Test Prep Gurus utilizes the latest research in deliberate practice, intrinsic motivation, and growth mindset to engage students and unleash their potential.

“Our son did 12 weeks of tutoring with Test Prep Gurus. Test Prep Gurus have the whole process down to a fine art with updates from the instructors after every session, monthly full-length practice tests under real exam conditions, and check-ins with the Director after each mock exam to discuss our son’s progress and the next steps. The teachers were highly trained and focused on the areas causing challenges. It was great to have a different teacher for the English/Reading and Math/Science sections. While it was a big investment, we feel that the investment has paid dividends with college paths now open that could previously have not been an option for our son, as his score improved by 6 points on the ACT (to a near perfect, 35 out of 36). Thank you Test Prep Gurus!”
— Los Alamitos High School Parent, F.K.

Beyond Tips and Tricks

Test Prep Gurus goes well beyond the standard "tips and tricks" that can be found in most test prep books or courses.  

Content Oriented: Comprehensive practice exam analysis enables us to zero in on the specific content areas where the student stands to make the largest gains.  Our expert instructors use proven techniques and exercises to address those areas.  Students save time by only focusing on the areas where they need the most help -- and their scores rapidly improve as a result.   

Total Mastery: Our experienced instructors are trained to go beyond "teaching to a test."  Their aim is to improve scores, while developing skills that will last a lifetime, such as teaching students to read faster with increased retention, imparting a deep understanding of mathematical concepts that will serve students well on standardized exams and in their classes, and improving students' logic, rhetoric, and argumentative skills.   

The Secret Sauce:  We focus on the student.  Who are you?  What are your goals for college?  How can we help you reach those goals?  When a student knows why they are prepping for a specific exam, and how the process is relevant to their goals for the future, motivation increases exponentially.  Increased motivation, and a sense of ownership over the process, leads to healthier, happier students who earn scores above and beyond what otherwise would have been possible.    

Our students' superior results on the SAT, ACT, ISEE, SSAT, and other standardized exams over 12+ years proves that it is possible to lower the pressure put on students in the college admissions process while simultaneously achieving higher scores than those produced by the standard (outdated) models of test prep.    

No gimmicks, no sales pitches

You won't find any hybrid SAT/ACT exams because they don't produce accurate results.

You won't see us offering boot camps because they don't work. 

You won't be quoted a low initial "starter price," only to be up-sold later.

We will take time at the outset of the program to plan out your student's path to success from beginning to end. 

Your Director will work with you for the duration of the program to ensure your student reaches his or her goals. 

We keep our promises  -- it's in the DNA of our firm.

The Method:

Alice: Which way should I go?
Cat: That depends on where you are going.
Alice: I don’t know.
Cat: Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

- Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland


The starting point for any program is to identify where the student is currently scoring. Free diagnostic tests for the ACT, SAT and other exams provide a baseline score, which we expand into a detailed analysis of the student's strengths and weaknesses. 



The consultation provides us an opportunity to discuss the student's baseline results in the context of the student's goals for college.  Depending on the student's initial scores (and other admission factors such as GPA, course rigor, their "hook", etc.) we offer recommendations on how best to reach the student's goals.  

Our test prep package recommendations are primarily based on where the student is currently scoring vs. where the student would likely need to score in order to be competitive at his or her best-fit colleges.

When possible, we collaborate with the student's school or independent counselor prior to the consultation to ensure that our recommendations support the counselor's larger plan for the student.

We also take time to answer all the basic questions, such as: 

  • How much improvement is possible?

  • When should I take the ACT, and how many times?

  • What is the difference between the SAT and ACT?

  • Will schools see all of my scores, or can I choose which ones to send?

  • Do I have to take Subject Tests?

  • What is a "superscore"?



