Some love notes from my students
Sometimes, they can't even believe how much we've accomplished together:
Or imagine if your student had a reaction like this:
Yes, that was one of my students last year…among the hundreds of successful students I have helped over the past 15+ years.
J. Khankari., Chicago Area High School StudentAccepted: Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Princeton, UPenn, Columbia, Dartmouth, Duke, UC Berkeley, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, and more
I’m a college senior from a competitive public high school in the Midwest. I was accepted to almost every college I applied to, including Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, Columbia (Egelston Scholar), Yale, University of Pennsylvania (Jerome Fisher M&T program), Vanderbilt (Crescere scholarship), WashU, Duke (Robertson Semifinalist), Berkley EECS, Dartmouth, etc. I received no rejections—I was waitlisted at the universities I wasn’t accepted to.
Before working with Peter, my greatest challenge was essays—specifically, figuring out what personal qualities to highlight, how to highlight them, and getting under the word count. I had this problem in everything from my Common App personal statement to my supplement essays. I had spent my entire high school career pursuing activities I was passionate about, but when it came to portraying myself on paper, I was completely lost. I didn’t even know how to start thinking about my Common App topic—much less crafting meaningful supplementals—and all within the Early Decision deadline. The summer after my junior year, I was so stressed because I knew how much work I had to do, and I wanted to do it to the best of my ability, but I just didn’t know how to. High school doesn’t teach you how to write about your own experiences and draw meaningful insights from them. I decided I needed help, and that’s when I found Peter.
My parents and I chose to work Peter because he’s sincere. I first decided to schedule a complimentary 30-minute call with him to see if he would be a good fit. Instead of 30 minutes, Peter gave me almost an hour and a half of solid advice that was perfectly tailored to my situation. It seemed like he genuinely wanted to help his students, and after going through this process with him, I can confirm that this is true.
I wrote almost 30 drafts of my Common App—7 of which were fully polished—before I found “the one.” Anyone else would’ve gotten frustrated or called me crazy for going through that many drafts, but Peter believed in me and patiently supported my efforts to create a Common App essay that we both felt truly reflected me. We must’ve spent hundreds of hours polishing each and every word in that essay until the entire thing was bullet-proof and eloquent, and I truly believe that essay was a large part of why I was so successful in this process. And that was just the Common App personal statement.
For the supplementals, we wrote two or three complete versions for almost every prompt, brainstorming how each version would fit into the theme created by my larger application. Peter worked through Halloween, Christmas, and NYE with me on these supplementals. When I wanted to give up and submit essays that loosely answered the prompt but didn’t hit it right on, Peter could’ve agreed and made it easier on himself. Instead, he convinced me to get back to brainstorming, and that allowed us to create nuanced versions of the same essay topic that were uniquely tailored to each prompt. Those nuanced essays were, in my opinion, my best supplementals. Peter also reminded me (many times) when I wasn’t answering every part of the prompt, and helped me brainstorm how to craft a story so it would answer every part of the prompt. Peter was even with me when I submitted my applications. He helped me proofread everything one last time before I pressed submit. And when he wasn’t helping me with my essays, he answered my other college apps questions, like how I should draft emails requesting extra letters of rec and which updates to send in after the initial deadline.
Now that I’ve gotten into all of my dream schools, I’m eternally thankful to Peter for having gotten me here. I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: THANK YOU! You helped me do what I didn’t even think was possible. Going through the process just once was a soul-sucking nightmare for me, so I can’t even imagine how amazing you must have to be to go through it every year with multiple students.
I would recommend Peter to any rising senior who thinks their application has a clear focus, but who lacks the writing or introspective ability to explain why they have that focus. Peter helped me express my personality perfectly through the common app, and he helped me flesh out my extracurriculars through the supplementals. He helped transform a bunch of disjointed essays into a full person in the eyes of the admission officers. Above all, he was patient and he listened. When you’re a stressed-out highschooler who thinks college apps are the end of the world, you really need someone who will listen to you.
If you’re younger (i.e. sophomore year), and you want to do well in the college apps process, I would recommend hiring Peter early-on to help you pursue extracurriculars you enjoy and create a focused application. Then, when it comes time to write, you can work with him to craft your essays based on those focused extracurriculars.
Thanks for reading this, and good luck!
S.K., Southern California High School StudentAccepted: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia, and many more
"I’m not sure how I would’ve gone through the college application process without Peter’s guidance and support.
Peter’s probing questions unlocked new angles to college admissions I hadn’t even considered previously. In our first college application meeting, Peter provided exercises to spur my memory of events that had happened in my life. He reminded me that any event, no matter how small, could be written about in a college essay. He also led me down potential essay topics as he asked me questions about minute details about my life. Upon retrospect, I realize he was capturing an image of me as a student and a person, which I could portray in my college applications. In fact, my final main personal statement connected extracurriculars I hadn’t even realized could be linked together before. Through Peter’s advice, I was able to efficiently describe multiple extracurriculars in a single essay.
One aspect of essay writing that I struggled with was word count. After I completed rough drafts of each essay, Peter’s editing allowed me to concisely express the same ideas, often in half the length. I feel that this allowed me to provide double the amount of detail and analysis in my essays. More than conciseness, Peter’s editing allowed me to better capture the nuances of what I wanted to show colleges. For instance, when we were discussing the common “Why Us” essay, he taught me that I should focus on myself and my own passions and how they matched the school's offerings, rather than simply regurgitate why the specific school was good. He said that admissions officers already know the programs the school offers, so the “Why Us” essay can be used as yet another place to demonstrate passion and knowledge in a subject.
Outside of writing, Peter helped me with pacing. I didn’t not know the logical order to write essays, but he spent hours crafting an individualized writing schedule for me. For instance, he suggested that I write my “Why Cornell” essay first, as I could incorporate ideas from this long essay into shorter ones. This saved me countless hours. Without his pacing advice, I likely would have experienced the senior-year winter break panic of writing college essays that many of my friends struggled through.
Ultimately, I have Peter to thank for my acceptances at Yale, Harvard, Princeton, Columbia, and many more!
He helped me with a plan to ensure all colleges received a full picture of who I am and what I am passionate about, then he allowed me to eloquently and clearly express those ideas."
Ishaan Dev, Arcadia High School
Accepted:UC Berkeley (Chemical Engineering), UCLA, UC San Diego, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, UT Austin, and more
"My name is Ishaan Dev and I am a graduating senior from Arcadia High School. I will be attending the University of California Berkeley to study chemical engineering in the College of Chemistry.
I had a previous tutor before Peter. She would help me with PSAT preparation and writing. I improved under her direction, but after some time I found that I had hit a wall with my tutor. She had nothing more to teach me nor did she have any guidance to offer. And so we went our separate ways. On my first practice SAT I scored an 1850 out of 2400, a very good first-time test score. But I struggled to improve on my own. I took practice tests, and I looked online for other tips. I knew I needed outside help. Finally, I heard of Peter through a friend. From our first consultation, I knew Peter had something new and different to offer.
