Optimal SAT Prep

Helping you do your best on the SAT. SAT Prep for students from McLean, Vienna, Arlington, Falls Church, Great Falls Church, Fairfax, Reston, Herndon, Oakton and Greater Northern Virgina, MD and DC Metro area. online, one on one lessons available.

Our SAT Prep Motto & Philosophy

“If we teach you something and you do not understand it, it is our fault!”

"You can prepare for and excel on any test which is designed by humans and which is intended to measure something taught in schools." 

We teach you to understand new concepts and methods in terms of what you already know. This process requires you to review sufficiently so that you can internalize what you learn and apply it to solve new problems.

We focus on fundamentally improving your problem solving skills by teaching you to reason logically. We are old-fashioned in that we do not teach you how to guess. Instead, we teach you how to systematically solve problems in a step-by-step manner. As your knowledge and proficiency improve, we will teach you more efficient ways of solving even the most difficult problems.

Our Techniques

We first determine your current strengths and weaknesses including your problem solving speed and your ability to understand and solve word problems. Next, we advise you on the amount of effort needed to reach your goal (how often you should come to class and how much review and practice you should perform at home) to achieve your goal. Different levels of effort are required to achieve different results and different students require different effort levels. While we work with students possessing a broad range of abilities and performance (from very weak to the very strong) and we strive to bring out the best in each student. Moreover, our methods and approach vary depending on the student's abilities and current knowledge.

We will tell you specifically how much effort you need to devote (in class and at home) to achieve various goals. With our tools and techniques we regularly evaluate you and provide feedback as to whether you are devoting sufficient time for at-home review and whether you are retaining what you learn in class. Most students can significantly improve their score, however, the level of required effort may be significantly different among different students. The differences arise from your prior habits, test anxiety, and problem solving abilities and speed. Please see the SAT Prep Frequently Asked Questions for further discussions and examples from our experience with our students. 

We evaluate your progress on an ongoing basis and recommend any necessary adjustments in class frequency and effort requirements. The objective is to raise your performance to a level sufficient to do well on the SAT.

The uniqueness of our instructional method is our ability to teach you in terms of what you already know. We never teach you "over your head." The compliments we receive most often are, "You make it so easy!" and "I wish I had found you earlier!"

Optimal SAT Prep

For the past twenty six years, we have started by giving each incoming student the Optimal SAT Prep Assessment. The assessment test takes bout 2 to 2.5 hours. After the test the student is invited for a 2 hour complimentary guest class. During the guest class, a student's correct and incorrect answers are analyzed to gain insight into the student's problem solving approach and habits.

Questions such as "Was the answer obtained by a sufficient understanding of the underlying concepts or was it obtained by systematic or haphazard guessing?" or "Was an answer chosen by analyzing/evaluating the answer choices?" are asked to pinpoint the student's problem solving habits and to understand his or her current abilities. Such analysis is performed for each component of the SAT.  Once an overall understanding of a student's strengths and weaknesses is obtained, a systematic program is designed to correct the weaknesses and improve the student's problem solving skills and SAT score. 

A critical component of Optimal SAT Prep is the recognition that one approach does not work for all students. Here are some examples of representative approaches for students with varying backgrounds:

A High School Student with a GPA above 3.7 and SAT score above 1400 / 1600

You are a very good student and you have superior problem solving skills yet you have some weaknesses which are keeping your score below the 1500 range. We carefully analyze your abilities and performance to determine areas and techniques which will maximize return on your efforts and yield desired score improvement. Each year we work with students who fall in this group. If you fall in this group, please contact us to schedule an Optimal SAT Prep Assessment.

A High School Student with a GPA  3.7 or above but a SAT score in the 1000-1200 / 1600 range

Each year, we see students in this group who approach us for improving their SAT scores - several come to us after having attended one or two other other SAT prep programs. In virtually all such cases, the concerned student has one or more weaknesses in the following areas:

  1. Their critical reading skills are very weak. Often their reading speed is slow and vocabulary is poor.

  2. Their mathematical problem solving skills are weak and knowledge is rusty or incomplete. They are unable to solve even simple word problems.

  3. Their grammar usage and essay writing skills are poor.

These students need an analysis and identification of key weaknesses and they need to be convinced of the weaknesses. Having done well in school (GPA > 3.7) they are at a loss as to why they performed so poorly on the SAT. They often believe that their SAT scores cannot increase significantly. With adequate guidance, training and mastery of new approaches to problem solving and critical reading, their scores can increase significantly. After the score increase, they easily recognize that their prior approach (often one of eliminating wrong answers) was seriously flawed.

