SAT Tutoring

Fees: $200/hour.

Location: 4626 River Rd.
Bethesda, MD 20816.


In home tutoring is available for an additional fee.


For more information or to schedule a free initial consultation, please call (301) 320-3634.

SAT Tutoring FAQs

Additional Information for Education Professionals



SAT Tutoring

The SAT is a reasoning test. It tests students' core abilities, including logic, visual/spatial reasoning, and language analysis. To succeed, students must apply basic knowledge creatively and effectively. This differentiates it from tests that focus on student's ability to recall information or apply formulas, such as many tests found in schools.

Developing these core reasoning skills is the most worthwhile goal of any education. It is also the most difficult. It involves developing abilities that some consider to be innate and unalterable, and that others believe develop over several years. These are the abilities that make some students "naturally" good at math, reading, and/or writing. For the mind to develop these skills in infinitely more difficult than for it to learn new information. Most people can learn a new fact or formula in a few seconds. Improving logical reasoning skills, on the other hand, can take from months to years.

Because it focuses so heavily on fundamental cognitive abilities, AVE's SAT tutoring program is its most intensive, and arguably its most valuable, educational service. Developing these skills requires time, dedication, and intensity. To put it into perspective, complete SAT tutoring generally takes between three to five times as long as a full one-on-one course in differential and integral calculus (AP BC syllabus).

There are ways to circumvent the process of developing core skills by teaching students to use methods such as "plug-in", "backsolve", and the process of elimination. While such methods can at times help a student gain points in certain situations, their overuse shortchanges the student in two ways. First, focusing exclusively on such methods removes an opportunity for the student to develop the core reasoning skills that will serve him for life. Secondly, using these methods as the foundation of the process limits the maximum score improvement. If these shortcuts form the foundation of the student's approach, his score can not be increased further without working on his core abilities. Because methods exclusively based on shortcuts often weaken these core abilities, a student is no further along than he was before the process began.

Because of the educational standards that AVE maintains, most of its students figure out these shortcuts on their own. If the necessary logical skills are in place, the shortcuts are obvious. Subtleties, specific applications, and limitations are discussed. However, at no point do they form the foundation of the process, or detract in any way from the focus on cognitive abilities.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are diagnostic tests given as part of the process?
The primary method of determining a student's current level is direct observation of a student's problem solving methods. This method allows deeper insight into the student's cognitive strengths and weaknesses, and provides the information necessary to tailor an appropriate strategy. Sample SAT tests are used as backup diagnostics, to catch anything that may have been missed during direct observation.

What teaching materials are used?
Text vary based on the student, and may be selected from a wide variety of SAT preparation books and related materials designed by AVE and others. Advanced students often use training materials designed for the LSAT, GRE, or GMAT. When needed, additional materials are developed for the student.

How early should SAT tutoring begin?
This depends largely on a student's starting level; a larger gap between the starting and desired levels necessitates more time for preparation. In most situation, a few months are necessary, but this can vary dramatically. It is not necessary (or even preferable) to schedule tutoring to stop right before the actual test. AVE's methods target fundamental cognitive skills, and lead to long-term and pervasive changes. Thus, they are not easily forgotten, and it is advisable to allow some extra time for complete integration of new methods.

Do students learn basic facts and formulas as part of the process?
Students learn fundamental facts and formulas as part of the process. This part of the process is vital; without basic facts, no level of cognitive ability will be sufficient.

Do students learn vocabulary?
The tutoring process incorporates Vocabulary Synapse, the text developed by AVE specifically for SAT and GRE preparation.

Can SAT tutoring be done in a shorter time frame?
Any amount of time can be used to develop students' abilities and scores. Students often see results after one or two sessions. However, the full realization of a students potential takes time.

Will students learn test-taking strategies?
Students will learn test-taking strategies. However, this process is much simpler than the development of fundamental problem solving and reasoning skills. Thus, although test-taking strategies are thoroughly covered, they are not the primary focus of the process.

My child really struggles with standardized tests. Will tutoring help?
Several issues can cause a student to struggle with standardized tests. Insufficient familiarity with the information, inefficient cognitive methods, and anxiety are some of the more common causes. In most situations, AVE's SAT tutoring methods are appropriate.


Additional Information for Education Professionals

Because SAT tutoring works with so many different aspects of learning and cognitive development, a comprehensive description of methods is not practical. Instead, this section focuses on situations in which students test scores and school grades are differ dramatically. These situations are often of particular interest to educators.

Success in school tests generally comes from a combination of mastery of fundamental principles and a knowledge of detail. A sufficiently high level of the latter can compensate for weakness in the former. For example, a student can memorize twenty formulas for a math exam instead of learning the small number of fundamental principles.

When students learn in this way, they often forget large amounts of this memorized information. Exam performance is often weaker than quiz and homework performance. Sometimes, when a student is sufficiently disciplined, exam performance is at the same level as quiz and homework performance.

Success in school that comes through knowledge of detail is possible because there is a limited amount of information. Even a math final exam has a finite number of problem types to choose from. Thus, the student can memorize formulas, facts, and rules of thumb to succeed in school. Each year, he can memorize new information, and succeed to some extent in his classes.

The SAT, however, has an inordinately large number of potential problem types. Memorizing enough to do well is basically impossible, and success requires an understanding of fundamental principles.

In general, the longer a student has relied on memorization as a substitute for understanding, the more intensive SAT preparation will have to be. Long-term calculator use, when combined with reliance on memorization, can be especially damaging to mathematical reasoning.

SAT tutoring addresses these issues by building fundamental knowledge and cognitive skills. Drills are uses to build basic skills, and challenging problems are used to build much of the required reasoning. Development of problem-solving skills is often accomplished by making students make connections and intellectual leaps on their own. Problems are often broken down into smaller components to make this possible; additionally, the student's attention will be directed to the part of the problem that requires the intellectual leap. This method is often preferred to more traditional methods of direct instruction; however, both are used as appropriate. This applies to math, reading, sentence completion, and even certain grammar problems.

Please not that situations in which SAT scores are significantly lower than what school performance predicts make up just one of the many types of circumstances in which SAT tutoring is appropriate. SAT tutoring is available for all levels of students, ranging from those struggling with the rudiments to the most advanced students. Educators with specific questions can contact AVE directly at


All materials © Arvin Vohra Education, 2005