Monday, August 31, 2009

2009 Best Test Prep Rankings

The new school year is right around the corner, which means it is time for our annual “Best Test Prep” wrap-up. There are six categories: SAT Prep, ACT Prep, LSAT Prep, GRE Prep, GMAT Prep, and MCAT Prep!

Every year, BestTestPrep.Blogspot releases a ranking of the nation’s best private tutoring and test prep services. These rankings are an independent survey based on internet discussion, ratings and reviews, prep materials, presentation, and interviews and surveys.

SAT Prep

  1. Parliament Tutors
  2. Kaplan
  3. Academic Advantage

ACT Prep

  1. 1. Kaplan
  2. 2. Barron’s Test Prep
  3. 3. Princeton Review


  1. 1. Kaplan
  2. 2. Princeton Review
  3. 3. Parliament Tutors

GRE Prep

  1. 1. Manhattan Review
  2. 2. Kaplan
  3. Princeton Review
  1. GMAT Prep
  2. GMAT MBA Prep
  3. Princeton Review


  1. 1. Kaplan
  2. 2. Princeton Review
  3. 3. Crown Tutoring

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 Inspiration Awards Go to Schools in California, Mississippi and Texas

NEW YORK — Three exceptional high schools have been named College Board 2009 Inspiration Award winners for improving their academic environment and helping underserved students achieve equitable access to higher education. Each winning school will receive a $25,000 award, and each of the two honorable mention schools will receive $1,000 to apply toward programs that encourage students to attend college.

Remarking on today’s announcement, U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said, “At a time when higher standards and increased college readiness have become critical to our nation’s future, it is encouraging to know that these Inspiration schools provide a wonderful example for all of us as we work to reform our education system. Congratulations to these schools, their principals, their teachers and their students for this tremendous success. They show us what is possible.”

The 2009 Inspiration Award-winning schools are:

  • Hidalgo Early College High School, Hidalgo, Texas
  • Riverdale High School, Riverdale, Calif.
  • William B. Murrah High School, Jackson, Miss.

The College Board will honor each of the schools at special inspirational assemblies attended by administrators, faculty, students and parents. On May 6, College Board Senior Vice President Peter Negroni will present a 2009 Inspiration Award to Hidalgo Early College High School. On May 12, he will present an award to Riverdale High School. Then on May 14, College Board President Gaston Caperton will present the third Inspiration Award to William B. Murrah High School.

The Inspiration Awards celebrate America’s most improved high schools. These schools create a culture in which success in the classroom is “cool”; they help their students acquire self-confidence and the skills necessary not only to gain admission to college but to succeed on campus. Winning secondary schools demonstrate significant and consistent growth across the entire student population in the number of students taking rigorous courses and the percentage of graduates accepted to institutions of higher education. 

In announcing the winners, College Board President Gaston Caperton said, “We are delighted to honor the 2009 Inspiration Award schools. They have made a difference in their communities and in the lives of their students. Because of the unique programs they have created, teachers, parents, community organizations and local businesses have come together to help students graduate from high school and go on to college.”

SAT Reading and Math Scores Show Decline

The average score on the reading and math portions of the newly expanded SAT showed the largest decline in 31 years, according to a report released yesterday by theCollege Board on the performance of the high school class of 2006.

The drop confirmed earlier reports from puzzled college officials that they were seeing lower scores from applicants. The average score on the critical reading portion of the SAT, formerly known as the verbal test, fell 5 points, to 503, out of a maximum possible score of 800. The average math score fell 2 points, to 518. Together they amounted to the lowest combined score since 2002.

Officials of the College Board, the nonprofit organization that administers the SAT, dismissed suggestions by numerous high school guidance counselors that students were getting tired out by the new three-part test which now runs three and three-quarters hours, rather than three.

“Fatigue is not a factor,” Wayne Camara, vice president for research and analysis at the College Board said at a news conference. “We are not trying to say that students are not tired. But it is not affecting, on the whole, student performance.”

Instead, the officials attributed the drop to a decline in the number of students who took the exam more than once. The board said 47 percent of this year’s students took the test only once, up from 44 percent last year. The number taking the test three times fell to less than 13 percent from nearly 15 percent.

Students typically gain 14 points a section when they take the test a second time, and another 10 or 11 points a section on the third try.

