Frequently Asked Questions

SATs and ACTs

Which test should I take?


The best way to decide if taking the SAT, ACT, or both tests is right for you is to take a timed full-length practice test of each type. Since the content and style of the SAT and ACT are very similar, factors like how you handle time pressure and what types of questions you find most challenging can help you determine which test is a better fit. That's where Homework Helpers and our baseline assessments come in!




When do I take the test?


You should take the PSAT (preliminary SAT) or the PLAN (pre-ACT) to practice for the real exams. You should take these tests your sophomore year or early in your junior year. This test is often offered directly through your high school. Check with your counselor for dates. The SAT and ACT are offered several times a year. You can take the tests more than once. Take them the first time early in your junior year. This gives you time to take them again and try to improve your test scores.




How do I register?


The easiest and fastest way is online:
• SAT – http://sat.collegeboard.com/register/
• ACT – http://www.actstudent.org You can also register by mail. You must register by mail if you are paying by check or money order. To register by mail, ask your guidance counselor for the SAT Paper Registration Guide or ACT registration packet. For help filling out the registration forms, or if you have questions or special circumstances, go to http://sat.collegeboard.com/register/how-to-register (SAT) or http://www.actstudent.org/regist/index.html (ACT).




Are their acommodations available for my child who has special needs?


Your child may be eligible to have adjustments made to their test setting if they have a documented disability. This may mean extended time, wheelchair accessibility, seating where you can hear best or lip-read, a printed copy of spoken directions, or access to a snack due to a medical condition. Ask your school guidance counselor to work with you in completing a Student Eligibility Form before you register for the SAT. For more information, visit http://sat.collegeboard.com/register/for-students-with-disabilities. You can also request special accommodations to be made while taking the ACT. Ask your high school counselor or visit http://www.act.org/content/act/en/products-and-services/the-act.html.




Is the SAT or ACT easier on certain test dates?


No, this is a myth. Tests on all dates are of the same level of difficulty; there is no reason to take these tests on one date over another in the hopes that one will be easier. Your only consideration should be taking all necessary tests at the times that allow you to do your best – test preparation or no test preparation.




How many times can I take the SAT or ACT?


Many students and parents are under the impression that repeating the SAT/ACT is not a good idea. They often feel that multiple scores will ‘look bad’ or that good scores will merely be averaged with weaker scores. Both points are incorrect. First of all, you have the ability to submit your highest scores. If you have taken the ACT multiple times, ACT will only send colleges the score from the date you specify. In addition, most colleges use students’ highest scores in evaluating their applications. They choose the highest scores in one of two ways. Some schools combine the highest English, Math, Reading or Science scores from one test date with the highest English, Math, Reading or Science scores from another test date. If that’s the case, then you can send multiple test results (if you have taken the ACT multiple times) to that school. Other schools take the highest composite score from a single test date. Ask your guidance counselor or call a college directly to find out the school’s policy. In no case, however, is repeating the test detrimental. Most students now take the SAT and ACT two or three times, which is adequate for a well-prepared test-taker.




When will I get my scores?


Scores are mailed three to four weeks after the test is taken. However, scores are available online approximately 10 days after the ACT test administration and 19 days after the SAT test administration.




What is Super Scoring?


Superscoring is the process by which colleges consider your highest section scores across all the dates you took the SAT (and for most schools the ACT). Rather than confining your scores to one particular date, these schools will take your highest section scores, forming the highest possible composite score. The schools will only see the highest scores from each test date. Your child should send their scores from their top two to three highest scored tests.





Academic Tutoring

What does a typical tutoring session look like?





My child has a learning disability. Can you help?





Do you offer tutoring in college courses?





What training and experience do your tutors have?


The tutors we work with are personally selected for their expertise in their subject matter. They include university and college professors, teachers, professionals with a degree in their tutored area, and college/university students with high academic standing.




Do I have to stay with the same tutor every time?






Remote Learning

What platform do your tutors use for remote tutoring?


Homework Helpers does NOT operate on a one-size-fits-all model, and remote tutoring is no exception. We allow our tutors to use whichever remote video platform (e.g., Google Meet, Zoom, Skype, etc.) is most appropriate for their students' needs.




When can my child expect to receive their link?


It is often the case that tutors have many students back-to-back: as such, students may expect their link within five minutes of their scheudled lesson time. The office will reach out to you if the tutor is running behind for some reason. If you or your child has not recieved the link five to ten minutes after your scheduled lesson time, please call our office at (908) 876-1776.




Where will the link be sent?


When you schedule your remote learning session, our office staff will ask you for the best email address to send a link to. Many parents of younger elementary and middle school students will request the link to be sent to both them and their child so that they might assist in the case of any technical difficulties.





College Concierge

When should I start the college planning process?


