While you can always call me at 610-730-4876 and ask me anything you like, here are some FAQ’s that I often hear from prospective students and their parents:

Q: What high schools are considered “host-schools?”

Students from these schools are eligible for a $50 discount for in-person classes: Charter Arts, Dock Mennonite, Easton, Freedom, Great Valley, Moravian Academy, Nazareth, Northern Lehigh, NW Lehigh, North Penn, PALCS, Pen Argyl, Perkiomen Valley, Salisbury, Stroudsburg, Upper Perkiomen, West Chester East, and Wilson. (The host-school discount does NOT apply to online-only classes, essay workshops, or any other Prepare course.)

Q: Didn’t the “host-school” discount used to be $100?

Yep, but the cost of the Digital SAT practice tests is much higher than the cost of the paper SAT practice tests. I decided to reduce the discount rather than increasing the base tuition price. (BTW: I have not raised my class price in over a decade.)

Q: Do students take practice tests during the course?

Students take three practice tests: two Digital SAT tests, and a paper ACT test. Students then receive their scores, along with detailed score reports.

Q: Do students have homework?

Students have an average of 1.5 hours worth of homework per class–sometimes less, sometimes a little more. For academic-year classes, the homework is due by 9 pm (via email or text) the day after the class. We will send back the homework with notes. Students then have until 9 pm the next night to submit their corrections. Students also have weekly vocab and math quizzes.

Summer classes have daily deadlines.

Q: Isn’t that a lot of work?

For some students–especially in 2024, when students often aren’t required to hand in work on time– it is. However, there is no substitute for hard, sustained work. Students who are normally good at managing their time don’t have much trouble with the homework requirement.

I STRONGLY suggest that students not take our SAT-ACT course while doing more than one of the following at a given time: school, a sport, a job, or any other time-consuming activity.

Q: How are the one-week online classes different from your regular classes?

(1) Online-only students should be prepared for an intensive, fast-paced course. They should have at least a 550 in the subject area and be prepared to move quickly. (2) Online-only students are required to turn in their homework by 5 pm the next day via email or text. Corrections are not required. (3) Online students must print out the Prepare curriculum before the session begins.

Q: What happens after I finish the class?

Kids are encouraged to attend free online brush up classes the Friday night before each official SAT and ACT test–as long as they are in high school.

Q: Do you offer one-on-one tutoring?

Yes, though the per-hour cost is much higher for tutoring—$200 per hour in person or $175 online—than for classroom instruction.

Q: When is the best time to take your class?

My motto is: The earlier the better, schedule permitting. Those students who come onboard as sophomores and juniors usually do better than kids who wait until their senior year to take the class. The more time students have to integrate the techniques and strategies I teach them, which they often apply in high school assignments, the more they improve their scores.

Q: How rigid is your two-absence rule?

Work ethic and attendance go in hand-in-hand. Both are incredibly important. Kids who show up on time also tend to do a good job on their homework, and vice-versa. Predictably, the harder my students work, the more their test scores go up.

When kids miss class, they fall behind. This is not just bad for them, but for the class as a whole. I am forced to either spend extra class time helping these kids to catch up (at the expense of their fellow students) or leave them behind.

Tardies also negatively affect the class: therefore, being late by 0-15 minutes counts as half-an-absence. Being late by more than 15 minutes counts as a whole absence.

Attendance problems tend to spread like a virus. When one student is absent or late, the other students think that missing class or being late isn’t a big deal. Ugh! That is why I instituted my Two Absence Policy: a student who misses two classes for any reason—including illness or any other emergency—must leave the current session and start over in a future session.

I don’t make any judgment about which absences/tardies are legitimate: I treat them all the same. Once students hit two absences, no matter the circumstance, they must leave the class and start over. If a student wishes to make up a missed class—and I have the time in my schedule—we can do a private online make-up class. The cost is $200.

Q: Can a session be cancelled?

