As juniors gear up for SATs and ACTs and high school students of all ages prepare for AP exams, it’s the time of year when parents begin to explore options for test prep. The number of choices of companies and individual tutors offering preparation services can bewilder an unprepared family. How does a responsible parent choose the best?

Don’t let sticker price guide you

Many companies offer tempting deals on low-price classes, but make sure a class is the best option for your child. For a number of students, especially those who already have a strong base score, the information given in a group setting is too basic. You might get more bang for your buck with a series of private sessions targeted to address your child’s particular weaknesses.

Pick the best coach for your child

Some companies hire employees without a background in the subject they tutor or have classes taught by adults with no background in the field of education. These tutors may have little training in how to individualize instruction and may employ a one-size-fits-all approach. Chyten Educational Services in Millburn, however, requires that all tutors have at least a Masters degree and the owner prefers tutors who have experience adapting curricula to students at many different levels. We look for master teachers - tutors who are comfortable working with many different students. The best tutor for your child is the one who understands your child’s needs and is willing to do what it takes to meet them.

Real Tests

Choose a service that offers plenty of practice tests. The benefit of an “actual conditions” test is two-fold: you will gain real-time data on progress and the student will acclimate to the rigors of test-taking.

Finally, think of test prep as an investment. Everyone knows that the ACT and/or SAT scores are used for college admission but many don’t realize that the scores are also a factor in scholarship awards from nearly all colleges and universities.