The first step is to set up an initial consultation. Jason or Tom will meet personally with each student and their family, and based on his or her individual needs, determine which tutor is the best fit and set up an individualized tutoring plan. If a student is preparing for a standardized test, we will have the student take a full diagnostic exam, set up a session to go over that exam, and create realistic, aggressive goals for improvement. If a student needs academic support, we will diagnose any issues and concerns the student has, set goals, and determine the best way to go about accomplishing those goals. In all cases, we encourage you to contact us to discuss your specific needs and goals.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
It depends! The two tests are very similar in many ways, but they do have major differences in content, pace, and format. However, in recent years, most of our students have opted for the ACT for a number of reasons:
First and foremost, we typically find that our students are able to improve their scores much more dramatically on the ACT than on the new SAT.
Second, we believe strongly in training using real tests from past administrations. While the SAT has changed dramatically in the past ten years, the ACT has remained largely the same since 1998, leaving us with a much greater amount of accurate, representative materials.
Finally, the SAT and ACT differ on the curriculum they test, and we have found that our students are typically more proficient on the content of the ACT than the SAT.
That said, there are some students who are better suited to the SAT than the ACT. Therefore, we recommend all our students try each test in a mock test setting so that we can determine which test is right for them.
It also depends! In general, we prefer that our students complete the SAT/ACT process as quickly as possible. However, we believe that most students peak in the Spring of their Junior year, and sometimes even the Fall of their Senior year. Therefore, we usually do not recommend that students begin preparing for standardized tests before the start of their Junior year. Burnout is always a real concern, and students oftentimes have not encountered much of the content on the tests until their Junior year.
So, we recommend that you contact us the summer before your child’s junior year to set up diagnostic exams. Based on the results of these diagnostics, we will present typical trajectories and come up with a timeline to maximize their score while making this process as straightforward, efficient, and painless as possible.
First and foremost, we believe that standardized test prep is significantly less important than our students’ grades. Our students should never suffer academically because they spend too much time preparing for these tests. Furthermore, we recognize that our students are kids – they want to play sports, pursue artistic interests, and spend time with their friends. We support all of this!
We will pair students with tutors whose schedules match their own so that meetings are as convenient as possible. We will also work with each student to make sure the test prep process is tailored so that they can focus on the test when they have time. We can compress or extend the test prep timeline to avoid extensive preparation during final exams, various sports seasons, or other particularly busy times in a child’s life.
We will certainly require students to take practice tests and do homework, but we always work with them so that it does not detract from the other important things in their lives.
There are a lot of tutoring companies out there. Some are great! They hire experienced tutors, use relevant materials, and generally do a strong job of preparing their students for these tests.
However, others charge a fortune for “proprietary materials” that are far less effective than real tests, hire kids out of Ivy League colleges with no teaching experience and send them to work with students without any training or preparation. We have found that those companies repeatedly sell their students short.
We hire PhD candidates, medical students, high school teachers, and experienced professional tutors with real classroom experience and varying interests and pursuits. We use real test materials to give our students the maximum amount of familiarity with the tests they will see. Finally, we believe in providing edification beyond the test itself. We want our students to complete their test prep process as better and more enthusiastic learners.
Our ultimate goal is to get results on the tests that exceed those of any other test prep company, while forging interpersonal connections with our students, mentoring them, and inspiring them. We are confident that the preparation our students receive will benefit them beyond the score that they ultimately send to colleges.
For students who do not struggle with learning differences or with general organization, we look at tutoring as an opportunity for enrichment and encourage our students to only use our tutors when necessary. We provide support when it is needed, but we intend for that support to enable our students to exert greater independence over their academic workload.
Many students, however, do benefit greatly from consistent meetings with a tutor. In all cases, our tutors work with our students and families to develop an approach that achieves the best learning outcomes for the student.
The goal is never just an A on the next assignment. Instead, we want our students to develop skills and knowledge that will assist them not only on future assignments or in the next grade, but in college and beyond.
It depends on what schools your child is considering. If they intend to apply to any elite schools, they will likely need two (and in rare cases, three) subject tests. Likewise, if they want to study engineering in college, many programs will require them to submit the Math II Subject test and at least one Science test.
On the other hand, if your child is not planning to apply to elite-tier universities, it is unlikely that they will need to take subject tests. As with all test prep, we would much rather see those students focus on their overall academic development than grind for yet another standardized test score.
If you think your child might need subject tests, it’s very important to plan ahead. In a worst case scenario, students might have to balance subject tests and the ACT/SAT at the same time, taking them within weeks of each other in June of their Junior year or October of their Senior year.
As a result, we recommend that students planning to include subject tests in their application take at least one of those tests prior to the beginning of their Junior year if at all possible.
No. We strongly believe that one on one tutoring is the way to go.
Prep courses typically function as surveys of the material on the test. Sometimes this can be useful if students are covering the basic strategies and approaches they will need to take each test. But once you get into actual content, survey courses are useless.
We view the test prep process in three stages: familiarity with the test, content development and remediation, and practice. During the last two stages of this process, our goal is to eliminate weaknesses and turn them into strengths. Since a test prep group class needs to cover every possible subject on the test, it will gloss over everything without focusing in depth on what each individual student really needs to learn.
We often have students come to us after taking group classes, and they are no better prepared than our students who are starting from scratch. We strongly recommend focusing on one-on-one tutoring from the start.
For our students who struggle with organizational skills, we typically recommend one standing weekly meeting, preferably at the beginning of each week. During that meeting, we work with the student to plan their week, and we also spend time helping the student develop an organizational system that they can call their own and that works for them.
We also help those students scaffold major assignments like papers and presentations into smaller tasks. That allows them to work on those assignments over several days and weeks instead of throwing them together in one hectic, anxiety filled night. Most students who struggle with procrastination just need an extra adult in the room who can help them develop new habits.
Many of our tutors also have extensive experience working with students with various learning difficulties, and these can sometimes present themselves in a student’s organizational skills. In every case, our tutors will work with a student and family to develop an approach that best works for them.
Officially, no. We generally prefer that our students work closely with their school college counselors, who are usually best equipped to guide students on their admission odds at any given school.
Still, we get to know our students very well, and so we are always happy to answer their inquiries about college and the college application process. We have a wealth of knowledge from our own diverse college experiences, and a number of people on our team have even taught at the college level, which allows them to provide insight that is rarely encountered in the world of college guidance. The college search looks different for every student, and as with our teaching philosophy, we emphasize that there is no perfect school for every student, nor is their a single way to go about choosing a school.
We do provide support for college essays and supplements as a separate service. If you are interested in having us work with your student on their essays, please contact us!