“Like a sport, or musical instrument, testing can be mastered with the right work ethic and the right coach.”
- Hafeez Lakhani
Standardized tests—most commonly tests of problem solving ability—have an aura of mystery that strikes fear into many students. But like any skill—a sport, a musical instrument—problem solving ability can be significantly advanced over time. No one would expect to “study all night” tonight and play a Beethoven symphony tomorrow. So why would anyone expect to give her best performance on a standardized test without a dedicated program of skills growth?
Through an intimate, one-on-one process, our world-class coaches patiently teach the specific skills required for each test—the detailed reading strategy, finding the “aha moment” of various math scenarios, the nitty gritty grammar rules. But more importantly, we teach our students to ignite the drive to make their ambitions a reality. Our students don’t just walk away with more answers correct—they become better equipped to chase down goals of any kind.
In our experience we’ve seen, over and over, students achieve higher scores on standardized tests than they ever thought possible: SAT scores rising by 600 points, GMAT scores rising by 350 points, and LSAT scores rising by 8 points, among other tremendous improvements.
In coaching standardized tests we harness our highly effective 4-step method (GDSD):
1) Goal Setting: We encourage every student to assign a numerical goal score—including sub-section scores—based on expectations for desired admissions targets. No goal is too lofty so long as the student is willing to put in the work.
2) Diagnostic: For every student, we conduct a diagnostic exam with the understanding that these results may be humble. We simply need to identify areas of strength and improvement before we begin the heavy lifting of skills growth.
3) Skills growth: In a rigorous one-on-one setting, we teach problem solving skills across all sections and subsections, with a particular focus on gap areas. As our work develops, we create detailed, personalized study guides for each student alongside our overarching curriculum.
4) Drilling: We know that test anxiety can be a hurdle, so we empower students to overcome it through practice and repetition. Once skills growth begins to mature, we implement timed and untimed drilling, including a strict practice test regimen shaped by a student’s customized calendar.
Standardized tests can be particularly intimidating for younger students preparing for elite private or boarding school admissions. Our coaches focus on removing the pressure from the process. They identify gaps between what the student has learned in school and what the exam demands, such as specific formulas on the math section and familiarity with advanced vocabulary, and work to fill those gaps.
Through our diligent one-on-one approach, we teach quantitative and reading problem solving along with focused strategies around word charge, roots, and word associations.
We are perhaps most famous for the gains we’ve coached on the SAT, with students raising scores by as many as 600 points.
We take pride in helping students of all types, be it a student with a learning difference looking to show his problem solving metal, a student who suffers test anxiety but who is committed to overcoming it, a 25th percentile scorer looking to break into the 75th percentile, or a brilliant phenom gunning for a perfect score.
Most beautiful about our SAT practice is the response we receive over and over from students and parents: that the skills growth, and commitment toward success in a goal, easily fosters a permanent growth in confidence.
While the ACT has a slightly less intimidating reputation than the SAT—students often report that it feels less difficult—our coaches know that the ACT’s scale can brutally punish a student who doesn't move with the lightening speed that the test requires.
Our practice balances the skills growth element—formulas, reading strategy, grammatical rules, dissecting charts in Science—with a rigorous drilling practice that specifically targets the speed requirements of the ACT, resulting in score increases as dramatic as 12 points.
SAT Subject Tests
What if you could get a former Wall Street trader, or Math major at Yale, to help you improve your Math2 Subject Test? What if a Political Science PhD could help you prepare for the U.S. History? What if a Cornell teaching assistant, or a Brown medical school student, could teach you Chemistry, Physics or Biology? At Lakhani Coaching we are proud to make these matches possible, and most importantly in our Subject Test approach, we move quickly to help students fill content gaps that a high school course—even if it is AP or IB—might leave behind.
It is not uncommon for our instructors to teach a Math II student complex probability for the first time, or a Chemistry student thermodynamics and rate laws, or to delve into advanced vocabulary with a Spanish or Chinese language student.
Subject Tests play an important role—even when they are not strictly required—in helping an advanced student differentiate herself in a competitive applicant pool. While AP or IB scores may be self-reported, Subject Tests scores come officially from the College Board to put a student’s hard earned expertise on display.
AP and IB curricula are some of the best ways to demonstrate the absolute rigor a student has sought out in particular subjects. As with our approach on Subject Tests, we work past any stress created from these demanding courses and quickly fill gaps in knowledge that even a fantastic teacher may have left.
Students preparing for the GRE begin in a wide variety of starting positions. Some are coming straight out of college; others haven’t set foot in an academic setting in years. Some have been actively using quantitative, verbal and writing skills equally; others may not have thought about the Pythagorean Theorem in six years.
Whether for an aspiring Physics PhD or a Master’s student in Journalism, our coaches are adept at helping any student prepare for the GRE using our focused four-step method. Given the increasing frequency of law schools accepting GRE—and the common sense approach to taking GRE if you are undecided between law school and other graduate study—focused preparation for the GRE is more important than ever.
For students preparing for highly specialized graduate study, we have expert coaches in place for the following GRE Subject Tests:
The GMAT is the most widely taken graduate-level admissions test globally and is scored on an extremely tough curve, especially on the Quantitative section. Further, it requires perhaps more rigorous focus on time management than any other standardized test.
Given that the GMAT incorporates concepts that some students haven't reviewed since high school, if at all—including quadratic equations, angular geometry, and combinatorics—our GDSD approach is especially vital in diagnosing gap areas. From there, our coaches help students sort through a vast set of material quickly and develop a custom time-management strategy for this computer adaptive test.
Possibly the most mentally challenging standardized test in the American canon, the LSAT requires an intense focus on logic—something few students have ever formally studied. Our coaches have ample experience helping students recognize the many traps and pitfalls hidden in the LSAT, and are experts in helping students learn to solve complicated Logic Game problems quickly using a rigorous and customized methodology.
While most standardized exams test problem solving ability, the MCAT demands an enormous wealth of subject knowledge as well. As such, our program begins with a diagnostic test for specific strengths and improvement areas—whether in Critical Analysis and Reasoning or in Organic Chemistry and Physics—before implementing rigorous one-on-one instruction targeting identified knowledge gaps. From there we turn to intensive practice from large banks of past problems and officially administered exams.