Frequently asked questions
What tests do you teach?
I prepare students for the SAT, ACT, LSAT, GMAT, and GRE. If you’re interested in a test that isn’t on this list, feel free to reach out to me anyway. I may be able to point you to a good person or provide other help. For example, I’ve helped people with MCAT Verbal Reasoning, the NYC Science High School Test, and even industry-facing tests of critical thinking.
What are the advantages of private tutoring?
Private tutoring is all about you. Classes and books can be great. I should know, I’ve designed industry-leading classes, and published lots of test prep books. But classes and books aren’t designed with your specific needs in mind. Private tutoring that focuses on your needs is more effective and more time-efficient. It’s also easier to fit into a busy schedule.
How are you different from other tutors?
There are lots of good tutors out there. Some of them are my friends. But no one has my expertise, experience, and skill at connecting with students. I know the tests inside and out, to an absurd level of detail. But that’s not all. My primary motivation is to help students achieve their goals, and the most rewarding part of the experience is learning about them as we get there.
How many hours do you usually spend with your students?
It’s all about individual needs, but overall I usually spend between 5-15 hours with my students. Some people need more help, and some people want more help, but I always try to be as efficient as possible.
How many times per week should we meet? How long are the sessions?
I work around your schedule. Usually, I recommend 1-2 sessions per week, with each session being about an hour for college-bound students and a little more for graduate school-bound students. Usually, there are more sessions, and longer sessions, at the start, and fewer and shorter sessions as we get close to test day.
How much work outside of the live sessions is expected?
It really depends on what the needs are. Often, it’s about 5 hours a week, but that’s just an estimate. People are different.
How do you work with the parents?
It varies a lot. Some parents want to be there for an introduction and to check in every once in a while. Some are quite happy to be completely removed from the process. I get that, too. Some parents want to be there at every moment of every session, which can be OK as long as we’re not giving conflicting advice or talking over each other. Just let me know what you prefer and we’ll work something out.
How much will my score go up?
I can’t say for sure yet, but we’ll come up with an ambitious, but reasonable, score goal. I’m pretty optimistic about these things, but there’s also a point of diminishing returns. At some point, it’s time to focus on other parts of life. But we aim high.
Do you work with students who have special needs or require accommodations?
Yes, often. I have enough experience to know that having more information about a student helps out, and I also know that there’s much more to learning than seeing the student’s diagnosis.
How do we schedule sessions?
Some people like to reserve a time and stick with it. Other people have erratic schedules and bounce all over the place. Either approach can work. I’m in the Eastern time zone, but I stay up way late, and I’ve never had trouble finding times that work.
How do you help students who are already really strong when it comes to these tests?
I’ve had students who are scoring in the 99th percentile even before they come to me. In those cases, we really don’t want to overdo it. Usually, they just need a little help around the edges and some reinforcement to help ensure that they don’t have any surprises on the real thing and can handle some bumps if they arise.
Are all of your students high scorers at the start? Do you work with students who struggle with tests?
Of course I work with students who struggle with these tests! While many of the people who come to me have always succeeded with tests, many of my most treasured success stories come from people who thought they could never succeed on tests and then scored higher than they ever thought they could.
Do you ever do group sessions?
Sometimes. Usually, people prefer one-to-one tutoring. But if you’ve got a group and you’re interested in a combined session, please let me know.
Do you ever donate your services?
Yes, sometimes. If you know of a worthy cause, please reach out to me.
When should students start preparing for these tests? Is it too early? Have I fallen behind?
For most people, starting prep during the summer before junior year is just fine, and there's no strong reason to get started earlier than that except in special cases such as graduating early, summer commitments, or really rare circumstances. Starting during junior year is also fine, but for lots of students, the workload during the school year is a major obstacle to prepping well. It's best to focus in a short time window of a few months instead of doing a little bit every day for years. If you're not sure what makes sense for you, please reach out.
Should I take the SAT or ACT?
First off, colleges don’t “prefer” one or the other. Everyone accepts both. The colleges just want to see high scores. The best way to figure out which test is better for you is to take a practice test in each (make sure it’s a released test; ask me if you’re not sure), although sometimes you can determine which test to take by trying only one. In any case, we’ll start with the one that looks more promising, analyze that, and see if it’s worth trying the other one.
Generally, people who are better at math should look at the SAT first, because that's half math. But some of those math people get frustrated with the SAT's odd Reading questions. People who want to avoid math should give the ACT a look, but remember that instead of all that extra math you're getting Science Reasoning, which can also be challenging.
When you take one and see how you do, I examine your scores but also your chances of getting better. For example, lots of people find ACT Science Reasoning difficult at first, but scores improve a lot with practice.
Shouldn’t I take both the SAT and ACT?
No. Focus on one and ignore the other unless you’ve hit a brick wall with your prep. The SAT and the ACT have overlaps, but they are different. Focus on the test that is better for you. Don’t prepare for both at the same time. The only time I advise taking both tests is when you’ve reached the limit with one of them and want to give the other a shot just in case. Most people are better off choosing one and sticking with it.