I received instruction from Peter from October/November of 2013 until January 2015. During that time we tackled SAT, Math 2, ACT, and college essay writing. Peter first taught me his extremely unique and effective techniques for the critical reading section, my weak point. We then moved on to math and writing. What I really admire about Peter is his work ethic and his ability to understand my thinking process and tailor a curriculum to my needs. Whenever I hit a wall or a mental block, Peter is able to find its weak points and tear it down by teaching me fresh new techniques and methods. Peter also always keeps up with the latest changes to these tests and creates new curriculum and techniques to help his students conquer them.
I improved my SAT score from an 1850 to a 2300 (2350 super-score). I scored an 800 in Math, an 800 in Writing, and a 750 in critical reading.
Initially, my mother suggested I try the ACT. With little preparation, I scored a 32 on my first try.
With Peter’s support and ACT techniques, I was able to pull that score up to a 35 by my third try. On my last try, I also scored a 36 on the ACT science section, opening doors to opportunities in any major in the STEM field.
As I studied for my SAT and ACT in the fall of my senior year, I was also starting my college essays. Peter helped me brainstorm ideas for my essay that not only had a lot of depth and meaning, but also conveyed who I was as a person. Peter worked alongside me through nights of typing and rewriting. He is a very calm and open individual, so it was easy for me to share my personal thoughts with him. He then took these thoughts and the bits and pieces of myself that I had shared with him and created a rough road map as a base for my essay. Peter’s tutoring gave me direction and confidence as I wrote applications for 15 universities. In January, I came out of my application-writing hibernation satisfied with the product I was sending to schools.
The results were fantastic. I received acceptance letters from 11 out of the 15 schools I applied to including: UCLA, UCSD, UC: Davis, UCSB, UCI, UC: Berkeley, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Illinois, and University of Texas at Austin. There was one issue though. With so many choices, I didn’t know where to go! Which, honestly, is not the worst problem to have. After talking to Peter, my parents, and friends, I happily decided to study chemical engineering at UC Berkeley.
Peter is a lot more to me than just a tutor. He is my mentor. He has stuck with me through thick and thin. While I was balancing Boy Scouts, Percussion, and other activities, Peter was always very supportive and took the time out of his schedule to answer my annoying questions and even shoot me reassuring texts before my SAT and ACT.
When I finally became an Eagle Scout, I was allowed to hand out little medals of gratitude to a select few who had made a lasting impact in my life. I spent hours forming and refining a list, taking names on and off. One was never erased though. And that was Peter Peng.
So who needs Peter? I recommend students who are struggling to improve their scores with any section on the SAT, ACT, SAT Math 2, etc., from the essays to the bubbling, to seek out Peter’s help and instruction. He truly has mastery of these tests and is more than willing to share his mastery with his students. Besides testing, Peter is an absolutely exceptional counselor for essay writing. He not only helps with the editing, but also teaches his students to be better writers. I definitely produced some great college essays and improved dramatically in AP English after working with Peter.
It is also important to understand that working with Peter is a two way street. Peter can set you up for success and guide you in the right direction, but as the student, you have to be willing to work hard and practice his methods to really see improvement and achieve success. So furthermore, I only recommend students who are ready to work hard and see major improvement to seek tuition from Peter.
All in all, what I have shared today barely scratches the surface of what Peter Peng is capable of. I have sifted through many websites of tutors from Kaplan to Princeton Review and I can guarantee, by comparison, Peter is one of the best tutors available and for an extremely fair cost. Your search for the best tutor around is over.
Chris Zaki, Arcadia High School
Accepted: Princeton University, USC, and more
"My name is Christopher Zaki and I am currently a senior at Arcadia High School finishing out the last few weeks of my high school career! About 2 years ago, I started to prep for the SAT using some of my brother’s old Elite's (another test prep company) packets and vocabulary flashcards. In the span of about a year, I was able to complete almost all of the Math, English, and Writing packets as well as patiently memorize the complete set of 2000 vocabulary words. To no avail, I scored around a 1900 out of 2400 both times I took the exam after studying this way. So, I decided to stop investing in the ways of Elite and sought private help using some friends’ advice. Almost everyone I talked to both in and outside of my high school recommended Peter Peng. I soon found out that this was the perfect SAT tutor for me.
When I first met Peter, I was a little ashamed to admit that I was an awful critical reader. I usually scored 600 or lower on this sub section of the SAT, which often ruined my overall score. Peter worked with me on this category and within a few trials, he had figured out the mistakes I was making when reading the passages. Rather than drill me with useless and unnecessary techniques as a company like Elite does, Peter targeted my specific weaknesses and used the allotted lesson times to gradually strengthen my critical reading skills. He taught me how to read a passage quickly while absorbing the necessary material in a systematic way that best suited me. He taught me how to synthesize my own answers when reading questions so that I could find the correct answers in the critical reading section both quickly and accurately.
The best thing about Peter was how versatile his teaching was. When one technique didn’t seem to be clicking with me, he would easily teach me something else that worked well for me.
That was the best part of his tutoring over both private organizations and other personal tutors. In talking about comparisons, Peter’s payment plans are also much more affordable and cost-worthy for the results you are getting as compared to what I like to call the SAT corporations.
Overall, my critical reading score improved by over a 100 points, which dramatically improved my overall SAT score. Peter also sharpened my grammar and mathematical skills and made me a smarter test taker.I improved by almost 200 points in the writing section and by over 100 points in the math section.
I learned that with a few simple techniques and a well-rounded intellect, one could easily improve their SAT score in the span of a few weeks. This was a concept that the thousands of elite packets would never be able to teach me. Overall, I would definitely recommend Peter Peng to any kind of person taking either the SAT or ACT test. He is definitely an expert in what he does and a true master of the test. It was always funny to see how he literally knew every answer to every kind of practice test we ever took without any sign of an answer key anywhere around.
In conclusion, Peter’s help not only improved my SAT scores but also helped me get into a top school: Princeton University. I will be attending this fine institution in the fall of 2015 and I know that this grand opportunity would not have been possible without Peter Peng."
Jordan Strasser, Calabasas High School
Accepted: Stanford University, UC Berkeley, UCLA (Regents Scholar), University of Michigan, and more
My name is Jordan Strasser, and I’m a current senior at Calabasas High School. This fall I’ll be attending Stanford University.
Before I started working with Peter, my greatest problem was conveying my accomplishments in written form, and this gave me a lot of stress. Sure, I had achieved high grades in high school with impressive extracurriculars, but I didn’t have a lot of direction in the “correct” way I was supposed to present myself. Peter was able to take all of my accomplishments and dreams for life, and help me synthesize them into one cohesive package that presented my story in the best light possible. When I had the first meeting with Peter, I knew immediately I would want to work with him because he was able to see my potential. Not only that, but he was very friendly and truly committed to helping me.
The best thing about working with Peter was that he has a gift to present what you’ve accomplished in an extremely attractive light. You, the student, write an essay for a prompt, and Peter comes in to chop up and reorganize each line into concise sentences with bulletproof grammar. During brainstorming, Peter was able to help me generate ideas and anecdotes from my life that I wouldn’t initially think hold relevance to the prompt. During the actual essay revisions, Peter helped me find powerful and authentic words and phrases to write my essays like stories, all centered around purpose. Besides Stanford, I was admitted to UC Berkeley, UCLA (as a Regents Scholar), the University of Michigan, and a handful of other top schools.
