When you think about test prep, you think of companies like Kaplan or Princeton Review, both of which offer class-based programs on an expedited timeline. Maybe you know a few people who have had success with these kinds of programs.They’ve been around forever. These courses provide instructors with pre-written lesson plans, recycled questions and homework assignments, and virtually no individual attention. And this option will work for some students— because it sounds a lot like school.
Commercialized, class-based options are more affordable. Their affordability is why customers keep coming even when the results aren’t consistent or proven. Those with the money, who want to avoid the wasted time and middling results the class option often delivers, will seek out one-on-one tutoring. But even then, it’s difficult for parents to find a reliable company or tutor. How does a parent know when they’ve found a test prep option worthy of a lofty investment?
Streamline Tutors, a Baltimore-based test prep company, is taking the guesswork out of the equation. Starting in February 2020, Streamline will be offering point-based improvement virtual tutoring packages. This means that parents can make an investment in their students’ future with guaranteed results— in the size of 150 or 200 points of improvement— to the tune of $20 per SAT point.
“I was initially skeptical about my kid doing virtual sessions for ACT prep. In the end, my son’s score went up by over 7 points. Scoring just 1 away from perfect.”
–Edana, Pikesville High School Parent 2021
How the packages work
Streamline’s Pay-for-Points virtual tutoring offerings guarantee that parents are paying for results, not tutoring time. The 150 point package (4 ACT points) is priced at $3,000 and the 200 point package (6 ACT points) is priced at $4,000. These packages ensure that a student meets with a test prep specialist once a week for 90 minute sessions or twice a week for 60 minutes via Skype or Google Hangouts, depending on the package. Students prepare for up to three consecutive SATs or ACTs, and the package terminates as soon as the student reaches the point improvement threshold. If a student falls short of meeting the threshold after three consecutive tests, parents are reimbursed $20/point for every point below the threshold on the SAT and $666/point for every point below the threshold on the ACT.
In an effort to further democratize their offerings, Streamline provides a “Pay it Forward” option for students who exceed the point-based guarantee. Parents who commit to this program can “Pay it Forward” by donating dollars for every point above the package point threshold to the SmartyScholars fund, a partner non-profit that funds 1-on-1 test prep to talented, low income students in Baltimore. Last summer, SmartyScholars hosted an SAT boot camp in partnership with Streamline Tutors and College Bound for Baltimore City public school students that yielded impressive results, including an average 180 points of improvement on the SAT and a four time increase in college readiness among participants.
$3,000-$4,000 is a hefty investment, but when measured against the cost of college tuition, it may be a savvy one for families wanting to put their student in a position to receive better financial aid packages or merit scholarships in the college admissions process. For other parents, that score improvement can significantly improve their students’ chances of admission at a more selective school or competitive program, opening up career opportunities down the line.
A bit about Streamline Tutors
Streamline Tutors has always done things a little differently than traditional test prep providers. First of all, they only offer one-on-one tutoring services. Up until this point, Streamline Tutors has worked solely through a pay-per-hour test prep model and will continue to offer hourly tutoring to those who prefer it.
Having started out fully focused on SAT and ACT prep, Streamline has since grown to offer a wide variety of educational services, all the while reinvesting profits to develop SmartyPrep, a gamified test prep app. SmartyPrep acts like a bionic tutor, using a proprietary algorithm to offer immediate feedback and individualized content based on a student’s strengths and weaknesses.
In the past year, Streamline Tutors has fully integrated SmartyPrep into their tutoring curriculum. Because Streamline has the technology in place to fully utilize a virtual platform, the point-based improvement packages will take place completely online. The technological integration will allow Streamline to offer expert instruction with the flexibility and adaptability of the 21st century. These virtual, point-based packages offer the best of both worlds— effective technological innovation with inherent efficiency, and the human impact that makes one-on-one tutoring transformative.
“Even though I live right in Baltimore, I chose to do many of my sessions virtually. With so many activities and sports, I don’t have much free time, so being able to get tutored right from my home was super convenient. I felt that virtual sessions were more efficient and just as effective. I didn’t have to sacrifice another activity in order to complete test prep. I was motivated and ended up improving 10 points on the ACT.”
-Quinn, Gilman Class of 2020
Backed by a company average score improvement of 211 SAT points and 5.9 ACT points, Streamline is confident that these virtual packages can deliver impressive results with the flexibility and ease that virtual tutoring allows. This adaptable, reliable option ensures that students can stay busy and parents can relax knowing their students’ score will improve, or their money back.
Streamline hopes that their point based guarantee is a step in the right direction to democratize their high quality offerings. Families who were hesitant to make a large investment with no guaranteed results and instead opted for a cheaper class based option can now rest assured that their investment has promise.
That doesn’t mean students can get away with avoiding homework like they can in test prep classes. “It’s important to keep in mind,” Streamline’s director says, “our offerings aren’t magic. We fully expect our students to be prepared for every session, completing their homework on SmartyPrep.” Maintaining eligibility isn’t too complicated– students must either amass at least 200 weekly points answering skill-building questions on SmartyPrep or take a practice SAT or ACT through the digital bubble sheet on the app.
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