Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

The 99th Percentile “Good Teacher” Myth

SAT   ePrep
Karl Schellscheidt -

Many of the big test prep companies boast that all of their instructors scored in the 99th percentile when they took the SAT. That marketing ploy has always bothered me and I would like to explain why.

First, I know plenty of people who earned perfect scores on the SAT that I would not want anywhere near my kids. Second, scoring that high does not necessarily mean you are a good teacher.

Before I sign my six-year-old up for a basketball camp, for example, I am more interested in the instructors’ coaching credentials than in their player profiles. We all know that some of the best coaches were not great players and that some of the best teachers were not great students. We also know that many of the most talented athletes and students cannot adequately explain how they do what they do — they just do it.

Some big test prep companies hire and then “certify” (whatever that means) bright college kids with absolutely no teaching experience to work for them as private tutors. They then bill these kids out at $125 per hour or more, paying them $25 per hour or less in some cases. This is outrageous in my opinion. (You can’t really blame the college kids, however. Earning around twenty-five bucks an hour does beat the typical university work-study job.)

So, when it comes to private tutoring, here is my advice. Ask around and try to find an experienced teacher who comes highly recommended by someone you can trust. While this may require some legwork, it is definitely worth it.

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