SAT & ACT Prep Classes & Tutors

Parent Q&A

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  • Hi, this is a two part question.  First, my daughter, who has a mild learning disability, is going to need some help in preparing for the SAT and I wonder if there are classes or tutors out there who specialize in helping kids with processing challenges who need extra time with test taking.

    Also, I need a recommendation for a female therapist at Kaiser for my daughter who's a high school junior, and exhibiting some signs of depression that are connected to all the isolation of distance learning.  We are closer to Richmond but with everything on screens, open to Oakland based therapist as well.  My daughter has never been to therapy and doesn't open up easily, so looking for someone who would be really good with a kid like this.

    I’m sorry that this separation and isolation is taking affecting your daughter. I hope she finds a great match in a therapist.

    I can help with the SAT preparation, though! Honestly the only choice is James Eno in Berkeley. He owns the most nurturing, caring, professional preparation support anywhere in the bay area. He will meet with you to know you better and give your daughter a choice of tutors that he thinks are the best match. They are each exactly like him – kind, super intelligent, flexible and incredibly effective. James will tailor the tutoring to your needs in every way.

    Both of my boys prepared with James and earned absolutely remarkable scores. They worked hard, but felt rewarded. I cannot recommend him highly enough. You can reach him at jetutorials [at]

    All the best to you and your family. 

    I'm sorry to say that Kaiser's mental health services are abysmal in the best of times. I also have a daughter in 11th grade. I paid out of pocket for therapy for her when she started high school. After trying the Kaiser route for my own mental health, I decided I couldn't put her through that, knowing that months can be wasted in that system with no relief. I actually love Kaiser for many things, but their mental health services are simply awful. I can highly recommend my daughter's therapist - he was really kind and helped her through so much. He was really easy for her to talk to, but he was out of pocket, and $140 a week adds up. 

    In answer to your question I used James Eno for Sat and ACT tutoring for my daughter who has a mild learning disability and was very pleased with the result. You can contact him at 510-499-2283. 

    Hello - just came across this post from December.  If you are still interested in SAT prep, my two sons had great success with James Eno Tutorials 510-499-2283.  My sons took a sample test of the SAT and ACT and chose to take the ACT.  Both improved their scores dramatically and actually enjoyed the learning process.  I highly recommend James Eno Tutorials.

  • SAT tutors - Mo Rahmoun?

    Sep 1, 2020

    I read good reviews and tried to email and call but he has not responded.

    Does anyone know if he is still teaching?

    Thank you.

    We used James Eno in Berkeley for both of our boys and I we have only the highest praise for he and his staff.  He is amazingly kind, professional and organized, and produced beautiful results.  He is priced fairly, but in the end saved us a great deal of money as both of our boys only needed to take the SATs once. He is very flexible and can definitely work with your child's schedule. You will never regret having your child work with James Eno.  His website is  

    I don’t know Mo Rahmoun but would highly recommend James Eno, 510-499-2283. My daughter ended up taking the ACT but Mr. Eno does offer both ACT and SAT tutoring. She did very well and ended up at her 1st choice. 

  • Online SAT prep this summer

    Jun 15, 2020

    I'd like my rising high school junior to do an online SAT prep class this summer--any recommendations? Something that meets at a specific time (rather than videos you can watch whenever) would work best, and that meets a reasonable number of times (like, say, 8 rather than 20 times, because I know if it's too many my kid will just refuse). Thanks!

    I don’t know if you are aware but UC schools have eliminated the SAT requirement for the next 4 years. You may still want to have your child take it if you have other schools in mind. But thought you might want this information 

    My kid did and benefitted from the Princeton review
    One. Ultimate sat or something like that. Something like 25 hours in 2 or 3 hour chunks.

    He would prefer not to do school stuff, generally, but he actually thought the classes were helpful and interesting.
    A big part of preparation is taking practice tests.
    You need to get in the habit of a certain sort of question, and recalling the appropriate skills in the clock. So is recommend any program you consider include that.
    The 25 hours might not include the testing times, I don't remember.
    Good luck!

    Our family cannot recommend James Eno and his team highly enough for in person and online SAT prep.

    James will speak with you and will personally match a tutor to your child. The tutor will get to know your child and immediately work in the most productive, efficient and expert way. We have used James and his team for both of my boys and they have both scored exceptionally well on the SATs.

    James is very flexible and will schedule sessions in whatever manner works best for your family. Our sessions 6 months ago were in person at our home and our next set of session in the fall will be online.  

    I do not think there is better SAT preparation than James Eno. He can be reached at jetutorials [at]

    My two sons had great success with James Eno Tutorials.  First step is to determine if your student will perform best on the SAT or ACT.  James will provide your student with a sample SAT and ACT test.  James will review the results of the sample test and your student and James will decide whether to prepare for the SAT or ACT.  My sons took the ACT.  James is an excellent teacher and developed a rapport with my sons which made the entire learning process enjoyable and very effective.  James was very organized and meticulous.  He would set goals with the student for each session and would monitor progress against the goals which kept my sons motivated and on track to improve.  You can find James at or 510-499-2283.  

  • My daughter is a junior at El Cerrito High.  Although she is extremely bright and is an eager learner, she is a horrible test-taker and her PSAT scores were less than great.  We would like to enroll her in a SAT test preparation course (which she has agreed to attend) but don't really know where to begin. 

    Has anybody done this recently with their kids, and have any feedback?  I'm interested in cost, location, length of course, etc. 

    I'll be thankful for any guidance or suggestions on this topic!


    She might do better with the ACT.  As I understand it, ECHS students do better on the ACT than SAT.   Have her take 1-2 practice tests and see how she feels.  In the olden days, SAT was East of the Mississippi and ACT was West. No longer the case. Both are equal. 

    There is a growing body of research that is seeming to indicate that prep results in only modest gains. You can Google the research.

    We used Khan Academy (online).  

    My husband was able to help with some test taking strategies and some concepts.  Perhaps this is where the tutor can be of help. 

    The types of problems and structure of the test became more apparent and probably relaxed my child.  

    These are terrible tests that add no value to the education experience.  We are starting to see schools not require them and speak about against them.  They should!  Hopefully it won't be long before they are gone! 

    Hope this helps. 

    Classroom Matters on Sacramento Street.

    My kid hates school, studying, tests, all of it. But he needed to take the SSAT so we made him go to Classroom Matters once a week for 3 months as that was the only way he had a chance of doing okay on the test. He ended up with results in the 90%, which is crazy beyond anything we expected. 

    His teacher was very very good at teaching my son test -taking strategies, as well as a lot of actual material he had been behind on. 

    The administrators there here also made a great effort to match my son with a teacher who would be the right personality fit for him. I think this helped a lot in reducing his resistance to going since it was on a Saturday(!). 

    My daughter took a free group class at, and private tutoring at She enjoyed the class and the tutor very much, however after three times taking the SAT and once the ACT, her scores stayed the same (pretty average, not terrible and not great). That said, she has attended two test-optional colleges and is doing very well due to her fantastic organization skills and still pretty much does poorly on tests. Good Luck!

    My son (junior) has been going to Alpha College Prep on Solano Avenue for the last few months.  He has found it very practical, and his practice test scores improved by 100 points after just about 10 sessions.

  • My daughter will be working, but I was also thinking that maybe she should use some of her time this summer to do some college prep. Wondering if anyone had suggestions, for a kid who will be starting their junior year in the fall, of good things to do to kind of get a leg up on applications and what not. I hear the Junior year can be quite busy and my thought was that maybe she could get a little ahead.

    I was thinking that maybe something like starting on some general essays to then tweek accordingly when she starts to apply to colleges, or SAT prep, or even practicing filling out some applications? Or am I going overboard? Are there any tutors or courses that would kind of work with someone as an almost junior to do this kind of thing? I had also thought about having her take a community college course, but with her new job, vacations, etc., I'm afraid that we might be setting her up for failure if she does too much. Any advice is appreciated.

    it is too early for her to start writing college essays or working on applications but she could research colleges she's interested in to narrow down which to visit during the school year. it's great that she is working, that will go on her college app. If she has time, she could start some SAT prep, but there will be time for that during the school year -- calm down Mom or Dad.

    My daughter just finished her first year of college, the first semester at a school that I encouraged her to apply to and accept, and the second semester at the school that was actually her dream school and she applied to all on her own during the middle of her first semester (lol I never even saw the application or the essays). Thus, my advice is this: make all those options available to her, but as long as she has something to do for the summer and is generally a good student, don't push. At the beginning of my daughter's senior year, we used Alpha College Prep to help with organizing the application process (for that first semester), essays, and SAT prep, and having that knowledge really helped my daughter a lot and allowed me to stay out of it.

    I got some very good advice when I asked a similar question, and the answer was, "Don't do anything."  Kids are under tremendous pressure concerning college these days -- it just seems to be part of the zeitgeist -- and explicitly asking them to worry about "getting a leg up" on applications when they've just finished their sophomore year would unnecessarily add to it, IMO.  The whole scarcity model of college acceptance -- the idea that our kids have to get into the "right" schools, the "best" schools, or else they and we are failures -- is so messed up.  (I don't mean to suggest that you have this attitude, but it is so pervasively implied in our society that it impacts even kids whose parents try to dial back the pressure.)  The fact is, every kid with decent grades and some kind of financial and/or organizational support will go to college, probably a college they'll enjoy and find success in.  If you feel you must give your daughter an assignment this summer, my advice is to ask her to think about what kind of college she might like -- in terms of geography, size, areas of excellence -- with no reference to GPA.  I highly recommend the book "Colleges That Change Lives" if a liberal arts college is a possibility for you (and colleges sometimes give big scholarships to students from distant states).  Best of luck to you both!

    It sounds like you care about your daughter a lot and want to be supportive. For full disclosure my teen is going to community college next fall, so I am far from an expert regarding college admissions. It's also hard to give specific advice without knowing more about your daughter. However, based on my recent experiences parenting a high school student in a competitive academic environment, I can't help but think there is far too much emphasis on college prep. High school is no longer about what is being learned. It's all about getting into college and getting the best grades and taking AP classes. Same thing with things like jobs and sports/clubs, which are encouraged less because our teens enjoy and benefit from them and more because they look good on a college application, As I thought of your daughter's summer, I couldn't help but think she might benefit from a reprieve from school/college prep. It sounds like vacation and work will offer her some interesting and positive life experiences this summer. Junior year is pressure packed - there will be plenty of time to focus on college applications and SAT prep. If you think she might need extra academic support, maybe start a "game" of daily vocabulary words that she can try and stump you with. Whatever you do, I would emphasize the joy of learning rather than prepping for the end goal of college. With that said if she has a goal of getting in to a competitive school (although make sure it's her goal and truly important to her, rather than your goal for her or because she thinks she has no value if she doesn't go to a great school), there may be some advantages to starting early. I think the pressure teens are under these days regarding college admissions is terrible, but it does seem to be the current situation in the high achieving Bay Area. As an aside, my community college bound teen is happy. He's got great friends, enjoys traveling and outdoor activities. He is physically active. He works and is responsible with money. He may not be going to an Ivy League school, or even a four year school, but he's really happy and well adjusted - and as the parent of a teen, I'm more than happy about that.

