+ How long have you been teaching?
Elizabeth has been tutoring since roughly 2003 and has published books titles Outsmarting the SAT and Acing the ACT with Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Crown/Penguin Random House. Everyone on the team has more than ten years' experience in the education field.
+ Do you only do test prep or do you also offer general tutoring?
Yes, we offer academic coaching and coursework tutoring for almost all middle school and high school level subjects and students of all levels. We are also available for some college level courses, including college writing, politics, sociology, philosophy, calculus, and physics.
Our Students and Their Families
+ What kind of students do you usually work with?
We work with students from all over the world with every imaginable background. We have had students from all over the United States, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia, Palm Beach, and Aspen, as well as from places like Argentina, Venezuela, Greece, U.K., Sweden, Kuwait, and China. Some are the children of diplomats and celebrities; others are students at boarding schools and private parochial schools. We have had students who are competing for places on the U.S. Olympic team and students who just like to hang out with competitive types. Whether they're from prominent American families, they're international students hoping for the American university experience, or they're students navigating public schools and shooting for scholarships and honors colleges, our students have two big things in common: they love to improve and they appreciate instructors who are down to earth.
+ Do you have experience with ADD/ADHD and learning disabilities?
We have extensive experiences with students who display all sorts of learning differences, be those attention disorders like ADD/ADHD, post-concussive syndrome, or more complicated processing issues of the sort that surface on a complete psycho-educational evaluation. We know how to make an I.E.P. work for students. We've also been known to identify for students their particular strengths and weaknesses in ways that make them feel more confident and equipped to navigate the world as they are.
Our team includes a psychologist who specializes in psychometric evaluation who is available for consultation at any time. Our team members have also worked with at risk students and have even home schooled students who have been withdrawn from school for behavioral reasons. We're ready to take on any challenge.
We don't share our client list. Period.
+ What makes a bad fit for students to work with you?
It's an extremely rare day when something doesn't go as planned around here, but we've found the most challenging situations happen when students categorically refuse to work independently (when they're purposefully throwing the game because they genuinely do not want to go to college) or when we're unable to define a reasonable goal that the student, tutor, and parents all understand and agree on.
How Tutoring Works
+ What's the technology like that you use? Is it expensive?
We use technology that's free to our students and offers real time simultaneous editing and note taking capabilities. Each year the technology gets cheaper and lately it's been less than $100 for students to be equipped to participate in one-on-one online tutoring. All you need is a computer with sound, an internet connection, and an inexpensive pen tablet, which not all students require depending on the topic of study.
+ Are you sure online tutoring is effective? Wouldn't this be better in person?
As members of Gen X, we too remember the analog world and we ourselves were initially a little iffy about the efficacy of working online entirely. As it turned out, we were the ones who were touch and go about it and our students, who have grown up completely connected, were perfectly comfortable.
These days we'll meet locally with students in New England, but we still think everyone actually loves working online more even if we’re next door neighbors: everyone is dressed comfortably and casually, sessions begin and end punctually, there's more time for studying and review without shuttling back and forth to at tutoring center, and we have all the materials we need immediately at our fingertips.
+ How long does it take to get to my goal?
We do not subscribe to formulas or a one size fits all program. We've seen scores increase after 4 hours; we've seen students chip away with forty hours or more. Everyone is different. Score gains our students need to earn vary. Our commitment is to be in communication with students and their families so everyone knows how things are developing.
+ Can't I just use the free prep on the internet?
Sure! You could. But
- You won't be held accountable.
- Most students skip over game-changing lessons because they think they're familiar with topics that are actually still unclear to them.
- Read more about the problems with those programs here.
- Free content companies that have partnered with the test makers do not provide strategies for cracking the tests because that would be counterproductive to effective testing, so your ultimate score increase is unlikely to be as high as if you were working with people who aren't in cahoots with the test maker.
- Most of the free test prep out there features men making up word problems about trolls and princesses who need saving, which is particularly unappealing to female students.
+ How much does it cost to work with you?
Our academic coaching starts at $125/hr. Test preparation starts at $175/hr and goes to $350/hr.
