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    How to Choose the Best Test Prep Tutor

    By Will Geiger

    Will Geiger is the co-founder of Scholarships360 and has a decade of experience in college admissions and financial aid. He is a former Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at Kenyon College where he personally reviewed 10,000 admissions applications and essays. Will also managed the Kenyon College merit scholarship program and served on the financial aid appeals committee. He has also worked as an Associate Director of College Counseling at a high school in New Haven, Connecticut. Will earned his master’s in education from the University of Pennsylvania and received his undergraduate degree in history from Wake Forest University.

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    Edited by Maria Geiger

    Maria Geiger is Director of Content at Scholarships360. She is a former online educational technology instructor and adjunct writing instructor. In addition to education reform, Maria’s interests include viewpoint diversity, blended/flipped learning, digital communication, and integrating media/web tools into the curriculum to better facilitate student engagement. Maria earned both a B.A. and an M.A. in English Literature from Monmouth University, an M. Ed. in Education from Monmouth University, and a Virtual Online Teaching Certificate (VOLT) from the University of Pennsylvania.

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    Updated: March 26th, 2024
    How to Choose the Best Test Prep Tutor

    When it comes to the SAT or ACT, practice matters. One of the best ways to maximize your test taking potential is with a test prep tutor. Finding a test prep tutor for the SAT or ACT is an important decision. But how do you go about finding the best test prep tutor for you? Here are some tips and best-practices to consider when you are looking for a test prep tutor:

    Related: PSAT to SAT score conversion

    Set your budget

    One of the first questions you will need to answer is regarding your budget. We recommend that you talk to your parents to see what is doable for your family. SAT and ACT tutor fees can range wildly from free to $10-20 per hour to “comprehensive” packages that cost thousands of dollars. Research a variety of tutoring companies, including free ones like UPchieve, to find your best financial match. 

    Online or in-person?

    The great thing about the internet is that high-quality test prep tutor can be accessed anytime and anywhere. In-person vs. online tutoring is a personal decision and depends on your style. Are you comfortable working with someone over Skype or video chat? Or do you prefer to communicate with someone “live” and in-person?

    Don’t miss: What to look for in a college consultant

    Ask for an intro consultation

    Many tutors will offer a free consultation to prospective clients. These consultations can be great for a few reasons. First, the consultation session will allow you to see how you “gel” with the tutor, as well as their tutoring philosophy. This also gives you the opportunity to ask questions about how their process works.

    Don’t miss: Advice for low test takers

    Be wary of anyone who makes any promises

    A good coach or tutor knows their limitations. Notably, they are unable to specifically “create” outcomes for their client. If a tutor promises a specific score increase, you should be very skeptical. Goal-setting is certainly an important part of the test prep process, but there are no guarantees.

    Ask a friend!

    Do you have any friends, family members, or acquaintances who have gone through the test prep or admissions process? If so, ask them for recommendations. They will be able to give you the inside scoop on potential tutors and their experiences. Similarly, your school guidance counselor may have some suggestions.

    Related: What is a high SAT score?

    Free resources

    There are also some awesome SAT and ACT resources that are totally free! These can be a great supplement to having a tutor (particularly because both of the free resources include official ACT and SAT practice tests). You can also check out our guides to the SAT reading section and the SAT math section. Make sure that you research the ACT vs SAT, and how to decide which test to take.

    If you’re a student who does not enjoy taking tests, you can definitely take some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone. Luckily, we can help you out. Check out our guide to reducing test taking anxiety, as well as our guide to college admissions for low test takers.

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    Frequently asked questions about how to choose a test prep tutor

    How much does a test prep tutor cost?

    The cost of a test prep tutor can vary widely based on the city you live in and the qualifications of your tutor. Test prep experts tend to be more expensive, especially if they are part of an esteemed organization or earned a very high score themselves. If you’re looking for a less expensive tutor, the best place to turn is current or recent college students.

    Current or recent college students will have taken these tests recently, so they will have them fresh in their minds. What’s more, they will typically ask for lower payments, as they are still young and don’t have extensive experience to earn a high-paying job. If you decide to opt for a younger, less experienced tutor, ensure that they managed a good score on the test, and try asking for references to ensure that they have had success in the past.

    Should I hire a test prep tutor through a company or look for an independent one?

    Each of these options has its own advantages and disadvantages. If you hire someone through a company, they will have gone through a certain vetting process. They also have access to their company’s database of test prep resources. On the other hand, they may be more expensive. So, if you are on a limited budget, you might want to go with an independent tutor who you’ve vetted or who comes recommended.

    Remember, you also have the option to enroll in group test prep classes through an organization like Kaplan. This gives you the advantage of a professional organization alongside lower prices. Of course, the downside is that you won’t receive the same individual attention.

    Do test prep tutors help?

    If you find the right test prep tutor, they can help immensely. They can help you pinpoint the skills you need to work on, and help teach you test-taking techniques, such as how to narrow down multiple choice options. Remember, taking tests like the SAT and ACT are assessments of both your knowledge and your ability to navigate the format. The better you learn to navigate it, the higher you’ll score.

    That being said, it’s also true that you can have a lot of success studying on your own or with friends. With the immense databases of test prep resources available online, there is no shortage of material. Check back above to find a few of those test prep options.

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