There are times when the university and its abundance of resources just aren’t enough for

students, especially when it comes to studying for professional exams or applying to graduate and professional programs. While UTM’s Career Centre does hold recurring events to address such topics, students often find themselves needing more help. Whatever the situation may be, there are various outside services present that students can turn to for help —at a cost, of course.

The Medium had a chance to talk with two of these test-prep services.

IvyGlobal and 99point9 vary widely in terms of their size and the way they assist students, but their goal remains the same: helping students through the application process, including test-prep services.

IvyGlobal is primarily a SAT/SSAT prep company, which is based in both the U.S. and Canada.

Their mission is to aid high school and undergraduate students as they prepare for major college tests, such as the LSATs, SATs and SSATs. They also provide an essay-writing and editing service, where they assist students in writing their personal essays in order to gain admission to graduate school programs.

“[IvyGlobal] tutor[s] one-on-one with students, and we also have small classes which focus on certain material,” says Lisa Faieta, IvyGlobal’s assistant manager at the Toronto Head Office. “We provide education consulting, especially for business and master’s degrees.”

The consultants help students find the right school, suitable to their interests and academia, at prices ranging from $100-$200 per hour of the consultation. They talk to students and parents, helping to create a “game plan.”

Upon asking Faieta what common mistakes students make when writing their personal essays, she notes, “Usually in application essays, it’s hard for students to find a topic; something that shows what makes them unique. They don’t know how they should come across.”

Strategies that IvyGlobal uses with students include: initial tests to see where students need the most help, creation of personalized curriculums, and offering practice tests and questions.

When it comes to the hiring process, Faieta says that IvyGlobal looks for candidates who are very familiar with English and have experience teaching or tutoring. She explains that while qualified candidates are selected based on their writing experience, all editors undergo mock-teaching sessions. This way, students can feel confident when working with upper-year students.

In contrast to IvyGlobal’s broad reach, Sophia Glisch and Humayun Ahmed, the founders of 99point9, are largely based in Toronto, and operate on a smaller scale.

99point9 is a test-preparation service, which also offers essay-editing services. The two founders focus on the SAT, MCAT, and other exam preparations, and have experience with subjects such as English, physics, chemistry, and biology.

Both Glisch and Ahmed began tutoring and only charged about $10 for 10 hours a day.

Ahmed says, “The demand grew. One-on-one sessions became small groups, and soon [progressed] to large classes. We had to increase the course fee to $350.”

Glisch explains that 99point9 conducts eight-hour classes that “mimic the eight-hour test.” The cost is about $700 for a 10-day course.

By using strategies such as talking through students’ problems and working through questions, 99point9 helps students understand challenging concepts. They also have students make a list at the beginning of the class of what they want taught.

“Instead of teaching continuously, we stop and ask very specific questions. If one person doesn’t understand, we won’t move on,” Glisch says.

Ahmed and Glisch both agreed that the most important part of the service is to encourage learning. They stress the importance of remaining positive, and encourage students to motivate each other. They want everyone to know that they should not be afraid of taking risks.

“Just do it. That’s what I tell my students. Just focus on yourself and what you want to accomplish. Do the impossible and make it possible,” says Glisch.

This article has been corrected.
  1. September 27, 2016 at 4 p.m.: The 10-day course priced at $700 was described as a 14-day course priced at $2200.
    Notice to be printed on October 3, 2016 (Volume 43, Issue 5).

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