How to Become an SAT/ACT Tutor

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A student become more confident for their test because an insured tutor helps teach them.

Any high school student hoping to attend college has their eye on standardized tests like the SAT or ACT and how they can achieve high scores. It is common for these students to turn to professional tutors who guide them through the process of taking the test and ensuring they have all the necessary knowledge. Private tutors are known to be more effective than self-led options, adding 37 points on average to an SAT score. For tutors, SAT and ACT tutoring can be lucrative and personally fulfilling, but it should always be considered a business venture. If you think this might be a good career option for you, read on for a full review of what you need to do and how to get started.

What is an SAT/ACT Tutor?

The SAT and ACT are both exams designed for use in the college admissions process to demonstrate readiness for higher education. The majority of colleges will accept either test, as long as one has been taken, though some students do choose to take both to see which score is higher. As a tutor, you can choose to focus on one test or both.

The SAT has three sections that are tested over the course of three hours: reading, writing & language, and math. The ACT has sections for english, math, reading, and science reasoning, along with an optional writing module. The science section is the most unique part of the ACT, but it is important to note that this is designed to test critical thinking and not scientific knowledge. Most students do choose to take the writing exam. The SATs are slightly more popular, with about 2.2 million test-takers in 2020 vs 1.7 million for the ACT.

While the subjects are similar across tests, the format of questions on the SAT and ACT are not always the same, which means tutoring for each can require varied skill sets.

SAT and ACT tutors are typically freelance workers who find clients and use their own format for tutoring, either individually or in a group setting. Some companies do provide tutors and you could work for them as a contractor, but it is usually more lucrative to work for yourself and directly with families.

The job of these tutors is to help students prepare for the exam by reviewing potential content of the exams as well as the format and tips for taking tests in general. Usually this includes a lot of exercises and practice exams, along with study help.

An insured tutor helps a student prepare for the ACT.

What Do You Need to Know Before Becoming an SAT/ACT Tutor?

When you decide to move forward with SAT/ACT tutoring, you will want to prepare yourself for any potential challenges. This includes deciding a business model and whether you’d like to work for yourself or through a third party, which can help you decide things like your marketing plan and what you might expect to charge. Websites like The Princeton Review are often hiring for similar roles.

As a freelancer, you will need to understand how to protect yourself and your business and project a professional demeanor. But you also need to take steps to make sure you will be an effective tutor, especially if it has been a while since you sat for these exams yourself. The more you understand about the tests, the better you will able to teach it. Buy study guides and practice tests to ensure you are very familiar with the material and ready to teach.

Steps To Becoming an SAT/ACT Tutor

Since there are different ways to be an SAT/ACT tutor, the path may not look the same for every person. But there are some basic steps you can take to make sure your business is on track and you are protected.

1. Gain knowledge and experience

Most SAT and ACT tutors are college students or graduates, as the experience of the admissions process is valuable as a tutor. But regardless of your educational background, you will need to be sure you have a deep understanding of the test or tests structure, content, and how to improve your score. Taking practice tests and using study guides yourself is a great way to prepare.

2. Consider certification

There is no required certification for SAT tutors or ACT tutors, and many people are extremely successful without formal training. However, you can choose to go through a certification program. This might be helpful from a marketing perspective, but more importantly they can provide specific training in how to be successful and may even provide a curriculum, materials, or support for tutors.

3. Prepare business materials

There is no required certification for SAT tutors or ACT tutors, and many people are extremely successful without formal training. However, you can choose to go through a certification program. This might be helpful from a marketing perspective, but more importantly they can provide specific training in how to be successful and may even provide a curriculum, materials, or support for tutors.

4. Get Insured

Before you start any business, you need to be sure you are protected against a litany of issues. Tutor insurance is designed specifically for people in this space who are at risk of medical expenses, physical injury claims, or even claims of not meeting client expectations. You should have this insurance set up early in the process, before you take on any clients, so that you are protected throughout the entire time you are working with students.

5. Prepare your materials

You can choose to purchase a curriculum or teaching guide online or you can create your own. Either way, it’s best to be prepared with options for how to teach each subject rather than trying to make it up as you go along. Having a set curriculum will make your sessions easier and help you appear prepared and knowledgeable for future clients.

6. Market yourself

Once everything else is in place, you need to start advertising your services. This can be as simple as using your own social media to find clients in your network or you may post in local groups that high school students frequent. Having a simple website or social media page is helpful in gaining business, so having that set up early is important.

How to Find Tutoring Clients

One of the most daunting parts of starting a business is building a client base. It can feel like you may never get hired and it’s not worth getting started. But with so many students taking the SAT and ACT each year, there is no shortage of people in need of these services.

