Posts Tagged ‘ISEE Boston’

Daniel C. (Wellesley, MA)

“I wanted to drop you a note to thank you for all your work with our son during the recent months in preparation for the ISEE.   He felt good about the test—there were certainly some difficult patches, but he weathered it all and he said he completed all of the sections in time (a fact that alone suggests that he made some good progress over recent months) and he thought he did pretty well.  There is little doubt in our mind that your work with him was of great assistance to him both in terms of fundamentals—as you know, he has not yet studied at school much of the mathematics that was on the test, so your work with him gave him a fighting chance on a lot of that material—and in terms of boosting his personal confidence.  Hopefully, he does well—but we of course shall see.   Thanks very much for all your help.”

February 4th, 2014
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Cathy N. (Natick, MA)

“We are so grateful that we found Prepped and Polished online tutoring services, and that Alexis set us up with our ISEE and Writing tutor, Terri! Terri, you have been such a huge help for our daughter—both in her confidence level and her academics!!! We can’t thank you enough!!!”

December 13th, 2013
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Power Strategies to Master Synonyms for ISEE and SSAT

SSAT and ISEE Tutor Terri K. of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you five power strategies and one bonus tip for the SSAT and ISEE Synonym section.

1. When you know the stem word, cover the choices. Think of the word phrase or definition closest in meaning to the stem word. Then look for that word among the answer choices.
2. If you don’t know the stem word, put it in context.

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3. If the stem word is positive then the answer choice must be positive. If the stem word is negative then the answer choice must be negative.
4. Use prefixes and suffixes to provide clues to figure out the meaning of words.
5. Use all the power strategies to help you eliminate. Cross out answers that are farthest from the meaning of the stem word. On the ISEE always guess. On the SSAT guess after eliminating at least two answer choices.

BONUS TIP: The best way to excel on the SSAT and ISEE synonyms is to READ and look up unfamiliar words right away to increase vocabulary knowledge.

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi. I’m Terri, with Prepped & Polished in South Natick, Massachusetts.
Today, I’m going to share some power strategies with you to help you master
synonyms on the ISEE and the SSAT. Synonym questions make up 50% of the
verbal reasoning portion on both tests. It’s to your advantage to
assimilate these power strategies and make them work for you.Let’s talk a little bit about format. All synonym questions have a stem
word in capital letters, followed by 4 answer choices on the ISEE and 5
answer choices on the SSAT. Your task is to select the answer choice that
is closest in meaning to the stem word. Let’s try that out with Power
Strategy #1.When you know the stem word, cover the answer choices, and then think of a
word, phrase or definition closest in meaning to the stem word. Then look
for that word among the answer choices. For ‘bizarre’, you think to
yourself, “Strange is close in meaning,” then you’re going to uncover the
answer choices. ‘Only’ doesn’t work, ‘unable’, ‘found’. The closest in
meaning to ‘strange’ is ‘odd’; there’s your answer.Power Strategy #2: If you don’t know the stem word, try to think of a
context that you know. Have you heard the word before? Have you read the
word before? Let’s try two examples. ‘Abate’: Maybe you’ve heard a weather
person say, “The storm will abate by midnight,” and you took that to mean
‘reduce in intensity’ or ‘lessen’. Let’s see if any of the choices match
that. Not ‘pretend’, not ‘finalize’, not ‘endanger’, or ‘oppose’.
‘Decrease’ would be the right answer. How about ‘surrogate’? Perhaps you’ve
heard of a surrogate mother, a substitute mother, and we actually see that
word for Choice E. We know right away, right off the bat, that that’s the
correct answer. Done.Power Strategy #3: Positive/Negative. If a stem word is positive, then the
answer choice must be positive. If a stem word is negative, the answer
choice must be negative. Let’s look at an example: ‘Belligerent’, is a
negative word. I don’t know if you’re familiar with ‘bell-‘, a word part,
but that means war-like. Belligerent is a negative word. It helps if you
put + and – signs next to the words to see which are positive and negative.
We can get rid of A, C, and E right off the bat, and we’re less with
‘messy’ and ‘antagonistic’. Belligerent is closest in meaning to
antagonistic, so D is the correct answer.Power Strategy #4: Word Parts. Word parts can give you powerful clues to
figure out the meaning of words. Prefixes come at the beginning of words,
suffixes are at the end, and a root can be in any part of the word. Let’s
look at a few examples. Apathy: The prefix ‘A’ means without, ‘-pathy’
means feelings or emotions, so ‘without feelings or emotions’. Let’s look
at the choices: Sorrow, ability, sickness, inconvenience; indifference is
the closest in meaning to ‘without feelings’, so E would be the correct
answer.How about monotonous? ‘Mono’ means one and ‘tone’ has to do with sound. If
you heard one sound over and over, it would be annoying and it would also
be repetitious. We know that D, ‘repetitious’, would be the correct answer,
and that’s how word parts can help you.

