MJ Test Prep’s College Admissions Program

Getting Started with MJ Test Prep


You’re here because you want to maximize your SAT and ACT scores, and you’ve come to the right place. Our tutors will provide the following:

  • Efficient, effective strategies for everything you’ll see on the test
  • Clear, concise, and consistent instruction to teach you the strategies
  • Lots of practice problems, arranged in useful ways, to give you an opportunity to rehearse the strategies and improve your accuracy, speed, and endurance
  • Personalized, specific, and useful feedback and suggestions from your instructor, based on your performance on homework and tests d improve your accuracy, speed, and endurance

It’s up to you to do the rest.

It really takes a lot of hard work on your part to make a big difference in your test 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, if you want to make a significant improvement. You can’t cram just before the test. And on both the SAT and ACT, 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 standardized test 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.

What To Expect From the Course

IMG_5774 (500x333)The SAT and ACT are both very predictable and repetitive tests. The same patterns of reasoning occur over and over. The basis of our course is to break down each pattern, show you how it works, and have you practice it many times using real problems from recently administered tests. Research demonstrates that using actual past tests maximizes the benefits of preparation time; there is no substitute for the real thing. Repeated exposure to real test questions leads to mastery.

So one of our main jobs is to organize the vast number of problems into recognizable patterns and focused assignments. One of the most important components of our materials is our collection of over 100 previously administered real tests. We also have over 60 packets of problems that focus on a single math, grammar, science, or reading skill. These packets make up a large component of your homework each week. Many of the packets are also accompanied by a detailed written chapter that helps to reinforce what you learned from the tutor.

Your main job is to do the practice. Think of us as an athletic coach. We can show you how to lift the weights, but we can’t lift them for you. Unless you complete the 5- to 6-hour assignment given after each lesson, you’re wasting the time and money spent on the lessons.

What Happens in a Coaching Session

Every session is tailored to fit the particular needs of the individual student. The first part of every session is a review of your homework.

The homework assignment each week consists of a full practice SAT and worksheets on specific skills. To review this homework, we’ll score your practice SAT electronically, producing a detailed score report. The tutor will then review the worksheet and the test with you, helping you correct mistakes, looking for patterns, and tracking your performance.

Anthony tutoringIn the second part of the session, the tutor will choose a new skill to work on based on your particular needs. You’ll spend time learning new techniques and practicing those strategies on real SAT or ACT problems with the tutor’s guidance.

To finish the session, the tutor will choose a homework assignment for you and discuss your goals for the next week. You can also discuss the big picture of your overall progress, the admissions process, and deciding when to take the test.

The Scope of the Course is 15 to 18 Sessions

Even though the SAT and ACT are very predictable and repetitive tests, they cover a lot of material. There is no way you can expect to get detailed coverage of every topic on the test in just a few lessons.

Many students do start to see modest score gains after just a few sessions. But many others simply get fluctuations near their original starting point, or even score decreases. This is to be expected; it’s a sign that you’re getting used to the test and experimenting with different approaches. It’s a sign that the new techniques you’re learning and trying have not yet become second nature.

You can achieve your full score-improvement potential only by getting exposure to every pattern of reasoning and by practicing those patterns many times. The first time you see a particular topic, you’ll be learning it with your instructor; the second and third times, you’ll be developing your technique; by the 20th or 30th time, you’ll be confident, fast and accurate. This is your ultimate goal, but it can’t be achieved overnight. You need to work hard over a long period of time.

Supplemental Sessions with A Peer Tutor2014-01-17 15.45.04

As a student with MJ Test Prep, you’re entitled to 3 supplemental sessions that we recommend for every student. The sessions may cover reading, algebra II, or science, and each is conducted by one of our peer tutors. You’ll qualify for one supplemental session after every five normal sessions. Speak with someone at the front desk to schedule these.

Your Weekly Assignments:

You should expect to do about 5 hours of homework after each session with your tutor. This homework is roughly the same each week:

  • Do a full practice test as assigned by your instructor. Fill in your answers on the bubble sheet provided by us (not the one in the blue book). We will score the test by computer at your next lesson and give you a detailed breakdown of your performance. If you can, it’s best to do the whole test under proper testing conditions. That means start-to-finish, timed, in order, and in a single sitting—this will give you the most realistic results.
  • Do any worksheets given to you by the tutor. These are made up of official problems from past tests, and they help you practice and reinforce the topics covered in the lesson.
  • Read the assigned parts of your student binder that MJ Test Prep will provide on the first session. Your tutor may choose specific parts of the binder for you to review after each session. If he or she does not, you should still read any sections that correspond to topics that you discussed in the session, or that cover something that you feel needs work. Especially for the grammar rules, most students need to read over each section at least 2 or 3 times before they can start to retain all the details.