    My son is a junior now and started with his college counselor in sophomore year. He’ll be prepping for essay writing this summer. He took the SAT twice this school year and had tutoring before his first go at it. I’d recommend SAT prep just before your daughter is scheduled to take it. I believe there’s one in August. If I were to have my son do it differently, I wouldn’t have had him take it the second time the week prior to AP testing. 

    As far as summer plans, having a job is a great thing to put on college applications. If she has a particular field of interest yet, she would benefit from pursuing that in the way of work, volunteering, precollege programs, etc. 

    Following. Our daughter is the same age and stage. We’re also looking for something structured for her to do this summer. You? 

    You will undoubtedly get a lot of different opinions, but you know your daughter better than anyone (and your daughter knows herself even better than you!) College admissions is not a one size fits all process. It's important to discuss with your daughter what HER college goals are -- to aim for an elite university, to get merit scholarships, to get into a CSU, to major in engineering, etc. This should help frame her process. I suggest she spend this summer exploring what she likes to do and what her interests are (if she doesn't already know) and do research on how she can learn more about those things and how to get involved locally. The beauty of the Bay Area is there are so many opportunities and most professionals embrace enthusiastic, hard-working, responsible youth. She should wait until she has done more, knows more about herself and is more mature (yes, a year makes a huge difference) to write her college essays. If she is really motivated, I suggest that she take a practice ACT and SAT early this summer and see which one she prefers. Then she could study/take a prep class for the SAT or ACT and take the test for the first time Fall/Winter junior year. (Many students take them once in the Spring junior year and again Fall senior year, but that's the busiest time of their high school career.) Finally she can start doing online research about colleges (and majors) and see which ones appeal to her and start building a spreadsheet of her list of dream schools, targets and safeties. My daughter started with a list of about 50 schools (gulp!) and now has it down to her final 15. Good luck to your daughter and to you, the parents! BTW, I'm an application reader for a highly competitive university, so I'm mostly speaking from that perspective.

    I'd advise against taking the sat or act until doing some prep. Some places want all the scores. Many test prep companies will give you a practice test and I think there are some online too. But I would advise against doing a practice that goes on your permanent record.

    Most schools my kid applied to wanted him to be really into the things he loved. Maybe she should just do what she wants to do- work hard at something or play hard or chill!

    My son is finishing his junior year and if there's one thing I wish we had done the summer before junior year, it's start SAT prep. Junior year was really insane for him (though he did take 5 AP classes, which is crazy but unfortunately common for most motivated kids at his school). He crammed in SAT tutoring/prep from December through February to take the early March SAT. With so much homework from his classes, plus studying for 5 AP tests and 2 SAT subject tests taking place in May, plus getting started on the college app process, it was very difficult to find time do the SAT practice tests, which take 5-6 hours each to complete. I'm going to make sure my younger son starts on SAT prep the summer between sophomore and junior year to help relieve some of the stress of junior year. Good luck with junior year, it's nuts! 

    I will echo what a couple of other posters said.

    1) The college counselors at my child's independent, college-prep high school gave us this advice for the summer after sophomore year:  have an intentional summer.  That means, you can do anything you want as long as it isn't sitting around on the couch all summer.  Examples:  volunteer for an organization that you care about; read 10 books on a subject you're interested in; get a job; do a summer program in a subject/area/sport that you're excited about.  I will vouch for the excitement and sense of accomplishment that getting a paid job gives a teenager--sounds like your daughter is already on top of that.  It's probably enough for her just to do that.  The flip side of this advice is that she shouldn't do any activity just so that it looks good for college apps.

    2) Way too early to practice filling out applications or writing essays.  She will be a lot more mature one year from now, will have more to say about herself, and she will have plenty of time the summer after junior year to do that.

    3) Our school advised us to take the SAT/ACT in spring of junior year, but they also said that some kids do it earlier, some later.  I kind of wish my child had done it in late summer before junior year, and done the associated prep just before that time.  In junior year he was so busy with classwork, sports, and other in-school college prep and college visits that doing SAT prep became kind of difficult.  They say kids do better the later they take it, but if your child had a strong PSAT score, taking the test when he/she the most time to prep beforehand is the best, in my opinion.  That could be in August before junior year starts.  If you're waiting until later but she still wants to do some prep, have her buy the official SAT or ACT prep book and work through some of the practice tests. 

    I held off on responding before, but decided to share. My daughter has just finished her first year of college, so we have been through all of this recently.

    First, I want to acknowledge that you are acting out of love and a desire to help ease your daughter's stress during her junior year, which is a very good place to start. I agree with many other posters: it is way too early to be writing essays. Let her enjoy her summer, work, take her vacation. Instead of giving you advice on how to help her with the college application process, my advice is how to help her prepare for college itself: the things you help her do now will help her build the skills and resiliency to be happy and healthy in high school, and happy, healthy, and successful in college.  And of course, college is not the goal here - college is just another step in preparing for life as an adult.

    1. Do everything in your power to protect her mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Junior year tends to be very stressful; make sure she hasn't taken on too many AP classes.Some teachers give too much homework: too much homework does not enhance learning. If any of her teachers assign more than 1 hour of homework a night, help her push back to set limits. She should get at least 8-9 hours of sleep per night - enforce this. Make sure she has time to have fun built in to every week. Help her master good time management skills: too many students wind up trying to do all-nighters studying or doing projects - this is no way to learn. Students who get into this habit in high school struggle even more when they get to college. Work with her on how to use a planner: many high schools give planners to students for free. If necessary, make sure that her phone and computer are charging in your room at night. 

    2. Do everything in your power to protect her love of learning. Do not encourage resume-filling busy-work. Aside from necessary coursework, she should take classes because she is interested in them. She should sign up for clubs only because she is interested in what they are doing, or because she wants to spend time with the members or make new friends. She should do athletics because she enjoys them, they are healthy for her, and they promote emotional, physical and mental well-being. Nothing should be simply because anyone thinks it will "look good" on a college application.

    3. Resist the urge to prod her to do more. Anxiety, depression and stress are so prevalent among teens these days - do your best to help prevent this.

    4. Remember that there are literally thousands and thousands of colleges out there; don't get hung up on the idea of the "perfect" one, or on prestige. Don't forget that 2 years of community college are an excellent way to prepare for a four year college, and a great way to save money.

    Best of luck to you all during this process!

    I have two sons who now are done with college.  Both went to College Prep, so I know a bit about the intense pressure faced by kids in academically competitive environments.  I share the dominant view that this is way too early to start college prep, and that your best-intentioned efforts to help your child could have the unintended effect of adding to the pressure that too many kids already feel in high school. Your highest and best use may be to chill, and to help your child to chill.  

    Re SATs:  Believe it or not, in this crazy world of competitive parenting and packaging kids for college admissions, there is no rule that a kid must do test prep. Kids can do great without it, especially if they test well. Have your child sign up for the SAT question of the day on the College Board website.  If she is motivated, she can do one question a day and by the time the test comes around, she'll be very familiar with all the kinds of questions they ask. Sign her up in junior year for SAT and ACT.  Before the SAT, she can get a book and do a couple of time practice tests in the week or two before. See how she does. If she does great, she's done. Hooray! If she doesn't, lather rinse repeat with each test. If she still doesn't have a score she is happy to use, then she can consider retaking and doing test prep on the test she is most comfortable with. My younger son was a good test-taker, good PSATs, motivated to do well. We sweetened it with bribery:  If he did well enough the first time out, we'd give him the money a prep class would take.  Talk about motivation!  He did exactly the above -- did the question of the day for months before, did a couple of timed practice SATs out of a used book he got from a senior, ate a good high-protein breakfast and took the SAT. Nailed it and was done. No need to take the ACT.  Everyone was happy, and no one was stressed.   

    I would say this for almost any student of any age, but I think it especially applies to someone who is thinking about college. My suggestion is to write everyday. Maybe choose a theme like fashion or sports. Or maybe write something different each day. But fill a page everyday. Hopefully about something they are interested in. Just practicing every day improves writing skill, even with no help or corrections. It will ready a student for essays in a less pressured way. Good luck!

  • SAT Test Prep

    Dec 12, 2017

    I’m looking for updated advice on SAT test prep.  I’m looking for a good summer class or tutoring somewhere in the Berkeley area.  I’m looking to pick up about 100 points in score. 

    Thanks in advance.

    We used both a free class ( and private tutor (, as well as used the same private tutor for UC application guidance. I recommend both, however be advised that most people's scores do not change much no matter what they do raise them.

    Angela Sun is amazing. My daughter went from 1420 to 1550 with her 1:1 tutoring for about 3 months, 2 hours a week. The one thing is that her tutoring/classes are  very work intensive. She does assign a lot of homework so you have to be willing to put in the time....but it works! 

  • ACT Prep Tutors

    Aug 4, 2017

    I would like recommendations for ACT with writing, prep tutors, not classes. Thank you.

    Hi-  I would suggest  Naama Weksler website:   She has helped my kids with homework and makes learning fun.  She is very smart but down to earth and easy to talk to and knows how to test well and help others test well.  I would highly recommend her.  

    My son has been studying for the ACT with the Bay Area Tutoring Center in Berkeley. They offer 1:1 or small group classes. My son likes his tutors and feels they're helpful. We'll see if his score improves when he retakes the ACT next month!

  • Can anyone share experiences with SAT prep courses?  My junior is interested in taking a course to help prepare for the SAT that seniors take in the fall.  Ideally he could take the course during the summer.  Specifically:

    Has your child taken a prep course, which one, and do you recommend it?

    Other advice on SAT prep would be useful, too.


