Tell us about your company.
My company is named LarryPrep. It consists of just one person – me!
How did you get started in tutoring and what is your favorite part about it?
We have to turn the clock back to 1992 in Edison, New Jersey. At that time I was the Social Studies Supervisor for the Edison Public Schools. Dr. Kresky, the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum, called an emergency meeting of all supervisors to develop an action plan to counter the decline in district SAT scores. The other supervisors blamed a variety of factors ranging from harsh scoring scales to unmotivated students. Finally, I volunteered to teach an after school “Crash Course.” That afternoon I drove to nearby Princeton and bought a number of SAT prep books including a College Board book with 10 real SATs. I spent the next week poring over the books. I then created a series of after school lessons focusing on vocabulary and critical reading. Verbal scores rose an average of 40 points! As the expression goes, the rest is history. Soon Dr. K scheduled me to teach a Crash Course at both high schools and during the summer. I love the challenge of working with students to achieve a common goal of mastering a difficult test. I especially enjoy working with high school students. Their energy and commitment are contagious!
What do your students find most challenging and how do you help them overcome it?
The SAT has changed a great deal since the early 1990s. My current students have the most difficulty with dual passages that focus on historic developments, trends, and events. I initially thought that these passages would be relatively easy. I confidently pointed out that most of the wrong answers are in fact historically inaccurate. However, my students are often unable to distinguish between what did and did not happen. A significant number of these passages are taken from African American and Women’s history. I have prepared a series of background mini-lessons on key events in these historic areas. In addition, we devote a significant amount of practice to mastering the history passages!
What is the biggest improvement you have ever seen a student make?
A few years ago an organization in Atlanta asked me to work with a group of inner-city athletes. At the time, the SAT scale still included 2400 points. The students came to me with an average score of 930 points. They needed a 1320 to qualify for NCAA scholarships. Their teachers all said that our class was a waste of time. We used this as motivation! I flew down to Atlanta every Sunday for several weeks. We worked literally all day. Our hard work paid off! The students all scored over 1320 with several earning above a 1400.
What change, if any, have you seen in the test-prep process since you began tutoring?
The SAT has changed a great deal. However, my basic strategy has not changed. I always strive to provide my students with well prepared and highly energetic lessons that include healthy doses of humor and encouragement!
What is the most important piece of advice for students? For parents?
I encourage my students to set high goals and then strive to achieve them. I encourage their parents to support their sons and daughters. The combination of great students, supportive parents, outstanding materials, and hopefully great teaching has produced outstanding scores.
What advice do you have for students preparing for the APUSH exam?
First and foremost take advantage of the free materials at AP Central. Second, avoid thick APUSH prep books that promise 5 new tests. The tests are very unrealistic and are not aligned with the APUSH Framework. And finally, check out my new book AP US History: A Strategic Review. It is aligned with the APUSH exam. The book includes the strategies and materials that have enabled 90 percent of my students to score 5s with the remainder scoring 4s.