Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

FAQs

General

Do you work with kids with cognitive disabilities/learning differences?

Absolutely! We have tutors who specialize in working with kids with cognitive disabilities/learning differences.

Which standardized tests can you help me master?

We tutor for the ISEE, HSPT, PSAT, SAT, ACT, GRE, TOEFL, SAT Subject Tests, and AP exams.

Do you handle graduate school entrance exams?

Yes! We have test prep tutors that handle graduate exams, as well.

I’m new to tutoring. How does it work?

We offer one-on-one, standardized test preparation and tutoring in virtually every academic subject. We match each student with a tutor based on his/her needs, personality and learning type. Sessions are typically 2 hours in length and our tutors come to your home or wherever is most convenient. After each session, the tutor sends the student and parents an emailed summary of the session, progress, recommendations and homework assignments (if necessary).

What if I’m located out-of-state but still want to work with you?

Not a problem! We work with a large number of students remotely, so our tutors/counselors are well prepared to host sessions over Skype, Google Hangouts, etc.

Where do the tutoring/counseling sessions take place?

Our tutors and counselors come to you. The sessions can be held in your home, at a coffee shop, or wherever you deem most convenient.

Where are you located?

We offer in-home tutoring and counseling for families in the greater Los Angeles and Orange County areas. Of course, if you’d rather meet at a library or coffee shop, that’s perfectly fine, too! We also offer remote services for students who live elsewhere or simply prefer the convenience.

How do I pay for services? Do you offer payment plans?

Credit card payments can be made on our website or over the phone, and checks may be mailed to our administrative office. All payments must be received before sessions can be scheduled. We do not offer payment plans at this time, but families who need the flexibility may purchase individual hours on a “pay-as-you-go” basis.

What are your rates?

Rates vary based on the type of service. We offer consultations, packages of hours, and individual hours for all our tutoring and counseling services.  For an overview of rates, please visit our Pricing page or call us at (888) 917-7737.

What if I have to cancel my session?

Cancellations must be made in writing, via text or email. The policies are as follows:
Tutors: 50% of billable amount for same-day cancellations and 100% for less than 2 hours’ notice
Counselors: 50% of billable amount for less than 24 hours’ notice and 100% for less than 2 hours’ notice
Founder: 50% of billable amount for less than 36 hours’ notice and 100% for same-day cancellations

If a tutor ever cancels on a student within the aforementioned parameters, the student receives one future cancellation free of penalty.

Test Prep

What are your tutors’ qualifications/training?

We only hire a mere 1-2% of our applicants — our staff is made up of the most experienced, educated, friendly, and charismatic education experts out there. Every tutor holds a Bachelor’s degree, and many have a Master’s or higher! Our tutors go through a rigorous, month-long training with the founder and owner of the company to ensure that they are prepared to help our students achieve their goals.

What are proctored exams?

Proctored exams are mock exams that are given in order to track progress and assess a student’s test-taking ability. Proctored exams serve as a good indicator of where strengths and weaknesses lie in terms of material comprehension and test-taking strategy; proctors also take notes on a student’s pacing/focus and send them to the tutor. We use proctored exams to tailor our sessions with every student to make sure we are covering areas of the exam that they are having difficulty with.

How do I sign up for proctored exams?

Proctored exams are offered to students currently working with a Great Expectations tutor. We offer a proctored exam with the purchase of a test prep diagnostic or a package of hours. Additional proctored exams can be purchased online. For current exam schedule and to reserve your seat, please email us at orders@gecollegeprep.com or call (888) 917-7737.

How many sessions will I need, and how often should I meet with a tutor?

The answer to this, of course, depends entirely on what you hope to accomplish. Some students only want a few sessions to review the broad strokes of the SAT/ACT, while others set weekly or bi-weekly sessions that span several months to cover specific problem types and increase their scores as much as possible. Still others are looking for assistance preparing for Subject Tests and AP exams, as well. Based on the number of exams you are preparing for and the score improvement you are seeking, we will sit down and come up with a plan that fits your goals.

In an ideal world, you will be able to start with our Test Prep Diagnostic, which allows you to take one of our proctored exams and then meet with a tutor for two hours to break down the results. Beyond simply going over wrong answers, the tutor will help determine whether the majority of your errors were caused by lack of comprehension of the material (are you missing key grammatical or mathematical concepts?), lack of test-taking strategy (are you unaware of when to guess vs. skip, read vs. skim, assume vs. confirm?), poor pacing (do you run out of time and not finish sections?), anxiety (is the stress just too much?), or just silly mistakes (2+3=6). It gives you a better sense of how much help is needed and in what areas, and therefore how best to move forward. (NOTE: If you would prefer to meet with a tutor in the Founder’s Circle, which includes Great Expectations College Prep’s founder and curriculum creators — all of whom have 15+ years of tutoring experience and among the best track records in the industry — you can purchase a Founder’s Circle Test Prep Diagnostic, instead.)

When should I start test prep?

