This AMA is over. Thanks for all the feedback and information. Good luck in your studies and all of your pursuits.

Me: linkedin.com/in/calessandraturner

Us: FairTestPrep.com

Original post: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/e07kfo/after_nearly_a_decade_at_the_world_leader_in_test/?utm_source=share&utm_medium=web2x

Comments: 407 • Responses: 52  • Date: 

hackel662 karma

If people need any special preparation in the first place, isn't that a sign that the testing is severely flawed and needs to be changed?

TurnadoAlee157 karma

Yes and no. The test prep industry has been part of the extreme shifting of the median test scores which then feeds into more people needing prep in order to compete.. the industry solves the problem it creates in that way. But, the testing itself could be - all things equal - a great tool.

I was an 8th grade drop out / teen mom.. I ended up getting my GED (that test changed my future).. that got me into college but I was also a single mom and wasn't able to keep my grades perfect with 3 part time jobs and a child to tend to... (I had good grades but not good enough to do what I wanted to do which was go to law school... and of course I didn't have money so it needed to be on full scholarship... so here you have this student, no HS degree, spotty attendance and a few C's on the resume, went to a local state school, no super special letters of recommendation.. and she's applying to law school where students went to Harvard for undergrad, and have Governor's as recommenders, and perfectt 4.0 GPA's... how does someone show that they are just as talented or even more? the test. The LSAT was the second test that changed my life because I got into law school on full scholarship.

So I think the tests themselves can be valuable tools and especially for students whose life situation may not have given them the opportunity to adequately highlight their talents... but yea, what do we do when people are spending 35k (I had one family do this for their son to pass the MCAT for med school) and other kids are having to use whatever books are free at the library?

I don't know how to fix it but so long as their are folks who want to use these tests to show what they can do and need help to be ready to do that - I'll be doing that and we'll be doing that for free so that anyone can keep up.

[deleted]14 karma

[removed]

TurnadoAlee25 karma

median accept score / median take score

a lot of other factors - the rise of women entering professional school for example... more competition = more selectivity...

yes_its_him74 karma

Colleges are interested in what someone can do when they are adequately prepared, not so much what they can do without any preparation whatsoever.

You learn math before you take a math test, and you study for that test prior to the test. That doesn't make the test severely flawed.

MeowTheMixer52 karma

But shouldn't, our schools be teaching this already?

Why should a test on math for the act need special prep, compared to what is already taught? (Unless you're taking it early)

TurnadoAlee28 karma

It isn't just instruction, unfortunately. It's also practice items. The test is not just math, say - it's also about reasoning with the math and the test asks the questions in certain ways.. and you should be prepared for that too.. but to get in-format practice questions and practice tests and teachers who can show you the unique way the material will be questioned all costs $. Luckily the testmakers are partnering with companies like Khan Academy to provide free videos and practice items so that students can get that "prep.." the only thing that the big box $$$ test prep companies continue to have that students cannot access on their own for free is live instruction, essay grading, and tutoring... and I promise you I've sat in meeting after meeting where live instruction especially was held up as the one thing that would never be available and the one reason why people would continue to need to pay $$$ for this stuff... and so.. here I am doing what I do. And studies have shown that live instruction for test prep does lead to higher scores.

chiltonmatters12 karma

Little known secret- at least at the time. Like a lot of college kids I had little money so I thought I’d prepare by purchasing the preparation books published by the GRE people themselves. I think there were 5 or 6. I read thru all of the and did their practice tests at least twice. When I didnt know the meaning of a word I looked up

So I go to take the test and was shocked to find out it was basically the same test, only with different numbers plugged in. And 60% of those words i looked up were there. I got 800/790/800 (and I don mean that arrogantly)

Perhaps I got lucky or have a “test taking” gene. But unless the GRE people changed their prep books (or don’t sell them anymore) I would highly recommend this strategy. It does take a lot of time, but I got offers from 13 grad programs, most with guaranteed support (TA, etc). YMMV

TurnadoAlee14 karma

The official material is the only I suggest people spend money on. But I imagine you came in with a background that provided good study skills and a base knowledge.. not all students do. When I took the GRE I had next to no mathematics education - I had to go from a 141 to a 167... I felt like I had to learn all of math.. and I couldn't have done it without resources.

