A New York SAT tutor who charges $1,500 an hour says college admissions have become an 'arms race'
Written by Malek

By Abby Jackson

Gaining acceptance into selective colleges seems harder today than ever before. Acceptance rates at top schools decline almost every year, and former admissions officers at Ivy League schools say the competition is at an all-time high. Anthony-James Green, a New York City-based SAT and ACT tutor, agrees. "It's become a little bit of an arms race," Green told Business Insider. Green experiences firsthand the lengths to which families will go to improve their students' scores. His $1,500-an-hour price tag may seem hefty, but to the families who want to see significant improvement in test scores, it's worth the cost.

"My average ACT students usually goes up by around 7 points, and on the old SAT they were going up around 420, 430 points," he said. On the new SAT, Green said, his students average 310- to 320-point increases. The Columbia University grad works exclusively over Skype, and he attracts families from all over the US. Students on average spend about 20 to 30 hours with him. He acknowledged that the inching up of test scores related to test prep may have a potentially damaging impact on students who don't pay for additional SAT support.

"It creates this weird spread where there is a very small portion of people who are extremely well prepped and the vast majority who still aren't," Green said. "The problem of course is that because it is graded on a scale it throws off results in a really disproportionate and devastating way."

But for families who cannot afford his price — and he says he will work only with families for whom his rate doesn't cause a financial burden — Green offers some hopeful advice.

Standardized test scores are not a function of your intelligence, Green said. Instead, it's just time and consistent effort. If you begin working your freshman year of high school, he says, you won't need to cram with a test-prep tutor in your junior year to get a high score.

"The trick is begin really early — and I recommend freshman year — but then keep it to 20 minutes a day," he said. "That's really all it takes."