Choosing a test prep company to help study can be overwhelming, especially if you are hoping to work with a company that offers online courses. Who do you choose? What do you look for? How can you be guaranteed success?
The first thing to look out for: Is the company or person inquisitive and do they ask questions about you and your child’s current status and future plans? When a company representative does not ask questions or respond to requests punctually, it shows a lack of business skills and training.
The second thing to look for: Are test prep tutors attentive and do they have a personality that works will with the student? If a person is monotone or low energy and does not exhibit a passion for what she/he is doing, then you need to be concerned and nicely move on to the next test prep tutor or test prep company interview.
Questions to ask when interviewing a test prep tutor or company:
- Company Name/ #
- How does your program work?
- How many sessions total?
- How many of sessions per week/how long each?
- Does your program cover all 3 sections? If not, why not?
- How often are practice tests required and what kind of tests are they?
- What type of materials do you use? Are they simple or complex?
- Where does the instruction take place? (Keep in mind that: Individualized test prep is the most productive.)
- What other strategies are employed besides memorization? (Note: Listen carefully for clues. Information overload is a poor strategy.)
- What is the maximum number of students in the class?
- What homework is required during the week?
- How often will I get a verbal feedback from you?
- How do you specifically accommodate a student’s individual needs?
- Who will be tutoring my son/daughter?
- What experience does she/he have? How long?
- What is his/her company documented statistical average increase? (Note: Credentials don’t mean anything. You must be able to see documented actual results and not fluff or meaningless guarantees.)
- I’d like to speak with the tutor personally, how could we arrange that? (Note: If you are prevented from speaking with the tutor, then move on.)
- When and if you get to speak with a tutor, listen carefully for verbal cues/passion/energy/teaching style/background/strengths/weaknesses.
- When can we schedule a free personal consultation? (Note: If a company is not willing to come and meet your family, move on.)
7 Mistakes to Avoid When Selecting a Test Prep Company
Mistake # 1: Assuming that the larger the company the better. These companies tend to be marketing driven and focus primarily on filling seats and not on your child’s results.
Looking more closely at Mistake #1: Assuming that the larger the company the better, the statistics don’t bear this out. According to the 3rd party statistics in the Fiske’s new SAT Insider’s Guide results, the two top companies in the industry resulted in a paltry 12-point average increase for the K-company and a horrendous 26-point decrease for the P-company. Therefore, it is safe to assume that a large class environment is a poor investment. Furthermore,
- There is very little oversight in terms of progress reports to the parents.
- There are the typical classroom distractions that interfere with learning, such as secret text messaging, iPoding, and non-productive social time.
- The information tends to be overly intellectual and classes lack individualization.
- For some, the classroom locations are just not convenient to get to.
Therefore, ask for referrals or better yet, find people on your own who have used the companies that you are planning on interviewing. When you speak with other parents or students, ask probing questions like:
- How large were their typical classrooms?
- How many other students were in your child’s class?
- What kind of regular feedback did you as a parent receive from the company?
- What kind of results did you achieve?
- How long did it take to achieve these results?
When speaking with the company itself, you may want to ask the following questions:
- How do you specifically accommodate a student’s individual needs?
- How often can we get a report on our child’s progress?
The SAT Preparation Group approach has always been convenient and individualized with occasional very small groups of 2 or maybe 3 max, if requested. We offer test prep courses online worldwide and in-home throughout Southern Florida.
This way there is a total focus on individual needs and results and you, as a parent, will get immediate feedback on how to assist your child.
Mistake #2: Assuming that the tutors assigned to your child are adequate.
When considering Mistake #2: Assuming that the tutors assigned to your child are adequate, remember that the our personal student coaches and test prep tutors here at SAT Preparation Group are among the highest paid in the industry. That means that you get the most qualified instructors. We arduously screen and train them in test prep and customer service to make sure that they live up to your, and our, high standards. Our statistics show that our instructors get results. If they don’t, they don’t get more students assigned to them, and they know it.
Many of our competitors use underpaid tutors who are typically just out of college with little or no classroom experience. Do they have the abilities necessary to teach your child highly specialized SAT prep strategies? Here are some questions that you can ask or request:
- Who will be tutoring my son or daughter?
- What experience does he or she have?
- Can you provide me in writing the average statistical increase that he/she has helped students to achieve?
- I’d like to speak with the tutor, how can we arrange that? (By the way, if you are not allowed to speak to the tutor, then simply and very nicely move on to the next company.)
When speaking with the tutor you can ask the following questions and pay close attention to theit voice inflections as to whether they are positive reinforces who will treat your child as an equal or negative reinforces who will provide the same old Gestapo techniques that the school system uses to promote fear.
- What is your teaching style?
- How long have you been doing this?
- What’s your background in teaching?
- What’s your college degree in?
- Be certain to ask for a free personal test prep consultation (and if you don’t get one move on very nicely to the next company).
- Tell me your strengths and weaknesses.