Power Strategy #5: Eliminate. Use all of the power strategies to help you
eliminate. Cross out answers that are farthest from the meaning of the stem
word. This is a real timesaver and will keep you on track. Remember on the
ISEE, always guess. There’s no penalty for guessing so you can even take a
wild guess if you don’t know the answer. On the SSAT, guess after
eliminating at least 2 answer choices.

Here’s a bonus tip for you: Of course, the best way to excel on the SSAT
and ISEE with synonyms is to read all kinds of material, whether it be
literature, magazines, editorials, newspapers. Look up unfamiliar words
right away and add them to your growing vocabulary. You never know, you
might see one of those words on the ISEE or SSAT synonym portion. I hope
these power strategies will help you to get your best score on the synonym
section of the ISEE and the SSAT. Power-up and good luck.

Are you preparing for the SSAT or ISEE? Which of Terri’s power strategies did you find most helpful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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November 6th, 2013
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SSAT/ISEE Reading Comprehension: A 4 Step Strategy for Success

Terri K. ISEE/SSAT Tutor of Prepped & Polished, LLC in South Natick, Massachusetts teaches you a four step strategy for mastering the ISEE and SSAT Reading Comprehension section.

1. Skim the questions first to focus on info you will need.
2. Read the passages quickly to get the big picture.
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3. Read the questions and answer choices.
4. Answer every reading comprehension question on the ISEE, even if you have to guess. (on the SSAT-guess if you can eliminate one or two answer choices)

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi. I’m Terri from Prepped and Polished in South Natick, Massachusetts.
Today I’m going to share some tips with you on how to improve your reading
comprehension score on the ISEE and the SSAT. Although both tests are very
similar, there are some key differences on the reading comprehension
component that could impact your score and perhaps influence which test you
decide is best for you.Let’s talk about guessing. The ISEE has no penalty for guessing, which
means that omitted questions and wrong answers are weighed the same. The
number of correct answers becomes your raw score, and that’s converted to
your scaled score. So if a student has a strong inclination toward a
certain answer, he or she can guess without fear. By contrast, the SSAT
subtracts a quarter point for each incorrect answer. So a student has to be
much more strategic about guessing.Let’s talk about the passages. The SSAT utilizes various passages from
fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, whereas the ISEE, the reading’s comprised
of nonfiction only. So now I’m going to talk to you about your reading
comprehension four-step strategy for success for either the ISEE or the
SSAT. Step number one: Skim the questions first to focus on the information
that you’ll need. Step number two: Read the passages quickly to get the big
picture. Why did the author write the passage? Be an active reader, and
that means marking up the passage, making notes in the margin as you read,
underlining main ideas, supporting ideas, word choices that are special,
etc.

Step number three: Read the questions and answer choices. Do not spend more
time on the passages than the questions. Spend about a minute per passage
and a minute to a minute and a half per question. Focus on answering the
questions, not studying or learning the text. Do not keep rereading
portions that you don’t understand.

If you don’t know the answer, go back to the passage. All the answers to
reading questions can be found in or inferred from the passages. Use line
references to help you locate information. All word-in-context questions
send you back to line reference or a paragraph indicator. Cross out all the
answers that you can eliminate. The answer choice must be both true and
must be the best answer to that particular question. Number four: Answer
every question on the ISEE, even if you have to guess. On the SSAT, guess
if you can eliminate one or two answer choices. Knowing what to expect on
the ISEE and the SSAT is half the battle to gain confidence and get your
best score possible.

