My Philosophy

Set your goals high as to what test scores you want to achieve and work steadily toward those goals.  You don't have to be a straight A student to achieve test scores in the top 15%.  This is not an impossible goal if it is YOUR goal and you are willing to work.  I provide the guidance, direction, tutoring, and support to help you achieve your goal.  

Each student begins with a customized, written tutoring plan to address his or her specific problem areas.  I will assess what you need help with and create a plan to review with parent(s) and student.  I select from my extensive library of resources to build a custom curriculum for each student.  I don't use a "one size fits all" test prep course.  The plan's objective is the goal the student has set for his or her test score results.

I believe that there is no secret or special trick to scoring well on the SAT or the ACT.  It is a matter of mastery of essential life skills:  Reading Comprehension and Mathematics.  While suggestions from an experienced test taker, like me, enhance the outcome, the primary drivers of the test scores are the underlying skill levels.  If together we can increase your reading comprehension and mathematics skill levels, your scores should rise.  Most of the local high schools do not teach grammar, despite the fact that it is a key component of both the SAT Writing Test and the ACT English Test.  Most of my students tell me that they have had only a cursory introduction to a limited number of grammar topics.  So that is generally a "hole" in the skill set of the vast majority of students I see that needs to be addressed.

Each year, I see a few students who arrive at my door superbly educated, who only need a modest amount of guidance to demonstrate their skills on the test and to score in the 99th percentile. I am happy to work with these students and happy to provide only what they need, and I don't waste their time with unncessary tutoring.  

My philosophy is unique in many ways among San Diego tutors.  If you were trying to learn a sport, would you hire someone who can talk about the sport or someone who can perform under tournament conditions?  I believe students learn the most with the least amount of their precious hours invested when they work with a tutor who has had to produce the same results that the student is trying to achieve under the exact same test conditions.  That is why I have taken both the old SAT, the new SAT, and the ACT many times at local high schools on a Saturday morning surrounded by local high school students, dealing with the same pressures and environment that they are.

Have you every wondered how your student completed a course, received an A or B grade, and learned so little in the way of results?  Sometimes this happens because the curriculum content doesn't focus on or foster the ability to use the knowledge.  Sometimes this happens when the teacher is focused on merely getting through the material with the class.  Regardless of why we've all seen this occur, my objective is to develop your student's ability to use knowledge gained.  I measure my success not merely by completing a prescribed set of tutoring sessions but by the results the student can demonstrate on a standardized test.

A key part of my philosophy in working with teenagers is to improve their self-confidence in their ability to perform well on standardized tests.  People often face standardized tests as hurdles to advancement in various pursuits in life, not only college but also graduate school ( the GRE or GMAT) , work (CPA or Bar exam) or the military.  Rather than avoid these tests or fear them, use them to your advantage to showcase how you can perform under pressure.   Moreover, as one parent astutely said to me about succeeding in college, "no more extra grade points for turning in unused bathroom passes."  In high school, students often earn grade points for all sorts of activities aside from tests (for example, class participation or turning in test corrections).  In college, the grade is often solely dependent upon performance on high-stakes midterm and final exams.   I want your student to face this hurdle in high school with a strong belief in his or her ability to prepare and successfully conquer this challenge.  This will reduce anxiety surrounding the test and allow your student to concentrate more fully, which is crucial during the test.

Students are extraordinarily busy these days with extracurricular activities that consume hours in sports, music, theatre, work, or community service.  They are encouraged to tackle a challenging curriculum, which often involves AP classes and the extra homework load associated with those classes.  This doesn't leave much "extra" time in their calendars to spend on standardized test preparation during the school year.  I believe that the most efficient use of the student's time spent on test preparation will be based upon the feedback from a proctored SAT or ACT test.  This will focus tutoring on exactly what the student needs help with.  Why waste time in a generic class reviewing everything at the same depth when your student's time is better spent reviewing a selected group of topics in-depth?  Is that tutor in front of a group class really committed to YOUR student's success on the test or just covering the material in the course?  Maybe your student already has the fundamental knowledge needed for the test but has to learn to work within the time constraints of the test, and that should be the focus of the time your student invests in preparation.  Maybe your student already possesses advanced knowledge in math but struggles with reading comprehension.   Whatever your student's unique needs are, that will be the focus of the tutoring.  

I believe that parents deserve an honest assessment of their student's current skill levels.  Based upon my experience, parents haven't always received that candid feedback from a student's teachers.  Furthermore, I've seen a disturbing trend that grades nowadays don't always accurately reflect skill levels.  I can only speculate that teachers seem to avoid giving a "C" to avoid dealing with parent complaints.  I would expect that a grade of B would reflect solid mastery of the course, yet that isn't always the case based upon the skills I see from students.   This can leave parents somewhat in the dark about a student's skill level in reading or math or writing.  A recent article in the Rancho Santa Fe Review explained that some public school teachers don't send quizzes and tests home anymore, so unless a parent makes an appointment to review the test or quiz at the school, the parent is not informed about what problems the student had on the quiz or test.  Students can't always self-diagnose why they are having a problem with quizzes and tests in a class.  The end result is that parents can have a false sense that everything academically is in good shape because "my student has a 3.5 GPA."  I have over a decade of experience working with hundreds of students in this age group from all of the area's high schools.  Therefore, I have seen the range of student skill levels that exist in this age group.  As I work with your student, I will always give you a candid assessment of your student's skills in reading comprehension, mathematics, and writing. The overwhelming majority of times that I've had to alert a parent to a disconnect between the student's grades and the student's actual skill level, the parent was very appreciative of my candor in broaching the subject with them.  I want to work with parents who want to know the truth and  don't want to be left in the dark. I'm a parent, and that is how I would want to be treated.  I'm not only preparing them for an important standardized test, but also I'm contributing to their preparation for success in college and future employment.