    Khan Academy has free online SAT prep -- they are working directly with the College Board, so they can see exactly what you struggled with on the PSAT and give you targeted practice in the areas where you need it most.  As much as you want, and as often as you want.  For areas where you maybe never understood a concept all that well to begin with, you can access all of their many hours of video tutorials and get a clear explanation. Did I mention that this is FREE? (I did make a donation, but you don't have to -- the whole idea is to level the playing field.) After earning a disappointing score on the math section of the SAT the first time he took it, my son spent many hours practicing on their website last summer and fall, and improved his math score by 150 points. (They have test prep for the verbal section as well).   For comparison, we paid for a very expensive one-on-one test-prep tutor for my older child several years ago, and that had no effect on her scores AT ALL.  I know I sound like an advertisement here, but seriously, there's no reason not to at least give it a try.  I will add that my son was motivated to practice because he wanted to get into a certain school and knew he had no chance unless he improved his score -- and even with that motivation, I still had to nudge QUITE a bit.  (Given the results -- dramatically better scores followed by admission to the school, I'm glad I did, although at the time it was definitely one of those classic parenting quandaries -- how much do I push?  How much do I let him fail?   But that's a topic for another post!) 

    One thing Khan Academy doesn't have (or at least they didn't -- maybe they've added something) is practice for the section where you write an essay -- you may want a live tutor or class for that part.

    I HIGHLY recommend Khan Academy for SAT practice ( First, it is FREE and organized by Khan Academy (a non-profit) and the College Board. You can have practice geared towards your weaknesses, take practice tests with timing as in the real test, and have any previous SAT or PSAT test scores transferred over to really target your needed areas of work.

    I gave a donation as I was so impressed with the quality of the site. Maybe give it a try first, and if not satisfied, go on to private companies.

  • SAT and ACT preparation

    Nov 17, 2016

    I am looking for an effective SAT and ACT preparation class.  The student is a very bright 16 year old boy at Albany High School.  I don't think an on line class would work because I think he requires more hands-on structure right now in order to keep him focused.  (His mother suffered a very serious illness last year and is very disabled as a result.  The student is more "on track" , i.e., focused, this year than last year,  He had always been a very strong student.)   I am only familiar with the more well known services, such as Princeton and Kaplan.      

    Our sons are strong students and Study Smarter in Montclair was excellent for both of them.  In one case a tutor came to our home, in the other they worked together via Skype, but you can also go to their office in Montclair.  Worth every penny.  Best of luck!

    Yes. My son participated on CM SAT PREP and both he and I highly recommend it.

    i can't say enough about Bay Area Tutoring Center on Rose/Shattuck, across the street from CVS. Homayoon is a genius preparing kids for the math portion of the SAT and ACT.  He helped both of my kids and their scores increased significantly.  He has staff who cover the english/writing portions of the tests.  Good luck!

    Ames in Lafayette,  provides free testing for ACT and SAT. If this child is willing to take these practice tests, the testing centers will be able to see where he needs help. Then a session or two of private tutoring and test strategy can be very helpful. If he is a strong student, the classes may not help him much. The tutoring may be a better investment. 

    We really liked Ames in Lafayette. My daughter took the free pre test and we went to the score analysis meeting- both very useful.

    We chose a one on one tutor with Ames over the class because we wanted the session to be completely focused on her needs. This turned out to be very successful for her as she could ask all the questions she wanted and focus on her weak areas. Th tutor ere very good. It also turned out to be less expensive because we did not need as many sessions as the classes packages offer. Her ACT score was raised an extra 4 points.

    I would also recommend your child take as many free practice tests as possible. She went to Princeton Review, Ames, Peoples testing by Peoples Park and took all the free testing offered at her high school/community. We did not bother to check her scores (except through Ames) because we were only interested in gaining familiarity with the layout of the tests and the timings.

Archived Q&A and Reviews

Summer SAT tutor/class recommendations?--HELP!

April 2015

HELP! My son will be a BHS junior the 2016-17 school year & is seeking a summer tutor or workshop to prep him for upcoming SATs. I hear Kaplan is not really great, so I'm wondering if anyone can recommend something for this clueless mom? There are so many things out there it's tough to know what's the best! Much thanks! W

No need to spend money with a service like Kaplan - students can get free SAT help from Kahn Academy: If your student took the ''new'' PSAT last fall, they can link their results in Kahn Academy to get personalized help on those areas where they did less well. They can also take practice exams and see projected results. I have a HS junior who will take the SAT in the fall and I'm expecting they will spend a lot of time on line this summer with Kahn. HS parent

Zeina is a wonderful tutor who helped our son study for the SSAT and also does general academic tutoring. She is full of good advice on how to organize your academic life, talk with teachers, plan and prioritize. She is good with math, humanities and science, which means she can deal with whatever homework comes up. She is very dependable and my son adores her, and listens to her. Perfect! zsnasr [at] Jennifer

Jan 2015

If you are looking for an SAT tutor in the East Bay, I highly recommend Don Christianson. With years of experience as a tutor and a mature perspective on the college application process, Don is sui generis: calm, encouraging, hard working, knowledgeable, good humored, and truly interested in helping kids do their best on the test. Plus, he comes to your house – no kid-schlepping necessary! He met once a week with our son for several months, first to prepare for round one of the SAT, and then, based on those initial scores, to prepare in a very focused way for the second round. Don’s rates are reasonable, and he was generous with his time, often continuing a tutoring session longer than he was being paid for. He also offers free practice SATs for all his students on the weekends just prior to the test. While Don focused on math with our son since that was the area of greatest challenge, our son also gained confidence in his ability to plan and write a strong essay, and even learned some basic grammar rules that somehow had always eluded him. And in the end, both his math and writing scores improved quite a bit, making him a stronger applicant. Both in terms of results and in terms of the overall process, we couldn’t have been happier with Don. His number is (510) 526-1423.

SAT / ACT Prep - class or private tutor?

Jan 2014

Our daughter is a motivated high school sophomore in a fairly academic public school. She would like to go to a UC system college or equivalent. What is your opinion on taking SAT and ACT prep classes such as Kaplan vs working with a private tutor? If you recommend the prep class route, I'd appreciate course recommendations. We have plenty of referrals on private tutors at this point. Thank you.

I suggest none of the above. What worked for my motivated, disciplined son in a very academic private school was to prep seriously on his own. We spent under $20 on a new copy of the Official SAT Study Guide. He read it cover-to-cover, did all the exercises, and timed himself on each of the full practice tests in the book. He spent several hours a week on this over the summer between his junior and senior years, probably comparable to the time required for a class. He took the SAT with no prep in May of his junior year and twice in the fall of his senior year. After prepping on his own, his superscore rose close to 300 points from his first attempt. He's now attending a very selective liberal arts college, his first choice. If your student is still a sophomore, there's still a lot of time to try self-study first. college junior's mom

June 2014

I strongly recommend Mo Rahmoun for help with standardized test prep. We found him on BPN a few years ago when my son was getting ready for the ISEE. I don't remember those scores but they were good enough for admission to all the high schools to which my son applied: Bentley, College Prep, and Head-Royce. My son asked for a session with Mo before the junior year PSAT and scored above the National Merit cutoff. A few sessions for the SAT, again at my son's request, led to scores of 800, 790, and 800 in Critical Reading, Math, and Writing; Mo's detailed guidance about how to write the essay was invaluable. A couple of sessions for the SAT subject tests have recently resulted in 800 each in Literature and Math II.

With all the varied demands of high school and extra-curricular activities, my son spent almost no time on test prep outside of Mo's sessions. Those few focused hours spent on removing any gaps in comprehension, covering the ground for the tests, and developing test taking skills were enough.

Mo went above and beyond expectations: not only did he come to the house, he also swung by in between sessions to drop off additional prep materials.

My son does very well at school but he has said over and over again that his standardized test scores are in large part due to Mo's guidance and the confidence the Mo has developed in him. Mo is an understated phenomenon: soft-spoken, relaxed, good humored, and outstandingly skilled at recognizing how to bring out the best in the student. Mo Rahmoun: 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627;bcfcl [at] Grateful parent

Concentrated Prep Class or Tutor for ACT

April 2014

Our son is going to take the ACT in June. He is not super motivated but is willing to take a prep class. However, we think he would do best with a concentrated class (e.g. a whole weekend rather than something that meets a few hours every Saturday for 6-8 weeks.). Does anyone have any recommendations for such a thing? Or if we go the private tutor route, any recommendations for a great (reasonable) private tutor that specializes in the ACT. Seems like the recommendations on BPN are for SAT. Thanks! ACT mom

This is to the mom looking for an ACT class/tutor. I highly recommend James Eno. He communicates really well with young people and is very knowledgeable about the ACT test. My daughter had studied for the SAT but was more comfortable with the ACT format. After meeting with James 6-7 times, she retook the test and increased her score to 34. She now attends Columbia University. Satisfied mom

We've been looking into pretty much the same thing for our 17-year-old daughter and have found two options that seem good. A good friend recommended James Eno. We met with him and another of his tutors at our home (free first visit) a few months back and liked them a lot but haven't quite been ready to spend the money for the kind of intensive training you're talking about. He evaluated for both ACT and SAT. We also looked at Nurturing Wisdom, after a colleague at work recommended them. We talked to the owner, Pari Schacht, and really liked her. They're giving a practice proctored ACT test at the Jewish Community Center in SF in mid-May that we'll probably sign our daughter up for (you get an analysis of where to focus prep -- I think they also offer SAT and tests for high school placement too). Details here: If that's too late for you, it would be worth it to talk to someone like James Eno. mom of 6

May 2013

I'd like to highly recommend Mo Rahmoun as an SAT tutor. Mo helped both of my teenagers with the SAT. Astounding results.

One of my kids saw their SAT writing and critical reading sections improve from 660 to 800. Yikes! This happened between the January and May tests, with once-a-week meetings. (a little background: this particular kid has a real drive to succeed, and Mo helped direct and refine this drive).

Mo is a scholar who's thought through the rhetorical and persuasive nature of the SAT essays. He's also good at tutoring math, although both of my kids were already strong in that subject.

Both of my kids really liked him - ''Mo is Awesome'' said my son. He's friendly and low-key, and both of my kids enjoyed his tutoring sessions. He inspired both of them to dig into the test and to see their way through the SAT essay and reasoning sections.

With the SAT behind us, I can wholeheartedly recommend Mo. He's at 510 367-5829 or 510 763 9627, or bcfcl [at] - Cliff

I would like to recommend Emily Weinstein. She tutored - coached really - our daughter for ACT prep as well as trigonometry, chemistry, and general organization skills. She worked very well and was a great confidence builder for my daughter, perhaps better than I could have been (I'm told I was intimidating). Our daughter will be going to UC Riverside next year! Emily can be reached at or 917.655.5042. George

April 2013

I'd like to add to the chorus of thanks and recommendations for tutor Mo Rahmoun, whom I found though BPN.