One last tip: Familiarize yourself with the kind of questions that you’ll
find on either test, and it will make it much easier to handle the
questions. Is it a main idea question? Is it a supporting idea or detail
question? Is it an inference question? Is it a word context question? Does
it have to do with tone or figurative language or maybe organization and
logic? Knowing these different types of questions will help you to select
the best answer. Well, I hope this information and tips will help you to
get your best score possible. Good luck.

Are you preparing for the SSAT or ISEE? Which of Terri’s tips did you find most helpful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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October 16th, 2013
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Six Insider Tips to Attack and Master the ISEE Sentence Completions

Prepped & Polished History Tutor for Online ISEE Test Prep to help you with Online ISEE Prep By Terri K., ISEE Test Prep Instructor, Prepped & Polished, LLC

The ISEE has a Verbal Reasoning section that contains 20 sentence completions. These questions are designed to test a student’s vocabulary and reasoning ability. Each sentence completion item consists of a sentence with one missing word or pair of words followed by four potential answer choices. The student is the “detective” who must decipher the clues and select the correct word or pair of words that most appropriately completes the context of the sentence (keeping the sentence clear, logical, and consistent in style and tone). Sentence completion questions are arranged in order of difficulty from easiest to hardest. (Tip: Sentence completion questions come after synonym questions in the ISEE Verbal Reasoning section, but you can choose to do these questions first if you find them easier to answer).

Here are some tried and true tips and elimination strategies that will help you to more quickly attack and master the 20 sentence completions, since you only have approximately 30 seconds for each question:

1) A Strong Vocabulary: First and foremost, a strong vocabulary is an essential skill for the ISEE sentence completions. The best way to prepare and to strengthen vocabulary is to read all types of material as part of your daily routine. Take the time to look up unfamiliar words that you encounter and to make flashcards. Making connections with words helps to remember them (include definition, sentence, root, history, and even a picture, synonym or trigger word as a memory aide).

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2) Look for Familiar Word Parts (Roots, Prefixes): Knowing roots of words is a great aid in figuring out correct answers. Again, looking up words in the dictionary and adding roots to your flashcards will make a huge difference. For example: the root MOR (or MORT or MORS) means death in Latin. Now, even if you do not know the definition, you can more confidently guess the meaning of words such as mortuary (dead bodies are kept in a mortuary), mortician (prepares dead bodies for a funeral), immortal (cannot die). Other common roots are sub (under as in subterranean or submarine), extra (beyond – as in extraterrestrial), terra (Earth – as in terrain), geo (earth, ground as in geology), mar (sea as in maritime), anima (spirit as in animated), mal (bad as in malevolent).

3) First Step – Read the sentence to get overall meaning; cover up answer choices until you find the clue(s) in the sentence: Mentally fill in the blank(s) with your own answer that makes sense. Then, find the answer choice that is closest in meaning to your own answer. You might be surprised to find the exact word that you had in mind. Select that as your answer. If the word you thought of is not a choice, look for a synonym of that word. Eliminate any that are definitely wrong; it is often easier to eliminate wrong answer choices than to pick the right choice. If you still have choices left, guess among the remaining possibilities. Sometimes it is enough to know that the blank requires a word that means something good (positive) or something bad (negative). Note: To assist you in finding the right answer among the answer choices, one-word answers are listed alphabetically and two-word answers are listed alphabetically by the first word.

Example:
Always ——-, the journalist actively questioned the relevant viewpoints on both sides of the issue.
(A) enigmatic
(B) ignoble
(C) impartial
(D) partisan
When reading this sentence, you might recognize that the journalist is fair and unbiased. “Impartial” (choice C) is a synonym for fair.

4) Signal Words: There is almost always a word that obviously points to the correct answer. These signal words are clues that can aid you in figuring out what the sentence actually means.

– Support Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate that the blank continues a thought developed elsewhere in the sentence (examples: and, moreover, in addition, furthermore). A synonym or near-synonym should provide the correct answer. Example:
Mr. Jones is an intelligent and ——– teacher: his knowledge is matched only by his concern for his students.
(A) caring
(B) experienced
(C) unusual
(D) original
(choice A) caring is the answer, a synonym for concern.

– Contrast Signals – look for words/phrases that indicate a contrast between one idea and another (examples: but, although, however, even though, despite)
Example:
Although much of the worst pollution has been ——- in the United States, traces of many toxic chemicals still ——-.
(A) discussed . . . escape
(B) eliminated . . . persist
(C) exaggerated . . . remain
(D) foreseen . . . arise
(choice B) is the correct answer. “Although” is the clue that indicates a contrast and signals you to look for words with opposite or different meanings (eliminated, persist).

