The Best SAT Tutoring in New Jersey
Here’s what sets our SAT prep apart from everyone else’s:
Completely risk free: Try out a session online or in-person, and, if it does not meet or exceed your expectations, then it’s free.
Average score increase of 210 points on the SAT, even when a student worked with a different company before coming to tutor with us.
Curriculum is 100% sourced from the real tests (by far the best quality content available) and customized for each student.
The best test prep experts: we hire only 1% of applicants (sourced nationally, not just from NJ), and each new hire goes through a minimum of 160 hours of specialized training specifically on the SAT and ACT before they meet with their first student.
We retain the best tutors: our SAT and ACT tutors are full-time and on salary with health, dental, vision, long and short-term disability, life insurance, and retirement benefits. They are career (not side hustle) SAT and ACT experts.
In short, we attract, train, and retain the most professional and experienced SAT and ACT instructors, so you get only the best prep and your child can get to their highest possible score.
If you’re interested, we would love to give you a complimentary consultation over the phone or online to discuss the best plan for your child’s college entrance exams: which test to take, when to take them, what score we need for certain colleges, and any other questions you have. It is our privilege and pleasure to serve you and to help empower your children to succeed in life.
Info about the SAT
For more info on the SAT, check out our blog posts here about the test and how to best take and prep for it.
The Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT Test) is a standardized test for college admissions in the United States. The test is designed to measure a student’s preparedness for colleges and universities by testing skills in three core areas: Critical Reading, Writing, and Mathematics.
The SAT is a significant determinant in college admission and scholarship decisions. Whether your child struggles with the fundamentals, the “tricks” and testing strategy, the most advanced topics, or simply a lack of testing confidence, our instructors will identify and amend any areas of weakness and enhance areas of strength. Instead of SAT scores being a soft spot on your child’s academic resume, we will help ensure that these scores reflect and amplify your child’s potential.
The new 2016 SAT is composed of 4 sections (with an optional essay): a 65 minute Reading section, a 35 minute Writing and Language section, a 25 minute no calculator Math section, and a 55 minute with calculator Math section. The optional essay takes 50 minutes. Total testing time is 3 hours without the essay and 3 hours and 50 minutes with the essay. The breakdown of each section is below:
# of Questions
multiple choice questions
Reading comprehension and analysis
multiple choice questions
Grammar and Rhetorical skills: punctuation, sentence structure, and essay organization
Math - No Calculator
15 multiple choice and 5 grid-ins
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Trigonometry
Math - With Calculator
30 multiple choice and 8 grid-ins
Algebra 1, Algebra 2, Geometry, and Trigonometry
Write an analytical essay exploring what strategies the author used to persuade the reader
A Few Tips for Test Day
- Be organized and remember to bring at least two #2 pencils, calculator, identification, admission ticket, fresh batteries, a watch, and a high energy snack (see here for what to eat on test day to maximize mental energy).
- Get a good night rest and, in the morning, eat a hearty breakfast and double-check that you have everything.
- Take the test just like you did practice tests: don’t double-check your answers until you have finished a section (unless you normally do so as you go along, which is rare) and don’t get stuck on difficult questions. If you would skip a question on a practice test, skip it (put down your best guess) on the real test.
- Don’t rush. Remember: You’ve prepared for this. You’ve got this.
Frequently Asked Questions
Preparing for the SAT:
- March 13th
- May 8th
- June 5th
- August 28th
- October 2nd
- November 6th
- December 4th
- Without essay: 3 hours and 15 minutes (+ 20 minute “experimental section” given at the end of the test that does not count toward your score)
- With essay: 4 hours and 7 minutes (+ 20 minute “experimental section” given at the end of the test that does not count toward your score)
- First, establish a baseline by taking a real past SAT (we also recommend taking a real past ACT as well to determine which test fits you best). You can find 10 official SATs here. (Technically the first four were never administered, so the curves are not completely accurate. Take any of tests #5-10 to establish an accurate baseline.) Make sure to simulate the real test: print the test and take it all at once with the appropriate breaks. Or, reach out to us, and we can schedule you to take a practice test with us.
- Now that you have a baseline score, you need to evaluate how far you are from your score goal. The farther you are, the more work you will need to put in to hit your score goal — but the work you put in will also help you excel in college as well (see here). Here’s the work you need to put in:
- Take real practice tests (both to identify weaknesses but also to practice test-taking stamina)
- Not only go over the questions you got wrong on the practice tests but look up how to do those topics and do additional questions on those topics so that you eliminate any weaknesses on the tested topics (our tutors, for instance, identify the topic of any questions missed and give students additional questions on those topics from the real past tests so that students will get any questions on those topics correct the next time they see them).
- Take the real test multiple times. Most students get nervous the first time they take any test, so almost all students will score better after taking the SAT a few times (and there is natural variability in scores — see here — so re-taking the SAT increases a student’s chances of a higher score, particularly of a higher superscore).
