Families from across the Washington Metropolitan area,
on the continuum from the Ivy-League bound former U.S. President’s daughter to the unmotivated student needing a warm, nurturing approach to test prep have been able to improve their scores using the BreakThrough Test Prep SystemTM.
Here’s what former and current clients have to say…
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Harriet (for Verbal) and Charles (for Math) have been amazing tutors for the new SAT for my son; I can't recommend them highly enough! Harriet helped us determine that the SAT would be better than the ACT for my son. Several times, my son has remarked that he wished he knew what Harriet was teaching him years ago because it would have helped him in all of his classes. Harriet is not only helping my son prepare for the SAT but also for college. The skills he is learning can be applied to reading and studying in addition to test taking. My son is a strong math student, but by working with Charles, my son has scored way higher than I thought possible. Harriet and Charles are able to cater the instruction to my son specifically which is a very valuable use of time and money.
An Exceptionally Happy N. Potomac Parent
Ms. Broder is awesome. If you want help she is the one.
A Proud St. John's Parent
Josh loved the preparation her received and he had great results!
A Happy Maret Parent
Even though my son already had strong PSAT scores, Breakthrough Prep was able to help him perform even better on the SAT after attending both the English and math one-on-one sessions.
A Very Satisfied Churchill Parent
Prior to working with Ms. Broder, I was already an excellent test taker, but I wanted to push my SAT score up a notch. Standard SAT prep courses couldn't provide the specialized help necessary for me to do this. Working intensively with Ms. Broder through a customizing tutoring program, I achieved a perfect score on my SAT!
A More than Satisfied Landon Student
I am so thankful I attended the PSAT workshop as it helped me feel more comfortable/less anxious the day of the PSATs. The workshop introduced me to strategies that were so helpful and as a result, I signed up for individual sessions with Harriet and Charles. The sessions really helped me focus on what I needed to do to improve my score and helped me feel confident with myself. It's not easy fitting in SAT prep with school work and sports, but I have to say that it was really worth my time and I enjoyed my sessions with Harriet and Charles especially since I hit my SAT goal!
A Very Happy Sandy Springs Friends Student
Harriet Broder and Charles Upton are exceptional tutors. My son has never done well with standardized testing and has ADD, inattentive type. He is a good student, but never has been a kid who reads more than Sports Illustrated for pleasure. After taking the MCPS required "practice" PSATs in ninth and tenth grade and receiving very poor scores on them, his confidence was shattered and I was worried. Harriet and Charles rebuilt his confidence and gave him the tools he needed to succeed and score in the 86th percentile on the March SAT. I can't thank them enough.
Very early on, Harriet told my son that she was "not his teacher; [she] was his coach." My son got behind this concept and always thought of Harriet as his coach and cheerleader. Harriet cares about her students. She checks in with them after the tests to see how they felt and after the scores come in to strategize about next steps. She has a great sense of humor and develops an excellent rapport with both the students and parents.
A tremendous benefit is that Harriet is able to individualize the experience for each student. She evaluates them and then tailors the review and preparation for their areas of need. She will also work with your student's schedule. My son is a swimmer and very involved in other activities. He was tutored by Charles after morning swm practice on the weekends. I don't think we could have found another tutor at 9:00 a.m. on Sundays. Harriet helped us fit in the preparation sessions in around his complicated schedule. She understands busy students and families.
We also used Charles to tutor our son for honors Algebra II. Charles really fixed some foundational concepts that our son missed somewhere along the line and now our son is sailing through precalculus without tutoring. This has been pretty remarkable.
I do have several recommendations:
1. In tenth grade, take the one day PSAT prep course that Harriet offers in October. It is not expensive and helps your student learn the rules of the test.
2. Follow Harriet's diagnostic advice about whether the ACT or SAT is best for your student. She advised that my son would clearly do much better on the SAT than the ACT. I thought he should try both. Harriet was completely right and I could have saved money and my son could have saved time by skipping the ACT. As she predicted, he did much better on the SAT.
3. Harriet's reading course that she recommends for students between their ninth and tenth grade years was very helpful. My son learned a lot of pointers on how to identify the key meaning in a text. It laid a solid foundation for the next summer's work and my son reported that he thought Harriet's reading techniques really helped him during the AP Language exam.
4. Harriet's advice to use the time between the sophomore and junior year to prepare for the SAT and ACT is very wise. My son took the new SAT in March after being tutored the prior summer. Before the March SAT, I had him take a couple tune up sessions with Harriet and Charles. This was enough after the prior summer. The junior year is very packed and it lowered the stress and work levels to do most of the preparation in the summer before the junior year. My son also thinks it helped with precalculus and AP Language.