You can start with your own network for finding clients. Even if you don’t know high school students, you may know people with children or family members in high school. Post on your own social media or share your new business with those you know and you may be surprised to have clients sent your way.

In addition to those you know, you can also leverage local venues for finding clients. Advertise your services in a local school newspaper or ask to put up flyers in the cafeteria bulletin board. You can do the same at any venues you know high school students frequent to be sure there are eyes on your marketing materials. But don’t limit yourself to students- advertising somewhere there are a lot of parents can be just as effective, and they’ll likely be the ones paying for your services.

The internet is also very helpful in finding clients. If you are offering virtual tutoring, you will have a much broader reach this way, but it’s also helpful for local clients. Use groups and message boards for your community, or aimed at high school students, to find people in need. Creating social media profiles for your business will also help drive traffic to your business.

A tutor goes over a prepared lesson with a test prepper.

What Content an SAT/ACT Tutor Needs to Teach

Tutoring for a test like the SAT or ACT is about more than just preparing students for the exact questions they may face on the exam. The tests are designed to look for things like critical thinking skills just as much as they are looking for knowledge and recall. Because of this, a large part of your curriculum may focus on standardized tests as a group and how to navigate them. Paying attention to question structures, techniques for when you don’t know the answer, and how to effectively manage your time are all critical parts of this tutoring.

A tutor will of course also focus on the content itself. Depending on which test you are preparing for, you will usually need to work on each subject individually. You may have some clients who struggle with one subject, like writing, while excelling at another like math and can adjust accordingly.

Some examples of topics you may cover for each subject include:

  • Grammar
    • Subject/verb agreement
    • Verb tense agreement
    • Misplaced modifiers
    • Paragraph structure and flow
  • Math
    • Perimeter, area, and volume
    • Exponent rules
    • Triangle measurements
    • “Guess and check”
    • Factoring
  • Critical reading
    • Note-taking skills
    • Skimming
    • Common types of questions
Usually, a large part of your curriculum will also involve reviewing practice exams with a student to see where they can improve.

Licenses and Certifications Needed

There are no formal education requirements to become an SAT or ACT tutor, though some third party services may require it to be hired. However, a number of organizations do offer certifications that help tutors to gain knowledge and skills that may be helpful in their practice. One example is The Association for Test Prep and Tutoring Professionals, who offer a 25 hour remote course on the topic. 

You also do not need a license to operate as a tutor, though depending on your formal business structure you may need a business license in your state or city. It will also be important to consider investing in tutor insurance, which protects you against liability in the case that someone is hurt in your tutoring space or someone claims you did not provide the agreed upon service.

Preparing for SAT/ACT Lessons

One great thing about tutoring is you will often learn more yourself, so you are constantly preparing to help your next client. That said, you should put some forethought into each session so that you are adequately prepared.

First, there are some logistical considerations:

  • Where will the tutoring take place? Who else will be present besides you and the student? If you will be in your own space, it is important to make sure you have all the proper liability protection in place.
  • What materials should you bring? What should they bring?
  • Is there an intake form or other information they can provide early on?

Once you have these items sorted, you can do individual preparation for each student. This can include narrowing it down to which test they’ll be taking, which subjects you should focus on that day, and what exercises are planned. Having all of these details prepared in advance makes each lesson more efficient and increases the chances of a good outcome.

While tutoring can be a great business it is important to be prepared with adequate resources, knowledge, and licenses. Tutor insurance can help protect you and your business from liability claims while also giving you peace of mind around your business.

Insurance Canopy has one of the best, and most affordable tutoring insurance policies on the market. Purchase your coverage today!

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming an SAT/ACT Tutor

Do I need a degree to be an SAT/ACT tutor?

No, there are no education requirements for tutoring SAT or ACT prep. However, most tutors are at least in college and have gone through the admissions process. College students are often tutors as well, even if they have not finished their degree.

Do I have to tutor both ACT and SAT?

Tutors can focus on both tests or just one, depending on skills and interests. Most students only take one test and will not need to be tutored on both simultaneously. 

Should an SAT/ACT tutor have insurance?

Yes, any business owner should be insured. Tutor insurance specifically focuses on covering any injuries or medical needs during tutoring sessions, as well as protection from liability if someone were to fail the test or claim you did not perform your job.

If you have questions about tutor insurance, contact us today. We are happy to help answer your questions and find the policy right for you.

Can I get hired as an SAT/ACT tutor?

Most test prep tutors work independently as freelancers, but there are also organizations that hire tutors and match them with clients.

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