Now that I am done with college applications, I can say that Peter definitely changed how I write. Throughout this process he really was a teacher above all, endowing me with invaluable knowledge on writing style. I am also incredibly humble to have been admitted into my dream school, and satisfied that my applications were the best they could have possibly been. I would recommend anybody that is applying to selective schools to work with Peter. Odds are you are an accomplished person. Peter will be your guide to letting colleges see you for your worth.
Carol DeMirjian, mother of Dominique DeMirjian from Campbell Hall
Accepted: University of Southern California (USC) - 1st choice - and more
"My name is Carol. I am the mother of two teenage daughters, one a senior and the other a sophomore at Campbell Hall. Having worked at Campbell Hall myself, but not as an educator, I was familiar with the angst that plagues parents as they enter the junior and senior years. I didn’t want that to be me.
So, first I sought the help of my former colleague and college counselor at Campbell Hall who introduced me to Peter Peng. The counselor sang high praises of Peter's expertise in standardized test prep as well as essay writing for college applications. Having never gone through this process before, I put my trust for my daughter’s academic future in the hands of these two men.
Peter came over and immediately both Dominique and I felt comfortable with him. He is bright and articulate, but also “gets” teenagers. Ok, so he went to Brown University (not too shabby), but beyond that you could tell he was dedicated to a successful outcome.
Dominique began meeting weekly with Peter, and in between those weeks, Peter would give her assignments as she prepared for taking the ACT. In addition to the weekly meetings, he assured us that he would be available to Dominque at any time with questions. He responded immediately with answers and advice. He had her on a rigorous but certainly doable schedule. She took his advice, and I got to stay out of it and keep the relationship with my daughter intact.
My daughter is exceptional. I know every parent thinks that, but I will share why mine really is...she has ADD and dyslexia. On top of that she tore her ACL and Meniscus midway through her junior year. She had a major surgery, studied for the ACT, took a battery of psychological tests so that she could receive extended time for the ACT,challenged herself with AP courses, and took outside art classes. Guess what?
Yesterday, she was accepted to the University of Southern California. This is her dream school. Peter’s commitment to her and to our family as she plowed through this was greatly responsible for this outcome.
We worked with Peter for several months and in that time, Dominique’s ACT score rose 7 points. In working with her on her essay, the two of them brainstormed. They worked for several weeks, adding and editing, fine tuning, but making sure the essay was HER voice. In the end, when I was allowed to read it, I found it thoughtful and eye opening,articulate, and raw. Peter and Dominique wrote about her learning differences in a positive way exposing her unique artistic process.
I am so forever grateful to Peter, not only for his guidance and expertise all along the way, but for making what could have otherwise been an unpleasant experience pretty relaxed. No stress...you won’t find it from him. I would recommend Peter with the utmost confidence. I plan on enlisting him again as my sophomore daughter prepares for her college process. He will get you through this potentially stressful time. He will make it so that you and your student survive!!!
Rio Thorogood, the Buckley School
Accepted: University of Southern California (USC) - 1st choice - and more
"My name is Rio Thorogood, and I am recent high school graduate of The Buckley School. I started preparing for my standardized testing the summer before my Junior year. I had learned methods from student workshops at school and they did not really resonate with me. That is when I sought out a friend who had used Peter as a tutor the year before when she started preparing for her SATs and college applications.
I always thought that I should have a private tutor and not be in a group class. Group classes always seem rushed and no one can ever get their questions in. Peter then gave my parents and I a trial tutoring session and demonstrated how he taught. My parents and I loved that he knew all of these tricks and strategies to take the SATs and ACTs. After interviewing another tutor and careful consideration, we decided to hire Peter. Not only has Peter completely shaped my mind around standardized testing and how they work, he helped me realize that the ACT was a better fit for me than the SAT.
Before I worked with Peter, I had awful test anxiety for standardized testing. Once I started working with him, I completely started to gain more confidence. He taught me how to take my time and really concentrate on what the questions were. I have to admit that my worse subject on the test was math.
Thanks to Peter, on my first ACT, my score went up 4 points. By my final ACT, my score went up a full 7 points, and my English score was a 35!
Peter also helped alleviate my stress by talking on the phone with me (for free I might add) for half an hour every day when the test was approaching and we would do math problems. It showed me how much he truly cared about helping me gain the confidence I needed in order to take the test. He also recommended a great online program that would help me schedule ACT lessons and quizzes, which I would work on with him or alone (so my techniques were always growing). He not only helped me with the ACT, but he also helped me with some strategies to take my AP Language and Composition exam (which also helped me with my reading section of the ACT; thus, Peter killed two birds with one stone!)
We would always focus on Science and Math primarily. At first, I was quite nervous for the Science section. I never really enjoyed Science, but Peter helped relieve my anxiety by showing me that the section was really just reading and analyzing charts and graphs. So by the time I was taking my ACT and reached the Science section, I felt quite prepared. My best score was always English. It made me feel so confident that Peter would never worry about my skills for that section of the exam!
He was very proud of my achievements. Now I am going to the University of Southern California, my first-choice college, and I know I could not have done it without the help and guidance of Peter!"
J.D., The Stony Brook SchoolAccepted:Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Rice, Vanderbilt, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, and more
"Hi! My name is J.D., one of Peter’s students for 2 years. I am now headed down south to Duke University. In the end, I got into several schools that made choosing one difficult...schools like Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Rice, Vanderbilt, Washington University in St. Louis, Amherst, University of North Carolina, and University of Michigan.
I went to a prep school in New York for all of high school, but Peter was able to meet with me on Skype. My school was very intense, and I would come home late from sports practice, games, with long nights of studying ahead. This made meeting times difficult, but Peter was very flexible and made himself available to me. We would meet at strange times and on the weekend, but Peter never would complain, even if it was 4 or 5am for him in California.
Before working with Peter, I went to an SAT camp because of my poor 10th grade PSAT scores. My 11th grade PSAT scores did not bode well for the schools that I wanted to go to either. My mom found several SAT tutors for me, but the only one I clicked with was Peter. Peter was able to find my weakness and knew what exercises to do to make me better. He is no doubt knowledgeable as he was my tutor for the SAT, SAT Subject Tests, ACT, and college admission essays. I think the main reason why we got along so well is because of how friendly he is. Let’s face it, the college process is not a lot of fun. Luckily, Peter friendliness and positivity help out.
I started with only a PSAT of 134 out of 240, but with Peter, I hit 2080 out of 2400 on the SAT, which was good, but Peter wouldn’t let me settle for that. He encouraged me to try the ACT because he knew I could perform better there, and ended up with a 34 composite, a near perfect score. On the SAT Math Level 2 test, he helped me get a 750. He also helped me reach 730 on the SAT Literature test.
