Test Prep

The SHSAT, ISEE, SSAT, Hunter and Twain Exams

We have a long and remarkable track record of helping students earn entrance to the very best private schools in NYC, their first choice Specialized High School, Hunter Early High School and to Mark Twain School.

How? Through our dedication to teaching.

The SHSAT, ISEE, SSAT, Hunter and Twain Tests are straight-forward exams which can be mastered through careful study and practice.

We begin with a diagnostic exam, and then design a curriculum which focusses on which of the skills we need to teach for each of our students. We then work together to model the problem-solving process, practice the problem-solving process together, and leave our students with work to do on their own to master the processes independently.

The tests each cover math, reading comprehension, essay-writing and logical thinking skills that are all easy enough to learn with clear instruction, careful study and practice with the wording of the tests.

For some students, that is enough. However, often it takes more than that to succeed — that’s where the fact that we hire the best teachers in the city comes in. What differentiates a great teacher from the rest is the ability to listen to and observe their students, to thus understand their students and then respond appropriately.

What this means truly differs from student to student. For example, one  of our students had never seen more than half of the math on the test before. Accordingly, she was in the bottom 50% of test-takers only 12 weeks before the test.  How on earth would she learn so much material in such a short time? After a few sessions, it was clear to our tutor that she was a dedicated and ambitious student who learned quickly if everything was presented in an organized fashion. By focussing purely on the math-skills necessary and providing her with the math lessons structured in the right order, she took off like a rocket ship. By the time of the test, she had mastered the material, and earned entrance to Bronx Science, her first choice school.

Yet take another of our students, who was vastly different. He was also scoring in the bottom 50% of students when he took his diagnostic test. After discussion and observation; however, our tutor realized that he was in a very different situation. He already knew ALL of the math skills that were on the test. In fact, he was a super-star in his school math class. His difficulty lay in the emotional difficulty of multi-step problem solving. Because the SHSAT math was laid out differently than his school math, he was struggling with recognizing how to apply his skills. More than that, much more important than that, he was becoming emotionally frustrated at the challenge to his identity as a math-whiz. He was staring at problems he knew he knew how to do, and then leaving them unsolved when the answers weren’t immediately apparent. Our tutor recognized that his journey would involve careful and persistent support to help him through the emotional frustration of recognizing he was going to have to learn the SHSAT math problem language, and most important, learning NOT to give up when this provided initial frustration. After 3 months of encouragement, he broke through. When the SHSAT came, he scored in the very top percentile and earned entrance to his top choice shoool. And in our view, perhaps more important, he learned the skills necessary to carry on in the face of difficulty. Hopefully, this double victory will lead to many more!

Every student has the potential to succeed, if they are carefully listened to and given the guidance they need. We work with students to make sure that test prep is thorough but not stressful, to help them feel prepared and make the most of NYC’s incredible educational opportunities.

We have experience teaching each of these tests. Our tutors have gone to Hunter, Stuyvesant, and Brooklyn Tech, then gone on to graduate from Harvard, Dartmouth, Columbia and other top schools. So have our students. But more important than that, we are dedicated to understanding our students and their journey to success.

We know the exams and the steps to success inside and out, and it’s truly a pleasure to teach this foundational academic material and test-taking strategies to our middle school students. We help them become confident thorough learners who are prepared for their entrance tests and their exciting high school years ahead.