The Seinfeld Paradox as Exemplified by Expert Test Prep Tutors

Seinfeld Paradox Video Image

The Problem with Being an Expert Tutor

Let's just say you're an expert test prep tutor. You've been tutoring SAT and ACT prep for more than a decade. You've got your methods -- and they work! Why would you want to change anything at all about your test prep tutoring?

Well, as we discussed in our recent post, The Evolution of Test Prep, the market is changing. Parents and students have new expectations for their tutors. This is especially true when it comes to tutors who specialize in preparing students for the ACT & SAT. And the only way to prepare for the demands of next fall's test prep students is to learn everything you can from this spring's cohort. But why should you -- the expert -- care what they think?

The Seinfeld Paradox

Jerry Seinfeld is one of the greatest living authorities on what's funny and what's not. And like any expert comedian, he can tell you exactly why something is funny -- or not. As a general rule, if you have to explain why something is funny, then it's not actually that funny.

That said, How Louis CK Tells a Joke is almost certainly the best video you'll watch this week. Make time for that one. Seriously, it's fascinating.

So we've got two undisputed comedy legends, Jerry and Louis. In this case, the word expert doesn't even do them justice. But who decided that they're the experts? Paradoxically, their status as expert comedians depends on their audience members continued approval. 

Click here to watch a very short video of Seinfeld complaining about what I've termed the Seinfeld Paradox.

Seinfeld Performs at Comedy Cellar

SPOILER ALERT: Essentially, Seinfeld points out that the audience isn't qualified to pass judgment on his comedy. He's the expert!  And yet, his work is ultimately judged pass/fail by a room full of non-experts. It makes no sense. He's the EXPERT!

Obviously, he's being facetious. But the attitude he's personifying is an excellent approximation of many test prep experts I've met.

Ask the Real Experts

One of the biggest problem facing test prep tutors is their own failure to follow up with students at the end of the course. This is your best opportunity to find out what worked and what didn't from the only experts that matter -- your SAT & ACT prep students. And it could hardly be easier to do.

Create a Survey

We live in a remarkable time when Google Forms, SurveyMonkey, and TypeForm have taken all the work out of gathering survey data. All you have to do is come up with 4-10 questions that will help you assess the quality of your test prep tutoring.

Note: you may be tempted to put together a push-poll. Don't do it! The goal here is to gather actionable information so that you can improve your tutoring services. If you ask questions that lead students to praise you or your tutoring, then you're wasting everyone's time. Choose questions that will generate actionable information.

Commit to Continuous Improvement

It's ironic (in the sloppy, non-literal sense of the word) that so many expert test prep tutors encourage their students to become life-long learners while simultaneously failing to take their own advice.

Commit to continuous improvement. Draft the survey. Gather the data. Make the improvements. That's what we do at Clear Choice Test Prep. And without that commitment, we'd never have developed a number of the features our clients find most useful in closing sales, focusing instruction, increasing score improvements, and generating more referrals.

And if you'd like to schedule your own private software demo, then you can sign up for one of those too! Just click the button below and start thinking up some good questions. Thanks!

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Matt McCorkle