The University of Texas at Dallas

Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science


Engineering Students Tutor High Schoolers for SAT

Engineering Majors Tutor High School Students
for SAT via Zoom

While many college students were catching up with social lives and soaking up summer sun, two students in the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science at The University of Texas at Dallas led a virtual summer SAT preparation course.

Isaac Brooks and Tori Moore are volunteer tutors for the annual course sponsored by local nonprofit organization IntelliChoice.

Tori Moore

Biomedical engineering sophomore Tori Moore tutored this summer through Zoom to help high school students prepare for the math portion of the SAT.

“I tutored a lot in high school, and I really enjoy it,” said Moore, a sophomore pursing a degree in biomedical engineering. “I love that eureka moment when a student gets it.”

IntelliChoice offers the free 30-day summer virtual SAT camp to rising ninth through 12th grade students. Fifty-seven Dallas-area high school students signed up and logged in for two hours of class each weekday morning in July.

Moore, a Eugene McDermott Scholar from West Palm Beach, Florida, prepped for her own SAT with success but said the guided practice can be more efficient and create better results.

“Doing practice on your own is valuable but having someone who can answer questions that may arise as you are working is beneficial,” Moore said. “I found that when I was doing my own preparations, any time I was confused on a topic it would take a good deal of time to track down an answer.”

Moore, who has tutored for IntelliChoice since fall 2020, led one hour of SAT math instruction via the Zoom platform daily Monday through Friday. Brooks, a computer engineering junior who also shares Moore’s love of math, but led an hour daily covering the verbal portion of the SAT.

Both have completed their calculus requirement and speak fluidly about Math SAT content including algebra, geometry, statistics, probability and graphing.

The tutors used the Zoom platform with a combination of Khan Academy tutorials, Microsoft OneNote, virtual whiteboards and other digital tools such as Google Forms. They integrated survey questions for checking understanding and enabled chat to give immediate feedback.

Dr. Gil Lee

The free tutoring was provided through the nonprofit IntelliChoice, which is cofounded by Dr. Gil Lee, professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Jonsson School.

“Tori and Isaac used online examples from Khan Academy or scanned examples from the SAT book we are using,” IntelliChoice founder Dr. Gil Lee explained. “There are a lot of nice resources, and this online class was a great opportunity to use their technical skills to present the material in the best way possible.”

IntelliChoice offers year-round math tutoring and was cofounded in 1993 by Lee, a professor of electrical and computer engineering in the Jonsson School, and his wife Dr. Jung Lee, a professor of instruction also in the Jonsson School Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering.

Prior to COVID-19 closures, IntelliChoice served students in public libraries, community centers and schools throughout the Dallas area and in Austin, Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Arizona. Ten on-site tutoring centers became available in September 2021 as virtual tutoring continues. There have been as many as 800 tutors comprised of college and high school students in past semesters, with in-person sites having multiple tutors and a site manager.

Brooks, an IntelliChoice tutor since fall 2019, tutored students at Dan F. Long Middle School in Carrollton-Farmers Branch ISD.

“I started working with mostly sixth graders and middle school students, and I loved every second of it,” he said. “I found that teaching math concepts was only half the battle. You also have to make sure students are staying on task and working on things that are challenging to them.”

Isaac Brooks

Isaac Brooks, a computer engineering junior, tutored high schoolers this summer for the verbal portion of the SAT; Brooks has been a math tutor through the IntelliChoice program since the fall of 2019.

It is easier to give immediate feedback and encouragement to look at tougher problems when tutoring in person, Lee said. Without facial cues or body language, it is tough to measure boredom and true participation in an online setting.

“What has been useful is they [Brooks and Moore] set up an anonymous Google Form where students can submit feedback on the structure of the class,” Lee said. “They also used polls to gauge the students’ understanding of the questions they asked. These helped them to stay in touch with how the students are feeling about the class and how confident they are with the material.”

Summer prep students each received a hard copy of The Princeton Review SAT Prep and were assigned “homework” each day. The SAT is broken up into three sections and lasts 180 minutes. The cost is $55, and IntelliChoice reimbursed $30 to students who submitted official scores after sitting for the August test.

Brooks, who grew up in West Fargo, North Dakota, had summer jobs and didn’t always feel enthusiastic about prepping and studying while school was out. He said that the students being tutored are truly inspiring for using their free time for academic pursuits.

“When I see high school students taking two hours out of their summer mornings to study for the SAT with us, I feel good about their work ethic and their potential to do well,” Brooks said. “The fact that they show up every morning and work hard is a testament to their diligence and academic focus.”