Our pricing is highly competitive with comparable tutoring companies--those companies that consider themselves unparalleled in the industry, many of whom charge $750 and up per hour (yes, seriously). You could argue we actually aren't expensive enough; however, we're able to keep prices lower than those companies because we keep our overhead costs low, and we're pleased to pass those savings to our clients.
+ Why should I pay more when I can pay $85/hr at the local tutoring center?
If you're paying $50 to $80 hourly at a local tutoring center, even if you're paying a licensed teacher, which many large franchises boast, you're very likely working with an tutor who is only earning around $12 to 22/hr. If you want to know what tutors earn, check Craigslist job postings. Most tutors are bright people who use tutoring as a transition to a different career and they lack the years and years of experience it takes to teach effectively and with great nuance.
We know--we were they once too.
Anyone who is a long-term, invested expert in the field of SAT and ACT preparation doesn't want to work for the same amount of money they could earn doing entry level admin work. Dollar for the dollar, the amount of insight, information, and coaching you receive in even a handful of hours with us far outweighs the value of a dozen hours with someone with limited experience.
+ Do you have a set program or a required number of hours?
All of our tutoring is customized to each individual student. We often allow families to purchase packages of hours in order to reduce prices, but we never require students to pay for classes up front.
+ I have financial concerns. Should I bother calling to see what you can offer?
Absolutely. We'll entertain anything. Give us a call at 917.207.9653 and fill out our student profile form and application to see how we can help you.
What to Expect
+ Do you guarantee results?
Unfortunately we can't guarantee results any more than we can go in and take the test for you.++ There are so many variables we can't control:
- test center conditions
- a student's ultimate anxiety level and attitude on test day
- test content
- how much a student studies and genuinely retains during preparation
- how many hours a student can invest in preparation
- That being said, the overwhelming majority of the time our students excel and almost always improve.
++We are currently developing packaged programming that does guarantee results. Call 917.207.9653 for more information.
+ Have you ever had a student show no improvement?
Yep-- it happened once that Elizabeth can think of. We had an international student score a 31 at one ACT test administration, register again, go to that administration, and be given the exact same test. He made all the same mistakes. It was a ridiculous circumstance, soup to nuts. Otherwise, everyone improves.
+ What is your experience with students with learning disabilities?
We have worked with dozens of students with learning disabilities, many of whom also qualify for extra time on standardized tests and other accommodations. We've worked with students with:
- traumatic brain injury, post-conconcussive disorder
- severe anxiety and depression
- non-specific working memory weaknesses
Not only do we happily work within a student's I.E.P. or with the input of a psychological evaluation, we have occasionally recognized un-diagnosed issues and sent students for evaluation ourselves.
+ Does working online affect the quality of teaching?
We used to think there was no way that working online could mimic the in-person experience. Now we think it's so efficient that even if you were my next door neighbor we'd suggest we work online anyway. Materials and resources are easy to share online--- no need to wait for a book shipment to arrive on the other side of the world or to worry we might not have the right materials online. Plus, the environment is very relaxed and comfortable for everyone involved. It's like studying with pizza and your friends. Eating during the session is always welcome. Not only that, once a session ends, you're already home and on to the next thing. No commute. No carpooling. No problem. We are willing to meet in person in Rhode Island and the surrounding areas for negotiable travel costs.
+ Do you work with independent students or professionals with unusual schedules?
Absolutely. We've worked with athletes, professionals, international students, and many more. We're really flexible and will work with your schedule.
+ What if I'm naturally just bad at math?
Sometimes some people have real issues with math because of dyslexia or genuine issues with working memory. The overwhelming majority of people don't. Instead, it's simply popular in our culture to think math is really difficult--especially (let's just say it) for girls. I don't know if there's a low population of particularly adept math teachers or if curricula have just become absolutely crazy, but I often find we need to invest a great deal of time with fundamentals, even with the most advanced students. As someone who believed in high school that I was bad at math myself, I'm empathetic to the frustrated and confused student--and have grown particularly skilled at opening up for them the fun that is mathematics.