5. Breakthrough Test Prep is not inexpensive, but it is worth it. Harriet knows everything about the SAT and has been doing this for years. Once you hire her, as a parent, you can take a step back and let her guide you and your student through the process. I should have laid back a little more and appreciated this.
Linda of Rockville, MD & An Exceptionally Pleased RM Mom
I just want to say how much I appreciated your wonderful advice that helped me polish my college essays. I received acceptance from 7 out of the 14 colleges I applied to, including Johns Hopkins University, Rice University, Emory University, Georgetown University, NYU Stern and a full scholarship to UMD College Park.
Quang N., A Very Pleased RM Student
My daughter felt comfortable and energized working with Harriet, and came home with tools and practices that she worked on regularly. Her PSAT went up significantly and though her SAT scores have yet to be released, we are hopeful that her scores will continue to improve. What a positive experience this has been, not only relative to Hannah’s test-taking skills but, more importantly, for her academic confidence. Thank you Harriet.”
Andrea W., Potomac, MD
Harriet has been instrumental in helping our daughter navigate the college testing process. She worked with her to identify which test was best suited for her learning style and then tailored the instruction just for her, identifying key strategies that not only helped her with test prep, but also in her daily classes. Our daughter loved working with her, felt at ease and confident going into the testing!
A Very Pleased George Mason Parent
Let me begin by saying that my daughter, Chloe, has not yet had the opportunity to work with Harriet, and yet Harriet has had a tremendous impact on Chloe's ACT scores and confidence. I contacted Breakthrough Test Prep back in February as Chloe was working with another tutoring company, and her scores were not improving - Chloe was getting very frustrated. When I spoke with Harriet, I immediately got great vibes and knew immediately that Harriet was the right person to talk to. She asked me a lot of questions that the other tutor had not addressed at all , took the time to listen and understand the struggle of Chloe. It only took about 10 minutes for Harriet to realize that Chloe's struggle was more than just practicing concepts and strategies, she was able to sense that Chloe was a strong candidate to receive extra time on the ACT. She referred me to a wonderful educational psychologist to do the testing. We got the results of the testing, sent it to the American College Testing (ACT), arranged a meeting at her school, got a 504 plan in place, and found out in April that Chloe will be able to take the ACT in June with the extra time! Harriet has been instrumental and has gone the extra mile to guide me through the process every step of the way. Needless to say, Harriet has been a lifesaver and I can't wait for Chloe to begin working with Harriet this summer. Imagine what Chloe will be able to achieve when she is actually working with Harriet.
Christelle B., A Relieved Churchill Parent
My daughter, worked with both Harriet and Charles at BreakThrough Test Prep, and I'm so glad she did. Not only did she thoroughly enjoy her sessions with them, but she raised her ACT scores more than we had hoped - enough so that she was offered a $15,000 per year scholarship to one of her first choices, Miami University in Ohio! What an incredible ROI! So if you are on the fence about investing a little more than you had intended for test preparation, let me say that it's well worth the investment. Needless to say, I am looking forward to my second daughter beginning her preparation this summer. Also, let me add that not only did she score a 31 composite on the ACT, she also learned invaluable critical reading skills that she will certainly take with her to Miami. I thank you, BreakThrough!
An Extremely Pleased Holton Dad
I am not familiar at all with the U.S. system for college entrance, since I did not grow up in the U.S. I ran by chance into Harriet after my youngest son got his SAT results. She took the time to explain to both of us the meaning and the implication of his scores and designed a personalized coaching program for him, taking into account my son's individual abilities, and was flexible enough to adapt to our complicated schedules. She recommended that he should take the ACT instead.
To make a long story short my son improved his percentiles in the ACT test, jumping BIG from being in the 50% of the SAT to the top 1% of the ACT. I was not expecting that kind of improvement. It also boosted his confidence and I am sure it will help him during college.
Harriet, you rock!!!
An Overjoyed RM Parent
I can honestly say that Harriet taught me how to read. Her strategy of teaching you to be a better reader and then applying that new skill set to the actual test is what makes her great. My reading needed a lot of work, and she helped me with an individualized plan. Although my math and science skills were already really good, Charles helped me hone those skills, teaching me strategies for how to better make use of the limited time. Overall, a learning experience that boosted my scores, and taught me reading skills that carried over into my school classes as well.
A Most Satisfied RM/IB student
Ms. Broder has helped me learn the valuable skills necessary not only for the ACT, but also for reading and writing relative to my routine schoolwork. I thank you Ms. Broder for the opportunity to learn these skills!
