What do you really know about test prep courses and the best way to prepare for difficult exams such as the ACT, SAT, GRE and GMAT?

Test prep courses vary widely in quality. As with other things in life, when you’re looking for the best prep course for you, you’ll come across great teachers and mediocre ones, lucky finds and disappointments, personalized coaching and canned classes, good deals and very bad deals. Because I want to help as many students as possible score as high on their tests as they can, I have put together the best test prep course and the very best deal that I possibly could.

Take a look at this comparison of SAT courses:

David Zindell CoachingPrinceton ReviewAdvantage Testing
Know Your Tutor?YesNoNo
Tutor’s Test PerformancePerfect Scorer??
Free ClassYesNoNo
Online Group ClassesYesNoNo
Unlimited GuaranteeYesYesNo

You’re probably wondering how I can offer a more personalized and better test prep course at a lower cost than those produced by the giant old companies. The answer to that question is pretty simple, and is contained in those last three words themselves: Giant. Old. Companies.

Let’s take a look at the first word. Recently, one of the biggest of the test prep behemoths had a annual revenue of over two billion dollars. Every one of those dollars, ultimately, came from someone like you. And many of those dollars went toward paying for that company’s enormous cost of doing business. Think of corporate headquarters in New York, with offices in skyscrapers that occupy some of the most expensive real estate on earth. Think of hundreds of other offices in other cities all over the country. Think of advertising, on the radio, on TV and on the Internet – and property taxes, utilities, insurance, furniture, and supplies. Think of the wages paid to thousands of office staff and the huge salaries and bonuses put into the bank accounts of that corporation’s executives. No wonder that most of Giant Old Test Prep’s dollars don’t go toward paying its teachers!

How about that second word: Old? Giant Old Test Prep, and its cousins, have been around for years – even decades. And year after year, they do things pretty much the same old way. They’re like the big car-making corporations that don’t have a clue the products they mass-produce are too expensive and have become obsolete. Even if they wanted to change their way of doing business, they couldn’t because the educational machinery they’ve put into place is too expensive to upgrade. They simply can’t afford to innovate.

They have no idea that when it comes to test prep, the future belongs to teachers who can provide personalized coaching at a cost that makes sense. The breakthroughs in learning that these teachers’ students make will be like customized cars that run on clean fuels and electricity, and get 100 miles per gallon or can go a 1,000 miles on a single charge.

As for the third word, you shouldn’t forget that Giant Old Test Prep is a company – actually a mega corporation. And corporations exist to make profits. Even if the corporation’s officers wanted to innovate for the sake of students taking their courses or offer them a better deal, if that happened to cut profits, they couldn’t. The test prep behemoth I mentioned earlier actually began decades ago as the enterprise of an individual who wanted to find a way to help students get into good colleges. The organization he founded, however, has long since mutated and bloated into a multi-tentacled corporate entity with a very different purpose.

What kind of experience can you expect at Giant Old Test Prep?

Imagine you’ve signed up for a group class with one of the companies that could be called Giant Old Test Prep. You’re looking forward to learning more about the SAT or GRE, and are hoping you made the right choice. You report to your first class. You take your place at a desk in a room with twelve to sixteen others pretty much like you. The feel of that place reminds you of being back in high school. You wait, exchanging nervous glances. Then your unknown instructor walks in. He (or she) is young and poorly paid. He did reasonably well on the test that you’ll be taking. He’ll probably be good at either math or English, but not both. He almost certainly won’t be a writing expert. He’ll stand up in front of you. He’ll rummage through his backpack and pull out a course syllabus. Tonight, he tells you, you’ll be doing a review of math followed by some work on vocabulary. All across America in other cities, on this same evening, other Giant Old Test Prep instructors are telling their students exactly the same thing. That consistency is one of the strengths of a course stamped out like car parts by a huge corporation. It’s also its greatest weakness.