- And how will you individualize my son or daughter’s needs?
By the way, listen for whether they ask you questions and genuinely seem interested in your student’s needs, goals, and desires. If they don’t, it’s time to move on to the next company. Don’t just be impressed with credentials. Credentials are meaningless unless a teacher or organization has the personality and the documented results to back them up.
Ask any referral you speak with these same kinds of questions. When interviewing a tutor notice how this person speaks and acts. Is he or she monotone, excited, dull, passionate, or whatever? What kind of body language is he or she exhibiting? Does he or she engage your child in conversation regarding their needs and goals? How about eye contact? The bottom line is that you want to feel a high level of comfort that they can do the job in a positive, uplifting manner.
At SAT Preparation Group we refer to our instructors as personal student coaches. This is because that are highly experienced at learning enhancement strategies, test analysis, positive reinforcement, how to get their students, like your son or daughter, to enjoy the process of SAT prep. We work with students on multiple levels – physically, mentally, emotionally, physiologically, and psychologically. Furthermore, we use the same Neuro-Linguistic Programming technology as Tony Robbins, the world’s leading success coach, which has worked successfully for millions of people globally. This is how we get students to achieve remarkable results.
Mistake #3: Assuming that all SAT companies statistically track the results from a student’s actual SATs. We have yet to find a company besides ours that do so.
When considering Mistake #3: Assuming that all SAT companies statistically track the results from a students’ actual SATs remember that since 2001 SAT Preparation Group has followed up with every single student we’ve ever worked with. By tracking each student’s baseline score from previous SAT or PSAT and tracking his or her best composite SAT score over time, we have a documented spreadsheet that we will happily share with you when we meet you during the free consultation to give you a very good idea visually and practically of how your son or daughter will perform on the SAT. We will also provide you with plenty of references from satisfied clients on request.
Not all SAT prep companies statistically measure the overall student performance. In fact, we don’t know of a single company in the area that audits or follows up with their students or parents to find out the best composite SAT score of their students, much less keep a statistical analysis to show future clients on demand. If the company does now know, how are you supposed to know how well your son or daughter will perform? Don’t settle for empty guarantees; ask for hard copy statistical information in advance. Ask what their average increase per student is for the previous two years. Make a request that they provide you with a document spreadsheet for yoru perusal and how specifically the information was collected. If they can’t or won’t provide the information or beat around the bush be very concerned or just move on to the next company.
Mistake #4: Assuming that your child will easily assimilate the information in the frightening overwhelming phone book sized prep book that they will receive from the typical test prep company.
Let’s now look at Mistake #4: Assuming that your child will easily assimilate the information in the frighteningly overwhelming phone book sized prep book that they will receive from typical test prep company. SAT Preparation Group uses truly unique and concise materials, invented from a totally different perspective, that make it easy and enjoyable for the student to mentally digest the information that they need to continuously improve. We don’t dump a humungous phone book sized intimidating manual on your student like most companies out there do. We work with your student with material created to deal with the varied learning styles of today’s high school students.
SAT Preparation Group materials are simple and straightforward. What a concept! The student, of course, is responsible for daily study. Nevertheless, your student will be studying for a streamlined three-page primer book with useful back-up materials, in written and CD formats, in order to provide continuous improvement toward the goal of acing the real SAT test when the time comes. This is part of the appeal of SAT Preparation Group … the simplicity of materials.
Mistake #5: Assuming that the SAT practice tests the prep company uses are typical of the tests that your child will experience on the real day of the test.
Looking more closely at Mistake #5: Assuming that the SAT practice tests the test prep company uses are typical of the tests that your child will experience on the real day of the test, the two largest SAT prep companies use their own embellished versions of SAT tests and those tests are not the same thing as the real SAT. And because these tests are perceptibly different (which, by the way, are typically not regularly administered under actual conditions), your child is going to be somewhat unfamiliar and uncomfortable with the real SAT when he or she takes it. Always ask what brand of practice tests are being used to test students. Another issue with practice tests is the method by which they are administered. If the student is asked to take a practice test with the answers in the book or is not given any strategies on how to take the test then this is simply not reality.
At SAT Preparation Group, we model actual SAT practice tests like the ones used by The College Board. This creates recognition of patterns and thus facilitates higher scores. We also have the tests administered with no answers and under actual SAT conditions for reality.
Mistake #6: Assuming that the test prep company’s curriculum includes test-taking strategies.
Let’s consider Mistake #6: Assuming that the test prep company’s curriculum includes test-taking strategies. A student can have all of the knowledge in the world, be over-intellectualized to the hilt, and still not score well on the SAT. Why? Because the SAT is a grueling 5 hour test of wits unlike anything a student would ordinarily experience at school. It’s totally unfamiliar territory with no strategy on how to succeed at it. How bizarre is that? Typically most students feel anxious, stressed, and become easily frustrated by the test questions themselves. This is a recipe for disaster; and this is why students generally are not able to reach their true potential on their own. How are they supposed to do well if they are unfamiliar with the rules of play? This is the place where we truly differentiate ourselves.