A happy Landon student
I remember my first lesson with Harriet vividly. I remember her giving me a passage to read, and telling me to read it as quickly as I could using a skimming technique she had just taught me. I was puzzled, as I was so used to meticulously reading every passage before answering the comprehension questions. This time, however, I would be doing something drastically different. I finished reading the passage, a short one, in a little over a minute.
Harriet then asked me a series of questions, and I was both amazed and disappointed I got 7/10 questions right. Harriet, on the other hand, was pleased and told me that was exactly what I was going for. She explained to me that all I needed to get from the initial reading was more than half the questions right, and because I’d read the passage so quickly, I would have ample time to answer the remaining questions on the actual SAT. My confusion went away, as all I could think to myself was how genius of a method that was.
Those were the kind of lessons I got used to learning from Harriet. Every week, she would teach me something new; some minor adjustment I could make to save time or better understand a passage. More than just techniques on how to improve my score, Harriet also gave me confidence and skills I can use in the future. The day before I took my SAT, I went to Harriet for one last quick lesson, in which we did some vocabulary and grammar exercises. She helped calm me down, telling me that I had done all the work I needed to at that point, and all I had to do was continue doing what I’d done over the past few months. The next day would be first and only time I ever had to take the SAT.
Since going to Harriet for help, I’ve not only referred other students to her, but also try and teach her techniques, such as, my favorite one, finding the thesis of a passage, to people who ask me for tips. While doing well on the SAT is not the only thing that will get a person into college, I have no doubt my performance helped me get into the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. Much of my strong performance on the test can be attributed to Harriet and her teachings.
A Very Proud Sidwell Friends student
Breakthrough Prep helped my daughter gain confidence. This and the instruction she received were instrumental in increasing her scores. The tutoring will impact her future test taking abilities when she gets into college.
A Satisfied WJHS parent
Our son has a 97 average at a local independent school taking AP and honors courses. His initial performance on the SAT was well below his potential and his fellow peers given his average. Harriet worked with our son almost exclusively on improving his reading skills which were below average and then branched out to include prep work for the SAT. With her help, not only did my son develop valuable reading skills, he was also less anxious about taking the test. If we had not been referred to her, my son’s standardized tests scores would have prevented him from attending a competitive university regardless of his academic record. Harriet’s tutoring has and will continue to help my son tremendously in all aspects of his life.
An Appreciative Landon parent
I have known Harriet Broder, the principal at BreakThrough Test Prep, since she began working with my older son in 2007. I got Harriet’s name through the head of Norwood School – as I am probably the most critical parent when it comes to who is working with any of my kids – even one like my oldest who I knew didn’t need much prep.
In our initial conversation, Harriet immediately picked up on what kind on learner and student my son was. She told me he did not need a lot of SAT instruction – just tweaking. I thought, “This woman knows her stuff.” Yes, the tweaking worked and I was sold. What more can I say than my son’s SAT scores were off the charts, he got accepted into every school he applied to, and ultimately, he decided to attend Harvard.
A few years later my second child – who is a different type of student and test-taker – required a person he would respect to perform. He didn’t want to use the same person the first kid used, Well after visiting other SAT test preps, decided he could only work with Harriet. Based on her recommendation, he took the ACT, improved his scores, got accepted in his early decision school and is currently in CT as a freshman. – the ideal college environment for him
She is now working with my daughter who is a cross between my other two sons in terms of ability and confidence. I actually brought her to one of Harriet’s associates for SSAT prep several years earlier. We could only manage a few lessons, but it was enough to get her into the private school of her choice. We are now into her SAT prep. Through Harriet’s assessment, we confirmed that, in fact, the SAT will be her better test. Her latest scores are close to her goal, but Harriet believes she can do better – as I know she can. The next exam should do it!
Let me add that Harriet has not just been my kids’ tutor but she has been a friend and a confidante to them as well as me. She and her math tutor, Charles Upton, are always there to lend a ear and/or to accommodate my kids’ schedules. She made this whole testing process so much easier. I don’t know how I could have done it without her wisdom and guidance. I am so excited that she is branching out to help others.
An Elated GDS parent
My daughter Cathy is a strong student at a very competitive private school in WDC. That said, she was doing quite well on 3 out of 4 sections on the ACT. We had worked with another highly recognized tutorial test prep service in the area, but Cathy remained ‘stuck’ improving in the reading section. I went to the counselor at Cathy’s school and she said to call Harriet Broder as she’s the expert in improving students’ reading scores: She has a program that works.