UTshaper1 karma

It does generally. I never did test prep and did fine on all my tests

TurnadoAlee17 karma

But not every student does. Imagine a student with all of the intelligence in the world but a disadvantaged educational background where they have not encountered or been taught well the things they will see on test day... they may even have poor grades and might even do poorly on these tests.. but if shown the material they can have an opportunity to show that they are super smart and they were able to "beat" this test or do better than expected considering the rest of their packet.

Also students with English as a second language; students with learning disabilities; students who aim for schools where there is 0 room for error on the tests, students taking the GED sometimes have no former instruction on GED material - that was me... I had to learn all of that for the test... etc. There are a lot of reasons people don't come directly into their test with the ability to do what in their estimation is "fine."

SadBBTumblrPizza6 karma

Yes. I've worked in test prep too and I can tell you that unless the student in question has a noticeable deficiency (for example, problems w reading or math that they need a remedial class on), test prep offers very marginal gains in scores for the vast majority of students. It's not worth the money. If it's free like OP's business though then it might be worth it.

TurnadoAlee4 karma

agreed ... but for some of these exams a couple points make a large difference ... and for some students it makes a huge difference - we don't see those students as much in the test prep industry b/c they can't afford our services but there are whole populations of students with all the intelligence and capability in the world who will never have access in their primary source of education let alone in test prep to compete.

KJ6BWB4 karma

Most people expect test prep to be a magic bullet. Didn't learn in class? Test prep!

Instead it's a guide, a way to better highlight where your deficiencies are so that you can spend additional time and work into bringing those parts up.

TurnadoAlee6 karma

A lot of students I've seen do have that magic bullet mentality and it's definitely not that. The value in test prep courses is the wealth of material not that it's magic - it all depends on what you do with that wealth of material. Unfortunately there are magic bullet students who don't use their wealth of material and there are hardworking students who will never have access to that wealth of material... and so we keep on.

nova_cat87 karma

I am skeptical of your claim that the real problem here is for-profit test prep companies and not the standardized tests themselves. I think it's pretty well-known that the SAT and ACT are not good predictors of undergraduate success, nor are they particularly relevant to or good at measuring skills students learn in school and will apply going forward. The same is true of most, if not all, graduate admissions tests. Test prep is an obvious response to this problem of a test designed to be as obnoxiously disconnected and obtuse as possible.

Why are you advocating for leveling the playing field of test prep instead of advocating for the end of standardized admissions tests? Doing the latter obviates the test prep industry entirely, and problem solved. Shouldn't we be encouraging schools to follow the current trend of going "test-optional"?

TurnadoAlee8 karma

Entrance exams offer opportunities in a way some have no other access to. If two students have the same GPA and same major field and similarly assessed ... everything... and one went to Yale for undergrad and the other went to their local polytechnic school... how does the second compete? I posted earlier that I am a fan of entrance exams b/c of the opportunity that they provide to showcase yourself - not b/c of the school you went to, or the experiential opportunities you had, or the people you know - but b/c of what you can do.

From earlier:

I was an 8th grade drop out / teen mom.. I ended up getting my GED (that test changed my future).. that got me into college but I was also a single mom and wasn't able to keep my grades perfect with 3 part time jobs and a child to tend to... (I had good grades but not good enough to do what I wanted to do which was go to law school... and of course I didn't have money so it needed to be on full scholarship... so here you have this student, no HS degree, spotty attendance and a few C's on the resume, went to a local state school, no super special letters of recommendation.. and she's applying to law school where students went to Harvard for undergrad, and have Governor's as recommenders, and perfectt 4.0 GPA's... how does someone show that they are just as talented or even more? the test. The LSAT was the second test that changed my life because I got into law school on full scholarship.

