Just as you cannot get into physical shape in only a few weeks through 10 hours a day of exercise coupled with a radical diet, you cannot build strong academic and test-taking skills unless there is sufficient time and a variety of activities.
Private tutoring sessions are normally scheduled from Monday through Thursday beginning at 2:00, 3:00, 4:00, 5:30, 6:30, and 7:30. Friday sessions are available at 2:00, 3:00, and 4:00. On most Saturdays, sessions are available at 9:00, 10:00, and 11:00am. These times are usually enough to accommodate student needs, but other times can be arranged.
Program fees are based on the number of live sessions with the student. The diagnostic tests, development of the self-study curriculum, scoring and analysis of practice tests, and the final review session are not billed. Rates begin at $195 per session for programs of less than 8 sessions. The most common program targeting a single test is 12 sessions offered at a discounted fee of $1995. A 16-session program to cover both the SAT and ACT is $2495 for two administrations of each test. Longer programs are available, especially if begun in the summer between the sophomore and junior year and the fee will reflect the special circumstances.
Live tutoring sessions
Customized self-study curriculum
Authentic practice tests with scoring and reviews
Error pattern analysis
Most programs require only a small amount of personalized homework, which will begin after the first practice test. The process relies heavily on the concept of “scaffolding”. This process requires the tutor to work with students on the edge of their knowledge to provide guidance exactly when a student is trying to answer a question where they know most of what is required, but not everything, to get it correct. Providing the minimum information at exactly the right moment yields maximum absorption and retention and mostly explains why the program works with minimal homework. However, programs that will span more than 6 months can include more homework to reduce cost, but will require more time from the student.
An invoice for 50% of the fee is sent at the start of the program and the remaining 50% is billed after the first practice test is reviewed. This first review usually takes 2 to 3 hours over multiple sessions, but only counts as a single session.
The two college entrance exams, the SAT and the ACT, are critical components of the college application process. Many students, no matter how rigorous their high school curriculum, will benefit from a dedicated program of intensive study specifically engineered for one or both of these tests. While some students can improve their performance exclusively through self-study with test prep books and free online resources, the vast majority won’t maximize their scores without professional guidance. A test prep program can assist for two primary reasons: provide a structured regimen customized for the individual needs of the student and an analysis of the patterns of the student’s mistakes. Very few students have the skills to accurately diagnose their own strengths and weaknesses, and virtually none have the ability to recognize how rectifying only one or two underlying issues can lead to several more correct answers.
From corporate training for Fortune 500 executives to university classroom teaching, to one-on-one tutoring, I have a broad range of experience, especially in training and assessment. For over five years, I led the education business units at AICPA and FINRA that developed the online courses for training the accounting and financial services professions. As the CEO of TestU and later, EVP of PrepMe, the focus was building the systems and processes to effectively deliver online test prep for the SAT and ACT. Early in my career, I spent over seven years teaching SAT, LSAT, GMAT and GRE classes for Kaplan and most recently, worked as a private tutor while concurrently creating eLearning courses at LibraryLab and teaching at Southern Connecticut State University. Academically, my doctorate in Educational Leadership and specifically my dissertation, focused on many of the important factors that determine success on standardized tests.
The objective for any test prep program should be changing a student’s entire slate of potential schools and the probabilities for admission, not just adding another 100 to 200 points to the SAT score or the equivalent 3 to 6 points on the ACT. It’s making a few Target schools turn into Likely schools and a few Stretch schools move into the Target category. And a few new schools that were previously out of reach can now be added to the list of Stretch schools. For many students and parents, there is also the likelihood of a much higher, merit-based financial aid award that can exceed $10,000 per year.
The total investment of time should be in the range of 40 to 50 hours for the majority of students. When a major score change is sought or there are significant deficits in one or more critical areas of the test, then a more robust schedule may be required, especially if the student wants to attempt both tests. Starting preferably at least 60 days before the first test date, a live tutoring session about once a week is recommended. If started earlier, meeting only two or three times a month is possible. If time is short, twice a week can be effective, but very seldom can the program be accelerated further. Time between sessions is necessary to complete essential self-study materials.