It depends on how much personalized guidance you are getting at your school. A lot of our clients will begin this process as early as freshman year. Typically, students will schedule a session every six months to discuss class options, extracurricular opportunities, etc. If you want to be an engineer, do you know which classes most college programs require? Are you familiar with the testing and academic course requirements at your dream school(s)? Are you visiting enough colleges to explore your options and determine what you really want? If not, it would be wise to schedule an initial consultation to meet with one of our college planning advisers…it’s never too soon to understand what path you need to be on to achieve your academic and collegiate goals. However, if you feel your school counselor is answering your questions, you can wait until the summer before junior year, at which point you should meet with a college adviser to discuss your college search, examine potential majors/careers that interest you, and review your academic and extra-curricular resume.




What sort of help will I need during the college application process?


Simply figuring out where to apply can be overwhelming. After helping you settle on a list of schools and discussing the merits of early vs. regular decision, we will start outlining your college essays and creating realistic timelines/deadlines to keep you on track throughout the process.




How will my counselor know who I am or what I want out of college?


During the initial consultation, our college adviser will ask every new client to fill out a comprehensive questionnaire about their personality, interests, and goals in order to get a holistic overview of each student. Additionally, our college adviser is trained specifically to work with students moving into higher education. Whether it’s a school in New Jersey or a small college in Iowa, we will provide you with valuable insights and guidance throughout your college selection process, helping you differentiate between what you truly want (or don’t want) and what is simply the fear of the unknown.




I have no idea what to write my essays about. There’s nothing unique about me.


There is something unique about everyone! Our college advisers will help you discover your powerful story and help you showcase your talents and special qualities to admissions officers. You don’t have to do extraordinary things to catch a college’s attention…you need to know who you are, who you want to be, and show a commitment to becoming the best version of yourself.




I’m a good writer. Why do I need help with my application essays?


Ask any professional writer out there if he or she has published a work without an additional pair of eyes or ten! A good writer knows that a great piece of writing comes from honing and editing initial drafts with a fresh perspective, which is nearly impossible to achieve on your own when you’re writing autobiographically. Additionally, just because you’re a good writer doesn’t mean that you necessarily know what college admissions officers are looking for. A personal statement should be an unusual combination of short story and academic essay — a hybrid most students have little experience with. We are also familiar with what topics are overdone and cliched. Our college advisers strive to ensure that each student's essay is the most polished, honest, unique, and interesting essays that he/she is capable of. We work to identify exactly what the student is trying to say and then ensure that the essay conveys that message. An outstanding essay is concise, specific, thoughtful, compelling, and unique — and that’s not even considering grammar and structure! Writers of all backgrounds will receive expert guidance and feedback, and find their essays improved without sacrificing their voice or intent.




I’m a senior and it’s Thanksgiving. Is it too late to start?


No! Our college adviser is trained to work with students at any stage of the college application process, including on a deadline. However, the later you start, the less time you will have to complete all the important aspects, so it’s to everyone’s benefit to get started earlier if possible.




Is Community College the best route for me?


The most simple, honest answer is “perhaps.” There are a lot of pros and cons to consider when making this decision.




How many schools should I apply to?


The answer to this question is a little different for each student, but we generally recommend using the 1-2-1 approach — in other words, applying to roughly 1 safety, 2 targets, and 1 reach for every 4 schools you apply to. We can help you identify which schools fit into these categories, given your specific experiences and academic credentials, and we can help make sure that you are applying to enough schools that you will have a variety of choices, but not so many that you will have to sacrifice the quality of your work on the applications that you should be prioritizing. In our experience, 6-8 schools in total is ideal, as it gives you quite a few options but still allows you to put a lot of effort into each application. There are, of course, students who apply to far more or far fewer schools than that — it’s entirely up to you to determine how much time and energy you’re willing to put into the process.




My high school already has a college counselor, an essay bootcamp, and/or other college informational activities. Won’t I get most of my questions answered at school?


Your school counselor and school activities are a great place to start, but you have to share your counselor’s time, or share the floor at college information nights, with dozens (if not hundreds) of other students. Our college advisers have much more time to focus on YOU! We can be as involved as you’d like — proofreading every essay, reviewing every college or financial application, confirming colleges’ receipt of every official document you’ve sent, etc.




How many sessions will I need?


The answer to this, of course, depends entirely on what you hope to accomplish and in which area(s) you are seeking guidance. Do you simply want help polishing essays, or are you looking for guidance in your college search, navigating various requirements and deadlines, prepping for college interviews, fine tuning your academic and extra curricular resume, etc.? Note that some colleges require NO essays, whereas other schools require more than ten — so, simply put, the biggest variable in this equation is WHICH SCHOOLS you are applying to. Once that is determined and you have a sense of what parts of the process you feel in control of and which you don’t, we can help you come up with a game plan to tackle the massive to-do list in the most organized way possible.





GRE

How long is the GRE?