My daughter's SAT scores came back recently, and they soared, thanks to his help. She had 800's in both reading and writing, and a 720 in Math, and she believes it was his assistance, in just three sessions (two hours each), that brought her scores from good to great.

She was already strong in reading, so they just concentrated on the writing and math, and her writing score went up from PSAT to SAT the equivalent of 100 points, and her math score went up 160 points. Just as importantly, he gave her confidence and insight.

I just wish my older child had the benefit of his assistance (she went to a different tutor and her scores went down!)...and what I really wish is that every classroom teacher were as gifted as he is.

Oh, and another wonderful thing, he'll come to your home! You can reach Mo Rahmoun at bcfcl [at] =Grateful Mom

March 2013

Emily Weinstein did a superb job of prepping our son for the SAT general and subject tests. She identified where he needed to focus his reviews, imparted really helpful test-taking strategies, and probably most importantly, inspired and motivated him to calmly try his best during a time when his natural inclination was to settle for good enough. She is really bright, likable, perceptive, and gets teenagers. Emily also helped our son plow through his college applications, keep on track, and find his unique voice. I seriously believe he wouldn't have gotten into the colleges he did without her help. Her contact info is: Emily Weinstein (917) 655-5042 weinsteintutoring [at] website: Lisa

Feb 2013

My son was tutored by Dr. Barglow during his senior year at Berkeley High. Thanks in part to his assistance, my son now attends an excellent university. I recommend Dr. Raymond Barglow's tutoring highly -- he is an expert in helping students prepare for the SAT and ACT tests. For those students who are wondering which of these two tests to take -- SAT or ACT -- you can check out the information he provides on his website at: Dr. Barglow lives in Berkeley and you can reach him by phone at (510) 486-1050. Good luck! S P

SAT prep-courses

Nov 2013

I'm looking for recommendations/reviews of SAT-prep courses or tutors located in or near Berkeley. Also, when do you think is the best time to begin an SAT-prep class. Thanks BHS mom

You might try Revolution Prep. It's an on line SAT training course. Our son, a Junior in Mechanical Engineering at UCLA, recently started working for them as an on line Tutor. His comment was that if he'd known then what he knows now, he'd have gotten 3 800s instead of just 1. He seems pretty jazzed about the one-on-one on line training that he's doing. Malcolm

My daughter had a great experience with Homayoon over at Bay Area Tutoring on Rose and Shattuck in Berkeley. She took complete control of scheduling and attending the prep and she felt like it really helped. They also give free practice tests (with the results returned to you) of the SAT and ACT. It's good marketing of course, but also a great service. sat mom

There are lots of SAT prep options in the Bay Area. I would recommend starting by figuring out what you really need. Everyone wants a good score, but examining your student's goals is a good place to start. Are they shooting for Stanford? If so, that will require a different approach then someone who just needs a little score boost to help ensure a spot at a CSU. It also helps to know how far you have to go. Lots of different prep companies offer practice tests, but many are not actual SATs released by the College Board, and thus are less reliable when used as score predictors.

If you are looking for in-home one-on-one tutoring, I would recommend Compass Education in Larkspur. Their tutors are the best in the business and their one-on-one approach allows for completely customized lessons. They use College Board released practice tests to diagnose what each student needs, ensuring you aren't wasting time and money on stuff your student doesn't need any help with. They aren't cheap, but they are the only choice for students who want to see substantial score improvement. And they offer their practice tests for free so that you can figure out what you need.

In terms of timing, that too depends on the student and their goals. 3-4 months ahead of the test date is a good average, but some students need more, others less. SAT Professional

Don Christianson is really good. He's been doing it for about 13 years and has a really good system and has had a lot of success stories. This in one on one tutoring so it's very effective and tailored. His number is 510 230-9078 cell or home, 526-1423 sean

Seeking SAT tutor for high school junior

July 2012

My son is a junior and has a hard time with testing. He needs a great sat tutor. Anyone have a recommendation? Peter

I highly recommend Edith Reiner 415-335-8844. She does live in SF but I believe that she will travel to the East Bay. My daughter has trouble with math standardized testing, and with the help of Edith, she was able to bring her PSAT math score of 530 up to an SAT score of 700. Edith is low-key, caring, and supportive. She is very knowledgable about test taking strategies. Her fees are very reasonable and she is flexible. Rita

In response to the question about a good SAT tutor, I'd like to recommend Alan Kaplan, who tutored my twins this past year. They're going into their senior year at Berkeley High and for both of them the testing experience during their junior year was one they approached with a confidence and clarity largely due to Alan's efforts. Alan was wonderful with them both -- with the son who's a very skilled test taker and with his brother, who's not. They obviously liked and respected him because he knew what he was talking about and because he didn't allow the volume on the process to get turned up. They both could tell they were in good hands, and that he'd been teaching kids how to approach the SATs for a very long time. He devised appropriate strategies for each of them, and worked hard to give them tools to do well. The kid who's a good test taker did beautifully -- but what's really notable is how much the kid who thinks of himself as lousy at testing changed his mind about this. I'm quite certain that his scores were as high as they were because of Alan's calm, straightforward, and really kind way of teaching him about test taking. And what was really terrific about all this is that, having done better on the SATs than he'd done on any other standardized test he's taken in his life, he was able to see that some things can be learned, and that he isn't the idiot he thought he was. Alan's in business for himself, and his rates are really reasonable -- in fact, of the many tutors I talked to, he was actually among the least expensive, which shocks me in retrospect because he was/is so good at what he does. He came to our house when he was tutoring both boys, and when one of them was being tutored, we went to him. Both were easy and convenient. His phone number is 510-530-4012. You can also e-mail him at lnkpln [at] And good luck with those SATs! happy mom

SAT Prep: Try Bribery Before a Prep Course

July 2012

This is not a question but a suggestion, after seeing years of inquiries about SAT Prep coaches.

Many of you may have heard the Freakonomics Radio segment on NPR's marketplace last week about how bribery works to induce kids to get better grades.

I can confirm that first-hand, from real and recent experience. Our older son did so-so on his SATs, and we paid $1000 for tutoring. He went to the prep sessions, but pretty much blew it off and his second score was little improved. We were pissed that he wasted our money. When my younger son was a sophomore -- a year before the SATs -- we told him that if he prepped on his own, and did well enough the first time out that he didn't have to take the SATs again, we'd pay him the $1000 we'd otherwise pay a tutor. Talk about motivation! He immediately signed up on the College Board website to get emailed the SAT question of the day. (Apparently there is an App too; he didn't do that.) He did the question every day for a year, a commitment of all of 3 minutes a day, if that. Six weeks before the exam he got hand-me-down books, read a bit about the tricks and for each of the four weekends preceding the test he did one timed practice test. We graded the writing section for him, based on the criteria set out in the Official SAT book, but other than that had no role at all in any of this. By the time test day came, he knew exactly what the test was about and nailed it. He also knew just how to prep, and so nailed the subsequent two SAT subject tests too.

I realize that standardized tests are a lousy measure of anything, that some kids need one-on-one help, that some parents can't pay for or are opposed to coaching and/or bribery, and that SAT prep coaches believe they have knowledge no self-help can impart. I do not mean to start a flame war on any of these topics. I simply pass on our experience -- a happy kid who was proud and richer (in all ways :)) and happy parents who'd rather pay their kid than a tutor -- for what it is worth. 2360-800-800 -- Yowza!

Free/Low Cost SAT practice tests?

Dec 2011

Does anyone know where students can take free or low cost SAT practice tests? My teen will be studying from one of the SAT practice books and taking the tests that those offer, but is also hoping for a more closely simulated experience where she can go somewhere and actually take timed SAT tests. Many thanks!!!

I would start at the local library. They usually have all kids of resources for students, many of them online. They are all easily accessible from a home pc with a library card.

Another free resource for Math are the Khan Academy videos; they also include videos on CHASEE tests; their link: I hope that helps. mom of teens

There's a free SAT prep service called the People's Test Preparation Service. It offers free classes on campus and at area high schools. It is really great -- my children all liked it -- after the initial grousing. It's taught by CAL students who get to` volunteer.


Feb 2011

My daughter is a 10th grader at El Cerrito High School. She has just taken the PSAT for the second time (once in 9th grade, and again in 10th grade). I heard that the scores actually start ''counting'' in 11th grade. Is this true? Where can she prepare for the PSAT and the SAT in the area? What programs are best? Finally, to apply and get into college, does she need to take the SAT and the ACT next year? How do the AP exams weigh in? Thank you for any guidance. New Territory

I highly recommend James Eno. He tutored my son on the SAT and could've done ACT tutoring. My son's PSAT scores were disastrous but his SATs were much better. He really liked working with James as did most of his friends! very satisfied parent

Yes, the PSAT scores do start counting in the 11th grade. The PSAT/NMSQT is the practice SAT as well as the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. The selection index score from the 11th grade PSAT determines whether the student has qualified for the National Merit Scholarship. For more information, visit the website at

Students typically take the SAT/ACT in the spring of junior year and/or the fall of senior year. Colleges consider the number of challenging courses a student has taken in high school. Therefore AP exams are an important element of the college application. James Eno

SAT prep for son with learning disability

Feb 2011

We are looking for a tutor for SAT prep for our son who has language-based learning disabilites. The tutors we have had recommended so far are Alan Kaplan in Oakland and Aspire Education Project (a non-profit tutoring company in Jack London Square). Does anyone have personal experience with either of these?

