Q: Where do tutoring sessions take place?
A: Tutors with Odyssey are available to meet with students in our Bethesda or Washington offices, in-home, or at another agreed upon location (library, community center, or school classroom). Odyssey also offers its services to any student with high-speed Internet access.
Q: How long do sessions last?
A: Test preparation and academic tutoring sessions generally last two hours.
Q: How old are the students you work with?
A: We tutor students in grades 9 through 12.
Q: What are the tutors at Odyssey like?
A: Tutors with Odyssey are intelligent, ambitious young people in their twenties and thirties who have a range of academic skills and passions. All tutors are graduates of top American colleges or universities; some are enthusiastic about a career in the classroom, while others want to ultimately be in medicine, law, or business. In addition to impressive academic achievements, tutors with Odyssey have a myriad number of athletic and extracurricular interests. Some tutors were Division I athletes, while others were active in the arts or involved with their school newspaper during their time in college.
Q: How do I know my child will like his or her tutor?
A: It's critical a student enjoy working with his or her tutor. A strong working relationship between tutor and student is much more likely to lead to successful outcomes than a relationship where the student and tutor don't work well together. We go to great lengths to carefully match a student to the tutor he or she will work with, and then ensure that both the student and parents are pleased with the arrangement.
Q: How are parents kept abreast of progress?
A: We believe that parents need to be frequently updated about the progress their child is making. To this end, tutors with Odyssey will send a session summary to parents after every meeting. These summaries will offer a synopsis of how the time was spent, how the student performed, and any other additional information that the tutor deems noteworthy. These summaries give both an immediate snapshot of how the student is fairing, while also providing longer-term insight and analysis.
Q: Does Odyssey offer financial aid?
A: Yes. Odyssey offers financial aid to families with demonstrated need. Please reach out to Odyssey if you would like to apply for aid and we would be happy to send you our form.
Q: Should my child take the SAT or ACT?
A: Odyssey is happy to discuss this issue with parents and students who are unsure which test is the better fit. There are a number of substantive differences between the two tests. We strongly believe that the best way to make a determination about whether the SAT or ACT is the better fit is through a diagnostic test. Ideally, this is completed at the beginning of the student’s junior year. In general, we do not believe that the two tests should be studied for concurrently. Although some students do end up taking official tests for both the SAT and ACT, we believe that the two tests should not be prepared for at the same time. Doing so, in our experience, only leads to higher levels of stress and unnecessary confusion regarding the content and structure of each test.
Q: What sort of materials are used for test preparation?
A: Odyssey has its own guides for both the SAT and the ACT. These guides are concise, no-nonsense manuals that outline how the tests are organized and scored, before delving into the specific content of each test. Odyssey also uses supplementary materials for practice tests and workbooks for section-specific work.
Q: How do you track progress during test preparation courses?
A: We use official practice SATs and ACTs to track progress during our test preparation courses. This ensures that any increase reflects real, measurable improvement.
Q: What is the average score increase for students who work with Odyssey?
A: The average SAT increase for students we work with is between 200 and 250 points. The average increase on the ACT is between 5 and 7 points. Based on our research, these are two of of the highest average increases anywhere.
Q: Do you offer a guaranteed score increase for your test preparation services?
A: No. We believe that score guarantees offered by other companies are used primarily for marketing purposes, and not as a mark of quality or professionalism. At Odyssey, we’re confident in the materials we’ve created, the people who work for us, and the test preparation services we provide. But we also recognize that every student is different, and that all students won’t achieve the same score increase. Some students will see an increase greater than average, while for others, the increase will be smaller.
Q: How long before an SAT or ACT should my child begin studying for the test?
A: In general, we believe that it is best to begin preparing for the SAT or ACT approximately 3-4 months before the test. This allows enough time to learn the structure of the test before intensively reviewing concepts that appear in the different sections of each test.
We do understand that sometimes students have less than that amount of time to prepare for an upcoming test. In these instances, we are often willing to find a suitable arrangement to help a student prepare. However, we do not work with students to help them "cram" or make last-minute preparations; we will categorically NOT work with students who contact us less than three weeks before a test date.
Q: How much homework will my child have in between test preparation sessions?
A: Students will initially have between one and two hours of homework in between sessions. As the test date nears, however, the workload will increase and students will receive as much as four hours of homework in between meetings.
Q: I remember taking the SAT 25 or 30 years ago—I took the test only once, had no preparation, and my life has turned out fine. Does my child really need help to prepare for the ACT/SAT??
A: In our view, yes—a lot has changed since you applied to college! One of the most significant changes has been the increased competition for spots at nearly all schools. Selective colleges and universities in the U.S. now receive many times the number of applications than they did just a generation ago. While this is due to a number of different factors—technological innovations, greater numbers of high school students applying to and enrolling in college, and a common application that standardizes a lot of the paperwork—the conclusion from these changes is simple: there are larger applicant pools than the ones you had to contend with when you were a high school senior. With this new reality, students and their parents should seize upon any opportunity to separate an application from the rest of the pool—including employing the services of an excellent tutor to assist with SAT/ACT preparation.
Q: My child has already worked with a private tutor or taken a classroom SAT/ACT course and scores showed minimal improvement. What makes you different?
A: We're extremely proud of the outstanding people who work for us, the carefully crafted materials we use, and the overall quality of the services we provide. We believe that these aspects of Odyssey distinguish us from both classroom courses and other one-on-one tutoring companies in the D.C. area.
Q: Do you work with students to prepare them for the SAT Subject Tests?
A: Yes. Odyssey works individually with students to prepare them for the following SAT Subject Tests: Literature, U.S. History, World History, Math Levels IC and IIC, Biology E/M, Chemistry, and Physics. We do not offer preparation for the SAT language tests. For more information on this service, please visit our "SAT Subject Test" page.
Q: Do you offer any other test preparation besides SAT/ACT and the SAT Subject tests?
A: No. We deliberately keep our focus narrow, ensuring the best possible test preparation service for students looking for assistance on the SAT, ACT or SAT Subject Tests.
Q: What can you share with us regarding at-home versions of the SAT and ACT (to be administered in the fall of 2020)?
A: As of May 2020, minimal details have been released regarding at-home versions of the two tests. We will continue to monitor developments and update students and parents on these details as they become available. We expect these versions to differ markedly from current versions of the SAT and ACT.
Q: Does Odyssey anticipate that the SAT/ACT will continue to be a requirement for college admission?
A: Due to the coronavirus pandemic, we expect an increasing number of colleges and universities to drop this requirement—particularly in the near-term. However, we do not foresee a systemic shift away from standardized testing over the medium and/or long-term. Despite the myriad flaws inherent in all standardized testing, the SATs and ACTs will likely continue to play a useful role in college admissions by providing schools with a uniform metric by which to judge all prospective students.
Q: What academic subjects do you tutor students in?
A: We work with students across the core high school subjects—math, science, English, and history. We do not work with students in the languages. For a complete list of subjects we tutor students in, please visit the "Academic Tutoring" page on this site.
Q: My child is a good student, but needs help with organizational skills. Is this a service you offer?
Yes—we work with students across a range of academic aptitudes. Some students need assistance with nearly all of their academic courses, while others are looking for help with a particular class. We also work with students taking advanced courseloads and earning strong grades, but who want to improve their time management and organizational skills.
Q: How much homework will my child have between academic tutoring sessions?
A: For academic tutoring, there will typically be no extra work on top of school coursework. However, if it is evident that a student will benefit from additional coursework above and beyond what’s directly related to class—and the student has the time and energy to work through this additional material—we will consider assigning and reviewing supplementary assignments.