We also worked extensively together on the college essays. Writing essays with Peter was always a little bit magical. I remember feeling like I had nothing to say in the beginning, but Peter helped me find essays in events of my life. He was able to get on paper feelings that I was unable to explain. Having the college process behind me, I am very glad that I had the help I did. Peter was an amazing tutor. While Peter is friendly, he knows what he is doing and is tough. The best student for Peter is one who is ready to work hard. I can promise you that if you do work hard, great results will come about. I would recommend Peter to anyone who needs help in the college world."
Forrest Hoffman, Arcadia High School
Accepted:Columbia University, CalTech, and more
"I'm a recent graduate from Arcadia High School who will be attending Columbia University (also accepted into CalTech and many other top colleges). I was referred to Peter for ACT preparation help during the winter of my junior year of high school. Thus, I took the ACT a little bit later than many of those who decided to take it at the beginning of their junior year.
I decided to take the ACT late in my junior year (instead of the beginning of my junior year), because I felt the extra time would naturally allow me to mature intellectually. However, this also placed me in a time crunch. I did not want to have to study for the ACT over the summer and take it again as a high school senior, so I only had a few opportunities to achieve the score I wanted. During this time, I was also in the heart of my junior year, meaning that my schedule was busier than ever. Knowing this, I wanted to maximize my studying efforts, which, for me, meant learning from a teaching figure.
As Peter guided me through his PowerPoint presentation during our consultation meeting, I noticed his attention to detail and professionalism. I could tell he was truly invested in tailoring his teaching style to each student’s needs. As a student, I’ve learned that the best teachers are not only intelligent and experienced, but also calm and patient. Peter checks all of these boxes. He understands when to be concise in his answers, or when to draw out a detailed explanation.
Moreover, he offers different ways to approach the same question or problem.
With Peter’s help, I was able to improve my initial ACT score of 29 to 34.
I would recommend motivated students who are unsure how to approach studying for the SAT/ACT to work and improve with Peter. High school, with the accompanying standardized tests and college admission process, can bring about a lot of stress. Having Peter as a guide reduced the anxiety along the way."
Logan Kraver, McClintock High School
"I am a junior at McClintock High School, and I am a pretty smart student but couldn’t get over the hump which is the SAT. Honestly, I didn’t know how to improve myself to do better for the SAT and, as a result, had no motivation to do work/review for the test. Afterwards, my mom found a promising prospect for test prep help, Peter, and decided to listen to her and follow the program. I would say the best thing about working with Peter would be the different strategy he employs to take the test, which proved to be very useful. Beforehand, my highest score had been a 1510, but afterwards, I was able to get my score to a 1570; essentially, I was able to make my goal of getting above a 1550 in order to have a decent chance to get into good colleges. Now that it is done, I am kinda relieved to never have to think about the SAT or practice for the test. I think the programs works well for students who just need a little guidance and direction to get to their goal."
Marisa Tung, Mills High School
Accepted: UC Santa Barbara and more
"My name's Marisa, and I'm a recent graduate from Mills High school and will be attending the University of California Santa Barbra (UCSB). All until the summer before senior year, I would do SAT prep here and there at random tutor centers such as C2 Education. But it wasn't helping me out much, and I didn't see the test score results I wanted. I knew the first semester of senior year was the last time I could take the SAT before applying to colleges, so I realized I didn't have much time left but wanted around a 300 point boost. I then heard about Peter through a family friend and decided to work with him for the summer to try to boost up my score.
Working with Peter was super helpful! Instead of just giving me assignments and correcting my answers, he would explain everything thoroughly until I had a full understanding of my mistake or even the problem to begin with. At first, my knowledge of both math and English was pretty behind and I didn't know how to do a lot of the basic problems. However, he assigned the amount of work he knew I needed to do if I wanted a 300-point boost in around a 3-month span. He was always available to help through phone, zoom, or email and made sure to answer all my questions. At the end of the summer, I ended up reaching the score that I initially aimed for!
With Peter's help, I was able to get into my number one school of UCSB which was initially a reach school for me, since my academics was around average. I am super glad I had the opportunity to work with Peter, who helped me get into the school I've always dreamed of!
Through the college application process, I went in having no idea how to write my Common App and UC essays in a way that strengthened my chances of getting into the schools. I came across blocks onto what to even write as an answer to some of the questions.
However, with Peter's help, he emailed me a bunch of resources and examples of what to write as well as helped me brainstorm ideas. He was always available to answer any last-minute questions I had about anything. For example, I would always be stuck between two ideas of what to write and he would always help me choose the better option!
Even after the applications and essays were due, Peter was available to help give me more information about college appeals and encouraged me to do so! With his help, I got into my number one reach school of UC Santa Barbara!"
Lisa Amador, San Marino High School
Accepted: UC Davis and more
"I planned to take my ACT in February of junior year; however, my junior year course load took over my life, and before I knew it it was April, and I had two months to study for the June ACT. I didn’t know where to start—my math scores weren’t great, the science section completely overwhelmed me, and the reading section was too fast. After I realized my scores were not improving, I asked a friend how he scored so high on his ACT. He recommended Peter. I started weekly sessions with Peter a month before my ACT, and in a month my score raised 5 points. Five!
The two things that Peter helped me with the most were math and science. I improved my math score by four points from listening to Peter’s tricks for speeding through the math section, like plugging in the answers and making up answers, and from the copious math worksheets he gave me that targeted my problem areas. Similar to math, my science score improved four points. Science was completely overwhelming and fast-paced before starting my sessions with Peter. Peter helped me break down the science section until I understood the fastest way attack the science section effectively. Peter is always very clear and easy to understand, while still fitting a huge amount of material into an hour and a half long session.
I’m currently in the process of applying to college, and I feel so relieved that not only my ACT is finally over with, but that I scored what I feel I need for I the colleges hope to attend. I’ve only taken the ACT once, thanks to Peter, and now I feel free to work on maintaining improving my GPA and college apps. I recommend anyone who believes the scores they are getting don’t match what they should be to consider Peter. If this is you, you’re probably missing something simple but major. Peter will point out what you’re missing like he did for me."
Patrick Tulaphorn, San Marino High
Accepted: Washington University in St. Louis, NYU, and more
"My name is Patrick Tulaphorn. I am a high school student at the highly competitive San Marino High. I was struggling tremendously with the ACT and could not get above a 30 on any practice tests. In fact, I started off with a 25, so I decided I needed extreme help as my junior year was quickly closing in on me and college apps would be coming soon. I contacted Peter Peng through one of my friends who had been with him and incredibly achieved an outstanding score of 34 and also one that achieved a 30. Peter quickly responded to my messages and in no time he was in my living room having a conversation with my father and me.
My biggest problem before working with Peter was being able to get scores above the 30 mark on any practice ACT and even the real one. The pressure of my classmates doing well and getting score from at least 30 and above loomed over me and I feared I wouldn’t be able to reach that level. I felt like I was not capable of getting such a high score and it seemed almost impossible to me since you can only miss so few questions to earn a good score. I was scared that I would stay under the 30 mark and my options for colleges would be extremely limited. I wanted to work with Peter because I heard about how good he was and how he had helped my friends.
