Message From the Founder

Welcome to Advantage Testing. I trust that you are reading about us because you are as serious about education as we are. Advantage Testing has spent 25 years developing and refining approaches and materials for effective teaching, studying, and learning. In that period, we have confirmed countless times that there is no mode of instruction more powerful than one-on-one tutoring.

We believe in tutoring because it brings to the learning process an extraordinary measure of focus, vigilance, and communication. With its every aspect and nuance framed for the individual, this mode of teaching immerses a student in an intensive yet well-suited educational environment.

If you think back to the teachers who have had the most lasting influence on you, you may recognize that they were the ones who spoke to you as an individual and challenged you. In so doing, such teachers inspire not only the hard work necessary to succeed but also its attendant long-term rewards of academic and personal development.

Decades ago, when I was a sophomore at Princeton University, a conflict in my class schedule prevented me from taking a graduate-level seminar that interested me deeply. The seminar, "Philosophy of Mathematics," was to be taught by the Chairman of the Philosophy Department, a legendary academic in the field. I approached the professor nervously and asked whether he would consider teaching me the course material one-on-one, through weekly independent tutorials.

He startled me by agreeing immediately. Without question or hesitation, the Chairman of one of Princeton's most renowned departments had agreed to a semester's worth of private tutoring to a 19-year-old he had only just met. I appreciated that this opportunity was a special one, but I did not realize how extraordinary it would prove to be.

A month later, when I handed in my first assignment, I thought it was quite good. "This paper won't do," I was told.

It won't do? These are hard words for any student to hear, much less for one as devoted to academics as I was. But when my professor explained the paper's major weakness-its tendency to survey technical material rather than to interpret it-I saw that he was right. It wouldn't do.

My professor had challenged me. That challenge served as a catalyst for significant intellectual and emotional growth. While offering invaluable advice, clear instruction, and warm encouragement, he set a high bar for acceptable work. I worked harder on my three remaining papers than I had on any assignments in my academic career until that point. These later papers did, thankfully, meet with my mentor's approval. In the years since then, this professor's personal and professional model has profoundly influenced the high standards I set for myself and for others.

My work as a tutor has been predicated on the tenet that-along with clarity, concern, and encouragement-a willingness to challenge is a hallmark of any excellent teacher. Among Advantage Testing tutors and students alike, our experiences have reinforced this central belief. In turn, this belief shapes our experiences. I hope it will shape yours as well.

Arun Alagappan Signature

Arun Alagappan

Message From the Founder