Many students begin preparing for the SAT/ACT as early as the summer before their junior year, while others put it off until fall of their senior year. Whether you fall in the first or last group (or somewhere in between), the important thing is that you wait until you have taken the necessary high school courses (particularly math) and still leave yourself enough time to take the exam more than once.

From our experience, for the average high school student, the optimal time for standardized testing is spring of junior year; you’ve likely learned everything you need to know by that point, and you don’t have to juggle college essays and applications, as you would in the fall of senior year.

Which test should I take — the SAT or ACT?

Both tests are accepted by all universities and respected equally. With the redesigned SAT on the market, the ACT is the only well-known entity for Admissions Officers. In the past, the SAT was a better exam for students who struggled with pacing but excelled at thinking outside the box. The new version, however, is eerily reminiscent of the ACT’s format and question type — the most noticeable difference is that the new SAT’s Math section is far more challenging and tests students on higher level math. Since the ACT is a proven, trusted exam and the redesigned SAT is a tougher newcomer with a greater margin of uncertainty, it seems wise for most students to focus on the ACT.

It’s worth pointing out that, historically, College Board has been more liberal with accommodations, so if you are seeking extended time, you are perhaps more likely to have it granted for the SAT. For more information, please visit our Extended Time page.

We will work together to determine which exam is best for your particular skill set. Do you excel at thinking outside the box? Are time limitations a problem for you? For those students who don’t know which exam they want to pursue, we offer a group program that is an efficient, cost-effective way to truly determine which test is the best fit. We encourage you to visit our High School Group Programs page to learn more about what the program offers, how it works, etc.

How can I get extended time?

The biggest mistake people make in seeking extended time for learning differences is waiting until the last minute to do so.  Not only can the process be a lengthy one, but the testing agencies often require months/years of documentation of a student’s disabilities and challenges, so get organized as early as possible.  You’ll need documentation of diagnoses, recommended treatments, and progress from a medical professional, as well as proof that the student has been given special accommodations by his/her high school.

The #1 challenge the ACT presents test-takers with is the requirement to move quickly and efficiently through the sections. Therefore, they are far more hesitant to approve these requests, as they feel it gives students a disproportionate advantage.  Of course, if you approach them with the proper documentation, your request should be granted.  If not, there is always the possibility for an appeal. College Board, which administers the SAT, is notoriously more generous about approving extended time requests.

Our tutors will help you approach standardized testing differently once you are approved for extended time; strategies and pacing rules change significantly (for the better!) once extra time is in play.  Test preparation certainly shouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all service, and we will arm you with the necessary tools to maximize the additional time you are allowed.

For more information on what is needed to substantiate learning disabilities for College Board (PSAT, SAT, Subject Tests, AP exams, etc), visit the SAT ACCOMMODATIONS PAGE.

For more information on what is needed to substantiate learning disabilities for the ACT, visit the ACT ACCOMMODATIONS PAGE.

What is the average score improvement for the ACT or SAT?

While all students start from different points, the average SAT score increase for our students in the Class of 2018 was 230 points, and for the ACT, 5 points.

How do you initially assess a student’s strengths and weaknesses?

We encourage new students to take a Test Prep Diagnostic, which consists of 1 proctored exam and a two-hour review session with a tutor to break down the results. Beyond simply going over wrong answers, the tutor will help determine whether the majority of errors were caused by lack of comprehension of the material, lack of test-taking strategy, poor pacing, anxiety, and/or just silly mistakes. Additionally, once we know how well a student is scoring to start and how well he/she WANTS to score, it gives us a better sense of how much help is needed and in what areas, and therefore how best to move forward.

Counseling

What are your counselors’ qualifications/training?

Our counselors are made up of the most experienced, educated, friendly and charismatic college admissions experts out there. Not only do our counselors have a background in counseling (whether they worked as high school counselors, have Master’s degrees in college counseling, and/or even worked in college admissions offices), but they undergo an intense training conducted by our founder to ensure that they are ready to help students produce the best college applications.

How many sessions will I need?

The answer to this, of course, depends entirely on what you hope to accomplish and in which area you are seeking guidance. Do you simply want help polishing essays, or are you looking for guidance in selecting schools, navigating various requirements and deadlines, prepping for interviews, et cetera? Note that some colleges require NO essays, whereas other schools require more than ten — so, simply put, the biggest variable in this equation is WHICH SCHOOLS you are applying to. Once that is determined and you have a sense of what parts of the process you feel in control of and which you don’t, we can help you come up with a game plan to tackle the massive to-do list in the most organized way possible.

My high school already has a college counselor, an essay bootcamp, and/or other college informational activities. Won’t I get most of my questions answered at school?

Your school counselor and school activities are a great place to start, but you have to share your counselor’s time, or share the floor at college information nights, with dozens (if not hundreds) of other students. We have much more time to focus on YOU! We can be as involved as you’d like — reading every essay, reviewing every application, confirming colleges’ receipt of every official document you’ve sent, etc.

How many schools should I apply to?

