In a word: holistic. Said differently: thorough. Think about the difference between traditional vs. preventative care in health, and you understand how we are different. We prepare with purpose and teach skills that help on test day as well as beyond the test.
When families come through our doors or call us on the phone, they are typically looking for a solution to a particular challenge. PSAT Prep? No problem. ACT math? Yes, we can help you. Help with chemistry or coding? Sure, we have solutions to that. Our evaluation process and needs assessment for all students ensures that we explore all facets of what helps students succeed. Add that to our collective decades of test prep and education experience and you have a winning solution.
Here’s one way of looking at our approach. Let’s say you go to a doctor for pain in your lower back made worse by playing in a weekly tennis league, and you are seeking a medicinal solution to remedy the pain. Upon visiting, however, the doctor takes blood pressure as well as other measures of a thorough evaluation. She then says that you are healthy otherwise and need a specialist, referring you to a physical therapist. Later, on your drive to the physical therapist, you think: could it be my racquet, my strings, or my form? An old injury? Dare I say, age? After a thorough evaluation, the physical therapist recommends more stretching. Really? And improved skill to enhance form. No surgery needed.
Now imagine your student has a particular symptom (test scores of X) and we think the remedy, plan, is to practice test taking. Drill. Drill Drill. Like with any sport, practice does not only mean to play match after match, but to determine one’s core skills, one’s character and inclinations, one’s habits, and one’s performance weaknesses. Where can we identify areas where the student is underperforming? How can we determine the fundamental reasons for the student to not perform at his or her best? The answer is to not throw dozens of hours at the problem and hope it sticks. What you require is a needs assessment and Individual Education Plan (IEP). Think of it as a physical trainer for school, an expert who knows how to help the student perform at his or her best.
Real Test Prep
Real test prep means understanding the purpose of the test, how to prepare, and how to set goals.
Step 1 is our evaluation, whereby we meet the student with the expressed purpose of understanding motivation, organization, attitude, focus, and to determine parent and student goals. Those goals may differ, but require alignment to manage expectations.
Step 2 is to take a diagnostic test to determine where to focus preparation and how to benchmark performance.
Step 3 is to begin weekly one-on-one sessions following the IEP we develop for your student. Depending on the plan, we establish benchmark diagnostics along the way to measure growth. By working individually with subject matter experts, we determine root causes of the underlying performance of the student, not just the symptom that is observed.
We treat the core issues and then add skill and knowledge. Without this process and strong foundation, hours of prep are lost to inefficiency and unfocused preparation.
When looking into standardized test prep centers, look into the credentials and experience of the management and team. Is the center led by an educator, someone with experience in teaching, trained in the science of education, and with relevant experience about the constantly shifting landscape of testing? Is it a franchise or an owner-operated solution whereby every person involved believes in the core mission of advancing students? At Novella Prep, founder Dr. Tony Di Giacomo is a lifelong educator, with full-time experience in undergraduate admissions, multiple universities, work with a former secretary of education, and 8 years at The College Board, which owns and operates PSAT, SAT, and AP (Advanced Placement). He understands the fundamentals of testing, how to best prepare, and how to optimize testing strategically for college applications.
Plan the year, plan the quarter, plan the week, and live the day. A simple mantra we at Novella Prep have found to be powerful for academic and test prep excellence. When we meet families and begin our work, we cultivate a plan for the year and back map so the student is only responsible for a week at a time, living a day at a time, and therefore not being burdened with thinking about the myriad upcoming hurdles to jump. With this plan, coupled with additional offerings like study skills planning, soft skill training, resume development, and quite simply, offering seasoned advice and counsel on demand, students and families mindfully work toward college with less stress, informed and with purpose.
One Stop Shop
Many parents find tremendous convenience being able to come to Novella Prep for academic advising, tutoring, test prep, and college planning. While we have the direct expertise to offer any single service, we have found by holistically supporting our families and students, we can have a significant positive impact on their lives through understanding how these various needs coordinate with their schooling.
So, we are different in many ways based on our leadership as well as our values. We are not just looking for that single A, bump in test score, or college list: we seek to help students achieve at their best, develop skills to succeed now and in the future, and get into the best-fit college that allows them to launch a career that aligns to their purpose. The best part: this whole process is easy to start. Contact us today!