Dr. Matthew Joseph has been coaching students for the SAT and other standardized tests since 1987. In 2005, he completed his doctoral dissertation on the efficacy of coaching for the SAT. His many years of experience and the research he did for that dissertation have formed the foundation of our teaching methods.
The core of our philosophy is the idea that the SAT, ACT, and other standardized tests are highly repetitive and predictable, and that you can improve your score dramatically through deliberate practice using real test questions.
As tutors, we have several responsibilities. It’s our job to organize the material on the test and present it to you in a way that you can understand and absorb. We have to provide efficient, effective strategies, and clear, concise, instruction to teach you the strategies. Then we must give you lots of practice problems, arranged in useful ways, to give you an opportunity to rehearse the strategies and improve your accuracy, speed, and endurance. And we should provide personalized, specific, and useful feedback and suggestions based on your performance on homework and tests.
It’s your job to work hard. The bad news is that it really takes a lot of hard work on your part to make a big difference in your score. All the strategies and drills in the world won’t make a difference unless you put in the many hours it takes to understand, internalize, and master them. And it really does take many hours—you’ll have to put in intense studying, spread out over a considerable length of time, especially if you want to make a significant improvement in your vocabulary. You can’t cram just before the test.
And just doing lots of problems as fast as you can isn’t how you’ll master the test—you have to spend time learning from each problem: gaining insights, noticing patterns, and building the skills you need to answer future questions, a process that takes time and a lot of effort. There are no shortcuts. In a nutshell, get ready to work.
But the good news is that, with the right coaching and support, all it takes is a lot of hard work on your part to make a big difference in your score. You don’t need to be a genius or have some kind of genetic predisposition. You don’t need the stars to align or to get a visit from the SAT fairy. You don’t need to be famous or particularly good-looking. The test is very predictable, very methodical, and very learnable. The points are there for the taking. If you put in the work to master the content, you can improve your score considerably.