Featured Test Prep Student: Ilya Rake

February 17, 2016 
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Ilya-Rake-Featured-Student.jpgFor some students, finding the time to prepare for the SAT or ACT is a challenge because of other schoolwork, sports, and extracurricular activities. In these cases, finding a tutoring program that fits a student’s learning style and his or her schedule is important so that preparation is time-efficient. For Ilya Rake, that tutoring program was at A+ Test Prep and Tutoring.

A junior at Abington Senior High School, 17 year-old Ilya studied abroad in Israel during the second semester of his sophomore year. When he returned home, he decided to take the SAT before the new version rolled out. Since he hadn’t done any SAT prep while in Israel, his family started to explore tutoring options.

Ilya’s mom looked into group tutoring program, but found the tutoring times and locations to be inconvenient for his schedule, and it lacked the personalized attention he needed to improve certain skills.

“Ilya is involved in a lot of other activities, and I didn’t want him to have to give up things. So the one-on-one tutoring ended up being the best,” Leza Raffel, Ilya’s mom, said. “A+ was incredibly accommodating.”

Ilya said when he first started the A+ program, he wasn’t sure what to expect—but he found that working with one-to-one tutors was more convenient, and the workload was manageable. “The tutors were very approachable,” he said. “Overall, I didn’t feel a lot of pressure, which helped me balance the program with my other commitments.”

Based on the diagnostic test he took at the start of the program, Ilya’s math tutor, Barbara Lommer, worked with Ilya to make a customized “to do” list of the most important math concepts to review. “Thanks to Ilya’s hard work and determination, he managed to acquire all of the skills we had targeted,” Barbara said. “He did not give up, and he stayed positive about his preparations throughout.”

Ilya worked with tutor Christina Myers on the verbal section. She described Ilya as an enthusiastic learner with a good attitude toward improving his scores. “He was always responsive to instruction, and I was so pleased to see him implement what he learned in his sessions when he would take his practice tests,” she said.

Ilya learned important strategies from his tutors like skipping questions he didn’t know. “We figured out what I was not able to do, essentially, and we worked around those skills. The practice tests were helpful to see what I was struggling with,” he said.

Leza agreed that the practice tests were a key contributor to her son’s success on the test. “My husband would proctor the tests for Ilya, and then we would enter his answers online, getting his results immediately,” she explained. “So he knew how he felt when he earned certain scores. When he came back from taking the SAT, he had an idea of how he did.”

The final practice test Ilya took before test day was his best to date, so he was in his best mental condition and had confidence going into the SAT. His hard work paid off—he improved his score by 320 points.

“In my opinion, you are going to learn a lot of the same things with different tutors, but working with A+ was a lot more pleasant and worked best for me,” Ilya said. “I didn’t feel as stressed, and I was able to exceed my expectations.”

For Leza, the benefits of the A+ Test Prep program were worth the cost. “I wanted the tutors to get to know Ilya and not have him just be a number in a class of kids. In the big picture, it’s a small investment for a very important educational path,” she said.

Now that Ilya has earned the SAT score he wanted, he has his sights set on applying to colleges, where he plans to major in film and screenwriting. “I checked out colleges last summer and saw what kind of grades I needed. Studying for the SAT was worth it so that I could get into those schools,” he said.

We wish you the best, Ilya, as you pursue your dreams.

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