We found a wonderful SAT tutor for our 16 year old son. Her name is Susanna Gordon and she works out of her home in Pleasanton. See her website at As an ex-teacher, Susanna is able to present SAT prep information in a way that works with our son's learning differences. He actually enjoys his time with her. We've seen immediate results in his essay writing scores for his AP History class, so whatever she's doing, it's really working. She really cares about the student and wants to help them succeed. Susanna is also a certified college admissions specialist, so we plan on working with her through the entire going-to-college process. She is very affordable and has a flexible schedule. --- Joyce

I can not believe that no one told you about Paul the Tutor's LD SAT Prep classes and LD SAT Study Guide. He is an expert in the field of learning disabilities and standardized tests, wrote the only SAT prep manual for students with learning disabilities, and created SAT prep classes for students with learning disabilities. You should definitely give him a call or email him. He runs Paul the Tutor's Education Center on Piedmont Ave in Oakland, (510) 730-0390 and info [at] is their contact information. Marta

My son worked with a brilliant SAT tutor named Paul Osborne. He specializes in teens with learning disabilities and in fact wrote the one and only SAT manual for students with learning differences. My son is now in college and loving every minute of it and I have both my son and Paul to thank. Each week my son grew more confident which showed in his climbing grades. Paul is remarkable at understanding ''what is missing'', in order help your child grasp the material. He is ''very cool'' as my son often said, and quickly builds a reputation with your child.I am so grateful to have found him and you will be too. His web page is paul [at] and his phone # is (510)730-0390 or (510) 730-0393. nak

I highly recommend James Eno of James Eno Tutorials. He offers a free introductory meeting that was very useful to us and allowed my son to get to know him. It was a good opportunity to discuss my son's needs (he has some learning differences)and his hectic schedule and figure out what was best for him. James helps him focus one step at a time, which is what he needs, and he is very patient and kind. My son is doing well. He has learned all kind of SAT tricks and strategies and feels much more confident about taking the test. James' rates are reasonable.I recommended him to a friend whose daughter is at Piedmont High, and they are very pleased also. You can check out his web site,, or reach him at james@jamesenotutorials,com or 510-499-2283. San Francisco Mom

I have two children that worked with Paul Osborne for tutoring. One of my two children also did the SAT tutoring with him. He's great with kids, and has a teaching style that makes the information accessible to students in a way that's not taught in school. I highly recommend him to any student. His website is: Christiane

Feb 2011

With great enthusiasm, I recommend Mo Rahmoun as a test preparation tutor for middle and high school students approaching SSAT/ISEE, PSAT, and SAT/ACT. Our daughter first worked with Mo as an 8th grader because her abilities in math, in particular, were hit-and-miss and she needed to take the SSAT. Mo taught her whatever math she had not studied before (but would encounter on the tests) and thoroughly reinforced what she did know. He also noted and corrected her tendency to misread questions or rush to answers in the verbal as well as the math sections of the practice tests. Her math and verbal scores on both the SSAT and PSAT (she returned to work with Mo as a Junior) were stellar. She also remarked that she had become a stronger and more confident math student in the classroom, too. She is currently working with Mo to prepare for the SAT; she says he ''makes everything clear.'' Mo Rahmoun knows these tests inside and out and delivers both the relevant curriculum and smart test-taking advice with patience, good humor, and the skills of a master teacher. He can be reached at bcfcl [at] or by phone at 510-367-5829/510-763-9627. L.G-W.

Jan 2011

Mo Rahmoun was extremely helpful in preparing our son for the SAT. The scores improved from a low combined score of 1540 to a high of 2010; almost 500 points of improvement!

Mo helped on all sections of the test with his tutoring, his advice and his practice exercises. He was smart, friendly, patient, organized and effective. I firmly believe that our son will have many more options for universities as a result of Mo's knowledge and skill. Highly recommended!

You can contact Mo by e-mail at bcfcl [at], or you can call him at 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627. - Paul

Looking for SAT and ACT Tutor

Nov 2010

My daughter just took the PSAT and we realize that she will probably need a tutor for the SAT. Does anybody have a good recommendation? It would be best if the tutor also teaches the ACT, as she may be better suited to that test, although I have no idea how different they actually are. Price is also a factor, so ideally, we would like someone who is reasonable. Thanks! mom of a junior

Our son worked with James Eno in Berkeley. James helped him decide which tests and subject tests would be best for him and helped him gain confidence and improve his scores. I would also add, James' support and instruction increased our son's academic knowledge and skill in a number of areas that generally helped him overall in school. august

I highly recommend James Eno (jetutorials [at], 510-499-2283). He worked with our daughter this past year. They had a great working relationship. He gave her lessons initially followed by several practice tests. James then analyzed her results and identified her weak areas so they could be the focus of further efforts. The result was significant improvement in our daughter's scores from her first effort to her re-test. Because of the focused approach, tutoring did not involve endless hours. James also gave good strategy advise on test-taking, including SAT v. ACT, based on our daughter's strengths and weak spots. There is no question our daughter worked hard but James is due significant credit for his work with her. Leslie

SAT Prep Tutor: Alan Kaplan Fantastic tutor! My daughter just retook her SATs after working with Alan. In their early session, he carefully assessed what she needed (and didnC,bt need). The individualized sessions with Alan were appropriately priced and so convenient since they met at our house. She looked forward to the sessions because his approach was focused, calm, and clear, and she could see how sheC,bd do better. I would have happily recommended him even if she hadnC,bt had a huge jump in scores (but she did!). She had walked in to her first SAT with no particular thought ahead of time and definitely no prep. She wasnC,bt happy with the way that turned out. She is thrilled with her experience now. If she chooses to, she can apply to an entirely different group of schools. Great thanks to Alan Kaplan for the test prep strategies and confidence! He was highly recommended to us and I see why. His contact is ALAN KAPLAN (510) 530-4012 lnkpln [at]

Sept 2010

Like other parents, we contacted Mo Rahmoun about working with our son who is a high school junior to prepare for the SAT and ACT. Mo explained his tutoring system and methodology thoroughly, as well as the books he uses. Mo was reliable and prompt with the tutoring schedule which was weekly in two hour increments. He is very knowledgeable about the material and reinforced our son's test taking techniques by having him take past SAT and ACT tests. Our son's score exceeded our expectations. We give Mo a lot of the credit. He can be reached at bcfcl [at], or by phone at 510-367-5829 or 510-763- 9627

I highly recommend James Eno (510-499-2283 jetutorials [at] for SAT prep. We emailed with 3 SAT tutors and chose James because he was the only one to come out to our house at no charge, meet my daughter and propose a plan of action. His hourly rate was very competitive with the other tutors we spoke with. My daughter took the SAT once without any preparation but after working with James for a 10 week period with meetings once a week she improved her previous score by over 250 points. Best endorsement comes from my 17 year old who said, ''I like James and I don't mind the 2 hour session. It goes by fast.'' From my perspective, James was always on time (he came to our house which was very convenient), extremely well organized and made good use of every minute of the 2-hour session. He is low key, calm and encouraging which helped to keep the anxiety down in our household. We wanted to avoid the drama of the SAT prep but it was clear that my daugher would benefit from some guidance around test taking strategy as well as focus on specific parts of the test. James developed a custom program which fit my daughter's needs and schedule and we were very satisfied with the results. Janet

The tutor who helped my daughter Elana prepare for the SAT is Raymond Barglow, and he did an excellent job. With his help, she did well on the test and got admitted to the college of her choice, American University in DC.

Mr. Barglow is friendly, professional, and expert. He tutors for the ACT as well. In fact, if you're not certain which test to take, SAT or ACT, he can offer you advice about that, and I believe he'll do so for free.

He holds free SAT and ACT workshops at high schools in the East Bay and also teaches a class on ''The Art and Science of Tutoring'' at UC Berkeley. You might contact him to see what workshops he will be doing in the future.

His rate for private tutoring is very reasonable.

He can be reached at ray [at] or phone 510-486-1050. His webwsite is Good luck! Stephen

SAT tutoring - experience with Compass?

Feb 2010

Does anyone have experience with Compass Test Prep? My daughter is a gifted math/science student needing an edge up on her verbal score. A one-on-one with a qualified tutor seems ideal. They charge $140/hr which I realize is steep, but if they are good at what they do, I think a couple hours will be all she needs. Has anyone used them before? Parent of 16 yo girl

As a competing professional, I'm glad to report to you that I generally hear good things from Compass. They take their work seriously, a significant part of which is that they pay their people more than most otherwise-analogous companies. Hence, they get good people. For what its worth, $140/hr isn't really that steep among serious professionals in this realm. Consider the merit-based aid that this could hinge on, for starters. Also, don't expect a few hours to be enough before confirming that assumption with your tutor of choice. All best, -- Wes

Compass is fantastic. Our daughter was the reverse of yours: excellent in verbal, needed tutoring in math. Thanks in no small part to Compass, she scored 2370 (800 on both verbals and 770 on the math). She actually had a couple of verbal tutoring sessions as I recall, which were mainly aimed at the essay and which were very valuable as well. Do I think the money was worth it? Absolutely. And, they're very good at tailoring the tutoring (and the tutor) to exactly what your kid needs. email me if you want more info, but the tutors (very smart UC grad students in our experience) change so our faves from a couple of years ago may well have left the area by now. aboutthesame - at -

SAT Prep Tutor Wanted

Aug 2009

My daughter needs a tutor to help her study for the SAT. Her previous SAT tutor was OK, but was not helpful for the math section. My daughter will be taking Calculus and would like to have some help with that also. Does anyone have a recommendation for a SAT tutor that is strong in math, and can perhaps also tutor her in Calculus?

Highly recommend Compass Prep. They can tailor the sessions to what your daughter really needs. We needed minimal English/Verbal (but a couple of sessions were still very helpful as far as the essay portion was concerned) and had a couple of fantastic math tutors (all UC grad students). And, yes, we called them back after the SAT for some calculus tutoring, since even the SAT sessions had led to improvement in our daughter's Calculus test scores and, more important, in her understanding of some concepts that just weren't coming through from the teacher at school. Check them out at or call the Northern California office in Larkspur at (800) 620-6250 or (415) 464-8600.

Great to hear that your daughter will be taking calculus. Must be a smart kid. I have been tutoring calc an SAT for many years as a fulltime job but am not tutoring this fall so can't help you but want to give you some suggestions. My suggestion is to find a strong calc tutor and s/he will be able to help your daughter with SAT also. Don't do it the other way around. Most SAT tutors CANNOT tutor calculus, but all calculus tutors can tutor SAT. SAT math is just algebra and geometry with no or little precalc and definitely no calculus.

Also, when finding an SAT tutor, just say you want help with math only. That will weed out the so-called SAT tutors who only really do the english section. Maybe I'm predjudiced, but the math section is the one most kids need help with. Most any college educated person can help with the eng. section. That is certainly not true with the math section.

Use craigslist LESSONS area to find tutors. Also ask your daughter's school if they have a list of tutors, and also call nearby high schools to ask for a list, and ask her CALCULUS teacher and other CALCULUS teachers at her school for recommendations.

When interviewing tutors, be sure to ask very specific questions about their CALCULUS (not other math) tutoring experience, i.e. how many CALC students did you tutor last year and can I have references for only CALC students. You don't care at all about their other math tutoring experience (ignore algebra, geometry, pre-calculus, and definitely statistics tutors). Many math tutors do not really tutor calc. because it is too hard. They often tutor up to and including pre-calc (which is very very very very different, in spite of it's name, than calculus), and sometimes try to fake their way through calc. Don't be fooled. Demand a real calculus tutor who spends half of his/her time tutoring calculus. Just for clarification, any real calc tutor will also know alg. trig, geom. and pre-calc inside out, but the other way round is not always true. Expect to pay up to $50 an hour for a qualified calculus tutor.

