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Success Stories of Real New York City Middle School and High School Students


NYC Tutoring Success with Prestige Prep leads to Higher Test Scores and First Choice School Acceptances

Jane Increases Her ACT Reading Score by Ten Points

Jane didn’t like to read. She was a slow reader, and she didn’t pay attention to what she read. As a result, her ACT scores for reading were terrible. She was only finishing two of the four reading passages, and on those she was getting around half of the questions wrong.

We met with Jane twice a week. The first session was on overall ACT prep and the second session was just for reading. We taught Jane techniques to increase her reading speed, and she started reading actively. Her results were amazing, and they surprised everyone. Her reading score went from an 18 to a 28! Jane’s parents couldn’t believe it, but they loved the acceptance letters they got from colleges.

Reading and Math Test-Taking Strategies Help Talia Get a 2300 SAT Score

Talia scored well below her potential on her first SAT mock exam. Her math and grammar scores were surprisingly low, and her essay was especially bad. She did what a lot of good writers and good thinkers do: she tried to get too deep. It’s almost impossible to go in depth in twenty-five minutes, and it usually leads to poor essays.

We went through how the test was tricking her and what she could improve. While she did well in math at school, she was not prepared for the types of math questions on the SAT. The same was true of her grammar: she needed to learn how to handle questions specific to the SAT. For the essay, she was having difficulty thinking of examples, so we spent time writing practice outlines. We gave her a topic and she had three minutes to think of two examples. We did this three times per session, until Talia could give us four examples for both sides of any essay topic we gave her.

Talia took the SAT only once, in November of her junior year. She scored over 2300 – an increase of over 400 points from her mock. The rest of her junior year she could concentrate on school as she watched her friends study for their SATs.

Non-Native Speaker Crushes the ISEE

Aaron was an Israeli student who had moved to New York four years prior. He was studying for his ISEE. Aaron did not test well on his mock exam in any section. His math was especially bad, which confused his parents since he did well in math at school.

To make things more difficult, English was not Aaron’s first language, nor did he speak English at home. We put him on a steady diet of vocabulary and reading and really concentrated on math. Since Aaron’s fundamentals were weak, we had to shore up the holes in his knowledge. In addition, the language in the math questions was giving him trouble. His father would help him with his math, but they would go over the problems in Hebrew. So we asked Aaron’s father if he would speak English when helping his son with his math homework. He agreed.

Aaron was getting better, but he was still having trouble in math with problem recognition and timing. As the test approached, we gave Aaron problem sets of twelve questions. He had fifteen minutes to finish each problem set. For the final two and a half weeks before the exam, he did a problem set every day.

Aaron crushed the ISEE. He scored an 8 in the Verbal Reasoning Section – not bad for a kid whose first language isn’t English and who doesn’t speak English at home. Aaron got into every high school to which he applied.

Andrew’s Stuyvesant High School Success

Andrew was a great kid who wanted to go Stuyvesant High School. He did well in school, was exceptionally bright and interviewed well. However, there was no way he was getting into Stuyvesant. His SHSAT scores were too low. The SHSAT has 100 questions, and to get into Stuyvesant, you need to answer around 91 correctly. Andrew scored a 71 on his first mock exam.

We looked at Andrew’s work and watched as he answered questions. He was cocky on the math section. Since math had always come easy to him, he was careless and the test takes advantage of that. On reading comprehension, he was lazy. He thought the passages were boring, so he didn’t focus, and the result was a 71.

We worked with Andrew to modify his test taking and study habits. On the math sections, we showed him exactly how the test was tricking him and how to avoid it. We gave him question after question that made him slow down and write out his work. For reading comp, we went through the passages line by line. We gave him mock exams and problem sets. He never stopped complaining that the reading passages were boring, but he read them carefully. His scores slowly improved, and on his next mock exam, he got an 83, followed by improved scores of 92 and 97.

Andrew is a senior at Stuyvesant this year. He’s loved his time there.

Rob’s Change in Attitude and Eating Habits Get His Score into the 84th Percentile on the SSAT

Rob was a very bright kid with a lot of potential but not a lot of focus or motivation. He tested in the 40th percentile on his practice SSAT. Rob was very good at reading comprehension but not good at verbal reasoning and definitely not good at math. He had the potential; he just wasn’t using it.

Rob made a lot of comments about how he was a terrible test-taker and wasn’t good in math, so our first order of business was to change his poor attitude. Students who think they are going to fail do not try on difficult questions. Students who think they will succeed work through difficulty. It’s not a matter of brains; it’s a matter of effort.

Rob was not a terrible test-taker; he was just careless and unmotivated. His math was bad, but he was far from hopeless. It took a while, but Rob finally started working hard. He took four mock exams, with varying success. We realized as the test approached that, on many days, Rob ate almost nothing but desserts. Therefore, we worked on changing his diet as well. It wasn’t easy, but Rob entered the test feeling confident.

Rob demolished the SSAT. He scored in the 84th percentile. It was an amazing improvement from his first mock exam.

Consistent Tutoring and Positive Reinforcement Improve Jake’s Attitude and His ISEE Score

Jake was a lazy student who went to a school that didn’t make him work hard. As a result, he was awful at standardized tests and had a poor work ethic. He was taking the ISEE and needed help in every section. He needed a full review of math, as there were many basic math concepts he HAD never learned. In addition, he was sloppy in his work. His first mock exam had him scoring in the 3s and 4s (on a 1-9 scale).

Jake was a difficult student, but we kept at it. With about a month to go before the exam, he finally started working hard. He still hated being tutored and he told us this fact often. However, he started pushing himself, and his scores started to improve.

Jake did well on the exam. He got a 6 in verbal reasoning, which was a surprise to everyone, and he scored a 9 and a 6 in the math sections. He went from 3’s and 4’s to two 6’s, an 8 and a 9! He got into his first choice high school and loves it.