- Get calculator programs that will solve distance, midpoint, slope, the quadratic formula, etc for you so that you spend less time on these questions and so that you do not make a silly mistake in your calculations. (We have a suite of calculator programs that are custom made to help students on the SAT.)
- Learn the “tricks” to the exam. The fastest way to do so is to work with a tutor who knows the strategies to help beat the test. But, if you practice long enough, you might figure out those tricks too, such as knowing that the word “being” in an answer choice on the grammar section (the “Writing Section”) of the SAT almost guarantees that the answer is incorrect.
- Discover the optimal ways to approach different question types. For example, on the “Reading Section,” students should never look at the answer choices before looking back to the passage for a “vocabulary in context” question because the meaning of the word in context will always have a different meaning than the standard definition of the given word. Looking at the answer choices first will just throw a student off. So students should go straight to the context, treat the given word as a “blank” in the sentence, make up their own definition for the “blank” based on the context, and then compare this definition to the answer choices. This approach almost guarantees that they will get all “vocabulary in context” questions correct.
- Algebra: particularly functions, manipulating equations, quadratics, and equations of lines (lots of questions on equations of lines).
- Algebra 2: particularly exponents, radicals, probability, polynomials, and imaginary numbers.
- Geometry: particularly triangles, perimeter and area of rectangles and circles, volume of cylinders, and equations of circles in an x,y coordinate plane.
- Trigonometry: only a few questions, particularly converting degrees to radians and vice versa.
Taking the SAT:
- Test site locations can vary by test date (not all schools give the test on every SAT test date). You can check for which test sites are offering the SAT on a given test date here. But, better (since those test sites might be filled) is to simply go through the process of registering for the SAT. At the end of the registration process, you will be prompted to select a test date and then you can choose from the available test locations.
- Check in and fill out scantron cards (30 minutes)
- Reading section (65 minutes)
- 10 minute break: This is the longest break of the test, so students need to prioritize eating during this break.
- Writing and Language section (35 minutes) — despite the name of this section, it only tests students on grammar and punctuation.
- No-calculator Math section (25 minutes)
- 5 minute break: This is really only enough time for a bathroom break.
- Calculator Math section (55 minutes)
- Experimental section (20 minutes) — this section is probably just for the SAT to test out content and probably does not count toward your score (the reason I say “probably” is because the SAT has refused to confirm or deny whether the fifth section counts; to be on the safe side, take it as seriously as the other sections).
- 2 minute break (assuming students are taking the optional essay next): Students are not even allowed to leave the classroom for this one. It’s just enough time to basically drink water, stretch, and then get back to work.
- Optional essay (50 minutes)
- Freedom! (and probably a nap)
- Yes. There are no penalties for wrong answers, so answer every question (on the grid-in section, if you’re unsure on an answer, just bubble-in the number “2” — that is the most common answer in the grid-ins).
- Here’s a link to a blog post on what to eat. Please bring a snack — it will help give you an edge for the last half of the test. As part of your snack, bring water or another drink to keep yourself hydrated — hydration is key for avoiding a foggy brain.
- No. Why? Because not all mechanical pencils are #2 pencils, and the scantron machine only picks up #2 lead. So, to avoid students completing the test with a mechanical pencil that will make their answers invisible to the scantron machine, the SAT requires all students to use a regular #2 pencil. Also, a slightly dull pencil is actually preferable for bubbling in the answers on the scantron because it takes more time to fill in the scantron bubbles with a pencil that has a sharp point.
- While mechanical pencils are banned, I actually still use a mechanical pencil on the real test when I write the essay. No
proctor has ever said anything to me about doing so, and I find it much easier to write a long essay with a pencil that maintains a sharp point, i.e. a mechanical pencil. I get the mechanical pencils that look like regular pencils, so that might be the reason a proctor has never mentioned it. Worst case scenario, the proctor would just tell you to use a different pencil if they “caught” you, so there’s no penalty for doing so. Just make sure that the mechanical pencil writes with #2 lead.
- Dress comfortably. Wear a sweater and a T-shirt underneath. Who knows what the temperature will be in the classroom, so students will want to have options to make themselves comfortable.
After the SAT:
The composite score is out of 1600.
- The Reading + Writing section scores are combined to get a score out of 800.
- The no-calculator and the calculator Math section scores are combined to get a score out of 800.
- The optional essay is scored separately, and its score (out of 24) is not included in the SAT composite score.
|Total Score||Percentile of SAT Test Takers|
Source: CollegeBoard 2021
The SAT Essay:
Unfortunately, the answer is probably “yes.” Although most colleges no longer require the essay and even those that do care little about the score, you don’t want to be unlucky: what if you later decide you want to apply to one of those rare colleges that does require the essay? You would either have to re-take the SAT just to take the essay portion or you could not apply to that college.
