Sat | Dec 3, 2016

Jamaican-born academic helping students pass their SATs

Published:Friday | October 31, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Contributed Photo Dr Neva Helena Alexander (right), founder of the New York-based National Educational Venture Alliance shows off her SAT workbook with students Shakera Sinclair (centre) and Shanice Walters after one of their SAT classes. Dr Alexander's SAT training centre looks to provide quality tutoring at competitive prices

Thousands of students graduated from high school this past summer, many now attending local universities.

But others have either acquired jobs or are working towards improving their Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores, hoping to acquire scholarships to US colleges. Dr Neva Alexander is trying to help them. An adjunct assistant professor at the City of New York University, her passion to educate Jamaican youth compelled her to move back home to assist students embrace dreams of attending colleges and universities in the United States. Having returned to Jamaica less than one year ago, she started her own training centre for SAT and other examinations, located at 11 Ardenne Road in Kingston.

More affordable

Keenly aware of the economic environment in Jamaica, Dr Alexander designed an SAT course that is much more affordable than leading institutions. Her programme fees are inclusive of all the necessary material, including a 600-page SAT book. Mock exams are also given throughout the 11-week course to better evaluate students' progress. Dr Alexander estimates her programme is nearly 20 per cent cheaper than the nearest competitor. Having hosted two free SAT information sessions and four free SAT mock exams over the summer, she began her first SAT class in July and is now recruiting for her November 5 intake.

"My first class went well," she said. "I think a lot of students were not aware of the type of SAT resources available to them and, since my centre is new, many persons do not realise that my course not only costs half the price, but we also provide students with all the necessary materials." She also offers food, drink, and school supplies for sale. During the programme, students are taught how to think critically for the written and verbal sections of the exam. Instructors are also instrumental in honing the mathematics skills of participants.

"One of the things that distinguishes this particular centre from many others in Jamaica, is our small-class sizes ranging from seven to 15 students," she explained. "This is done intentionally so that each student can get the individualised attention that they deserve." The aim is to assess each student's strengths and weaknesses and develop individualised plans to guide and enhance their ability to increase their scores.

Students interested in enrolling in the November 5 class, are encouraged to attend a free information session on Monday, November 3. More information is available at http://www.nevalliance.com/. Attendees can call 978-2700 to reserve a spot for Monday's session.