Hi! My name is Roosevelt Strange. If you looked up "model student" in the dictionary, you would not find a picture of me when I was a student. Class clown and undiagnosed ADHD kid long before there was a diagnosis, I bounced off the walls, didn't pay attention and dedicated myself to entertaining my classmates. Strangely enough, I did very well in school, because I was fortunate enough to have had teachers who saw the talent and intelligence inside the whirling dervish who disrupted their classes on a daily basis.
Thanks to these amazing teachers, I went on to graduate from both Harvard College and Harvard Law School. After working in mental health and as an attorney, I realized that teaching was my true passion. And I came to the realization that I could use my talents to teach others to excel on the very tests that I had aced back in the day. And, most importantly, I realized that, like my best teachers, I had the ability to see the potential in my students, even if they didn't, even if their families didn't, even if their schools didn't. FACILITATING EXCELLENCE IS WHAT I DO, AND I DO IT VERY WELL!
It's very important for my students and their families to understand some key differences between what I do and what their kids typically do in school, and, thus between what is tested in school and what is tested on standardized tests. It is important to understand these differences in order for my students join me in my belief that the sky is the limit regardless of their track records at school. And it is important for my parents and families to understand these differences in order to fully appreciate the enormity of the impact that excellent test preparation can have in the student's admissions prospects and life more generally.
Simply stated, schools are largely in the content business. There is a body of knowledge in each academic subject that teachers are charged with imparting to their students. Especially in today's atmosphere of high-stakes testing, there is mounting pressure for teachers to teach and for students to learn what I call the "factoids". Naturally, teachers will vary in how effectively they teach, and students will vary in how effectively they learn. But basically, that's the deal. Accordingly, since school tests are mainly aimed at measuring content knowledge, the students who internalize the most factoids get the best grades. There are few surprises on report card day.
Standardized admissions tests are a completely different animal. We've all heard about the "smart" kid who got mediocre SAT scores and/or the "dumb" kid who aced the test. Kinda makes you want to rethink smart and dumb, doesn't it? It should. Unlike school tests, standardized admission tests are much more about what you do than what you know, or maybe more precisely, what you do with what you know. With the exception of Math to some extent, on school tests, you answer questions, but, on standardized admission tests, you solve problems. And, believe me when I tell you that problem solving is not necessarily taught at school.
This is where I come in. I understand that good standardized test takers may not be more knowledgeable or more intelligent than bad test takers, but they are far better at attacking the questions in a way that will produce the correct answer. I TEACH MY STUDENTS, STEP BY STEP, HOW TO APPRROACH EVERY QUESTION TYPE ON THEIR TESTS. THE EFFECTIVE WAY JUST WORKS. PERIOD. SIMPLE AS THAT.
Every test taker is an individual. In school settings, this very fact makes effective teaching very challenging, and I take my hat off to the teachers who can successfully engage students of diverse levels of interest and ability all at the same time, especially in large groups. In school, it seems close to inevitable that some kids are going to fall through the cracks to some extent, despite the best intentions and efforts of all concerned.
These inherent challenges go away when I do what I do for a couple of reasons. First off, I am not, strictly speaking, teaching. That is to say that, unlike in school, it is exceedingly rare that I am presenting my students with things they don't already know. To that extent, I am much more like a coach or personal trainer than a teacher. Your daughter's soccer coach isn't teaching your daughter what a ball is, right? Second, because I teach individuals and small groups, I get to know each student very well. This is much easier to do in a group of four than in than in a group of thirty. I am uniquely positioned to tailor what I do to the individual needs, strengths and challenges of my students, even in a group setting.