So I think the tests themselves can be valuable tools and especially for students whose life situation may not have given them the opportunity to adequately highlight their talents... but yea, what do we do when people are spending 35k (I had one family do this for their son to pass the MCAT for med school) and other kids are having to use whatever books are free at the library?

I don't believe ending entrance exams solves all problems as it is currently the only thing in an applicants package that is same across all students... but... it isn't same while people have access to all sorts of props that others don't. If Jimmy gets a 65th percentile score with no prep and Johnny gets a 45th percentile, that should be a feather in Jimmy's cap; but if Johnny pays $1500 for intense prep and then scores a 66th percentile, Jimmy's feather is gone... it's a real problem.

I would not oppose the ending of the entire for-profit test prep industry. I woulld not oppose ending entrance exams if/when another way to put that feather in your cap that no one can deny you (o well he had an easier major, his school isn't prestigious enough, etc.) .. then I keep working to help people have the same footing to earn that feather.

samm1t11 karma

Right... But what OP is saying is that tests, in fact, are not successful at "showing what you can do" in a standardized way.

TurnadoAlee6 karma

We are defining succeess differently. OP discussed success in terms of performance in school or even after. I am defining it at being able to show what skills you have that day in that moment coming out of hs or undergrad... b/c the tests are part off an application packet with GPA which has also shown what you have done here and now. The test is often defended by saying it shows how well someone will do in future and stats don't tend to prove that to be true but I have seen many, many, many times that the tests can be successful in showing what your current abilities are in a way that can mitigate (or augment) what the rest of the data in your application packet is saying.

NerdyKirdahy51 karma

How does your company make money?

What data does your company collect about students/clients?

Is your company COPPA compliant?

If your concern was about students being excluded because of standardized testing, why not work to end testing rather than feed into it?

TurnadoAlee54 karma

  1. we don't; wish us luck. (we are considering ways to monetize via advertisers - annoying but effective? we are considering pursuing non-profit status)... we moved really quickly and sped up our opening bc of the testing scandal (with Felicity Huffman) b/c it's very rare that people on a large scale (this is the first time I've seen it) discuss the unfair practices involved in getting into school so we were hoping that attention might help people better understand what we're doing. For the future? When the money runs out? I dunno.

  2. We collect hits through a analytic tracker nothing too deep just location in the world and what pages on the site they visited. When students enroll in classes we collect their email b/c that's where their class ticket is sent to. We do not sell or share this inforrmation in anyway and I believe to date we've only used the entire email list we have for 3 student/past student wide emails. The most recent being to let everyone know we added free essay grading.

  3. We do not knowingly collect any data from children under age 13, we also do not allow any students under 18 (ACT SAT scholarship students) to accept their scholarship except through their parents.

  4. I am actually a proponent of entrance exams for reasons I discussed on other threads but in short b/c it can be an opportunity to show that all things equal you are just as good as any other applicant who came from any school or did any cool experience, etc. However, all things aren't equal - so that's where I focus my effort.

migueeel19 karma

About the money, consider tying in with Brave Rewards! It's a whole system of advertising based on consensual user ads. You could get some users to drop you some money every now and then - money they got by having ads shown to them - ads they wanted to be shown.

TurnadoAlee14 karma

I've never heard of that. I'll pass the name on to our manager for sure. Thanks for the info.

devil_d0c11 karma

I really like you. Politics of late have really dampened my faith in humanity, but you are genuinely a good person actively doing good... so thank you.

TurnadoAlee6 karma

Thank you :) that means a lot to me

incogburritos13 karma

Unless it's a non profit, which I'm not seeing indications of, almost certainly data harvesting and selling and remarketing.

SadBBTumblrPizza4 karma

Reading their TOS and Privacy Policy, they simply sell tutoring services like literally hundreds of other sites out there. The others even also do the free test prep course thing.

