Test Prep

The good news about standardized tests is that they are… well… "standardized."  If one does enough practice, he or she will get better!  We can guarantee it. We have never lost a student – no one has been left behind! Our methods work, and they have worked with astonishing regularity for the last thirteen years. Our approach deeply involves skill development and systematic confidence building. No tricks, and no shortcuts.

Most students want to get through test prep as quickly as possible, and honestly we appreciate that; our goal is not to keep students enrolled in tutoring for the rest of their lives! Rather, we strive to get them out as quickly as possible into the word with confidence and ability to navigate individually – because we understand they have a lot of other really wonderful things to do. While we make it fast as we can, short cuts don't usually make things shorter; often they make them longer. We strive to be efficient as well as pleasant; when students feel motivated and happier, they perform better.

For the Reading sections of a test, it is often a case of building vocabulary, grammar, writing, and active reading skills.  With Math, it's often comprehension of the question (and stress!); understanding a problem can be the primary hurdle to successfully completing its relatively simple task. Skill development is good for life, and often students report that with an improvement in their standardized test scores, their academic self confidence rises, and their scores or grades in other areas. Now that's worth working for!  And since a student is spending all of their time and money, they might as well get as much out of it as possible.

Our decades of experience can point the student to just the right material so that he or she can develop those skills.  We can also help with coaching them toward the mindset they need to succeed. We offer supplementary services through coaching, creativity exercises, or hypnosis.  We can also teach stress reduction techniques to ensure that they perform at their very best.

For many students, their first big-time, hand-wringing, tear-bringing, anxiety-producing challenge is the entrance exam – whether a middle school, high school, college, grad school, or professional exam. It is here that previously undiagnosed learning differences often show up.  While we are not educational psychologists, we do have much experience working with students labeled with ADD, ADHD, executive function disorders, non-specified Learning Disabilities, Asperger's, Autism, etc. We can make the appropriate curricular adjustments and referrals to get the help the student needs.

The entire experience of "the test" is, for most students, quite daunting. High achieving students experience inordinate amounts of pressure, while lower achieving students are equally or more prone to high anxiety, insecurity, and frustration. Many of us educators would rather see the whole thing done away with – really.  But the test is a reality for most students, an inescapable fact of life.

So, given that fact, how can we make it all worthwhile? Number one: try to learn something otherwise useful; and number two: learn and practice the success mindset that will carry over for all future challenges, from the SAT to the GRE to the board roam to the Ted talk to beyond. That first hurdle a student overcomes is the rehearsal for future success to come for the rest of his or her life.

Other Test Prep

Our test prep team offers help for a most tests, and if we don't do it ourselves, we know someone who can.

 Here's a list of the some the common tests we tutor ourselves: SSAT, ISEE, PSAT, ASPIRE, SAT, ACT, AP exams, state standardized tests, GRE, GMAT, MCAT, LSAT, home-school tests, etc.

Really, really, really it works!! !  Let's do this thing!

Here are some common questions about the process for the SAT/ACT:


Do we know the tricks for the test?   Sure we do!

Will we teach them?   We could, but it's not best for you.

Will we assign homework?  Yes, but not too much – because too much is often counter-productive.

Do our students achieve high scores?  Yes.  Depending on the skill level of the student when they entered our program, our typical point improvement is between 100-200 points per section with as great as over 300 points per section.  We have many very high achieving students in our practice with scores in the top percentiles.  We also have many students who struggle tremendously with the test.  We are proud of all levels of achievement.

Is there a guarantee? No, but we can tell you our success rate is astonishing. In all seriousness, the only person who can shed those pounds (or build that muscle) is the student.  Likewise in academics.

Do we work through all the test sections with them?  Yes, question by question.

Do we have practice tests? Yes, in addition to homework there are routinely scheduled mock exams.

Do we tutor individuals or groups?  We tutor almost exclusively to individuals, but we can do groups. Most students do better one-on-one; in addition to catering to the specific needs of an individual person, the one-on-one setting precludes any negative effects from competition with peers or feelings of embarrassment among students.

Do you tutor math and reading both together?  We find that most students work better focusing on one "cognitive set" at a time, and therefore we don't combine math instruction at the same time as reading. Most tutors do better focusing on one at a time, too.

How many hours does my kid need?  Depends on the kid and their goals. If, for example, they are coming in with a very low scores but high goals, they probably need more hours. That said, some students progress rapidly. For this reason, we don't contract our services by semester nor even by month. Some students are with us for years doing different subjects or tests, while others get what they need in just a few lessons.

Should my student take the ACT, the SAT, or both? We give an assessment at the beginning, in order to determine which test is best suited to the student'sskills and learning style, and we discuss the options with the family.  Most of our students wind up taking both tests, but this is entirely unnecessary if there is a pronounced strength in one test over the other.   

If you have any other questions, contact us. We're happy to discuss with you!