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Transcript from our interview with Maggie Jay

A little while back, we interviewed Maggie Jay and shared her insights about confidence here. What follows is the entire transcribed text of our talk with her. When you see “D,” you can know that friend of Ferguson Tutoring, Daniel Taylor, is talking. When you see “M,” that’s all Maggie.



D: Hey Maggie, I’m just going to start with some really basic questions about you, and school – that sort of thing. Sound good?

M: Sounds good.

D: Do you consider yourself a good student? Are you generally pleased with your classroom performance?

M: Yes, I’m pretty pleased with my performance.

D: Are there any subjects that you find particularly easy or difficult?

M: Not really. I’m a pretty well-rounded student. There are some classes that I might find more interesting than others, but that’s it.

D: Which do you prefer?

M: My favorites are English and history.

D: American history?

M: Yeah, American history.

D: Are you still in high school?

M: I’m going into my senior year at Eden Prairie.

D: Are you involved in any extracurricular activities there?

M: I’m part of the marching band, which I really like, and I volunteer a lot. I also do PSEO at Northwestern University and the University of Minnesota. This year, I’m going to split my time between both of those schools and my high school too.

D: Wow, that’s pretty cool. I never knew anyone who did anything like that.

M: It’s growing in popularity here. I know a lot of kids in my church have done. A few in my school too.

D: Seems like a good way to save some money.

M: Definitely!

D: Ok, well let’s talk about your experience with tutoring a little bit.

M: Sure.

D: Did you go to Ferguson Tutoring for academic tutoring, test prep, or both?

M: I went to Suzy for test prep.

D: Did you take the class or receive 1-on-1 instruction?

M: Both, actually. I took the class and liked it, but I missed the last few classes, so we did a little 1-on-1 to make up the difference.

D: Ok, good. I should back up a second here. How many times have you taken the ACT?

M: I’ve taken it twice, and I’m scheduled to take it a third time in September.

D: When did you start tutoring – before your first attempt, between the first and the second, or after the second?

M: I went to Suzy after I took for the ACT for the first time.

D: Why?

M: I think in the beginning I thought that I could do really well on the ACT by myself. I expected to do well across the board. That’s what I was used to in the classroom. But it’s hard!

D: It gave you more troubled than you expected.

M: Yeah. What stands out to me about the ACT is that the questions themselves aren’t that difficult. The problem is that the test is so overhyped. You know it’s important, and so it makes you nervous.

D: Is it common for you to get nervous about tests?

M: A little bit. I tend to be a bit of an anxious student.

D: Is that the only aspect of the ACT that was a problem for you?

M: The time, too. It goes very quickly.

D: So, how did you do your first time around? We can just talk about composites if you want.

M: In June of 2016, I scored a 25.

D: And then you tutored?

M: Right.

D: How did you do the second time around?

M: I took the test again in April 2017. That time, I scored a 30.

D: Wow! 5 points? That’s a 20% increase. You must’ve been pretty happy about that!

M: Yeah, I was.

D: Sounds like the tutoring helped. Can we talk about that?

M: Sure.

D: You started with the class. Most of the students I’ve talked to only did the 1-on-1. How did you like the class?

M: I liked the classroom setting a lot.

D: How come?

M: I’ve always learned really well in the classroom. I know not everybody feels that way, but it’s what works best for me.

D: I suspect that the benefit of 1-on-1 tutoring is that you get all of your tutor’s attention. Do you think that the classroom setting works for all students?

M: I felt like all the students got their needs addressed really well. Suzy would spend 15 minutes before or after class with each individual student. We all got a chance to talk with her directly, and she would figure out what we were struggling with. It’s a really, really effective way to get in touch with people and reach groups. I liked it.

D: Do you remember any specific strategies that you learned?

M: This isn’t a strategy, exactly, but it’s something that really worked for me with the reading section. I’ve never completed the reading section in time except when we were doing practice tests with no time limit.

I had gotten faster but not fast enough to finish them all and it was really stressing me out. When our lessons were coming to end, Suzy told me, “You’re not going to finish the fourth section and that’s okay.” That really helped me.

D: Why was that helpful?

M: It was helpful because it was someone who had taken the test, attended my dream school, and been really successful in life. I needed to hear my progress was okay, and it helped to hear it from somebody like that.

D: How did that make you feel?

M: Hearing her say that was very relaxing.

D: You felt relieved?

M: Absolutely.

D: Do you remember learning anything else that was helpful? Were there any emotional or psychological changes in the way you approached the ACT?

M: In the beginning my time management just wasn’t there because I wasn’t totally present. I was distracted by the timer. Suzy really helped change my perspective on the test and was able to help calm my test anxiety. Her lessons helped me build a lot of confidence – I was thinking that I could do it, instead of thinking about how fast the time was disappearing.

Tutoring gave me the skills I knew I needed and Suzy’s confidence in me made me believe in me. It helped me on other tests too. In my mid-terms, I had much better time management skills. I knew exactly what I could do and in how much time. That made them much easier.

D: So, you take the ACT in 2016 and score a 25. About a year later, you take it again. What was different the second time?

M: When I took in April [2017], I knew when I was running out of time on something. I also had experienced certain testing situations during tutoring. I knew what was happening and knew how to handle it. Being able to get through spots like that made me much more confident.

D: What about Suzy worked so well for you?

M: What stood out about Suzy was the way her brain works. She sees problems in a highly logical way – I do that too – and that lets her explains things in a way that clicked for me. Plus, she really, really cares about her students and wants to see them succeed.

D: The main objective of this Campaign for Confidence is to help more students find success by reframing their perspectives and boosting their academic confidence. Do you have any advice for juniors who might be feeling overwhelmed or doubt their own abilities?

M: I would just tell them to remember that everything is going to work out. There’s no point in getting stressed to the point that you can’t function. It’s just school. It’s gonna be okay.

D: Excellent advice. Any last thoughts you’d like to share?

M: I think it’s worth it to invest some time into the philosophy that Suzy teaches. It’s awesome and she’s an awesome person.