EDIT: Further clicking around shows me that they're currently without a revenue model, but their TOS clearly implies they will, in the future, be selling these services they're currently offering free. I imagine they're on incubator/VC funding at the moment.

TurnadoAlee13 karma

Absolutely it does not. We are not planning to sell any data and we don't harvest data. Our TOS should clearly imply that we paid for the most basic boiler plate that would cover us in any eventuality. We don't employ a team of attorneys the way other companies do. I can assure you we have absolutely no plan to data harvest.

seriously_wy42 karma

Why not join the fight to eliminate high stakes testing rather than attempt to fix an inherently broken and educationally unsound practice?

I'm glad that the test worked out for you, but it does not for many other talented students. As an educator I'm sure you're well aware of the demonstratable biases and weaknesses of such tests. Best of luck with your company, but I'm fighting to end the system you're serving because I know we can do better.

TurnadoAlee33 karma

That's great - replace it with something better I'd welcome the end of this industry b/c talented students are all getting the opportunities they deserve...

but until that time people need help and they're being denied it for numerous reasons.. and so here we are.

I believe in education as a right and I hope we do find better, ultimately.

mrmgl30 karma

If you're working for free, you're not working.

How do you make a living?

TurnadoAlee41 karma

I suppose you're right. I do hope to make money again one day.. some day.. so I don't say volunteer quite yet. I cashed in my retirement accounts, my 401k, my HSA... and my husband was a stay-at-home parent before I made this move and I was the main income earner and he went back to work. He's very supportive and he had wanted me to pursue this for a long time... (because I had talked about it for a long time)

faitswulff24 karma

cashed in my retirement accounts, my 401k, my HSA

I can't help but grimace really hard. As someone who spent a lot of time in startups, I hope it's worth it. Are you a founder? Are you being paid in equity? Get everything in writing! Hope everything works out 🤞

TurnadoAlee18 karma

I do have equity but.. it's equity in nothing but passion at this point, lol. You're right to grimace.. I grimace, too...

kolaloka24 karma

Does the emphasis on the tests and their associated metrics augment or impede individual learning in your estimation?

TurnadoAlee23 karma

I can't attest to that in schools because that's not my area of expertise. When it comes to entrance examst and their metrics and using that as an admissions component I believe it augments the process - or that it could were students starting on a level playing field.

A student who comes from an Ivy League undergrad with recommendations from Governors can easily be surpassed by a student who comes from a state college with "less prestigious" recommendations because of their test score; a student who was a single parent or worked or student athlete or for whatever reason had to miss a lot of school or found it more difficult to maintain a higher GPA can show that they are more than their attendance record and their GPA. That said - so long as we have student spending 35k (I had a family spend that much on MCAT prep for their son) in order to bypass the scores of students who all things equal would have outperformed them, the testing environment cannot be fair and it is an impediment to many people.

callmeneeks11 karma

Hi! Doctoral student in education here. My research has been focused on learning theory and reimagining a curriculum that is actually beneficial to students lives. I wonder if there is a correlation between SAT/ ACT scores and future wealth & success (using that as a benchmark of “succsss”) or are we wasting our time?

In your opinion, do you believe that standardized testing is necessary? Do you believe that standardized testing is a good benchmark for objectively measuring intellect (SAT, ACT etc) and ultimately impacting students lives?

TurnadoAlee3 karma

The data I have seen does not strongly correlate the entrance exams with future success but I have seen (anecdotally) that the tests have helped a lot off people secure places they probably would not have been able to had they not had the opportunity to shine using the tests... this is the value I see in the entrance exams more so than future success.

I can't say in the schools or education generally b/c I have no expertise there... I think some of the tests are better at objectively measuring some unique thinking attributes - like the LSAT especially which requires no previous outside knowledge and tests only the way you think. The LSAT is accepted in lieu of an IQ test for Mensa, I believe. For tests that use a lot of outside data I think it'd be hard to use as a benchmark because there are a lot of ways to go about it - you could be naturally really good at that stuff, you could be very well practiced, your high score could be more attributed to your reasoning skills (logicking your way through) or your high score could be more attributed to your math/vocabulary knowledge...

