Mastery Learning

What is the Mastery Learning Model?

At Livius, we know the importance of making sure we teach in a way that helps each student learn. In the past, tutoring companies merely handed out stacks of vocabulary word flashcards and reviewed every math concept from fractions and decimals through the quadratic formula.


Luckily, we have learned over our 37 years of experience and 100,000+ tutoring sessions that this scattershot method of prepping is unhelpful and counterproductive. We understand that the two-sigma method is what ACTUALLY drives results and builds confidence. Here’s a summary:

Mastery Learning

Mastery learning suggests that before moving onto advanced study, a student must FIRST achieve a level of mastery as defined by scoring 90% on a knowledge test in their current study. Else they are given additional support in remediating problem areas before being assessed again. This cycle of instruction and assessment continues until a learner accomplishes mastery.

Focus on Your Student

Mastery learning methods suggest that the focus should be the time it takes different students to learn the same material and achieve the same level of mastery. This is very much in contrast with classic models that focus on differences in students’ ability but give all the same time to learn. This is why group classes or programs are ineffective, because there is no focus on your student’s needs.

Now while the two sigma method is good for learning, here are a few practical ways you can apply the method to your studying, especially for standardized tests.

Frequency matters

Not every concept appears on the SAT or ACT an equal percentage of the time. Some concepts show up more frequently than others. The most frequent concepts should become the top targets for personal score growth.

Study incorrect answers

Observation has shown that most people, whether students or adults, prefer to study what they already know. In fact, many people do this not out of preference, but rather because they have a difficult time identifying what they don’t know. A proctored pre-program practice test that generates a detailed score report is essential for identifying the concepts in which a student is currently struggling. Then, students can study the concepts they have not already mastering, ultimately yielding noticeable improvement.

Get 1:1 Help with Mastery Learning Techniques

Studies have shown that the average student tutored 1:1 who used mastery learning techniques described above performed two standard deviations better than students who learn via conventional instructional methods. This is because a tutor can leverage your child’s assessments to explain why a question was missed, work with a student through the steps to improving results, and use the data provided by a score report to pick out problem areas to remediate.



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