– Cause and Effect Signals – look for words/phrases that show that one thing causes another (examples: because, since, for, therefore, as a result, due to, though).
Example:
Because Martha was naturally ——-, she would see the bright side of any situation, but Jack had a ——- personality and always waited for something bad to happen.
(A) cheerful…upbeat
(B) frightened…mawkish
(C) optimistic…dismal
(D) realistic…unreasonable
(choice C) is the correct answer. “Because” is the clue that indicates cause and effect. Note: The word “but” indicates a contrast between Martha and Jack’s personalities.

5) Take One Blank At A Time: Double-blank sentences can seem daunting, but they are actually easier because they supply more clues. After you read through the entire sentence for meaning, insert the first word of each answer pair in the sentence’s first blank. Does it make sense? If not, you can eliminate the entire pair. Next, check out the second word of each of the remaining answer pairs. Both words must make sense when used together.
Example:
The skydiver was ——- to survive after his parachute operated ——-.
(A) unable…perfectly
(B) anxious…instinctively
(C) surprised…adequately
(D) fortunate…improperly
(choice D) is the correct answer. It is the only choice where both words make sense.

6) Eliminating/Guessing: Even if you can’t eliminate any choices, you should guess. There is no guessing penalty on the ISEE. Never leave a question blank. Of course, eliminate before you guess using the strategies that you have learned. On sentence completions, you are looking for the best answer, so use the clues that must be there, in order for the question to have one answer that is better than the others. If you only have a minute left and you are not yet done, fill in all remaining sentence completions.

Summary – 6-step strategic plan to answer sentence completion questions:
– Read the sentence to get the overall meaning.
– Look for clue words that show how sentence parts are related.
– Use the clue words to anticipate the answer based on the relationship indicated.
– Read the answer choices and select the best one.
– Check your answer by reading the sentence with your answer choice in place.
– If you still cannot determine the best answer, eliminate answer choices that clearly do not make sense. Then guess from among the remaining answer choices.

Which level of the ISEE are you getting ready for? Did you find these tips helpful?

Post your tips/comments below.

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Terri graduated magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Connecticut, with a dual degree in Education and English. She has 15 years of teaching and tutoring experience as a licensed teacher (Grades 5-12). Terri works with students from elementary school through college, and serves as an incredible resource when it comes to preparing for standardized tests (SAT, ACT, SSAT, ISEE, MCAS). em>

August 15th, 2013
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Mastering ISEE Synonyms

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished teaches tricks and strategies for mastering the synonym portion of the ISEE test.

First, figure out the definition of the word before looking at the distracting answer choices. Dissect the word and figure out the roots of the word. If you’re not sure about the roots of the word, then use a positive, negative, neutral strategy to find a matching charge of the word.
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Finally, go to the answer choices, and eliminate the three wrong choices.

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi everyone, Alexis Avila, founder of Prepped and Polished LLC, here in
Boston, Massachusetts. Now one of the trickiest sections on the
independent school entrance examination, the ISEE test, especially for non-
native English speakers, is the synonym sections, but with a bit of help
learning tricks and strategies, you can easily make the ISEE synonym section
your most improved section.

Now the first thing that you want to do, is you want to come up with the
definition of the word before you look at the distracting answer choices.
So it’s okay if you don’t know the exact dictionary definition of each
synonym, as long as you can get the general essence of the word you’ll be
in great shape. So you do that by looking at the word’s roots. So in the
word excavate, there are two roots in this word, ex means exit, and cav,
root of cav means hull. Now if you don’t know the roots of a word, you can
still get the question right, try this approach. You might know that
excavate is not a positive word, like happy, it’s not negative word like
terror, it’s actually a neutral charge word, so if you know that, put a
neutral, a plus and minus, in parenthesis right next to the word, and when
you go to your answer choices, you’re going to eliminate any word that is
not a neutral word.