I really only enjoy about entrance exams the opportunity they provide for someone to show what they can do in a way that is "same" for all... it doesn't matter what a student's background is or what bumps they may have had in their educational path, they have this one thing that can make a big difference to their admittance chance and none of that matters... but so long as people are able to gain inequitable access to assistance then the tests are much less valuable even for that purpose. IMO

monkeydeluxe8 karma

Are your web devs certified?

... because if I go to any of the test prep pages on mobile .. like ACT the button to view upcoming courses is above the text.. if I click the text nothing happens, I have to click just above the text.

You probably have a lot of people going to those pages and leaving with the thought that there are no upcoming classes because they never find the button.

TurnadoAlee5 karma

Thanks so much! We actually just added tests (we just had GRE before) and the website re-launched this past week so I'll report that back. TY ty

wpfone26 karma

The fact that education is a profit based industry has to be considered a real problem, surely?

I understand that educators need to be paid, but the lies surrounding the benefits of education and the renumeration that will follow, coupled with the crippling debt accumulated by these students that are lied to about it all, surely makes it a minefield for potential lawsuits (false advertising) .

Dies this bother you?

TurnadoAlee6 karma

Yes - absolutely. I believe in education as a right. I would love to see public schooling extended for four more years. I think the student loan industry is government sponsored payday lending.. absolutely it's a real problem.

GwnHobby6 karma

If two students were basically equal, and one took a test prep class with your former employer, and then they both took the same standardized test, how big of an advantage would the prep class student have?

In your mind, should every high school sophomore be taking SAT prep classes?

TurnadoAlee8 karma

Test prep really does help and especially live instruction has been shown to make a significant difference in score.. but it's not always the case - for the student who took the class it would depend on how much effort they put in (as all things do); but having that wealth of material (teachers, tutors, videos, books, quiz banks, practice tests) when others (perhaps the first student in this scenario) are relegated to whatever used materials they can find at the library - the student with the prep course certainly could have (if they took advantage of what they've been provided) a large advantage.

I think more students should consider alternate paths than 4 year universities - for example: trade schools, art schools, apprenticeships; etc. and there is less (or no) emphasis on entrance exams in those paths. But for students who want to attend a four year college then yes I think they should start as sophomores - a practice test here and there, practice questions; but they should get very serious the summer before Junior year and aim to take the test the first time in the winter so that they can re-take in order to increase their super score and be in good shape to apply to colleges in senior year.

hackel29 karma

How is that not just propping up a completely broken system?

TurnadoAlee8 karma

I think that education in the US is broken in a lot of ways.. I'm not an expert in nearly all of them so I can't really say what will fix them.. but I know a lot of kids are still stuck in that system so even as it crumbles and is rebuilt around us, someone has to help those who are still stuck. Not to get too political but I also think our current medical system is messed up but until it's fixed I hope to god doctors still offer sliding scales and free clinics and whatever else gets people through.

Nerglz195 karma

How are they being priced out with the availability of community colleges all over the country?

TurnadoAlee2 karma

It's silly to debate whether talented people get priced out of tiers and types of education b/c they certainly do; not all tiers not all types.

I wish more people would go to community colleges and I especially am a big fan of trade schools and apprenticeships... but there are schools that people who all things equal would excell in can't reach and part of the reason is money.

Nerglz192 karma

I realized after I posted my comment that I was being short-sighted and just thinking about those attempting to obtain a bachelors and not those seeking graduate or professional degrees.

TurnadoAlee2 karma

I am on the opposite side of that. We opened to pre-college this last week but before that were grad and 90% of my experience has been in grad and professional school entrance exams so on some of these questions I have also been kind of talking about one thing when I think they were talking about another. It all definitely has a lot of layers and implications.

