General Questions

What qualifications do your tutors have? How experienced are your tutors?

All of our tutors are college graduates. The careers and paths in lives of our tutors vary – teachers, artists, actors, professionals (e.g. finance or law), Master’s and PhD students – but they have in common a love for their subject matter and for teaching.

For academic subject tutoring, we seek subject knowledge mastery, talent and experience tutoring, and finally a record of academic excellence and personal achievement. We’ll test their teaching skills and they must pass audited session tests, receive outstanding feedback from students and demonstrate results with their students.

For test prep collectively, we have decades of experience and exposure to the methods/techniques of a dozen different test prep firms. As a firm, we have aggregated our knowledge into our methods and approach. This knowledge we impart to every tutor through our training. You thus get the benefit of decades of experience even when you work with a new (to us) tutor.

We do not require previous test prep tutoring experience for our test prep tutors for two reasons: they don’t have experience teaching our methods and they don’t necessarily know the tests well. We’ve found that many tutors who have several years of test prep experience aren’t even able to ace an SAT test we give them. Our experience with “experienced SAT tutors” (experienced outside of Yale Tutors) has been so poor that it’s almost a negative.

For test prep tutoring, our requirements for tutors include: a 99th percentile score, completion of our full training, passing our own SAT test and a teaching test, and finally a record of academic excellence and personal achievement. Test prep tutors also must pass audited session tests, receive outstanding feedback from students, and consistently realize score gains in line with our expectations.

Why are your fees so high / so low?

Depending on your point of reference, our fees may seem expensive or relatively affordable. We offer a premium service and charge a fair and commensurate fee. We could offer lower rates but it would mean offering an inferior service which we don’t do.

How many years have you been in operation?

We began as an organization in 2000.

How many tutors work in your group?

The number of active tutors changes frequently, but in 2008 over twenty-five tutors will have worked with us at some point throughout the year.

Do your tutors come to our home?

Yes, we offer in-home tutoring and thus the tutor usually does travel to you. Other arrangements can be worked out as well.

Where are your tutors located?

We currently serve the greater NYC, LA, Boston, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington DC areas, with tutors generally based in the more central areas therein. Most of our tutors have cars with the exception of our NYC tutors. For NYC, our tutors are generally dependent on public transportation (e.g. Metro-North, LIRR, and NJTransit trains) to get to other areas.

What happens if I don’t like my tutor?

Call your Coordinator immediately! If you don’t have his or her number, call our general number or send us an e-mail. With Yale Tutors, you shouldn’t get a good tutor but a great tutor – so please contact us immediately if you’re ever unsatisfied. Also, we understand that no tutor will “click” with every student, so even if you feel the tutor is qualified but there hasn’t been a “click” (where the student trusts the tutor and is motivated to work because of the tutor), then do contact your Coordinator.

SAT Tutoring Questions

What sort of program or course of preparation do you offer? How is it structured? When should I start preparing/how long should I prepare for the SAT?

We generally work out a customized program for every single student based on his or her goals, availability and needs. We don’t have a fixed program you’ll be stuck with or that will waste the student’s time (teaching them things they know for example). If our student has taken the SAT before and achieved a high math score, we’ll do minimal math work in the sessions and instead concentrate on the writing and reading sections.

Typically, we work with our students once a week during the school year and once or twice a week during the summer. Each session is usually two hours but they can run between one to three hours. After each tutoring session, we need our students to do a complete practice test as well as problem sets depending on what was covered on the session (roughly four to eight hours of additional work outside of the tutoring session per week).

We prefer to begin working with our students as soon as possible in the 11th grade (even the summer before they enter 11th grade). If the student makes sufficient progress and has reached his or her goals, we can always take a hiatus from SAT prep. If we’re left without enough time, though, nothing can be done.

On average we’ll work with a student for two months, but we’ve worked with students for as little as a single session and for as long as years before the test (doing a lot of supplementary work, not just SAT tests!). We recommend starting test prep four to six months in advance of your planned test date to insure you’ve got enough time to achive your goals. With us, you’ll be taking a practice test every week so you’ll know your progress and you’ll know when you reach it (maybe it’ll be in a month, then we could take four months off and do just a few sessions before the test date itself).

How many hours do I need to prepare for the SAT?

We know this is a frustrating answer, but it all depends. It depends on what your goal is for a score and what score you’re obtaining right now. It depends on what areas you need to improve in. For example in the writing section, suppose you’re getting a perfect score on the essay but not doing as well on the multiple choice questions. You could very likely improve your score in the multiple choice section with only a few hours of tutoring. If the situation were reversed and you needed to significantly improve your score on the essay, it may take a considerable amount of tutoring to get an essay score above 8 (out of 12). It takes a lot more time to improve your writing than to teach you the grammar necessary to answer the multiple choice questions. Contact us and tell us your situation and goals and we’ll be able to present some estimates on how quickly we believe progress could happen.

I can’t afford more than X hours, what should I do?

You have a few options. If your family is genuinely in need, you can apply to us for discounted rates via financial aid. For all clients, we offer discounts for buying a bulk number of hours. We work with every budget – call us and talk to us and we’ll work out a plan of preparation.

Doing fewer hours of tutoring means that the student will have to work harder on his or her own; we’ll guide the student as to what to do. Our tutoring sessions are intense – we can cover a lot of material in even a single two hour session. Just as it’s better to pay a good doctor $100 to get your problem cured rather than pay 5 doctors $20 each and still have a problem, we recommend that you work with an effective tutor for a fewer number of hours rather than working with a tutor who’s not as competent for a lot of hours. Our methods work and are the best of what’s out there – but it does take trained tutors to teach them.

Do you guarantee score improvement? How do I know if my score is improving?

We don’t offer score improvment guarantees, but because you’ll take a practice test every week that was prepared by the College Board (the same folks who make the real SAT tests), you’ll know immediately each week if your score is improving or not.

What materials do use?

We have our own packet of various SAT materials and ask our students to purchase the Official SAT Study Guide as well. Depending on the student’s needs and the duration of our engagement, we may need the student to get other books or materials (which we’ll guide the student to do).

How much will my score up?

That all depends on how hard you work! We like to break down estimated score gains by where you start. In our experience, we’ve had student high-range score gains of 100 points (for example, one of our students scoring 2200 improved to 2300), upper-middle range gains of 200 points (a student improving from 1900 to 2100), and mid-to-low range gains as high as 400+ points (a student improving from 1500 to 1900). Your score gain depends on where you’re starting – if you’re already a high scorer, additional point gains will be tougher – and of course on how hard you work.

Your program sounds great, but I don’t live in an area you serve, what can I do?

We offer phone tutoring which is surprisingly effectively for test prep tutoring, but it does require the student to be well-prepared and organized. Since the student and the tutor can look at the exact same problem, the tutor can hear the student’s thoughts and guide him or her in how to approach the problem. We’re also able to travel almost anywhere.

Also do send us an e-mail that you’d like us to come to your city and we’ll keep it in mind for future expansion.