Many such such students used to scrutinize the answer choices rather than focus on understanding the question, selecting the best method for solving it, and producing correct answer quickly. If you fall in this category and would like to embark on the journey to revamp your problem solving skills and scores, please contact us.

A High School Student with a weighted GPA  of 3.9 or above but a SAT score in the 1500 /1600 range

Each year, we see students in this group who approach us for improving their SAT scores - several of these students are Pre-Catullus or calculus and come to us after having attended one or two other other SAT prep programs. In virtually all such cases, the concerned student has one or more weaknesses in critical reading and/or mathematical problem solving (they cant quickly and correctly solve even simple word problems!).

A High School Student with GPA below 3.5 and SAT below 1200 / 1600

Students in this group often feel that it is too late to do anything to improve their situation. They often have weak foundations. In such cases, after a student takes our diagnostic test and attends a guest class, we talk to the student and the parents to understand their aspirations and goals. Some of these students are late bloomers. They are determined to improve their lot. In many such cases, we encourage the student to not only improve their SAT scores but also take one or more SAT subject tests to demonstrate mastery of math and/or science skills. Improved SAT and SAT subject test scores considerably strengthen the students' college application package.

One of our students, D.D., exemplifies the progress that is possible for students in this category. A star basketball player from Maryland, D.D. scored 620 / 1600 in October of her senior year. To receive an athletic scholarship she needed an SAT score of 1000 / 1600. After intensive tutoring and hard work addressing the gaps in her academic background, she scored 1060 / 1600 in the spring of senior year and received the athletic scholarship.

Students Interested in Attending Johns Hopkins CTY or Duke TIP Summer Programs

Since 1993 hundreds of our 7th and 8th grade students have scored over 1500 / 1600 and 2100 / 2400 on the SAT administered for CTY/TIP admission. More than 100 of our students have received scholarships from the programs. Many such students begin in 4th through 6th grades while others start in 7th/8th grades. If you are interested in performing well on the Johns Hopkins CTY or Duke TIP tests, please contact us to schedule an assessment.

Optimal SAT Prep: How It works

Based on our comprehensive analysis and a prospective student's situation, we establish goals and advise the student of the level of effort required on his or her part. We evaluate the student's performance on an ongoing basis. Our goal is to create an individualized program to help him or her solve problems in the most efficient manner.

The Results

The problems you thought you could never solve become easy.

The problems that required a lot of time to complete can now be solved much more quickly.

The problem solving techniques you learn do not only help you with the SAT – they remain with you throughout your academic career.

Some Of Our Students’ and Parents' Testimonials

"Thank you so much. I got a perfect score on the SAT."  [800/800 Math; 800/800 English] (A.G., went on to attend Harvard).

"Thank you so much for helping my daughter with math SAT... She went from 420 to 640 in 4 classes." (Father of L.A. went to college in UK).

"Thank you for helping our son achieve his best! " [Got 1600/1600] (Parents of A.S., attended Yale).

"Dr. Tripathi has helped me reinforce many concepts that have helped me be more proficient in problem solving. Although I am studying for two hours on a weekend at his classes, Dr. Tripathi always keeps them interesting making me want to continue learning from him. I enjoy his sessions and have learnt from them a lot." (N.R.)

"Dr. Tripathi can't be beat.  He's the best there is for TJ prep, SAT prep and general math/science tutoring.  Plus, the kids absolutely love him.  Because of Dr. Tripathi my children have achieved the following:

 TJ class of 2009

 PSAT Nat'l Merit Finalist

 SAT score - 2310

 TJ class of 2016" (N.M, mother of three of my students)

Testimonials from Google Plus

You can see more reviews of our tutoring and test prep on our Google Plus page.


The Format of Our Classes

More than 95% of our local students (from Baltimore, MD to Richmond, VA) attend small group classes (3 to 8 students) and do exceedingly well. A few students (those with weaker foundations or those with very little time to prepare) attend individual sessions. Some students begin with individual lessons before transitioning to group classes.

For students who live farther away, we offer individual on-line through videoconferencing. 

How To Start

We give our new students a comprehensive diagnostic test. Your performance on the test and the time required to complete it provide us with an initial measurement of your abilities and skill level.

The next step is to attend a guest class in which we thoroughly analyze your diagnostic test results. The guest class also allows you to determine if you believe that our teaching methods and approach are a good fit for your learning style.  

This analysis, coupled with our two decades of SAT prep experience, shapes our recommendation regarding when you should start to prepare, how often you should come to class, and the amount of effort you should devote at home to fundamentally and significantly enhance your performance level.

To begin, please contact us to schedule an initial assessment.