By qualified I don't mean they have a math degree (they could be an engineer for instance). I mean that they actually tutor calculus every year, year in and year out, to a number of students (not just one) for many years (not just every other year or every once in a while) and they really know their stuff. Talk to students (not parents) who have gotten calculus tutoring from the tutor and ask, did the tutor really know his stuff? Did he ever seem confused? Was he clear and good at explaining the math? Did he really LIKE, or even LOVE, calculus? Most calculus tutors who know what they are doing LOVE the subject. Finally, get her a qualified calc. tutor right from the first week. The first chapter is rapid fire review and then by the second week they are off and running on completely new, interesting and very challenging concepts where even the very best math students can quickly fall behind. So get her a tutor right from the start. Sorry, but I don't have any specific names of tutors I can recommend simply because tutors do their own thing and don't know each other. Contact me if you want to talk about any of this. Best of luck to you and your daughter. sean

April 2009

Does anyone have a recommendation for an SAT tutor for my son. I need someone who can relate to a teenage boy and I would prefer a tutor who can come to my house. Thanks. Katy

I highly recommend James Eno (510-499-2283) for private in-home SAT tutoring. My daughter was able to raise her score from the PSAT to the SAT by 330 points placing her well within reach of very selective colleges. James also worked with her to accommodate her very busy schedule and make the process go as smoothly as possible. mjk

For SAT prep, we recently used James Eno to tutor my junior year daughter. She raised her score 270 points from her PSAT score. She enjoyed working with James and felt that he had prepared her very well for the test; he is conscientious, responsible and obviously a skilled tutor. He has a great easy-going manner that is very appealing to my daughter and helped calm anxieties. I would highly recommend James. He can be reached at jenoone [at] or 510-499- 2283. Karel

March 2009

Mr. Mo Rahmoun worked with our son in his junior year of high school to prepare for the SAT and SAT Math Level 2 tests. Based upon our very positive experience, we subsequently asked Mr. Rahmoun to help our daughter prepare for the upper level ISEE and SSAT tests in connection with her applications to independent high schools. We recommend Mr. Rahmoun highly and without reservation to parents seeking test preparation assistance for their children. For our children, the experience of working with Mr. Rahmoun was extraordinarily positive. In both cases, our childrens test scores improved significantly thanks to time spent with Mr. Rahmoun. We also believe that the time our son spent with Mr. Rahmoun reinforced high school course work, and resulted in more productive and enjoyable junior and senior years of high school. Mr. Rahmoun may be reached by e-mail at bcfcl [at], or by telephone at 510-367-5829 or 510- 763-9627.

March 2009

We would like to share our experience with a great test preparation tutor:Mo Rahmoun. Mo worked with our older daughter, currently a sophomore atUCLA, during her junior year in high school to help her prepare for the SATtest. Her scores improved significantly based on Mo's excellent guidance and tutorials. Our younger daughter, a high school junior, began working with Mo this Fall to prepare for the PSAT and is now receiving tutoring andpreparation for the SAT. We highly recommend Mo to parents looking for test preparation help-- he's a very skilled and knowledgeable tutor. Mo is also experienced in preparing students for the ACT test. Mo Rahmoun can be reached by e-mail at bcfcl [at] He can also be reached by telephone at 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627. Lisa

Jan - Feb 2009

My daughter will be taking the SAT ( probably ACT also) in a few months. Instead of a more general course I think she would benefit from a tutor on a 1 on 1 ( or 2 on 1) basis. The english/reading part especially needs work. Would need to be in the Oakland /Alameda area and be $50 or less. Any suggestions? Thanks, Jenny

Mr. Mo Rahmoun worked with our son in his junior year of high school to prepare for the SAT and SAT Math Level 2 tests. Based upon our very positive experience, we subsequently asked Mr. Rahmoun to help our daughter prepare for the upper level ISEE and SSAT tests in connection with her applications to independent high schools.

We recommend Mr. Rahmoun highly and without reservation to parents seeking test preparation assistance for their children. For our children, the experience of working with Mr. Rahmoun was extraordinarily positive. In both cases, our children\x92s test scores improved significantly thanks to time spent with Mr. Rahmoun. We also believe that the time our son spent with Mr. Rahmoun reinforced high school course work, and resulted in more productive and enjoyable junior and senior years of high school.

Mr. Rahmoun may be reached by e-mail at bcfcl [at], or by telephone at 510-367-5829 or 510- 763-9627.

I work for a non-profit called Aspire Education Project. We offer scholarships for our one-on-one ACT and SAT tutoring. All of our scholarships are need-based. We'd be happy to answer questions about tutoring or the scholarship application process at (510) 658-7500. Noa

Dec 2008

James Eno tutored our son, a Junior, and raised his SAT test scores by 310 points! He has a great personality, gets along really well (which is very important in working with a teenager) and he teaches not only the content but the strategy on taking the SAT. James was able to tailor his study guide to match our son's learning style, and by building his confidence, helped relieve his test taking anxiety. All this led to the big jump in his test scores. James has great communication with both our son and us (parents), he works on weekends, comes to our house, and he is extremely punctual and reliable. We highly recommend James for anyone looking for help to catapult their SAT scores. James can be reached at 510-499-2283 /email : jenoone [at] Robert

Sept 2008

Don Christiansen 510/526-1423 is a ''mature adult'', graduate of Yale, soft spoken with a great sense of humor, backward baseball cap, and an easy manner with teen boys or girls. He was very helpful and insightful about my son's learning style for the SAT. He comes to your home and at $60 or $70/hour, he was a great bargain that worked!! Satisfied Mom

March 2007

This is my recommendation for an excellent SAT tutor, Mo Rahmoun. He tutored our son, a Junior, for the SAT 1 and we were very pleased with the results. Our son, so far, has taken the SAT test only once and his score is good enough. Consequently, we have put off thinking about his taking the test a second time because we think it will not be needed. Mo is currently tutoring our son to prepare him to take the Math Level 2 SAT subject test.

Mo is very encouraging and patient, and is very skilled at adapting his tutoring to different individual learning styles. He is also reasonably flexible in accommodating changes in students' schedules.

I would strongly recommend Mo to any parent who is looking for a private tutor for their child. I would also suggest that if you are thinking of having him tutor your child to contact him early, in order to be able to get the days and times you can work with.

You can contact Mo by phone at 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627. Or by e-mail at bcfcl[at] Deepa

Dec 2006

SAT Tutor Recommendation Alan Kaplan worked with my daughter Caitlin preparing her to take both the PSAT and the SAT. The results were outstanding. In the past, Caitlin had always dreaded tests and inevitably failed to show her skills and knowledge. Each time she prepared for a test with Alan, her confidence and results improved until she finally reached her goal. Alan\x92s personal style is calm, positive and thorough. He is a mature and grounded person who appreciates the broader issues in a student\x92s life and puts her at ease. In instructing Caitlin for the SAT, he taught her wider skills, applicable in her school work: problem solving, seeing connections and perseverance. We chose to hire Alan as a one-on-one tutor as opposed to signing up for a course. Not only does the tutorial end up being cheaper than the course, but the individualized attention is far more beneficial. Some of Caitlin\x92s friends flourished with Alan after having poor results with such courses. Alan Kaplan may be reached at (510) 530-4012

Jan 2006

I'd like to get advice about tutoring for the SAT's. Are the Kaplan or Sylvan classes any good? Are they worth the money? My son has some learning issues, usually doesn't test well, and might benefit from a more individualized program. Can anyone recommend a good private tutor that won't cost an arm and a leg? We live in Alameda. I'd also appreciate advice about college counseling, where and how to apply. Thank you. Mom of 15 year-old

Paul the Tutor (Paul Osborne) does SAT Prep for students with learning issues. I know that he has wonderful success with students that others often don't. As a teacher, I was curious to know what makes his teachings different than traditional SAT prep. Paul works with students on cognitive processes so he can teach students the right way to think to succeed in the SAT along with giving them tricks to use. His website has more information at


Dec 2005

I am looking for a tutor to help my 16 year old daughter prepare for the SAT in January. Can you recommend someone who specializes in test taking strategies? She also wants help with the writing sample and history.

I hear that Doug (sorry, don't know his last name) is a great SAT tutor, including helping with test strategy skills in general. Has done a lot of tutoring for SAT and has good references. His office number is 845-6441 and cell is 599-0044. Almost there...

Paul Osborne, Paul The Tutor, is a wonderful SAT prep tutor who specializes in prepping students with learning disabilities or learning differences. I believe his website has some information on his SAT prep work at: Marta

Mo Rahmoun was our son's test prep tutor for the ISEE (private school equivalent of the SSAT) and was patient, well prepared, knew how to encourage my child in exactly the right way and adjust to his learning style. My son just mentioned yesterday that it was Mo who taught him how to write a 5 paragraph essay in 1/2 hour, which had seemed like an impossible task. He has tutored for the SAT for many years. The tutoring is done in the student's house in 2 hour segments and Mo was very reasonable about working with difficult schedules. His contact #'s are 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627. chiliconmom

June 2005

With both my kids I found individual SAT tutoring more effective and less expensive than classes, and I want to recommend an SAT tutoring service that does a great job of matching students to individual tutors. It's SuccessLink Tutoring, where Michael Weller will learn about your student and then find a tutor that matches his/her learning style and personal interests as well. You can reach him at 650-346-0410, or info [at] ( Beth

I would like to recommend my son's SAT prep tutor to parents looking for an excellent and reliable SAT tutor. His name is Mo Rahmoun.

Mo did an outstanding job helping my son. His overall SAT score increased several hundred points, from the time he took the PSAT in October to his SAT last month (May 7), when he took the New SAT test for the first time. He achieved excellent scores.

My son is a bright kid and, with Mo's help, was able to clarify concepts that (maybe) were not clear to him from the beginning of his schooling. In that respect, my son's experience with Mo preparing for the SAT test has helped him in more ways than one.

Mo is a warm, patient, and knowledgeable teacher. A one of a kind person. The sessions were two hours long, once a week, at our house.

I recommend Mo Rahmoun highly.

