Students never have enough time. With classes, sports practice, rehearsals, internships, and after school jobs, no high school student wants to take on one more boring and time-consuming obligation by adding test prep to his or her already crazy schedule. And the same goes for parents. With the unending succession of deadlines and hoops to jump through, no parent wants one more occasion for argument or one more extracurricular program to monitor.

But the truth is… preparation is king. Few students can compete in today’s college application arms race without doing some kind of test prep. So the question is this:


What’s the most effective but least painful way to prepare for the SAT/ACT/PSAT ?

After working with students  over the past  25 years, I’ve developed a test prep approach with four main functions:

1. Build students’ confidence

To build a student’s confidence, you have to minimize the stress and discouragement that accompanies standardized testing.

Often students have some subject they just can’t wrap their minds around. At some point in their academic lives, they told themselves that they couldn’t do math or they were bad at writing. Those limitations become identities they carry into every classroom. “Who am I? Oh, I’m a bad test-taker.” This kind of thinking becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, causing a problem instead of identifying one.

To address this, we work to expose doubts and fears and to demonstrate that they are much more capable than they realize. On the surface, I may be helping them prepare for a “pointless” standardized test, but ultimately, my goal is to revise their understanding of their own limitations and multiply their confidence.

2. Take the pressure off parents

The high-stakes college application process can be incredibly stressful for the whole family. The best thing I can do to help is take the burden of motivation and planning off parents. To make this possible, I’ve done something pretty radical: I’ve eliminated homework from my test prep program. This means that there’s no need for parents to step in and ensure the homework’s getting done because I assign none [see: No Homework]. Zero. Nada. Zilch. All work is done in session, so as long as the student arrives with a pencil and a calculator, there is nothing to worry about or budget time for.

3. Teach the material efficiently

Both energy and time are finite resources in a student’s life, so it’s crucial that test prep be as efficient as possible. Most conventional tutoring programs use a one-size-fits-all curriculum to teach to the test; this requires hours of homework, and long, intense sessions. While this may seem useful—work as hard as you possibly can and you’ll get big results, right?—it can actually be totally counterproductive. Imagine sitting across from someone for hours at a time, as he or she points out everything you’re doing wrong, question after question. Even an adult would be exhausted and discouraged by that routine.

Instead, I draw on my nearly two decade’s worth of experience to provide immediate feedback and targeted instruction that addresses the core issues each student is having. Not only does this surgical approach minimize damage to the student’s morale, but I also deliver that feedback in the most efficient way possible: while the questions are still fresh in the student’s mind. After a student finishes a section of a practice test, he or she meets with me to go over the problems they just struggled with. This increases both comprehension and retention, resulting in bigger score gains with less study time.

4. Help families navigate the standardized testing season

“Will my son perform better on the SAT or the ACT?” “Is my daughter ready to take the test, yet?” “Which Subject Test is best?” Having worked with over 3000 students, I can guide you through the SAT/ACT testing season, advising on when to take which test in order to maximize performance and avoid the disappointing results common with students who take the test before they’re ready. No more missed deadlines. No more guesswork or partially informed advice. Just experienced strategy from someone whose life has revolved around the standardized testing season for the last 25 years.

Over the course of my career, I’ve worked with just about every kind of student: from the overachiever with test anxiety to the smart kid who never tries; from the math wiz who programs in her spare time to the poet with a 504 plan; from the theater techie to the cross-country anchor; from the diligent scholar to the kid who just can’t be bothered. I’ve refined my approach to test prep, in order to address the underlying issues that affect the full range of ability levels and personalities.

While this learning process has informed how I teach, the most fundamental lesson I’ve learned over the last 25 years is that I genuinely enjoy working with this age range. I’m not their adversary; I’m their ally. And I think that comes through. [See: Testimonials]

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Our Testimonials : 185 to Date

Maria Ayala
Many people are good at what they do, less are great and then there are those rare few who were born to do what they do; Michael Romano was born to help students. His enigmatic, vibrant and intellectual personality iexudes positivity and comfort. I discovered Michael’s SAT Prep last summer as I continuously banged my head on my desk while drowning in a pile of SAT books filled with questions that made no sense to me. I never thought myself capable of excelling on standardized tests or of even attending a top university but upon meeting Michael my whole life changed. Michael is so much more than a tutor, he’s an inspiration, an unsung hero, a friend who’s there to bring out the best in you, to introduce you to your uncapped potential, which you were so blindly unaware of. It is with no exaggeration that I can say that each and every one of the 40 sessions that I attended with Michael were both a blend of academic triumph and hysterical laughter, for he is the only person that can make any SAT problem into the funniest joke you’ve ever heard. With time, his inspirational jargon will resonate with you wherever you go, to the point that “Dazzle me, don’t frazzle me” will become a common melody in your ear. In the short time I’ve known Michael, I’ve grown equally as a person as I have as an SAT test taker and I owe him much more than just a thank you for helping increase my score by 300 points! I owe him my sincerest and most genuine gratitude for giving me a future, for encouraging the highest of excellence and for proving to me as well as every single student that has ever walked through his doors, that absolutely anything is possible if one is willing to work hard enough for it. Despite my effort this testimonial still doesn’t even come close to the magic, the music, the jokes, the charisma of the greatest tutor you’ll ever meet. Choosing to work with Michael Romano was the best decision I’ve ever made and I can guarantee that it will be yours too. So to all reading this, I wish you good luck with your academic endeavors and to Michael, I applaud you on all you have done for me and every other student you’ve ever met. You truly are one of a kind : )

