My services stand out in three areas:
Quality: I am committed to helping my clients achieve their best scores on exams. To use ACT prep as a representative example, most of my students improve their Composite score by 3-5 points; this improvement is more than the usual one-point increase from retaking the exam. I am proud to offer references from clients who are glad to discuss how I helped them or their children (click here for testimonials).
Curriculum: I use the most relevant materials to ensure the best possible results. Most prep-companies use proprietary materials meant to supplement or replace those materials put out by the test-makers themselves (ACT, Inc.; College Board, etc). Such materials are another revenue stream for companies in addition to the cost of the test-prep itself. Because these proprietary items are not from the test-makers, students may encounter question types that are not in the actual exam. As a result, the student not only wastes time preparing for questions that don’t exist, but is unprepared for those questions that do. In my tutoring sessions, I only use materials put out by the institutions that make and administer the tests.
Cost-Effectiveness: Because I run my own business and have minimal overhead, I offer high-quality tutoring at lower rates than major tutoring companies. I do not require contracts or a mandatory minimum of hours to work with me. Also, my business is based on traveling to clients at/near where they live, eliminating long commute times to test-prep centers and making sessions fit into busy schedules.
I specialize in tutoring for:
- ACT Exam (All 4 Sections + Writing)
- SAT Exam (Critical Reading, Writing, and Math)
- GRE Exam (General and Psychology)
- Study Skills/Academic Preparation
- Test-Taking Anxiety
- Learning Approaches for Students With IEPs/504 Plans
In addition to private lessons, I offer small-group or classroom instruction, as well as online tutoring:
- Small-Group Prep: Students form their own groups and meet with me at a convenient location. In most cases, these lessons involve groups of friends or colleagues who have similar tutoring needs, and do not require as much one-on-one assistance.
- Classroom Instruction: As an insured, Illinois-based LLC, Byer Educational Consulting offers on-campus test-prep for up to 20 students per class. For more information, please contact me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Online Tutoring: Students would connect with me online via Skype or Google Hangouts for lessons.
A standard tutoring session for ACT / SAT/ GRE prep lasts for two hours, and takes place once a week either at the student’s home or another convenient location. Before the first lesson, I consult with each student/parent to understand their particular needs, and assign a practice test for the student to complete. This test serves as a baseline score and also allows me to get a sense of where someone is strong and where he/she has greater areas of opportunity.
In addition to weekly lessons, I may assign about 1-2hrs of homework to be completed before the next lesson. This homework allows students to practice the material that we’ve covered, and is meant to help them prepare without overly infringing on schoolwork, sports, family time, or other activities.
Academic tutoring is structured on a case-by-case basis due to the individualized nature of each student’s needs.
I primarily use materials put out by the testing companies themselves. These include free materials from each testing company as well as prep books that can be found at any bookstore or online:
- ACT – “The Real ACT Prep Guide”
- SAT – “The Official SAT Study Guide, 2016 Edition”
- GRE – “Practicing to Take the GRE General Test”
Before my first lesson with students, I ask them to purchase the relevant materials and to both complete and score a practice test. This allows us to see where we need to devote more time during our tutoring sessions.
My tutoring rates vary based on a number of factors such as the number of hours needed for preparation, method of payment (e.g. lump-sum payment vs. pay-as-you-go), and individual vs. small-group sessions. I will offer a specific rate after discussing these in a phone consultation.
Tutoring companies in the Chicago area charge upwards of $240/hr for one-on-one tutoring in your home; my rate for the same services is well below that.
Tutoring sessions are paid in advance either per-session (“pay-as-you-go”) or through the purchase of a block of sessions. Discounts are available for small-group tutoring (2+ students) or for classroom settings.
As standard procedure, clients will pay for sessions with a credit card through Square – a common credit-card payment system. They will put their card info on file when they pay for their first session, and the card will be run each week a session is scheduled.
Yes! This is especially the case for students who are already scoring relatively well on a test, but want to boost their score even more. For instance, a student with an ACT composite score of 28 who wants to score over a 30. The focus is less on the material content of the exam, and more on test-taking approaches. Because we’re not learning as much content, the student and I don’t need as much time together.
As an example, one of my students (Pamela’s son, from my Testimonials Page) had a five-point improvement in his ACT composite score after only five sessions.
As of January 2018, I have these approximate geographic boundaries within the Chicagoland area:
- North: Highland Park
- South: Downtown Chicago – Loop/Gold Coast/Streeterville
- East: Lake Michigan
- West: Des Plaines/Niles Area
I am able to work with individual students outside of these areas if they meet me halfway at a library or bookstore.
In the case of small-group or classroom sessions, I am more available to travel beyond these boundaries.
The short answer: I don’t.
The longer answer: A score guarantee is a marketing claim offered by some prep-companies that ostensibly will give you free tutoring time or your money back if you don’t get the results you expected or if you don’t get a score increase.
To qualify for a refund, you have to be on record as having completed all practice tests, all homework, and all classroom work, and demonstrate a lack of improvement on a test compared to the first time you took it. To use the GRE as an example, you would have to spend $320 (two $160 testing fees, not including subject testing fees) in order to get your money back from the prep-company.
These guarantees have other onerous requirements: Failing to complete one homework assignment may disqualify you from getting a refund. Further, companies may require you to complete the entire prep-course to get a refund, even if you’ve decided early on that the course isn’t right for you. Even with getting your money back, that’s a tremendous investment in time.
Because of how my lessons are structured, my students will take at least two full versions of ACT / SAT / GRE practice tests before taking the actual test. We will also complete practice work during a session to see if the student is scoring better than their baseline score. These ensure that students show definite signs of improvement, or indicate where there are still challenges to work on. Additionally, unlike many companies, I offer clients the opportunity for “pay-as-you-go” if they don’t want to financially commit to a block of lessons. On a case-by-case basis, I will also give clients extra time so that they feel prepared to take a test.