You can contact Mo by phone at: 510-367-5829 or by email at: bcfcl AT victoria

Oct 2004

I would like to recommend Mo Rahmoun as an excellent SAT tutor. My daughter, now a senior, has worked with Mo to prepare for the SAT 1 (Math and Verbal) and SAT ll (Writing and Math 1C). She has found Mo to be knowledgeable and dedicated, as well as friendly and approachable. She says that he explains math concepts very well (she has needed help mainly with math), and that he has given her good advice for the SAT 1 Verbal and SAT ll Writing tests. So far, my daughter has been pleased with her SAT results after working with Mo (she still has one SAT ll left to take). She tells me that she has liked the way he has encouraged her to review and prepare for her sessions with him. As a parent, I very much appreciate Mo's reliability and his individualized approach (he seems to realize quickly how my daughter learns best). You can reach Mo at 510-367-5829 or bcfcl AT -- Stella

September 2004

I highly recommend Jeffrey Segall for test preparation. He has been tutoring my son, a high school junior, since last year. Jeff works with high school kids as an English tutor. He holds a PhD in English, M.A. in English & Education, and California state teaching certification. He is very reliable, focused, and organized. My son's reading and essay writing skills have improved greatly. This year Jeff is helping my son to prepare for his SAT and his personal essay for college applications. You can email him at jasegall [at] or call him (510) 559-3569. Esra

August 2004

Re: SAT Tutor Recommendation
I highly recommend Mo Rahmoun as an experienced and competent SAT tutor. He tutors PSAT (Math, Verbal, Writing), SAT I (Math and Verbal) and SAT II (Math IC, IIC & Writing).

He has extensive experience in tutoring students of diverse skill levels and knows how to effectively tailor his approach to match the learning styles and abilities of each of his students.

He also has an in-depth understanding of how these standardized tests are designed and structured and what they measure.

His combination of experience, understanding of how the test works, and excellent teaching skills has enabled the majority of his students to get great results. For some of his students, the scores they've achieved are nothing less than extraordinary.

If you are looking for a talented SAT tutor who really knows the tests and gets great results, contact Mo at: Phone: 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627 E-mail: mnr AT Good Luck SLH

August 2004

I'd like to make a recommendation for a great SAT tutor, Mo Rahmoun. Mo worked with my son, who truly enjoyed every session, learned a tremendous amount, and greatly improved his test scores. Mo is super-experienced at helping all kinds of learners with test preparation, and is a warm, patient, smart person, with the ability to bond easily with the student and actually help them have fun with the process as they are learning and improving. He really knows the ins and outs of testing, has all kinds of tips, and is completely up-to-date on all the SAT changes as they come along. He is a UC Berkeley grad in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. You can reach Mo at 510- 367-5829 or 510-763-9627, or email him at mnr AT toni

June 2004

I want to highly recommend the SAT tutoring service, SuccessLink Tutoring, 650-346-0410. The most impressive thing about the service is the time and care taken to match students up with a tutor who shares their interests and is sympathetic to their needs. My son is a slightly above average student whose PSAT scores were not promising. Michael, of SuccessLink, spent at least 30 minutes on the phone with me, asking all sorts of questions about my son, his interests, his strengths and weaknesses, etc., then matched him with a tutor who was a great fit, a great teacher, and a thoughtful and compassionate fellow, who bolstered not only my son's confidence but his performance as well. Although the hourly rate sounds high, in all the total cost was less than many test preparation courses, and immeasurably more effective, personal, and pleasant. I cannot recommend these folks too highly. SuccessLink Tutoring 650-346-0410 Beth

June 2004

Our daughter, a Junior at Albany high, has made wonderful grades for years, but was not performing well on standardized tests like the SAT. We chose to work with Mo Rahmoun (mnr AT after considering Princeton Review and having her work with skill building publications and computer formats. Mo tutors for SAT I (Verbal and Math) and SAT II (Math IC, IIC and Writing). He is an Electrical Engineering/Computer Science graduate of U.C. Berkeley. We chose his tutoring because we wanted 1) help that was tailored to our daughter's needs; 2) someone who would come to our home (we do way too much running around already!) and 3) someone who worked systematically to identify areas that needed work, worked with practice tests, and who was positive and encouraging. Mo is all those things and more! As many have already attested, the skills he has been imparting are helpful for the SAT now, but will also be useful far into the future. Furthermore, he is parent- friendly, totally reliable and inspires our daughter to prepare and self-test. His personal ethics of responsibility and hard work are imparted throughout his tutoring sessions. Call Mo at 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627. Ilene

Jan 2004

To parents of High School students and of Juniors in particular: The majority of juniors will be taking the SAT I test in the Spring. The Spring test dates are fast approaching and now is the time to start preparing for them. I would like to repeat a recommendation that I made previously for an SAT tutor. Mo has been continually refining his approach to SAT tutoring these last many months. He is currently using some very effective strategies, especially some techniques suitable for improving students' performance on the Verbal part of the SAT, particularly the Critical Reading section with which a lot of students have difficulty. Mo tutors SAT I (Verbal and Math) and SAT II (Math IC, IIC and Writing). He has been getting very good results with his students, averaging an improvement of 150 points. Many of his students have raised their scores by more than 200 points, which is considered outstanding. He LOVES tutoring and effectively communicates support and encouragement. He is especially good at judging exactly what a student requires in order to do well and tailoring his approach to those individual needs. He can be reached at 510-367-5829 or 510-763-9627. Good Luck! Sylvia

August 2003

I would like to make a recommendation for an SAT tutor. Mo tutors SAT I (both Verbal & Math) and SAT II (Math IC, IIC & Writing). He has been getting very good results with his students, averaging an improvement of 120 points. Some students have raised their scores by more than 150 points in 5 sessions, which is considered outstanding. He LOVES tutoring and effectively communicates support and encouragement. He is especially good at judging exactly what a student needs in order to do well and tailoring his approach. He can be reached at: Mo Rahmoun, 510-763-9627 or 510-234-1824.


June 2003

I highly recommend Mo Rahmoun as a SAT I/II tutor. He did a wonderful job with my son, who is a whiz with computers and does well in school, and yet had disappointing SAT scores. Mo motivated my son to learn new words, and taught him how to answer math questions. He also analyzed and improved the way he took the SAT tests. My son learned valuable lessons from Mo that he will continue to use in school and life, including a larger vocabulary, basic math skills, and how to approach problems. Mo has a sensitive and encouraging approach that matches a student\x92s ability to learn. He comes to your house, and is highly reliable and personable. Mo has an engineering degree from UC Berkeley. My son said the tutoring helped a lot and gave him confidence to take the tests. Plus his scores really improved. You can reach Mo at 510-763-9627 or 510-367-5829, or by email at mnr AT Good luck! Clair

Feb 2003

I wanted to repeat a recommendation for anyone searching for a tutor for a high school student: I enthusiastically recommend an SAT tutor named Joel Burgos who helped my daughter prepare for her SAT. Joel is a senior at Cal, majoring in Economics. He is a Regents' Scholar and has a GPA of 3.8 at Berkeley. He has tutored high school students for over two years and has worked for Kaplan. He charges $20 per hour.

My daughter does not like math, but after being tutored by Joel, she gained 100 pts. on the SAT I math section when she retook it. Joel has an excellent rapport with teen-agers and he is a great person. He doesn't have a car, so he tutored my daughter various places on campus.

He can tutor SAT I, SAT II: Writing, math Ic and IIC, world history, chemistry. You can e-mail him at jbowl0606 AT or call him at 704-8793. Olga

SAT Prep for Junior

June 2007

I'm searching for a good SAT prep course or tutor for my daughter who will be a junior in the fall. Also interested in suggestions about self-study guides on studying for the SAT. Any recommendations? Berkeley Mom

If you have a pretty self-motivated kid, the College Board's online tutorial works well. That's the only preparation my daughter did and she did very well on the test (after doing only so-so on the PSAT and initial practice tests). The tutorial costs $80 and the student just logs on and uses it whenever they want. SAT mom

There's of course the standard Kaplan or Princeton Review, but frankly I find them to be ''ok'' at best to poor at worst. Two of the very best in the area in my experience are Study Smarter (contact Joel Kosakoff, joel[at],, 510.350.8444) and Justin Sigars (justin[at],, 510.910.9003). They are different in terms of methodologies and costs, but I work with a lot of families that have fantastic experiences with them. Good luck! Rick Grisel

Regarding SAT prep for a junior, there are a number of possibilities. We offer 1-1 and private small-group instruction, as well as a 2-week intensive course. We often recommend self-prep to motivated students who are preparing for the SAT subject tests or the ACT, but find that SAT I students tend to demonstrate higher score improvements from working with an instructor. That being said however, not everyone needs to improve his/her SAT scores. Many students already have sufficiently high enough scores for the schools they are interested in attending. From our experience, SAT scores are an overrated aspect of the admissions process, and the average scores listed in most college guides are generally higher than students will actually need to get accepted into those schools. A first step therefore, might be to have your daughter take either the PSAT or a practice test (which we can email you for free) to determine whether her scores are in the necessary range for the schools she thinks she'll want to apply to. I would also suggest having her take a practice ACT to see which test she does better on. Let me know if you have any questions- Jennifer, 650.346.0410 SuccessLink Tutoring

Hello, I had Mo Rahmoun tutor my son for both the SAT! and SAT Math 2 and my son scored extremely well in both and will not be taking the tests again. I would highly recommend contacting Mo . More recommendations for Mo can be found on the recommendations page. His e-mail bcfcl[at] Deepa

Good experiences with SAT prep courses, tutors?

Dec 2006

Do any parents have some good experiences with SAT Prep courses or good recommendations for reasonably priced tutors? Any suggestions for preparation (books, study aids, etc.) would be greatly appreciated. louisa

I am about to leave my job at Parents' Press magazine, whose monthly college prep columnist Dave Peterson is very experienced and knowledgeable. (Some of his old columns are on His general take on SAT prep is that unless a student is behind on a particular subject, the College Board,, offers free prep materials that are more than adequate and have been rated number one by Consumer Reports. (These materials are frequently available at high school college and career centers as well.)

However, if your child is up on academics, but lacking self- confidence, buying one of the standard SAT manuals probably wouldn't hurt. There's a new one called ''Up Your Score'' (2007- 2008 edition) that's written by a team of recent college graduates. It only costs about $12 dollars and is clear and entertaining and has a nice kind of you-can-do-it attitude. Melanie

Try Classroom Matters - through them I found a great tutor that also works for Aspire Education - I don't know the number to Classroom Matters but there is one on Sacramento Street near Dwight in Berkeley - you can reach Aspire at 510.658.7500 Jill

Summer prep classes for SAT

June 2005

I read through prior referrals and couldn't find any recommendations for SAT prep classes for teens. I was hoping to find a good one in Berkeley for the summer. What experience do people have with good programs? Kaplan seems quite expensive and pushy. Are they worth it or are there better choices? melinda

I would like to recommend my son's SAT prep tutor to parents looking for an excellent and reliable SAT tutor. His name is Mo Rahmoun.