Each student is paired with a verbal instructor and a math instructor (unless the student is completing a math-only or verbal-only program). We hold all of our instructors to the same rigorous guidelines:

  • scores within the 99th percentile of any subject they teach

  • past experience in standardized testing instruction

  • effective communication skills

  • ability to work with students of all ages and performance levels


Ongoing Support:

Fluid communication is the foundation of our personalized one-on-one programs.

Every college application process involves many moving parts:  application lists change, GPAs rise, improved ACT & SAT scores open new doors, etc. Our senior staff works in conjunction with all parties involved (parents, college counselors, teachers, independent educational consultants, learning specialists, and others) to ensure that all aspects in a prep program are operating smoothly, speak directly to the student's strengths, weaknesses, and current progressions, and ultimately contribute toward the student's end goals.  

No two programs are exactly alike, and once a program begins, our directors are continuously present to make any necessary adjustments for your student based on performance in lessons, homework completion, and practice tests. By monitoring a student's progress every step of the way, we are able to create unparalleled success for our students. 

“Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go; they merely determine where you start.”

- Nido Qubein
Student_Stanford v2.jpg


* All programs of 24 hours or more of 1-on-1 instruction come with a score increase guarantee: +3 composite points on the ACT or + 100 points on the SAT. (Score guarantee is based on the student completing a minimum of 85% of the homework assigned.)


* Our students average increases of +5 composite points on the ACT. This is a 233% increase over the industry average of 1.5 composite points (source: College Board and ACT.org). Increases of this magnitude are often the difference between being a competitive applicant at a selective college, or not. 


* Our students average increases of +220 points on the SAT, in comparison to the estimated industry average of +40 (source: College Board). 


* One in three of our ACT students increases by a stunning 6-8 composite points, propelling the typical student's national ranking from the bottom half into the top 10% of the country.


* Students enrolled in our Ivy Aspirations program typically score in the top 1% of the nation.

Growth Mindset

President and founder of Test Prep Gurus, Nick Standlea, spent five years as a research associate at the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University -- researching growth mindset, positive psychology, intrinsic motivation, flow, and education.  

When he began to apply his research to the process of test prep he discovered that it was possible to transform the process into an enriching experience that was empowering to students, while also producing superior results on the SAT and ACT.

All Test Prep Gurus instructors undergo intense training to teach them how to apply Nick's unique teaching methodology to the test prep process and impart lifelong valuable skills such as:

  1. Embracing challenge

  2. Perseverance in the face of setbacks

  3. Acceptance of useful criticism

  4. Desire for continued learning

  5. Developing a framework for pursuing future goals

"What is Positive Psychology?" was created by Nick Standlea and Test Prep Gurus.  It was recently featured at the annual conference for the Western Association of Positive Psychology and has amassed more than 350,000 views.

‘I feel like I won the lottery!’ was my reaction when I heard our son’s SAT results! His score had jumped more than 350 points in 4 weeks! From the very first phone call, Test Prep Gurus was wonderful to work with and extremely accommodating. The sessions were customized to our son’s needs, and as a result, they maximized his ability and produced a dramatic score increase. Test Prep Gurus was worth every bit of our investment.

- Parent at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School

We work with students of all levels.

The estimated industry standard of improvement on the New SAT after a test prep program is roughly 40 points (Source: The College Board).  Students prepped for the New SAT by Test Prep Gurus average improvements of more than 220 points.  

The industry standard of improvement on the ACT is 1-2 composite points. Students prepped for the ACT by Test Prep Gurus average improvements of +5 composite points. 

In addition, one in three students prepped by Test Prep Gurus for the ACT improves a stunning 6-8 composite points.  Improvements of this magnitude propel a typical student’s national ranking from the bottom half of the country into the top 10 % of the country. 

We give Test Prep Gurus a most enthusiastic recommendation!!!

- Tahir Andrabi, Professor of Economics at Pomona College.

At Test Prep Gurus there is no one-size fits all program.  Everything is customized to the student's specific starting point and goals for college.  Cost, length of program, and subject focus, vary significantly from student to student.

Contact us to learn more.