The SAT writing test includes a 25-minute essay, which counts for about 30 percent of the writing score, and 49 multiple-choice questions on grammar and usage, which count for the rest. The average score on the writing section was 497 out of a possible 800, the board said.

Girls performed better than boys on this section of the exam, averaging 502 versus 491 for boys. That partly offset girls’ lower scores on math and reading, but did not close the longstanding score gap between boy and girls.

Gaston Caperton, the president of the College Board, pointed out that the decline in scores represented less than one-half of a test question in reading and one-fifth of one test question in math. Still it was the largest year to year decline since 1975, and officials expressed concerns about the overall performance of American students.

“The data does suggest that as a nation, critical reading and writing are lagging behind the progress we are making in math,” Mr. Camara said.

The SAT score decline contrasted with the increase in scores on the ACT exam, the other primary college admissions test. This month, ACT reported its biggest score increase in 20 years. The ACT also has a writing section, but it is optional.

Seppy Basili, senior vice president at Kaplan Inc., the education and test preparation company, said the new SAT test undoubtedly affected scores because students were less familiar with it and because fewer students repeated it. But Mr. Basili said he thought the length played a greater role than the College Board acknowledged.

“It is not just that the test is 3 hours and 45 minutes,” he said. “It is that the whole experience is five hours or more,” he said, factoring in things like breaks.

Most states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, saw scores decline in reading and math. In New York, average reading scores fell 4 points to 493 and math scores 1 point to 510. In Connecticut, reading was down 5 points to 512 and math 1 point to 516. In New Jersey, reading fell 7 points to 496 and math 2 points to 515.

In New York City, Joel I. Klein, the chancellor of the education department, said, “My only reaction is, it shows that we have to continue to work harder.”

The number of students taking the SAT nationally fell slightly, by about 10,000 students, to just under 1.5 million, or about 48 percent of more than 3 million students who graduated from high school this year.

At a time when many elite colleges have expressed interest in recruiting more low-income students, the number of students from families earning $30,000 or less who took the SAT fell by more than 13 percent, to 183,317, while the number from families earning $100,000 or more rose 8 percent, to 225,869.

Mr. Camara said that of the information collected about students, the income data was the least reliable. He said he did not know what accounted for the decrease in low-income students taking the test.

Counselors in high schools where the SAT has long dominated, said more of their students were taking the ACT. Some have said that in the wake of the College Board’s disclosure this spring that it had mis-scored more than 5,000 exams, they have urged their students to consider the ACT.


NEW YORK, July 27, 2009 — According to a survey by The Princeton Review that asked 122,000 students at 371 top colleges to rate their schools on dozens of topics and report on their campus experiences, the best professors are at Davidson College (NC). However, the college at which students are happiest with their financial aid – the issue many parents care most about – is Swarthmore College (PA).  Colgate University (NY) takes top honors as the most beautiful campus while Virginia Tech serves the best campus food and Smith College (MA) has the best dorms.

The Princeton Review, an education services company, reports the top 20 colleges in these categories and over 50 others in the 2010 edition of its annual college guide "The Best 371 Colleges" (Random House / Princeton Review, $22.99), on sale tomorrow.  Other student survey-based ranking lists in the book reveal the schools at which students most highly rated their administrators, campus career centers, and athletic facilities. 

The book also has unique ratings – scores from 60 to 99 – on each college's profile in eight categories including Financial Aid, Fire Safety, and Green: a rating based on the schools' environmental commitments. The book's ranking lists and school profiles with ratings will post on today.

"Each of our 371 'best' colleges offers great academics," says Robert Franek, author of the book and V.P. / Publisher, The Princeton Review.  "However, we don't rank schools academically because our goal is to help students find and get into the best school for them.  Instead, we tally 62 ranking lists based how students at these schools rated their campus experiences, plus ratings based on institutional data we collect on issues important to applicants.  It's all about the fit."