The best thing about working with Peter was that he was extremely flexible. Being a competitive swimmer consumes a lot of my time and Peter was always there to work around my schedule. He would be willing to drive all the way to my house (an hour and a half drive) just to have a session of the same amount of time. If the session had to be quick (1 hour), he would suggest Skyping over the computer. He would also be willing to help me with anything I needed. I would sometimes text him at 12 at night and he would respond right away. Sometimes I would even call him at the most unorthodox times and he would answer. He would thoroughly explain EVERY single problem thoroughly and not just give me the right answer.
Before getting help with Peter I had an ACT composite score of 25, after working with Peter I achieved a 33, which is an 8-point improvement!
My goal was to earn a 32 and I simply surpassed it and surprised myself. I believe this is going to help me tremendously when applying to colleges for now I am in the 99 percentile.
Now that I have gotten my glorious score, my life is so much more relaxed. I do not have to worry about preparing and worrying about another standardized test. I am more confident in my academic skills and know I am among the great friends I have that have also achieved great scores. I would definitely recommend Peter to anyone that is looking for a serious tutor that is willing to go to extreme measures to make sure you achieve your goal or surpass it in my case. Anyone that is looking for a tremendous improvement within their ACT score would be the right kind of person. As long as you do what Peter tells you to do, you should be able to achieve your goals. Now that the process is over, I am glad that Peter was the person I went to for help. I feel that if I did not go to Peter I would regret a lot of my decisions and perhaps still be in bad position when applying to colleges. Thank you so much Peter and I hope all of you who read this have the same wonderful experience as I did."
Tara P., S.F. Bay Area High School
Had I continued doing what I was doing before, I would have spent months working hard only to reinforce the same old errors in my approach. But with Peter’s help, I was able to work smarter, not just work harder, to improve my score. Before, the SAT was a sore spot in my college application process, but now, I feel much more confident because it is a strong point."
Greg Van Kirk, Arcadia High School
Accepted: Rice University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, Occidental College, Santa Clara University
My name is Greg Van Kirk. I graduated from Arcadia High School in 2015 and worked with Peter for my SAT prep. I began prepping to take the SAT in the summer before my Junior Year. I took a blind public practice test with no prep and no direction and scored around 1900. I wanted to do better, but didn’t quite know where to start. The test seemed long and some of the questions needlessly confusing, so I began asking around for tutors and was referred to Peter by a close friend who had a lot of success working with him.
Going into our first meeting, I was not sure what to expect. However, during his initial presentation, I saw that Peter was precise and thorough; he had done his research and had a well-thought out strategy to help a student succeed. As I worked with Peter, I was impressed by his calm demeanor and detailed explanations. He always knew multiple ways to attack a problem and always had a way to make the problem make sense. Outside of our face-to-face meetings, he was always responsive and flexible, working our meeting times around my busy Percussion and Boy Scout schedules. We met at all times of the day, from the early morning to late, late at night. He perfectly tailored the whole experience to me, something that I truly appreciated and something that ultimately helped me be my most successful.
I ultimately met with Peter from June until October every week or two before taking the SAT twice, in the October and January of my Junior year.
Through Peter’s help, I was able to improve my SAT score to 2300 (out of 2400) with 770 in Reading and Writing with a 760 in Grammar, a score I was very proud of.
After college decisions came out in April, I was accepted to: Rice University (my top choice), UC Berkeley, UCLA, UC Davis, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, Occidental College, and Santa Clara University. I eventually elected to attend Rice University, where I am very happy. I owe a lot to Peter for helping me get to this awesome school, and I highly recommend him to anyone in need of help with their test prep. He is flexible and can definitely work to help you achieve your goals!
Faustine Liu, Glen A. Wilson High School
Accepted:UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Irvine, UC Santa Barbara, and more
My name is Faustine Liu and I am currently a senior at Glen A. Wilson High School. I was recommended to Peter by a friend and worked with him on my SAT English portion and overall college guidance. English has never been a strong point in my academic subjects but Peter’s tutoring and tips helped me receive a great SAT score and essay score. Because of his dedication in helping me improve my scores and assisting me through the college process, I was accepted into UCLA and will be attending in the fall!
As someone who is majoring and finds interest in math, English felt like gruesome torture to me. I had the starting ideas when it came to writing essays but I could never knew how to properly execute them. With Peter he built onto my ideas, suggesting points that have never even crossed my mind before. I was able to gain a new perspective into how I write and approach my essays. Not only that, but I was able to rely on Peter and talk about issues I never even told my friends before. Being with Peter made me feel comfortable and excited on what was to come in the future for me.
Along with that, the only reason my SAT scores were not the best was due to my English portion, which Peter helped me drastically with that in the end. When Peter tutored me for the English portion of the SAT, my score went from 670 to 720, which may not seem like much by itself but was the main reason why my old score of 1450 jumped to 1520.
Now that the gruesomeness of college essays and testing is over, I feel relieved and content with the colleges I got into. Before meeting Peter, I had no hope into getting accepted into high tier colleges. But after I met Peter, I was extremely happy with getting into colleges I never thought would consider me. If you want to better your essays and SAT scores, I definitely recommend working with him, but remember that in order to make your dreams come true you have to put the effort in too. Thank you Peter for all that you’ve done, those long hours at Starbucks every week (although I’m sick of their drinks now) were indeed worth it!
Alexis L., Viewpoint School
Accepted: UC Berkeley, UCLA, University of Michigan, Boston University, Emory University, full scholarship to George Washington Univ., and more
"I come from a really competitive private school and I just got accepted to UC Berkeley, which was one of my top choices. Before Peter, I was honestly lost about what to write about and how to even start my college application essays and supplements. I felt as though the college counseling team at my school wasn’t any help for me and I wasn’t given any direction for the essays. I left the majority of my applications until a month before they were do and I was super stressed out because I also had a really heavy work-load during the beginning of my senior year.
I felt ashamed that I was behind my peers in the application process, especially because I felt as though I had no idea how to start or what to do and everyone else seemed collected and on top of things. I wanted to start working with Peter because I was referred to him by other people and was told how amazing he was with helping his students through application season. I was looking for someone who would work with me one-on-one and also during their free time to help me get the applications done as soon as possible, and as perfect as they can be. I became very stressed and felt overwhelmed by all of the work I would have to do one my own, especially because I had no idea how to write a college essay. I’m the oldest child in my family, so this process was new to my parents and to me.
The best things about working with Peter were his availability in his schedule, his eloquence in his writing, and the fact that he was able to help me get everything done in a very short amount of time. I loved the fact that whenever I needed a specific essay or supplement for a college edited or worked on, Peter was always readily available to meet with me in person, or work on the supplements in his own time. This was especially helpful when I had deadlines for supplements due within a 2 day time period. In addition, Peter is an amazing writing, so his tips and approach that he taught really did help me formulate a very well-written and organize essay
Also, if I needed something done quickly, Peter was always able to help me get it done by the date without hesitation. It was honestly very reassuring and nice to have someone in this process be there practically 24/7 to help out and make sure your essays were perfect and done quickly.
