One-on-one ACT tutoring for high scoring students
What high scorers on the ACT do differently
High scorers, whether by accident or because someone taught them, usually study very differently than those who don't reach high scores. Over the years, this has become very apparent to me.
High scorers track and review their mistakes. They don't just look up the correct answer to a question they missed, sigh to themselves, and move on. They keep track of all the questions they missed, and figure out why they missed it (they don't just call everything a silly/careless mistake). Then they retry the question, without notes or any help, until they can solve it all the way through correctly. They do this for all the questions they missed on practice tests. They also spend extra time on their weaknesses, not their strengths. It can feel much better to spend lots of time on questions that you already understand, but the way to improve is to push through the discomfort and spend time on the questions that are a bit out of reach at the moment.
High scorers use the best practice material. Finding the best practice material is not always easy - some of the biggest brand names in test prep put out the most mediocre products. When I (Vince) wrote questions for Barron's, for instance, I had almost no oversight and an editor that didn't have the experience to know whether my work captured the nuances of the real test.
The best practice tests will always be official material: TIR (the ACT's Test Information Release). Since the ACT releases copies of the tests it administers in April, June, and December, we want to find these tests and use them for practice - they're the most recent and most accurate material on the planet. Reddit is a good place to look for these (and of course, we have them all for use with our students). TIR tests also make the best assessments for figuring out where someone's strengths and weaknesses are.
The best practice materials are harder to find for the layman. It can take a lot of background knowledge and hours of research. Luckily, we have experts who have done that for you!
ACT English: The Complete Guide to ACT English by Erica Meltzer.
ACT Math: For students who know concepts well and are ready to practice, Mathchops.
ACT Math: For students who need to learn concepts, The Ultimate Guide to the Math ACT by Richard Corn.
ACT Reading: The Complete Guide to ACT Reading by Erica Meltzer.
ACT Science: For the Love of ACT Science by Michael Cerro.
High scorers study consistently, according to a schedule. They don't cram at the last minute and hope for the best. They know that spreading their studying out into manageably daily chunks will always get them the best improvement per hour of study.
High scorers follow a plan, but will update that plan as the situation changes. This can be tough to do, but it is important to get a good plan and make changes that fit your needs. At one end you have the one-size-fits-all plan that will kinda work for everyone but not work that well for anyone. At the other end you have students with no plan at all. High scorers find a plan that looks good for them, start using it, but update it every week or so to make sure they reshape the plan to serve them best, not reshape themselves to serve the plan.
High scorers work on getting good before they worry about getting fast. They will first practice untimed until they have the skills down, then will work on getting faster. Getting fast but staying inaccurate gets them nowhere.
The last thing high scorers tend to do differently than others is that they prepare themselves for the stress of test day. They take practice tests timed, at a school or library. They might even take proctored tests. They are aware of how they talk to themselves and avoid a negative inner monologue. They stay focused on answering the questions on the test, and not on comparing how well or poorly they are doing to how well they imagine everyone around them is doing.
As always, the most important question for you to ask is this:
"Who, exactly, will be the person teaching my kid?"
One-on-one ACT tutoring, with us, is completely customized to your learning style, personality, and needs. We have extensive experience working with students who have learning disabilities.
Talking through the nuances of ACT practice questions not only allows us to explain, in detail, the strategies that work, but that conversation also allows us to see what a student is thinking, ask the right questions to test understanding, and adjust our instruction minute-by-minute.
"What are the benefits of private ACT tutoring?"
- Instruction tailored to your child's learning style, motivation level, and personality
- The opportunity to talk through the nuances of questions with someone with several years of experience with the test
- Homework adjusted to your specific needs
- Accountability and encouragement :)
Private ACT tutoring is simply the most effective and efficient way to raise scores.
Look for each tutor's location and pricing in their bio.
Blake: I’m a native San Diegan, father, and an aficionado of basketball, vintage video games, pitchy karaoke, and lecturing my son on how much better Star Wars was "back in the day." I played college basketball at St. Mary’s College and Whittier College, where I earned my B.A. in Psychology in 2002.
Having been a full-time test prep coach for over 13 years, I have seen just about every type of student and tutoring situation. This allows me to give my students exactly what they need to reach their goals.
My years of experience have also led me to coach my students a little differently than most. A lot of test prep revolves around how to answer a question. While that is a necessary component, identifying what is needed to answer a question is at least as important, especially for timed tests like the SAT and ACT. I show my students how to look at the test the way I do, to the patterns and tendencies of the tests to make them faster and more accurate.