Other ranking lists in the book and #1 colleges on them are:

· Best Career Services – University of Florida
· Best Classroom Experience – Pomona College (CA)
· Most Accessible Profs – U.S. Military Academy (NY)
· Most Conservative Students – Texas A&M University
· Most Liberal Students – Warren Wilson College (NC)
· Most Politically Active Students – George Washington University (DC)
· Least Religious Students – Bennington College (VT)
· Race / Class Relations Friendliest – University of Miami (FL)
· Gay Community Most Accepted – New York University
· Top Party Schools – Pennsylvania State University
· Top Stone-Cold Sober Schools – Brigham Young University (UT)
· Everyone Plays Intramural Sports – University of Notre Dame (IN)
· Best Athletic Facilities – University of Maryland at College Park
· Best Town-Gown Relations – Clemson University (SC)

Rock The Test Getting ready to Prepare High School Students

EAST SETAUKET, NY, March 02, 2009 /24-7PressRelease/ -- "For 25 years I wrote test materials for The College Board's SAT and other tests and have seen all the available aids for students preparing for college admissions tests. Nothing else is as simple, direct and comprehensive as SAT: Rock The Test."- Dr. D. Bruce Lockerbie, PAIDEIA, Inc (NY)

Written by experienced teachers from the prestigious Stony Brook School in New York, Michael Hickey and Thom Brownorth have combined practical test taking methods and combined them with proven techniques that have raised their students' SAT scores by an average of 240 points. 

Rock The Test gives solutions to problem areas and is packed with verbal and math examples as well as reading and writing practices. It is also the only solutions manual on the market that provides the solutions for all 8 official practice tests from The College Board's Official SAT Study Guide which Rock The Test is an ideal companion.

Available March 1, 2009 just in time for SAT's, Rock The Test is will be available by emailing or visiting the Rock The Test website.

NY Governor Announces Plan for Homeless Youth Education and Relief

New York State Governor David A. Paterson and the New York State Education Department announced today that 28 school districts are being awarded a total of $6.1 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to support eligible activities under the federal McKinney-Vento Education of Homeless Children and Youth Act.

Governor Paterson said, "Homeless children face many barriers to success. By helping them, we increase their chances for success in education and in life. By increasing their opportunities to become productive citizens, we invest in a stronger future for New York. I thank the Obama Administration and the New York Congressional delegation for ensuring that New York has funding for these important projects."

Recipients may use McKinney-Vento AARA funds to improve the identification of homeless children and youth and to assist them in enrolling, attending and succeeding in school.  Some examples of how the funding may be used include:

  • Educational services (including tutoring),
  • Expedited evaluations,
  • Awareness training,
  • Health services,
  • Excess cost of transportation,
  • Early childhood programs,
  • Record keeping,
  • Parent programs,
  • Coordinating services,
  • Violence prevention, and
  • Providing supplies, services and learning environments at shelters and other temporary housing facilities.

Based on the numbers of homeless students reported to the Education Department, the New York City Department of Education will receive $4.9 million, with the remaining $1.2 being allocated to districts throughout the state, including Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Yonkers, Albany, Hempstead, Wyandanch, Kingston, and others.  A complete list of districts receiving funds is available at:

Princeton Review Launches SAT Parent Challenge

NEW YORK, Aug 10, 2009 /PRNewswire-FirstCall via COMTEX News Network/ -- To help parents of college-bound students better understand the challenges of the high-stakes SAT college entrance exam, The Princeton Review, Inc. (Nasdaq: REVU), announced today the official launch of its SAT Parent Challenge.

Providing a small sample of the kind of questions students will encounter when taking the SAT, the 12-question online quiz is intended to not only give parents the opportunity to test their academic acumen, but experience -- if only for 15 minutes -- some of the challenges their kids will face when they take the actual, nearly four-hour SAT exam.

Available at, the SAT Parent Challenge features questions from each of the three sections of the exam: Critical Reading, Math, and Essay Writing. After completing the quiz, parents will receive their results from The Princeton Review, as well as examples of techniques that may have helped them correctly answer specific questions.

"Not only is today's SAT much harder than it used to be, but many colleges and universities have increased their average score requirements for first-year students," says Robert Franek, Vice President/Publisher at The Princeton Review. "There's also a growing reliance on college entrance exams to determine eligibility for grants and scholarships due to the dramatic increase in requests for financial aid this year. Given all of this, there's no question that parents and students must take these tests seriously and really prepare for them."

Franek noted that according to The Princeton Review's 2009 "College Hopes and Worries Survey," when asked to gauge their stress level about the college application process, student respondents indicated higher levels than their parents. Additionally, stress levels were the highest since The Princeton Review began the survey in 2003.

