Study smarter, increase your SAT scores!

Providing a more personalized experience than other test prep approaches, our class is designed to ensure that students get the maximum benefit from their prep time.

Average score increase = 200 points!
over the last two years of classes

SAT Success Academy is led by JGS High School Director, Samantha De Palo. She holds a B.A. in English Literature from Barrett Honors College, ASU, and her M.Ed. in Secondary Mathematics (ASU). Sam is a Fulbright scholar, a Teach For America alumna, and a current cabinet member and alumni council member for the Barrett Honors College.

Sam has more than a decade of experience teaching SAT prep in a variety of educational settings, working with students of all ages & abilities. She is uniquely qualified to tutor all sections of the SAT due to her experiences & educational pursuits in both math & English, which include earning credit for the successful completion of approximately 10 AP courses/exams in high school & scoring in the 99th Percentile on her own SAT. Sam has worked as an SAT master tutor for both On-Track Tutoring & Kaplan Test Prep Services. She is regarded as one of the Valley’s most impactful, strategic academic tutors & leaders.

Dec 21, 2019 – Jan 4, 2020

Sat 12/21 12-3:30pm
Thurs 12/26 9am-12pm
Fri 12/27 9am-12pm
Mon 12/30 9am-12pm
Tues 12/31 9am-12pm
Thurs 01/02 9am-12pm
Fri 01/03 9am-12pm
Sat 01/04 9am-12:30pm

All sessions held at The Jones-Gordon
School campus. Room 303.

$100 off when you refer a friend

Both must register for the same class.
JGS students are not eligible for this discount

$1000 registration fee includes:

  • All course materials, including online practice
  • 18 hours of targeted in-class instruction
  • Small classes (12 max.) with personalized attention
  • 2 full-length proctored practice tests and comprehensive diagnostic reports

Deadline to register: Fri, Dec 20

Register online here.

Questions? Email:

9 Things You Thought You Knew About the SAT

By Samantha De Palo

Most adults today have had some exposure to the SAT. Although the test been around since 1926, it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the SAT became a rite of passage for just about every high schooler getting ready for college.

In the past decade of tutoring students for the SAT, I’ve heard just about every misconception out there, some more damaging than others. Here are a few SAT testing myths that can make or break a student’s performance…


“The SAT is a test of a student’s intelligence and/or his or her preparedness for college.”

I hear this sentiment all too often. Even if, deep down, you know that the SAT isn’t a true measure of intelligence or college readiness, there’s a certain weight attached to SAT scores that is undeniable. Yet under the scrutiny of research and examination, this perception doesn’t always hold up to reality. Experts debate whether intelligence can be measured at all —- and there is no formally-recognized correlation between SAT scores and IQ. Further, many factors influence college readiness. In my opinion (which is shared among many of my colleagues in higher education) standardized tests like the SAT are among the lowest on the totem pole.


“The SAT is like other tests you take in school.”

That’s a big N-O-! The tests students take in school are usually created with the intention of assessing mastery of specific knowledge that’s been explicitly delivered at some point in time. I like to think of the SAT as an academically-motivated game of Pacman. Your job is to gobble up as many points as possible, using whatever methods and strategies are at your disposal. Would your math teacher want you to work backward from the answer choices, or show your work as she taught you in class? The SAT doesn’t care how you get your answer, as long as you get the point.


“You can’t guess on the SAT.”

If you took the SAT as long ago as I did (or as recently as February 2016), you were awarded one point for every correct answer and deducted ¼ point for every incorrect answer. Answers left blank were worth zero positive or negative points. This meant that it was better to leave an answer blank than to take a wild guess.
For reasons that I won’t go into here, about four years ago the SAT decided to do away with the complicated scoring rules in favor of a simpler model (+1 correct, +0 incorrect). Nowadays, an answer left blank is worth the same amount as an incorrect answer — so why not take advantage of the 25% odds? This allows students to focus their time and energy on the questions they know how to do, and exercise their process of elimination skills on the ones they don’t.


“If you have good grades, you’ll probably get a good SAT score.”

Grades are determined by many factors, such as classwork, homework completion, participation, etc. The SAT measures exactly none of these things. Frankly, it’s much easier to get an A in most classes than it is to ace the SAT.


“A stellar SAT score pretty much guarantees your college acceptance.”

I’ll never forget the day I got the call informing me that one of my students, who earned a 1590 on the SAT (yes, 1590 out of 1600), did not get into the big public university he had his heart set on. Why you may ask? That was the only thing on his resume. He made A’s and B’s (an occasional C), so his GPA left something to be desired. He had no extracurricular activities. His personal statement might as well have been computer-generated… but the boy could test! I warn students just like him about cultivating a strong extracurricular repertoire every day. If he had heeded my warning and joined a club, focused on his grades, and put some real thought into his essays, I have no doubt he would have gotten into all of his top choice colleges. But I’ve got news for you, folks, applicants cannot rely on SAT scores alone. In today’s climate, where community service and leadership experience trump test scores 99% of the time, even a 1590 might not cut it.


“Some colleges prefer the SAT and some prefer the ACT.”

All colleges in the U.S. will accept either test, and if you ask your local admissions officer, he or she will tell you that neither is preferred over the other. Therefore, the decision on which test to take should be based on your performance on each, not the colleges you plan to apply to.


“SAT is required for college admissions.”

Not always. While SAT scores are often a requirement for out-of-state schools, private universities, specific programs (e.g., the engineering program at a large state school) and/or for merit-based scholarships, in-state universities have been following a trend of waiving SAT scores for students who graduate with as low as a 3.0 GPA. My best recommendation is to check the specific admissions requirements for the schools and programs you apply for ahead of time.

The PSAT/NMSQT, which is taken in 11th grade, is a little different. NMSQT stands for National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and in addition to being great practice for the SAT, a score in approximately the top 1% of the country can qualify you for a National Merit Scholarship.


“The PSAT is a high-stakes test.”

First, it’s important to know that there are three versions of the PSAT: PSAT 8/9, PSAT 10, and PSAT/NMSQT. Intuitively, the PSAT 8/9 is taken by eighth and ninth graders, while the PSAT 10 is for tenth graders. Most students take the PSAT 10 as sophomores, but the PSAT 8/9 is much less commonly administered. At any rate, these two tests are just for practice. They aren’t tied to scholarships, and your scores are only visible to you, your parents, and your guidance counselor. That being said, you should still do your best on these tests so that you get the most accurate data regarding your strengths and weaknesses. Your College Board account can link to Kahn Academy to offer personalized practice for the SAT, so you really want your PSAT to represent your best performance.


“You can’t prepare for the SAT.”

It always shocks me when I hear this comment. I think it’s rooted in Myth #1. Not only can you prepare for the SAT, you absolutely should. Research shows that students who study specifically for the SAT outperform their counterparts who don’t just about 100% of the time.

If you are a current 11th grader and want to get in an SAT prep course over Winter Break, I will be running an intensive SAT Master Class from 12/21 to 1/4. Register here today (deadline 12/20):

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