Though I still work with students of all types, these days I tend to specialize in students with ambitious score goals.
SAT / ACT tutoring with Blake is $275 / hour (or $248 / hour for 10 or more hours).
He meets clients in his Del Mar Heights office, or online via Zoom.
Matt: I am originally from Hopkinton, Massachusetts - the start of the historic Boston Marathon. I went to college at Northwestern University, where I graduated with a degree in Theatre. After college, I wised up and moved to the warmer coast. I worked in Los Angeles for many years as a full-time SAT / ACT tutor and part-time arts educator.
I have been tutoring for over 10 years and have spent thousands of hours helping students improve their scores. Recently, I moved to San Diego after getting a M.A. in Education from Stanford University, and I currently work as a credentialed classroom teacher.
When I’m not working, I enjoy good books, performing improv comedy, surfing, watching Game of Thrones, and enjoying the charms of San Diego. I live in North Park, where I love to get out and take advantage of all the delicious food in the area. I am also a huge Boston sports fan - the Patriots, Red Sox, and Celtics are my favorite teams. I usually have something in common with every student - my interests are really diverse!
SAT / ACT tutoring with Matt is $200 an hour ($180 / hour for 10 or more hours). He meets with students online via Zoom, and in person in North Park or Mission Valley. Matt specializes in helping students set and achieve ambitious score goals, as well as helping them build their confidence and test-taking abilities.
Matt also teaches most of our live SAT classes.
Kaitlin: I am originally from Amarillo, TX, where I developed a love of BBQ, country music, and beautiful sunsets (I can still get about 2 out of 3 of these things in San Diego).
I attended the University of Pennsylvania, and received a B.S.E. in Chemical Engineering with minors in Spanish and Nanotechnology. I realized that after seeing tumbleweeds in Texas and snowstorms in Philadelphia, it was time to see the beach a bit more! After a summer of backpacking around the world, I decided to make the leap into teaching. I have now been teaching for six years and have my California teaching credential in chemistry. I have worked at High Tech High Chula Vista, La Jolla Country Day School, and I’m currently teaching at another private school. My passion is making chemistry relevant to my students, and especially connecting my curriculum to current environmental issues.
At the same time I started teaching, I began tutoring the SAT and ACT. I use my knowledge of classroom teaching to infuse my tutoring sessions with strategies for students to help improve their scores. I love helping students do well on these tests so that they can shine in other areas of their college applications. I never want a test score to limit a student from their potential dreams and goals.
SAT / ACT tutoring with Kaitlin is $175 per hour ($157.50 / hour for 10 or more hours).
She meets students in person or online.
"Our daughter worked with Matt Sheelen to prepare for the ACT, and she could not have been more pleased. Matt gave her clear strategies to improve in the areas that she needed to most, and, from her 1st practice test to the real test, she raised her score 8 points! She did so well on the actual test the 1st time she took it, that she did not even need to re-take it, as many students choose to do. On top of Matt's expertise, he happens to be a really great guy that relates well to teens (and their parents :-) ). My daughter really enjoyed working with him and we highly recommend him."
- ACT Parent
"My 17 year old daughter used Blake this past summer for a month to help her improve her SAT scores for college admittance. Blake thoroughly trained her for the test and she felt prepared going in on text day. Her scores went up 200 points with Blake's fantastic tutoring help. She got a 1250 and is thrilled. Blake is worth every penny of your time. Thank you again."
- SAT Parent
"My daughter worked with Bronte D’Acquisto for about two months to prepare for her SAT and ACT. Bronte’s help was invaluable! She assessed where Fiona’s strong points and weak points were on both tests, and worked to improve on the weak points. They offered proctored practice tests so you can take the test in a testing situation, which I highly recommend. My daughter got exceptional scores on both tests on the first attempt, and I think Bronte’s focused tutoring made all the difference. Thank you!!"
- ACT Parent
"(Student) and I will always be grateful to you, Vince, for all the support and guidance you provided to him which enabled him to do amazing on his SAT. He was also thrilled that he only had to take it one time. I will admit, getting private SAT tutoring was definitely a sacrifice...especially being both a single mom and a teacher, but it was honestly the absolute BEST investment. His GPA is not very high, so I know his SAT score really helped him, not only with being admitted to every school he applied to, but also with the merit scholarships he earned. They offered him a guaranteed slot into their direct entry doctor of physical therapy program as well as a full-tuition scholarship beginning freshman year and continuing until the completion of his doctoral program."
- SAT Parent, The Bishop's School