How is classroom test prep different from private tutoring?

Where have all the classes gone?

There aren’t many classroom SAT prep classes left out there. It’s more cost-effective for national prep companies to run their businesses on-line. There are economic advantages to this business model, but there’s not much room for personal contact. Community colleges and high schools sometimes offer low-priced SAT prep classes but they pretty much, well, stink. Just ask anyone who’s taken one.

It’s hardly surprising that schools can’t find competent test prep instructors. Teaching SAT prep requires a thorough understanding of all sections of the test: reading, grammar, math, and essay. And, of course, teaching anything is something of an art: instructors need classroom management skills and a confident, evolved teaching style. It’s almost impossible for schools to find knowledgeable, talented, enthusiastic people who are also willing to accept a very low hourly salary to teach their bargain-basement test prep courses.

There are competent private tutors out there but they seldom work for the national companies (Kaplan, Princeton Review, Huntington, Sylvan, etc.) because they don’t pay very well, either. Nope, in order to earn a living wage, really skillful SAT tutors work on their own and charge a pretty penny; one of my local competitors charges $300-$350 per hour. Now, if you’re wondering how I can be just as good, if not better, at prepping kids for the SAT when I charge much less per hour… it’s simply because I teach a class of 10-20 kids at a time. Thus, I can still make a decent living without breaking families’ banks.

What will Prepare provide that a tutor won’t?

As a rule, tutors charge by the hour. There’s nothing wrong with that: that’s the business model they use. At Prepare, I don’t charge extra to talk to students before and after class, nor I do charge them for asking questions via text and e-mail. Indeed, I encourage it!

Also, I charge one set fee at the start and that’s all. This includes not only the course itself, but free brush-up classes the night before every official SAT and ACT test. I can also look at the students’ official test results and offer an analysis about what they are doing well and what they are doing not-quite-so-well.

While I personally get a kick out of seeing my students’ scores go up, this approach also makes business sense: if I do my best to help me kids succeed–and don’t sweat individual dollars–I will get more customers through referral… and make more money in the end, anyway. That’s my business model.