The answer to this question is a little different for each student, but we generally recommend using the 1-2-1 approach — in other words, applying to roughly 1 safety, 2 targets, and 1 reach for every 4 schools you apply to.

We can help you identify which schools fit into these categories, given your specific experiences and academic credentials, and we can help make sure that you are applying to enough schools that you will have a variety of choices, but not so many that you will have to sacrifice the quality of your work on the applications that you should be prioritizing.

In our experience, 8-12 schools in total is ideal, as it gives you quite a few options but still allows you to put a lot of effort into each application. There are, of course, students who apply to far more or far fewer schools than that — it’s entirely up to you to determine how much time and energy you’re willing to put into the process.

I think I may want to take a gap year. Should I still apply to colleges this year?

While a gap year (a year break) may be a wise option for some — whether for personal reasons or simply to make extra time to take courses to strengthen an academic profile — we encourage students to apply directly to colleges, regardless. You can always go through the application process and then decide to take a gap year, as you may miss a lot of opportunities you didn’t know existed if you jump straight into a gap year without considering the collegiate alternatives. There are a lot of wonderful college options out there, and we are here to help you every step of the way.

Is community college the best route for me to get into a UC school?

The most simple, honest answer is “perhaps.” There are a lot of pros and cons to consider both routes (direct and indirect), and we will help you evaluate all options and devise a thoughtful short-term and long-term game plan to help you reach your ultimate goal.

I’m a senior and it’s Thanksgiving. Is it too late to start?

No. Our college counselors are trained to work with students at any stage of the application process, including on a deadline. However, the later you start, the less extensive aid we’ll be able to provide, so it’s to everyone’s benefit to get started earlier if possible.

I’m a good writer. Why do I need help with my application essays?

Ask any professional writer out there if he or she has published a work without an additional pair of eyes — or ten! A good writer knows that a great piece of writing comes from honing and editing initial drafts with a fresh perspective, which is nearly impossible to achieve on your own when you’re writing autobiographically.

Additionally, just because you’re a good writer doesn’t mean that you necessarily know what college admissions officers are looking for. A personal statement should be an unusual combination of short story and academic essay — a hybrid most students have little experience with. We are also familiar with what topics are overdone and cliched, as well as which ones should never be written in the first place.

Our College Counselors are trained to make students’ essays the most polished, honest, unique, and interesting essays that each student is capable of. We work to identify exactly what the student is trying to say and then ensure that the essay conveys that message. An outstanding essay is concise, specific, thoughtful, compelling, and unique — and that’s not even considering grammar and structure! Writers of all backgrounds will receive expert guidance and feedback, and find their essays improved without sacrificing their voice or intent.

I have no idea what to write my essays about. There’s nothing unique about me.

There is something unique about everyone! Our College Counselors will help you unlock your powerful story and help you showcase your talents and special qualities to admissions officers. You don’t have to cure cancer to catch a college’s attention…you need to know who you are, who you want to be, and show a commitment to becoming the best version of yourself.

How will my counselor know who I am or what I want out of college?

First, we ask every new family to fill out a brief survey about the student’s personality, interests, goals, et cetera and try to pair students with counselors who will be the best fit.

Second, our College Counselors have been selected and trained specifically to work with students moving into higher education; we are trained to not only help you apply to schools, but also to help you find those schools in the first place! We listen to you to discover your interests, curiosities, and preferences so that the colleges you apply to are great fits — not just a slapped together list of recognizable schools. There are over 2800 four-year colleges in the United States alone, so it actually makes our job a lot easier if we get to know you!

Our College Counselors hail from all areas of the country and have in-depth knowledge of the college landscape, both in the U.S. and internationally. Whether it’s a school in the UC system or a small college in Iowa, we will provide you with valuable insights and guidance throughout your college selection process, helping you differentiate between what you truly want (or don’t want) and what is simply the fear of the unknown.

What sort of help will I need during the college application process?

Simply figuring out where to apply can be an overwhelming venture. After helping you settle on a list of schools and discussing the merits of early vs. regular decision, we will start outlining/writing essays and creating timelines/deadlines to keep you on track throughout the process.

When should I start college planning?

It depends on how much personalized guidance you are getting at your school. A lot of families start meeting with us as early as eighth grade and set a session every six months or so, just to discuss class options, extracurricular opportunities, et cetera.

Do you know which classes most college programs require? Are you familiar with the testing and academic course requirements at your dream schools? Do you know which colleges require (or strongly recommend) Subject Tests? Are you visiting enough colleges campuses to explore your options and determine what you really want?

If not, it would be wise to set an initial meeting as early as possible…it’s never too soon to understand what path you need to be on to achieve your goals. However, if you feel your school counselor is answering your questions, you can wait until the summer before senior year, at which point we can help you start digging into essays and applications.

What can your college counselors help with?

Our counselors can help with as much of the college application process as you’d like!  Families can choose to work with a counselor on only one aspect of the process or from start to finish. We can help with creating college lists, major selection, application completion, essay assistance, personal statements, deadline management and more! 

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