TurnadoAlee3 karma

We also do GED which I think a lot of people are not thinking about either. Each test has its own considerations and populations affected.

[deleted]4 karma

[removed]

TurnadoAlee6 karma

I don't know what your company is so I couldn't say. We use Khan Academy as a guide. We try to fill whatever gap they leave behind - currently, live, instructor-led classes, essay grading, and private tutoring (though private tutoring we can only offer by scholarship b/c we don't have the badwidth). We direct students to Khan constantly and we direct to various free samples we find valuable... if you have something free and helpful that doesn't end with a sales pitch we'd be happy to direct students there too.

Rayrayracheyrach1 karma

I’ll edit my original comment to link to the source, so if you’d like to refer you can. This would also be live instruction, essay help, and of course there’s 1-1 tutoring as well.

TurnadoAlee1 karma

When did Varsity start offering free whole courses? We started with GRE and adapted to help with core classes for all tests that cross-over skills but a whole course we cannot yet offer. I'll have someone on our team enroll and check it out. If it doesn't include sales pitches in it, we'll tell everyone who also doesn't know :)

phatcat094 karma

What do you think of presidential candidate Andrew Yang?

TurnadoAlee2 karma

I like the sound of human-centered capitalism. Certainly corporate lobbyist-centered capitalism isn't working out that well IMO. Are you an Andrew Yang fan?

phatcat092 karma

I'm a fan of his policies. I was interested if you were aware that he was the CEO of Manhattan Prep. If you may have some more insight into his character. He always seems like a genuine person. He went on to start a non-profit after that time though. So he sounds like he's put in the time to qualify his persona.

TurnadoAlee3 karma

I know Manhattan Prep had a really fun culture and like most test prep professionals their team is really into helping students... I know that b/c Manhattan Prep was acquired by my former employer and I actually helped with problems that went into the Manhattan Big Book; but I don't know much about his relationship with Manhattan.... though company culture usually says a lot about its leaders and when they joined us their culture (from what I saw) was really positive.

phatcat092 karma

That's a great response thank you I appreciate it!

TurnadoAlee2 karma

yw

bumfire19934 karma

Since you were a teacher what was your “why tf did I become a teacher?” moment involving your students? And saying “I never had one” doesn’t count cause we all know that’s a lie

TurnadoAlee12 karma

I'm still a teacher and I do love teaching but there have been times when I have had "tf?" moments... my worst moments with students actually involved a few times when students sexually harassed me (yes that happened :/ ); ...

but I do clearly remember having this one student who insisted on taking and re-taking and re-taking her test despite knowing for a fact she was not ready and there was not going to be a score increase (b/c she had not had enough time to study) and she said to me that the schools would see how much she wanted it based on how many times she took it and they would appreciate that as much or more than an increased score.

You can't "fail" one of these tests but you can score below where you need to be and she just did it like once a week and honestly believed it would prove her case more than study and practice and taking the test after increasing her ability. I was very "tf" and I honestly did not enjoy meeting with her. She did not do the homework I assigned; she kept taking the test over and over... I really felt drained by it which is rare b/c I honestly do love what I do.

hackel3 karma

So she sent all of her test scores to each school she applied to? "tf" indeed.

TurnadoAlee2 karma

yep...

imforit1 karma

With that student, were they taught how the system works? Were they thrashing out of desperation?

TurnadoAlee3 karma

I tried to explain to her that it wouldn't be successful and that she needed to show a score improvement to get their attention to "show how much she wanteed it..." but no it wasn't desperation it was her way of thinking ... she honestly believed that demonstrating that she wanted it was as good or better than a score. I think it was an extreme case of saying winning doesn't matter, it's how much you love the game.

tootbrun3 karma

Do you like going to Costco?