"Much of this stress can be eliminated if you understand that it's not always about learning more -- or even remembering what you've learned -- but knowing how to approach a question on a standardized test. Bottom line: the right attitude and preparation for taking these tests can be an extremely important influence and play a key role in helping a student achieve the college test score they need and deserve."

As added incentive, parents who take the SAT Parent Challenge between July 3 and August 31, 2009 will be automatically entered into the Parent Challenge Sweepstakes, with three first place winners receiving a Princeton Review SAT Classroom Preparatory Course, valued at over $1,000.

About The Princeton Review

The Princeton Review (Nasdaq: REVU) has been a pioneer and leader in helping students achieve their higher education goals for more than 25 years through college and graduate school test preparation and private tutoring. With more than 165 print and digital publications and a free website,, the Company provides students and their parents with the resources to research, apply to, prepare for, and learn how to pay for higher education. The Princeton Review also partners with schools and guidance counselors throughout the U.S. to assist in college readiness, test preparation and career planning services, helping more students pursue postsecondary education.

College Board Brief Highlights Patterns in Student Debt

NEW YORK —Although student debt increased rapidly for students in some sectors of higher education during the last four years, the amount of debt accumulated by graduates of public and private four-year colleges grew relatively slowly from 2003-04 to 2007-08. Still, a growing minority graduate with excessive debt. This information and other insights are the focus of a policy brief released today by the College Board based on new data from the U.S. Department of Education’s National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS).

“How Much Are College Students Borrowing?” analyzes information in NPSAS, which reveals that among all students who completed a degree — associate, bachelor’s or a certificate — in the 2007-08 academic year, 41 percent graduated with no debt. Among all students, those completing any undergraduate degree with education debt increased from 54 percent in 2003-04 to 59 percent in 2007-08. The most rapid increases were within the for-profit sector and for all students earning certificates and two-year degrees.

College Board President Gaston Caperton said, “The analyses in ‘How Much Are College Students Borrowing?’ examine the borrowing decisions students and families are making. We are committed to working with our member colleges and universities and policymakers to create a financial aid system that will help a new generation of students, especially low- and middle-income students, pay for college without unmanageable debt.”

The median debt level of 2007-08 bachelor’s degree recipients at public four-year colleges was $17,700, a 4 percent ($710) increase in inflation-adjusted dollars over five years. The median debt level of 2007-08 bachelor’s degree recipients at private four-year institutions was $22,375, which is a 5 percent ($1,137) increase in inflation-adjusted dollars over five years.

“Many students borrow at some point in their college careers, but not every year,” said Sandy Baum, coauthor of the policy brief and senior policy analyst at the College Board. “Borrowing moderately is a responsible way to pay for college, but students should consider how much they can expect to earn when they graduate and whether they will be able to afford the required monthly payments.”

In 2007-08, 39 percent of all students and 54 percent of all full-time students took out an education loan.

Bachelor's degree recipients were more likely than other graduates to have relied on education loans. In 2007-08, 66 percent of bachelor’s degree recipients graduated with debt, including 62 percent who had federal loans and 33 percent who had borrowed from nonfederal sources. A much larger fraction of graduates of for-profit institutions relied on private loans.

Increases in Debt Largest Among Students in For-Profit Sector

Much of the growth in borrowing evident in 2007-08 occurred in the private nonfederal loan market. These loans are less desirable than federal loans, which have interest rates limited by law and provisions for economic hardship. Federal loans also are eligible for the new Income-Based Repayment plan. The IBR plan ensures that federal education debt payments never exceed 15 percent of the borrower’s discretionary income and that any remaining debt is forgiven after 25 years.

Patricia Steele, coauthor of the policy brief and an analyst at the College Board, said, “There is reason to be concerned about those who borrow far more than the average amount. Students who complete a degree with excessive debt face burdensome repayment obligations.”

About 10 percent of all bachelor’s degree recipients in 2007-08 borrowed $40,000 or more and the proportions were much higher at private and for-profit institutions.

Among students earning associate degrees, the share of students borrowing increased 8 percentage points in both the public two-year and for-profit sectors between 2003-04 and 2007-08. For students who completed a certificate, the percent who borrow increased from 18 to 30 percent in the public two-year sector, and from 85 to 90 percent in the for-profit sector.

