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 decade or more.
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."
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."
Lisa Amador, San Marino High SchoolAccepted: 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."
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 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!
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 SchoolAccepted: 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!”
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."