Before I met with Peter, I didn’t realize I could write about a topic that encompassed everything I did extracurricularly in high school, and never realized that minuscule experiences would be so impactful in writing. He helped me make my story more intriguing and vivid, and was able to help formulate an well-written, flowing, and organized essay by helping me organize my own thoughts and experiences. Without Peter’s help, my success in this process wouldn’t have been possible, and I truly mean that! I got accepted to University of Michigan, UC San Diego, UC Santa Barbara, UC Davis, Emory University, Boston University, a full scholarship to George Washington University, and finally, UC Berkeley.
Now that the college process is over, I feel very content with how my results turned out and am also excited to attend UC Berkeley in the fall. Peter was able to help me during that stressful period write perfect essays, and also contributed to my success today. I would highly recommend Peter to someone who needs to be given structure and a layout for their college essays, someone who has great ideas but needs help organizing those thoughts, or someone who doesn’t know where to start. Also, I would recommend Peter to someone who is in need of knowing certain tactics to strengthen college essays."
Cecilia Avila, mother of J.D. from the Stony Brook School
Accepted:Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Rice, Vanderbilt, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, and more
"My name is Cecilia, a parent of a senior who has been accepted into Duke, Columbia, Cornell, Amherst, Washington University in St. Louis, Rice, Vanderbilt, and many more top schools. My child had problems with the reading section of SAT and the essay in the writing SAT section.
After working with Peter, the reading score of my child increased by 150 points and the writing section by 100 points.
After seeing Peter's comments/recommendations on College Confidential as how to improve reading SAT score, I felt that these were the issues my child had been struggling with and I contacted Peter. He worked with my child via Skype for several months, and my child not only improved his SAT score but also his overall performance at school due to improvement in overall reading and writing skills.
After taking the SAT, my child decided to take the ACT and the score went to 34, opening the possibility to be considered at schools my child has always being dreaming about. My child's ACT score had been about 28 in practice tests before working with Peter.
During the college application process, Peter and my child brainstormed together, then my child wrote the essays, then Peter reviewed the essays in a critical but constructive way. Peter helped my child communicate authentically in powerful paragraphs.
This was not an easy journey, since my child is a typical, quite social teenager, and I had to become the bad cop in my family to maintain my child focused during this process and to complete this exhausting journey. But Peter helped alleviate this tension—he was not only a great friend to J.D, but an excellent mediator for my son and I. Peter helped my child and I keep a healthy relationship throughout the process.
Peter knows the ins and outs of both the SAT and the ACT. He quickly identifies areas needed to improve. The advantage of working with Peter via Skype is that students can take advantage of time zone differences for regular and consistent tutoring sessions that do not conflict with school/afterschool activities.
I anticipate that my younger child will be working with Peter this summer. Thanks so much!!!!
*Peter's Note: I assisted Cecilia's younger child in the SAT/ACT and college essay process as well. She earned early admission into Columbia University!
Sylvia Hatfield, parent of Matthew Hatfield from Arcadia High School
Accepted:Harvard University, UC Berkeley, UCLA, and more
“There aren’t enough words to explain how grateful I am for Peter. In just a few short essay sessions, Peter expertly identified key points in my son’s life and got him to reflect deeply about the meaning of his experiences. Before finding Peter, we struggled to find topics and essays that would capture my son's sensitivities and best qualities. We needed to stand out, but we needed help.
Peter had no problem quickly discarding topics he knew would not be effective, and he drilled deep to find the impressive and unique details that truly painted Matthew as the intelligent, compassionate young man I know him to be. Just meeting for Peter for the first time, my son got so excited at what Peter was explaining. His eyes lit up, and under Peter’s mentorship and personal commitment, my son produced beautiful and poignant essays that truly moved everyone who read them. When he got the acceptance from Harvard, we were just floored! Peter is one-of-a-kind, truly an incredible writer and mentor!”
Nick Sarriedine, Oaks Christian School
“My name is Nick Sarriedine and am currently a senior at Oaks Christian High School, a rigorous academic college preparatory school. As my junior year came to an end, I began to feel anxiety when I would think about what was ahead of me, college applications and essays. I asked a friend who I knew got excepted to UCLA whom she had help her with her college process. She told me about Peter and highly recommended him. My mother reached out to him and he responded immediately. Before I knew it, he had scheduled me for our first virtual meeting. I suddenly felt some relief!
My greatest challenge was writing down all my thoughts and knowing how to condense it. Where to even begin with my thoughts. Would it be my accomplishments? Charity involvement? My work? etc. This is where Peter helped me significantly. He would ask me questions and it would all pour out, one right after another. We spent days and hours, and so much would be accomplished during our sessions. He helped me narrow down all my thoughts, to end up with an extremely effective essay with just the right number of words (another challenge I faced). More and more I felt comfortable and less anxious. We were ahead of schedule and before I knew it done! I liked how he helped me organize everything and how we tackled one thing at a time, one university at a time. We always submitted a couple or few days prior to the deadlines.
I'm excited to share I was accepted to my first choice, Chapman University! My brother will definitely be using Peter and I have already started to recommend him to my brother's friend group and anyone else looking for the best of the best for college counseling!”
John K., The Buckley School
Accepted: Columbia University, Johns Hopkins University, Washington Univ. in St. Louis, UCLA, University of California (USC), New York University (Stern Business), and more
"I'm honestly speechless at what Peter has helped me accomplish. I'm naturally a picky person—almost a perfectionist. I almost never work with the same individual for an extended time, but Peter's skills and personal commitment are unparalleled. Peter not only went above and beyond my extreme expectations, but was a true friend who put personal care into making my dreams a reality.
I knew I needed to stand out, but I didn’t know how. I had great overall grades and scores, but essays were the one thing that would breathe life into my app. As more of a math/science guy, I have to confess that I’m a terrible writer and always feared English, my worst subject. But Peter’s patience and vast experience allowed him to quickly help me organize my thoughts and reflect on my life. He suggested so many creative and deep ideas. It was as if he knew my inner thoughts better than I did—because he knew just the perfect questions to ask to get me thinking in the right direction. He gave me more than direction and mentorship. In my moments of doubt, he gave me hope, backed up with complete competence.
His incredible writing skills and creativity truly shone through in the application process. He helped me map out my life and put the details together persuasively. Honestly, I didn’t know where to start or how to write a cohesive story. Before Peter, I was never the most eloquent and loathed to write, but his feedback completely upped the sophistication level of my writing, both in content and style. He even helped me earn multiple As for papers in English class, a subject I've always struggled with.
Peter's tremendous attention to detail helped us fine tune our strategies and make sure my application fit together as a whole. We came up with many unique, impressive essays that showed all the best parts of myself. Even though I had a thousand questions, he would not let any detail get past him, so I felt truly secure under his guidance.
Upon his recommendation, I even created a website that demonstrated why I thought I was a great fit for a particular college. It showed colleges why THEY should accept me. This is one of many examples of where his creative thinking paid off. The results were more than I dared dreamed. I got into a top Ivy League school, Columbia University, and can’t wait to go! My god, it would be impossible to overstate exactly how I felt when I saw my acceptance letter. My father, who runs an extremely successful business, told me that this was by far the happiest moment of his life.