If any session does not enroll at least five students as of two days before its scheduled start, Prepare may cancel the session and offer tuition credit or a full refund for any amount already paid.

Q: Do you have a mask and vaccine mandate?

As of 2024, I do not require masks or proof of vaccination. However should host-schools change their policies, I may return to requiring vaccination and/or masking for my students.

Q: How do you handle students with learning issues?

I am used to teaching students with learning difficulties, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy: I am NOT an expert in this area. I can try to adjust the speed of the class so everyone can handle the material, but I cannot tilt the class too far to accommodate any one student. Still, if I am aware of a given student’s processing issue, it does help. I can take extra time to explain certain concepts in more detail, and take steps to ensure that the student feels comfortable. And I am always available to help all of my students between classes.

Working with kids who are not aware that they have a learning or processing issue is more difficult. I cannot be certain that a given student has a diagnosable condition, but I have taught reading, grammar, and math to thousands of students, all with different personalities and learning styles, and can often spot when something is amiss.

When I see a student really struggling, I will sometimes approach their parents (not the student) with my observations. Parents are often grateful for the insight; indeed, some have already suspected something. I am very happy when they seek additional assistance for their child, since students who can profit a great deal from professional help before they go off to college. Some parents, though, can disagree or even become angry. In that case, I do not push the point any further; however, I may re-emphasize my attendance and homework policies.

Q: Do you recommend the SAT or the ACT?

It depends on the individual student. During my class, students take two SAT practice tests and one ACT practice test. After that, they should be able tell which test best suits their particular strengths. However, since both tests are pretty similar, I can teach both the ACT and SAT in the same course.

Q: How often should I take the ACT or SAT?

After finishing my class, students should make a final decision about which test (ACT or SAT) they like best, and take that particular test three times. Why?

  • Practice makes perfect. Or, at least, it leads to improvement, if not perfection.
  • Anybody can have a bad day. Having your college future ride on just one test is unnecessarily stressful.
  • The difficulty of individual SAT and ACT tests varies. The SAT test on one date can be easier or harder than tests on other dates. This shouldn’t be the case, but it is.
  • Colleges do not average your results. They either use your total score on your best day, or combine section scores from all of your reported test dates. This is called super-scoring. For instance, if you get a 1040 (510 on Reading and Writing, 530 on Math) in March 2019; then, in May 2019, you get a 1070 (560 on Reading and Writing, 490 on Math)… a college that does superscoring will actually set your score as a 1090 by combining the 560 Reading and Writing score with the 530 Math score.

To sum up: it is wise to take whichever test you prefer, SAT or ACT, multiple times.

Q: Do colleges count it against me if I take the test multiple times?

Nope; they’re used to it. However, I don’t recommend students’ taking official tests too close together because they aren’t likely to see a ton of improvement over a month or two. Also, if kids are constantly taking standardized tests, they may see diminishing returns. An exception can be made for seniors, who might want to take consecutive tests before they apply to college in the fall and early-winter.

Q: I see “quiz bowl” in your bio? What is that, anyway?

I have always been a “quiz bowl” dude. I captained the Scholastic Scrimmage team at Saucon Valley High School, competed on “Jeopardy!” in 2001, and continue to play as an adult whenever I can. I coached Lehigh Valley Academy to a Pennsylvania State Academic Competition championship and several top finishes in national events, and have coached the Pennsylvania All-Star Academic team four times.

I have also worked as a staffer and part-time recruiter for International Academic Competitions (National History Bee and Bowl) and Qwizbowl, so it is possible that you may have run across my name in that context. However, I do NOT discuss my SAT class with the quiz bowl kids I coach; I prefer to keep business and pleasure separate. On the other hand, my sons, Alex and Nathaniel, have taken my class and also captained their schools to Scholastic Scrimmage championships. Alex is also the only person ever to have won three National History Bee titles. Nathaniel is still a sophomore, so who knows… ?