilities and interests
4) a tutor can pace the learning at the pace YOU want.
In addition to the confidentiality, private tutoring allows the student to learn in their own style. The tutor is there to lead them along their path to academic greatness. Try one of our private tutors today and see results in the classroom and on exams!
Ivy Bound Classes
Do you work better with having a class agenda? Would you prefer a set time every week for an additional class? Then try out an Ivy Bound class! Our classes meet on different schedules, but choosing one that works for you is very simple. Classes meet with a teacher and complete a full agenda to help you with whatever subject you need.
Our classes are advantageous for three types of students:
1) those who want a lower price for great academic results
2) one who is more comfortable with dynamic group work
3) those who like a “classroom” setting.
Our online classes are conducted formally with strict starting times and break times. The structure keeps our staff and students consistent. Is your student shy when asking questions in the classroom? Fear no more! The online classroom experience allows for questions to be asked anonymously, so there is no pressure if a student is having a difficult time learning a specific topic. In the online classroom setting, all students have the ability to be active and learn effectively.
Ivy Bound Groups
Can’t make our class times? Do you learn better with a group dynamic? Then try out one of our group sessions! Groups meet every week at a designated time. Pay a monthly fee to drop in for any of our group meeting times and receive help from an Ivy Bound tutor! Our groups span four consistent dates each month. Students are able to attend for 90 minutes on each group date.
Can’t make a predetermined group meeting time? Then start your own group! Ivy Bound allows students to form their own group and choose what time they would like to meet. Simply tell us how many students you have, when you would like to meet, and Ivy Bound takes care of the rest.
Let Ivy Bound tutors help assist you in achieving academic success!