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Seven Questions To Ask Before You Hire That SAT or ACT Tutor

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Seven Questions To Ask Before You Hire That SAT or ACT Tutor

With summer fast approaching, this is the time many parents begin to look for an SAT or ACT tutor. If you’re one of those parents, chances are you may have already heard from a friend or teacher about a tutor in your area. Before you sign your child up for tutoring, however, you’ll want to make sure the tutor is worth the investment.

Here are seven critical questions that you should ask any SAT or ACT tutor before making the hire:

1. Do you use real test questions?

Some tutors and tutoring companies produce all of their teaching materials in-house. No matter how great the questions they write may be, they will never match the authenticity of official questions written by the test makers themselves. While it’s great to supplement official questions with additional materials like math and grammar guides, it’s critical that real test questions play a substantial role in the tutoring process.

2. What kind of results do your clients see?

Great tutors produce great results. On the SAT or ACT, that means substantive score gains over time. Be wary, however, of tutors who claim to raise scores significantly within very short periods of time. For the vast majority of students, truly significant score increases require hard work spread out over a number of months.

3. What makes you a great teacher?

Many SAT and ACT tutors boast impressive credentials like high scores and Ivy League degrees but lack teaching expertise. Find out how much teaching experience the tutor has and if they work well with high school students.

4. What makes you an SAT or ACT expert?

While some tutors know the exams they teach inside and out, others may have only a superficial knowledge of them. Leading tutors have typically sat for the exam themselves, often as adults, and scored highly. They should be able to explain to you what is unique about a particular test as well as the most effective methods for preparing for it.

5. Are your lessons personalized?

A great tutor doesn’t teach the same material or use the same methods with every student, but instead adapts to your teen’s needs. See if the tutor will diagnose your teen’s weaknesses and adjust his or her lessons accordingly. To get a sense of how personalized the lessons are, ask the tutor to share stories about how he or she adapted lessons to the specific needs of former students.

6. Do you assign homework?

Substantial score improvements on the SAT or ACT are nearly impossible without hard work on the part of the student. Good tutors will provide weekly assignments, such as timed practice tests, that they will then review with students. If a tutor promises to raise your child’s score without assigning homework, that’s cause for suspicion.

7. Can you provide references?

A successful tutor will be able to provide you with references from families that he or she has worked with. This might be less important, of course, if you’ve already received the tutor’s name from a trusted source who can vouch for the tutor.

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Robert Kohen is the director of Kohen Educational Services, a test prep firm offering personalized SAT and ACT prep in person and online. In addition to helping students master the SAT and ACT through one-on-one tutoring, Robert publishes free testing advice, lessons and strategies through his website's Test Prep Tips Blog. Robert holds a Ph.D. from Harvard, where he formerly taught.

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