In the end, Peter and I became true friends. He is constantly encouraging and advising me in life outside of just school and essays. He has been and will always be there for me, and I just can’t say enough how committed and great of a person he is. Working with Peter has by far been one of the greatest decisions I’ve made in my life. If you are a student looking to create incredible college essays, and be admitted to your dream college, I implore you to work with him. He IS the best out there, and I’d consider anyone lucky just to have the opportunity."
Sam Lin, father of student from Harvard Westlake
Accepted: Cornell University (Early Action)
"Once, we had to revise an essay one day before the deadline due to an unforeseeable request from the university’s admission office. Peter, my daughter, my wife, a second college counselor, and I had all carefully checked the requirements, so we were shocked when the college suddenly required a brand new essay 24 hours before the application was due. I have never seen a college do such a thing before.
Not only this, but the new essay’s requirement was several pages long, so Peter worked diligently with our daughter to produce a wonderful, thoughtful essay. Just hours before the deadline, the college changed the requirements again! Suddenly, they said the essay had to be under 300 words—after Peter had helped us edit a two-page essay! All our hard work was lost because of the college’s last minute requests, but Peter gracefully navigated this nightmare situation. He quickly and effectively re-edited the essay to capture the core message, but still stay within the new word limit requirement. He demonstrated absolute confidence even under such pressure and relieved the worries of everyone involved.
Despite his busy schedule, Peter came to our house twice that day and worked with my daughter until midnight to meet the college’s last minute request. This kind of professional dedication and personal affection to his clients is truly inspirational. We were fortunate in having found Peter and being able to put trust for our daughter’s academic future in his hands."
Ethan Chen, Arcadia High School
Accepted:University of Texas at Austin (Business), New York University (NYU), Boston University (BU), and more
"I’m Ethan, a senior from Arcadia High School, with just a few weeks left before I head off into a new chapter in my life. I first sought Peter’s help in junior year, when I needed help with the SAT and ACT. Before Peter, I took classes at SAT prep classes, and those lasted for many hours a week afterschool, with loads of homework and exams. I didn’t feel like those classes raised my scores much, so I sought the help of a private tutor like Peter. After finishing the ACT, Peter helped me with college essays. My parents understood the stress of college essays and seeing as though Peter helped me raise my ACT scores very well, they welcomed Peter for another few sessions for college essays.
Peter helped me choose which test fit me best, guiding me through my struggles with grammar, math, science, writing, and timing problems. I saw the ACT as an incredibly impossible test to tackle. Each problem had to be finished in what seemed like a second. I felt stupid, incompetent and like if I was never going to get into college with where I was at. I had already taken the prep classes for this, and failed. I sought Peter’s help because I heard from my friends that he was extremely helpful. My friends spoke the truth.
Peter started from the basics of each section, constantly reminding me of what to catch and look out for when taking each section. He assigned reasonable amounts of homework, and worked with multiple resources, not just the red ACT prep book. Another thing I loved about working with Peter was that with every question I missed, he would help me go over it and work out why I missed it.
My starting score for ACT was significantly below 30, but after about 2-3 months, I was able to finally break that barrier with Peter's help!
When we worked on essays, I honestly had no idea how to start out my essays. In school, we learned to write essays in the analytical formats, like evidence, analysis, thesis, etc. He first had me read multiple essays, allowing me to gain a different perspective on writing. The theme was to tell a story that represents your character for colleges to see. We brainstormed for many hours, and he helped me pull out specific experiences of my life to help express my emotions and character. After brainstorming, we tackled essay after essay, as he constantly fed me advice and alternatives to phrasing each sentence. Each essay was finished feeling eloquent and neat. I’m proud of my work with Peter, as I’ve gotten accepted into schools such as The University of Texas at Austin, New York University, Occidental College, Boston University, and Pepperdine University.
Now that the exams and college essays processes are over, I am moving on to the next chapter of my life: college. I feel accomplished of what I did in high school, but I couldn’t have felt this way without Peter helping me accomplish the scores I wanted, and reflecting on my experiences through my essays. The skills I’ve learned through the ACT preparations and essay writing will be carried throughout my college career. I would definitely recommend sophomores and juniors for Peter’s help, as that is the most crucial time of high school."
Tamao Cmiral, Campbell Hall
Accepted: Carnegie Mellon University (CMU), University of Southern California (USC), and more
"My name is Tamao Cmiral. I am currently a senior at Campbell Hall High School. I am writing this now with the entire college application process behind me and I am glad it is all in the past. It was without a question one of the most mind numbing and time consuming tasks I’ve had to undertake and I wish the best of luck to anyone who will still have to go through those challenging few months. Looking back on all of it, I can say I am very happy with my results; I was accepted into eight out of the eleven schools I applied to. I can honestly say that without Peter, those results may not have ended up being the same.
My weakest points were basically all in the English and Reading sections as well my writing for the essays. English and Reading have always loomed over me as my most difficult challenges. Before working with Peter, I was embarrassed to still be struggling with some of the simplest aspects of grammar. I really wanted to work with Peter after a discussion I had with a close friend of mine. He had already worked with Peter in the past and saw major improvements in his SAT scores. I knew that the entire college process was right around the corner and that the standardized tests were a big part of the application process. I needed a guide and a lot of help through the testing so I quickly contacted Peter soon after my friend recommended him. I was lucky to get a hold of Peter knowing he is constantly busy with his hard work.
The best part about working with Peter was he knew exactly what I needed in terms of what my weaknesses and how to turn those around. First of all, Peter helped me realize that the SAT was not right for me. I switched to the ACT at the last second. They both had their challenges but I struggled too much with the English and Reading sections in the SAT. The ACT had the same challenges in these sections but Peter knew that I had a better chance of working around them in the ACT. He was able to pinpoint the most difficult parts of these sections and helped me bump up my ability to do better in them. There were a lot of baby steps in the process and it was very difficult but in the end it was worth it.
Peter helped me bump my score by 4 points in an extremely short time.
Another fantastic way Peter helped me out was the he way he worked on the essays with me. The amount of time, support, and work he put into them to help was amazing. There were several brainstorming sessions that got the best ideas out of me onto paper. My main essay topic was unusual and difficult to write about but Peter found ways to work with them and we concluded with one of my most interesting and absorbing essays. I went through the college audition process for piano and at one of my auditions, a professor congratulated me by telling she really enjoyed reading my essays and that she liked my style of writing.
What I found to be Peter’s best approach to help with the essays was when he and I would sit together and talk everything out. Anything I mentioned or any idea in his head was immediately written down. The more we wrote down, the more we had to work with and later we could take everything by putting them together to formulate the essay we strove to write. I think the essays he helped on by pouring nothing but hard work into really pushed me forward in the application.
After getting my results from the colleges I applied to, I can easily say I am very glad I worked with Peter. He helped me get into most of my schools including a few very difficult and challenging schools, which include both USC and Carnegie Mellon University. To have this entire process behind me is a huge weight off my shoulders. For anyone who has college process still awaiting them, all I can say is that there are no short cuts and the best results only come from hard work.