At SAT Preparation Group, we use an athletic approach that makes complete sense even through our illustrious schools and other prep companies choose not to employ them. Outstanding athletes, dancers, businesspeople and performers have a ritual to get themselves mentally, physically and emotionally ready for action. A football player, for example, wouldn’t wake up and immediately start running 100-yard dashes at full speed. This would cause certain injury. No, he would warm up first…stretch, high five, grunt a few times and be motivated by the coach’s invigorating speech. Now, he’s ready to play. Nor would a football player, or any kind of athlete for that matter, read a book about football, or whatever respective sport, and show up for the first game. There’s a practice ritual necessary to become proficient. Doesn’t this make sense? The SATs are no different. We have a ritual for taking practice tests that creates a fun and invigorating environment.
We like reality at SAT Preparation Group. Students are required to take SAT practice tests under actual test conditions prior to each session with a coach. We have found that the best time to take practice tests is a non-school day morning, typically a Saturday or Sunday. The night before, in order to allay any test anxieties, we have our students watch funny movies to relax and get comfortable. They get a good night’s sleep so that they are ready to go in the morning. When they wake up, our students must do at least 20 minutes of light aerobic exercise to get themselves fully awake and alert. We then encourage them to eat a nutritious breakfast avoiding any processed foods such as sugar or caffeine. We call these peak performance strategies. Now they are much more likely to be alert and calm when taking the test.
We work with the parents as part of the team to proctor the test to make sure that students invoke these fully motivating fun strategies during the test. Because the parents subsequently collect the tests, there is no room for any funny business. We have reality. Students begin to get a feel for the maturity and endurance required for the real SAT test. When they get there, they know what to expect. They see the questions are similar to what they have been prepared foe and they know how to approach them. This is the only way to get through the learning curve, just the same as learning how to drive a car or ride a bike.
After the practice tests, we analyze the test. We look at more than just the raw score. We look at energy patterns, techniques, how much a student marks up a test. We examine the ratio of correct, incorrect and omitted answers. We then clearly review the incorrect answers so that the students can learn the pattern of success by repetition. This is how we turn students into Energizer bunnies and SAT Peak Performers.
Mistake #7: Assuming that academic knowledge is all that it takes to be successful in taking an SAT test.
And finally, Mistake #7: Assuming that academic knowledge is all that it takes to be successful in taking an SAT test. At SATPG we prepare students for life. First, we work with a wide variety of students. We help all of our students to be successful, and we’ll do the same for your child. During our SAT sessions, our coaches are trained to notice negative dis-empowering beliefs and how to modify them. We add tremendous value by helping students learn the life skills necessary for success in the real world of capitalism and business. You want your child to be as prepared as possible for the upcoming years of his or her life. In fact, we’ll treat your child as if they were part of our family. This means that unlike the other test prep companies, the SAT Preparation Group experience stays with your child long after the SAT’s are done.
Since 2001, SAT Preparation Group has been absolutely committed to opening more doors to college, scholarships, and life success. For the 13 years now we have worked a minimum of 1200 SAT prep students in Broward and Palm Beach County Florida. Our passion is to prepare students for life by providing a dynamic yet common sense approach to testing. This also allows students to make a smooth transition to college and the real world. We measure the results that our students achieve.
SAT Preparation Group students currently enjoy a 196.4-point average increase in math and reading and 323.5 points per student in math, reading and writing combined.
The SAT test has become a grueling ordeal of wits. This 5-hour ordeal on a Saturday morning is full of tricks, intense word problems, and uninteresting reading passages, discomfort, stress, pressure, and penalties for wrong answers. The average student feels a great deal of anxiety, stress and frustration, before and during the test. This typically results in less than desirable scores that do not record the student’s true capability.
To compensate for this a student must learn and intelligently practice highly specialized techniques, strategies and knowledge, while simultaneously feeling invigorated to be able to stay alert and focused during the entire test. This is why choosing the right SAT prep company, like SAT Preparation Group, is vital for your child’s achievement.
Before we get into a few testimonials, let me just say that the SAT Preparation Group System has a 100% success rate over 13 years and more than 1200 students. Everyone improves. However, please understand that SAT prep, like anything else, is a two way street. There’s a strong correlation between student effort and results. Fewer than 5% of our students improve less than 100 points. Even so, we include these students in our statistical averages, which is currently 196.4 points per student in math and reading only and 323.5 in all three categories.
SAT Preparation Group helps students prepare for for standardized tests and placement tests such as the SAT, ACT, SSAT, or GRE. We offer personal student coaching and test prep tutoring WORLDWIDE and in-home test prep throughout Southern Florida.
SAT Preparation Group advises in test prep, college planning, and success strategies for teens. Call Us Today at 877-672-8773 or click here for a free consultation.