TurnadoAlee5 karma

I try to avoid big box retailers for the most part but I do have a BJ's membership.. whenever I've used it though I ended up spending up my grocery budget and having a disparity in materials.. like lots of pasta and butter but very few fresh veggies to put in them.. or I ended up with way more snack foods and less healthy stuff. I do like the free samples though, not gonna lie.

tootbrun6 karma

I get you. You go in for some milk and bread, and wind up with a 2 year supply of hot paws, life insurance and winter tires. And no bread.

TurnadoAlee5 karma

Yes! especially b/c the bread is never that great a deal. Aldi got that 85 cent bread. Aldi got me through undergrad and law school for real.

tootbrun3 karma

Caffeine and Ramen got me through law school. Anyway saw your profile and you seem like an amazing person. Have a rocking weekend!

TurnadoAlee4 karma

or the free pizza they were always slangin' ! thanks, man; you too!

smellygymbag3 karma

Who do you like for pres 2020 lol?

TurnadoAlee4 karma

who do I like or who do I think will win? I'm a Bernie fan, myself, but I'm Puerto Rican so I won't be able to vote.

miaumee2 karma

What makes you to reinvent the wheel when tools like Brilliant.org and Khan Academy seems to be tackling that problem?

TurnadoAlee3 karma

I LOVE those tools... We only offer things that can't be found for free on Khan - we only do live instruction b/c they only do recorded; we do essay grading; and we do private tutoring. When those companies do all that I'm going to take a break and let them do what would surely be a better job.

Pointyspoon2 karma

If you are working for free, how are you managing daily living expenses? If it's from savings, it is sustainable?

TurnadoAlee1 karma

I cashed in my retirement acounts, my 401k, and my HSA. My husband was a stay-at-home father and I was the "bread winner" and now he's working again. He was very supportive of me leaving and doing my own thing; he had been telling me to "just go for it," for a while.

Girl_on_a_bicycle2 karma

As an economically-disadvantaged student who got into medical school by the skin of their teeth with aggressively mediocre MCAT scores, your service is much appreciated and much needed. I couldn't help but feel like the test was a marker of how many practice tests I could afford to buy, and then how many times I could afford to take a $300 test (paid for via a part-time job with time I could have spent studying.) Any thought of offering other application-boosting resources like resume and personal statement workshops?

TurnadoAlee2 karma

Thank you. The MCAT is a test that is especially difficult to prepare for without help and resources; I congratulate you on making it. I've seen so many super smart kids with great grades not make it for just the reasons you describe... that's not a test most can prepare for without practice items... it's not just science...

We have so many thoughts about what we could offer in the future and we've thought about things like that but it'll have to be the future... for right now we focus on what we can do with what we have - core classes (what other companies sell as "review" or foundational classes) and some topical advanced classes; essay grading; and private tutoring (by scholarship). We actually just expanded to essay grading and offering tutoring scholarships so we'll have to see how that goes.

Our immediate next step is homework assignments and notes.

K-882 karma

Why is the American school system third world?

TurnadoAlee2 karma

I really only know one teeny tiny piece of the system .. but one thing that I think we really should do better is adding reasoning into our education. We do a lot of calculation and memorization but don't focus much on critical thinking at an earlier age. Common core standards actually have introduced a lot of reasoning skills which I really like but it's met with a lot of pushback b/c "when I was a kid..." most of the students I meet having trouble getting into graduate school when they didn't before, are having that trouble because calculation and memorization is no longer enough and they have never been taught how to reason with math and haven't honed their critical thinking skills. It would be nice if we spent more time on those skills early on (rather than calculations and memorization).

talantua2 karma

I'm sorry, i don't know who you are or what you are going on about.

What can you tell me in layman's terms assuming i live under a rock?

TurnadoAlee3 karma

I am a teacher who helps students to do well on entrance exams. I used to do it for a lot of money but I met a lot of hopeful students with no ability to access some forms of help so I left my well-paying job to join a group of educators to offer our services for free.

meowlys2 karma

Could you help me prepare for the NCLEX? -student nurse

TurnadoAlee3 karma

Hi what a great thing you're studying! I couldn't even begin to do what nurses do; thank you so much! We don't support science yet, unfornately.. but even though it's not as big a part of your test, we can help with the math portion. If that's something you struggle with email me at [email protected] .