Okay, so now that you came up with some roots of the word, and you figured
out that excavate is a neutral charge word, let’s eliminate some choices.
Now we can eliminate in fact choice A, which is a negative word, and we can
eliminate C, pardon, which is a positively charged word, leaving us with
display and uncover. We’re going to go with choice D because uncover
closely mirrors the word excavate. So remember, if you take apart the
synonym and look for the roots and the charge of the word before you look
at the answer choices, then you’ll be in prime position to swiftly narrow
in on the correct answer. I wish you good luck and I’ll talk to you soon.

Did you find these ISEE Synonym tips helpful? What is your strongest/weakest section on the ISEE test?

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October 26th, 2011
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Mastering SSAT Analogies

Alexis Avila Founder/President of Prepped & Polished teaches you a key technique for mastering the analogy portion of the SSAT test.
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First connect the stem words with a concise, meaningful, dictionary-style definition, and then apply this definition to the answer choices.

Transcript (PDF)

Full Word-for-Word Transcription

Hi, everyone, Alexis Avila, founder of Prep & Polished, LLC, here in
Boston, Massachusetts. Now, the trickiest section on the secondary school
admission test has got to be the analogy section, but with some help
learning some tips and strategies, you can easily make the analogies
section your best section.

Now, here’s the master strategy to doing really well on these analogy
questions. Now, you want to find a bridge between the two stem words by
creating a sentence that is concise and meaningful, that defines one word
in terms of the other, similar to a dictionary definition, and that is
illustrated and visual.

Okay. Let’s try this example. Now, this is a classic analogy, where there
is a clear connection between these two stem words, and you have to be a
detective and find out what that connection is. So this is an example of
not a very good connection. If you were to say, “A trunk is part of an
automobile,” what you’re going to do is apply “part” to all of your answer
choices and see how many choices you can eliminate. Now, is grass a part of
a lawn? Yes, it is, so you have to keep it. Is a button part of a
calculator? Yes, it is. Is paper part of a pen? Okay. Well, we’re able to
eliminate at least one choice. Is a closet part of a house? Sort of. You
have to keep it, but it’s not very good. Is a toe part of a body? Yes, it
is. But do you see how you left four choices open? That’s a reflection on a
bad sentence that you created between your stem words, so what you have to
do is refine your bridge, and you have to really think of one word in terms
of another as if you’re looking at a dictionary, and you look up the word
“trunk,” and it’ll say something about an automobile. You’ve got to think
like a dictionary.

Now, a better sentence would be to say, “A trunk, as a function, stores
things in an automobile.” So we’re going to use the word “stores.” It’s
concise. It’s meaningful. It’s a dictionary definition between the two
words. Now you’re going to see exactly what happens. A grass is a place
that stores things in a lawn. Kill it. A button is a place that stores
things in a calculator. Get rid of it. And we can already get rid of C. A
closet is place where you store things in a house. Looks awesome. We’re
going to keep it. And a toe is place that you store things in a body. I
doubt that. We’re going to go with D. It’s a clear analogy to the stem
words above.

So remember, if you nail the bridge, the connection between the two stem
words, you’ll almost always be able to narrow in on the right answer. So
work on your bridges, and I guarantee you’ll be successful on SSAT analogy
questions. I’ll talk to you soon. Good luck.

Did you find this SSAT analogy tip helpful? What is your strongest/weakest section on the SSAT test?

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August 23rd, 2011
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Gary R. (Toronto, CA)

“We are not from the USA and my boys were applying to Prep Schools and had never written a Standardized Test. We started the process very late and then found out that the boys had to write SSAT’s. The boys wrote the test in Nov and did very poorly. We were referred to Alexis. He spent several days with the boys over the course of a week. He gave them a lot of homework which they did. The boys were on Christmas holidays, but worked diligently as they respected and very much liked Alexis. They wrote the test again just after the holidays and did very well. I would definitely recommend Alexis. He understands kids and works very well with them, and obviously knows what he’s doing as reflected in the incredible improvement in my boys SSAT scores.”

April 20th, 2011
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Nathalie Wallace (Cambridge, MA)

“Alexis was an excellent SSAT and ISEE coach for my son. He narrowed on my son’s needs and exercised great diligence in his approach.”

April 20th, 2011
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Tom U. (Wellesley, MA)

“Alex tutored three of my children in preparation for the ISEE, SAT and the GRE exams. Each child had different needs and issues preparing for exams. Alex tailored his approach with accuracy and insight, working effectively with each child to ensure an excellent result.”

April 20th, 2011
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