In addition to reporting the average debt of undergraduate borrowers, the policy brief focuses on the distribution of debt levels among all — borrowing and nonborrowing — college graduates. It also examines annual borrowing patterns among college students.

“How Much Are College Students Borrowing?” is available online at

The College Board

The College Board is a not-for-profit membership association whose mission is to connect students to college success and opportunity. Founded in 1900, the College Board is composed of more than 5,600 schools, colleges, universities and other educational organizations. Each year, the College Board serves seven million students and their parents, 23,000 high schools, and 3,800 colleges through major programs and services in college readiness, college admissions, guidance, assessment, financial aid, enrollment, and teaching and learning. Among its best-known programs are the SAT®, the PSAT/NMSQT® and the Advanced Placement Program® (AP®). The College Board is committed to the principles of excellence and equity, and that commitment is embodied in all of its programs, services, activities and concerns. For further information, visit


Nancy Viggiano, The College Board, (212) 713-8052, 

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Ivy League Tutors

TTP's Opinion:
Pros: Personable Tutors
Cons: Out-dated strategies, Amateur

Our tutors are beyond qualified and go through an intense interview process to ensure that they are (1) experts in their respective subjects, and (2) are able to present and convey complicated information in a clear fashion. Most importantly, however, our tutors connect with children on a level that older adults and parents are not always able to access. Most of our September-June tutors are enrolled in Columbia University as students. In Summer, these tutors are often replaced by other Ivy League students who come home for the Summer break. High School students who are college bound profit from the college experiences their tutors are able to share with them.

Academic Advantage

TTP's Opinion:
Pros: Real Test Taking Scenarios
Cons: Overpriced, Out-dated Strategies

The Academic Advantage was created with one simple objective: To offer highly effective one-on-one instruction in the convenience of your own home, focusing on academic improvement and building confidence. We offer a powerful tutoring program comprised of highly educated instructors who cultivate academic minds through the power of one-on-one interaction with the students. With this in mind, The Academic Advantage has become one of the nation’s most respected in-home tutoring program.

Princeton Review

TTP's Opinion:
Pros: Great Reputation, Reliable, Great Lesson Plan
Cons: Bureaucratic Structure, Impersonable

The Princeton Review helps students, parents, and educators achieve the best results at every stage of their educational careers. By focusing on preparation and practice, we help students improve their performance in the classroom and on standardized tests. Through our website, we help parents, teachers, students and schools navigate the complexities of school admissions.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Parliament Tutors

BTP's Opinion:

Pros: Best Value, Great Diagnostic Exams, Distinguished Tutors

Parliament Tutors is committed to helping students meet their academic and career goals. We offer first-rate academic enrichment at the start of any student’s education and we stay with our students until the very end of their academic careers, tutoring in all subjects from kindergarten through the MCAT.

Each lesson with Parliament Tutors draws upon an individualized lesson plan, geared to meet the particular needs of each student. Parliament Tutors sharpens students’ learning skills and teaches them how to solve new problems independently, leaving students with the abilities and the confidence they need to succeed.

Parliament Tutors selects only the most passionate, well-trained and distinguished tutors. They use approaches that make sense and teach strategies that work. They take advantage of every minute and never stop listening, learning and improving.


TTP's Opinion:
Pros: Experienced, Great Lesson Plan
Cons: Expensive, cookie-cut strategies

With 70 years of experience, Kaplan is the world leader in test prep and has helped more than 3 million students prepare to take the tests necessary to achieve their education and career goals.

Kaplan offers complete preparation for entrance exams for secondary school, college, graduate school as well as English language and professional licensing exams.

Kaplan also provides private tutoring and admissions consulting services, as well as K-12 programs for school districts.

Finding the Best Test Prep Company

The SAT and ACT, complimented by SAT II Subject Tests and Advanced Placement (AP) Exams, may be the most important components in the college application process.

Learning on your own and giving yourself assignments is sometimes the most effective preparation method.

However, qualified tutors, capable of identifying students’ strengths and weaknesses, and building lessons accordingly, can greatly improve one's score.

This blog is dedicated to identifying the best (and the worst) tutoring and test prep companies in New York City.