_Blood_Fart_2 karma

After nearly a decade at the world leader in test prep and being a 2018 Teacher of the Year, I left my career to work for free at a startup dedicated to 100% free test prep.

Are you an English Teacher?

TurnadoAlee4 karma

Nope; just an ACT SAT GRE GMAT and GED teacher. "The world leader in test prep" is the monicker the company gave itself.

cameralover12 karma

What's your monetization plan?

TurnadoAlee1 karma

Hope and a prayer... we really have none... we tell ourselves Sal Khan didn't either he just started out to help his nephew and he managed to help a whole world in the process... we'll run out of funds next year. We are considering pursuing non-profit status.

cameralover13 karma

Well ok, make your service that for them to use it they need to give you a whole bunch of info and sell said info later. Nah but seriously get someone that can help you with that subject and find a path to profitability. If you can manage to do that there are some new VCs interested in more sustainable start ups that help people.

TurnadoAlee1 karma

I'm not sure how I feel about selling data just generally .. it feels icky .. but I don't know anything about it so it's just a feeling, really.

cameralover15 karma

well it's not always that bad, you could just sell it for agencies to target ads directly to kids that are going to college/first year of college basically which is your main user base. you could also sell the ad space yourself and be in charge for example that no fake schools advertise to them but have useful promos/info for them. just an idea because having a start-up is hard enough, I cant even fathom whats it like with no monetization plan. I'm just trying to help because you do have a good idea, I wouldn't want your business to fail because lack of a business plan which is why most start-ups die anyway

TurnadoAlee2 karma

I really appreciate it. I was just telling another redditer that I'd never heard of an AMA before being asked to do one but I'm really glad I've done it b/c I've learned a lot and been given a lot of good ideas. Thank you.

SJR_Gut2 karma

What, in your opinion, is good about testing more and more often?

Doesn’t formative analysis give a good enough indicator of where the student is? It seems like standardized testing shows off the differences in students scores rather than helps them bridge any gap.

And it takes a lot of instructional time to do so.

TurnadoAlee2 karma

I couldn't say with the schools. I can't even pretend to be an expert in education. I only know one thing - how to do well at tests and how to help others do the same... but, in my own life, I homeschool my children and I don't use any tests and I don't plan to. I've never found them to be necessary... kids all learn in their own way, in their own time... just anecdotally in my own life, I've found that harboring a love of learning and nurturing that has led to more fruitful results...

RandoUser812 karma

How will you make sure that the children with wealthy parents don't take up spaces that could go to children with less affluent parents?

TurnadoAlee2 karma

I don't know how to fix all the problems.. I just know I'm good at what I do and I've met literally thousands of people who wanted access to our services and couldn't get it... so I'm doing my part...

Justice Sotomayor of the Supreme Court has said affirmative action was her ticket and she's gone on to do amazing things but I really couldn't begin to model or think of the right models for this particular issue.

Not to get too political but I think we should extend the public education system such that students can compete in the job market without having to spend $$$ and be in this competition... if we no longer make our children viable by the end of highschool to hold valuable jobs (b/c we live in a tech world or whatever reason) then why not just extend the years of public education to 4 more if that's what is necessary. We once could prepare a workforce by grade 12 now we can't so... but that's just me and I'll never pretend to be an economist to say if/if not that could even work. It'd be nice though.

jpastore2 karma

How do you make money to keep this going?

TurnadoAlee3 karma

We don't... we've talked about potentially recording explanations to our advanced homework questions and some other offerings we might put on YouTube for a revenue stream.. we've talked about advertisers... we've largely talked about gaining non-profit status but for right now we have a board of directors and some of them put a lot of money into this and we just do what we can with that. But we definitely running on passion - not a viable money-making plan...