I'm Not A Doctor.


Thanks, Captain Obvious, you might be saying. But I lead with that fact since I don't want you to construe what I'm about to say as medical advice.

Now if you've been reading this newsletter long enough to remember me talking about butter coffee, this might not come as a surprise to you.

But I'm pretty sure the food pyramid is upside-down, at least for me.

My ideal diet now is about 75% fat, 20% protein, and 5% carbs, which is a lot different than I was led to believe during the non-fat craze of the late 90s. These days, I have the same energy level throughout the day, my blood work looks great, and my hair even started growing back (ok... just kidding about that last one).

It took a while, but I eventually figured out all those Snackwells and other sugary carbs I had eaten back then were actually bad for me. But at that time, there was so much advice saying fat is harmful that it was more difficult to think it might not be.

In my field, test prep, there are still plenty of myths out there that have persisted for decades. I'd like to try to briefly debunk a few.

Test Prep Myths

Myth: We can create a few different tutoring packages that will take care of the needs of most students.

Fact: Oh man - I wish that were true. But it varies so much. A student might need 3 hours of tutoring to go from a 32 to a 35 on the ACT, and another student might need 23 hours. It depends on which section(s) need work, the student's reading and math ability, and the student's work ethic, just to name a few factors.

We can make a better prediction on how much tutoring might be optimal after working with a student for a while.

Myth: If a student scores really well on a test, we should credit the tutor, and vice versa.

Fact: Obviously the tutor probably had something to do with it. But not always as much as you might think. I had a student get a perfect 36 on the ACT this year, and believe me, it was 99% her and 1% me. I've had a student repeatedly score shockingly low on the real test after scoring very well in practice, too.

Bonus related myth: an improvement of x points from a diagnostic test is always significant.

Fact: It might be, but if it wasn't an official test, or if the student had little idea of what to expect, or if it was taken under unrealistic conditions, then we need to put quotes around "diagnostic".

Myth: If you have straight A's in school, you should be able to get a high score on the SAT or ACT.

Fact: Grade inflation is a real thing. And getting an A in a class is a very different game than getting the equivalent of an A on the SAT, for which you'll need strong, precise reading skills, grammar knowledge, and math competence with topics going back as far as 7th and 8th grade.

Some Myths About Tutors

Myth: The higher your SAT score, the better you are at helping people with SAT prep.

Fact: Sure, you have to have understand the material. But just cause you can pick the right answer for a question doesn't mean you can explain it at the level of the student you're working with.

Myth: The more impressive the college you attended, the better you'll be as a tutor.

Fact: You probably scored well on the SAT or ACT if you got into Stanford, but that doesn't mean you have the other qualities of a good tutor: patience, kindness, communication skills, conscientiousness, etc.

Myth: If you have a Master's degree or a PhD, you'll be a better tutor than someone who doesn't.

Fact: Having an advanced degree really doesn't mean a lot in terms of tutoring ability unless you're also kind, patient, conscientious, and have great personal skills.

The Bottom Line

Keep an open mind about two things: 1. how much work test prep will take, and 2. whether someone who looks good on paper is actually good in real life.

Questions For Discussion:

1. Snackwells did taste good, didn't they?

2. So good you once ate the whole box at once (be honest)?

3. What are some common myths people have about your line of work?

Go Back