What is your availability like?
I do this full time, so I am generally available weekdays (for students studying during the summer), weeknights, and Sundays (I usually try to leave Saturday as a day to be with my family). However, I have a pretty busy schedule and work both in Manhattan and on Long Island, so try to contact me as far in advance as possible to ensure availability.
Where does the tutoring take place?
In Manhattan I have an office in midtown where I do my tutoring. On Long Island, I usually tutor students in their homes, though my range is generally limited to areas north of the Expressway in eastern Nassau and western Suffolk County. I also have an office in Cold Spring Harbor for students who are willing and able to travel to me.
What is your rate?
Please contact me directly for information about my rate.
How long are the sessions?
I generally do 1 ½ to 2 hour sessions. There are several reasons for this. First of all, it is difficult to really delve deeply into problem areas in less time than that. Another consideration is that since I tutor all sections of the test, it often makes sense to focus on a range of issues in a single session, and it takes time to really do that properly. Very often I will spend part of the session on one section (for example Math) and the rest of the time on another section (Critical Reading or Writing).
The other reason that I like to do 1 ½ to 2 hour sessions is that the SAT and ACT are marathon exams that require students to be able to maintain their focus for roughly 4 hours. So it’s good to get in the habit of having to focus on SAT or ACT stuff and nothing else for longer chunks of time.
How many sessions are typically required?
The answer to this question obviously depends a lot on the particular situation. Clearly if a student is starting out with a very low score and looking for a huge increase, he or she will need a lot more tutoring. Another obvious factor is the motivation of the student. Some kids start preparing for the SAT or ACT in 9th or 10th grade, believe it or not. Others prepare for a couple of months and that is it. There is a burn out factor for every student, so no matter how much parents think that their children should prepare for the SAT or ACT, all kids will reach a point of diminishing returns. What I try to do is set out a game plan from the first session and then adjust as we go, depending on the above factors. If the student needs a lot of work and has the motivation, then we will usually end up meeting more. If, however, the student is clearly starting to lose steam and motivation, then I will suggest either accelerating the time frame to allow the student to take the test sooner or suggest that we space things out or take a break to prevent the student from becoming overwhelmed and frustrated.
How much can a student expect his or her score to increase?
This also depends a lot on the particular student and his or her situation. Obviously if a student is starting with a 700 Verbal score a 100 point increase is much more difficult than if he or she is starting with a 500. It also depends a lot on how hard a student works in between sessions. The time a spend tutoring someone is typically only a fraction of the total time spent studying, so the amount of time spent outside of our sessions and the effectiveness of that practice is a tremendously important factor. But I generally aim to help students achieve 100-200 point improvement per section.
How are the sessions structured?
This obviously depends in part on the needs of the student, but it also depends on the timeline. Prior to the first session I will usually have a student take a practice test so that we have a jumping off point, both in terms of a baseline score and a more specific idea of what the issues are. And the first session tends to be unique in that a lot of the time is spent diagnosing the problems, coming up with a game plan and tentative timeline, and discussing other more general issues. After the initial session, most sessions will begin with homework review so that I can understand what problems the student had with the homework that I assigned and so that we can try to work on those areas of concern. However, this will usually only represent a part of the session and much of our time will be spent covering new territory (with me guiding and providing sample questions to reinforce the concepts we are discussing until it is clear that the student has a really good grasp on them). As we work through questions together I always ask my students what they are thinking and why they are choosing the answers they are choosing. Doing so give me insight into their thought processes and allows me to understand how best to guide them forward. At the end of each sessions I give a detailed homework assignment, which will generally consist of questions meant to reinforce what we covered in that session as well as material to preview what we plan to discuss in the following session. As we get closer to the scheduled test date, part of the homework assignment will consist of taking practice tests and an increasingly large portion of our time together will be spent reviewing the tests and occasionally breaking off from them to focus specifically on some of the problem areas highlighted by the tests.
Do you tutor all sections of the SAT and ACT?
Absolutely. I am an SAT and ACT expert (I scored a perfect score on the SAT and a near perfect score on the ACT) and I don’t even tutor “subjects” like Algebra or Chemistry (and never have). My background is in standardized test preparation and I know everything there is to know about both the SAT and ACT.
Why should I choose an private SAT tutor like yourself over a tutor from a major test prep company?
First of all, having once been a novice instructor/tutor at a major test prep company, I can attest to the fact that most of the people who work for these companies are part-time instructors who don’t have much experience and don’t have any real mastery of the test. In fact, working for one of the major companies is a great place to start when you don’t really know what you are doing because they train you and practically tell you what to say (especially when it comes to teaching the classes).
Another advantage I have over the major test prep companies is that I have the freedom to choose whatever materials I think work best and I do use resources that come from a variety of different sources. Ultimately, over the years I have been free to develop my own methods, based on what I can clearly see is most effective and unrestrained by the boundaries set by any company. This is especially important with regard to tutoring, where a once-size-fits-all approach is clearly not effective.
Why should I choose you over someone who is specifically a Math or English tutor, like a teacher from my child’s school?
One of the major benefits of having a single tutor who can teach the entire test is that you have one person who can guide your child through the entire process and shift the focus to whatever is needed at any given moment. If during one particular week or one particular session, the student should be focusing more on Math and less on the Writing section, I am in a position to direct the student accordingly. And if time management is an issue on all of the sections, I can see that and address it.
I am also a full time standardized-test tutor, so this is all that I do and all that I think about. I have devoted most of the last decade of my life to mastering the SAT and ACT and to honing the art of helping people significantly improve their scores. Furthermore, my own success on the SAT and ACT is largely a result of my reasoning ability and my understanding that this is what the exam really tests, so that is a major focus of how I prepare people for the test. Many Math and English teachers are focused more on the “Math” or “English” content on the test and less on what it takes to excel on standardized tests, so often the emphasis is in the wrong place. I have even tutored 2 former high school Math teachers for other standardized tests; their Math ability was good, but their approach to the exam was lacking.
What is your cancellation policy?
If you do not cancel at least 24hrs prior to an appointment, you are responsible for the full fee, no exceptions. Obviously everybody has a “good reason” for canceling, but it puts me in a very difficult position to have to make judgments as to when to make an exception and when not. I am a nice guy, so it is hard for me to not be understanding of the reasons people give for canceling, and in the end I look like a jerk if I don’t make an exception. So to save me having to feel like a jerk, please just accept my policies and do everything in your power to avoid canceling within 24 hours. If you get the sense that you might need to cancel, its best to just do so in advance and I will try to fit you in somewhere else.