Each case study is based on real students who studied with PrepScholar SAT Prep. Names have been changed to protect student privacy.

High school senior John Myers is having trouble with the SAT. He’s a B student in school and can keep up with his classmates, but he’s just not doing very well on the SAT. Right now he’s scoring about a 800, which is well below the national average. He needs to apply to state schools in two months, but the minimum score that these colleges want is a 1000.

And his low scores aren’t from lack of trying. John has tried studying from books, but he’s just not motivated enough and doesn’t know how to use them effectively. He’s worked with a local tutor, but the tutor finds it hard to teach someone at a lower level because the tutor’s only taught high performing students. John has had mild learning disabilities throughout his life, but he just needs the right approach to get better at the SAT. His parents know this because he’s been able to learn other things just fine.

John and his parents look online for a solution. They find PrepScholar’s Complete Plus Tutoring package, and after reading more about it, they’re convinced that John can get the training he needs at his level with PrepScholar. That’s because they read about PrepScholar’s customization technology that adapts the difficulty of the prep material to the student’s skill level. Furthermore, PrepScholar’s tutors are experienced at working with low-scoring students and achieving great results.

The first thing John does is meet with his personal tutor, Catherine. Catherine scored a perfect score on the SAT, but she knows how to teach to low scoring students. That’s because she spent two years at Teach for America teaching at an inner-city, low income neighborhood in Chicago. She knows the unique problems that intelligent but lower performing students like John struggle with, and the strategies to overcome them for the SAT.

John and Catherine work together to create a clear study plan over the next two months: the amount of time John should study and the assignments John needs to work on. She studies the score report John received for his last SAT and points out the pattern of mistakes that John is making that’s costing him 100 points. She teaches John strategies for students at his level to gain points immediately, because he’s been approaching the test incorrectly for months. 

One example John particularly likes is the concept of skipping questions – he never realized that to score a 1000, he only needs to get about half of all the questions correct. He’s been wasting too much time working on the hardest questions, when he only needs to concentrate on the easy and medium questions. John learns in detail which questions he should be skipping, and he feels great after this first session, confident that he’ll be able to meet his SAT target score.

Tutoring Customized to You

Our tutoring is so effective because we carefully customize the teaching to the student. The average tutor simply spends most of the tutoring session walking through questions with the student without really understanding how the student approaches questions and what mistakes they’re making.

In contrast, PrepScholar tutors are all trained and experts at understanding the students’ thought process. In turn, our tutors are able to suggest custom strategies to overcome student mistakes. PrepScholar tutors are uniquely able to do this because of two factors: 1) they’re the top scoring SAT students in the country, 2) they’re hired only if they have years of teaching experience, and they undergo extensive training before they interact with any students.

As directed by Catherine, John begins working on the online prep component of his program. In the past, he’s used books that are way too difficult for him, so he’s a little worried about how this will work. But he’s instantly relieved to see how PrepScholar customizes the lessons and practice problems to John’s level. After John takes a diagnostic, the PrepScholar program instantly runs thousands of calculations to figure out John’s ability in each of 30 SAT skills. It notices that John is at the basic core level for most skills, but has special strengths in writing. As a result, John receives a customized study program that lets him focus on his weaknesses to make the biggest score improvements.

John notices that every component of his prep experience is customized. Each of the lessons focuses on a specific SAT skill, and John reads strategies and learns content at a basic level to build his foundation. He works on questions that are easy enough for him to answer, but hard enough that it’s always pushing his limit of understanding. John’s relieved that he’s not getting frustrated about questions that go way over his head, a problem that his previous tutor repeated. As John learns foundational knowledge and practices the basic skills, he gets more and more confident that he can master each of these skills.

Customized Studying

At PrepScholar, we believe that education should be customized to every student based on his or her unique strengths and weaknesses. Studying in any other way is inefficient and wastes precious time. We’ve created our program so that it customizes the student’s assignments to their strengths and weaknesses. 

Furthermore, every student makes different progress on different skills. Some students may learn math more easily than writing, for example. PrepScholar adapts to each student’s progress and gives them different assignments depending on how well they’re learning. No student has the same learning program on PrepScholar, and that’s a great thing – everyone’s always working in the way that will get them the greatest score improvements.

After John spends a week working on the online prep program, he has another tutoring session with Catherine. Throughout the week, Catherine has been tracking John’s progress and noticing the types of errors that John tends to make. Catherine does this free of charge, included in the Complete Plus Tutoring package. In the tutoring session, Catherine asks John to work through a few sample questions while speaking out loud. Catherine carefully analyzes John’s thinking process and notices patterns to his mistakes. For example, John is having trouble understanding what math questions are asking him to solve, even though he understands the mathematical concepts that he needs. Catherine develops a custom strategy for John to break apart every SAT math question, identify what the question is asking for, and outline the steps needed to get to the right answer. John practices the strategy and aces the next five math questions. He’s thrilled that he can finally apply the math concepts that he’s tried so hard to learn.

Over the next two months, John continues working with both the online prep program and his dedicated tutor Catherine. Because PrepScholar adapts to the student’s progress, John sees his assignments getting harder and harder, and the questions continue to challenge him to get better and better. He keeps learning more advanced strategies, and through practice tests gets more familiar with the SAT.


John takes the SAT and scores a 1120, over 300 points higher than his last SAT. This far exceeded his family’s expectations for what he was able to do. John realizes that he was studying the completely wrong way before, and PrepScholar showed him how to apply strategies that were appropriate for his level. With this high score, John is now able to apply to colleges he never thought he had a chance of getting into, and is confident about his future.