A parent inquiring about tutoring services recently asked, “How do you know you offer the best SAT prep in Northern Virginia?” I appreciated her direct approach. She did not have an arsenal of specific questions about materials, tutors qualifications, program structure, etc. Everything was summed up in one short question and the ball was in my court.
My response went something like this:
“That’s a fantastic question. There are many factors that make our service the best; however, I would say that the greatest values to prepping for the SAT with Educational Connections are the customized, one-on-one approach and the quality of our tutors. Quite a few of our test prep clients come to us having recently taken a larger group class that really didn’t individualize instruction to target the students’ weaknesses. To see measurable progress, knowing what your weaknesses are and targeting them are absolutely crucial. We accomplish this by starting every test prep program with a full length diagnostic test that students take at home. Tutors review this diagnostic with students individually to set goals and come up with a plan of attack for improving scores that concentrates on the student’s weakest areas in most cases.
We invest a great deal into ensuring that we secure the best test prep tutors possible. In addition to looking for college graduates who scored above the 90th percentile on the SAT or ACT in high school, we look for candidates whose skills are still sharp and who can score just as well if not higher on the tests now. We look for previous test prep experience and verifiable examples of success. Perhaps most importantly, our interview process requires candidates to model part of a test prep session so that we can gauge their teaching style and ability to motivate and communicate. Not only do we want them to be subject matter experts, we want them to be able to engage students.
Tutors are trained in our specific approach to test prep which includes content and strategy review and simulated test practice. This training covers how to best individualize instruction to students, how to motivate students to want to maximize their scores, and how to quickly recognize the most straightforward path to answers – an extremely useful skill on the college admissions tests.
We have also invested a lot into finding what we feel to be the best SAT prep materials. We use materials provided by Summit Educational Group which are not available to individual consumers. The course books and flashcards are designed to follow a natural progression of skill building. They present content clearly and concisely, not overwhelming students with material. We use only the College Board’s official practice tests for diagnostics and benchmarks as nothing else is more similar to the real test. We also give test prep students a Testing Timer™ watch which is a great tool for practicing pacing.
Finally, our program managers carefully review the session notes from each tutoring session to ensure that progress is on track and they check in with parents regularly to get feedback and make sure that expectations are being surpassed. They are also always available to address any concerns you may have as well as to provide support to our tutors.
We’re confident that we can provide your student with the best test prep available. How does that sound?”