Mo did an outstanding job helping my son. His overall SAT score increased several hundred points, from the time he took the PSAT in October to his SAT last month (May 7), when he took the New SAT test for the first time. He achieved excellent scores.

My son is a bright kid and, with Mo's help, was able to clarify concepts that (maybe) were not clear to him from the beginning of his schooling. In that respect, my son's experience with Mo preparing for the SAT test has helped him in more ways than one.

Mo is a warm, patient, and knowledgeable teacher. A one of a kind person. The sessions were two hours long, once a week, at our house.

I recommend Mo Rahmoun highly. You can contact Mo by phone at: 510-367-5829 or by email at: bcfcl [at]


June 2004

I want to highly recommend the SAT tutoring service, SuccessLink Tutoring, 650-346-0410. The most impressive thing about the service is the time and care taken to match students up with a tutor who shares their interests and is sympathetic to their needs. My son is a slightly above average student whose PSAT scores were not promising. Michael, of SuccessLink, spent at least 30 minutes on the phone with me, asking all sorts of questions about my son, his interests, his strengths and weaknesses, etc., then matched him with a tutor who was a great fit, a great teacher, and a thoughtful and compassionate fellow, who bolstered not only my son's confidence but his performance as well. Although the hourly rate sounds high, in all the total cost was less than many test preparation courses, and immeasurably more effective, personal, and pleasant. I cannot recommend these folks too highly. SuccessLink Tutoring 650-346-0410

Jan. 2003

I heard from the People's Test Prep Service at UCB about the SAT workshops that they offer. Here is the email response I got from them.

Thanks for your interest in our program. We actually have two kinds of services, the main one being an 8-week SAT 1 prep class which is scheduled to start on the first week of March at various sites (and end in May). We are working on finalizing our sites but we usually have several sites at UC Berkeley on the weekends (4 hours total, 2 math and 2 verbal on one day, either Saturday or Sunday) and one at BHS on Tuesdays and Wednesdays (2 hours each day). We are also looking at some possible sites in Richmond and Oakland. The other service is one-time workshops (usually lasting around 3 hours), usually one on College Admissions and Financial Aid and one on SAT 2 material, though we may add some more this semester. If you are interested in enrolling in the 8-week class simply call 510-642-4951 and leave your name, your child's name, your child's high school, your phone number and which site you prefer. If you are interested in the one day workshops, we will probably post more info on the website when it becomes available (the workshops will likely me in March and April).
Chris Koh


June 2002

I enthusiastically recommend an SAT tutor named Joel Burgos who helped my daughter prepare for her SAT last year. Joel is a senior at Cal, majoring in Economics. He is a Regents' Scholar and has a GPA of 3.8 at Berkeley. He has tutored high school students for over two years and has worked for Kaplan. He charges $20 per hour.

My daughter does not like math, but after being tutored by Joel, she gained 100 pts. on the SAT I math section when she retook it last year. Joel has an excellent rapport with teen-agers and he is a great person. He doesn't have a car, so he tutored my daughter various places on campus.

He can tutor SAT I, SAT II: Writing, math Ic and IIC, world history, chemistry. You can e-mail him at jbowl0606 AT or call him at 704-8793. Olga


June 2002

I am the mother of a student at Bishop O'Dowd. I am responding to your inquiry about SAT and college preparation. In addition to the school counselor, we are working with a private counselor, Wendy Morrison. She is enthusiastic and has really helped my daughter figure out what she wants out of her college experience. She has guided us through the SAT testing process: when and where to take the various tests. She has given us invaluable information about financial aid and merit-based scholariships. She has helped my daughter figure out what kind of college best matches her personality. Lastly, she has worked with my daughter in developing her essay topic. She promptly returns calls which relieves the anxiety that inevitably comes from being the mother of a college-bound student. We are extremely glad that we have been able to work Wendy for she has been a great help in this overwhelming process. Wendy works out of her home in Kensington. She charges $85 per session and each session lasts approximately 1 1/2 to 2 hours. She can be reached at (510) 384-5962. I highly reccomend giving her a call. 

October 2000

I had my daughter go to AMES seminars for SATs because she needed to raise her math scores and she learns well in a classroom setting. She was a Merit finalist. My son is currently with a private tutor because he needs to bring up his English. The owner of AMES told me that it's most difficult to raise the English scores if you aren't constantly reading and increasing your vocabulary. My son is doing well with the private tutor and because of all his sports commitments he would not be able or want to go to a classroom. I think either works depending on your child. AMES is good about letting the kids take refresher courses or make up classes and they offer many options. I was pleased with them and so was my daughter. Jan

Albany Adult School offers a $15 Math prep class this Saturday, 1/22 from 10a-12p at the site. Call for number and registration. I took my freshman daughter to the Verbal prep class on 1/15 to expose her to the ideal learning skills needed and magnitude of the test. She used the TAKING THE SAT 1: REASONING TEST, a free sample test with tips, offered free at high schools or by writing College Board SAT program, P.O. Box 6200, Princeton, NJ 08541-6200. Instructor Rachel Salzman also offers private tutoring and small group workshops for test prep.

Older Recommendations

May 2000

Don Christianson 510- 526-1423 was used by my younger daughter and some other BHS students we know. He does in home tutoring. She liked him a lot and found him most helpful. He worked with her on both parts of the SAT.

Don may still work with Jim Irwin ( 925-631-1720 ) who is based in Moraga. My older daughter used Jim in 1994-95 and did not mind driving to Moraga because she thought he was so good. She had been in IMP math and had not learned certain math principals which Jim taught to her.

They both make the kids feel very competent. Kids do tests before the tutorial which motivates them to do the test and that is half the battle. The more you do, the better you get. Then they go over the test and teach around the test. The individual attention worked for my kids and I probably spent less than on a class, but some kids like going with their friends.


Jan 2000

In response (albeit a little tardy) to enquiry re. SAT tuition, both my children have used Don Christensen, He is a wonderfully patient and supportive teacher, who comes to your home and works with the individual child. He is not terribly expensive and, after April, has space for new students. His phone # is 526-1423.

Sep 1999

My son consulted a book called Up Your Scores after taking his PSATs with no prior review or practice. It's written by 6 kids who scored 1600 on their SATs, with a lot of tongue and cheek humor and comments in the margins by other teens reviewing the guide. He LOVED it and found it extremely helpful with the verbal section, particularly in the areas of interpreting tricky questions, how to guess, etc. While the were undoubtedly a number of things that helped his scores on the SATs (including a third year of Latin...), he raised his scores by 270 points from PSATs to SATs, so I would think the bookd was useful.

Sep 1999

My son used the Princeton Review software. It was entertaining enough to use and it was helpful, particularly so that he could take many practice tests and have them easily scored. The key to these programs is that the kids have to be self motivated- 1 or 2 hours trying to cram in 500 vocabulary words doesn't cut it. That's why classes are better- they force you to put in the hours. But if they use it it's got great time saving tips and strategies for managing the whole test so by the time they actually take their SAT they're pretty comfortable. My son's score went up @200 points. He used the program for a year off and on.

Self Help

Here's a strategy for helping your student prepare for taking the SAT I. 1. Buy the book 10 Real SATs 2. On three different days have your student take one of the SATs from the book. For each section of the test (provide them with scratch paper and a calculator): a. use a timer to let your student know when the test would have ended. b. have them mark where they were. c. Let them finish the section - However much time it takes. d. Ask them to use a special mark for guessing - to allow better review. Score the test - both the timed and untimed results. Hopefully you will see improvement in the timed results with each successive testing 3. After each test work through all of the problems that the student missed or guessed with them. Have the student explain to you how they go the answer they put down. If you can't figure them out with the student don't be embarassed to admit it, just set that one aside for an expert - perhaps the student's teacher. Copy down the problems and take them to the teacher for help. 4. If your student gets good enough scores with unlimited time - a. Just practicing taking the the tests may help speed them up. You can use the rest of the tests for that purpose. b. IF your student needs Lots of extra time, consider getting them tested for that purpose. If they test out - then they will be allowed to take the test without time limits- 5. If the scores are too low even with unlimited time, then look at the subject matter of the questions that are being missed/guessed at and try to figure out why the student is missing them. Are these careless arithmetic errors/ vocabulary problems, or is the problem that they don't understand the question correctly, or is the subject matter beyond their level of mastery? If it is the level of mastery, a subject matter specific tutor (or software) is in order. 6. Practice on the remaining tests after remediation. Roger (May 2000)

(see also Classroom Matters recommendations .)

We used Testakers. I believe their number is 415-665-0800. They are expensive (about $600), but they teach lots of test taking strategies, do individual trouble shooting, and have a series of classes. My daughter's SAT score was over 100 points higher than her PSAT. Good luck. Louise (7/00)

PSAT Advice

My son chose to take the PSATs only once. We learned afterwards that PSAT scores are the trigger for National Merit scholarships. With a score of 1320 on PSAT's, my son did not qualify as a NM Scholar, despite then getting 1590 on his SATs. So my advice is for those with kids with potentially good scores is to take the PSATs in the spring of the sophomore year, then again in the fall of their junior year. Most kids see their scores increase with improved understanding of testing methods, and the PSATs turn out to be more important than you might think.

Correction re the PSAT: This test is only given once a year, in October. If students want to take it for practice (a good idea!), they need to take it in October of the sophomore year. Students should listen for announcements in the Daily Bulletin (whenever that finally starts up); test signup is through BHS and instructions about when and where to sign up for the test should be forthcoming in the Daily Bulletin within the next few weeks. I repeat that students should listen carefully for announcements about the PSAT. A small sample test booklet is available a few days before the PSAT but last year many students did not get to review the booklet in advance of the test. One other tip: arrive early for the test and don't be surprised by a chaotic method of signing test-takers in.

To clarify- one parent wrote that they wished their child took the PSAT more than once. THe PSAT is offered only once each year, in October. It is the test that makes 11th graders eligible to compete for Nat'l Merit Scholarships. (They take approximately 15,000 students- those who score in the highest percentile of PSAT takers- though it's actually a score devised by doubling your english score and adding your math score to that- and invite them to apply.) If you want your child to take a PSAT before they do in 11th grade, that leaves October of 10th grade. 10th graders are not viewed as Nat'l Merit applicants so the score is purely for practice. It will never be reported to anyone except you. It's a no loss situation. This year's PSAT is Oct 16th. The college counselor has applications and there should be an announcement in the bulletin any time now.- WR