Even though I had spent a lot of money and time invested in this other program, I decided to call her and boy was it worth it! Cathy came home after the first lesson with a smile on her face. (She also loved working with the math/science tutor, but she only required some tweaking in those areas.) With Harriet’s guidance, she actually learned more efficient reading skills, not just strategies which were all that was previously addressed. Utlimately, she learned an amazing accupressure technique that helped her reduce the anxiety she had around being successful with the reading. Bottom line, she got her goal in just a few lessons: 21-25!
A Thrilled NCS Parent
When I began working with Harriet, I was somewhat skeptical. I had less than a month to prepare so I could only squeeze in 6 lessons, but I was determined and committed to getting my scores – which were in the 500′s – to over 600. It seemed like a reasonable goal as we were focused only on improving my critical reading. In that first lesson, I learned how to reframe my mindset – the foundation for making sure the techniques she was teaching me would be effective. Using reading drills, I improved my reading speed and my ability to find the thesis.
I was feeling good! When I learned how to apply these skills plus her technique to actual SAT passages, I felt so much more confident and it showed. My accuracy improved dramatically. I went into the exam knowing I had much more effective reading and test-taking skills. When I received my scores it validated what I knew: I went from a 560 to a 620. Imagine how much more I could have improved had I had the time to take the entire program! Thank you Harriet. (PS Ironically, I will miss our sessions together!)
A Very Happy NCS student
Harriet worked with my sister and improved her SAT scores significantly, so of course my mom ‘gently’ suggested I do the same. It took a while before we connected to work out a schedule – to be honest, I really wasn’t too adamant about committing to test prep. When we finally met, I realized after the first meeting that I could get the scores I wanted – in the 700′s – all I had to do was listen to her. I actually looked forward to our sessions as Harriet always knew how to say the right things to keep me moving forward. Fairly soon, I saw the skills and strategies she was teaching me really worked! I was truly motivated to do the work – usually less than 30 minutes a day – to be assured that my goal would be achieved.
Working with Harriet helped me so much more than I imagined. Her sessions go beyond test prep. She knows the SAT inside and out, and she told me exactly what I can do to maximize my scores. Everything,my reading speed, comprehension, and vocabulary improved exponentially during my time with her. I recommend working with her if you are serious about improving your verbal SAT scores. If you listen to her and put in the work like I did, you will be amazed. Thank you Harriet.
A Grateful Prep student
Harriet taught my daughter how to be a smart test taker. She guided her and gave her skills and confidence to take the exams. Not only did she make her a successful standardized test taker, she taught her life skills such as speed reading, analyzing, and figuring out problems and definitions through easy hints. My daughter did not just do well, she exceeded our expectations. Harriet’s teaching techniques are very effective in bringing up the scores. She was very helpful in providing strategies for answering questions and for making decisions on the test. It was definitely well worth the investment. We highly recommend her to anyone who is interested in significantly raising his or her scores.
A Most Appreciative Hebrew Academy Student
Harriet pushed me harder than any other teacher ever has, and it definitely proved worthwhile. I came into the program with one goal and achieved it. I will use my new flexible reading skills and strategies for deciphering vocabulary for many years to come.
A proud Northwest HS Student
Standardized test success depends as much upon test taking strategy and techniques as it does substantive knowledge. Harriet was critical in identifying test taking skills such as timing and speed of taking the test as well as recognizing those “red herring” answers that are traps on the SAT and the like. Most importantly, Harriet built a great relationship with my kids and simply made them feel more confident going into the exams. Confidence can overcome many deficiencies and improve overall results.
My middle and youngest children simply lacked confidence in their reading abilities. In one case, Harriet and I were able to identify an actual comprehension difficulty that we were able to overcome with extra time on the tests themselves. This extra time made all the difference and improved overall scores by over 100 points on reading comprehension. Those 100 points were the difference maker in allowing my child to get into the schools she was interested in attending.
A Very Satisfied Langley HS parent
I found College Consults to be the perfect link to the college process for my sons and me. They needed an outside accountability service and Kelly Casten served that purpose perfectly. We found her so impressive, professional and responsible, that I was really able to step out of the “micro-managing” piece that was causing distraction in the personal relationships with my sons. Kelly’s background in education allowed her to work magic with both the parent, and college bound teenager, and she danced that dance well. My faith and trust in Kelly in terms of providing input and service was phenomenal! Thank you again to Kelly Casten and College Consults. My one son is happily settled at The University of Richmond, and we are presently awaiting acceptance for son #2!
A Pleased Gonzaga High School Parent
I just wanted to take a moment to express my appreciation for how you have already touched Nathan’s life. He is so excited about applying the resources you taught him to improve his reading that I can see it spilling over in his level of confidence in himself. Thank you for sharing your talent and gift of teaching!
A Delighted QO HS Parent