The full test is 3 hours and 45 minutes long. There are six sections, with a 10-minute break following the second section. Verbal Reasoning (2-3 sections), 30 minutes each Quantitative Reasoning (2-3 sections), 35 minutes each Analytical Writing (2 essay topics) 30 minutes each One of the sections—Verbal or Quantitative—is experimental and doesn’t count towards the score, but test-takers are not told which of the three sections it is.




How many times can I take the GRE?


Students can take the GRE up to 5 times in a year, with a minimum of 21 days between tests. You must retake the entire test, not just a section. Because the most competitive graduate programs require top scores, you should leave room in your schedule for at least one retake.




Where/when can I take the test?


View test centers, test dates and seat availability. Note that if you would like to register to test, you will need to create or sign in to your ETS account.




What is a "good" GRE Score?


A “good” score varies depending on the program, but applicants should try to score at least in the middle range of accepted students. Many schools have minimum GRE scores. Of course, the minimum score is just a starting point, and most students need to score much higher to gain admission.




When should I start studying for the GRE?


As soon as you’ve decided to apply for a competitive graduate program, preferably several months in advance, take a diagnostic test to get an idea of your starting point and how far you are from your goal. If you require a score increase of more than a few points on each section, you should plan at least a few months to prepare.





General

How long is a tutoring session?


Any tutoring session that is not for standardized test prep is typically scheduled for one-hour, one-on-one sessions. However, there are circumstances where the depth or bredth of an assignment warrats sessions to be scheduled in half-hour, or even fifteen minute increments. As long as it is done in advance, scheduling can be highly flexible! Test preparation sessions are highly encouraged to be scheduled for two-hour blocks of time: the first hour entails a one-on-one session with your tutor to review a specific content area (e.g., ACT Math, ISEE Verbal, etc.), which is then followed by a practice assessment in that content area. The amount of time a student spends on a test after a session can vary from 20 to 93 minutes depending on the nature of the test, section, and potential extended time acomodations. Testing after sessions is optional, but we HIGHLY recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to practic your newly-learned skills!




Are sessions one-on-one, or group-style?


While the vast majority of our sessions are scheduled as one-on-ones, we are happy to offer partner and group rates for those looking for a more social learning experience! Give us a call to discuss options and availability.




Who will be tutoring my child?


If you haven't taken a look at our staff page yet, we would love for you to check it out. When you do, you'll be sure to see that Homework Helpers has no shortage of professional, passionate, and SUPERB quality tutors on staff. We do our utmost to pair your child with a tutor who we believe will be a good match for your child by asking you (and them!) how they like to learn bests, where their biggest difficulties lie, and any other information you and your child think would help us make a match. To show you how committed we are to finding the perfect tutor for your child, the first session for any new student that walks through our door is 15% off! On top of that, if for some reason the student and tutor turn out not to be the best fit, whether it's day one or day 201, we will always listen to you and your child and be sure to get it right the next time. Homework Helpers goes through a rigorous hiring process to ensure that every tutor here is nothing short of the highest quality: tutors we would want teaching our own children. The large majority of our tutors are licensed teachers- even those that are not licensed are experts in their respective fields. Students with special needs will be paired with a tutor with specific training appropriate to best serve them.




What is the pollicy for same-day cancellations?


In order to allow employees ample time to prepare, we alert tutors of their schedules the evening before your child's session. As such, same-day cancellations will incur a $30 charge to compensate the tutor for the consequently unfilled block of time. You will not be deducted a session from your package. Exceptions to our cancellation policy are entirely at the discretion of the manager on staff. While these exceptions are few and far between, we of course recognize that unforseen and extenuating circumstances sometimes call for flexibility.




How often do students schedule sessions?


The beauty of our customizable and flexible tutoring packages is that they allow for individual students to schedule tutoring at their own rate anf schedule. Come as frequent or as sparse as you need for academic assistance. Are you just not getting Calc no matter what you do? Come once or twice a week! Got a history paper due in a few days and need an extra push? We're here for emergencies just like that! We recommend that test prep students come to our center twice a week starting eight to 12 weeks out from their initial test date: once for a verbal/english section, and once for a quantitative/mathematical session. Additionally, we recommend taking a full-length, proctored practice test every other week to hone strategy and timing skills.




Will homework be assigned?


Let's say it again: FLEXIBILITY! If you and your child's tutor feel that more frequent upkeep of skills is necessary to achieve mastery level, then our tutors are happy to customize homework specific to their needs. Tutors will always assign homework for SAT/ACT and other standardized test prep sessions. Think about it- if a professional baseball player never hit the gym on his own time and only showed up on practice days, they would never progress! Our tutors work their hardest to help students reach their goal scores and beyond, but the responsibility for success ultimately comes from the student themselves.




Can a tutor communicate with my child's teacher?


Double check with your child's school's administration, but in most cases, yes! You as a parent have the right to give your child's teacher written permission to speak with whomever you choose.