No, but you might want to do so. Even if you have taken the SAT three times and send in all three scores, only one of those test dates needs to have an essay score in order to meet a college’s requirement or recommendation for an SAT essay score.
However, if you want to use score-choice (and not submit all of your SAT scores to a college), then you should take the essay every time you take the SAT. For instance, let’s say on your first SAT you score a 700 on the Verbal and 700 on the Math. On your second SAT you score a 750 on the Verbal and 750 on the Math. Sending your first test (composite of 1400) does not help you at all, because you improved in both sections on your second test (so your superscore is simply the 1500 composite score of your second test). If you retook the essay on your second test, then you could choose to submit only your second test. However, if you did not retake the essay on your second test, then, if a school requires an essay score, you would need to send the first test (with a score of 1400) as well in order to show an essay score.
Thus, if you plan to potentially use score-choice and maybe only submit the score from one SAT test date, you will want to retake the essay on every test so that every SAT test you take has an essay score attached to it.
There is always subjectivity inherent in grading someone else’s essay. Luckily, colleges understand this, which is why colleges are not strict on what essay scores they expect from students. Taking the essay is more like checking a box than trying to compete with other students on score. Students’ essays are evaluated on three components (Reading, Analysis, and Writing), and the maximum score in each category is 8 (so the highest combined essay score a student could receive is a 24). What score does a student need? A 16 or above to “check the essay box.” As long as a student does that, then it doesn’t really matter what score they get. Luckily, it’s very (very) easy for most good students to secure that score. To do so, they need to remember two things:
- This is an analytical essay. Do not write your own opinion on the topic (that would be a persuasive essay). Your job is to summarize the main idea in one or two sentences in the opening paragraph (just to show the reader you understood what was written), include a thesis sentence at the end of the opening paragraph that lays out the structure of your essay response, and spend the rest of the essay showing how the author made his point and why writing the essay as he did made that point.
- Write 2.5 pages or more. Sound ridiculous? It is. But, if you don’t write 2.5 pages or more as a response, then you more-or-less cannot get a 16 or above.
To summarize: write an analytical essay and write 2.5 pages or more. If you do that and your writing is decent, then you’ll score a 16 or above on every SAT essay response.
Probably. At a minimum, you should take a full-length, official practice SAT and ACT to determine which test suits you best (here is an official concordance table that you can then use to compare your SAT and ACT practice scores to know which one you have a higher score on). It never hurts to take both on real test days as well, particularly if your SAT and ACT scores were close on practice tests. Side note: if your practice test scores are close, then I would go with the ACT (even if your practice SAT score was slightly higher) because the ACT is significantly more straight-forward and easier to prepare for, has more consistent curves, and has more margin for error at the top of the scale for high scoring students.
It used to be the case that few students took either the SAT or ACT more than 3 times. Now, however, you can take the tests more-or-less as many times as you would like to do so (until you hit your score goal). The Collegeboard gives you the option of submitting only the test date scores that you want colleges to receive (though, some colleges still request that you send all of your scores, and it is up to you to decide if you will comply with doing so). In contrast, the ACT makes the decision of submitting all scores or not easier: with the ACT, you can choose to simply delete past ACT scores for free at any time, so you can delete any ACT scores that don’t help your superscore and then just submit all of the scores you have left to colleges that ask for them.
But, even if you do decide to submit all SAT scores to colleges that ask and if you’ve taken the test numerous times (even 5 or more times), it’s still beneficial to keep taking the test even if you do submit all of those scores. Why? Because higher scores are higher scores, so submitting higher SAT scores — even if you have taken the SAT numerous times — can only help your applications to colleges. Additionally, most colleges employ software that automatically selects and then only shows the highest section scores from submitted SAT and ACT scores, so most admission officers never even see how many times a student took the tests — they are only looking at the highest composite scores and/or superscores.
The very short answer is “because colleges use them.” But, the better question to ask then is “Why do colleges use SAT and ACT scores?” The answer to that: Because there is too much subjectivity to admissions without them. Grade inflation has increased dramatically in recent decades, and the average student in the U.S. now has a GPA of between a B+ and A-. How are colleges supposed to differentiate between students who all basically have the same grades from high schools that differ drastically in the quality of education that they provide? They can’t. At least, they can’t without some objective measures.
And that’s why colleges use SAT and ACT scores, so that they can make sure they are selecting the most qualified applicants. Most studies have confirmed as well that the combination of grades and SAT/ACT scores improves academic achievement predictions in college above what grades alone could predict. Ensuring that students are accurately matched to colleges where they can excel is in the best interests of both colleges and students. So, as annoying as the SAT and ACT are to prepare for and take, they are integral parts to the college admissions process in order to help colleges and students alike make the best decisions.