What a Bank Robber Can Teach You About Test Prep


When infamous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed banks, he famously replied, "Because that's where the money is." 

In his 1976 book, Where the Money Was, Sutton denies having ever uttered those words. Whether he did or not, the terse response has gone down in history as Sutton's Law. Today, it's taught in virtually every medical school. Essentially, the law states that when diagnosing a patient, one should first consider the most obvious cause of the symptoms. Then, run the tests that could confirm (or rule out) the most likely diagnosis. When followed properly, the result is quicker diagnosis, more timely treatment, lower costs, and better outcomes for everyone involved.

Sutton's Law can also be applied to SAT tutoring and test prep in general.      


In order to maximize the value of the tutoring you provide, you'll need to focus your tutoring on the student's areas of greatest potential improvement. This makes sense for the same reason that Willie Sutton robbed banks instead of bakeries — because that's where the money is. 

The difference between robbing banks and test prep, well one of the differences, is that bank robbers have a relatively easy time predicting where the money is. Banks are usually labeled, and the money is generally in a vault. Either way, virtually everyone knows where the money is located. Thus, the challenge in robbing banks isn't in finding what you're looking for; the challenge is in accessing it.  

In the case of test prep, the opposite is true. It's relatively easy to improve a student's SAT or ACT score — if you can figure out where the areas of greatest potential improvement are hidden. Gaps in a student's knowledge aren't labeled. You, the tutor, must identify those weaknesses before you can begin working to fill in those gaps.

Traditionally, the best way to identify those weaknesses has been to have the student take a full-length diagnostic SAT or ACT test. While that's still the case, the tools at your disposal for analyzing that test have come a very long way. It's worth taking a look at this new technology to make sure you're not wasting time and money with each diagnostic test you administer. 

The era of "if it ain't broke don't fix it" has given way to an era of innovation. And whether or not you embrace new learning technologies, you'll still have to compete with those who do. Modern test prep consumers demand that test prep professionals deliver a comprehensive analysis of every diagnostic test the student takes. Having said all this, you do have options.

You could delegate the task by paying a tutor to grade diagnostic tests. That's an expensive way to get the job done. And you'd still have to analyze each test personally before you'd be able to schedule a score consultation. Remember, if you're not taking the time to analyze every diagnostic test before you map out a new student's test prep course, then the you're not applying Sutton's Law. You're not targeting the areas of greatest potential improvement. You're not going where the money is. You're robbing bakeries, shoe stores, and pumpkin patches.   

If you're interested in analyzing tests but lack the time or expertise to do so, there are third party options for grading and analyzing your students' SAT tests. Unfortunately, the advantage of time savings is often more than offset by the steep financial cost. Some services charge $10.00 per test, or more. Even at a mere $5.00 a test, you'd still increase the cost of each student's course cost by $20.00 or more, not including the cost of legally acquiring the ACT or SAT test booklets! And even that figure still doesn't include the cost of grading and analyzing free diagnostic tests you give out to attract new students.  

We're all tutors here, so I'll trust that my point is clear enough without running the numbers any further for you. Instead, I'll simply point out that fees of just $5.00 per test can significantly increase your customer acquisition costs, making it cost prohibitive to offer a free diagnostic test through a school. That puts you at a huge disadvantage as you attempt to compete with industry giants who regularly offer free diagnostic tests in schools.  

That's why Clear Choice Test Prep's partners have always enjoyed FREE access to our SAT and ACT test grading and analysis tools. Tutors can even print a 100% custom branded score report or email it directly to the student or parents with a single click. What's more, our system allows tutors to create score reports for potential students who haven't even signed up for tutoring yet. This feature enables our partners to host diagnostic tests at schools that would typically be too expensive and time consuming to offer.   

Instead of nickel-and-diming tutoring companies for $5.00 here or $25.00 there, we treat the tutoring companies we work with as partners — because we honestly think of them as partners. Our success depends on their success. We know that the better we support our partners, the better they'll be able to compete with the industry giants, and the more they'll be able to grow.

Our model is simple: We make money when you grow your company — not when you grade tests. If you're interested in more info, please click the link below to schedule a software demo

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