If you choose to work with Peter, he undoubtedly will be there with you through the whole thing and help you significantly as well as motivate you, but ultimately it all has to come from you. Every student has something they could benefit from Peter. Everybody has his or her strengths and weaknesses. Peter is an expert at figuring them out and using that knowledge to his advantage to help the student improve on his or her weakest points. If you are all around good at each section of the standardized tests, Peter will still find a way to push your limits and improve
your score by either boosting your speed or by teaching you his special tricks and tactics."
Joshua Nikfarjam, The Milken School
Accepted: UC Berkeley, University of Southern California (USC), University of Michigan (Ross Business), and more
"Before I met Peter...I was completely lost in the college process. I knew I had to write my Common Application essay, but I had no idea what to write. When I first met Peter, he emailed me several helpful videos and essay tips to jump start the process. After writing down my ideas, Peter helped me discern specific traits I had that would be indispensable for the admissions committee to hear. Peter allowed me to be independent and write on my own, but he would then spend a lot of time refining what I wrote. I love how Peter would be brutally honest with me about my ideas; if something shouldn't have been included in essay, he had no problem telling me.
One struggle I had that Peter helped me a lot with was “showing instead of telling.” My writing was initially very dry and boring; however, Peter helped me write with captivating imagery. In the end, I’m sure that the admissions committees were blown away by my personal statement.
Peter also did a phenomenal job helping me with my supplemental essays. He taught me how to research specific colleges and what to look for on their websites. His advice was to impress the admissions counselors by doing specific research rather than writing generic essays that can be copy and pasted for each college. He spent countless hours outside of our sessions revising my essays, and I will forever be grateful for that."
Memphis Lau, Marantha High School
Accepted:UC Berkeley and more
My name is Memphis Lau, and I’m a senior at Maranatha High School who just got into UC Berkeley to study Data Science. I heard about Peter because my older brother (now at UC Davis) used Peter’s help on SAT prep and increased his score to 1510.
My biggest challenges in the entire college application process was time management. Some of my friends were working on college apps in August and September, but I could not find the motivation to start since the deadlines were still months away. Another problem I had was overconfidence; I had always led my classes in grades, so I had high expectations for college decisions. Talking to Peter for a consultation-type meeting made me understand my issues. In that talk, Peter gave me realistic expectations and seemed like someone who knew a lot about what he was talking about. He also provided the outline of my busy schedule for the next few months, opening my eyes to how much work I actually had to do.
The best thing about working with Peter was the well-paced schedule he put me on. Without him, I would never have planned out my time well, but on his schedule, the process went by smoothly and stress-free. As I watched my friends frantically fill out their applications days before the deadlines, I felt relieved and thankful that I had been done weeks before. In terms of writing essays, he taught me how to make sure all my words had meaning and purpose, which was especially important in the essays with word count limits.
So far, I’ve only heard back from Berkeley, but regardless of my other results, I feel happy to have had Peter’s help and hence a stressless senior year.
Johnny Chen, La Salle High School
Accepted:UC Berkeley and more
My name is Johnny Chen from La Salle High School. I am more than happy to announce that I will be attending UC Berkeley in the Fall as a business economics major, an achievement that I can wholeheartedly say would not be possible without Peter’s guidance and mentorship.
I first started working with Peter towards the end of my sophomore year in high school as I began tackling the first obstacle of the college process—the SAT. While I could accomplish academic work and exams at school with general ease, standardized testing had always been an area that I had difficulty with and I still remember my hands shaking every time I thought about taking the real thing. Having taken practice SAT tests on my own time, I was averaging a score of 1300 which was far below what I had hoped for and I decided to meet with Peter to improve. The first time I met Peter, it was very clear that he had complete mastery and understanding over this test that every high school student fears. He was concise and organized in how we approached the test, providing detailed summaries of each section complete with in depth-study guides and customized practice problems.
Among a multitude of other characteristics, Peter excels in his ability to adapt to a specific student’s needs. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest advantages of having Peter as a personal tutor instead of attending a large SAT study class. While the latter covers a general explanation of the test with no differentiation between the students’ needs, Peter is able to specifically target the concepts or ideas that you are having issues with. This is extremely efficient because no time is wasted in studying what you already understand and you are able to focus on your weaknesses. For me, this meant a heavier emphasis on the reading comprehension section and the math section, specifically geometry concepts and probabilities.
Working with Peter, there are times when I start to think he can read your mind and its become an delightful ongoing joke in my family that he knows what you’re thinking. It seemed like every time there was a new concept that I didn’t understand, Peter was able to find a different explanation that makes far more sense. He’s able to think from the student’s perspective and craft an efficient solution to a problem that otherwise would not have gotten through to me. After months of tutoring with Peter, I walked into my local SAT testing center with complete confidence. No longer shaking, my hands were steady as I carefully bubbled in the answer sheet, solving each problem with the methods that Peter had taught to me. I recognized specific traps in the reading comprehension questions that Peter had warned me about and was able to work out almost every math problem. By the end of our tutoring period, Peter had helped me improve my score from an average of 1300 to a 1520 on the SAT.
Afterwards, we also decided to hire Peter as a college counselor and it was without a doubt the best decision I have ever made. I personally didn’t even know where to start with college applications and having someone like Peter who has extensive knowledge of the process took a big weight off my shoulders. My deepest worry was definitely writing the big essay for the common application that each college sees. After all, to portray something as complicated as one’s identity onto the limited 750 words of the personal essay is a feat in and of itself, but Peter made the process very fluid. We would dedicate hours to his activities that were designed to draw out my strengths and weaknesses, with one of my favorites including the brainstorming sessions for the personal essay in which we would simply talk about my interests or passions. In the end I was extremely satisfied with what we had written over the course of several months. Overall, Peter’s expertise and experience with college admissions allowed me to create an application that was able to perfectly reflect who I am. It was also very important to me that whenever we talked, it never felt like a lecture or lesson, but rather inspiring conversation.
It’s easy for me to say that Peter understands exactly what colleges are looking for in an applicant and in my case, while my academic record was above average, I had virtually no redeeming extracurriculars. Naturally, I was extremely worried as it was already the start of junior year, but Peter helped immensely in finding suitable extracurricular activities that I genuinely enjoyed. Among many others, he encouraged me to begin a start-up business, volunteer at several organizations, and take business/programming classes that still benefit me today. In addition, whenever I needed additional help such as taking pictures for my product, Peter was there for me immediately, offering his car for me and my friends to take pictures with. He was also very flexible with scheduling despite how busy he was and adapted to my time and convenience. I remember even when I was away at UCSB over the summer, he still made sure to remind me to Skype every once and a while to check up on how I was doing. On another note for extracurriculars, Peter has many connections with other students he works with and was able to get me in contact with others who shared a similar interest. Without Peter, I would not have had these opportunities or drive to improve my college portfolio.
Finally, I would just like to say before meeting him, attending UC Berkeley was only a dream, but Peter helped me make it into a reality. He is not just another average tutor. In hiring Peter, you are building a connection with someone who has complete mastery over the SAT and college application processes and is able to adapt to your specific needs. Peter is someone who will always be there with you working through your best times and worst. Peter is someone who genuinely cares for your well-being and will push you to success. And lastly, Peter is someone that I am proud to call my mentor and friend.