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General Information

How do you choose tutors and what kind of training do they get?
For information about our hiring and training, please click here.
How frequently do students meet with their tutors and what is the length of a session?
Academic tutors usually meet with their students from 1-2 hours per session anywhere from one time to multiple times per week. SAT and ACT sessions are generally 2 hours each, while ISEE sessions are usually 1.5 hours. The frequency of test prep sessions depends on when the student starts prep, what the target test date is, and the time of the year. These figures are all estimates that will vary based on individual students' needs. Please call us for more information.
Will my student get homework from his or her tutor?
Our test prep tutors assign homework after every session. Our academic tutors may assign supplementary homework if they and their students feel that it is necessary.
Can a tutor come to our home or does the tutoring take place at your office?
Tutoring takes place in the student's home, at our office, or via videoconferencing. The best location depends on where the student lives, the subject being tutored, and the tutor's availability.
How much do your tutoring services cost?
Please see our rates page for more information.
Do you offer group classes?
No, our specialty is one-on-one tutoring.
Do your tutors have experience working with students with learning differences?
Yes. Please contact us if you have questions about your child's specific needs.
Do you offer tutoring during the summer?
Yes. Summer has become a very popular time for otherwise busy students to do at least part of their test prep. We also have academic tutoring available for students in summer classes or those who want to brush up on a subject before the school year.

SAT and ACT Information

What are the differences between the SAT and the ACT?
Both the SAT and the ACT are college admissions test that cover material from throughout the middle school and high school curriculum. Both have optional essay components. The SAT has a non-calculator math section, while you can use a calculator on the entirety of the ACT. The ACT has many more questions per minute, so you have to be faster in order to complete the test. The ACT has a Science reasoning section and the SAT does not, but only a minimal amount of prior scientific knowledge is required to be successful.
Which test should my student take? Should my student take both?
To read more about how we decide which test is better for your student, please click here.
Should my student take the optional essay portion of the SAT or ACT?
We recommend that our students take the essay section of whichever test they take. Since many colleges require the essay, completing the essay portion keeps more options open. The exception to this rule of thumb is a student who knows that he or she is not applying to any schools that require the essay.
When does my child need to start preparing for the SAT or ACT? When is the best time to take the test?
The best time to prepare and ultimately take the test depends on starting scores, schedules, academic workload, extracurricular commitments, and other exams such as AP tests, Subject Tests, and finals. To figure out the best timing for your student, please contact us.
When can I take the SAT and/or SAT Subject Tests? How do I register?
The SAT and SAT Subject Tests are offered several times throughout the year, but you cannot take both the SAT and the SAT Subject Tests on the same day. Please click below to see the available test dates and to register:
When can I take the ACT? How do I register?
The ACT is offered several times throughout the year. Please click below to see the available test dates and to register:
When is my child's last chance to take the SAT or ACT?
It depends. Since conditions vary from school to school and can change from year to year, it is best to verify all deadlines with specific schools. Students who are not applying early to college will usually be able to submit scores from test dates as late as November and (for some schools) even December of their senior year. There are even a few instances in which seniors can take the test after December and still use the scores for their applications. For early applications, students will need to take the test before November, and in some cases before October, of their senior years.
My student has an IEP or 504 at school – does that mean that he or she automatically gets accommodations on the SAT and ACT? If my student has accommodations on the SAT, will he also be approved for accommodations on the ACT?
No. You will still need to apply to the College Board for accommodations on the SAT. Whatever accommodations are granted for the SAT will also apply to the PSAT, Subject Tests, and AP Tests. There is a separate application for ACT extended time. Some students who apply get accommodations on both the SAT and the ACT, while others get accommodations on only one test or even no tests.
When I register for the test, do I have to select schools for my scores to be sent to?
No. If students know where they are going to apply and know that they want scores from that test date sent no matter what, they have the option to send scores to selected schools. However, it is best for most students to view their test scores before deciding whether to send them.
Where is the best place to take the test near Oakland?
We have found that the schools in the Lamorinda/Walnut Creek area and in Alameda are more consistent in their test administration than are schools in other nearby areas.
Can I change the test date, test location, or test type (SAT vs. Subject Test) once I have registered?
Yes. The cost to change registration for an SAT is $28. Please click here to change your registration:

The cost to change the date of an ACT registration is $24, and the cost to change the location of an ACT registration is $25. Please click here to change your registration:
What if I register for a test and then decide not to go – am I penalized for canceling my enrollment or for not showing up on test day?
Colleges will not see any information about cancellations or no-shows. The only penalty is the lost registration fee if the student never takes the test.
When are SAT/ACT scores released?
SAT scores are usually released online all at once about three weeks after the test. College Board provides a specific date for each test's score release at this link:
ACT scores usually start to become available online approximately 10 days after the test. However, not all students receive their scores at the same time, and our experience has been that some students must wait several weeks before receiving their scores.
What is super-scoring?
Some schools will combine the highest section scores from different sittings of the test to get the overall SAT or ACT score for an applicant. Super-scoring is more common with SAT scores than ACT scores. Because of the variation from school to school and year to year, it is best to consult with a college counselor or the admissions office at each school to find out more.

PSAT Information

Should my student take the PSAT? How do I know if my student's PSAT score is high enough to qualify for National Merit?
We recommend that students take the PSAT to give us an idea of where the student is scoring. There is no risk in taking the PSAT since colleges do not see an applicant's PSAT scores. Students who score high enough on the PSAT in their junior year may be named Commended Students or even National Merit Semifinalists. Scores needed for these honors vary from state to state and year to year.
When are PSAT scores released?
PSAT scores are usually released online in mid-December. Students will probably not receive their paper score reports until January.

Independent School Admissions Test Information

When can I take the ISEE? How do I register?
The ISEE is offered several times per year. Students may take the test once per testing season, with one season each in fall, winter, and spring/summer. Many schools require scores from a winter administration, but check with the schools to which your student is applying to see what they will accept. Please click on this link to register:
How much does it cost to register for the ISEE?
According to the ISEE website: "A family pays $105.00 when their child is testing as part of a large group administration, either paper/pencil or online. Small group testing at an office is $175.00 and an individual administration at a Prometric testing center is $185.00. Additional fees apply for phone registration, late registration and walk-in registration."
Where is the ISEE offered?
The ISEE is typically offered at private schools. Check the ISEE website below to find specific locations and dates.
We do not encourage students to take the ISEE at Prometric test centers because they require use of a computer for students' answers, rather than the paper and pencil students will use when they practice. For more information about this option, please click below:
What are the differences between the ISEE and the SSAT?
Both the ISEE and the SSAT are entrance exams that draw upon material covered throughout a student's academic career. Both tests have essay components, although the prompts are slightly different. The SSAT includes analogy questions in the verbal section, while the ISEE does not. Also, the SSAT deducts a quarter point for each wrong answer, while the ISEE does not deduct any points for wrong answers.
What is the HSPT?
The High School Placement Test is an entrance exam for students in grades 8-9 who are trying to get into parochial high schools. Click below for more information:
Which test should my student take?
Some schools will only accept one test, so this decision primarily boils down to which school(s) your student hopes to attend.
Which schools accept which tests?
At our last check, here were the tests accepted at each school:

Athenian: ISEE or SSAT

Lick Wilmerding: ISEE or SSAT

Head Royce: ISEE

Bishop O’Dowd: HSPT

St. Ignatius: HSPT

St. Mary's: HSPT

Urban: SSAT

Bentley: ISEE or SSAT



Please verify with the school before registering for a test, as these requirements may change over time.

Related Services

Can you help with the college admissions process?
We have cultivated relationships over 20 years with college counselors we trust and are happy to provide references.
Can you help with educational testing?
We have cultivated relationships over 20 years with educational testers we trust and are happy to provide references.