How long should a student tutor before taking a test? 3 months is ideal.
We like to see a student for a minimum of six tutoring sessions before a test. But our schedule is completely flexible and students can schedule as many or as few sessions as they want or need.
How often should a student tutor? Ideally, every 2 weeks.
At most once per week. Every two weeks seems to be a comfortable pace allowing students enough time to finish a full test and do reflections.
One-on-one tutoring versus group classes? One-on-one gives more intensive focus.
Read about our one-on-one tutoring and why we think it is the best value for your college test prep investment.
I already have the scores I need to get into my top-choice school. Why should I prep and take the test again? Higher scores give you more options and and potentially more financial aid.
Even if have the scores you need to get to the college of your choice, a higher score can mean a better financialaid package and do not forget about having options. It is not over until it is over and you are moving into a dorm room.
Does it matter who I tutor with, David or Phil? Not really, but…
No, and Yes! We both tutor all test prep subjects. David scores very high on math and Phil scores very high on reading and English. With that said…
David is the Head English & Writing Tutor. He is a Ph.D. candidate in English Literature and a writing instructor at CMU. We recommend that students save up their Grammar Questions for the ACT English (section 1) and the SAT Writing and Language (section 2) to present them to David. He does a fantastic job on ACT/SAT optional essays. If you want a 36/800 in English – get with David.
Phil is the Head Math teacher. He has a B.S. in Engineering and a M.B.A. He is a PA Certified 7-12 Math Teacher and has taught high school math for many years. If you want a top score on the hard math questions, then schedule with Phil.
How much time should a student devote to prep work each week? 3 to 5 hours
As is stated in our Test Prep Tutoring Guide, we expect a student to take a whole practice test between sessions, score it, and reflect on wrong answers. We want a student to come to tutoring prepared to ask questions. “Student Driven Instruction” is that for which we aim.
About the tests in general:
Which test (ACT or SAT) should my student take?
We recommend that all students take both the ACT and the SAT. Take each test at least twice. For a third attempt focus on the test with which the student is more comfortable.
Do all colleges and universities accept both tests for admissions?
Absolutely YES! Every college will accept either the ACT, the SAT, or test scores from both the ACT and the SAT.
What is “Super Score” and “Score Choice?” Is it wise to send every score from every test?
Super Score is when a college picks the best sections off of multiple tests. Score Choice is when the student sends in only the best scores from one test day. A student does not have to submit every score. We recommend that students take both tests and submit all of the scores from only one test, the ACT or the SAT.
What does “Test Optional” mean? How can I learn more about it?
Some colleges will allow a student to submit just their high school transcripts. The list of colleges, now more than 850, can be found at Fair Test.
Is the ACT easier than the SAT?
For most students, yes. The ACT is a better test than the NEW SAT.
Do you teach test prep tricks?
We teach test content and skills. The test can be divided into sections that require “Concept Knowledge Questions” and “Skills-based Questions”
Can the tests be beaten?
It is an absolute fact that students are able to improve their scores through practice, focused reflection, and individualized lessons that focus only on what they need to learn.
Should a student take a real test as a “benchmark” to see where he or she scores and then start to prep?
Though it does not hurt to go into the first test with no prep, why waste a score? A benchmark can reasonably be set through a timed practice test.
Which test do you prefer, the ACT or the SAT?
All of our juniors are preparing for the ACT. We are more familiar with the ACT format, because it has not changed and will not change in the foreseeable future.
Is the PSAT important?
No. No college or university ever looks at the PSAT score. And do not even think about the NMSQT – “Nation Merit Scholarship.” It is rare that a student will ever see one penny from NMSQT, it is a worthless competition.
Can a student cancel his or her score if they had a really bad test experience?
Yes, sure can!
About the SAT.
Will the NEW SAT test vocabulary?
Sentence Completions will be removed from the NEW SAT. Only vocabulary in context will be tested.
What is the “Experimental Section” and will it be on the NEW SAT?
On the OLD SAT, there were 10 sections but only 9 of them were used to calculate the student’s score. On the NEW SAT, there are 4 sections and every question counts toward the score.
Is it true that the NEW SAT will be less “tricky” that is, less like a standardized test and more like academic assessments given by teachers in school?
That is the stated goal of the College Board, let’s see how it works out.
What is the relationship between the Common Core and the NEW SAT?
Well that’s a really good question that has both a long and a short answer. Short answer is that David Coleman, who is the President of the College Board, was involved in the creation of the Common Core. Like it or loathe it, the NEW SAT and the Common Core are intertwined. Just how we have yet to see.
Are calculators allowed on the NEW SAT?
There are two math sections on the NEW SAT, section 3 will not allow students to use a calculator. Section 4 will allow the use of a calculator. We think it is a dumb move, students hate not have a calculator.
Is it true that the NEW SAT is designed to be like the ACT?
Sure does look that way! The writing and language section of the NEW SAT looks a lot like the English section of the ACT – a lot! Reading on the SAT has charts and graphs like the science section of the ACT. Math, not so much. We like the math on the ACT better.
What don’t you like about the NEW SAT?
A lot. But it does have some good qualities. We are taking a wait and see approach to the NEW SAT and are recommending that our students prepare for the ACT. The simple fact is that the NEW SAT is still an unknown. We simply know more about the ACT and therefore can better prepare a student for what we know and have mastered. Predictability is a large part of test prep, the ACT is currently more predictable.
Phil – Thank you so much for everything! I’m so lucky that I got the chance
to spend time with you. I just received my acceptance from Amherst
College. I hope everything is going well. Thank you for all of your
Adam, Sewickley Academy, 2015
Adam, William & Mary Class of 2019
Phil McCaffrey is the best damn tutor I ever had.
Phil gave me the confidence to sit for the SAT without the feelings of fear or anxiety most juniors experience during testing. He beat it into my head that I’m good enough to apply to my top-choice school. Thanks to Phil, I’m in the running for a ‘yes’
K. B. Sewickley
Emily, Univ of Chicago, 2020
David & Phil – I got a 30 on my ACT! Thank you for all your help.
Catherine, Bryn Mawr, Class of 2022, Presidential Scholarship
Phil and David helped me improve my score from a 26 to a 31! Really a great program to improve any standardized test score. I would recommend it to anyone needing any type of personalized help for their ACT/SAT tests. (Note from Kyle’s dad: $1,500 in tutoring earned Kyle $84,000 in scholarships).
Phil, today I am thankful for my 1250 on the SAT! H2P!