Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of results can I expect?
When hiring a test prep firm, you aren't paying for hours with an instructor, you're paying for results. We work with students of all levels. This last year, several of our students earned perfect scores on the ACT and SAT. Dozens of students scored in the top 1% of the country.
Our students average improvements of more than 5 composite points on the ACT and more than 220 points on the new SAT when enrolled in programs of 24 or more hours. Students who commit fully to their preparation program by completing 100% of their homework often see improvements as high as 10 or more composite points on the ACT and more than 350 points on the SAT. This past year, one of our students at Mayfield Prep jumped from a 17 to a 29 on the ACT. That is the equivalent of +480 points on the SAT! This improvement moved her from scoring higher than just 30% of students nationwide to scoring higher than 91%, making a huge difference for her in the admissions process.
Do those results matter when it comes to college admissions?
Below you can see the significance of incremental improvements on the ACT and SAT, and typical colleges that students often apply to who score in that range. Please note that SAT and ACT scores are always evaluated in conjunction with GPA. The following scores and schools are only given as examples.
- ACT/SAT: 15/850 -- higher than 18% of college-bound students (Alabama State, CSU San Bernardino, Woodbury)
- ACT/SAT: 20/1050 -- higher than 50% of college-bound students (La Verne, San Diego Christian, Redlands)
- ACT/SAT: 25/1200 -- higher than 74% of college-bound students (Azusa Pacific, Auburn, Biola, UC Santa Cruz)
- ACT/SAT: 30/1400 -- higher than 95% of college-bound students (Duke, Pitzer, NYU, UC Berkeley, USC)
- ACT/SAT: 35/1560 -- higher than 99+% of college-bound students (Stanford, MIT, Harvard, Pomona, Yale)
For more on admittance rates and average SAT and ACT scores at more than eighty popular colleges, please see our downloadable chart, Finding the Right Fit
Scores impact scholarships too...
Below is one example of how SAT and ACT scores are tied to merit-based scholarships. The exact numbers vary at each college, but Point Loma provides an example of how merit-aid awards often work.
Point Loma University:
What makes Test Prep Gurus different?
You might not know it yet, but the process your son or daughter experiences during test prep is actually just as important as the end results. In fact, we've heard from many families over the years that it was more valuable. The test prep process offers a unique opportunity to reinforce the value of sustained hard work, to encourage persistence toward long term goals, and to teach young minds that they can overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.
The system that enables us to deliver our unique process are as follows:
- Dedicated directors who take the time to understand your specific goals, manage everything from the instructors to the schedule, and who work tirelessly to make sure your family is on track to achieve your goals.
- A uniquely designed training program that makes our exclusive pool of instructors the best in the country (they all must score in the top 1% on anything they teach).
- Our D.I.G. teaching methodology:
- Deliberate Practice - teaching your student to build skill-sets that enable superior performance.
- Intrinsic Motivation - cultivating self-driven desire in your student to achieve his or her goals.
- Growth Mindset - instilling in your student the belief that he or she can develop new talents and abilities by investing enough effort and study.
Do you prep students for other subjects?
Absolutely. If there is a test involved, we can help your student prepare for it. We offer expert instruction for academic subjects ranging from Chemistry to AP US History, as well as all other standardized exams such as the PSAT, GRE, ISEE, SSAT, and LSAT.
The Test Prep Process:
Diagnostic Exams: Our process is built to help your student achieve his or her goals for the future. But before we know where we're going, we need to know where we're at. We begin each program by administering two free diagnostic tests: one ACT and one SAT. This helps us to determine which exam is naturally a better fit for the student. Please note that previously completed official exams, including the PSAT may be used in place of our mock exams.
Personal Consultation: After diagnostic testing, you and your student will be invited to schedule a complimentary consultation. This can be done in-person or over the phone. During this meeting we will review the results of the diagnostic exams and discuss how much the student's score might need to improve to be competitive at the specific colleges your family is considering. With this information we can begin building a customized test preparation program that will give your student the best possible chance of achieving his or her goals.
Instruction: Contrary to popular myth, improving scores on standardized exams is not simply a matter of learning a few "test-taking tricks." While it is important to teach students test-taking strategies, massive score improvements are rooted in mastering the complex content and concepts that are assessed on the ACT and SAT. Individual 1-on-1 instruction is the most effective way to improve ACT and SAT scores because it allows our instructors to focus on the content areas where your student can improve the most.
Duration: Teaching all of the content and concepts assessed on the ACT and SAT requires a sustained, focused effort over time. Boot camps and other quick fixes rarely achieve significant score improvements. We recommend different packages of various frequency and duration based on your family's specific circumstances, starting scores, and future scoring goals.
To get a sense of how a typical program unfolds, let's look at our most popular program, the comprehensive 1-on-1 24-hour program (in red below). In this program, your student would typically meet with his/her instructors once per week, in 2-hour sessions, for 12 weeks. The student would also receive an additional 2-3 hours of homework per week.
Mixed in throughout the lessons, your student would also take a minimum of 3-5 full-length official decommissioned practice exams. The results of these practice exams help us to adjust lesson plans as needed based on your student's progression. There is no additional charge if you wish to schedule additional practice exams.
Customization: We'll work around your student's busy schedule as much as possible. We offer 1-on-1 sessions during the week and on weekends. Students typically meet our instructors at one of our eight physical locations, but it is also possible to arrange in-home lessons or virtual instruction.
Additional fees may apply to in-home lessons. Discounts are available for programs that are conducted virtually or hybrid programs that consist of a mixture of virtual and in-person lessons.
What are the major benefits of test prep?
The majority of families invest in test prep services for one of two reasons --
Families want to increase their options for college: SAT and ACT scores (along with GPA) are highly linked to being admitted or denied at selective colleges. For more on admittance rates and average SAT and ACT scores at more than eighty popular colleges, please see our downloadable flier, Finding the Right Fit.
- Families want to qualify for more financial aid: SAT and ACT scores (along with GPA) are highly linked to merit-based financial aid. Merit-aid is 100% "need blind," which means that a family's finances are not considered for these scholarships. In fact, even just a one-point increase on the ACT can be worth up to $26,000 in merit scholarships at certain universities. Last year, one of our clients won USC's Trustee Scholarship that covers full tuition for four years -- worth approximately $205,768!
What is the initial investment?
What is the next step?
Call us to discuss your student's specific situation and create a plan of action to help him or her reach their goals for the future.