Maria Avalya
Middle College 2014
UCLA 2018
Julia López
Mr. Romano is the best tutor I have ever worked with… EVER!! I had gone to previous SAT prep centers, but none of them gave me the help and results that Mr. Romano did! One thing that was different with Mr. Romano, was that I actually enjoyed attending his test preps, and would even look forward to them!! As a busy student, with multiple extra curricular activities, his flexible schedule and no homework policy made prepping for the SAT less stressful! Mr. Test Prep’s one-on-one assistance helped me to not only identify my mistakes, but understand, and correct them as well. Also, Mr. Romano’s relaxed demeanor and constant positive attitude created a wonderful learning environment, which helped me improve my score by 500+ points! I also scored in the 700s on my SAT Subject Tests too! Mr. Romano totally prepared me for these exams, and I know I would not have been able to do as well as I did without him! Because of Mr. Romano, I am more confident in my test taking and academic abilities! Mr. Test Prep is more than a tutor! He is a mentor, and a pretty incredible one at that! It is safe to say that Mr. Romano is the one of the reasons why I was accepted to UC Davis, UC Santa Cruz, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Cornell University, and Georgetown University, where I will be attending in the fall!! THANK YOU SO MUCH MR. TEST PREP!! YOU’RE THE BEST!!!

Julia López
Lincoln High School (San José) ‘13
Georgetown University ‘17
Guillermo Lopez
Mr. Romano is simply the best. Upon entering Mr. Romano’s test prep, I knew little about the SAT. The knowledge and wisdom that I inherited from Michael is truly priceless. While at Mr. Test Prep’s, Michael helped me zone in and conquer the areas in which I was struggling. Mr. Romano was very encouraging and supportive to me every time I was in his presence. Mr. Romano would carefully evaluate my progress and generously give me tips on any of my consistent confidence shortcomings. Michael’s years of experience and great social skills has enabled him to express his knowledge in ways that would help me better understand any given material. My scores, in all sections of the SAT, had climbed very significantly. Along with my growth in confidence, the appreciation I have for Mr. Romano and all his hard work grew even more. For anyone who has worked with Mr. Romano, it is clear that MICHAEL ROMANO IS THE “GO TO” GUY FOR ANYTHING RELATING TO THE SAT. Mr. Romano goes far beyond that of a SAT prep teacher. Michael has become to me more of a mentor and good friend. Other than being a great teacher, Mr. Romano is also a great person; a likable person. Michael Romano ranks among the highest all around great individuals I have had the honor of knowing. It meant all the more to me that Mr. Romano was always someone I can turn to for valuable insight on things that might be giving me trouble; both in and out of the classroom. I struggled a lot with academics in high school and often worried about my ability to continue education in a college setting, but Mr. Romano made all the difference. After I was taken under Michael’s wing, my academics made a significant change for the better. My grades began to soar hand-in-hand with my SAT scores. Mr. Romano helped me the way nobody else could. I owe a lot to Michael and thank God that He has blessed me in coming to know Mr. Romano. With all that he has done for me, Michael has helped my once far-fetched dream of continuing my studies in Santa Barbara a reality.

Guillermo Lopez
Lincoln High School '14
Sanat Barabra College '18
Veronica Louise Mendoza
I had gone to over three different standardized testing tutors in the Bay Area since my freshman year. All left me unsatisfied, with mediocre results and my mother constantly reprimanding me for spending so much money on multiple exams and different tutors. On a whim, we tried Mr. Test Prep. Many of my friends had gone to him and raved about how his tutoring style is unique, effective, and definitely worth the money. They all succeeded in their standardized test preps, why shouldn’t I?
I can clearly remember Mr. Test Prep’s response when I said, “I’m no good at math and science.” He said, “Don’t think that way! These questions are easy if you think of them as easy. Let me break ‘em down for you…” Ever since then, the ACT has not intimidated me with the daunting math and science sections. His tricks to make sure I didn’t make any “silly” mistakes even increased my scores to near-perfection in the subjects that I was stronger in – reading, writing, and English! Additionally, the group testing environment was insanely helpful in practicing what to expect during test day. Mr. Test Prep’s unpredictable outbursts of songs and people’s sneezing and coughing inevitably allowed me to block out the irrelevant and focus on the test. I also still do his meditations today before a big event or test! They have assisted me greatly in becoming more centered, and have me diving into any task headfirst with steady hands and tranquility.
Not only did Mr. Test Prep increase my confidence in test taking, but he also helped boost my overall determination in conquering whatever may stand in my way – including math and science! The results of Mr. Test Prep’s tutoring are not merely numbers. If you are seeking someone who is more than a tutor – someone who is a role model, friend, and a hilarious mentor, then Mr. Test Prep is for you!

Veronica Louise Mendoza (Mountain View, CA)
Sacred Heart Preparatory, Class of 2015
UCLA, Class of 2019
Maxwell “M-Bizzle” Bernstein
Michael Romano is the best. No exceptions. My first experience with SAT prep was with a not-so-great company, so I was at first reluctant to try Mr Test Prep. Boy, was I wrong — I should have started with him from the beginning! In the first half hour of the trial session he told me that I was probably better suited for the ACT. I tried my hand at that instead, and scored significantly higher. Mr Test Prep also helped me prepare for the PSAT, and now I am a National Merit Scholar. I definitely could not have done it without him. Michael is relaxed and funny, but don't let that fool you! He is a class A++ tutor. Thank you!!

Maxwell "M-Bizzle" Bernstein
PALY 2014
Tufts University 2018

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