"Our daughter 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 daughter'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 daughter, as her score improved by 6 points on the ACT (equivalant to +240 points on the SAT) 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. 

It Takes a Village: When you hire Test Prep Gurus you are hiring a team of experts to help you and your family achieve your goals for college. Your son or daughter will work with multiple instructors, all of whom are experts in the areas they teach. Behind the scenes, our management team will digest every practice exam your son or daughter takes to pinpoint areas of potential improvement. Your Director will keep you posted on every step of the process and coordinate our team's efforts to ensure success. 

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

Nick Standlea is the President and founder of Test Prep Gurus. He is a graduate of Pitzer College and Claremont Graduate University. Nick earned a perfect score on the SAT. He spent five years as a research associate at the Quality of Life Research Center at Claremont Graduate University -- researching growth mindset, intrinsic motivation, flow, and education. 

When he began to apply this 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.

To this day, Nick personally trains all of the instructors at Test Prep Gurus in his unique methodology. 


    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.    


    "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.

    * 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 more than +5 composite points on the ACT and +220 points on the SAT . This is a 233% increase over the industry averages of +1.5 and +40 (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. 


    * One in three of our ACT students increases by a stunning 6-8 composite points (equivalent to more than 300 points on the SAT) propelling the typical student's national ranking from the bottom half of the county into the top 10%.

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

    - Tahir Andrabi, Professor of Economics at Pomona College.

    Test Prep Gurus also offers academic instruction for AP and regular courses, as well as prep for the ISEE, SSAT and HSPT. We look forward to unleashing your son or daughter's potential. 

    “The efforts of Test Prep Gurus have altered the course of Miles’ life and of his education.”

    - Margie Serkin, Parent at The Webb Schools.

    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. Schedule a free mock exam and consultation so we can learn more about your student.