All standardized admission tests examine students in the areas of critical reading, mathematical and logical reasoning (including sometimes the analysis and criticism of arguments), the conventions of English grammar and usage, and most tests also require the taker to submit a sample of writing. I have devised a systematic, step by step approach to each question type. I model the appropriate way to address all question types by doing questions of every type aloud in front of my students. I work with each student individually on doing each question type my way. Finally students do problems independently, both in class and on their homework, which is, whenever possible, on real test questions written by the actual test makers. With practice and increased skill and confidence, all students reach a point where they see themselves producing either error free work outright or errors that are almost exclusively "legit". A legit wrong happens where there was a valid lack of knowledge or insight such that, absent dumb luck, the student could not have produced the correct answer. The fact is that, even in the case of the least knowledgeable, least capable, least confident student, there are not enough legit wrongs to cause a below average score. INDEED, THE VAST MAJORITY OF MY STUDENTS CAN AND DO PRODUCE HIGH SCORES ON THE TESTS I PREPARE THEM FOR!
This letter will serve to introduce Roosevelt Strange. Roosevelt tutors groups and individuals for the PSAT, SAT and ACT. After being inundated with test prep mailers and one on one tutors at $200+ per hour (call Roosevelt for rates), I felt compelled to send this note to neighbors and friends. Roosevelt's success with students achieving at their highest levels is truly extraordinary.
The single most defining evidence of his success can be seen in my eldest son's Standardized Test results both before and after Roosevelt:
"Pre Roosevelt": ISEE Verbal 55th percentile) Math (85th percentile)
"Post Roosevelt": SAT Verbal 96th percentile) Math (98th percentile)
My eldest son graduated from Harvard in 2006. My other children have also benefitted from the "Roosevelt Effect!" for their PSAT, SATI & II's. My daughter graduated from Yale in 2008. My second son graduated from Yale in 2012. Acceptance for my children was directly related to Roosevelt's instruction and exuberance.
Roosevelt's educational background:
Roxbury Latin School
Harvard Law School
Roosevelt has taught SAT courses at Kaplan, Weston High School and has individually/group tutored a legion of students. PSAT prep typically consists of five weekly 2-hour sessions; SAT prep typically consists of ten weekly 2-hour meetings. However, Roosevelt is flexible and can adjust the schedule to meet your student's particular needs. Because of the high demand for his services, Roosevelt's schedule fills up months in advance and his ability to tutor individuals is limited.
Roosevelt's considerable intellect is eclipsed only by his extraordinary passion to teach children and have them succeed. Numerous family and friends have utilized her services to universal acclaim. I cannot recommend anyone more highly..
Q: Do you teach vocabulary?
A: No, and here's why. First off, most standardized tests are testing the ability of the student to figure out the meanings of words by skillfully analyzing the contextual cues provided in the sentence or passage, rather than the student's knowledge of truly arcane or esoteric (did you run for the dictionary? ha!) words. Second, as there is no standardized national vocab list, it would be difficult to determine what word to teach. Third, your child probably is taught vocab at school, aces the weekly quiz and doesn't know the words a week later. I have better, more productive things to do with our time, like teaching my students how to skillfully decode unfamiliar words.
Q: How do you know this will work with my child?
A: The fact that you ask this question tells me that you were probably misinformed about what these tests test. These admission tests test a set of skills that can be taught by a capable teacher and learned by a committed student. Did you ask the drivers ed dude how he knew he could teach your child to drive? Of course not!
Q: Who else is in the group?
A: It doesn't matter. You're probably thinking about school, where a fast learner may be bored in a class with slow learners or a slow learner may be overwhelmed in a class with fast learners. This isn't learning in that sense. You don't ask the field hockey coach who else is on the team for the same reason. Everyone is taught the same skills, drills, plays and the like. Then it is up to each player how she behaves in the game.
Q: Won't my child get much more individualized attention with private tutoring?
A: Probably not as much as you would think. There is staggering commonality among otherwise diverse students when it comes to what they find challenging or confusing on standardized tests. Except in the case of a student with special needs (some kids on IEPs for example), individual versus group is largely a matter of personal preferences. When individually tutored, your child gets all of my attention. When tutored in a group, your child directly benefits from the things I do with the others. Some kids prefer to be in groups; some kids prefer to work alone. Your call.